October 31, 2015

New "Forever" Hand Stitching Project

I like to have a long term hand embroidery project going on, and haven't started one for a long time.  Not since this Star Spangled Uncle Sam. With the time change, and hopeful rainy season, it will be nice to snuggle down in the early evening with a new stitchery.

I seldom sit and piece at the sewing machine at night, as after a long day, as I'm usually tired and I find I make more mistakes cutting and sewing at night that I then need to correct in the morning light.

However, hand embroidery is different.  I thread all my embroidery needles early in the day in preparation for stitching. Have good lighting set up by my chair, and I'm ready to relax----and hand stitch.

Star Spankled Uncle Sam

When I saw Crabapple Hill Studio's newest mystery stitchery, The Salem Witches at the Quilt Guild, I knew I had found a new "forever project".  I love all the witches! Their poses, and clothing and what their various guild duties are! Like the Raffle ticket selling witch holding her basket of tickets and the sewing machine that is being raffled off!

(click on the pictures to enlarge)

Here is a photo from Crabapple Hill designs showing all the witches. The detail is awesome!

How about that cute cat on the pile of quilts in the wagon? Adorable! I love the vintage look of the whole scene.  I can't even imagine what part 2 will be like! But, I'm loving this first panel!

Yesterday I started transferring the design to fabric. It is suggested you use a brown colored .05 Micron pen and a light table.  My light table is definitely too small for these figures, so I taped the pattern to a large window in our hallway, and then taped the fabric over the drawing and started tracing the images.

I got this far transferring the design yesterday before my arm gave out----

I hope to finish the tracing today and get started on the coloring process.  I may venture away from the suggested Crayola Crayon method and use my Copic markers instead.

More later--------

October 30, 2015

More Scan n Cut Learning

I'm having fun learning about the Brother Scan n' Cut machine. Here are some of my latest projects. My primairy reason, or so I told myself, for buying a Scan n' Cut was to cut out fabric for machine embroidery appliqués. But, since joining several of the Scan n' Cut groups on Facebook I've become fascinated with trying out paper projects. These Halloween paper cuts are all freebie .svg files from Birdcards.com

I thought cutting paper would be the challenge, instead it has turned out to be the Glue! How to keep the sticky glue where it belongs and not smearing it all over the paper!  I feel like I'm back in pre-school  flunking "Pasting Day!"

I finished this next project yesterday.  The challenge here was to scan the pattern pieces and sort them,  place the fabrics on the cutting mat, and sort out the pieces on the Scan n' Cut touch screen so they would be placed correctly on the fabrics, and then you press cut and hope all goes well!  This is a a freebie from Connecting Threads online catalog.  The Christmas Scottie Mug Rug.

Lots of mistakes I realize, but this is all part of learning about blade depth, pressure and cutting speed on the machine.  I am however enjoying the whole process so far.

You can learn more about the Brother  Scan n' Cut2 650 here.  

October 18, 2015

Slow Progress

I try to spend time, a little or a lot, in my sewing room. Even if it's just 30 mins. I feel like I'm making progress. I would love to spend more time there, it's a very relaxing room, and I love being there. I have so many ideas and projects swirling around in my mind plus all those unfinished projects to work on.

The passing of my friend, Shirley, has made me more thoughtful about all the unfinished quilts that seem to be piling up. Some tops that need completion, others on hangers in the closet waiting to be quilted. Do I have enough hours or days to get them all done?----probably not, but I'm not giving up on the idea of finishing the unfinished ---yet.

I get thoughtful, deep thoughtful about all this at times and have decided it's not the time so much. (it really is amazing what you can do in 30 mins.)---it's the beckoning of new projects that gets me so sidetracked! If only I would not start anything "new".  But, how will I ever accomplish that. No self control in that department it seems.

 My other option is to literally pack up each and every unfinished project and give it away. Not deal with it any longer-----and that would be a serious undertaking both emotionally, and physically.

So, onward I go trying to meet the challenge.

