Give Thanks Decor

 

This is a fun and relatively quick project that will be a special reminder of the season of Thanksgiving.  A complete step by step tutorial is posted at http://blog.brothersews.com/holiday/give-thanks-tutorial/

Children could be involved in this project and will be delighted to help with pulling burlap threads and stuffing the jars with the fairy lights.

 

 

It will be easy for you but I had  to struggle with various steps while making this.  Double sided tape has always been a staple of my sewing supplies, but now it is my new favorite.

Did you know it is described as permanent?  That’s good news for Give Thanks as it beautifies your mantle, piano, bookcase or anywhere.

We always celebrate fall in a big way, but Thanksgiving is the crowning glory of the harvest season.  So hop over to Stitching Sewcial and see just how this comes together.  If you like it, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment there.

FYI, there are so many fabulous ideas and tutorials posted at Stitching Sewcial.  You needn’t have a Brother machine to enjoy and reproduce many of the projects.  Take a look!

Required disclosure:  I am a paid and proud ambassador for Brother sewing machines.  I LOVE them.

 

 

Mug Rugs~What I’ve Learned

I’ve always thought mug rugs were a great idea and always meant to stitch some.  Finally, a need arose and a set of these unusual “rugs” seemed like the perfect hostess gift for a perfectly gracious host and hostess.

The second set was made for the guest of honor an speaker, extraordinary Pastor James of Ghana.  So two gift sets of 4 mug rugs were made.  I don’t enjoy stitching identical designs again and again, so I changed the thread color of the background stitching and some of the lettering.

 

 

At a lovely dinner at the home of members of our church, Pastor James spoke passionately to a large group of  guests about the challenging conditions in Ghana.  Our host and hostess, a physician and nurse, had gone there on a medical mission trip this past summer.

As he described conditions in Ghana-no running water in the schools or even the police station, only one hospital several miles from the town of 1.5 million people, accessible only by foot or one of  the few motor scooters–one thing he repeated more than once stuck in my mind.  He said, quite vehemently, “You in America have absolutely NO reason to complain. I and people in my country have good reason to complain, but you have NONE!  Every day you should drop to your knees and thank God for all the blessings you enjoy here!”

In retrospect, the mug rug gift seemed a bit paltry relative to the delicious dinner and the moving testimony from Pastor James, but I had decided a gender neutral item would be best and mug rugs is what it was.

As always, I was rushed and finished these in barely enough time to arrive to dinner at the scheduled hour.  Consequently, the picture is really not good at all.  I should have had a cup and cookie resting on it the single and spread the 8 apart.

So much was learned on this relatively simple project.  First, I began with a mug rug from Kimberbell Designs, Holiday Mug Rugs.  This collection is wonderful with delightful designs and background stitching.  But I just needed a background and a blank canvas for my Ghana design.  I selected the Cardinal for its background but eliminated the cardinal itself and the snowflake. There are several background patterns in this collection.  Now I want to sew some for Christmas gifts.  And I will use what I learned on this project!

 

I really wanted an applique’ design of Ghana so I could use that souvenir  fabric from my daughter’s trip to Africa.   But what were the chances of finding that?  Surprise!!!!  On Etsy, you can find anything.  This site, Pixels to Threads  has applique’s of several exotic countries! I was thrilled.

The tribal fabric made in Tanzanika was used for the applique’ and for the backing.  I’ve had this fabric for 12 years now and often wondered if I would ever have a use for it.  Now I am so glad it was in my stash!  The Ghana lettering was done in Brother PE-Design.

Instead of using two fabric, as shown on the cardinal mug rug, just one was used, and that background  fabric choice was my first mistake.  It is a relatively heavy, almost coarse linen like piece that seemed perfect for the design.  But these rugs, I expect, were designed for quilt weight fabric, not one so heavy.  It was difficult to press the seams flat after turning the rug right side out.  Note to self: use quilt weight fabric next time.

Next, the instructions were to use a very light weight batt.  But wouldn’t you know, I had a medium weight scrap that was just the right size to make all 8 rugs.  I love using up scraps! How important could the batt weight be?  That was my second mistake.   It IS important.

Even with very close trimming of the batting at the seam line, pressing those thick seams was an even greater issue in combination with the heavy top fabric.  Ultimately, monofilament was used to straight stitch very, very close to the rug’s edge to flatten it.

Frankly, I was doubtful that the mug rugs would be much of a hit.  But when I saw our friends a few days ago, our hostess confided that she had kept only 2 of her rugs.  Two of the Ghana mission helper/organizers who were at the dinner were so taken with them that she shared the other two.  Pastor James, seeing their appreciation for the rugs, gave them two of his.  Of course, he might just have had no use for them.  Still, it was touching.  So each of four Ghana interested people now have 2 rugs each.

At our hosts’ home that night, I was so pleased to see what they had done with the  dishtowel hostess gifts I had made for the first “Ghana” dinner we attended when they shared their mission experience.  I regret not including a caduceus.  I even have one in my design library, but didn’t think of it in my usual rush rush project sewing.

