Category Archives: machine embroidery

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!!!!”

Then I asked  what they do not learn at school.  One response was, “We don’t learn how to eat pizza.”  What????   So I helped by asking if they learn how to swim or how to ride a bike or how to  rub their bellies and pat their heads at the same time?  Or if they learn about Jesus?  Our homeschooled and Christian school students replied yes, but they others said no.

They were still looking at the colorful bag.  Reid said he wanted to say something. Assuming this bright little guy whose family has a daily Bible study and worship time, had something meaningful to say,  I gave him the microphone.  He screeched into it and laughed hysterically.  Scamp! I snatched the mike away while the congregation shuddered.

So how can they learn about Jesus?  Again, asking for their input, we found that they could learn at Sunday School, at Vacation Bible School, from their parents,  by reading their Bibles and praying for God’s guidance.

 

These have been some of my grandchildren’s favorites, from when they were very little until now as young teenagers.

 

From the bag I pulled out two children’s Bibles and a book of Psalms for younger children with illustrations and explanations.  But they could tell there was more in the bag.  So I took out the vase and showed them the pencil “bouquet.”

One of the older children was handed one pencil and asked to read the scripture tied to the pencil with a ribbon.  Vivienne read beautifully.

Show me your ways, Lord,

Teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4

They were told that studying their Bibles the Lord will  indeed teach them His paths.  And knowing Jesus and  will give them happiness.  That is the reason for the happy face on their pencil topper. This can be a reminder to them while in school.  Each child selected a pencil (unsharpened, of course) and were smiling as we ended our little talk with a prayer.

It’s such a joy to work with children.  They always amaze and entertain me.

The pencil topper machine embroidery design is a free download.  Of course, it has many uses and the happy face can be replace with a holiday theme like a pumpkin or candy cane.  With Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, these pencil toppers make nice little classroom gifts.

If you would like  this free design, leave your request as a comment at the end of this post.  I will e-mail it to you.

Detailed instructions can be found in an earlier blog post here.  Wouldn’t  this be a nice little gift for your child or grandchild to hand out to his or her classmates.  They are so quick to make.

Happy sewing!

 

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.

I fell in love with this Kwik Sew pattern as soon as I saw it.

I could just imagine it sewn up in the sweet pastel stripe from Farmhouse Fabrics with gingham check yo-yo’s.  I have some special bumblebee fabric I have been saving for little granddaughter Beatrice, who is called Bea.  My hope is to remake this for her before summer is over.

At Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial, all the details, instructions and tips are included.  Also, you will find there downloads for the front design with rick rack vine, yo-yo’s and rick rack flowers ,  two sizes of in the hoop yo-yo’s (well, it still requires just a bit of easy handwork) as well as templates for yo-yo’s made on the sewing machine.

So please take a look.  If you like what you see, I’d appreciate a comment left at the end of the Brother post.  Comments are moderated so it may be a day or more before they are posted.

I would love to know what you think of the summer yo-yo frock and what you are sewing now.  Hearing from you makes my day!

Happy sewing!

 

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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Back at Last!

First, let me wish you a happy Valentine’s Day!  My latest post at Brother’s blog Stitching Sewcial is all about embroidered cards, specifically Valentines. I wish you all joy and happiness on this special day of love.

 

 

The tutorial gives all the ins and outs of embroidering cards, from choice of cardstock size and attaching embroidery.  Check it out and please leave a comment at Stitching Sewcial if you find it helpful or inspiring.  Here are a few of the other samples.  Details of each are included at Stitching Sewcial:

 

 

The front embroidery is covered and inside text is Minnie’s quote.  It reads:

 

This one is for our 6 yo granddaughter.  The inside text reads, “Vivian Rose, you are our favorite princess.”

More are posted.  I had a hard time stopping, since these are so much fun to make.

But much more has been going on since I last posted here at Janice Ferguson Sews.  Of course, Christmas was pure joy, with both of our children joining us with all four of our precious grandchildren.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Many gifts were stitched. Mug rugs caught my attention and I made several for my daughter-in-law, but didn’t manage to get a photo.  These are so much fun and make great gifts.  She is our nature girl and really liked the apron I embroidered for her with this fabulous bear from Urban Threads.

I replaced the topstitching with brown thread.

Many loved ones received my standard gift of dishtowels and homemade jams.

Our precious church granddaughter Beatrice was a vision of baby beauty in her Old Fashioned Baby  Christmas dress.  Her headband had a feltie with a tiny deer to match her dress.

 

Now, after months and months of worry and frustration, her adoption is complete and joy abounds.

I really got into felties and made one to go with granddaughter Vivian Rose’s dress.

The stacked cats Christmas tree design is from Apex Embroidery designs. Their designs are great! The gifts below were added from various other sites.  Cute white leggings with big red and green polka dots went with the dress, but I missed a picture of that.

 

It was almost a repeat of last year’s smash hit Christmas frock but it was an enormous upgrade with the new lining.  She wanted to wear it with the lining on the outside, but that was not allowed.

 

 

The whole feltie obsession came as a result of the felties offerred at this etsy site,  Mommy’s Apron Strings.  I downloaded the snowman and gingerbread boys (offered free for a short time) and attached them to 25 hairbows for all the little girls at church.  Of course, I had to have something for the boys, so I made pencil toppers for them, using the same designs on the blank pencil topper included in the set I offered here.  But did I take pictures?  No!  I was stitching late into the night and handed them out  the next morning.

The other winner Christmas gift was a set of two fleece quillows for my son’s twin Comanche plane, embroidered with just the tail numbers.  He had asked for them and was so pleased!

Again, this is probably more than you wanted or needed to know, but I am so far behind that I wanted to let you know I have not given up sewing or blogging.  I hope you will check back to see more, posted more frequently.  But then again,

 

 

Christmas Fawn Daydress

Christmas is just around the calendar corner and it’s rush, rush, rush for me and many of you.  I’ve just finished this Swiss batiste dress for Baby Beatrice.

I’ve written in earlier posts about Baby Bea, our new granddaughter via our church. Neither of her parents’ mothers is living,  so months before she was born they asked me to be her official Nana.  That was a happy day!  And, of course, she is a doll, just now 4 months old, which for me has been at least 120 more happy days.

Her daddy is an avid hunter, especially for deer. Bea’s little daydress is a reminder NOT to shoot Bambi or his antlered  father.

But back to the dress……the pattern is Old Fashioned Baby‘s Baby Daydress.

 

 

Like all of Jeannie B’s patterns, this one is a delight to sew and offers several design options.  I love the Scriptures and embroidery designs she places in the blank space around the pattern pieces.

 

 

 

The shadow work fawn is from Joy Welsh’s Applique for Kids.  It stitches just beautifully with her instructions.  The greenery beneath the fawn was extracted from another design which I cannot recall right now.

 

 

 

The holly at the neckline is another design whose origin I cannot recall.  I need to keep better records of what I embroider.

 

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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 and 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 a single rug and the 8 spread 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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