Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lie DOWN, linings!

I love lined things, don’t you? Lining just makes the difference between a nice project and a really LOVELY project! I love little lined dresses, lined purses, lined totes and even lined Santa stockings like these.

But lining things can be challenging. For one thing, they don't always like to stay in place. Have you ever had trouble with your linings trying to crawl out of whatever they were stitched into? If so, here are some tips for making your linings lie down and behave.


First of all, if at all possible, don’t cut out the lining until you have attached it to the top edge of your project - if your project has a top edge. For instance, instead of cutting out the lining pieces to match my stocking pieces BEFORE I joined them together, I placed the stocking on a block of lining fabric cut slightly larger than the stocking piece. Like this:
The stocking is wrong side up on the right side of the lining block. I then stitch across the stocking's top edge using whatever seam allowance I normally would, just ignoring the extra lining fabric. Then I cut off the excess lining, trimming the seam allowance selvage a little, matching the lining and the stocking pieces together. Next, I clip along the curve on the selvage edge, up to but not through the stitching. Then I edge stitched the lining down.


Edge stitching is probably the nicest thing you can do for most linings. It really makes them behave and keeps them from crawling up over the edge of the item they are backing. Edge stitching is not like top stitching – it doesn’t show on the right side. You are sewing only on the lining side, through all layers of the seam allowance selvage underneath. This means you need to open out the project – push the lining and ALL seam allowance selvages under it to the right and the project fabric to the left. Slip the project under the machine foot and align the left edge of the foot with the seam as shown above. With my Baby Lock Ellegante’s “J” foot I can put my needle in the left position, align the foot with the seam to make a perfect line of stitches just far enough away to keep everything underneath nice and neat.

The trick to doing this neatly is to put a little tension on the fabric on both sides of the foot. Actually pull the fabric right and left a little as you sew. Don’t hinder the movement of the foot or you’ll get crooked stitches, but do make sure the lining is pulled taut away from the seam so no wrinkles happen while you stitch.

Looks nice, doesn’t it!


Now it’s time to press. I give a good one, making the top edge nice and neat. You’ll notice that the lining automatically wants to roll under the top edge. Let it!

NOW it’s time to cut out the lining.

What’s the advantage of waiting till now to cut the lining? You have very effectively removed any excess lining. If you’ve ever had a lining that wanted to be bunchy and floppy inside a project – like a purse for instance – you’ll know exactly what I mean by excess. A lining cut the same size as the project tends to bunch up inside, especially if your project fabric is a good deal thicker than the lining fabric like this quilted stocking. By waiting till now to cut the lining you have made the lining smaller so it will fit neat and snug inside your project!


The next good trick to making linings stay where they ought to and mind their manners is to “stitch in the ditch” on a seam or two connecting the lining to the outside project fabric. It’s not always possible to do this with your project, but it’s a good step to take whenever you can.

To make the lining stay neatly in place for my stockings I stitched right along the seam on the outside of the stocking through all layers. It’s easiest to do this starting a couple of inches below the top edge where all the bulk is and sewing toward the top, back-tacking at both ends of the short line of stitching. You don’t need to sew far, 1 or 2 inches will do nicely or even less for smaller places.


Try to stitch RIGHT on the seam – that’s the ditch – so that your stitches will be hidden in there on the right side of your project.


If your lining fabric is a different color than the right side fabric, match the bobbin thread to it. So much prettier! I know that’s being picky, but you know sometimes the angel is in the details! :-)

These little tricks have helped me keep my linings in line for years. Collars, cuffs, pockets, facings, you name it, whatever I’m lining. I hope they’ll help you too!


P.S. Click HERE to find the Christmas Sock Pattern used to make the stocking below, and click HERE to find the Curly Line Letters machine embroidery designs.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ho Ho Hey! Happy Holidays!

Well hello there! Have a treat, or two or three :-) 

Follow along with the "Steam Punkin" Stitch Bits blog post and make this super easy treat holder with pretty Riley Blake fabrics and byAnnie's Soft and Stable. I decorated my box sides with Ho Ho Hey holiday applique designs but you can use any suitable designs in your stash.

