It’s a good thing I subscribe to the philosophy that I shouldn’t take myself too seriously. And, the longer I walk this planet, the more I’m certain I must extend that consideration to friends, relatives and acquaintances. If we had to reconcile all the paradoxes, inconsistencies and contradictions in what we claim to believe and advocate, well that would be a pretty tough undertaking. I’m reminded of the many bloggers who expound on their righteous adoption of simple living, no consumerism for them – yet they create, market and strive to sell you every cute chotsky they’ve carefully crafted so that you may clutter your home. I have nothing against these folks – most have beautiful blogs and share their crafter’s journey generously. But I smile when reading of their devotion to simple living while they simultaneously encourage you to buy items that no dyed in the wool simple living practitioner would ever call “necessary” for sustenance. I truly mean no offense – I just find it sooo funny and I’ve come across blog after blog of these crafty sellers.
So, I will raise my right hand and admit that I love decorations and the whole gift giving thing. I prefer to labor under the delusion that I’m not “one of those” who buy into the consumerism of the holiday season – but hey, I started working presents in July and bought more machine embroidery patterns for decorations. Make that more than I’ll use this season, or this season and next year, maybe even ever but let’s not go there.
Gifts – one nifty little gift that’s been adopted by many craft artisans is the zipper bag. Free or for purchase patterns abound, Etsy offers many ready to purchase and those of us playing with machine embroidery have a wide selection of designs to choose from. The one I’ve used the most to date is a quilted front pattern from ZippyDesignz. I love her RikRak trim and also have her RikRak Polka Dots for machine embroidery.
First, if you are using an embroidery machine to quilt, you will layer your material and batting with stabilizer. Heavier cut away may be good for a purse or something you want stiff, a few layers of wash away for something you want very soft and degrees of other stabilizer weights depending on your project. Below, red is the top, orange the bottom, you can see batting and stabilizer in between (and that I wasn’t overly careful lining these up, I’ll just have to come in a bit when I seam). You cut the bottom larger than your stitching area and either pin the corners or use painter’s tape to adhere it outside of your stitching lines to the hooped stabilizer. In fussing about with patterns to change them, I often goof a bit – take it from me, you don’t want your machine stitching through nice sticky painters tape and you don’t want to have to pick said tape out between every stitch of your project. If you find your thread fuzzing and breaking – check that you’re not stitching on tape. Also, my machine (Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz) doesn’t like the batting too high when in embroidery mode – something like Warm and Natural is great.
Most machine embroidery bag patterns allow you to add your own design at some point in the stitch out. I did monograms on these, both Embroidery Library 3 inch Script. In the photo below, the beige floral bag in front followed the pattern as supplied. Always stitch a pattern as supplied at least once and make notes on your instruction print out. I don’t mind sewing, so I might do part of the bag in the hoop following the instructions (here attaching the zipper and stitching the RikRak edge) then stop the machine and remove my pieces to finish on the sewing machine. This enabled me to make the larger bags you see.
For those, I used Embroidery Library’s sashiko quilting square to quilt both a front and back piece. On the front piece I left an inch of top fabric to fold under at the zipper line. I also quilted the sashiko on the thinner pieces that go from the zipper to bag top, ditto with extra fabric where the zipper will be. These pieces are then used following the ZippyDesignz instructions with my stopping the machine before it stitches the quilting or around the edge. My bags look a bit different than Zippy’s as I also had the fabric meet right at the zipper center line, not a bit away from it. I added glass beads to the zipper pulls.
These bags are lined AND on the inside you see the stitching around the four sides (I went over mine with my Serger).
I made this bag for my niece. Her college mascot is a leopard and paw prints are de rigueur for accessories. It’s the ZippyDesignz bag with Embroidery Library paw print and S from my machine editor. She’s an architecture major and they make models – so it’s perfect to keep her tools in one place in her backpack.
Then I took just the lower half of the top quilted piece, with rikrak edge but not attached to a zipper and made her a case for her iTouch.
I intend to take the top bit and make a tissue case (one of these days).
I’d done the same zipper case in a great hot pink patterned fabric with lime interior plus a reverse lime patterned fabric with hot pink interior that was very fun looking (perhaps I can snag a photo from one of the recipients). One was part of a birthday gift for the 5th grader across the street with her full name spelled out (and lip gloss, nail polish and some other things within). She just let me know her brother (first grade) told her to let me know he wants one as part of his Christmas gift. Now that’s positive feedback!
In closing, here are a few tutorials by others to get you inspired and round out your knowledge: