Saturday, September 22, 2012

High Ropes and Girl Scouts

No sewing yet this weekend.   My co-leader and I took our troop to Camp Highroad for some encampment fun.  1,500 girls from across our county participated.  It was a hot day with a lot of walking across this very large piece of land to get back and forth for our activities.  Not to mention the tremendous amount of stink bugs that are on this property.  The highlight of the day definitely had to be the High Ropes.
My14YO on the tight rope.
I was nervous just watching our girls be brave and tackle this high-rise course.  They all did great and enjoyed it so much they tackled it more than once.
My 11YO getting on the swinging log.

Our girls had so much fun!  Would definitely recommend this campground to others.

My 11yo daughter tackling the high-rise ropes.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Show your pride!

I've had the family stickers on the back of my vehicle for years, but now I've got a new sticker I love to show off.
My hobby on display. 

A picture is worth 1000 words, right? That is a lot of conversation on the back of my van.  

I got the family decals 5 years ago from FamilyStickers.
The sewing machine is a new addition.  I found it at FiberFlies.

Happy Stitching!  

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sewing Room (1) Revisited

I love my sewing room!  It is a long and narrow (18' x 9.5'), sloped-ceiling, bonus room in our home, but it is mine.  My piece of the house where I can retreat.  I have some pics of my room on from a couple of years ago.  The pics have been getting attention again recently, and seeing those pictures of the room so clean and neat has motivated me to clean it up again.  Come inside and I'll show you around...

Vintage metal sign hung on the entry door.
I found this at JoAnn (my favorite shop!)

My long and narrow sewing room.  The entrance is in the center of the long wall.
This is a panoramic view from standing in the doorway.  Click on it to see it larger.

Last year I had reorganized the room from the initial set up.  The room was getting crowded and cluttered since I had added a knitting machine station, another sewing machine, and made one wall a design wall.

Now I  can work with the table from all sides.  I love that!
The design wall is a large piece of felt secured along the top with a few staples from a staple gun.
The door with the scissors is a small walk-in closet.
The small table near the windows is for the younger kids.  

The biggest change was that the cutting table was pulled out of the low corner of the room and put in the middle so that it is accessible from all four sides.   There is a table-size iron pad under the cutting mat, so I have easy access to a large ironing table when needed too.

The open dresser was once a baby dresser and changing station.  It is now used for a small iron station and lots of storage.  The door with the mirror is the entry door.  The button wall decors came from the JoAnn store.

A couple of bar stools are tucked under the cutting table, on either side.  That way, when a friend comes over to sew, or when my daughters want to do some crafting, they have a seat available and space to work.  The kids also like to bring their homework (older kids) or toys (younger kids) and set them up on the table as well.

This dresser used to be in the kids' nursery.  It is now for storage and embroidery thread.
Our pet, Lucky, is always nearby too.

I have a knitting machine station set up in the corner.  I haven't gotten past knitting that one skien of yarn yet.  It is another UFO waiting patiently for me to complete.

My work set up.  Sewing, embroidery and computer all within reach.  How nice!
The S-E-W letters are paper mache from JoAnn.  I covered them with fabric and used Mod Podge to secure it.

My view most of the time.  Click on it to see it larger.
The entry door with the mirror is usually open, it's just closed for this photo to keep the kids out for a second.
My youngest was already waiting outside the door when I opened it.  :-)

Thought I would get some pictures of the room while it is all clean before I get back to sewing and make it look worked-in again.

The storage closet.

Thank you for coming to my sewing room!  Hope you have some time to enjoy your crafting this week too.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

I've got a crafty one!!

There are only a few friends that I know around here who take an interest in sewing or sewing-related crafts.   I know I didn't take an active interest in sewing until I was older, so I'm delighted that my 11 year old is showing an interest now!

She saw a large split-rail quilt hanging on display in the classroom at our local JoAnn store.  She decided she wanted to make one like it by herself to give as a gift.   She picked out similar fabrics, and I guided her on how she should sew it together.  She has sewn a couple items in a JoAnn's Kid Camp previously, so she is comfortable with using a sewing machine.
There she is sewing her first quilt!
I love how her shirt goes with her quilt's Americana theme!

Here she is with her finished quilt top.
Check out her  quilt top!  Can you tell she's happy?