 

 

I doubt these towels will ever see a wet dish.  But I am so pleased with how they were arranged and displayed.

A quick laugh—I texted a picture to a friend who asked what I was working on.  Somehow, only the Ghana applique’ showed up and not the text.  Perplexed, she asked her adult daughter what she thought that was.  “Cheese?” she replied.  Then the next photo came through and the question was answered.

Again and again, I am amazed at how much personalized gifts like the simple dishtowels and mug rugs can be so appreciated.  I appreciate my Brother Dream Machine which enables me to make these appropriate gifts.

What are you sewing?  What do you use for hostess gifts?  I’d love to hear about your projects.

Required disclaimer:  I am an official “brand ambassador” for Brother.  It’s a title of which I am proud.

 

 

Halloween Projects~Quick and Easy

 

NOTE: This is reposted from several years ago, but still has some good ideas for quick and easy Halloween projects.  I hope you find something you like.

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Halloween has never been a favorite holiday of mine but our grandchildren get absolutely giddy with the fun it brings.  This year, I’ve joined in the celebration with sewing projects.

This candy jar was so quick and easy.   Our grandchildren are all big Disney fans so the iBroidery.com design with Mickey and the pumpkin seemed perfect.  It was embroidered on orange felt then glued to a fringed circle of black burlap.  The embroidery was glued to a strip of fringed black burlap  then adhered to the jar with double sided tape (one of my all-time favorite sewing notions).

 

candy jar alone

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FREE Peekaboo Pumpkin Treat Bag

 

Now here is a quick, easy and fun fall project for you.  Since orange gourd designs are appropriate through Thanksgiving, you can stitch up a whole pumpkin patch of these to share. Even without an embroidery machine, you could trace a pumpkin and stitch the entire project on your sewing machine.

A detailed photo tutorial and the free design in 4×4 a d 5×7 are available at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial. You can be very creative with this little pumpkin, using various colors of felt, burlap or even a sturdy fabric.

I especially liked using my Brother P-touch Embellish ribbon and tape printer  to print BOO! for the black pumpkin tie.

black love the imprinted ribbon

 

There are so many great projects posted at Stitching Sewcial, like Angela Wolf’s lovely burlap jar covers embellished with Scan ‘n Cut letters FALL.

 

 

Having recently purchased a Scan ‘n Cut I was especially interested in this project.  Check out Angela’s post and her tutorial here.  I just love the long fringe at the top and bottom of the jars.

And here is another fall project from Joanne Banko, Fall Wreath–a great post, great project, great tutorial with a great free sunflower swag design.

 

Happy Fall to you all!  Enjoy stitching for this colorful season.

 

 

 

Lacey Heirloom Bonnet

When I did my stitch rehearsal for the flowers, I couldn’t decide if I preferred the lighter or darker pink. So I alternated them and was pleased with the result.

 

Who can resist gazing at a baby in a bonnet?  The site warms the heart of every mother, grandmother, auntie or friend.

The pattern for this linen confection was included in Simplicity 8024, though it was modified greatly.   The addition of lace, embroidery, hemstitching,  and sculpted antique pearl buttons on the ties removes this from the realm of boy caps.  Embroidery floss was woven through the hemstitching holes to add a little more color.

 

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Bees for Bea

 

This is longed for and long-awaited baby Beatrice, whose name means “she brings happiness.”  And she surely has!  Our church, family and friends prayed long and fervently for her safe arrival into the loving arms of her adoptive parents.

The afternoon of her baptism a few Sundays ago, friends hosted a barbeque for the entire church and other family friends in Beatrice’s spacious country back yard.

This sign greeted guests.

 

Did I mention that the theme of Bea’s nursery is Winnie the Pooh? Can you tell?

 

Of course, it was HOT!

I made the smocked bee sundress for Bea, complete with bloomers and a hat. She is  tiny, born 2 weeks early at just 6 lbs. Even the newborn size is huge on her. But babies grow and there is still plenty of steamy summer weather left here in central Florida.  It should fit her soon.

Using black on such a tiny baby gave me pause.  But there is no way around it when you are dealing with bees.  The picot edged bias softened it a little but I much prefer white or pastels for newborns.

At the top of her hat sits an adorable little bee which I found on the facebook Smocking DeStash site.  I bought 20 because I knew there would be many opportunities to use them for Baby Bea.

 

This country barbeque in a huge yard with pet goats and chickens was just the sort of fun children love. Still, they needed a few special activities. So while they were eating I discreetly hid bees all around. Continue reading

All About Lace Tape Part 2a

There have been some questions lately about the use of lace tape. I completely forgot that I had not finished my intended Part 2 post, as I meant to stitch up a few more samples.  But I didn’t.  So here is an incomplete–there is so much more!– but informative post about lace tape, especially for Georgia.  I hope that when life slows down, if it ever does, I’ll show you more about this fabulous product.  But for now, this is all I have.

