Monogrammed and Embroidered Boat Totes

Still cranking out gifts (actually, I’m in push mode to validate an expense I made for embroidery software, but we’ll pretend it’s all about the gifts).

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The Boat Totes are from Quality Promos Plus (QPP on eBay) and I’m pretty happy with them. Contact him if you can do at least a dozen or so of and not meet his published lot amount – depending on the item, he may be able to work something out. With a large family and lots of friends, I bought a dozen (nope, I don’t make items to sell). These are 24 oz canvas (the same weight as the LLBean Boat Totes). In the craft stores you might get 8oz, online 12 or 16oz – these are the super hefty. The inside seams are nicely covered in twill tape and all outside stitching is straight – looking gorgeous. I had two very small issues on 2 bags (see last two photos of set below) – one, the seam barely missed the black and one pocket’s hem had a few threads poking out. I didn’t contact him or return those, simply used some fabric glue to fix them.

The Calla Lily design is from Embroidery Library and the monograms are RHI font from 8 Claws and a Paw. In the slideshow photo with the machine, you can see I drew lines on my stabilizer to be sure I didn’t knock anything off center when loading it in to be embroidered. It made it easy to check for perfect horizontal, which I figured out was necessary after I had one ever so slightly tilted. As the fit was tight, a basting stitch also lets me be sure I’m lined up correctly. I stitched each letter of the monogram twice for better coverage and I did float some water soluble stabilizer on top (WSS). The bags are turned inside out, the side you’re stitching on is pinned to the hoop (checkout that photo with the machine showing). For hints and tips, here’s Embroidery Library’s Embroidering on Canvas.

If you’re here in Calaveras County and want something embroidered, I hear Lucky at Bandera does beautiful work.

Tackling Reality

Dream Catcher shirt

When it comes to crafting, I’m like a kid in a candy store; a very young kid with the blissful ignorance of limitations in the candy store. I see things; I’m sure my eyes light up; I think ‘ooooohhhhh’ and I stockpile the stuff necessary to complete the treasured project. But, like that kid who can’t taste everything without hitting the wall, I can’t seem to finish everything that in the moment I think I’ll just whip out. In reality, I work amidst piles (and piles) of unfinished projects. However, I’ve managed to finish a few things (woohoo!) to share.

The two T-shirts are for someone who signed up for the 2013 Creative Pay it Forward. The recipient does cancer walks and has mentioned she’d like a shirt with a checkbox that says “other” (the non-pink cancer survivors are “other” when they register). Teal is for ovarian cancer.   Purple ribbons are for Alzheimers.

Other items are a little pouch that holds coffee filters on the wall right by the coffee machine; a reader case front (tree), back (it was a dark and stormy night) and pocket (tudor wildlife design); wine charm earrings for a neighbor who pours at the winery; an owl and a dream catcher on denim shirts and an “in progress” Poe phrase raven that I’m planning to incorporate in a laptop case. You can click on any of the photos for a larger view in slideshow.

The details for crafters (non-crafters skip this paragraph): Thin fabrics don’t support dense embroidery designs well. There are many ways around this, for wearables I like to use something like Light and Soft Fuse-On.  

  • Determine your design size and placement
  • Cut a piece of the fuse on a few inches larger all around then your design
  • Follow their directions and iron it on to the inside of your garment

The Light and Soft Fuse-On drapes well with your fabric. A heavier stabilizer doesn’t drape and can look odd. With the T-shirts and blue shirts, I then hoop them with a light/medium tear away and stitch my design (these were Pellon Stitch n Tear). The embroidery designs are from Embroidery Library (Celebrate Life – my glitch on the “C”, Awareness Rose, Dark and Stormy Night, Quill and Paper, Tudor Wildlife, Retro Coffee, Dream Catcher and Owl) and Urban Threads (Poe Raven and Tree).

The glitch on the “C” happened because for that small ribbon design near the neck, I used Sulky Sticky+ – an adhesive tear-off stabilizer in the hoop. Hooping with part of the neck in the hoop, part out, part of the seams in the hoop, part out would have been a mess. You just press the design area of your shirt to the sticky part in the hoop. But, with sticky stabilizers, or even if you use a lot of adhesive spray, you need to use a larger needle. The needle pokes a hole and the thread goes down and up. If the poked hole is tiny, the thread rubs against the stickiness, get gummy, bunches up, and if you’re lucky it breaks, if you’re not lucky things might get more stuck. I forgot to put in a bigger needle until after the thread on the “C” bunched up and broke. The T-shirts took multiple hoopings, three for the Alzheimer’s rose, with a 6 x 10 hoop. You can still see the hoop marks, but those come right off these fabrics. The shirts are deliberately big, loose and comfy. In the photos the designs might not look centered, because if you wear a shirt too big part of the design would end up scrunched by the armpits. I placed the designs a bit more towards center. If I were to do it over, I would have more space between the celebrate life ribbon and the checkbox and the text on that shirt would be white.

