Category Archives: techniques

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.

lt 2 examplesrecol

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

MollyLTgownsmockingxx

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.

 

1-lt to lionsxx

Lace tape joined to Aesop’s Fables Binche lace.

Continue reading

Inside Out Tanks

Bingbon, a favorite character

Bingbong, a favorite Pixar Inside Out character

 

Have you seen the new Pixar movie, Inside Out?    It offers some insight if you are trying to figure out just what children are feeling.

 

Joy is a happy gal.

Joy is the happy gal on the flip side of Bingbong.

 

The shirt embroideries are Brother’s  Inside Out designs.  It was June Mellinger’s creative idea to embroider two off-the-rack tanks and stitch them together .  This makes one embroidered tank top,  making it reversible— or wearable “inside out.”   With this inspiration I embroidered 6 tanks and ended up with 3 reversible tops. Continue reading

Technique & Summer Fun Bishop

1-dress

 NOTE:  I’ve since shortened the dress by 5″ and it fits so much better.

In my humble opinion, bishops are a near perfect garment for little girls.  They are comfortable, long wearing and easy to construct.  Would anyone rather construct than smock?  Not me.

 

These "Smockables" used to be readily available from Martha Pullen Company. They are no longer for sale there.

These “Smockables” are no longer for sale from Martha Pullen Company.

 

Ready-to-smock garments from Martha Pullen Company were my go-to “bring-along” project for trips.  When they were readily available, I laid in a supply.  But I have run out.  The white bishop shown above is the last one that will fit any of my grandchildren.  The few remaining Smockables are for sale here.

Starting with a ready-to-smock bishop is the quickest way to get one finished.  I soon grew tired of the basic style offered and have had fun modifying it.

A few weeks ago, I was packing for our trip to North Carolina.  We were headed to the mountains with our two younger grandchildren and their parents.  I knew I had to have some handwork for those few (VERY few) quiet moments after 2 yo tornado Vivian Rose was asleep next to her easy-going brother, Alastair.  I grabbed this last white bishop and couldn’t help but think “ho-hum.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love a geometrically smocked white bishop.  But I was in  the mood for something a little different.  Then, due to the less-than-tidy condition of my sewing room, I spotted this scrap red border given to me by my friend, Suzanne Sawko.  Hmmmm…

 

border scrap FI Continue reading

Keychain Tutorial Posted ~ New Hints

 

pack pals for Alastair and his friends

Pack pals/ keychains for Alastair and his friends. I’m pleased to report that my keychain tutorial is posted at Brother’s website.  Any of these links will take you there.

 

I’m pleased to report that my keychain tutorial is now posted at Brother’s website.  Any of the links at the end of this post will take you there.

Apparently, I was not very clear about the felt.   A reader wrote with some questions,  asking if she needed to buy from a bolt.  My answers/comments are:

 I just buy the felt sheets at WalMart, JoAnn’s or Michaels.  They are 9×12″ or 12 x 18″.  The smaller soft ones run about  $.25 each and the larger stiff ones about $.59.   Of course, you could use some by-the-yard felt, but I don’t think that comes in the stiff weight. 

When I first got on this jag, I used soft for both with a cutaway stabilizer for the first hooping.  But then I could not get rid of the stabilizer beyond the outline and had to color it with a sharpie.  Still, the keychain was too floppy to suit me.  So I went with the stiff stuff. 

You can use stiff for both layers, but with my stiff hands, it is hard to cut through two layers of that. Now I always use stiff for the top but when I can’t find matching colored soft felt, I use stiff for both.

When I first heard about these keychains, I too was puzzled about their attachment to the backpacks.  I discovered that they just loop over the hanger loop  with the embroidered piece slipping through the loop or over the wider shoulder strap.   That is why you need such a long loop.  I’m guessing backpack straps are about 2″ wide, so that uses up 4″ of the ribbon loop.  Then the embroidery has to fit through the remaining opening.

 

Maddie n Elsa

 

A second tutorial for other machines was to be posted at this time.   But a wicked case of bronchitis and life in general got in the way.  I expect you know how that happens.  But it will be posted soon.

