Feeling a little Crafty

January has been a fun month doing lots of activities with family and friends.  Typically, I am NOT a “crafty” person.  I’m a quilter.  Now, that said…it’s been a crafty kind of week!

I took a trip over to Alexandria VA last weekend to participate in the “MAKER’S MILE” in Old Town Alexandria.  This event was sponsored by Fibre Space, Penny Post, Stitch Sew Shop, Red Barn Mercantile and A/R Workshop.  For a modest fee, we attended “maker’s workshops” at each shop, and made a small project.

We started at Penny Post, which is a delightful stationary shop.  Our project was to “decorate” a small notebook.  Materials were all provided and we had fun trying out new stamps, fun pens, washi tape etc.

Penny Post project

Our next stop was Red Barn Mercantile, where we created cute little beaded necklaces.  This project was fun until the end, when pliers were needed.  After a lengthy search for them, the clerks finally appeared with a set. Couldn’t have finished without them to put the last bead on!

Red Barn Mercantile  project

We followed that project up with a nice lunch at a rather historical location – Gadsby’ Tavern Restaurant.

Lunch stop in Old Town Alexandria

Gadsby's Tavern

Hey – George really did eat here….there was a picture of him…on the way down the stairs to the toilets……

George ate here

We walked off our lunch by heading to A/R Workshop.  There we selected our “inspiration word for 2019” and did a little painting. This shop was a little more “hands on” helping with the project.

Inspiration word at A/R Workshop

Heading back to the other end of the Maker’s Mile, we road the free trolly through Old Town.  We hopped off and walked a few blocks to Fibre Space, a lovely shop full of yard and patterns and nice people. There certainly a lot of knitters working on projects in the store and the knitter I was with went shopping while I attended the workshop and 3 youngsters. Everyone got their pom-pom key ring made, and it was probably the most “hands on” of the projects thus far.

Fibre Space project

Last stop was Stitch Sew Shop – where the task was a counted cross stitch item.  We were given a kit, told to select to contrasting colors of embroidery floss, then left to our own devices to get the needle threaded etc.  (I gave up after 3 tries…no needle threader, 6 strands of floss and standing to work on the project.)  Into my bag it went, and I intend to try it at another time. I was startled to find no needle threader available on the notions wall in a sewing store. The shop was very crowded, as we arrived in the first hour they offered the activity. I watched a “sewer” working diligently on a project bag while there were 25 people crowded around the table next to her. KUDOS to her for her concentration.

Stitch Sew Shop project

Is it a UFO if you never started???   I’ll take it on my trip tomorrow and see if I can do something with it!

At home this week, I had a Bee on Tuesday, Second Time Around on Wednesday, and today, after packing for my trip tomorrow, I took some time to do a test run of a project I have planned for February.  I made a wreath for my sewing room wall.  I started with a wire frame from Dollar Tree, then wrapped it in pale pink lace.

Sewing room wreath project

I got out the hot glue gun and all those old wooden spools of thread from the bins of “unsold stuff” at Second Time Around.  I trimmed and glued and and kept piling on things until I was satisfied with the results.

Sewing room wreath

I think it worked out pretty well, and I can’t wait to hang it on the wall in my sewing room.  But first, I am going to use it as a sample when my Queen Bee friends come over and they work on their own wreaths.  Plus, I am going to “borrow” their back, and use it as a display during our quilt show.  I think I am going to assemble some “KITS  to make your own wreaths” and sell them at the quilt show. in the Second Time Around Booth.  We have an ABUNDANCE of supplies, like old buttons, notions, thread etc, and this seems like the perfect solution.  (My daughter said to me recently that if I had a “sample of a craft” they could get inspired! Here’s my sample.

So, that’s all the crafty stuff for now.  No sewing, but a lot of fun.

I’ll be off on a trip for the next week, but I am taking my English Paper Piecing hexies with me and that counted cross stitch project too.    What’s happening in your crafty world?

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Embroidery Machine Projects

I figured out last week after attending the embroidery club gathering that I could hoop stabilizer, and so this week I have been working on long sleeve tee shirts for my youngest granddaughter.  I order 2 packages of shirts from WalMart.com and washed them to “pre-shrink” when they arrived.  She is just growing into a 4T and these might last her through the winter. I’ve enjoyed going through my various notebooks of designs and picking things that would suit her.

