Category Archives: machine embroidery

Fast and Fun Halloween Projects

With so many schools relegated to virtual on-line computer classes and Halloween activities being cancelled, it seems more important than ever for our children to have some fall festival fun.  These projects are fun to make and fun to share.

These darling pencil toppers were just sent to my younger grands to share with their classmates, by mailing them to their friends. Did you know that Halloween is the most popular secular holiday in the USA?  Just ask my grandchildren.  They are crazy for this time of year.  Last month, 6 yo Vivian Rose told me she was counting the days until Oct. 1 so she could start wearing her Halloween clothes.

This is a bit of a joke, as she is required to wear a uniform to school–when she went off to school.  But still she dresses for “class” at her computer desk at home.  So hairbows, headbands and pencil toppers are her extra Halloween expressions for the school day.

These pencil toppers from GG Designs  are just a joy to stitch out.  They come as a single design or “sorted” with four pumpkins or ghosts or bats in a single 4×4 hoop. I combined 2 sorted sets of pumpkins into a larger hoop, did another color sort and stitched 8 pencil toppers in just a few minutes.  This was repeated with the ghosts and then with the bats.  It takes longer to cut out the felt designs than it did the stitch them. Now the set is on sale for only $4.13.

What a sweet little gift this would be to a favorite elementary teacher to share with her in-house students.  There are so many who would be happy to receive these slightly spooky pencil toppers.

GG Designs Embroidery was the inspiration for another Halloween favorite which was sent to my grandchildren last Halloween.  This was digitized and also stitched for the children at church, making me one of  the more popular church Nanas!

As a paid Brother Ambassador (required disclosure), the project was posted at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial and includes a step-by-step photo tutorial, as well as a FREE download of the file for the pumpkin.

There is still plenty of time to whip up these cuties.  For your children, grands, neighbors, church children or for nursing home patients, these pumpkin treat bags are sure to bring a smile.

 

Fun Bug Bag

 

Summer is not yet over, and for some of us, it seems it never will end! As entertaining the children becomes more and more challenging, sometimes just getting them out of the house for a while is a worthy goal.

Whip up this quick and easy bug bag and they will be kept busy prowling the bushes and grass. Make it plain or make it fancy.  Honestly, it takes longer to read the instructions than to make the basic bag.Whether the prey be creepy crawlies or fireflies, the adventure is a child’s version of a jungle safari.   Work this into a lesson into entomology and identify some of these yard beasties and it becomes an educational adventure.

This fiberglass screen wire teepee bag (the name suggested by its shape) is a perfect accessory and holding pen. Use insect designs from design library to embellish the outside. Your  Brother embroidery machine and most others will handle the screen wire effortlessly. The stand-alone butterfly swaying inside the bag will intrigue the children and send them racing out the door into nature.

Let’s make a bug bag!

Requirements:

    • sewing/embroidery machine
    • open toe foot, basic sewing foot
    • 4×4 or 5×7 frame to embroider more than one design in the same frame
    • Fiberglass screen wire: 18 x 26” for bag embroidery and another large piece for stitch rehearsal of each potential design.
    • Utility scissors for cutting screen wire and zipper
    • Notions: zipper at least 18” or with plastic teeth. Longer is fine. It will be cut to size during construction; 8-10” cord or ribbon; monofilament, sewing and embroidery thread, seam sealant
    • Extra heavy water-soluble stabilizer (wss)
    • Download both left and right files below and piece together.

layout template left and layout template right (request below in comments and they will be emailed to you)Preparation

1. Print pattern/design templates. It is broken into two parts because my scanner bed is too small for the entire template. Print both the left and right templates and tape them together.
2. Print template of each design you plan to use. If deemed appropriate, resize to be proportional to the bag.
3. Cut 18 x 26” screen wire. This large size makes hooping easier.
4. Tape completed template to white surface or pin to padded surface.

Note: It may be necessary to trace over the lines with a wide black marking pen for better visibility.

5. Center screen wire over template and tape or pin corners to hold in place.
6. Trace section placement lines onto screen wire with child’s “school” chalk. These lines show each section of the finished bag for suitable embroidery placement.

