October Projects, Bernina Excitement

Is it really mid-October?

Will this election ever be over?

Like the whole country, I feel like I have had enough.  And when I’ve had enough of anything, I turn to sewing.  Usually, I find something completely new to occupy my mind…an outlet to create something I haven’t before.  But the past few weeks have been spent mainly finishing projects, working, taking walks, and finding mindless sewing work from time to time to de-stress.

Here is a little gallery of images showing some of the things I’ve been working on.

In late September, I attended training at the Creative Center at Bernina. They are introducing some new products and I am excited about them.

Bernina 700 Embroidery Machine

b700-straight

Without a doubt, one of the coolest machines Bernina has introduced in a while. It has all the same features as the 790, with these new features:

  • Pinpoint Placement – you’ll never have to worry about hooping something crooked again. (This is cool…and easy.)
  • Thread Away – Never stitch over those loose threads.
  • Programmable jump stitch cutting – it will cut jump stitches as small as 1 mm…no more cutting those tiny jump stitches!
  • Multiple Spool Holder – Put all the threads for a design in one place.
  • 320 designs included
  • 18 alphabets (I love them.)
  • New Monogram Alphabet with ornaments (gorgeous!)

Honestly, I loved this machine.  The engineers definitely had heart to heart conversations with actual people who embroider. Everything we could have asked for is right here. LOVE!

Bernina Embroidery Software 8

The improvements to the software are worth the upgrade.  Even if you don’t use some of the main new features, just the improvements to existing features is worthwhile. For instance, when choosing your hoops, now you tell the software what machine you have and it will only display hoops for that machine.  Remember when you had to scroll that long list just to find your hoop? Not any more.  Also, for newbies, you can turn on labels for all the icons..how helpful is that in learning the software?? (Very, for those who are not familiar.)

Features:

  • New! Color Photostitch – This is a vast improvement on Photosnap which was pretty particular in the types of images that would work.
  • 3D Globe Effect – Great graphic effect.
  • Alternating Pattern Fills
  • One-click Auto Digitizing – Simplified and made easier to use.
  • Couching
  • Quilt Layouts
  • Automatic Quilt Backgrounds
  • 3D fonts

I spend a lot of time in software, so for those of you who use the software a great deal, it’s completely worth the cost to upgrade.  For those of you who use it only occasionally, only you can decide if you need these new features.  It is still a very familiar layout, with colors moved to the bottom.

If you are someone who has held out from upgrading for a few versions, especially if you have been holding out with version 5 or 6, now is the time to move up.  Version 7 was a big change, and was a very user friendly upgrade. It made the software much easier to use.  Software 8 builds on that.

That’s all I have for the moment, with a few new ideas brewing.  More to come, as always!

Splendid Sampler — Half Way Home

Splendid SamplerAre there any Splendid Sampler participants still out there?

I know there are.  We were in the neighborhood of 20,000 strong when we started last February.  I know many of you are up to date and still participating…and many, many more of you, like me, are hanging on…barely.

We knew when we started that this would be a long and unpredictable journey. A yearlong commitment to any project is risky, and in this one, we really had no idea what blocks would be thrown our way.

My special thanks to all the designers who have donated their time and effort to these wonderful blocks.  While I have deep respect for all of you, I may not sew out a few of your blocks.  Please don’t be offended.  Sometimes the stress of learning a new technique, combined with time constraints, just has me putting off a few blocks.  Also, in fairness, If I had the same taste as all 75 or 80 designers, I wouldn’t have much of my own. So, every now and then, a block just isn’t my thing.  That’s OK.  I still appreciate the work, and I probably would take the time to do them under different circumstances.

But, hey, it’s my quilt, and at the end of the day, I reserve the right to be a little choosy.  That said, I have ventured into many an area I never thought I’d enjoy–like hand embroidery.  Believe me, I still fall back on machine embroidery when I fall behind…or when I don’t really want to do any applique.  Then I just digitize the whole block.

Splendid Sampler

But a few of them I’ve done by hand, and while time-consuming, they have that unmistakable “slow stitched” look.

Splendid SamplerNo matter how you look at it, I am still proud that at the end of this year or the beginning of the next, I will have an amazing, interesting, unique and lovely quilt all pieced and ready to be assembled.  It will be both a tribute to fellow quilters and a learning process on my part. In this picture, I left the blocks in their cellophane sleeves so they don’t begin to fray from too much handling.

