Valentine Cheer

Don’t do a massive overhaul of the home or tablescaping for each holiday, but I do enjoy a few perky little elements sprinkled here and there. The embroidery machine (Husqvarna Viking Topaz) let’s me accomplish this so simply. As I’ve mentioned in a few other posts, the easiest way is to pick up white hand towels and match your thread to the other colors of the bath, scout and add a border to the smaller microfiber towels or find kitchen towels to meet your needs – my previous posts list favored suppliers and resources.

For my own kitchen, I found Ikea towels and was able to match the threads to them exactly. All of the designs except the teddy bear are Embroidery Libraryand named at the bottom of this post. 

I edit the colors, sizes and overlap in 4D Embroidery Extra. This program defaults to “remove overlap” which works well if you’re stacking hearts, like the towels I gifted above, or solid areas of overlap. However, I learned with the teddy bears below that you want to shut “remove overlap” off if you are placing lettering on top of a design. It creates oodles of stops, starts and jump stitches and it does not look as solid and smooth as if the wording were placed on top of a solid design. The towel on the right below is my edited version where I didn’t stop the program from “removing overlap” when I added the “I’m Yours” so I could have a matching set.  Also, some vendors do not put a code (say Urban Threads has UT as part of a design name when you download it). This means after a year or more of collecting designs – unless you’re smart enough to note it when you first download – you’ll have no idea where a design came from. The teddy bear is one of those designs for me. Now I always add a few letters to the filename so I know where the design is from. If someone emails me or I find the vendor – I’ll update this post to note it who sells the teddy bear.

The kitchen towels below are mostly my editing program and fonts. The heart outlines are from the Hearts and Ribbon Bridal Border. I love the touch large rik rak brings to kitchen towels and mentioned my favorite ebay supplier of it in one of my earlier linked posts. Personalizing the towel just brings that extra glimmer of fun to gifts.

I’ve also mentioned Napkins Online in many posts. If you machine or hand embroider or simply decorate with appliqué and trims – they have great napkins to start with. The Simply Sweathearts design was used “as is” – no editing as it was perfect for the application

The designs for Embroidery Library are Be Mine Heart, Cutie Pie Heart,  Kiss Me Heart, XOXO (Hugs and Kisses) Heart , I’m Yours HeartHearts-a-Plenty,  Simply Sweethearts, Hearts and Ribbon Bridal Border.

 

Personalizing Gifts: Embroidered Holiday Towels

I do quite a few personalized gifts with my embroidery sewing machine. An easy to follow tutorial for machine embroidering on terrycloth is here at Embroidery Library.  Using a pack of the white Martex hand towels from Costco, I coordinate colors and themes with the bath, kitchen and holiday theme of the gift recipients.

These towels are Retro Christmas Design from Embroidery Library. I’ve debated about adding trim or embroidery to the band but prefer that for folks who grab that towel they have the bottom edge to use.

These were a gift last year for friends who’s holiday decorating colors center on turquoise.  The font is standard with my Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz machine. The snowflakes include Embroidery Designs  Sew Man Star Snowflake, Pinnacle Embroidery Snowflake, and one of the snowflakes is Great Notions  Snowflakes edited to an individual design I could place them where I chose.

These are the microfiber towels you can pick up that are a bit shorter than regular dishtowels. They have a lined border  (to keep the weight similar to the rest of the towel) with a  fabric border from my stash. The design is again the Great Notions Snowflakes from Embroidery Designs –  this time the design “as is”.

This last one didn’t come up as perfectly as I’d like, but to be used as a large basket napkin for a friend who raises chickens it should still do the trick. The fabric is Joann huck toweling, the rik rak Wrights  and the embroidery design Embroidery Library ‘s  Christmas Chickens with the wording of Merry Christmas added by me.

All the items were sewn with Sulky embroidery threads, 40 weight. I download the majority of the designs in HUS format and need to use my software to convert it to my machine’s VP3 format. My suppliers for designs have changed since I first acquired my machine. I started only using MyEmbroideries as that is what was recommended by my vendor (btw – they have a 75% OFF every design sale though Dec 6th – I’ve not seen this level of sale from them ever). Then added others as I found them. I tend to use Embroidery Library the most given their regular sales and vast selection with Urban Threads and Esque for something a tad different. Moose be Stitchin, Zippy Designz and Oma’s Place all have great “in the hoop” designs to purchase and download at very reasonable pricing – every one of them has stitched out wonderfully for me. I have a few others I’ve found through Yahoo lists that have many sales and freebies. Do check out their landing pages to see Embroidery Garden’s in the hoop Santa Potholder, MooseBeStitchin’s in the hoop Roller Skate Holiday Stockings and Urban Thread’s Gingerbread ornaments (bitten 🙂  ). Many of these folks also have Facebook pages or Flickr groups.

