Monday, November 26, 2018

Pashmina Scarves for the Big Apple

I’m long overdue for a blog post and since my last one, I’ve added a new hobby of digital cutting to my crafting fun.  I received a Cricut Maker for Christmas last year and oh what fun it’s been!  I originally wanted to it use with my embroidery, but I’ve gotten distracted and been using it for paper crafts, tee-shirts, household decorations, etc.  I have embroidery and digital cutting projects that I’m behind on blogging about, but I thought I’d start by sharing a project I just did today.

The first weekend in December every year, it’s a tradition for all the girl cousins in my family to get together for our annual cousin’s weekend.  It's a cherished weekend full of lots of love, laughter and fun family time.  We gather Saturday morning before heading out for an afternoon of Christmas shopping, followed by afternoon snacks, dinner and a PJ Party.  Sunday morning, we finish with brunch before everyone heads home.  We take turns hosting the event and it's usually somewhere in Maryland or Virginia, but this year we're heading to NYC!

One of my cousins who lives in New Jersey is hosting and she’s arranged for a party bus to take us into NYC for the evening where we'll have dinner, stop for pics with the NYC skyline, visit the tree at Rockefeller Center, etc.  We’ll have lots of great photo opportunities so I thought it would be fun to surprise everyone with a little something matching for our night out on the town.  One of my cousins actually mentioned the idea last year, but I didn’t really give it much thought until recently.  I wanted to make a monogrammed scarf for everyone but I knew I would not have the time to embroider 21 of them in time, so I decided I’d try adding the monogram with heat transfer (iron-on) vinyl.

I first tried a sample on an old Pashmina scarf that was headed for the discard pile.  I was a little worried about how heat-sensitive the material would be, but it worked out perfectly!  Once I felt confident it would work, I ordered the Pashmina’s for $5 each from Etsy and then today, I spent the day making them!

Creating the monograms:

I used the MonogramIt! App on my iPad to create each of the monograms.  I then uploaded them to Cricut Design Space to create the cut files.  I put all the monograms in one project so I could cut them all together.  I decided to make each monogram 4.5” wide. Depending on the letter combinations, they varied slightly in height, but I didn’t think it was enough of a difference to worry about it.  There was one that stood out a little more than the others so I did reduce that one to 4.25” wide so it was a not quite as tall.   

My Cricut Design Space Project

Cutting the vinyl:

Next step was to cut the vinyl.  I used Siser Easyweed Heat Transfer Vinyl in white.  I was able to cut them all in two 12"x24" mats (12 monograms on the first mat and 9 on the second mat).  After cutting, I weeded to remove the unwanted vinyl.

Cutting the Vinyl

Time to iron:

After weeding the vinyl, it was time to iron the monograms on to the scarves.  I used my Cricut EasyPress and Cricut EasyPress mat and followed the recommended heat settings for silk which was 280 degrees.  I used parchment paper between the scarf and EasyPress so the heat was never directly touching the pashmina.  I preheated the surface for 5 seconds, then applied head and a little pressure for 30 seconds from the front.  I then flipped it and did another 30 seconds from the back (the directions called for 15 seconds which probably would have been fine).  I then flipped it back to the front and peeled the liner off warm.  I then put the parchment on top again and ironed for another 5 seconds.  This probably wasn't needed either, I just like to do it in case anything lifted a little when peeling the liner off.

Ta da! The finished result:

The monogram blends into the pashmina scarf so nicely.  If you close your eyes and rub your hand over it, you can hardly tell it's there.
Finished Scarf

I folded and rolled the scarves so the monograms were showing on the outside and finished them off with a ribbon.  I can't wait to share them with my cousins next weekend!

All 21 Scarves Ready to Gift!

I was really happy with how they turned out and how easy they were to create.  I think I may be making some more of these as gifts before the Christmas season is over! :)

Happy Crafting!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Hands On Sewing School

This post is long overdue, I wrote it a while ago and then never published it because I waiting to add pics.  Finally added a video at the end and am finally posting it...