Splendid SamplerNow back to the business of filling in some of the blocks I missed along the way.

Splendid SamplerIf you are inclined to join, feel free to hop on board.  You can find the block patterns and all you need to know right here. 

The Splendid Sampler Facebook page is also a great place for inspiration and community–see everyone else’s projects!

New blocks come out every Sunday and Thursday, and bonus blocks are plentiful.  The patterns will be available for free for a year and then they will all be assembled in a book. (You know we’ll all want the book!)

Keep going Splendid Sampler lovers…we’ve rounded the corner!

 

Tiling Your Machine Embroidery

These days, we’re all finding new ways to machine embroider.  From quilting to in-the-hoop, to applique, I’m amazed at the new life coming into this part of the sewing scene.

This past week I spent some time stitching out a beautiful pattern from Embroidery Online.  Here’s a link to the collection, called Modern Expressions Tiling Scene.

tiling2I started with a great palette and moved on from there.  I don’t think I ever would have dreamed of putting some of these colors together without the designer’s keen eye.  The pdf printout shows a nice layout of the design, and while my personal colors were slightly different, they were very true to the original colors.  I also stayed very true to the thread colors of the original design.

The stitch-out was actually pretty light and easy, as nothing about the design is terribly dense.  Even at less-than-top-speed, each block took only about 20 minutes.

tiling1tiling3The pattern instructions called for two layers of tear-away stabilizer, which worked very well.  I had my doubts about how nicely it would press out in the end, but it lays really flat.

The end result is a very modern looking design, great for a wall-hanging or a table runner.  This was waaaaay easier than I thought it would be.  Read the instructions thoroughly, and you’ll have no problems.  At the end, you trim each block 1/4 inch from the final thread color, and it really keeps your block sizes uniform.  When stitching together, just hold a decent quarter inch and you’ll be fine….it’s a forgiving pattern. Press your seams open.

While I still have to quilt and bind it, I think I’ll just quilt in the ditch.  Still, a great weekend project, and I really fell in love with the finished look of this.  Have fun!

tiling scene

Are You a Happy Glamper?

glamping 2You can’t fool me with colorful new fabrics and joyful projects and slick looking retro-styled trailers and chef-inspired meals on Pinterest, cooked over wood-burning fires with tents and campers lit softly with warm beds and bathrooms and lighting.

glamping 4

I have been camping.  And there is nothing “glam” about it.

I pitched tents that required directions and patience to assemble…long before they snapped together in minutes.  I canoed down a muddy stream in a strange state in the pouring rain with a boat partner who had no idea how to steer. The couple behind us had a large black snake slide into their canoe. That’s the definition of horror.

I’ve slept on air mattresses that flatten completely by morning, on earth that slopes and slowly rolls me downhill all night till I’m shoved up against the door.

I’ve cooked real meals over an open fire and inhaled more than my share of campsites (especially in a state preserve where everyone is close to the next campsite and all are burning God-knows-what all night long.)

I’ve bathed in lakes and cold community shower stalls, discovered 5 ticks on one foot, and been terrified of the fierce growling in the middle of the night no more than 6 inches from my head on the outside of the tent.

Yes, I’ve been camping. Or do you say glamping.

Love it or not, the trend is hot hot hot.

And sewists are all over it!  Take a peak at this link to hand embroidery that everyone is into these days.

hand embroidery

glamping 3Since I’ve been obsessed with in-the-hoop bags, here’s another.

I purchased this design from an Etsy shop called Disorderly Threads.  You can purchase the design here.

It’s a lot of steps for a small design but the instructions are pretty clear. I love how it turned out and made a couple of them.

glamping 1The idea of glamping is 100% fun, and retro and cute.

And if you’re looking for me, I’ll just be enjoying the whole trend vicariously from under the covers in my cozy, warm, dry bed.

Little Ruby, Little Bags

minibags1cropSo I’ve been having fun with Little Ruby fabric from Bonnie and Camille.

At first I made some larger bags from a layer cake.  Then I made a bunch of tiny little coin purse sized bags from a charm pack.