The first one I decided to make was called Trick or Treat Kitty —

Trick or Treat Kity

I used variegated thread for the cat and the bat on the hat. (Say that fast!)  Pleased with how we got a great striped cat, but not so much for the bat on top of the hat.  I didn’t want to make a black bat on a black shirt, so I thought it would stand out with the variegated thread….a little disappointing. (Hindsight I should have used silver!)

The second shirt was called Garden Sketch Kitty –

Garden Sketch kitty

This “sketch” design seemed a little light on the pumpkins and squash, and I ran the stitching a second time.  I should have run it again on the yellow flower or chosen a bolder brighter yellow.

Next up were pink pumpkins on a blue shirt….

Pumpkin sketch design

This “sketch” design put down a LOT of thread…and that’s good…because this thread by Superior Threads, GLOWS in the dark!  (Not that a 2 year old will be “in the dark” very often…but it is fun.  )

The next package of t-shirts were pastels, and I searched for “non-seasonal” designs in my notebooks.

Stitching out the cat face

This was the most challenging design of all with 3 pieces of applique and MANY thread changes.  Can you tell what it is?

(This was the FAVORITE of this group of 4 shirts)  She was very excited when her mother was showing her the shirts.  I think it turned out well, in spite of me letting get a sleeve under the hoop and having to spend an HOUR unstitching 1  flower to release the sleeve…sigh…

Cat Face

Hooping those little t-shirts is a challenge, trying to keep all the stuff “out of the way” while it stitches.

The next two shirts I finished up this afternoon.

Carousal Unicorn

Who doesn’t want to ride on a pegasus unicorn on the carousel??

And the final one…I couldn’t resist!

I love Cats Tshirt

All of these designs were for a 4×4 hoop, stitched out on my Brother PE500 machine. The designs were from Oh My Crafty Supplies.

I used Floriani Sticky back stabilizer in the hoop, and Floriani no show fusible mesh on the back of the shirt, and Floriani water soluble stabilizer  on top. I also backed the shirt after removing from the hoop and clearing jump stitches with a soft product called Cloud Cover (brand unknown) that would keep the thread and stabilizers from scratching a small child.  I used primarily Embroidex thread. (That variegated thread I was sent for free one year at Christmas from Embroidex).

These fun projects kept me busy this week!

What are YOU working on?

 

 

Stitches and more

I am still hanging out…waiting on the stitches in my hand to be taken OUT in another week!  Things have been quiet on my blog because I haven’t been doing too much.  (Stitches are from surgery, not rotary cutter injury!!!)  Anyway, I am healing and puttering about trying to find ways to entertain myself and not get totally bored.

Two days post surgery I had a morning gathering of quilters come work with me on “Second Time Around” fabrics.  I was pretty useless, so I did things like pretend to iron, and organize, teach and answer questions.  My helpers were great.

The next day I was able to remove the surgical bandages and wash my hair~!~  (If you have been restricted you must know how great that was!) There is really nothing worse than trying to shower with you hand in a plastic bag all taped up! I am now using small bandages which I can change myself and do so everytime I wash my hands.

By the time the next round of helpers came on Monday to work with the “Second Time Around”, I was in much better shape and able to do the ironing with no difficulty.  We got a lot of fabric worked in the last week, setting some aside for the April  Ocean Waves Quilt Guild Show.  I have a big booth to fill with fabric at the show for the guild, and there are going to be some beautiful pieces for sale!  One of my faithful helpers, Joyce, worked at home folding and sorting and arranging fat quarters.  I picked those up from her on Friday morning and I have to say, the arrangement is beautiful.  I think there were at least 75-100 that she folded in cute little triangles.  I am setting those all aside for the quilt show, along with those fantastic patriotic ones I got from another friend on Thursday! It’s hard to not put these all out at the OWQG meetings and to save them for the show, but I want to have the very BEST items at the show!!