Note 1: To make the necessary marks, neither a sliver of soap, chalk marker or washout marker could be seen on the screen wire. Only white chalk, like that used on school black or green boards worked. Hmmm… were you ever in a classroom with a chalkboard? If so, you must be a grandmother like me.
Note 2: The screen wire will slip if not well secured when placed over the template. The red slashes show where it slipped and the line had to be redrawn after pinning it more securely to a padded surface.

7. Place templates of selected embroidery designs in chosen location within the section.

Note: It is helpful to take a picture with your phone so you can refer to it as you embroider.

8. Wind bobbin in each thread color used in the designs.

Embroidery

9. Select one or two designs to embroider on one large side and load into machine.
10. Hoop screen wire and heavy-duty water-soluble stabilizer (wss). Puckering occurred when the screen wire was simply basted to the wss.

NOTE:  If you are blessed with a Brother embroidery machine with a camera capability, detailed instructions are posted at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial here.  Otherwise, proceed as you will.

13.  After embroidery, do not remove wss.14. Continue hooping and embroidering each section. The wss is still in place on the back. Do NOT embroider the ladybugs now.

Note: To create the illusion of the ladybugs trailing up the green zipper they must be embroidered after the zipper insertion.

Construction

Insert the zipper in this unorthodox manner, stitched flat on the top side of the screen wire. This is done so the ladybugs could be embroidered along the zipper edge.

15. Attach open toe foot. The zipper is placed on top of the screen wire.
16. Open the zipper, place the top of the tape at the top of the bag’s marked cutting, right side up with the teeth at the edge of the left marked bag side.

17. Straight stitch 1/8-1/4” from zipper teeth, with open toe foot positioned along the edge of the teeth. Needle position is in far right.
18. Open the zipper as far as possible. Repeat on the opposite side. WSS is still in place.
19. Stitch ‘grass’ for ladybugs’ home. On my Dream Machine that was  stitch #7-12, width 6.5, length 4.0.  Or select a similar stitch.

    • Return to Embroidery

      20. Open ladybugs design. Hoop with zipper near center of frame. Position design. Embroider.

21. Hoop 2 layers of wss in 4×4 frame. Embroider butterfly. This one was resized up to 2.56 x 2.55”. Be sure to use matching thread in the bobbin.

22. Remove as much wss as possible then soak in tepid water until the edges are clean. What remains between the layers will give the free flying butterfly stability. Pat with paper towels to help it dry.
When almost dry, shape it with wings spread as if to fly. The antennae are just loose threads. Applying a bit of seam sealant gives them some body.

Return to Construction

23. Cut screen wire to 8×16”, along marked chalk lines but do not cut zipper. Best to remeasure for exact sizing. Leave zipper open to its greatest length.
24. Remove as much wss as possible. Trim screen wire and wss from teeth edges to first line of stitching.

25. Immerse bag in tepid water to dissolve wss.
26. Lie flat on a towel and roll the towel around it, like a burrito. Squeeze out excess moisture and hang to dry. If you are in a rush, a blow dryer speeds up the process of drying the zipper tape.

27. Stitch a folded 8-10” cord or grosgrain ribbon to the top edge within the ¼” seam allowance. The loop should hang down with raw edges extended a little beyond the seam allowance. This creates a loop handle.

28. Close zipper a few inches above the bottom raw edge. Fold the bag inside out with the closed zipper in the center of the seam line. Stitch with ¼” seam allowance right over zipper.

29. Cut excess zipper-finally! Use utility scissors.

30. Fold top in half with zipper at one side. Begin stitching at zipper just above the first tooth. Back stitch for reinforcement. Angle up to ¼” seam line. The open toe foot gives best visibility for those first stitches.

30. Fold top in half with zipper at one side. Begin stitching at zipper just above the first tooth. Back stitch for reinforcement. Angle up to ¼” seam line. The open toe foot gives best visibility for those first stitches.

Does this make you want to hunt bugs or to sew a bug bag?

 

Pooh’s Book Pillow

Hello-0-0-0!  If there are any readers left out there, I’m still here!  Neither the virus nor lethargy has kept me quiet, just the hurry-up of life, even while in lockdown!

This is a fun little project that was done for precious little Beatrice, #1 fan of Winnie the Pooh.