All of this is done with machine embroidery using software.

smallbag1smallbag2I took the simple design of the larger bag and reduced the sides and bottom, keeping the zipper positioning lines the same.  Then I switched to a larger hoop and made three copies of the bag.

smallbagmulti

In the hoopI hooped sticky-back tearaway stabilizer, stitched out the zipper placement lines for all three.  Then, I placed the zippers and stitched out the line at the top of the zipper first for all three bags, then the bottom part of the zipper for all three.  Those fabrics top and bottom are just folded charm squares, with a small piece of batting in between.

After stitching the first batch, I went back to my software and moved them all a little farther apart from one another, so they don’t overlap.  I also added thread color changes between each step, just so the machine would stop stitching for me to place the fabric.

Finally, I put a tiny charm square quilt sandwich on top to form the back and lining of the bag.

multibagThen an outline stitches around each of the bags. It is set as a triple stitch and goes over the same line three times.

NOTE: DON’T FORGET TO MOVE THE ZIPPER PULL INTO THE CENTER OF THE BAG BEFORE ADDING THE BACKING!

That note is mainly for myself…believe me, if you do it once, you’ll remember not to do it again.  It’s not a terrible fix, but takes a little time and fidgeting.  You have to rip the seam to get the zipper pull through, and then re-sew the outline seam on the machine (not embroidery.)

When I take them out of the hoop, the first thing I do is tear away all the stabilizer from the outside.  Then with a little more care, I tear away the stabilizer from the inside of the bag.  This is actually pretty easy…a little bit of fussing to get it out, but not much.  Because the outline of the bag is a triple stitch, as well as the lines holding in the zipper, the stabilizer tears away very easily.

minibag2The final step is to cut away the excess fabric and zipper, and turn the little goodies inside out.  I give them a quick press and done!

minibagmultiThe final mini bags are about 4 1/4 inches by 3 inches.  My main goal was to use as much of the charm squares as possible without wasting.

If you own software…any kind…I encourage you to try building bags like this.  The digitizing is only rectangle and lines, and the corners are slightly curved.  Your expenses?  A charm pack and some matching zippers.  You likely have some scraps of batting lying around that can be used.

In a day, you can have stacks of lovely little bags to give away or to keep.  They are just about the perfect size for credit cards, ID, business cards, etc.

Here are some peonies for you, just for fun. Because they’re blooming and are gorgeous.

peonies

 

 

Little Ruby in the House…or Hoop

littleruby2I’m so spoiled by these in-the-hoop little bags.  I’ve made them before, and on a day when I want to be productive, they are perfect.  They don’t require a lot of concentration, and they stitch up pretty quickly if you build them assembly line style.

I have learned to cut my fabric and batting ahead of time and line it all up on an extra table.  I add in the matching zipper, and it’s ready to go.  I love these bright layer cakes from Bonnie and Camille for projects like this.  “Little Ruby” suited me just fine.  But the advantage of a layer cake is that most of the cutting is done.  All the pieces are 10 x 10 or various cuts by 10 inches.

littlerubyprepI cut the sticky back tear-away stabilizer all at the same time as well, and that’s ready to go.

I stitch everything down on all the bags, take them out of the hoop and toss them aside while the next one sews out.  When they are all sewn, then I sit down and pull out the tear-away stabilizer, trim the edges and finally, press.

little ruby, bonnie and camilleTonight, I’ll head to the store and see if I can find some little charms to add to the zippers.

People just love these little bags…they can be used for anything.  The bright color combinations are so cheerful. I think I’m going to see if I can make some that use charm packs.  These are “cosmetic bag” sized. Charm packs would be “coin purse” sized, but they would really go fast, and I might be able to put a few in a hooping.

That will have to be my next experiment.

 

 

Fun With Chalk Cloth

Chalk ClothI’ve been meaning to work with chalk cloth again for awhile now.  I had made a table runner at work with “Chips”, “Dip” and other appetizers scrawled on it in the chalk marker. It turned out great and has inspired many others to try their hand with chalk cloth.

I made this one to sit on our kitchen island. With a busy household, we all come home at different times.  This way, anyone can make the grocery list right on this cloth and text me a picture, or I can leave another non-urgent message…(Hint: Clean your room!)  It also serves as a decorative table runner.  I could easily add a dowel across the top and hang it on a door so no one can miss it.