I’ve been sorting through donated buttons too, bagging the sets up to prepare to sell.  My dilemma with buttons is how to make all the work of sorting and bagging pay off.  Buttons are a funny thing.  We all buy them, we save them in metal tins, and cute jars or funny boxes. We dig through the box looking for “just the right one”, and when we can’t find it, we go to the store, pay $2-12 for the PERFECT button, use one on the card and throw the rest in the button tin!  I’m looking for creative ways to “market” those buttons at the guild meeting and the quilt show. One of my daughters suggested some “button craft ideas” might help, so I started a Pinterest Button Fun page to gather ideas.

I figured out how to pad the palm of my hand successfully so I could go bike riding, 1 week post op. I have enough grip strength in my right hand to operate the back brake, and to hold on to the hand grips.  This week we got in 2 rides, so I  am happy!  (Last week I only got in the one ride on Sunday at the State Park, so I needed to get out!)

I rode on Wednesday night in the Lifecycle Community Slow Cruise with 25 or so folks.

bike ride milford wed 10 10 18

Headlights, tail lights, bright clothing are in order when you ride just after the sun sets.  I added a light to the back of my bike helmet that flashes red, along with the usual ones on the bike.  I also put on my bright yellow reflective safety vest that I picked up at the local WalMart.  I want to make sure drivers can see me at dusk and later.  Here is a picture of our group right before we set out for the ride.

Bike ride wed night 10 10 Milford

Our usual Thursday morning ride got “rained out”, so I asked my daughter if she would like to try for Friday morning. Hurricane Michael passed through our area on Thursday as a tropical storm, and the weather changed to FALL on Friday.  We got together at Lifecycle and 4 of us went for a ride.  Check out this great video & post. Burley babies  .My daughter led the ride, pulling her toddler a Burley trailer.  I am trying to keep up with those young parents, and do ok most of the time. Our Friday ride was wonderful, great crisp weather, though half way through I had to stop and take off my red windbreaker and stuff it in my backpack.  (Note to self…bring the thinner one next time or wear a long sleeve tee-shirt!)

My daughter leads this route and the only challenging thing is crossing one road near the fire station in Milford.  Took us about 5 minutes to get a break in traffic to get across.  There is a wonderful path in front of the shopping center along the highway, and around the corner…then it just “ends”.  No crosswalks etc.  And no real way to cross at the traffic light.  So we try to cross just down the road at the next corner, but it is tough, because there is so much traffic from the highway, and so much traffic coming out of town toward the highway.  Overall, Milford is a very bike friendly town.

bike ride Milford Friday 10 12 18     5 miles

For the most part, drivers in Milford are very respectful of the Delaware bike laws, which gives bikes “the lane”.  Delaware Bike Code is also very “bike friendly”, yet a lot of motorists are not aware of the latest changes.  A prominent citizen was hit and killed last year on a bike and the driver went to trial recently. The driver is awaiting sentencing later in the month.  Basically, the law requires that vehicles can pass a bike in a lane only when it is safe to do so, giving the bike at least 3 feet of space between the vehicle and the bike, or by going into the opposing lane.  There are not many shoulders that are safe to ride on (unpaved), and attitudes about bikes are all over the spectrum.  One reason I like riding in Milford is, for the most part, the streets in town are wide, all have 25 mph limits.  Bikes are allowed to ride 2 wide in the lane, and operate just like a motor vehicle.   The more I ride in group events the more I see drivers who are aware of the laws.  I observe the other riders giving friendly waves to motorists and see the friendly waves coming back.  So, being seen is good, being acknowledged by a motorist is better with a wave. Did you know, in Delaware, it is illegal to HONK at bike riders to facilitate them to get OUT of the motorist way.  We did have a friendly tractor trailer driver give our big group a nice air horn “toot” when he was traveling in the opposite direction the other night.  He was waving out the window too.  That type of honk was friendly & fun, not scary!

After riding, I did need to ice the hand a bit.  Keeping it in one position on the grips was challenging, so I did try to adjust periodically.   I am trying to follow orders, so I am keeping the ice on periodically through the day to prevent/reduce swelling.  This makes it tough to do any real sewing or spending long periods in the sewing room.