When I made this box I decided to experiment with fusible web beneath the fabric to make the box even sturdier. I ironed a piece of fusible web to my box side fabric, hooped it with the release paper intact and floated an additional layer of soft tear-away under the hoop before I began my appliques. I fused my appliques to the background fabric, just like I normally would because the release paper protected that area underneath. Once the applique was finished I removed the soft tear-away and the release paper.

Since I wanted to press my fabric on the top (to make sure the fabric stuck to my Soft and Stable box sides) I used a press cloth. A mini-iron made quick work of getting up close around the applique!

This box needed a different handle, something more festive than a wire one like I used for the Steam Punkin box. Ribbon covered packing strap worked perfectly! I just zigzagged two pieces of 5/8" ribbon together along the edges and then slipped a piece of packing strap in between the layers.

One of the nice things about packing strapping is that you can actually sew through it. (Usually! If it's super heavy duty that might not work so test first.) I sewed the ends of the ribbon to the box side with the handle facing down; flipped the handle up to cover the ribbon ends and top-stitched across the handle. I so do love a nice, neat finish!

These boxes would make awesome gift givers too - think of the things you could fill them with. Home baked goodies for neighbors, sweet necessities for shut-at-home folks or sewing stuff for your stitching friends! (I can see one filled with pretty thread or rolled up fat quarters...HINT Mr. Santa!)

Ho Ho Ho, y'all - make a box - give a grin and have a wonderful day!


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Steam Punkin

Steam Punkin!

Just a bit of silly to cheer up your day! Make a cutie-boo treat holder for Halloween goodies! Made with Riley Blake’s Happy Haunting line by Deena Rutter and byAnnie’s Soft and Stable foam stabilizer, this little project is really fast and super easy. Plus it’s guaranteed to get a giggle or two! (I’ve been fascinated with the crazy mechanical gears and gadgets of the steam punk style and am taking this opportunity to indulge a bit, ha!)

Here’s what you need:

Five 6” x 6” blocks of black byAnnie’s Soft and Stable
Four 6” x 6” blocks of your choice of Halloween fabric
Steam Punkin machine embroidery design from A Bit of Stitch
            (or design of your choice)
Appliqué fabrics backed with fusible web
Embroidery thread
Sewing thread
Heavy duty black wire (optional)
Temporary spray adhesive
Pinking rotary cutter or pinking shears
Needle nose pliers and wire cutter

Follow the appliqué instructions included with the design to appliqué the Steam Punkin design on one 6x6” block of fabric. You might find it easier to wait to cut this block to the 6” size until after you have appliquéd the design. Remove all stabilizers and press well from the wrong side.

Spray four 6x6” blocks of Soft and Stable with temporary spray adhesive. Adhere the embroidered block to one and the other three fabric blocks to the remaining three foam blocks.

Choose a fun motif stitch on your sewing machine. Beginning ½” from one side and stopping ½” from the other sew approximately ½” below one edge across each fabric covered foam block. Use any type thread – embroidery or sewing – in a color of your choice. When you are finished sewing, use a pinking edged rotary cutter or pinking shears to trim away a bit of the fabric edge, pinking the edge through both layers.

Sew an eyelet on two of the fabric covered blocks approximately 1” from the top edge.

Place two fabric covered foam blocks wrong sides together, pinked tops aligned with each other and sew together with a ½” seam allowance. Stop and secure your thread ½” from the bottom as shown below. Make sure the two blocks with the eyelets become the two box sides. One on the right and one on the left of the appliquéd front.

Continue sewing the blocks together in the same manner until you have a bottomless box. Pink all four sides as you did for the top. Press down hard when using a rotary cutter so you will cut through all layers cleanly.

Sew the remaining uncovered black foam block to the bottom edge with a ½” seam allowance. This is when you find out just how easy it is to use byAnnie’s Soft and Stable! It’s squishy and easy to manipulate under the foot of the machine.