Chalk cloth markerI added a little holder for the marker so it doesn’t disappear as so many things do in our house.  The thing to remember about chalk cloth if you’re thinking about using it, is that you do need the special marker that washes off with a damp paper towel.  If you choose not to use the marker, you can certainly use regular chalk, but that involves a lot more chalk dust…and you must first prime the cloth by covering it entirely in chalk.  Use the side of a piece of chalk and run it from end to end.  Once all that is erased, your chalk cloth will then be ready for use with chalk and an eraser.  In the kitchen, I prefer the markers, which you can get in multi colors if you are so inclined.

chalkclothlaceI had a lot of lace from my mom’s stash, and so I added a little border.  Also, as you can see, I added a binding.  I do have a backing, but no batting in the middle. I added the binding by sewing it first to the back side, and then bringing it around the front and using a simple straight stitch along the front.  Fast, simple, easy!

Chalk cloth embroideryI used the Chalk Cloth florals embroidery designs from OESD.

They stitched out beautifully, although were a little denser than I expected.

Chalk cloth embroidery

This was a simple and inexpensive project that functions well in our house.  Don’t be afraid to try some new things with chalk cloth. Just a few other ideas:

  • Use as a wall hanging
  • Frame like a picture with a saying or just a cute embroidery design
  • Fun placemats for kids (and give them each their own marker)
  • Hostess gifts
  • Wedding shower gifts (Wouldn’t it be great to embroider Mr. and Mrs So and So on it as a table runner when they entertain?)
  • Little gift bags made of chalk cloth personalized with someone’s name

The possibilities are endless…and if you run out of ideas, don’t forget to head to Pinterest to be overwhelmed with them.  Have fun with this versatile and quirky product.

Machine Embroidery News

I have long thought that someone needs to create a place where we can all share news and ideas about machine embroidery.  All the information seems so scattered online.

It’s a lot of work to find out what designs are new out there on all the different sites and to see some inspiration.

So I thought that once in awhile, I might put together a bunch of links to things that are new, or hot, or just inspirational in machine embroidery.  I come across things regularly in my online travels, so I thought it would be fun to share…even if I haven’t had time to stitch some of it out yet.

Chalkboard ideas:

I’ve seen this in a number of places, and by now most of you are familiar with the chalkboard fabric out there.  It’s easy enough to purchase at your local quilt shop or hobby shop.

Embroideryonline.com has some great new chalkboard floral designs. These are next on my list of embroideries to try.

Here’s another link to chalkboard ideas from emblibrary.com.

Need some ideas?  Chalkboard creativity is everywhere on Pinterest.  Check out this and this.

Machine Cross Stitch:

Here’s something else that’s fun.  I made a few cross stitch designs last Halloween and loved it.  I think the cross stitch look for the holidays is charming.  Here’s a peek at my previous Halloween post.

But I found a site that specializes in machine embroidery cross stitch. They have designs for all occasions. They are appropriately named machinecrossstitch.com.

Again, on my list to do.  I am intrigued by the possibilities.

New Releases as of May:

This is obviously not a complete list, but I hope to be able to build on this list every time I publish a Machine Embroidery News blog. So many times I have wished that someone would organize all this info for me.  So now I’m doing it, and sharing it with you. And I’ll update it as often as I can.

embroideryonline.com (new releases)

emblibrary.com (new releases)

urbanthreads.com (new releases)

amazingdesigns.com (new releases)

I prefer to stay with major digitizers until I have some idea of the quality, but I am happy to publicize the place where you purchase your designs if you want to share.

In fact, if you have something you’d like to see with regard to machine embroidery, feel free to leave me a message in the comment bubble at the top of the post.  I’d love to hear what you want to see more of in machine embroidery…whether it’s in the hoop, freestanding, contemporary or all of the above.  Let me know, and I’ll try to do a little homework on it for next time.

For now,  happy stitching!

Splendid Sampler Update

splendidsamplermapI love a good visual.

So I thought I would open with a map of all the participants in this project.  Pretty impressive, right?  Here’s a link.

According to Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson, the coordinators and people who apparently never sleep, we are now somewhere between 20,000 – 30,000.  Could that be right?  Many are not following on Facebook, but are making the blocks at their own pace.  (Just an aside, I ran into Pat Sloan at the local Panera while in Paducah.  She is absolutely as tireless and upbeat in real life as she seems online…and she looks just like her pics!)