I did make some pot holders on Sunday. My husband has been my assistant, taking things in and out of the oven and was complaining about our old thinning pot holders.  My friend Nancy tossed a scrap bit my way Saturday that was perfect for pot holders, and using my Fiskars 60mm stick style rotary cutter and a fresh blade, I was able to cut the pieces and some batting and Insul Bright thermal batting to size.  Sewing was easier than I thought, and since these were 8×10 pieces, they were easy to quilt. I quilting some warm and natural to each piece of fabric, then sandwiched the Insul-bright in the middle, and added just enough quilting to hold the layers together and keep the Insul Bright from shifting.   I had a terrible time binding them, as my fingers were just not “nimble enough” yet.  They are about 7.5×9.5 finished, and they work, but every time I look at that binding I cringe.  Not my best work, but I do have an excuse and they function.  I certainly won’t take the binding off to fix them at this point. He likes the Insul Bright layer, but said they were rather “stiff” .  I think washing will help to soften them up.

worlds worst binding

There was “just enough” of this cute fabric to get 3 pot holders.

I have played a bit with my embroidery machine this week.  I was able to get something hooped and stitched out.  The project turned out well. I took the embroidered piece and incorporated it into a project for a Christmas gift. No pictures until after Christmas. Secret stuff……  

My embroidery club had the monthly gathering on Tuesday, and I stitched out some free standing lace (FSL) ornaments.

Free standing lace ornaments

I got a little worried when the 2nd one was stitching, thinking I might just “run out” of the gold thread!

Close call

 I still need to put the item back in the hoop and get one or two more stitched.  I learned from one of the members to cut a “larger piece” so I could get more than one in the hoop.  This saves on the stabilizing products. The next ones I stitch out will require a different spool of thread I think!!

 I had a couple of Free Standing lace  (FSL) “FAILS” on Monday when I stitched up a couple of designs.  I don’t know if it was bad digitizing or poor efforts on my part, but the designs fell apart when the vilene was washed out. I was so disgusted, as one design was more than 20,000 stitches.  That was a lot of wasted thread!  I got so mad I deleted all the designs in that group from my computer !  They looked perfect until you washed away the vilene!  Keep your fingers crossed on these designs.  I have 3 friends doing LOTS of FSL to decorate a Christmas tree for a charity event, and I thought I would give it a try.  I am going to survey them to get info on the designs they had success with to order and add to my collection.  

I got a little “design crazy” with embroidery downloads this week, and have some plans for gifts.  I found myself overloaded with the “color charts” that I print when I download a design.  I added 3 new “notebooks” to my filing system, and spent an afternoon “filing” designs in them.  I broke out a couple of categories into their “own” notebook.  I belong to several Facebook groups that send you in search of free designs, so I didn’t spend much on the designs, other than ink and paper.

I read comments/questions from people in groups about how to organize your embroidery design downloads.  I feel like I have a good system.  I have a folder on the computer for all my embroidery design downloads.  Inside that folder are many subfolders, by category.   I have 53 MAIN categories, the rest of the folders are “sub” folders.  My categories are things like Animals, alphabet, verses, sewing designs, Christian, transportation, holidays, seasons etc.  Inside a category, like SEASONS, I have sub folders, WINTER, SPRING, SUMMER, FALL.  Inside each of those sub folders are many ZIP folders with the designs.    I have 1.5 g b in files – 8007 files in 500 sub folders.  That is a LOT to contend with if they were not organized.  

Usually when you download a design it comes in a ZIP folder, so that accounts for the number of sub-folders!  When I print out the color change sheet, I try to file them in a notebook under a tab  that mirrors what is on the computer.  This helps me “find” the actual design on the computer when I want to use it.  I also try to “add” detail to the automatically assigned file name when I download, using what is printed on the color change sheet so I can make sense of it later when I want to stitch out the design.  All in all, this seems to work for me. Most of the designs I have were freebies.  I’ve posted previously about my “sources”.  I very rarely buy a design.  Hubby saw one the other day while I was working on the computer that he wanted for a gift project, so I did break my “no buying” rule.    I am curious how others organize their designs.  I have a friend who just keeps them in the “download” folder on the computer, but has challenges finding what she wants.    

