This time, since I am into garden season, I thought I’d try something slightly different by adding a garden flag made from Kraft-Tex. Now, I know that it has been a truly rainy season in my area, so I though it would be interesting to find out how the flag holds up during rain. I know it can be washed and dried without any issues, and I already tested the ribbon I’m using for color-fastness. So I’m not really worried about the rain.
I promise to show you what it looks like after a few weeks. We’ll all find out!
The embroidery showed up really well on white, and then I placed it on the grey or charcoal color. I find that Kraft-Tex holds up well with lots of embroidery…upwards of 20,000 stitches..as long as I use the right stabilizers. I find it best to use a medium weight cutaway, with a layer of Stabilstick cutaway on top of that — 2 layers of cutaway in total.
Then I cut out the pieces and used a bit of scrapbook tape to hold them in position while I stitched them down onto a larger piece of Kraft-Tex.
After assembling the flag, I added some velcro to the top, along with a fold so that it hangs nicely on the iron bar. A bone folder works great to give a nice solid crease. And the velcro makes it easy on-off. I’m thinking that I could make a number or these through the seasons…Fourth of July next.
Finally, I’m playing around with placement outside. I don’t have my annuals set up out there yet, so it’s a bit early. In the meantime, this is easy and gratifying stitching to get done for any season.
Not just the ones who had children at a very young age, but also now those who had them at a normal or not-so-very-young age.
I first started quilting in my twenties when all my friends had babies. I made dozens and dozens of flannel baby quilts, most of them hand-tied and filled with the fluffiest polyester money could buy. The parents and kids loved them.
I moved on to more traditional quilting, took classes, and eventually started teaching. But I never forgot how I got started.
These days, I’m doing a lot on diapers and onesies. It took some experimenting, but I have found the best methodology.
Keep it simple.
Onesies absolutely do not support a whole lot of stitches. Even some fonts are iffy, depending on the number and size of the satin stitches.
Use two layers of polymesh stabilizer.
I use OESD cutaway polymesh. I experimented with one layer and just didn’t think it was enough. Depending on your design, you may even want three layers. A traditional cutaway adds way too much bulk and stiffness, so go with a polymesh. I also tried fusible, but that distorted the look of the onesie. I’m not a fan of 505 spray so I don’t use it when hooping.
Use a ball point needle.
If you’re familiar with embroidering on knits, you already know this. But if you usually embroider on quilt cotton, it’s easy to forget to change out the needle. Onesies are very stretchy and the fabric really separates when you use a ball point or “jersey” needle. It makes a difference in the longevity of the embroidery, because a ball point separates the threads of the fabric instead of cutting right through them.
I use rayon thread (Isacord) which is bleachable and holds up well when washed. I throw onesies right into the washer and dryer…even in hot water and high settings.
The fabric, 100% cotton, always shrinks a bit. And the embroidery may curl because of that. The best way to fix this is to lay a towel on your ironing board, and lay the onesie face down against the towel — with the embroidery against the towel. Iron the back of the onesie without steam until everything is laying flat again. No problem.
I sew on a Bernina and you can see that with their free arm, it’s really easy to stitch on a onesie without a lot of pinning, clipping and gyrations to keep the back out of the way.
Finally, use a 9 month size or larger.
Maybe it’s possible, but I never attempt to embroider a newborn or 3 month size. I just don’t see how I can stretch it enough around the hoop. I’d have to switch to the very smallest hoop which has a tiny field of embroidery. Most of the onesies I’ve done are size 12 month. They still look relatively small, and get smaller after washing. But they are large enough to work on comfortably.
Sending love and blessings to all my friends and co-workers and friends of friends and co-workers who are keeping the earth populated. There’s really nothing quite like participating in the ritual of welcoming the very newest generation.
In fairness, I have a tendency to put a project away for a couple of years, and then come back to it with gusto. This is one of those projects. I am determined to finish it before the end of the summer. I love hand work, and find it very relaxing. And it’s time for this one to move along. I’ve made progress, just not enough.