So far this month I have finished a baby quilt. Pieced the borders on a quilt, and learned to miter the corners on it.  (I am not good at mitering quilt borders) but I did OK.  I learned a new binding technique! Love it, and will do it again. Put a long forgotten Unfinished Project on the design wall and will start piecing it soon. (today) Downloaded all the files I needed to make my new Scan n Cut2 650 work wirelessly. Downloaded Canvas software to work with Scan n Cut.   I mention this because it took me over an hour to get all this computer stuff figured out and working like it should.

This is a machine embroidery project (unfinished project) from Urban Threads that I started several years ago. It had been so long since I had opened the container it was stored in, I had forgotten all the placement of the blocks. That is a real problem when working with unfinished projects.  Just recalling where you left off, and where to restart can present it's own challenge. Moments of sheer confusion!

I did finish the Calendar Kids border and I've decided a simple free motion meander will complete the quilt and not detract from the design.

Tried as I might I could not get the pieced borders to perfectly match in length near the corners so that the seams would miter from one side of the quilt to the other.  But, the 30's print fabric is so busy looking, it's not too noticeable, and once it's quilted I think it will be OK.

The Elephant quilt is finished!

I tried a new quilt binding method from Missouri Star Quilts. Jenny Doan's flanged quilt binding. The video is on You Tube. Liking this! No hand stitching!

This beauty awaits me on the long arm. One of my dear departed Shirley's lovely quilt tops. I need to add extensions to the top and bottom so I can load it onto the leaders. They are way to short now.  At some point it was intended to be machine quilted sitting at the sewing machine.  I'll need to remove all the safety pins too. Don't you wish for an "assistant" some days! for jobs like safety pin removal!

For Shirley's son.

So, this is some of the stuff going on. Hopefully you will understand why I don't blog as often these days.

September 27, 2015

Zen Apples

The Fall Mystery "Zen Apples from San Francisco Stitch Company. These are the 5 x 7 versions on batik four patches.

September 22, 2015

Scan n' Cut Hearts for the Fire Project

These are some of my appliqué hearts for the Kerrie's donation quilts. She is heading up the "Hearts for the the Fire" project in Lake County, CA.  All the hearts received will be made into quilts for the fire victims.

I'm in such a learning mode with my Scan n' Cut right now anytime I'm presented with a cutting project I will attempt to do it with the Scan n' Cut. This was a perfect timing to try some of the  built in designs, and try the increase/decrease feature.  There were several built in heart outlines in the 550 Scan n' Cut. I picked one that has no frilly edges and increased the size to 5.25". The Scan n' Cut proportionately increases any measurements you may enter into the machine which is a plus.

The request was to place the hearts on 10" pastel hearts on white or off white backgrounds.  

If you are interested in donating a  heart quilt block, please read the following from Kerrie.

For nearly a week, our Lake County has been hit with a devastating “fire storm” that continues to burn.  Nearly 600 homes are gone and all of us seem to have someone affected in some way.
Many quilting friends lived up on Cobb mountain, in Hidden Valley or Middletown.
Several of those friends have nothing left but ashes.   There is a portion of God’s Word in Isaiah 61:3 that says, “To console those who mourn (in Zion), To give them beauty for ashes......”
If you would like to help turn ashes to beauty please make a quilt block –  applique a heart in the center of a CUT 10” square using pastel colors, sign your name and town along the side of the heart, and mail to Kerrie’s Quilting  1853 N. High St.  Lakeport, CA  95453. 
The blocks will be set together to make quilts for at least  5 ladies that I know of who lost all their sewing/quilting things in the fire.  
Deadline—October 8

Sew warmly & thank you     ~~Kerrie

August 27, 2015

Machine Embroidery Tips

I belong to several machine embroidery forums and groups on the internet.  I oversee one such group for my own brand of machine.  Several times throughout the year, members often post questions about how to treat fabric, stabilizers, how to hoop fabrics and how to avoid some of the problems frequently associated with machine embroidery overall.

I hope the following information I have learned over the years interacting with other embroiderers will help.  I am by no means an expert, I'm always learning and open to new ideas, but this is the method I have used for a while successfully.

First is the treatment of the fabric you are going to embroidery. I can't overstate how important this first step can be for the successful outcome to your project.

Use quality fabrics if at all possible, and if the fabric can be pressed (off course you shouldn't press velvets, suedes, leathers, some knits or specialty fabrics)----but if you are working with cotton, cotton blends or rayons, most likely you can press them using the appropriate settings on your iron. 

Press out any wrinkles in the fabric first: Then spritz the fabric with starch (not Mary Ellen's Best Press which is a fabric "sizing", and not a starch.) Press.

 Press your fabric, and repeat the spray starch, press again, and spray starch and press one final time.  Three or more times should do it. You want to add "body" to the fabric. Starching helps. It literally makes the fabric behave like "stabilizer".

Pressing and starching

I primarily use Fusible Tear Away stabilizer. It's my favorite for stitching quilt blocks, on shirts, kitchen towels, table runners, etc.  This particular fusible tear away is a Baby Lock product.  Press it lightly to the back of your starched project fabric, and hoop. There is no need to heavily heat and press the stabilizer to your fabric, or it will be difficult to remove when your embroidery is finished.

 I'm using Moda white cotton for this tutorial.

Loosen the gripper on your hoop and press the top portion of the hoop onto the base hoop. Once it is seated in place, pull just slightly on the hooped fabric edges to create an even tight smooth surface.

Now, take your fingers and with slight pressure push down on the edges of the top hoop all the way around which slightly pushes the top hoop downward into the sides of the bottom hoop, and tighten the hoop grip with your fingers, and finally use a screw driver to further tighten the hoop grip. Don't exert too much pressure with the screw driver or you will strip the hoop gripper, but just to the point of resistance.

For this tutorial, I'm using a dense design that comes with my machines built in embroidery designs.

Change the needle in your machine for embroidery frequently. I change needles on average every 8 hours of embroidery.  I may stop and change needles even more frequently when doing dense embroideries.
Some embroiderers like the smaller size needles. Use what works for you. I prefer to use Superior 90/14 Topstitch Organ needles for almost all my embroidery projects.

I don't use pre wound bobbins. I prefer to use Bottom Line bobbin thread for embroidery unless I need to match the bobbin thread in the back of a project or if I  am doing free standing lace. Then I will wind a bobbin with the same thread as my top thread.

I use a 10 spool Martha Pullen/Hemmingworth thread stand with the embroidery machine. I've tried various thread stands over the years, and this is the best one I've found. It's easy to load. Just remove the top of thread stand and take it over to your thread stash, and load your thread colors. Place the thread tails through the small holes at the top, and place the thread tales in the spring holder which is on the top of the thread stand. (sorry it's not showing in these photos)

Place the top portion of the thread stand back on the base which is sitting under and at the back of the machine, remove the thread tail from the holding spring, take it over to the thread guide at the side of the stand and proceed to thread the machine. Love this thread stand! So easy to use and perfect top thread tension all the time.

Here is the design we will be stitching out. 5 x 7 inch hoop. I prefer to not use thread charts, but pick my own colors of thread. Often I refer to the onscreen design for cues, but if it says "blue", I like to pick the shade of blue from my thread stash.  That is why you only see colored spools on the screen. Not thread chart color numbers.

Here is the completed embroidery still in the hoop.

Here is the same completed embroidery with the stabilizer removed.  Once an embroidery is finished I like to remove as much of the stabilizer from the back of the design as possible. Clip any taunt bobbin threads that may pull on the embroidery between the design elements.  Then I place the completed embroidery face down on a piece of terry cloth and press the back of the design with a warm iron. This will flatten the fabric, but not the stitched embroidery design. 

I hope these tips will help you have some fun and success  with your embroidery machine and projects!

August 26, 2015

Bathroom Redo - Finished!

I wish my quilting projects went as well, or as fast as the bathroom redo.  It was finished in less than a week. Some of my quilts take months---even years to complete.  I guess when you are minus a bathroom, it's all matter of priority!

Here are the results. It all started with this shower curtain at Kohl's. A pretty cotton print. 

I matched the paint to the background color of the curtain. Benjamin Moore Select, "Coastal Cottage".
(You do wonder who comes up with these paint color names.) It's sort of a "Rosy Beige" (my name for the color.) 

New halogen light fixture is a bit bright and revealing! Like ----When did that wrinkle happen! New mirrored cabinet too.

Some newer bath rugs and decorative touches finished off the redo.

Vintage perfume bottle collection.

Now back to the Elephants!