I hope you have been taking the opportunity to follow along with Carole’s Autumn Jubilee posts.  Her post yesterday included an Autumn Jubilee Placemats Sew Along.  Be sure to follow her blog and sew along for a chance to win great prizes.  Are you “sewing along”?  I am following along this season due to my limitations, but enjoying all her posts!

Have a great weekend!

 

The little things

I do believe it’s the little things that make life fun.  Hubby and I took a ride to Philadelphia last week.  On our drive, once we broke free from the rain, we had a chance to see a fantastic double rainbow.  I was not driving so chanced a few shots thru the wet glass.

Double rainbow

And just when I thought we wouldn’t see it any longer, we went around a bend and I got this –

RAINBOW

The rest of the drive was without rain, for which I was thankful. I called this shot God’s Promise!  It did help me to find a bit of calm to get through the next few days. (Boring medical stuff ….insert sigh here). (No you can’t see those pictures!)

Once back home, we got ready for the arrival of the grandkids along with their parents for the weekend. Coming home from an outing on Saturday, we had a visitor in the driveway. My observant daughter saw the visitor, and I was able to encourage him into the lawn to avoid being run over.

Yard art

Since the kids were visiting on the first day of fall, I decided to put my Autumn Jubilee placemats out on the table. Early one morning the 6 year old was playing with legos at the table, and making a little vignette. I reached into the china closet and pulled out some extra “goodies” to help decorate her lego village.

Autumn has arrived

These little pumpkin candles and cornucopias were favorites of my husband while he was growing up, and he cherishes them. Vintage bordering on antique! His mother carefully packed them away every season into a “cheese box” and into the china cabinet they went. My 6 year old granddaughter loved the little girl witches and the pumpkin salt and pepper shakers. They are fun to take out and have on the table for a little while!

Vintage candles

I wouldn’t be surprised to find a 29 cent price sticker on the bottom of one from the  5&10 store! (Circa 1950).

My 6 year old granddaughter needed a little extra grandma time on Sunday morning, and asked to go to my quilt room.  Once there, she decided she just LOVED a block on my design wall.  Well, she loved 2 blocks, but narrowed her choices to one. In no time at all, we had a little 15″ envelope style pillow case made and stuffed with a pillow form.  She did all my pinning, while I chatted with her about what I was doing. She wanted to make a gift for her big sister, and in under an hour, we were finished!

quick Pillow project with granddaughter

We got the pillow form stuffed in and into a gift bag just in time for departure!  (No the pillow didn’t get quilted, but I think the recipient didn’t mind or notice!)  The funny thing is, she was drawn to the colors of the blocks that my friend had “handed off” to me as UFO’s.  Thanks for the blocks Pam!! The block went to good use!  The little things…

Before you knew it, the weekend was over and the house settled into quiet again. I miss the little voices when they leave. It was wonderful to have both daughters and all 4 grandkids and 2 son-in-laws around the dinner table on Friday night and to listen to the laughter and the chatter and the stories.

I have continued to play with my embroidery machine as time permits.  I had fun working on dish towels – 

Start with Coffee

Espresso design

These 2 designs are from Oh My Crafty Supplies website.  I have a special person in mind for these.  I did two other designs, but won’t show them quite yet…because I forgot to photograph them!

I did a little more quilting on the never ending placemats —

Batik placemats

This is the end of the line with 18 placemats. These need trimmed and they all need squaring up and binding.  I did all the quilting with ONE of my favorite Superior Threads –

Superior Batik Blue #5021

Batik Blue #5021

Superior Batik Blue Fantastico

It’s the little things…..I finished my machine quilting with thread left on the spool and 1/2 a bobbin full. I usually shop for thread at quilt shows, and will have to keep my eyes open for someone vending Superior Thread in the next month or 2! Otherwise, an order will have to go out.  This is the 2nd spool of this thread that I have used and I just love how it blends!