NANA FUN Continue reading

Christmas Finery for Sister and Brother

2 outfits

Hurrah!  Christmas clothes for our two younger grandchildren were finished, shipped and received late last week.  Toddler Vivian Rose’s white Swiss flannel bishop has the neck and sleeve bound with in red gingham pima cotton.  Heirloom lace is hand whipped to the bias binding.

 

smock close

 

The smocking design is just a simple diamond pattern that I made up as I stitched. Continue reading

Novelty Bishop~A Novel Technique

nov bish all

 

This little novelty bishop and two others were loaned to a friend many years ago.  I had forgotten all about them until they were returned last week.  Of course, they will end up in the closet of our toddler granddaughter, Vivian Rose, though most of them will have a bit of a wait until she grows into them.

Vivi will probably be 4 or 5 before she wears this classic plaid school dress.

nov bish plaid all

Excuse the ugly section of my potting shed shown in the background.   It really is nicer than that.  See here.

 

I don’t know what happened to the Liberty bishop shown below.  Continue reading

End of Summer Dress

DSC06987

The coral rose and passion vine tangle up and cover this bench trellis. It’s a pretty spot to sit—or hang a dress.

 

Have you ever had a project that made you wonder if you would ever finish it?  That’s the story for this summer dress that I started in June.  Finally today,  Sept. 2, it is ready to wear.

Yes, it’s a little late for summer, but in central Florida, summer lasts until late Oct.   There are still plenty of 90 degree days ahead for Laurel, my 9 year old granddaughter, to wear this cotton sundress.  Add  to that the fact that it is a little big, so she will be cool and cute next summer.

The pattern is Summer Separates from the Sew Beautiful collection.

summer separates Continue reading

Shadow Embroidery by Embroidery Machine

Catching up with my must-do’s so that I can write a new post has been nearly impossible.  I won’t bore you with ALLL the details, but one obstacle is time spent supervising 7 year old grandson Robert as he works the book he has written, Football Frenzy (soon I HOPE to be for sale @ $7, at least until Amazon or BooksAMillion pick it up ;-)). After I printed up two copies for his perusal, he decided that it is too short. So he is back to composing, adding a chapter on recipes for football watching snacks and more.

 

Roberts book cover

Additionally, I have been substitute teaching Sunday School for 1st-5th graders, a satisfying but time consuming task.

So until I finish the little popover pinafore (Pini-4) which is almost done, I resort yet again to putting up a post from the past.

Shadow embroidery by machine continues to be of great interest.  Though you probably have a greater chance of winning the lottery than of laying hands on any one of Suzanne Hinshaw’s to-die-for collections, you just might get lucky.  There are other designers mentioned below with sets or individual designs.

So here is the old post, with a few photos of projects done since putting this one up.  A  real, new, fresh post should be up very soon.

 

grandson's Easter outfit with shadow embroidery from Southern Stitches’ Shadow Work Baby Collection

grandson’s Easter outfit with shadow embroidery from Southern Stitches’ Shadow Work Baby Collection

Continue reading

Feather Stitched Bows

t bonnet

There are so many projects and ideas I want to share with you, but time is just too short right now.  Vivian Rose is the proud owner of a sweet little  smocked popover that I will share with you later and another major project is underway.  For now, this re-run~fro, 2010 will have to do.

This T-bonnet is a great little project with some interesting techniques, especially for those who do not use an embroidery machine.  I hope new readers will find something of value and those of you who have already seen this post will not mind it the second time around.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Enchanting as I find this T-bonnet to be, the techniques used in its creation hold even greater interest. At an Elna Convention outside Minneapolis, Melissa Stone, daughter of renown Sarah Howard Stone,  taught this project to an eager group of students, including me.

Mind you, this was before the advent of the home embroidery machines. So for anyone who does not have an embroidery machine, this technique is gold. For those who do, the technique has applications beyond this project.

The T-bonnet is de rigueur, standard heirloom sewing. For directions and measurements for a basic t-bonnet, refer to my earlier post, unimaginatively entitled “T-Bonnet.”

 

bonnet side

 

In the class with Melissa Stone, we used the pattern measurements  from her mother’s book, French Hand Sewing.   But Melissa’s innovative idea for embroidering the bow, without the use of a water-soluble marking pen, was very creative. Continue reading