Cut a length of heavy duty black craft wire. Poke the ends through the eyelets on the box sides. (Open the eyelets with an awl or the point of your snips first.) Use your needle nose pliers to curl the ends into a swirl on each side.

Smooth out the rest of the handle by placing it over something round, like a small oatmeal box, ball or any curved item of a usable size and shape.

Fill up with goodies and delight little (and big) visitors!

Thanks for reading! Check out these other Halloween designs for more options: Jack-O-Lantern and Eat More Chocolate! 


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Nest your hot pot!

I’ve been amazed at how easy it is to stitch up quick and uniquely pretty projects with my new Baby lock Destiny! With quite literally a few simple clicks I can create in-the-hoop happiness from scratch! Follow along with me and let’s make a classic, fun hot mat to nest a hot pot come dinner time. Now that's something to crow about :-) ha!

You will need:

Two 8” blocks of fabric
One 9” block of batting
An embroidery design of your choice (I used the little hen from my Farm Animals set)

Embroider one 8” block of fabric. Remove all stabilizers and press well from the wrong side. Place batting behind the fabric and quilt as you wish.

Look at those sweet, sassy Sashiko stitches! This is a great little project for the Baby Lock Sashiko machine. I set my stitch and space lengths at 3 and did the Sashiko hop over the hen embroidery design.

Split the other 8” block in half.

Right sides together sew the split 8” block back together leaving a 3.5” opening in the center. Press the seams open.

Hoop a piece of tear-away stabilizer in the 8x12 hoop. Place the quilted, embroidered fabric block right side up, centered in the hoop on the stabilizer. Put the hoop into the machine.

Choose IQ Designer. When the first screen opens choose the shape tool as shown in the photo below on the right.

See all those shapes, wow! (If you've been in one of my classes and heard me talk about patch sewing in-the-hoop just think, ALL of those are “patch” designs!)

For this project be sure the first button at the top is highlighted blue on the first screen because we just want to stitch the outline of the shape. I chose the square with the rounded off corners as shown in the center photo. Click OK as shown in the far right photo.

The next screen will take you to where you can choose the type of outline stitch and apply various adjustments to it. Select the center button at the top left hand corner as shown in the photo below on the left which is highlighted blue. That’s the simple running stitch outline. (It will stitch twice, so it’s good and sturdy.) Click OK. The middle photo below should be what your screen looks like now. Click “Set” and then on the next screen click OK.

This brings you to the embroidery screen. Your design is ready to stitch!

You want to see where the box will be stitched so take a photograph of what’s in your hoop with Destiny’s built in camera! To do so, click the little camera icon at the top right hand corner of the screen as shown in the photo in the upper left below. It will warn you that the hoop will move. Make sure you and anything around your machine is out of the way and click OK. Woo-hoo! You now have a photo of what’s in your hoop with the block outline design showing on top. Cool beans, eh?

Click on the “Embroidery” button at the lower left hand corner. Then click on the Edit button on the next screen.

Choose “move” from the new little screen that opens so you can move the block outline design around and get it properly positioned on your quilted fabric. You can either touch the design with your pointer and physically drag it around on the screen - now that's pretty awesome - (the hoop will move as you do so, so watch out for that) OR you can use the arrow buttons on the lower left to move the design around. I centered the chicken embroidery within my outline design. 

Click OK to close that screen. Then click the “edit” button again to close that screen. Now you are ready to sew. As you can see by the photo below on the right, you can see exactly where the outline will stitch on the fabric. Awesome.

Let the machine sew around the block outline once just to give you a placement for the backing fabric. You can stop the machine when it starts on the second go-round, cut the thread and then press “0” on the thread sequence window to revert to the beginning of the outline again. (The thread sequence window is found by clicking on the icon at the bottom that has a needle and a -/+ picture on it.)

Place the joined 8” block of backing fabric wrong side up over the stitched outline. Center the joined seam within the stitching outline. Add a loop hanger if you wish in a corner between the layers. You can use ribbon, cord or make a loop by double-double folding a narrow strip of fabric to about ¼” wide and sewing it together length-ways. Use a piece of cellophane tape to hold the loop in place at one corner as shown in the photo on the upper right.

