Category Archives: techniques

Last Minute Gifts

 

By now we’re all down to the wire for those last minute Christmas gifts.  I have a few suggestions that I hope will help you finish up.

Time is short and the list is long.  I’m down to the postmistress, a sad and stressed neighbor, some neighborhood children and a few others outside the family.  So now I’m really scurrying and relying on these tried and true projects.

RECIPE DISH TOWELS

Orange marmalade recipe design from Embroidery Library with oranges added at the top..

Orange marmalade recipe design from Embroidery Library with oranges added at the top..

My personal favorite for a last minute gift is a dishtowel.  Blank towels can be purchased and embroidered with a personal design.  Or one can be personalized with a turn tube/burrito hem and 1/4 yd. of novelty fabric that reflects and interest of the recipient.

I love making recipe towels, like this one featuring orange marmalade.  It is made with a turn tube hem.  I pick up homemade jars of jams all summer in anticipation of making these gifts.  Of course, I only buy goodies for which I have recipes.  Embroidery Library has a nice variety of berry jams, as well as root beer floats, and others.  This year they have added blackberry preserves, orange marmalade, blueberry jam, peach and more.

A towel like this with an dded print hem would be received by our friends with an olive grove if only I could find olive fabric.  But that has proven to be hard to find so that one may require embroidery.

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WAHAWAY COOKIE BAG/TOWEL

 

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Another of my all-time favorite last minute gifts is the washaway gift bag towel.  You begin with a towel and  add a little embroidery–or not. Continue reading

AHA! Tip Used Again

My AHA! moment #2, learned from a Christmas stocking last year,  was a new gadget for my sewing skill toolbox. And like good tools, it was needed again this year to complete a project for the same sweet friend.  Since the stockings for her family of four were “hung by the chimney with care”  last Christmas Eve,  the need for 3 more has arisen, one for their Elf on the Shelf “Snowflake,” one for their new dog “Jaxx” and one for visiting grandmother, “Sarah.”

This friend will be getting a Brother embroidery machine for Christmas (shhh!), but right now she knows very little about the process.  So when she came to me with the 3 stockings to be embroidered, oblivious of the difficulties that they posed, all I could think was oh how I wished Santa had brought me that single head free arm Brother Persona!!!!  But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 

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A stocking for their Elf on the Shelf? Who knew.

 

So….first I tackled the little red knit stocking for Snowflake, the elf.  It seemed to be the easiest of the lot and I needed to warm up to the task. I was so happy to have already figured out the two-baste-frame technique from last year. Continue reading

I’m Baaaack

It has been a wild ride in the time I’ve been out of the loop. After 5 days of Hurricane Matthew preparation, hunkering down with no internet, tv, cell or landline service and then clean up, we headed to Mayo Clinic.  My husband underwent a minor cardiac procedure, as if ANY cardiac procedure can be minor.  He’s just fine, we’re back home and now I’m back to blogging and sewing.

 

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First, I want to share this cute, quick and easy Halloween faux-pieced wallhanging that I really enjoyed making just before Matthew made his unwelcome visit.  A complete photo tutorial is posted here at Brother’s new blog, Stitching Sewcial.  The designs are from the new Disney Halloween Collection at ibroidery.com

There is still time to whip up this kid-pleaser for the increasingly popular Halloween season. Unlike corn stalks or hay bales, this decoration can be packed away for next year and more years to come.

Children love this, especially when they see Goofy’s skeleton glow in the dark.

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Goofy by day

 

Goofy by night

Goofy by night

 

I especially like the yo-yo pumpkins that dangle from each side. Continue reading

Too Many Cats

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When grandchildren are babies, or at least fairly young, we can make pretty things that please us and, hopefully,  their mothers.  Then, after some time, our target audience becomes opinionated little ones.  That’s what happened with this special request from 3 yo Vivian Rose.

“Please make me a kitty cat dress, Nana,” she implored on her last visit.  Having put The Incident  behind us, making her a new dress seemed just the right gesture for assurance of forgiveness.

This child is fixated on cats.  Their family pet is a 17 year old feline who went to college with Vivi’s father and has been with him ever since.  So Vivi has daily interaction with a cat, elderly though she is.