 All phrases on these pieces were done with the fonts available on my machine (SanFran for the reader case Go Paperless, Art Deco for the “other”, Bremen for the “I wear purple..”. The reader pouch was hooped with cutaway stabilizer, Warm and Natural batting and linen, and then stitched. Its inner pocket is linen with cutaway stabilizer.  All embroidery was stitched with Sulky 40 weight rayon embroidery thread. I should add that I get zip, nada, zilch for mentioning specific brands, but they are something machine embroiderer’s get excited about.

The next big order of the day is deciding what to tackle first amid the piles of “things I could do”.

This post is participating in Unknownmami’s Sundays in My City and the Gallery of Favorites put on by a Alea of Pre-Meditated Leftovers and April  at 21st Century Housewife.

Handmade Christmas Victorian Santa Stockings

More Victorian – My sister’s town does a Dickens Christmas event (which I think must be so cool!). Used their “proper names” to go along with the times. I might try to make the exact same set for myself for next year – Love them!

Osnaburg (poor man’s linen, a sturdy 100% cotton) is the base, heavy duty cut away is the stabilizer, Sulky embroidery the threads. Stitching the fabric to stabilizer around the design before embroidering (on my machine it’s “fix”) is something I highly recommend.  You remove the basting stitch when it’s done. The designs are from Embroidery Library  (Victorian Santa and Victorian reindeer 1); the lettering for the name is from my machine (Husqvarna Viking).

Pieces were stocking front and back, cuff, lining front and back. (There are oodles of free stocking patterns on the web if you need one). An upholstery weight micro suede (faux suede) is the cuff with a light Christmas cotton the lining (I didn’t want anything that might show through the osnaburg, light color and light design deliberate for the lining).

Using both red and burgundy lets them tie together their new home color and their existing holiday reds. You’ll note I didn’t want a seam along the “front” stocking edge of the cuff, but used one long piece to wrap around.

Stitched the top inside edge of both the stocking (right sides together) and lining (right sides together), then stitched the cuff (right sides together) to the lining and the cuff to the stocking (right sides together).

Fold lengthwise with right sides together and stitch all the way around, leaving a gap large enough for your hand on one of the lining sides. You can see my gap on the calf back.

Pull the stocking through the gap to get it right side out. (Stitchers – are you admiring my collection of embroidery threads in their handy, closable (read dust proof) cases that I pick up on sale (or with coupon) at Joann you get a glimpse of in hte background?)

Then push the lining down into the stocking and allow the cuff to fold  a bit into the lining side as well.

I leave the heavy duty stabilizer in so they’ll hand nicely when empty. I also didn’t stitch the gap in the lining closed – it might be easier a few years from now to press them inside out. If these were for children, I would’ve stitched the gap closed. Next time I’d flare out the stitching for the cuff a tad.

Finger smooth and press the cuff, use an iron to smooth and lightly press the stocking now that it’s right side out. Wrap.

Hoping you’re all having a lovely holiday season! A free stocking pattern is here at Moda Bakeshop. This post is participating in Made by You Monday at Skip to My Lou and Metamorphis Monday.

More Handcrafted Christmas – Felt Ornaments

If you can’t sprinkle in some cute at Christmas, when can you? The gingerbread folks are from Urban Threads and the Bear and Elf candy cane holders are from Embroidery Library.

As usual, I don’t exactly follow their instructions for making one at a time but search out a few shortcuts to do a sheet at once. You need to be careful with how you paste and color sort in 4D Embroidery – you can end up stitching out one at a time (arggh – thread changes). I “faked out” the program by inputting odd colors (like magenta) for the back stitch down while knowing “magenta” meant load up brown thread again. This way I could color sort so that all 6 candy cane holder tops stitched and stopped allowing me to take it off the machine and add the back felt, then have all six bottoms stitched on. With the gingerbread men, I’d stitched just the tops, cut them out, glued to felt backs with ribbon at head to hang and cut out again. Still faster than doing one at a time.

I always use Sulky embroidery threads  (40 weight) – I can get them on sale and haven’t had any problems. If you stitch them one at a time per instructions – the edge overlap stitching would be at the edge. Stitching in groups like this, I have the bit of felt on the outside edge.