Yahoo groups for instruction or sales that I belong to are; http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EmbroideryGarden/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BFC-Creations/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/embroiderynetwork/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MachineEmbroideryAdList/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SudberryEmbroidery/

ttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/digitizewithhus/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CompuSewwithJan/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/4D_Professional/

Loving Linen

Making your own linen guest towels is pretty fast and easy if you sew anything at all. And that’s splendid as I love linen. Love the look, love the feel, love working with it.

I know I’ve mentioned that I often rely on Napkins Online from eBay rather than sewing out mitered cornered napkins – but hey  – at about $1.50 each it’s worth it if I have a bunch (sets of 12) to make given I like the whole mitered corner thing. Four or 6 double sided napkins with cute rik rak, aka the Halloween ones I discussed with tutorials here, yield very satisfying high speed results. Linen mitered corner napkins in larger numbers lose their appeal quickly.  Not so the linen towels. You’re not burning your fingertips trying to press and miter really small hems. And, two make a very nice gift. Keep your regular bath towels out but make 2 guest towels in coordinating colors to place over them for your holiday of choice.

Pretty much, I pick up my linen at JoAnn on sale. The folks over at Martha Stewart Living had recommended Gray Line Fabrics in one of their articles and I keep them bookmarked in case I need a color I can’t find locally. They have a wonderful selection and reasonable prices.

 

I simply cut rectangles 25 inches by 15 inches. First press the hems – I like to use a stiff piece of cardboard as a guide, for those in the U.S. priority mail envelopes have a nice edge to help with straight hems. First, press all around less than a ¼ inch. Then make a second pass. Finished side hems are about ¼ inch, back hem about ½ inch and front hem 1 ½ inch. Decorate to your liking. Machine embroider, hand embroider, stitch rick rak, trims or fabric strips across or appliqué with either iron on or stitching. The one thing to keep in mind is that linen really only looks good if you iron it while damp – it can be difficult to get crisp looking otherwise.

I’d purchased some linen guest towels here and they’re fine -literally and figuratively (she’s a popular seller). My Nice / Naughty stitching actually poked a hole through the purchased towel when stitching out the poinsettia (i.e. the fine notation). For my handcrafted linen towels I use a bit sturdier linen so I have more design choice in machine embroidery I’ve used JoAnn’s 100% linen (note the linked linen is 53 inches wide), not a handkerchief linen which would be too fine. You could go with linen look (55% linen, 45% rayon) or craft some very inexpensively using “poor man’s linen”, osnaburg (100% cotton), if you prefer. I’ve decided I like my handcrafted better then the “for sale hemstitch”. If you like the look of hemstitch but want to make towels, check out the fancy stitches on your machine. You may find you like an airy, feathering stitch along the hemline just as well.

 Always prewash and dry (low if linen, high for cottons). If you machine stitch items that later shrink, you’ll end up with something that’s only good as a rag – it will never look good again (picture a scrunched up embroidery design that never flattens out). For this reason be careful when purchasing items to embroider. I’d bought some cotton waffle weave that shrank terribly. I was a tad forewarned as the site said wash cool lay flat – but I don’t know anyone I could gift waffle weave cotton dish towels who would not throw them in the washer and dryer so I bought a few as an experiment. I was surprised to find someone was actually selling cotton dishtowels that couldn’t go in the dryer to crafters as embroidery blanks. They are now with my rags, luckily I didn’t embroider with them first. I can understand with linen, but cotton waffle weave? I only hope crafters reselling these didn’t lose their reputation and customers. Not pre-washing keeps that crisp, new look. But it can bite you later. Always pre-wash. Starch after if you like and want a crisp new look. (aside: I did email the seller, saying the warning was there so I didn’t want a refund but it wasn’t big and could cost customers – I noticed they came off the site’s offerings).

I use various shades of linen above are 2 in the “natural” look. The runner they are sitting on is linen yardage from Ikea (seemed to be a summer product only).

The Dove towel stitched out beautifully. The Peace on the right I’d edited by removing the dove and added the word peace. My machine then had problems stitching it out (no stop from green to red on 2 of the poinsettias that you can see). When machine embroidery fouls up – it can be nasty. Nests of threads knotted together on the underside, can poke big holes, and worse. My first machine had a ton of problems (and these puppies can be expensive). The retailer finally swapped it for a different new one and it’s been clear sailing since, but at first it was way too finicky and unpredictable.

The designs on the towels I’m displaying are: Embroidery Library Watercolor Maple Leaves and Embroidery Library Victorian Christmas Dove. I usually edit the colors to suit me better. The Nice, Naughty I’d put together with my font program. I have so many small holiday designs I’m not sure where those particular poinsettia and mistletoe came from.

If you don’t want to “sew your own” Dharma trading has very reasonably priced linen runners (and  Napkins Online has linen cotton blend runners). For something different in hand embroidery designs, check out Sublime Stitching or Urban Threads. Using trims, fabrics and appliqué on your guest towels is as limitless as your imagination.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.