update (March 2022) – the free pattern is no longer available
I worked on the Small Town Charm -Flower Shop block on Sunday and Monday. When I set it up in my embroidery machine, it gives me the stitching details. I did remember to watch the you tube videos before I started. I have to tell you that I set the you tube speed setting at 2x to buzz through the very chatty video. These blocks are stitched out on my Janome 11000 machine. They are free downloads from Designs in Machine embroidery. I’ll put links for the block and the video at the end of the post.
The Flower Shop block has 28 color changes, the stitching time is 75 minutes, and there are 29610 stitches in the project for the 5×7 size project. I stitched it my 8×8 hoop.
What you “don’t see” on the screen, and what has to be done while the project block is ready to begin is all the preparation for the machine applique. Fabric choices must be made, and the fabric needs to have some wonder under applied to the back for the applique. The wonder under/heat n bond lite help with the trimming.
Oh, and those thread choices…..I probably added 4 or 5 extra in as I went along. My big ironing station is to the left of my embroidery machine and I use it as a staging point for the threads. Usually I have my thread lined up on an old calendar page for color change order, but not with these blocks. I did a run thru with the color sheet, and on the machine I paged thru the various colors, but what I really did was zoom in closely on the pattern on my computer and make some color plans.
I have a basket on the ironing station with the prepared fabrics and leave my self a corner to press if I need to use the iron. And bobbins….I often wind a bobbin with a similar thread if there is a lot of heavy stitching. This precludes any chance of a bit of white bobbin thread showing. I use children’s pony tail holders to contain the loose tails of my threads.
The previous block was made using a bit from my stash, and I thought I would chose my background fabric for the next block out of a box of my friend June’s “stash”. (You might remember that I packed up her sewing room 3 or 4 years ago when she moved to assisted living, and I am still going through those boxes organizing.) The applique pieces come straight out of my scrap drawers.
I decided to just “dump out” the box with the reds, pinks and blues on my big table to select fabric. It was labeled SORT and had the colors on the end of the box, so I am actually doing double duty. No wonder it takes me so long!
I thought she might enjoy seeing some of her own fabric in her bag. Of course, just dumping it on the table made a mess, and I am gradually measuring and refolding and sorting it all. In the process of the sorting I have plucked out several more pieces I think will work for the bag I am going to make. No doubt I will be digging for turquoise and purple soon.
The fabrics got restored to their box after doing some pressing and folding. I found some great fat quarters, and other fabrics that might get introduced into this bag. There was way to much 1980’s dusty rose or mauve for my taste in this box! You will see the choices I made later, as I am still ruminating on them.
It’s pretty exciting to see the machine counting down and to know I am nearing the end with no troubles during the stitching. 3 minutes to finish the 29,610 stitches! And that spool in the bottom left corner tells me I am on color #27 out of 28. PHEW…….
There is a second hooping for the block on the left to be done, and it is for the awning. I was able to actually stitch out TWO awnings in one hooping. They stitch out quickly, but are quite fiddly to turn. I ran the stitching for the awning twice, and had trouble during the turning, so stitched it again on my sewing machine.
Below are the two blocks side by side, and I still have to put the awning on the one on the left.
I spent nearly an hour turning the awning and getting the little scallops to pop out. They were challenging and tiny. I used a pair of forceps to poke around and hold and help me turn. My tweezers were too pointy and ended up poking a hole and I had to re-stitch that bit.
I decided to make the awning dimensional, but tack it down snuggly as it will get a lot of handling on a bag. I think it turned out well.
I thought I would share a couple of comments on how I did this block. I hoop my stabilizer, and then put a piece of batting on top and run a basting outline stitch over it to tack it down. Then I floated my pink background fabric and ran another basting stitch to tack it down. After that is done, I start the design, and the first step is a placement line for the building background. I didn’t want the pink to show through, so I added another bit of batting on top of the pink, in the same space where the building will go. Then I place the building (yellow fabric) over the placement line. I use a piece much bigger than the outline, and run the tack down line again, and then trim and do the rest of the stitching. The extra layer of batting gave those stitched in bricks extra dimension. Plus, it really helped with all the heavy stitching on this block without adding more stabilizer. (This digitizer did not give a placement line and a tack down line for several parts, so, it was a bit of a challenge.)
Another choice I made was to add a little “fabric in the window” of the door. I fussy cut that pink floral from an absolutely hideous print I found in June’s box!
And, as I mentioned I added extra colors in my thread choices. I used some variegated threads for the blossoms and stopped the machine to change the green threads for the various leaves of the plants and for the various baskets. To give the blocks some “continuity” I used the same plaid fabric for the sidewalk on both blocks, and the same yellow “building” fabric on both blocks.
Whenever I am working with these applique type blocks, there is a lot of stopping, taking the hoop off the machine (project remains hooped) and trimming along tack-down lines etc. Depending on how well the digitizer did the stitch selection for tack-down, there is a chance for error or pulling. On both blocks in this collection, the tack-down only ran one series of stitches. The other thing I noticed is with the satin stitching and how narrow the unlay zig zag stitching was. I have experience with other digitizers (Sweet Pea designs for one) who do a much better job with this step. So, fair warning, when you run the tackdown on this design, run the step a second time. I ended up with my “sidewalk” pulling in one corner. Now, that could be because the zigzag underlayment wasn’t wide enough for the satin stitching or my fabric gave way due to the open weave of the fabric. The wonder-under / heat n bond light should have prevented the fabric pulling .
I knew that I had to fix that little pull once I took the project out of the hoop. I loaded the same silver thread into my sewing machine and did a tiny zigzag all along the edge of the sidewalk along the satin stitching. Yes, if you zoom in on the picture with the awning you can see it, but it saved the block. Not show worthy, for certain, but it will keep the bit from coming loose on a finished bag. I did a similar repair on the Ice Cream Scoops block. Hey, stuff happens, but it helps to have a way to fix it and carry on. My husband spent a few minutes looking closely and couldn’t find the fix. I am pointing it out to use as a lesson on how I “recover and carry on” with a block. Too many hours to get frustrated and be dissatisfied, when fixing it is possible.
The table in the sewing room is cleaned up again, and the thread back on the wall racks. The blocks are on the design wall with some fabrics that I am considering. The bag pattern is still being considered as well. A rainy day, perfect for sewing is ahead.
By the way, did you see the post – it note on the very first picture? I think the last time I changed my needle in that machine was July 3rd, and I’ve done a project or two since then. The post it note helps me remember when that was, and since it is the 1st of September, perhaps it is time to clean the machine and change the needle! How often do you change your embroidery machine needle? Curious…….Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Links to the You Tube video sew along for the flower shop – https://youtu.be/dJN7665_d4I
Link to the pattern – https://www.shop.dzgns.com/collections/designs-projects/products/april-small-town-charm-project?variant=39278270742597