 You can see the white cut away stabilizer in the sandwich of felt middle as I’d started using my white cutaway (need to get black cut away). I used a brown marker to go over the bits of white that poked through.

The bears went off without a hitch. You do need to be sure to get “skinny” candy canes as I had one box that was just a tad too big to fit through the buttonholes.

Back to creating gifts and baking ……  This post is participating in the following linky parties: Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Creek Cottage,

Creating a few Masks

Having fun creating some masks lately. I’ll begin the post with the ‘finished’ versions so that those of you who don’t want the down and dirty of how to do them can skim the instructions. ‘Finished’ is in quotes as I may come back to them. One consideration is to do more of the Venetian thing and attach them to decorated pieces of dowel.

This is how the Dragon mask stitches out – they are beautiful “as is”. Each of these is an Embroidery Library design.  

I’m able to stitch out two of the half masks at once. Fitting them in the hoop and redoing colors to fit my whim is done on the embroidery program. I haven’t stitched out the mask on the left yet as I substituted that with the raven.

The machine does the work. With mine I have to stay close enough to change thread colors or hear if the stitching pace signals a problem such as the threads getting all knotted up (called nesting)  or thread breaking, running out of bobbin thread and such.

These were stitched with Sulky embroidery thread on black craft felt using two pieces of black stabilizer, Ripstitch # 15 from Allstitch.

The masks are pretty cool as is, but I was inspired by Niamh’s example at Urban Threads to do just a bit more (check out her steam punk mask tutorial). If I planned ahead, I would’ve shopped feathers first and then chosen my thread colors to match. Joann’s didn’t have a large selection of feathers and I was lucky to find a few within the mixed packet that would match my Dragon.

To match ring colors on the chain, I simply undid pieces of the larger chain as my rings. They’re stitched to the back of the mask with a dab of glue added for extra security. The feathers are glued with Aleene’s ‘Okay to wash it’ fabric glue. I created a sandwich gluing the feathers to a piece of black felt and then the feather plus felt combo to the back of the mask. This prevents the pokey end of the feathers from scratching your face or eye.

The small holes on either side of the mask for inserting elastic fit precisely over my glasses in the dragon mask so I can use about half inch pieces on each side. Don’t want to lose the masks themselves in too much decoration, so I’ve been reigning in the desire to add beading or other trims. Had been playing with red and black beading in addition to the chains on the bat mask, or complementary beading on one lower edge of the dragon mask, but nah. If I change my mind, I’ll post updated pics. If I attach them to dowels, I’ll glue a craft stick (think Popsicle stick) to the back of the mask for added strength.

Have one other Halloween themed embroidery project I need to finish up and post. For local folks, I don’t sell but Bandera does embroidery and would be happy to stitch up an Embroidery Library pattern for you.

So, how do you spend your Sundays? Check out Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City to see what other folks do on their day off in their neck of the woods. The majority of the folks there are fantastic photographers so it’s a beautiful stroll.

This post is participating in Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home, Frugal Friday at the
Shabby Nest
, Fridays at Remodelaholic, Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk Interiors, Sundae Scoop at I Heart
, Show and Tell Saturdays at Be Different Act Normal, Fridays at Remodelaholic, Sunday
Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming
, The Tablescaper, Gallery of Favorites at 21st C Housewife, and Frugalicious Friday at Finding Fabulous linky parties.

Thanks to Alea of Premeditated Leftovers and April of The 21st Century Housewife for featuring this post on their weekend blog hop: Gallery of Favorites.

Getting my Groove Back

Finally getting back my crafting groove. The Celtic raven embroidery broke the log jam – I absolutely love how that piece came out. Had not turned on the embroidery machine for more than a year! Having to refresh my memory on a few key points. This morning’s endeavors, although lovely, reminded me of settings that I don’t want to forget. So, for Embroidery Library “it’s not you, it’s me” in this design.

Their sale ends Tuesday night – what I call their uber Christian designs. A bit preachy for my taste, but with a sale price of $1.49, editing out parts and keeping other bits of the design is time well spent. Grab a locket to add to steampunk style stitching (skip stitching the Bible verse) or beautiful flower panels that also easily stitch out sans verse. The two angels are part of their echo series. I decided to simply stitch out ‘color one’ for the toile like angel and delete the rest of the design. Considered a more traditional toile color as I have thread that exactly matches a toile spread in the guest room. But, decided these would be great for the winter holiday and red would make them pop. Did make a mess of things when the bobbin thread ran out (oh yeah, always check the bobbin thread before you begin). I usually back up a few stitches when restarting after replacing bobbin. Oops, hit prior spool not prior stitch. Unfortunately, my machine can only go forward or back one stitch at a time. It doesn’t remember where its last stitch was. That one mistake meant I had to sit and backtrack the design over 2,000 stitches – hitting the little button and letting it register over 2,000 times. When the design stitched out, it was missing the lower right corner. I was off in my stitch back up (arrggh). Thinking I can still use this piece as the center for something like a crazy quilt square where I’ll angle fabric over that lower right corner to cover my boo boo, or play with trying to stitch something into the space.