I do have a couple more tips for you, if you are working with wool.
Remember I said to use a longarm stapler to hold your pieces in place? ( I did.) Well, I’d like to add to that. Use it GENEROUSLY.
See all those staples? They really do help keep things from wandering while you stitch. They leave no mark, they are easy, convenient and not a big deal to pull out. I love it.
2. Try these little leather patches.
I have a weird way of using my ring finger to push the needle. Thimbles are so cumbersome, even the leather thimbles. But these little patches can actually be used and reused so that a single pack of them can last a long time. I can use one patch for weeks. I just peel it off and stick it back into it’s packaging or on the plastic covering, and peel it off again to reuse it the next time. They are perfect when hand sewing quilt bindings, or doing any kind of handwork. Most of us have one finger we use consistently to push the needle. This leaves your finger mostly free except for the exact spot that gets the pressure.
3. Try using a wool pattern in a different color way. Along the way to finishing the project above, I did a whole other project where I added some wool to a cotton wall hanging.
The aquas, golds and greens in this pattern were a fun interpretation of the same floral design. Valdani cotton is my preferred thread for hand work. I have purchased directly from them, but you can find local shops who carry it. If your quilt shop doesn’t, be sure to ask them to start carrying it. You are likely not the only one who would like to see it.
I have lots of other projects up my sleeve coming soon, but this wool project is one I’d like to see completed.
Wish me luck and perseverance. May you find time for all your long term projects too. They teach us that life is short, and we need to keep stitching.
Back to the Easter egg pouches. I’m sure they come with instructions but I never read them. (Surprise, surprise.) Take some scraps of batting, approx, 6 inches x 6 inches, along with some scraps of fabric, about 6 inches x 12 inches. You’ll need 2 of the smaller size for the top and bottom half of your egg, a larger quilt sandwich for the backing/lining.
Wrap the smaller size fabric around the batting, so you have a straight edge to lay against the fold.
As you can see here, I didn’t even cut my scraps with any precision, as they will be completely trimmed away. You are just making sure that the batting is covered front and back. The fabric shown is Modern Quilt Studio’s Dot Crazy. I love this because it has fabric with a line of larger dots through the center…no piecing necessary.
The design will walk you through all the steps on your machine. The first stitch out will be the placement line for the zip, which stitches directly onto the stabilizer.
Then stitch down lines on the zipper, then you lay down the top part of the egg with the fold right up to the zipper. The design will then stitch across the top fabric on the zipper. The goal is to make sure you have enough fabric wrapped around the batting to cover both sides of the egg.
Next, it will stitch the top half of the egg down.
Then lay your bottom fabric with the fold up against the zipper, as you did with the top. The next stitch will secure the bottom fabric to the zipper, and the stitch after that will secure the bottom half of the egg.
Move your zipper pull to the middle of the design!
This will allow you to turn the pouch inside out once it has been stitched. Now, you can also add a ribbon or handle at the top before the backing/lining is stitched down. (As I did). Add a quilt sandwich with the backing and lining down on top.
The final stitch is a zigzag to secure the seams.
This entire stitch out is a total of 6 minutes–almost as long as it take to read this blog post. These are easy and really quick, using fabric and scraps you likely have lying around.
When you take it out of the hoop, trim close to the stitching. Remove the stabilizer from around the zipper, and then open the zipper as far as you can. This will help when you turn the bag inside out. Remove as much of the stabilizer on the rest of the bag as possible. You should only see a bit of stabilizer around the outside seam, and a tiny bit where the zipper is attached. Everything else can be removed. Turn your little egg inside out and press.
Use your egg pockets as decorations or gifts–a great gift card holder or candy pouch!
Actually, it’s just raining. but they say the snow is coming…and plenty of it. I am skeptical, but that’s nothing new.
