Friday, November 26, 2010

Any Day Spent Sewing. . .

. . . is a good day. That's what is emblazoned across the front of the shirt I finished embroidering earlier this evening. I probably say that to myself just about every day too.

This is the first "real" tee shirt I've tried to embroider since Barb showed us how to do it, and I am beyond thrilled with how it turned out. It is nothing short of a miracle that I managed to get the design centered, and not a pucker anywhere in the fabric around the design. I'm learning.

I did have one moment of sheer panic when the edge of the shirt rolled up around the hoop slid down under the needle and got stitched in. You know, kinda like when you're machine quilting and you catch the corner of the top in the quilting. You've all done that, right? Luckily it was just a few stitches, and I was able to extract the rest of the shirt easily enough. I think it put a tiny hole in it though, but I fray checked it, and hopefully that will fix it.

Next up -- more practice with freestanding lace.

Design from Embroidery Library

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is a sunny day here in Maine but very cold, below freezing. One of my sons is coming over later in the day, and my other son will be going to his girlfriend's mother's for dinner. Her mother had back surgery very recently and surely needs the company and help with the meal.

For dinner today we'll have roast turkey with stuffing, candied sweet potatoes with marshmallow crusted on top, a yellow squash casserole, boiled onions, cranberry sauce and a baked cranberry dish, and pumpkin roll for dessert.

I plan to spend some time in my sewing room today too, working on some embroidery projects.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your families!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November Finish

It took nearly forever to get the Jewel Box quilt done, but I finished binding it and made a label for it about a week and a half ago. AnnH quilted it with the Baptist Fans I am so fond of. This ranks right up there as one of my all time favorite quilts.

I learned how to manipulate text in my embroidery software so each letter in the title would stitch out in a different color. A very useful trick.

Quilt design by Jinny Beyer

Tulip Bells

My work schedule ramped up in November, so it's been a busy month. I've actually been home from work for several days now with a bad cold and laryngitis, so in between naps I worked on this Tulip Bells block. At the last Tacoma Lakes group meeting, Barb showed us how to make this 3-dimensional block, and it was easier than I anticipated.

The idea is simple. Folded triangles are inserted at strategic places throughout the block, then the edges of the triangles are folded over and stitched down. In this photo, I've stitched one edge down and pinned the remaining edges.

Here, all the edges have been stitched down, creating the tulip bell. Pinning or pressing the edges makes the job easier, and using a stiletto helps hold the edge in place while sewing.

We used the Tulip Bells Table Runner pattern from Southwind Designs. Annette offers a number of other interesting quilt patterns using this technique. This block was purely a sample, and I haven't got enough background fabric to make two more blocks, so this one will wind up in the orphan block pile and become a pillow or something. But I would like to make a 3-dimensional quilt like this at some point.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Adventures in Machine Embroidery

My good friend Barb started a little machine embroidery group last month. We meet once monthly, so Tuesday we got together and learned how to make free standing lace (FSL). Most of us seemed to be in the mood to make Christmas ornaments, but there are designs for FSL bookmarks, coasters, bowls and baskets, insets for v-neck tee shirts, all kinds of things. I've wanted to learn how to do this for a long time, so I was very excited about it.

The basic idea is to stitch out a design on water soluble stabilizer, then rinse away the stabilizer leaving just the stitching. Each stitch has to be locked so the finished product doesn't fall apart; so if you're new to machine embroidery, look for designs that say "free standing" lace. This is Peggy's design still in the hoop being stitched out.

The large santa face was the first one I stitched out, and I had a bit of trouble with looping. After changing the needle I had no trouble stitching out the mini ornaments. Aren't they cute?

Last month we learned how to embroider a tee shirt. Because I have lots of trouble with this finicky machine of mine, I pulled a shirt out of the rag bag to practice on. Under Barb's tutelage, I managed to stitch out a nice design with nary a pucker. I'm encouraged to try a stitch out on a "real" tee shirt.
Next month we're doing machine embroidered applique. Can't wait!

Sock Update

After making what I think was a fair effort with the two-socks-on-two-circulars method, I decided to take Quilternity's advice (thanks Terri!) and put each sock on its own circular and switch back and forth between the socks. I can knit faster on one circular, and I really want to get on with the business of knitting socks. I'll have to count rows, but heck, it really only takes a few seconds.

I like this yarn too. It's Happy Feet from Plymouth Yarn. The color changes about every inch or so, so you get this tweedy effect instead of stripes. Even though it's mostly wool, it's a little stretchy, which I like too.