The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

twigThe temperature is dropping all day today.  By tomorrow morning, we’ll be below zero.  Not unusual for this time of year in the midwest, just a reminder that we don’t control much.

I’ve had the privilege of having a week off during these holidays, and while I’ve done some sewing and done some relaxing,  I’ve also had the chance to get out for a walk or two. I have a stunned appreciation for the beauty of nature in my immediate surroundings.

You just have to know where to look.

I ran into a coyote the other day…one of my biggest fears.  He did a mild assessment of me, and, as my husband likes to point out, he saw that I was not walking a chihuahua that would make a good lunch, and he turned away.

Nevertheless, the winter landscape never fails to leave me in awe.

I am sewing, I promise, and I’ll share some of my latest projects soon.

But for now, a brief winter interlude.

winter hikeferson creekfersoncreek2chicken soup


Christmas Embroidery

Maybe I’m feeling blue this Christmas.  Maybe I’m just inspired by all the recent snow we’ve had.  Whatever the reason, the other day, I was driving down Randall road and a small grove of trees (weeds?) against a snow bank caught my eye.

On a side road I can usually stop and take a picture to capture the scene and the light.  But not this time.  This time I was in a hurry, running around doing Christmas errands, etc. No time to stop and enjoy anything. No time to stop and take artsy pictures. No time.

But the little vignette stayed with me.

And eventually, I had to sketch it out.

Within minutes, I had embroidered it in my mind.  If I were using paints, it would be so much easier.  Mixing a paint color does not require hunting down the right fabric. When you paint, you don’t have to purchase 3 different colors of paint to help decide which is right.  You simply mix the colors yourself.

Besides, I wasn’t thread painting.  I was digitizing.  When you digitize you can start with a very simple sketch.  The rest is done in software.  I drew and assigned colors in software.

Here’s my little sketch.  Squeezed in during the holidays, because it simply wanted to exist. I had no time for it.  But it found its own way out.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and a happy and blessed new year.  May all your artwork find its way out.

snow embroidery

It's about 12 inches wide

It’s about 12 inches wide

In progress.

In progress.

The view from the sewing room.

The view from the sewing room.

The 30 second sketch I used to start digitizing.

The 30 second sketch I created to start digitizing.


The Problem With Starting Projects


The problem with starting projects…or buying fabric for that matter…is that you have to finish them.  You know what I’m talking about.  Every single one of you has a project somewhere that has been lurking for, um, years.  You’ve lost interest, moved onto something new and exciting.  Or maybe you just haven’t had the time.


I hearby declare January the “Finish a Project” month. And 2014 the “Get Out From Under” Year.  If, like me, you have projects waiting patiently for you to complete them, then let’s all agree to get one done in January.

We can’t do it in December and everyone knows why.  Even if you will be completing projects in December they are likely gifts and you are under a deadline and those don’t count.  We’re looking for the poor, neglected, procrastinated projects.  We’re looking for the ones you gave up because it became tedious, or boring or difficult.  We want to clear away that ever-growing stack of projects that get sidelined for a “higher priority”.  Usually for me, it’s work or classes, or housecleaning, as if housecleaning will be on my list of life’s accomplishments.

Let’s find at least one that’s worth completing.  I’m starting with the three shown below.  I have no idea if I will be able to get one of them done in January, but I’m certainly going to try.  The others will get incorporated over the course of the new year.

I know, without a doubt, that life will get in the way.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t try.

A fun Christmas Baltimore Album quilt.  Needs a bunch more blocks put together, but a good January project.  No chance I'll get it done this Christmas, so a good one to work on during Downton Abbey episodes.

A fun Christmas Baltimore Album quilt. Needs a bunch more blocks put together, but a good January project. No chance I’ll get it done this Christmas, so a good one to work on during Downton Abbey episodes.

Definitely want to get this one done by spring. Problem is that it's queen size. Won't be easy to quilt on my machine at home. Dreaming of a longarm.

Definitely want to get this one done by spring. Problem is that it’s queen size. Won’t be easy to quilt on my machine at home. Dreaming of a longarm.

This is a grown up quilt.  complete with instructions and history of each block. I'm ready.

This is a grown up quilt. Complete with instructions, history of each block and reproduction fabric. I’m ready.


Machine Embroidery Applique

I know you’re out there….all of you who have heard about applique using your embroidery machine, but have not seen a design created this way or have not had the courage to try it on your own.

No problem.

Last night I stitched out this design from one of the new Bernina collections called “Caravan”.  Now when I say “Bernina collections”, it just means that Bernina distributes the designs.  You don’t have to own a Bernina. The designs work on any embroidery machine, and come in all machine formats.

First start stitching out the design.  I chose a denim jacket to support all the craft stitches included in this design and I used 2 layers of poymesh cutaway stabilizer.

caravan1This embroidery machine applique collection contains designs for applique, cutwork, crystalwork, paintwork and a printable. The kit comes with a catalog of designs, as well as suggested thread colors, pattern pieces and even a way to get your designs back if you accidentally write over the usb stick!


Bernina embroider software 7Keep Bernina Embroidery Software 7 open nearby, or you can use any software or none at all. It just helps to keep track of the thread colors as you go.



placement lineBecause the design was originally digitized as an applique, one thread color will be used as a placement line. This is usually just a simple running stitch.




applique fabricAdd the fabric, then let the next thread color run.  It will trace the outline of the applique. Use applique scissors to cut away the fabric around the top running stitch.




applique scissorsI prefer to use these small rounded snips because they allow me to get into tight corners.  Because they point up, they’ll also prevent you from poking holes in the fabric underneath. You can find different types of applique scissors on the market.



caravan in progressTake your time with these designs as you will be stopping to lay down fabric, trim it away and the design will layer stitches on top to finish the look.  This particular design had 5 layers of applique.  Can you see them all?



Looks great on my denim jacket!

Looks great on a denim jacket!

I apologize for the darkness of some of these shots.  That’s what happens when I work at night!  Anyway, here’s the final design!  The detail on it is magnificent!  Machine embroidery applique is not difficult at all.  It’s just knowing when to lay down fabric.  Jump in and try this.  It will give your designs added dimension, color and complexity without adding more stitches.