It went off to the long-arm quilter, Nancine, who did an allover quilt design of stars and loops.  It looks great!
On the design wall with the strips that will be used for the binding laid around it.

Now she just needs to bind it, and she'll be all done. She's a crafty one and I'm a happy mama!  

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Machine Embroidery 101

I was asked to do a simple presentation on embroidery to my fellow sewing guild friends at our Neighborhood Group meeting in August.  Machine embroidery is not something a lot of them have adventured into yet.   I love embroidery, so I was happy to go over the basics.  The meeting even motivated one member to buy her first embroidery machine!

So here are the basics to understand how to actually machine embroider an item...

Machine Embroidery 101

There are four basic things you need to do in order to get a design embroidered on an item.
  1. Obtaining a digitized embroidery design file.
  2. Loading the design file onto the embroidery machine.
  3. Stabilize the fabric and position it to be embroidered.
  4. Start and monitor the machine as it embroiders. 

1. Embroidery Design Files
  • In order for a design to be embroidered, it needs to be digitized into a format that your embroidery machine understands.
  • Different brands of machines support different file formats:
    • .pes  Brother, Baby Lock - most common format used by home machines.
    • .hus  Husqvarna-Viking - second most popular
    • .jef   Janome and Kenmore
    • dst  commercial embroidery machines.
    • .art  Bernina
  • Software is available which can convert embroidery files to other formats.  
  • Embroidery designs are available for purchase online and on CD/DVDs.  Many designs will come preloaded on your embroidery machine as well.

Embroidery Design Characteristics

    This design fits in a 4"x4" hoop.
    It contains 24,955 stitches.
    This is the same 4"x4" design without the background fill.
    It contains 12,371 stitches.
  • Stitch Count - number of stitches the design contains. This is an indicator of the amount of work needed to stitch the design. An embroidery machine's "speed" specification indicates the maximum stitches per minute the machine will do. Home embroidery machines range from about 400 to 1000 stitches per minute.
  • Density - the density of the stitches in a design will factor into how heavy it will lay on the fabric, and the type of stabilizer needed to support the design on the chosen fabric.  The more open, less dense a design is, the lighter it be on the fabric.  The more dense the amount of stitches are in a design, the more support it will need.  
Some machines can use
embroidery cards to transfer designs
to your embroidery machine.
Other machines accept USB.
  • Design Size - home embroidery machines come with one or more hoops to accommodate various design sizes.  The most common size is a 4"x4" hoop, then the 5"x7" hoop.

2. Loading the Designs 
Now that you have a design - you need to load it on your embroidery machine...
  • Many designs are usually included in our embroidery machine's memory.
  • Either a USB stick, USB cable from your computer, or an embroidery card can be used to transfer embroidery designs to your embroidery machine.

3. Stabilizing the Fabric    
  • Before you start stitching, you need to stabilize the fabric so that it can support the extra weight and tension that will be added by the embroidery.
  • There are four basic types of stabilizers:  cut-away, tear-away, heat-away, wash-away.  They are available in different weights and forms.  See comparison chart below (courtesy  
Stabilizers at a glance
Used for:Best used on:Comes in:Removal:
Cut-away stabilizersPermanent supportKnits, loosely wovensLight to heavy weightsNot removed, except for cutting away excess
Tear-away stabilizersTemporary supportFirmly woven, natural-fiber fabricsLight to heavy weights; fusible and nonfusibleTorn away, but not always completely removable, depending on brand and stitch pattern
Heat-away stabilizersTemporary supportNonwashable, delicate fabrics and for off-the-edge stitching techniquesWoven sheets, plastic filmCompletely removable with iron and caution
Wash-away stabilizersTemporary supportDelicate, mesh-like, and difficult-to-mark fabrics; also for cutwork and embroidered appliquésPlastic film, paper sheets, brush-on or sprayable liquidCompletely removable with water
  • Recommend test-stitching your fabric and stabilizer first.
  • Denser stitch-count designs require a stronger stabilizer.
  • Use sticky-back stabilizers for items that are awkward to hoop, or may be marked by hooping.
  • Temporary spray-adhesive is also useful to stabilize the fabric while doing embroidery.
  • Thin, plastic wash-away stabilizers are good to use for toppings to prevent the stitching from being lost in the nap of fabric.  