I brought home a quilt to bind, from the assisted living facility where I have volunteered for the last 9 months. I made the binding 2 weeks ago, and this afternoon got it trimmed and bound. I think the “first time” quilter, Trish, did a fine job.  I will deliver it on Thursday to her when I go to volunteer.  I used “Susie’s Magic Binding” and love the little pop of color the flange gives the edge of the quilt. This method is done all by machine, no handwork, which is why I love it.  It’s the little things…

Trish's baby quilt

I’m feeling grateful for the new members of Ocean Waves Quilt Guild who have come the last 2 Monday’s  to help me with 2nd Time Around prep for the Quilt Show. And for my co-chair who keeps taking home large quantities of fabric to prep!  I love that people are so willing to volunteer.  And I love that people in the guild are willing to donate their “scraps” and unwanted fabrics. We had the most BEAUTIFUL batiks come through the donations!!  (No – my placemat batiks did not come through the guild…they came from a friend at my church!)

The rest of this week is busy busy busy, with the Queen Bees gathering on Tuesday, and hopefully a bike ride on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning!  I missed riding in the last 3 weeks!  Another fabric donation pick up on Wednesday morning, a few appointments scattered in, and more 2nd Time Around prep for the guild meeting next Monday.

In the coming weeks, I am not going to be going at my normal pace.  I need to have 2 surgeries on my right hand; so my involvement will be limited to doing what I can with the “other” hand.  For a 2 handed typist, my blog posts will be scarce, projects limited etc. For 2nd time around, I will be restricted to folding and pressing with “the other hand”.  I guess I can sort and price buttons!!   And boy, do we have some awesome buttons!   Like I said, it’s the little things.

As you go through your day, look for the little things to find joy!   

.

 

Dish towels and Embroidery fun

I love to use my Brother PE500 embroidery machine to stitch designs on dish towels.  My favorite towels are called Retro Stripe Towels, under the brand name Aunt Martha’s Stitch ‘ Em Up blank goods.  The towels are made in India and distributed in the US by Colonial Patterns Inc, of Kansas City MO.  I have seen them on Amazon, but I buy mine from Walmart.com.  I used to find them in the store, but now have to order them thru the website.  They come in a package of 3, and measure out 18×28. They are 100% cotton, and are hemmed, with a loop in the upper left corner for hanging if desired.  I have used these since 2013 for embroidery projects, and my daughters tell me they hold up well to washing.  Before I embroider with the machine, I launder these towels in hot water, and put in a hot dryer.  I want to maximize the shrinkage before I do the stitching.  I think you lose about an inch in both directions after washing.  Yes, they need to be ironed after the first wash.  I use a mist of water combined with spray starch and give them a good pressing, right before I embroider.

My quilt guild, Ocean Waves Quilt Guild, Lewes Delaware is having a quilt show on April 26 & 27 2019.  One thing that happens at our shows is Raffle Baskets.  One of my bees, the Queen Bees, decided to choose the garden basket to contribute to the show.  We did the garden basket at our last show, so it was an easy choice.  I contributed a garden apron last time, but someone already signed up to make one this time, so I thought dish towels with something from the garden would work.

I had some fun the last couple of days stitching out designs from Embroidery Library.  They have high quality design that stitch very well.  I have a series of “baskets” and thought the designs would be right.  They are very dense designs and take about an hour or more to stitch out.  Most had between 10-12 thread changes.

Autumn Bounty Basket

Autumn Bounty Basket – Embroidery Library # H7481; 14584 stitches 3.88 x 2.44

Blooming Autumn Basket

Blooming Autumn Basket – Embroidery Library H7479; 20,427 stitches

Spring Fling Flower Basket

Spring Fling Flower Basket – Embroidery Library Design – K9637  22563 stitches 3.86×3.36″, 11 color changes

Here is the full set. The bottom basket I forgot to take an individual photo.

Four basket designs on dishtowels

The bottom basket with the apples is also called Blooming Autumn Basket – Embroidery Library # L5107, has 22,366 stitches.

All of these designs are still available on Embroidery Library.  If you are shopping, use the Embroidery # that I referenced in your search. I have stitched out 2 of them before, one on a   and one on a fall tee-shirt.  Too heavy for a thin tee-shirt, but perfect on a sturdy towel.