These little ornaments on the tree are made from Kraft Tex. (See my previous post for more details.) I think they turned out cute, and I am anxious to try stitching them out on fabric and turning them into little stuffed ornaments. I think that would be adorable. These have designs on both sides, because I just wanted some flexibility. I’ll need to make some minor adjustments to the software file I use to stitch out the designs on fabric. On the new ones, I’ll add a seam around the outside, leaving an opening to turn them. Then it will be just a matter of stuffing them. I’ll share when I start that.
But for this task, I wanted to show you the greatest little tool I got at the shop as it was closing. I didn’t think I’d ever need it, didn’t really have any idea why I might use it, but of course I purchased it anyway.
And it sat in my sewing room for over a year.
(Incidentally, as we speak, the rain has turned to snow out my window. Maybe they are not all liars after all.)
It’s called a Circle Rotary Cutter from Olfa. I finally decided to try it out for this project and I am in love with it. I guess I just didn’t know how desperately I needed to cut accurate circles. It has a ruler attached so you can set the radius. You basically use it like a compass, with the sharp point in the center, and a blade instead of a pencil at the end. Suddenly I am imagining all the wool projects I’d like to invent using circles, as well as paper, Kraft Tex, felt, and basically anything a rotary cutter will go through.
In minutes I had beautiful, ACCURATE circles. Do not discount the significance of getting a circle perfectly round.
I am off now, to work on a quick quilt that I must finish before the holidays. We all have those last minute projects. For those of you in the Midwest, Happy Blizzard-Sewing!
C’mon. You know you’ve seen this truck everywhere.
I’m not sure when it became the definitive retro/vintage/holiday symbol. But somewhere along the way it did. I’ve seen it in catalogs, in charming shops, on TV (Hallmark Channel has at least one movie where the truck is a co-star.) I’m sure this old truck obsession is a simple longing for tradition, simplicity, home-baked cookies and the scent of actual pine. But let’s remember: this cute, sentimental old truck could put out enough dangerous fumes to choke a horse pulling an open sleigh. We are excellent at suspending reality during the holidays.
That said, my grandfather had a dark green/blue one just like it on the farm. (You can see it in the pic with Mom and me below.)
Since I’m as sentimental as everybody else around the holidays, I found myself purchasing the truck machine embroidery shown at the top. Buy it here.
I stitched it out on Kraft Tex. If you’re not familiar with Kraft Tex, it’s the miracle textile that the Levi’s logo is made of. It doesn’t rip. It’s washable. It lasts forever and takes a beating and doesn’t show wear and tear. And you can sew with it and on it.
Then I started getting more ideas about holiday decor using Kraft Tex and machine embroidery. You can find some cute and simple designs here.
I stitched them out, again using the Stabilstick cutaway stabilizer. I put a design on the front and on the back, trimmed them to size, rounded the corners, and stitched in black around the outside. They are the perfect shape for mouse pads. But I added ribbon and will give them out on Thanksgiving as a holiday decoration.
Once I did those, I started testing ornaments.
CAUTION: Don’t just resize the designs.
I tried to take them from 7 or 8 in. wide down to 4 in. Even in software, they did not size down properly. They were not originally .ART files, so the software was struggling to reduce stitches. I tried it anyway, but…
Yuck. Big mistake. So I went back to the website and ordered some new ones in smaller original sizes.
These turned out just fine. I’ll be adding ribbon and using them as ornaments. They will have different designs on each side. I’ll share more when I get them completed.
For now, I’m wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving and a relaxing weekend with loved ones. My holiday will be spent with 10 close family members and 2 dogs. That’s charming and sentimental enough for me.
I found this cute embroidery in Cross Stitch Magazine, Halloween edition.
I am not someone who is into cross stitch, but I think it looks so charming around the holidays. My way of handling this is to digitize it and then use the machine to embroider it. I use Bernina Embroidery Software 8, which has a cross stitch application within the program. If you are not familiar with it, the sub-program has its own “help” section and manual. I find that it is really pretty simple if you know a few basics.