The book pillow was also done for Brother’s Stitching Sewcial blog to celebrate Pooh’s birthday, hence the included book.  Finding that little paperback required  determination and skills worthy of Sherlock Holmes,  but I was driven once I knew such a publication existed, though long out of print.

Book pillows have surged in popularity and not just for children.  Who wouldn’t want to curl up with a good book and a soft pillow?  With the recent stay at home call, this is a soothing antidote to what might be seen as isolation.

Why not make one today, for a child, for a friend, for a shut in, for yourself, for anyone! The instructions are for the Winnie the Pooh pillow shown, but any fabric, any embroidery design may be substituted.

NOTE:  This pillow was made on my Brother Dream Machine.  Some instructions are specific to that.  Greater details can be found on Brother’s blog Stitching Sewcial here. Continue reading

Birthday Tea at Sea and Free Designs

I’m sorry it has been sooo long since a new blog has been posted.  Hip replacement, shingles and husband’s shoulder surgery has kept me too busy.  Now, at last, I can share this bit of Nana fun with you.~~~~

Grandchildren are just sooo much fun!  Fun is what we had recently on a cruise to Cozumel with our daughter and her family, including 10 yo Alastair and  Vivian Rose.  The occasion was to celebrate Vivi’s 7th birthday.

There, on board and overlooking the aqua blue Caribbean, she was the guest of honor at a genuine Fancy Nancy afternoon tea. It was pure delight!

Vivian Rose, wearing her smocked Ode to Joy dress (Maggie B pattern) and flaunting a purple boa, looks on the tea table set for the celebration. Note the lollipop centerpiece.

The birthday tea was a huge success.  Refreshments included pastries and dessert treats from the ship’s buffet accompanied with  Fancy Nancy Tea.  Feather boas and a chest of costume jewelry added to the elegance of the fete.

We had a fine time, or,  as was often said so many years ago in the Glenwood News column of our tiny local newspaper, “a good time was had by all.”  Several other ship passengers as well as servers stopped by to ask about the gala affair and offer Vivi birthday congratulations.

The tea also offered several opportunities to teach proper, ladylike behavior.

Vivian delicately wipes her mouth with her napkin–with no reminder!

She learned  that it is  impolite to discuss politics, religion or her health at a tea party or in any “polite” company.

“What’s politics?” she asked.   “Don’t worry about that now.  Just don’t talk about it when you find out.”    “Okay,” she obediently replied. What a good girl!

She listened attentively as her mother read Vivi’s new Fancy Nancy’s Tea Party book.  Little did we know she was already planning to soon host her own little tea party.

As her mother read, Vivian listened raptly to her new Fancy Nancy Tea Party book.

The idea for this event came about during her latest visit to our home.   We had been rummaging through boxes of my treasures in the garage when she came across a  few doll size tea sets. She was enchanted and asked if she could keep one.  We promptly had an impromptu tea party with her mother’s old Cabbage Patch doll (wearing a smocked dress) and a teddy.  Of course, she went home with the doll set, but I had this another in mind for her.

Having put aside this little porcelain set for her years ago, I presented it to her for her birthday at sea.   At the tea party she saw it for the first time. To me it has a distinctive Mary Engelbreit look.

Several years ago, Cousin Laurel was presented with the identical set and put it to use for several tea parties. At her Second Annual Tea Party,  guests were invited to bring their dolls.  It added a whole new dimension to the festivities.

To accompany Vivian’s service for 6, I made coordinating tea linens with monogrammed napkins.  The centerpiece is a painted flower pot loaded with jelly beans and lollipops.  Card stock leaves were added to the sticks to create a sugar illusion of a pot of sugary flowers..

Even before I was blessed with the grandchildren of my dreams, this tea set was the inspiration for a class I taught many times around the country.  Detailed instructions and the recipe for the Kindergarten Tea (now renamedFancy Nancy Tea) are included in this post http://www.janicefergusonsews.com/blog/2009/08/30/tea-party-time/ 

The perfect machine applique’d bow design was ever so kindly digitized by Mary Alice Smith of Alabama.   The hand-look embroidered napkin corners are part of a set digitized by my dear friend, Suzanne Sawko.  If you would like the free tea linen designs (available only in .pes), please leave your request as a comment below.