For the dish towels, I hooped a piece of medium weight cutaway stabilizer.  I used 505 spray on my stabilizer and pressed the towel on the stabilizer, in the hoop, adding a couple of pins around the edge of the frame for stability.  I floated an extra piece of medium weight cutaway under the hoop.  I topped with a piece of water soluble stabilizer.  During my stitchouts, I realised that the daffodils were too “tan”, even though the color I had chosen was a  .  I went back over those petals and “re-stitched” with a lighter yellow. The shading ended up great.  I also had to – over the leaves in the basket with the daffodils, as the color was just “too blue” for my taste.  The last 2 baskets were giving me fits with thread breaks and I did a lot of “backing up” and restarting. I finally changed my needle, twice, before my machine was happy again.  I don’t know if it was the 505 spray that was still to “wet” or if it was that the needle was just tired!  Same needle has been in my machine for the last 3 weeks, so perhaps it was over-due.    I went through 2 bobbins during the stitch out, which surprised me. I’m glad I have that large spool of bobbin thread from thread art, and that I can wind them easily on my Janome machine while the embroidery machine stitches across the room.  One lesson I learned on winding bobbins is to not -. The other is, my machine does not like a “low bobbin”.  It throws the tension off, and the machine will stop and give you an “out of bobbin” warning.  I save those last few feet of bobbin thread for hand stitching my English paper piecing projects.

All 4 dish towels are finished, ready to bag up and deliver to the next Queen Bees gathering.

Side note – I got finished with these stitch outs, and my dear husband tells me……..they are too heavy for using to dry dishes.  So, maybe whoever wins the raffle basket will just use them to decorate with.  I might go back and find some “lighter” designs for the next round of towels!  I considered the size of the design; less than 4″x4″ and the overall size of the towel (18×28″) and decided there is plenty of room to dry!  These designs do soften up with multiple washings over time, but he is right in that they feel heavy. One reason I did not like them on a t-shirt was it felt much like having an armor plate on your chest with all those stitches.  Hindsight….. off to check out lighter designs at Embroidery Library

PS…no, I don’t work for Embroidery Library, and no, I get no compensation.  I pay them for my designs!  😉

Do you have a “favorite” embroidery design source?  Do tell……

Embroidery machine fun and other small projects

I got in the mood last week to play with my embroidery machine a bit.  Last post, Summer Winding Down I shared a small zip bag made with my machine.  I also decided to make a “name tag” to wear when I go to my Queen Bee’s gatherings.

I was inspired last Tuesday by my friend Nancy’s hand made tag.  She designed and hand appliqued her bee skep (bee hive) , and used her embroidery machine just for her name.  Isn’t the little bee made from beads and a flower petal sweet?

Nancy's name tag

Since I loath sewing by hand, I thought I would keep a watchful eye out for something I could use my embroidery machine to make the tag.  I found the perfect design at SewSweetly.com  .

Beehive pattern

I do like to keep track of what I used in the various color changes on the color sheet, just in case I want to duplicate or change something on the “next run”.  I stitched out the 3.5″ design.  The 4″ would not open on my Brother PE500.  I am guessing it was bigger than 100 mm, even though it was labeled as a 4×4.

Playing with variegated thread

I decided to use that wonderful Embroidex variegated thread I was given 2 years ago!

Beehive name tag

Did have to do a little hand stitching after I put a back on the design and close it up at the bottom, but overall I am happy with the outcome.  I didn’t have any clasps on hand so I hand stitched a big safety pin on the back to allow me to pin this to my shirt at my next bee.

I’m keep my eye open for the perfect bumble bee to attach to this hive!

NOTE – I am not affiliated with this website!  But have to tell you everything is on sale today.  I paid $3 for the design last week, and you can get it today for $0.75.

Happy stitching….off for another bike ride!

Christmas Cardinal Block

Yesterday I showed you a peak of my Christmas Cardinal Block I was working on.  It was such a cheery block to work with, I just could not “stop” and wait until the Queen Bees gathering on Tuesday.  My husband is still laughing because I was “working ahead” of the bee project!

Cardinals are said to mate for life, and I don’t want an odd number! I finished up the first block and cut enough fabric to make at least 2 or 3 more.  Those pieces will hold until Tuesday for our bee gathering.  