These were stitched out on a remnant of linen from another project. Starch like crazy. I chose tear away stabilizer as the design is light. Fix (the baste feature for my machine) tacked the linen to stabilizer – a step not to be ignored as my leftover piece of linen didn’t fill the hoop.

Overall, I’m pleased with them. I may put a charm of a Christmas wreath in the one angel’s hand or embroider something. They’ll either be pillows or center panels for patchwork Christmas stockings. That decision is to come.

I’ve begun stitching out some fun Urban Threads designs, so stay tuned.

This post is participating in the parties linked below.

Celtic Raven

Sharing another quick machine embroidery project today. I love the comfort of denim shirts (one size larger to layer) and they’re such an easy canvas. When I saw this design over at Embroidery Library, I just knew I had to use it on something.

My heritage is strongly Irish – dad emigrated from there and I also have a tad of Scott and English in the bloodlines – just about 100% Celtic. I live in a town called Murphy’s. So, Celtic themes and imagery (think Celtic knots more than leprechauns) are among those I enjoy.

Ravens appear in many mythologies throughout the world. From travels to Arizona and New Mexico, plus fantasy aka Urban Shaman by CE Murphy, I’m more familiar with and enjoy the Native American myths of Raven as creator or trickster. From the time I was in junior high through college, someone I knew died every year. The Morrigan fascinated me for a while. This design puts the raven and celtic knotwork together. How perfect!

Executing a machine embroidery project

1.   Figure out what you want to make – there are so many designs I love and projects I want to complete that narrowing the list down to what to do now is usually the hardest part for me.

2.   Select your fabric / item – a dense design with a lot of solid fill would not be a good choice for very light drapey fabric and an outline design might not show up well enough on a fabric with a pattern.

3.   Select your design.

4.   If your embroidery program lets you, resize and recolor the design to suit your tastes – and your thread stash.

5.   Determine the placement of your design.

6.   Choose the appropriate stabilizer for your design

7.   Hoop your stabilizer and fabric – some fabric should not go within the hoop but should be adhered to the stabilizer with a quick squirt of temporary adhesive or use of the sticky stabilizer (think velvet or something with a delicate nap, very thick fabrics).

8.   Fire up the machine and away you go.

9.   Unhoop your project, trim off any jump threads, from the back trim off the stabilizer as close to the image as you can. If your design will rest against skin, they now make an iron-on tricot product that you can place on the back of your design so it isn’t scratchy.

I’ve linked you to varied Embroidery Library’s instructions and tutorials – they saved me.  Although I was assured at purchase there would be classes to get me up and going, the store I bought my machine from was severely understaffed and ill-equipped to offer instruction much more than one topic every few months. That location and others in the chain simply tried to push you to buy DVDs to learn what you could do. Embroidery Library’s tutorials and videos are free, clear and great for anyone wanting to learn how to machine embroider. If you purchase an embroidery machine, you will need someone to walk you through commands and threading of your particular model. One of those “if I’d known then”- I tell everyone I would’ve purchased a machine at our local Country Cloth shop as they offer full support and frequent free classes for the machines they sell.

Oops, looks like someone didn’t get enough attention. Those who have cats understand, put down the project to go grab the applique scissors and see if you can get near your project when you return J – or at least not before you scratch someone behind the ears for a little while. Most machines do not embroider to the edge of the hoop, some designs won’t even be close. As you can see in the above two photos, you can develop the habit of slicing and saving the unused portions of stabilizer because as long as you keep the stabilizer types together and your stitching flat, you can stitch them together to use on another project.

Above you can also see the hoop marks and the stay stitching around the design.  On my Husqvarna Viking Topaz, I always use “Fix” to provide that basted edge around the design, except in rare cases where the fabric wouldn’t handle it.

Steam out the hoop marks and you’re set to go.

I may add a small design to the pocket, perhaps the cuff. But the pocket means stitching the pocket closed (easiest), stitching the design on netting or organza to then apply like a patch, or removing the pocket (hardest as matching the thread on the top stitching of the garment could be nigh impossible when you go to put the pocket back on, doable with invisible thread but perhaps too much work for me).

This post is participating in the parties linked below.