When I spotted this fabric at my favorite fabric haunt, The Sewing Studio in Maitland, FL,  I knew Vivian would love it.   Not only that, the black background would make her mother happy, who declares this active child’s clothes have a chance of surviving the school year if they are black denim.

 

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Even so, the fabric seemed a little too feline for my taste, but I wasn’t buying for me.  Don’t get me wrong–I love cats, but mostly in smaller numbers.

Challenges arose as soon as I began to cut it out.  Those rows of cats are not printed precisely on grain.  I dealt with a similar problem many years ago, but wisdom learned then was forgotten in my haste to make this for my precious little cat girl.  So a choice had to be made between going with the weave of the fabric or with the print.  I went with the print. Continue reading

Finding Dory~Another Fun Disney Dress

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My step-by-step tutorial for this dress is posted at Brother’s Stitching Sewcial blog. Please take a look and leave a comment . I’d really appreciate your feedback.

 

It seems like forever since there has been a new post here, but My! Oh! My! have I been busy!  Highlights include time in NC with family, a week at home with 2 younger grands, including hurricane Vivian Rose (good news,  we have finally recovered. Whew!), several days of sewing with the two older grands and so much more.   It’s been a wonderful summer.

But I’m back in the saddle now and have a really fun little project to share with you.  I do believe this sweet child’s dress would qualify for the “Modern Projects for Old Fashioned Nanas” category.  Don’t you?

It started with this cute pattern

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and the Finding Dory machine embroidery designs at iBroidery.com.  The fabrics are a solid soft aqua Swiss cotton pique’ and a blue Disney Finding Dory quilting cotton. Continue reading

Baby Shrek’s Christening Gown~A Work in Progress

Now this is FUN!  And even more than that, it’s a meaningful challenge.   For a family friend of more than 40 years, I am lovingly adapingt a 100+ years old family christening gown.  Requiring many special considerations,  this baptismal robe is for an especially precious baby boy.

 

UFO bodice

UFO bodice + one sleeve

 

His mother, whom I have known and loved since she was 4 years old, grew up a mile from our home.  Her parents are two of our dearest friends.  But now this young mother  lives in New Zealand with her French husband.  They were blessed with this beautiful son after many disappointments.

beautiful Baby Shrek

beautiful Baby Shrek

 

His parents want him to be surrounded by family and close friends at this milestone in his life.  So in a few weeks they will be making the long trip from Down Under all the way to Florida, then on to France.  Their son will be christened at one of these locations.

Here is the complication.  The heirloom family gown, like most, was made for a 0-3 month old baby.  But this baby will be 9 months old when he is baptized. Continue reading

Three More Stockings

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The “R” is from Anita Goodesign’s Autumn Monogram collection. The other letters are from my carelessly unidentified folder called Old Font.

 

The joy of Christmas lasts all year long, but the time for its decorations and  trappings is about over.  So before December 25 is too far in the past,   I want to share two more stockings.  As these were embroidered for my friend Zahra,  I learned a few more things.  Keep in mind that at times I’m a rather slow learner, so these little problem solvers may not be news to you.  The techniques I discovered while working on Zahra’s stocking and were included in the post 2 AHA! Moments and 1 Stocking.

Do you learn something new on nearly every sewing project?  I surely do, though sometimes I wonder if the new technique hadn’t been learned before and long since forgotten. Continue reading

2 Aha! Moments and 1 Stocking

 

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While working on this stocking or a friend, I had two AHA! moments.  Now that’s a good sewing day!

Many of you, I am sure, have long since experienced these aha moments.  But for some readers…

 

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I was ticked pink to discover two new problem solutions.

My first problem was the design.  I love the Winter Pines alphabet which is currently being offered for free, one letter at a time every few  days, from Sonia Showalter Designs.  Every single design on her site is spectacular, with artistic flair and flawless stitching.  It is one of my favorite embroidery sites.

Winter Pines  seemed perfect for this bulky knit stocking.  But the alphabet was only up to the letter “O” when it was time to get started. I needed “Z” for Zahra.  No time to wait for the entire alphabet so…..

AHA #1.  I took one of the previously downloaded letters, deleted the letter itself and then inserted a similarly styled “Z” from my Brother PE-Design.  Because that program has so many fonts and allows unlimited sizes, I found the perfect “Z”  to fit the cuff.  A bit of adjustment was required to make certain the letter stitched first and to remove the heavy satin stitching under the pine designs.  But it worked.  I was so pleased to get just the design I wanted.

Now, can you see the sort of challenges this stocking presented with regard to hooping the cuff? Initially, only two options came to mind.

A. I could open a side seam to lay the cuff flat and stitch it to tearaway stabilizer.  But a whole new world of difficulties would arise by opening a satin lined, knit seam and then sewing it back together again. Uh, nix that option. Continue reading

Thanks to Blanks–Quick Gifts

From ho-hum plain to sweet with the help of machine embroidery and spaghetti bias.

From ho-hum plain to sweet with the help of machine embroidery and spaghetti bias.

 

Lately, I’ve been in need of a variety of really fast projects, for a baby, a bride, a guy, a little girl and a young lady.  I know of nothing faster than starting with ready-made blank items.

I started with the baby gift.  Years ago I bought several of these blank bibs, bonnets and caps made of Aida cloth or with Aida cloth inserts.   You know how a technique strikes you suddenly.  Machine embroidered cross stitch–yup!

 

plain aida bibs

The plan was to embroider all of these bibs, bonnets and baby baseball caps.   But that didn’t happen.  Oh, I did embroider several for the pregnancy center our church supports.  But I sold most of them for a pittance.

When the needs rolled in for these in-a-New York-minute projects,  only one plain white one bib was left, though I’d rather have had one with blue gingham binding.  Why does it always happen that you have things lying around for years, then once they are gone you need them ASAP?  Who knows?

Even with the cross stitch embroidery, the white bib was boring.  So I pulled out some spaghetti bias from my stash and stitched it right on top of the white bias binding.  I was generally pleased with this little gift.

It seems to me that cotton thread makes machine cross stitch look more like hand stitching.  So the bib was stitched with 50 wt. DMC machine embroidery thread.  I really like that thread.

Then I moved on to something for the bride.  A new but vintage handkerchief from my collection was just what I needed for a second project.   The linen, hand crocheted edging and hemstitching fit the bill for “something old, something new, something borrowed (well, it COULD be loaned), and something blue.”  This was reeeeeally fast. Continue reading

All About Lace Tape~Part 1

Lately, there have been considerable discussions and questions about lace tape, its origin and uses.  The history is quite interesting, as its development involved a salvage warehouse and an unraveled sweater for my Rebecca and midnight transatlantic phone calls. That was in 1987 when I first brought this product to the heirloom sewing public.

Most of this history is detailed in this post.  Because lace tape is one of my favorite sewing products, I’d like to share some applications and techniques.  For many years I taught a 6-hour class around the country.  So there is a lot of material on the subject, too much for one post.  Lace tape can be used for shadow applique’, colored entredeux, colored shark’s teeth, tiny piping and so much more. So stay turned for details.  A few future posts will feature projects with detailed directions.

ABOUT LACE TAPE

Approximately 3/8″ wide and available in a rainbow of colors, lace tape is a loosely woven 100% cotton trim.  It has a gathering thread on each side and is wonderful for lace shaping.  It also can add a bit of color to an heirloom project.

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Now there are two varieties of lace tape:  Japanese and Swiss.  The lace tape shown above and used on each of the items pictured below is Japanese.

USES

1.  for lace insertion substitute joined to lace edging or other insertion

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Peach lace tape was joined to lace edging and then stitched to flat bishop before smocking. See Molly’s Lace Tape Nightie for more pictures and information.

 

preparation:  Like heirloom trims, lace tape is easier to work with after being starched and pressed, unless it is being shaped.  Use the finest thread, preferably 80/2 Madeira Cotona,  and  the smallest needle appropriate to the thread size.

technique:  Butt lace tape to lace.  Zig zag the two pieces together with an approximate stitch setting of W 1.5-2.0, depending on width of lace header, L .8-1.0 edging.  NOTE: An edge joining foot makes this much easier.

 

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Lace tape joined to Aesop’s Fables Binche lace.

Continue reading