I will share with you what I did to create this design, and you can explore another of my Halloween posts right here.
The first step is to scan the pattern at its original size. This design was approximately 7.5 in. x 6 in. Shown above is the black and white scan of the image, but you can see that this image is enlarged enough to show that I can see the markings of all the different thread colors. That will be important later when I manually add them.
A few basic steps:
Crop the image right up to the outline of the grid. You want it to be cropped as perfectly as possible when you load it into the cross stitch program. I use Adobe Photoshop to do this, but Corel is built into the software program and you can easily use that instead.
Count the grid. The heavy lines indicate ten spaces, so you can get an accurate count. You’ll need that later.
Open the cross stitch program in applications.
Click the “picture” tab and load the picture.
Right click on the picture (this is an important step!) and plug the dimensions of the grid in the width and height. These are the number of grid boxes you counted in the second step. This aligns your image with the grid in the program.
Begin adding in your stitches by clicking on the pencil. At the bottom you can choose the type of stitch…I almost always use a full cross, but you have a number of options.
Choose a color, and you’re ready to fill in your stitches using the image as your guide.
Left click on each grid box to add in your stitches.
In the image above, you can see what it looks like after I added all the stitches. This did not take long at all, maybe half an hour to get them all filled in.
Save the file as filename.arx. .arx is the extension used by the cross stitch program.
Now you can close the whole cross stitch program and your embroidery software will still be open. When opening this file, just be sure to choose the .arx extension or “All Files”.
This is the great part. The software will digitze those cross stitches and turn the whole design into an embroidery file. Above, you can see how it turned out on my screen. I exported it then as .exp as I would any embroidery design file and saved it on a usb stick.
The first time I stitched it out, the ghost in the background was just a little too faded. I switched to a slightly darker fabric and the ghost appears more clearly on the right (although I think the picture is a little fooled by the lighting.) In real life (!) the one on the right lets the ghost show up much better.
I had fun with this project and it’s actually a lot less time consuming than cross stitching by hand — though I have great appreciation for those who do that!
This way, I can stitch it out over and over again…on a pillow, as an ornament, on a bag, etc. I used Isacord thread for these, which is 40 weight embroidery thread. But I am curious how it would turn out if I had done it with 28 weight, a heavier weight thread. I think that would be really sharp. The cross stitch program would allow me to adjust the size of the grid as well, so I have lots of opportunity to go deeper and try new things.
Hope this inspires you. The cost of one magazine provides you with so many cute patterns to try. And cross stitch is a program that is so often overlooked in digitizing software.
Machine embroidery has so many uses, but the one I’ve been dabbling in the most lately is freestanding lace. I’ve blogged about it a few times in the past. You can read those posts here and here.
Lately, I tried something new and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I took a simple lace embroidery, meant to be a small doily.
Then I stitched a number of them together after creating a design in software to see what it might look like.
All you have to do is use a simple zigzag with an open-toed foot on your machine.
Just pin the multiple pieces together and sew the zigzag in various points to hold it together.
Keep the zigzag stitch narrow and tight, and it will be hardly visible on the finished piece. I went forward and back-stitched, just to make sure it would not unravel.
The finished product turned out better than I had expected.
While I am using it now for Halloween, it obviously will be gorgeous for the holidays, as well.
I also have to admit that I am in love with these tiny LED lights, lit by battery packs. Of course, they cannot stay on all evening as my orange lights do around the fireplace, but the teensy ones on the Halloween tree and surrounding this ceramic pumpkin are just perfect.
Like those ornaments? I’ve made them over the past couple of years in machine embroidery. You can search “Halloween” on my site or view one of the posts right here.
I hope I have inspired you to make more use of your machine embroidery. It’s fun and festive and the ideas are endless.
Do you have someone in your life who loves t-shirts?