4. Start Embroidery, Change Threads as Needed 
  • Watch your embroidery as it goes to take care of any issues (thread changes, breakage etc...)
  • Thread tension for embroidery is best with a slightly tighter bobbin tension so that only the top thread shows on the correct side.
  • Start each project with a fresh new needle.
  • Choose the correct need for the project (embroidery, metallic, needle size, etc...
  • Use embroidery thread or embroidery bobbin thread in the bobbin.  The weight of the bobbin thread should be less or equal to that of the top thread.  

Online Resources I Have Found Helpful for Embroidery    

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      Saturday, September 8, 2012

      Back to School - Tale of a Stalker Mom

      Back to School 2012 - Starting 9th, 6th, 3rd, and Kindergarten.
      Thought I would take a break from the sewing stuff for just a sec, and share a bit of my family.  I'm a SAHM of four great kids - three girls and one boy.  It is back to school time of year, and it is a big year for all three of our girls, as they are all starting new schools.  The oldest starts high school, the middle starts middle school, and our youngest is beginning kindergarten.

      It was harder for me, than I thought it would be to put the youngest on her bus the first day of school.  She did great until the bus opened its doors to welcome her on.  Then she turned around to me, not wanting to go anymore.  I kept it positive and reassured her she was going to have fun,  but it tugged at my heart as I ushered her on to the bus.  The bus pulled away and I just thought, "There goes my last baby."   So what should I do then?  What any rational mom who is worried about her little girl would do...  I stalked her of course!  ☺  I gave the bus a little time to run its route, then I drove to the elementary school, and parked far away from the bus entrance so I wouldn't be seen.  I watched my little girl get off the bus and be cheerfuly greeted at the door by her new kindergarten teacher.  Nothing to worry about after all.  I think that first day of kindergarten was harder for me than it was for her!

      Happy Face!
      She is ready to go.

      Cold feet.  

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      Thursday, September 6, 2012

      How to Embroider on a Knit Shirt

      If you know me, you probably know that I embroider for my youngest daughter's Montessori preschool.  Although DD now attends public school, I still offer to do embroidery for the parents at the Montessori school.  It provides them an option to get the their children's clothing locally and still be able to have the school's logo embroidered for their uniform dress code.

      The beginning of the school year is always busy with back-to-school preparations, so I have been busy in my sewing room getting these shirts done for folks.  I put a tutorial up on my site last year for a parent who was new to embroidery and wanted to try to do this for herself.  

      I'm reposting the tutorial here so that others can get some ideas.  This is what works best for me and how I do them. 

      Step 1.  Mark your shirt with the center and cross marks.
      Step 1
      I use the Embroider’s Buddy (Little Buddy in this case) to mark my garments.  This handy ruler has sizes marked along the edges.  Just line your size markings with the shoulder and center of the shirt.  I use a chalk or a water-and-air-erasable marker to make my marks.
      Step 1 continued

      Step 2.  Spray the back side of the marking with a bit of temporary adhesive spray.  I prefer to use KK 2000 or 505 Spray & Fix, which doesn’t gum up the sewing needle.  The adhesive will secure the knit to the stabilizer and prevent it from shifting around while it is being embroidered.
      Step 2

      Step 3.  Hoop some cutaway stabilizer.   For knits, I use either medium weight cut-away or the no-show mesh kind.   I do not hoop knit fabrics as they tend to stretch and move for me under the hoop. I also don't like the burn marks on fabric that some hooping leaves behind.
      Step 3

      Step. 4.  Place your shirt on top of the stabilizer so that the markings are centered under the needle.  Lightly pat into place so spray adhesive sticks.
      Step 4

      Step 5.  Float a piece of water-soluble topping over the knit and under the embroidery foot.  Do a temporary-baste stitch around the design.  The baste stitch not only attaches the topping to the knit, but more importantly, attaches the knit to the stabilizer to provide a secure but temporary attachment.
      Step 5

      Step 6.  Stitch your design as usual.
      Step 6

      Step 7.  Remove shirt from hoop, cut away the back stabilizer from around the design.  Remove the baste stitching and trim jump stitches.  Tear off the excess topping.  You may be able to see this picture shows that there is still topping inside the design.  Carefully remove what you can from inside the design:
      Step 7

      Step 8. Spritz the design with some water.  The topping dissolves instantly.  The chalk marking should also disappear.  Blot with a clean, dry cloth. 
      Step 8

      Step 9.  Lay shirt flat to dry. 