Place pieces of cellophane tape over the seams on the backing fabric where the outline will stitch so that the foot won’t catch in them as it passes over. Scotch Brand Magic tape works great for this. It won’t gum up your needle and it removes easily.

Sew the block outline again. Remove the fabric from the hoop. Carefully tear-away the stabilizer. Cut out the shape leaving a ¼” selvage past the stitching line. Clip the corners.

Turn right side out, hand sew up the opening (or use a bit of fusible web tape to secure it) and give your project a good press. Voila! You’ve made a pretty hot mat!

Wonder what else you can create with this neat technique? How about lavender filled sachets, rice or buckwheat filled bags for cool/warm packs? Eye masks anyone? Go play with your Destiny and make a pretty today :-)

Happy Stitching!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Monogram Your Pots!

Monogrammed pots!

I’ve been saving these beautiful pots for just the right project and today, after knocking all the sewing stuff off my table for the fifth time, decided they had a much needed task to do – organize my cutting table! I don’t know about you, but when I’m working on something I tend to fling my toys…er, TOOLS around a lot. Then when I need what I just had in my hand I can’t find it because it’s under something or has already rolled off the edge. Voila! Now I have Sewing Pots of Pretty for my STUFF!

You can find these pots and lots of other fun stuff at Design Imports. They have really nice products and all sorts of cool things that you can actually get IN the hoop too, ha!

So, want to monogram a pot today? Here’s what you’ll need: 
  • Ceramic pots (any kind, ceramic, glass or terracotta)
  • Machine appliqué embroidery designs (appropriately sized for your pots, I used my Curly Appliqué Alphabet designs and re-sized them 20% smaller)
  • Appliqué fabric backed with fusible web (I used Riley Blake fabrics)
  • Silk organza (in a color that will fade into the pot, I used white)
  • Embroidery thread
  • Very small, very sharp cutting scissors with curved blades (I used my Snips)
  • Temporary spray adhesive (I like 505)
  • Permanent spray adhesive (Super 77 by 3M)
  • A wooden skewer
  • Sheets of paper
  • Good music and a cuppa something tasty (heh!)

Hoop two layers of silk organza. Make it nice and flat, smooth and wrinkle free. No flopping fabric. I used silk organza because it trims very cleanly, doesn’t whisker, is really sturdy, is super flexible and doesn't add bulk. Back your appliqué fabric with fusible web and fire up your mini-iron.

Fuse the applique fabric to the hooped organza before stitching the final satin stitch finishing edge. (Note, if you use polyester organza, skip this step! You might melt the organza in the hoop too.) If you need a brush up on applique see the my Applique Tutorial blog post here.

Complete the applique. I also added tiny designs from my Petites collection to the letters just for fun J

Clean up the back, trimming away all the excess bits of thread.

Un-hoop and cut out the letter, trimming as close as possible to the satin stitched edge.

Spray one side of a sheet of paper lightly with temporary spray adhesive. Press the letters, wrong side up, onto the sticky paper. This keeps them from lifting and flipping while you spray on the permanent adhesive.

Go outside and spray the wrong side of the letters with an even coat of permanent spray adhesive. I love Super 77 by 3M. Mostly because it doesn’t become permanent for a while so you have time to change your mind if you need to. Don’t forget to turn the can upside down and spray away from you until the bottle sprays just air. (That will keep the nozzle clean for next time and you'll be so glad you did that.)

Apply the letter to the pot. Use the point of a wooden skewer to poke in any whiskers of organza or over-sprayed glue along the edges. Use the flat end to tamp down any places too tiny to use your fingers for. Press the design firmly to the pot.

Let it dry!

The perfect catch-all! Sturdy enough not to tip over and big enough to hold lots of junk.

And if you really want to, you can actually put a plant in it!

Visit my website to see more “I can’t believe you put embroidery on that” photos. Nothing really is safe from me and my embroidery machine you know J

Designs shown above: Isabella Collection and Little Bird Scrolls

Thanks for reading - I hope you enjoy this project!