Hands On Sewing School in Alexandria, VA last weekend (now a few months ago!) was so much fun.  I was hesitant to attend alone, but I'm so glad I did!  Everyone was so nice and I learned so much.  The event started with a welcome reception on Thursday evening.  It provided a good introduction of what to expect for the next three days and we also got our gift boxes full of fun threads, designs and more to take home.  After a brief welcome and presentation, we went around to different tables to watch short demos on products and topics related to sewing, embroidering and quilting such as cutting, stabilizing, and software.  After each demo, you received an additional ticket for the door prize drawings that would take place throughout the weekend.  I was really excited to see that we'd be using brand new Brother Dream Machine 2s for our sewing/embroidery that weekend!

The attendees were divided into three groups (I was in group A) for the daytime classes Friday through Sunday.  Each group had one session on the machines and two other classes each day.  By dividing into groups, it gave everyone the chance to have a machine to themselves for the hands on portion which was nice.  All the groups were together for a short time each morning and the optional evening sessions, as well as breakfast and lunch...which is also when they drew tickets to give out LOTS of prizes.  I was not as lucky as some, but I did win a copy of the Classic Sewing magazine.

For our hands on project, led by Judy Fredenburgh, we made a small pillow.  The first day we worked on the front which included cutting our appliqué pieces on the scan n cut, stitching the design, adding a stipple stitching using the built-in features of the embroidery machine (wow!) and adding the decorative border. The second day, we made the back of the pillow which included adding the zipper in the hoop, using the machine to scan in and digitize a handwritten "Stitched with Love" message (another wow!), and then using the camera to position it where we wanted it on the pillow before sewing (wow again!).  The third day we trimmed the edges of our front and back, sewed it together and then embellished it with a fun glitter snowflake and some heat-set crystals.  Did I mention the machine's sew-straight laser guide when sewing the pillow together?  I could really use that! 

Kay Brooks (the K in RNK) taught classes on Friday and Saturday that went into a lot of detail about stabilizing your work.  We received packets with samples of each of their stabilizers and she talked about each one, what it's good for and how you use it.  This is something I didn't have a lot of knowledge about before so I found it incredibly useful.  I knew you had to choose different stabilizers depending on the type of material you're using, but I never gave much thought to the design itself.  For example, if you're embroidering on a knit shirt, you may choose to use no-show nylon mesh stabilizer.  This supports about 6000 stitches, but if your design is 10,000 stitches, it won't be enough.  In this case, you can float another piece of stabilizer under the hoop to support the design. Check out the Stabilizer Workbook on the RNK Distributing website.  It's full of great tips and information!

Trevor Conquergood taught classes all three days.  Friday and Saturday he talked a lot about how embroidery designs are digitized including things such as stitch lengths, density, underlay, fill patterns, blending, etc,  Trevor was an amazing teacher.  In fact, I never thought I'd be interested in digitizing my own designs but after listening to him, I'm having second thoughts.  He used the FTC-U Software during class which truly looks great..unfortunately, I'm a Mac fan and refuse to run Windows on my Mac just to run an embroidery software package.  If they ever come out with a native Mac version, I'd be very interested, but not sure that will ever happen.  On Sunday, Trevor focused on the Craft N Cut Software and using it with a digital cutting machine.  The things he showed were great. I think a digital cutting machine may be on my Christmas list this year. :)

Friday's evening session was led by Debra Bonh and was about sewing bloopers we've all made and how to save your work..funny and a lot of great tips and ideas.  Saturday evening was a real treat to hear Martha Pullen.  Such a sweet lady and so funny too.  I love how she gives God the credit for everything.  After some hilarious stories, she talked about entrepreneurship, and finished up with a touching story about forgiveness.  Martha also taught a class on Sunday about lace shaping.  Not sure I will use any of that information as this is not the type of sewing I do.  Nonetheless, it was still very interesting and I loved hearing her speak.  I also had the opportunity to attend "Sunday School" with Martha before the day's activities started.  She shared scripture, shared her testimony and prayed with us.  It was a great way to start the day.

The event ended with optional software classes..they had classes for each of the major brands.  I attended the Brother class led by Cookie Gaynor.  I don't own their software, but was curious to see what it offered.  She showed us how to use PhotoStitch to create a design from a photo--it looked easier than I expected and definitely could be a fun thing to do.  From talking to people, it sounds like Brother is the only software that does this really well.