Just hours after returning home from the port, Vivian insisted on hosting an impromptu tea party in her yard under the Florida sunshine.  I asked my daughter if she had reminded Vivi about forbidden conversation topics.

She replied, “I didn’t have to.  Vivi firmly instructed her guests what not to talk about.”  Her previously informed too cool brother, attending only for the Oreos and banana slices, just rolled his eyes.

 

 

Vivi’s Cruise Dress

Almost 7 yo Vivian Rose is tiny. A size 5 Children’s Corner Louise would have fit her ever so much better. She poses in Central Park on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas cruise ship.

Life has been a whirlwind for us these past few weeks.  Of course, Hurricane Dorian was expected for a very long time and preparations were non-stop.  With 3 acres of patio furniture, potted plants, a standing basketball hoop, pool, and other miscellany, it seems there is always more you can do to prepare for a Cat 5 hurricane.

My fabulous husband, Bob, up on first story roof to put up storm shutters on second story windows. Already the skies were gray.

 

Additionally, I spent more hours in front of  the television than I have in the past year.  The weather and each of Dorian’s tiny turns to the east and then the west were monitored vigilantly.  The weather  had never seemed so important.

But living 30 miles inland from the coast, we were spared. Our damage amounted to two downed palm fronds and a few clumps of Spanish moss.  But days were spent waiting and watching Dorian’s painfully slow progress as it viciously battered the Bahamas and inched up the Florida coast.  We thanked God for His mercy, prayed for the poor Bahamians who were suffering bitterly, and prayed for those still in the storms path.

We had a cruise to the Bahamas scheduled for Sept. 2 and that was cancelled, of course.  By the time the storm passed, we were rebooked on a cruise which departed from Port Canaveral Sept. 5, just 30 hours after we received confirmation.

The purpose and highlight of the cruise was spending time with our two younger grandchildren, 10 yo Alastair, 6 yo Vivian Rose, and their parents.  We had a fabulous time.

The “cruise” dress I made in such a rush for Vivian Rose was done well before the hurricane was due to make landfall.  Inspired by a gorgeous dress made by famous smocking plate designer Terry Collins, I ordered the fabric the very day she posted her dress on-line.  The pattern is Children’s Corner Louise.

 

This is a terrific pattern, a blank canvas for a variety of embellishments.  Or it is lovely as shown as a jumper or sundress.  The bodice is fully lined.

While making this, I faced many of the problems familiar to those of you whose grandchildren do not live nearby.  Though Vivi soon will be 7, she is very tiny. Yet her mother declared that she wears a size 6 and that’s what I should make.  So I did.

Obviously it it too large in every respect except the length.  You can see  the gaping armholes in the first picture.

 

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Free Happy Face Pencil Toppers

My turn to present the Children’s Message at church came this week just in time for back-t0-school.

The children range in age from 4-10 so the message needed to be catchy to get their attention and brief enough to keep that attention.  Additionally, there must be a meaningful message.

 

This bag and fabric was a gift to me from the Ghana mission team in thanks for the garments our sewing group made. The bright colors certainly caught the children’s attention.

 

With a large, colorful  tote bag next to me,  I mentioned that they had all begun a new school year.  Then I asked what they learn at school.  The answers were just as expected–math, reading, manners and to be kind (that was nice to hear).

They were curious about the bag but I said they would see what was in it later.  It was a surprise.  Darling tow-headed Reid, 4 yo,  had snuggled up to me before the service began and sneaked a look in the bag.  He shouted smugly, “I know what the surprise is!!!!” Continue reading

Summer Yo-Yo Frock

This is my latest creation for Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial.  I must say, this is one with which I am almost completely satisfied.  That rarely happens!

 

Isn’t that back cute?

I do regret not noticing  that Farmhouse Fabrics has gingham buttons.  I would like to have used those instead of the MOP pink ones as shown. But then again, maybe not.  I’d have to have them on hand to compare.

These are the bloomers.