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Here is Part 2 about lace tape, with more posts to come.  Aside from being very busy with life in general, I’ve put this off because so much time is required to stitch out samples that illustrate the techniques.    So instead of covering several applications, future lace tape posts will deal with one or two techniques.

To begin, I want to show the two types of lace tape and their differences.  The product I sold and used in my classes was made in Japan.  The newer variety of lace tape  is made in Switzerland.  Both kinds are available from Farmhouse Fabrics.

Why is it so important to know the difference?  Because there are many uses for which one or the other is better.  As the techniques are detailed, my suggested preference will be noted.  FYI, I have updated Part 1 with these suggested preferences. Continue reading

Church Dress for Beatrice

OFB Smocked layette dress pattern on white Imperial batiste.

 

At last Baby Bea’s church dress is finished. So many things I wish I had done differently, but it is done.  The pattern is OFB Smocked Layette, made from white Imperial batiste.

I used this pattern with the little bit of smocking because I wanted to focus on  the cross embroidered trim at the hemline.  It would have looked better, I think, with short sleeves.

 

 

Because the cross embroidery is Swiss, I felt compelled to use Swiss for the other trims. Do you ever mix heirloom laces with Swiss on the same garment?  I’d like to know your opinion on that.

The tiny Swiss trim at the neckline and smocked sleeves should be short enough to avoid irritating her delicate newborn skin.  It has a built in entredeux stitch so I wove that with floss  to add a little color higher on the daygown.

The cross trim at the hem was 6″ wide.  After attaching it to the entredeux beading there just seemed to be too much blank space.  So I removed it, trimmed the cross piece to 4″ and rejoined it to a new piece of entredeux beading,  threaded with pink ribbon.

 

It still looked to plain so I added twin needle “shadow work” in pink on either side of the beading.

This is the first bonnet I have ever made with the ruffle behind the smocking.  I’m not sure I like it, but Bea is so tiny, just now 7 lbs. that I thought the ruffle might obscure too much of her precious face.

 

 

The twin needle work was repeated on the back of the bonnet near the drawstring ribbon.

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“It’s done! She’s ours!”

the happy family

 

That was the text that brought me to tears.  Newly adopted Baby Beatrice, who was expected to be delivered at 30 weeks,  was born at 38 weeks weighing a whopping 6 lbs. 14 oz!  My prayer that she would never need either of the the preemie isolette shirts I made was answered  The sweet blue ribbon shirt and  the gingham duckling shirt (thanks again for the design, Lisa) were donated to the NICU at the hospital where she as born.

There were many twists and turns which made the success of the adoption very iffy.  Only the grace of God and a multitude of prayers saw this to completion just late this afternoon.    From North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado, Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Washington, New Hampshire, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, of course, Florida, and many other states as well as New Zealand, prayers were lifted that this baby would be delivered into the loving arms of her parents.  Now Beatrice has made her family complete. Continue reading

Magical Parade Dress

This sweet little dress is my third Ode To Joy from Maggie Bunch’s Sew-Along.  What a great class and what a perfect little dress!  The length was for a tunic, but Maggie’s pattern is so adaptable that I added a wider border at the hem to make it a dress.

Can you see the “prince” is riding a unicorn?

Who doesn’t love Sarah Jane’s truly magical prints for Michael Miller?  Many are borders, with the the fun part running along the selvage.  That allows for two 22″ widths of delightful borders. Most have coordinating prints that can be used for the hem, sleeve and neck binding.

My first Ode to Joy was poorly made, as I was in a hurry and did not read the directions carefully.  But I loved it anyway and so did my then 4 yo granddaughter.   MM/Sarah Jane’s “Swan Lake” print,as shown, is still available.

 

 

Notice how nicely the smocking lies across the bodice.  On the Magical Parade dress shown at the top, I brought the smocking to a point at center and the control was lost.  The skirt ripples.  How many of these will I have to make before I pay close attention?  I’m a slow learner, for sure.k

My second OTJ, again made in a hurry, had the neckband applied incorrectly and it rippled.  The sleeves were left ungathered which gave a look I liked.    Again, the straight across smocking along the bottom row kept the bodice flat–flexible but flat.  The whimsical cat print is my cat-loving granddaughter’s favorite.

 

Maggie B’s Ode to Joy dress

 

Maggie’s on-line class is very comprehensive.  She  take beginners from pleating (though she will provide pleated kits for novices without pleaters), to construction to smocking.  If she offers it again, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

So the pink and gray gingham Magical Parade at the top is my latest creation for 5 yo Vivian Rose, though I have purchased yet another MM/Sarah Jane border and companion print to make another.  Little girls love it because it just pulls over their heads, no buttons to deal with.  Mothers love it because little ones can dress themselves easily, no muss, no fuss.  And I love it.  Can’t you tell?