Throughout the event, they had all the Floriani products for sale at discounted prices.  They even sold the embroidery machines we used as part of a discount package which included the machine, software, a scan n cut, embroidery thread, etc.  Since I wasn't planning to get a new machine, I didn't get all the details.  I did come home with a collection of new goodies though- mostly stabilizers and threads and a few less dollars in the bank account. Haha! :)

This post would not be complete without mentioning Ricky Brooks (the R in RNK), aka the Candyman...and yes, he did deliver chocolate to everyone throughout the event.

If you ever have the opportunity to go to one of these events I highly recommend it..but as I was warned by a friend before I went, go with a budget in mind because you will want to spend $$ on all the fun things you see! :)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A New Bag for School

This weekend I’ll be attending Hands On Sewing School in Old Town Alexandria. It will be my first time attending something like this. I’m a little nervous attending it alone since none of my friends were able to go with me, but it is so close to home that I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to attend. It will be 3 days (Friday-Sunday) of sewing and embroidery with a combination of classes and hands-on sewing time each day. There is also a welcome reception on Thursday evening that I plan to attend.  I decided I would like to make a tote bag to use for the weekend. My friend and I already had a craft day planned this past weekend and I decided to skip my original plan of working on Christmas gifts and make the tote bag instead. (What’s a little procrastination, right? 😂)
Crafting with a friend is "sew" much fun!
I decided to make the Strip Tote Bag from Sweet Pea and decided on the 7x12 size design. I used a jelly roll which is a collection of fabric strips that are 2 1/2” wide. The instructions called for 120 strips of fabrics that are 2” wide, but I just used the 2 1/2” strips cut to the right length to save time and it worked out fine. Sewing 120 strips of fabric sounds like a lot of work, but it really went much faster than I expected!
For the decorative stitching that’s on the top of each panel, I used a clear metallic thread (thanks to the suggestion of my friend who also let me use her metallic thread!). It was my first time using a metallic thread. I’ve heard people say they can be hard to work with and I will admit it took a little more attention than working with regular embroidery thread. Coming off the spool holder the thread was getting kinks and breaking a lot. I tried slowing the speed down, but that alone didn't help much. I had read the tip of putting the spool in a coffee cup so I tried that and it was a little better but I still had to watch it closely and it was still getting quite a few breaks. I eventually ended up sitting the coffee cup on the floor with the spool in the mug on it’s side and that seemed to give me the best results. I still had occasional thread breaks, but it was bearable.
Metallic thread in a coffee cup which I eventually
moved to the floor for the best results.
Decorative stitching being sewn onto
one of the six panels for the bag.
I added the monogram to one of the panels while I still had it in the hoop so I didn't have to worry about trying to center it later. I used the Intertwined Vine Interlocking Monogram Font from itch2stich. I used the 3.5" size for this bag.  Once the panels were done, the bag went together pretty easily. I strayed from the directions for making the strap and did mine following this tutorial from Simplicity (minus the extra stitching down the center of the strap). I love the way the bag turned out and I can't wait to use it! I'm all ready for sewing school now! Stay tuned to hear how it goes.
The finished bag!
Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Coaster Fun

I made a couple of quick coasters this week as a gift for some friends visiting from Florida.  The designs were from Kreative Kiwi and were free designs in their members only section.  The beer mug is done in the 5x7 hoop.  The coffee cup design comes in two sizes, one for the 4x4 hoop and one for the 5x7 hoop.  I chose the 5x7 so it would be a similar size to the beer mug.  I added the names using Embrilliance software.  The fabric was all from my stash.  I thought they turned out cute!
Beer Mug and Coffee Cup Coasters

A couple of months ago I made some coasters for each of our guest rooms with Kreative Kiwi's Swirly Coaster Design.  I used the design for the 5x5 hoop.  You can use up to 12 different colors in each coaster, but I kept it simple with just one color on each side.  I used one fabric for the front and a different one for the back.  As long as you use matching bobbin thread, the coasters end up reversible.     They'd probably take longer if you did each swirl in a different fabric, but with a single color on each side they stitched up pretty quickly.  Now the coasters from our living room don't disappear into the guest rooms when we have guests. :-)

