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!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How it all began..

I bought my first embroidery machine, a Brother SE270D, about 10 years ago. It was very basic, very slow and limited to a 4x4 hoop size. I made a few things with it but felt somewhat limited by its abilities and never did as much as I had planned with it.
My First Embroidery Machine
My friend, who also bought the same starter machine as me, upgraded hers to a Brother Duetta 4500D. I watched all the amazing things she did with it and dreamed about being able to do those things myself. She helped me make a couple of in-the-hoop projects on her machine which increased my interest even more. These are two of the projects she helped me make:
Quilted Mirror Case
My Monogram on the Front
Orioles Wristlet
When my friend decided to upgrade her machine to a new one last year, I expressed an interest in her old one. I knew it was very well-loved and well-taken care of.  She gave me a great deal on it and I am now the proud owner of a new-to-me Brother Duetta 4500D. I've been hooked ever since.
My New-to-Me Brother Duetta 4500D