A few observations…Japan and South Korea are in the house, but no one from China…a reflection of their internet access? So odd, because a disproportionate number of modern day sewing machines distributed here and around the world are built in China.

And no one from Greenland. Or Kazhakstan. (I know there are quilters there.) No one from Mongolia or from the middle of Africa. Much of the middle east is silent.

A surprising number from South America.  I did not know we had so many quilters in that area.  Australia and New Zealand, no surprises there.

Still not on board?  If you are mildly curious, here’s a link to all the block patterns so far They come up every Sunday and Thursday. If nothing else, it’s a great way to become familiar with new designers and block patterns.

We are somewhere around 22 blocks at this point.

splendid sampler 23Those are 6 1/2 inch blocks.  As you can see, they are getting harder and harder for me to fit into one frame.

Lessons I’m learning about myself:

  • I like to piece.  Easy, repetitive, simple piecing is unbelievably relaxing for me.
  • Paper piecing needs to be done in the morning or afternoon, but not after a big meal or if I’m tired or stressed in any way.  I need all my focus on getting everything in the right place.
  • I didn’t realize how much patience I have lost for anything done by hand.  Hand embroidery seems like it takes a lifetime.  All I can think of is that I could have digitized this and had it done days ago. And yet, I love the way it looks and I love the threads.

hand embroideryThis little design took me weeks.  Of course, I’m not working on it every minute, just a bit of time here and there.  Yet I am loving the texture of this thread.

wonderfilI found this thread at the Wonderfil booth in Paducah.  I’m sure many of you have heard of it before. It’s called Razzle. (Yes, they have a metallic looking thread that is called Dazzle).

Razzle has the weight of about size 8 perle cotton, but it’s a rayon.  So for those of you who are cotton purists, you’ll just have to look away.  Me, I fell in love with the sheen and the weight of it.  It was a pleasure to use for hand embroidery.

closeup This project is only about one fifth of the way done.  Eighty or so more blocks to go.

Will my stamina hold up?  Will I have the patience to learn more new techniques?  Will I lose interest in the color scheme half way through?  Will I actually create a setting for these blocks after the project is complete and finish the quilt instead of leaving the blocks neatly in their cellophane pockets in the binder?

I don’t know. I really don’t. A lot of life can happen in the next 8 months.  We’ll both have to wait to find out.

Stay tuned.splendid_button_4

Needle Punch Felting with Machine Embroidery

needle punch felting 2
I’ve been playing with wool lately, and was reminded by the upcoming Bernina Inspirations class, that I can do needle punch using my machine embroidery.

For anyone who is a Bernina software user, Designer Plus allows you to do needle punch.  All you need is the needle punch accessory (which you can use with or without embroidery).

needle punch toolWhen you set up your machine for needle punch, you need to do a few things:

  • Inset the needle punch needles in your needle holder in place of your regular needle.
  • Change your stitch plate (there’s a special one for needle punch) and be sure to tell your machine that you made the change.
  • Put on the correct needle punch foot.  This not only helps to glide over roving and other wool or fabrics, but it also keep your fingers away from those needles.  You’ll often want to hold the roving in place to keep your design intact.
  • Completely remove your hook system, not just the bobbin.  Take everything out, and close the bobbin door.
  • Turn off your top and bottom thread sensors.

needle punch feltingIn the software, you literally just go to the Digitize toolbox, click on the PunchWork icon and digitize a shape.  Any shape.  And the software will generate one thread color to outline the shape, and then fill it with needle punch.  It’s amazingly easy.

I digitized the shape of this tree, measured it out and laid out the roving within the parameters of the shape.

And then I watched the machine do all the needle punch work.  Pretty impressive.

However, I did follow along with my fingers positioning and re-positioning the roving to be sure it stayed where I wanted it to be while the needle was punching.

Next, I layered an embroidery design on top.  Since I had gone with a tree shape, I was reminded of the tree of life embroidery design in the Sepia Petals collection from OESD. I ended up using the tree background file.

The result was interesting both visually and texturally.

Still exploring my love of wool.  It’s freeing and almost unpredictable as an art form or craft.  I think that’s why I enjoy it so much.

If you are interested in learning more about Bernina Embroidery Software or needle punch, think about attending your May Software Inspirations at your local Bernina dealer.

You just never know what you’ll be inspired to create!

needle punch felting 3