Swirly Coasters
Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Fall Y'all

A while ago, my mom gave me a stack of white hand towels she bought for a project and never used.  They've been sitting in my craft room for a while and I finally decided to try embroidering a fall design on a couple of them.  I got the design from AProverbs31Wife on Etsy.  You can find the design here.  For my first attempt I used a cutaway stabilizer on the back and a water soluble stabilizer (wss) on the front.  It stitched ok, but even with the wss on the top, I thought the stitches were getting lost in the nap of the towel too much.
First Attempt
A friend suggested adding knockdown stitches.  I had never heard of that before, but I learned it adds an underlay for the entire design which extends a little beyond the edge of the design.  You can use embroidery software to add knockdown stitches to your design.  You can see a video of how to add knockdown stitches in Enthusiast here.  After adding knockdown stitches to my design, I tried embroidering it again.  I still used cutaway on the back and wss on the front like the first try. The knockdown stitches were done in white to blend with the towel.  The design stands out much better this way! I even made a couple more to gift to my mom and a friend. :-)

Thanks for reading and Happy Fall Y'all!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Another Tabletop Piece

Another tabletop piece I made was the Leaf Table Centre from Sweet Pea. I really love their designs. The design comes in 3 different sizes and I made the middle size (6x10). You make 8 leaves for the completed project. Each leaf is made in the hoop with just a small bit of hand sewing to close the opening where you flip the leaf to the right side (or you can use fabric glue). 
One of the eight leaves made in the hoop.
After the leaves are made, you sew them together along the guidelines that were stitched.
Completed piece after the leaves are sewn together.
It was really fun to make and I loved the finished result. The completed size was 24” diameter. The hardest part was picking fabrics. I gave this one to my parents for their coffee table. 
Here it is on my parent's coffee table.
I bought fabric to make another for my kitchen table and it’s on my embroidery to-do list…which seems to be growing. :-)

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Table Runners

When I first got my embroidery machine, I started playing with it and learning how to use it right away. I did some smaller in-the-hoop projects and gift items for the first couple of weeks. After that, I decided I wanted to try out something a little bigger- something that would require me to not only use the embroidery features of my machine but to sew with it as well. I decided to make a fall table runner for our house. I had a pack of fall print fat quarters that I wanted to use and I found the Freeform table runner pattern from Sweet Pea. The design includes 4 different blocks (each in 3 different sizes) that are made in the embroidery hoop and then joined together with the sewing machine. I chose to make two each of 3 different blocks in the 7x12 hoop size. The instructions were easy to follow and the blocks stitched out nicely. Sewing them together was easy enough. The big challenge for me was adding the binding. My sewing skills are lacking and even sewing a straight line can be a challenge. Haha. It didn’t turn out perfect, but I finished my table runner and enjoy having a homemade touch to decorate our house in the fall.
My First Table Runner
This past spring, I decided to make another table runner. We have an antique chest in one of our guest rooms and I’ve always been looking for something to put on the top to protect it. I’ve never found anything in a size and style that I liked so I thought it would be the perfect project to make my own table runner. Again, I turned to Sweet Pea and found their chevron quilt block. Like the previous table runner, the design comes in multiple sizes and the blocks are made in the hoop and joined together with the sewing machine. For my table runner I used the 5”x5” quilt blocks. I chose to do each block in blue and white fabrics- half the blocks with dark blue and half with a lighter blue. The blocks stitch up really quickly which was good since I needed 40 of them. One of the things that I love about this design is that there are so many different ways you can arrange the blocks to get different looks. Here are some of the different layouts I played with.
Different Layouts for the Chevron Blocks
Ultimately, I ended up doing them in a pinwheel layout. Sewing them together challenged me a little more than the previous table runner since there where so many more blocks to sew together and more seams to line up, but overall it wasn’t too bad. I chose to do the binding and backing in the lighter blue fabric. Again, not perfect, but better than the first table at least I’m learning. :-) 
Chevron Block Table Runner
I had some extra fabric and decided to make a pillow for the bed to match the table runner. Same idea as the table runner, but I only made 4 blocks. I sewed the blocks together and then used directions from another pillow I made (and will share in a future blog post) for adding the edges, backing, lining and even a zipper on the back.
Chevron Block Pillow
I never imagined I'd be able to make a table runner, but I've now completed two and have ideas for more.  With each one I hope to improve my skills and continue to learn. It's "sew" much fun!

Go out and try something new today...and enjoy!