I do. My husband is what in the old days, they used to call a curmudgeon. He doesn’t care what he wears, as long as it’s comfortable. Being clean is preferable, holes are optional.
I do a lot of repair work on his stuff.
One day, many years ago, I was at some sort of quilt show and I ran across a t-shirt:
“My wife quilts, therefore I’m broke.”
I bought it for him and he has worn it ever since. In fact, the first time he wore it, he said that women of a certain age were giggling at him. I should mention, he also has a t-shirt that says:
“You read my shirt. That’s enough social interaction for one day.”
And so, we have a sort of running gag. As t-shirts wear out, I am always on the lookout for others that, I don’t know, fit his character. (He has Homer Simpson and the Grinch, if that helps.)
This past week, I found an embroidery design that I thought would be perfect, and decided to add to his collection.
A couple of tips for embroidering on t-shirts:
Use a ballpoint needle. You should make an effort to do this any time you sew or embroider on anything stretchy. It really does make a difference. A Microtex or Sharp will cut right through the fibers and it might not happen right away, but after a few washings, you can end up with a hole. Knits don’t like to be cut. A ballpoint needle will move the threads aside as it penetrates.
Use cutaway stabilizer. I had a nice polymesh. But this design, at approximately 8 x 10 inches, had almost 38,000 stitches. That’s not a huge amount, but it’s not low density either. I used two layers of black polymesh cutaway. I just happened to have some black cutaway from a sweatshirt I did awhile back.
3. Use your ironing board to help you hoop. Just slide the t-shirt over the end of your ironing board as if you were going to iron it. Take your one or two layers of stabilizer and insert them under the shirt, taking care to lay them very flat under the design. I also print out the design so I can get a good look at positioning, and pin it in place. You can then just insert you hoop underneath the layer to be embroidered and place the top part of the hoop on top. Easy.
4. Remember not to pull on this fabric. My experience has been that lots of people love to hoop their fabric and then pull it tight all they way around the hoop. DON’T DO THAT. Especially with knits. You want the design to lay flat after the hoop comes out. Your cutaway stabilizer will help you, but not if the fabric is distorted and stretched when you start. The fabric should be flat, not pulled.
5. Clean and oil your machine before you start, and load a fresh bobbin. This should go without saying before every project, but sometimes it helps to be reminded not to cut corners. Take the time to clean out your machine NOW, make sure all the parts are oiled and the bobbin is full. Why start out with issues? Make your life easy by taking care of any obvious problems before it really gets rockin’.
6. You can use Gentle Touch to fuse to the back of the design when it’s complete, to keep the stabilizer from rubbing against the skin. People use this a lot for baby onesies and kid’s clothes. My husband won’t care.
Finally, you can see in this last shot how helpful it is to use a black stabilizer against black fabric. It just keeps everything neat.
T-shirts like this are very cheap at Michael’s or Wal-Mart. You can also purchase pretty decent t-shirts online, especially if you google “blank t-shirts.”
Maybe you have someone in your life who has great t-shirt “attitude”.
I wanted something cheery for my basement door, and finally took down all the “Rules of the House” in pictorial form. If my 15-year-old doesn’t know the rules of the house by now, like brushing your teeth, not jumping on the sofa, not throwing superballs, we have truly failed as parents.
Anyway, I had a nice blank door that was screaming for something to hang on it.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and didn’t really want to purchase any fabric
I had a teensy memo notebook on my desk and scribbled out a few ideas. I printed out the embroidery designs and laid them out on some linen fabric I already owned It was an awkward amount…not really enough for a quilt but enough for a decent wall hanging.
On the last bicycle, my machine locked up and I had to bring it into the dealer for a cleaning and tune up.
My machine is now running smooth as silk and I was able to complete the design.
I wanted something simple and cheerful.
I love these bikes as they remind me of the possibilities of the summer season.
It also gives me an excuse to create something in machine embroidery for that spot every season.