      If you liked this tutorial and found it useful, please let me know!  

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      Wednesday, September 5, 2012

      In the hoop Owl case & Laundry sign

      One of the other projects I did at last weekend's retreat was to try out an in-the-hoop embroidery project.  I'm happy to say that it was much easier than I thought it would be!

      Isn't he cute?
      This little case was done completely in the hoop which means no sewing required.  Just a simple whip stitch to close out one opening.  It is for my daughter's iPod touch.  The directions were very clear, and it was as simple as following a recipe.  I had the materials pre-cut and ready to go.  The case is completely lined and padded, with no unfinished seams.  I would definitely recommend this project to others.

      Materials I used for this project:
      • Zippered Owl Case design file
      • fabric for outside of case
      • fabric for inside lining of case
      • fabric for wings
      • quilt batting for padding
      • fabric for eyes
      • 7" plastic zipper
      • grosgrain ribbon
      • embroidery thread
      • tear-away stabilizer
      • temporary fabric spray adhesive

      I had time to stitch out a laundry room sign too.  This design was stitched on a piece of felt.  I used a sticky tear-away stabilizer, but did not tear away the stabilizer as I  liked the firm support it gave the felt inside the frame.

      Materials I used for this project:
      • large Laundry Room embroidery design from EmbLibrary
      • ecru craft felt
      • sticky-back tear-away stabilizer
      • 8x10 photo frame
      • embroidery thread

      Happy Stitching!

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      Tuesday, September 4, 2012

      Mylar Embroidery - How to

      At the sewing retreat last weekend, I embroidered a tablecloth using a mylar embroidery technique.  This is a relatively new technique in the embroidery field.  Mylar is essentially an iridescent film often used for gift-wrap.  Embroidery designs which are intended to be used with mylar have a light, open fill so that the light will pick up the reflection of the film.   It is hard to see in the photos, but the final look is really very pretty. You get a shimmer like metallic thread, but no headaches like using metallic thread may bring.
      One half of the table runner.

      The other half of the table runner.

      Close up of one of the bird.

      Another close-up of a birdie.

      Extreme close-up!
      How to Embroider on Mylar:
      • Choose an open design or one specifically intended for use with mylar.
      • Float the mylar on top of the design area.   Machine-baste, or temporarily tape down edges of the mylar.  
      • Stitch design as usual.
      • Gently pull away mylar from the perimeter of the design.  You may need tweezers to remove pieces in corner areas.  
      That's it!

      Materials I used for this project:
      Be careful when choosing your mylar.  Be sure it is the kind that is washable and may be used in the dryer (at low temp).  Many types of craft mylar is not suitable for embroidery.

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      Monday, September 3, 2012

      No-Sew Fleece Fun

      It was a rainy weekend - perfect for doing some projects that have been waiting to get done.

      I helped my daughter with her no-sew fleece pet bed blankets.  She created a bunch as part of her Girl Scout troop's Bronze Award project to help our local animal shelter.  We followed the instructions for the blankets from Maddie's Blankets website.  We did make our pet blankets a bit larger than the instructions indicated, just because we liked them that way.  There will be some comfy pets at the shelter now. ☺
      DD and her pile of comfy cozy no-sew fleece pet bed blankets.

      The Fringe Cut Ruler by June Tailor was awesome to use!!  
      My son and youngest daughter have been waiting for their no-sew blankets too.  We had picked these up at a while ago when they were on sale at JoAnn.  They were bigger in size than I expected, but I used a new ruler, and it made the cutting a quick breeze to do.  I love the Fleece Fringe Cut slotted ruler by June Tailor.  The markings on the ruler are clear, and can cover a 12" section of fleece with each placement.  I had picked up this ruler at G Street Fabrics with a Groupon coupon I had.

      I also have a June Tailor "Fringe in a Flash" multi-blade rotary cutter, but I much prefer using this Fringe Cut ruler and a single blade cutter.

      Here are my youngest two enjoying their new blankets!  No-Sew Fun!

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