The little garment, size 24 months, was inspired by Kari Mecca’s Yo-Yo and Buttonholes Bubble pattern https://karimeccasblog.typepad.com/my_weblog/yoyo-buttonholes-bubble-pattern.html which appeared on the cover of Sew Beautiful magazine summer, 2009. Continue reading

How-to: Garments for Ghana

Required disclosure:  I am a paid Brother Ambassador.  Not required:  I absolutely love Brother Machines.

Several readers have written asking if they may participate in the Garments for Ghana project.   Others asked how our project operated so they might do a similar event in their own community.  When I mentioned in response to a comment on this topic that I might write this post, at least one promised that she (sweet Sandee) would not find these details boring.  I hope she is not the only one because I am going ahead with this.

Before I began, I was given some direction from the mission team leaders.  The request was for bright colors, since the landscape there is pretty bleak.  We did that. Check.

Second, there must be no buttons or closures  that might break or need replacement. Such replacement is not an option for mothers in these areas.  Check.  Elastic at the neckline was the only closure notion.  I know elastic gives out after a couple of years, but I expect these garments will be worn out long  before the elastic is.

Third, in many African nations and apparently in Ghana, bare shoulders for girls and perhaps adult females, is taboo.  So we needed some sort of sleeve.  Check.  I did notice early on that many photos of pillowcase dresses for Little Dresses for Africa showed the girls wearing a  tee shirt under their dresses.  Now I see that the site offers a free pattern that has a sleeve, much like the pattern I used.

Fourth, each garment must be marked with its size.  I had a bag of labels for sizes 1-5 and for the others I embroidered sizes on grosgrain ribbon in the hoop.  Ladies who worked from home used a sharpie to write on ribbon, which like the others,  was tucked into the elastic casing at the back. Continue reading

Garments for Ghana

This is the first of 7 clotheslines that hung from the walls in fellowship hall.

Required disclaimer: I am a paid Brother Ambassador.  Not required:  I genuinely LOVE Brother machines.

UPDATE:  The first picture is in from Ghana!  Though this little girl is not needy, I think she is the daughter of Ghanese pastor who hosts the mission team.  Gayle had said this child would be given first choice.  She certainly looks pleased. Her father reported that she didn’t want to take off  the dress and slept in it!

 

What an exciting, satisfying project this has been!  Since the end of Feb. a group of ladies and 4 children of River City Church, EPC, have gathered every Thursday to sew for the needy children of Ghana. Our goal was to make 100 garments. We finished the last week in May with 76 dresses and 44 pairs of shorts!

Getting started with basic instructions.

 

Starting a pair of cargo shorts.

Our efforts were in support of this summer’s second medical mission trip to Ghana, led by a church member Dr. Lyle Wadsworth and his nurse wife Gayle.

NOTE:  Please excuse the wrinkled dresses.  The garments were pressed before being hung on the clothesline. But after being packed for shipment to Ghana, many were unpacked to be photographed.  It was just too time consuming to iron all of them.

Overturned yo-yo’s created puffy balloons. The teepee bag covers a runaway balloon.

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What has been keeping me busy!

My goodness but life has a way of keeping me busy and away from writing blog posts!  But I have been sewing.  Here us a sampling of some of my projects.

I found this heart headband slider as a freebie (for a short time only) for Valentine’s Day at Tattered Stitch.  It makes up quickly and was a big hit with my granddaughter 6 yo Vivian Rose.  She wore it to the family’s special Valentine breakfast and then to school.

Vivian Rose at the family’s special Valentine breakfast.

 

It was so quick and easy to make that I made 18 for the little girls at church.  They were delighted.  This is just the first batch I made.

 

 

Then Aunt Rheeta made her annual pilgrimage to Florida to escape Indiana’s bitter cold winter weather.  She sewed and sewed, making 10 mug rugs.  Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of all of 12, but she made a set of 4 hunting themed mug  rugs for each of two of her sons, one more feminine design for her daughter and one for her house/dog sitter.

Then she made these two for Joanne and Kyle, parents of precious baby Bea.  She said she has been praying for them since March so they almost feel like family.  She went to our Bible study group at their home and was so pleased to meet this lovely couple and spend time with darling Beatrice.  Kyle loves to hunt so one is for him and the fall print seemed to go well with Joanne’s home decor.

 

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