The FREE PATTERN source for the Cardinal block — Mom and Pop Quilt shop

The block was  designed for a Christmas 2017 quilt.  All the specifics are on the link above. Laura-Lynn of Mom & Pop Quilt Shop even wrote a nice comment on yesterday’s blog post and included a you-tube video link   She does videos all the time and has a 48 minute video talking about the construction of the block. Laura-Lynn’s videos make me feel like I am sitting in her sewing room with her, as she chats and laughs while she sews!

Anyway, I thought I would share a little bit more about my first cardinal block.  I decided the block would be incorporated into a pillow.  I sized everything for an 18″ pillow, and used the “envelope style” for ease of stuffing and unstuffing of the pillow form or one of my every day pillows.

Envelope style back

Since it will be a Christmas decoration, I want the ability to pack it away flat after the holiday.  I will probably slip my existing sofa pillows into the cushion cover.

The block finished at 12″ and I added a borders before quilting.  I really wanted the bird to “pop”, so after I cut my muslin and cotton batting I slipped 2 more layers of wool batting under the area of the bird.  Once I did some outline quilting of the bird, I folded back the square and trimmed along the edges.  Then I smoothed out the square and did my quilting around the bird.  Once that was all done, I changed to a variegated red  Superior thread and did some quilting on the bird body.  For the beak I switched thread  again, and used some of my embroidery machine thread in gold and black.  Last but not least was  how to make the eye of the cardinal.  I don’t do hand embroidery, so  I dumped out the button box and dug for “just the right” button.  (Note….I am making more pillows, so I held out a “bunch” of those “just the right buttons”.  No, they won’t be the same.  Each will be unique!)   I looked online at a lot of photos of Cardinals to decide just where to place the eye, and to get a look at the way their feathers lay before I quilted!  Those photos led me to pick a button with gold around the edge.

quilted and ready to trim

Once the quilting was finished,  and the button sewn on for the eye, I trimmed off the excess batting and muslin.  (Note, I used the muslin so the inside of the pillow would be smooth)

Here is a close-up of the bird – You can see how I quilted his body.  The addition of the extra 2 layers of batting give the cardinal a plump look.

Cardinal Close-up

The pillow form was inserted and I think I got the look I was after.

Cardinal Pillow finished

I now have a pair of 18″ Christmas pillows from this line of Moda Christmas TOLE fabric.  I bought several yards of the coordinating fabric a few years ago to make 6 Star Christmas pillow slip covers for my daughter.  You might remember I had trouble with one pillow and the markings from a pencil, and had to “remake” her 6th pillow.  So, I ended up with 1 star pillow.   I can STILL see those faint lines from the silver quilt marking pencil, but from a galloping horse it blurs into the background.  The following Christmas I made her a table runner with the same star pattern.  (I linked to it yesterday).   Because I still have several yards left, I chose this fabric for the project.  The body of the cardinal is from red scraps of varying origins and vintages. The selvage was on the red holly leave and was from 1992! While looking at the Moda Tole fabric,  I looked at the sale ticket from the original Moda fabric purchase – 2016. 

Cardinal and Star

In one of the comments yesterday, Quilting Nurse asked if it was a hard pattern to make.  I must say I found it fun and easy!  I mentioned to her a couple of things.  I think the cutting instructions I had could be improved.  The pattern had us cut squares at 2 7/8 for the half square triangles (HST), and 3 1/4″ for the beak quarter square triangles (QST).  I don’t know about you but I like even 1/2 ” increments.    My suggestion is to cut for your favorite method of making a 2.5″ HST.  Some people like to make the 8 at a time method.  I like to cut my HST base pieces at 3″ and construct, and trim to 2.5″ with the June Tailor Perfect Half Square/Quarter Square Triangle ruler.  Others might be using Bonnie Hunter’s methods with strips and the easy angle or Deb Tucker’s method.  Which every way you do it, cut so you have a 2.5″ HST when it is done.   All the squares in the basic block are 2.5″ before being sewn into rows!  Bottom line, I would rather trim than come up short of HST & QST.   So, before you start cutting, decide your “best method” and adjust accordingly.

I will be taking my first bird for show and tell, and doing some more construction during the Queen Bee’s gathering on Tuesday.    If you make one of these Cardinal blocks, tell me what you will do with it.  Wall hanging, table runner, quilt???   Share your photo’s.  Have fun stitching!