Friday, May 27, 2016

Oh My Stars!

My house seemed woefully short of Memorial Day decorations this year. (Good thing I have a room full of machines that can fix that, eh?) So I made a little quilted flag from some of my favorite red, white and blue Riley Blake fabrics using a dollar design from my Single Designs category in the shop - click HERE to see this pretty Memorial Day design!

Lydia (Telafante blog) had made the cutest felt star banner with the star design from the Happy Day Motifs for baby Kate, and that gave me an idea for the perfect finish to my flag. 

I wanted my stars to look PERFECT on the back, exactly as they did on the front. Truly double-sided, in other words. But our embroidery machines make a knot on the wrong side at the beginning and end of a design. Not so pretty on double sided things, argh.  Want to find out how I fixed that? Read on!

First of all I began with Baby Lock’s Ultra Soft Fusible hooped fusible side up in my 8x12 Destiny hoop. I cut two pieces of white wool/rayon felt about an inch larger all around than the stitching field of my grouped star designs.

I stuck one felt piece to the back of the hooped Ultra Soft, centered within the design area, held fast with just a wee bit of temporary spray adhesive. Then I smoothed the other felt piece on top, directly over the one on back. You can see through the Ultra Soft enough to line them up.

Next, I threaded my machine in top AND bobbin with matching regular sewing thread. I used blue for some stars and red for the others. These designs are simple bean-stitched outlines (hence the name “Motifs”) and they have an applique outline for the purpose of knowing where to apply them should you wish to do that. For this project I didn’t need that first stitch sequence, so I simply skipped ahead for each star directly to the bean-stitched outline.

I turned my End Color Trim and Jump Stitch Trim functions OFF. 

Once the hoop was in the machine, I pressed the GO button until the machine traveled to the beginning point of the first star design. I stopped the machine, raised the presser foot, and then lowered and raised the needle while I held the top thread tail so I could catch and pull up the bobbin thread. (It’s helpful if you don’t cut the bobbin thread in the little cutter next to the bobbin case; just catch it and leave a tail - then you’ll have more thread to catch.)

As soon as I could see a bit of bobbin thread appear above the fabric, I used my tweezers to pull a nice long bobbin thread tail to match the top thread tail. Then I lowered the presser foot and began stitching the first star (after advancing to the bean-stitched outline first).

I held on to the thread tails while the machine stitched out the first star, moving them aside to keep them out from under the path of the presser foot.

When the design finished, the machine stopped with the needle down. I raised the needle, raised the foot and pulled the top thread until I had a nice long tail again. I clipped the thread tail at the felt, right under the needle. Then I lowered the needle into the felt, holding the top thread tail, and then raised the needle again. Pulling on the top thread tail firmly, I tugged until I got a little loop of bobbin thread pulled above the felt.

I pulled the loop nice and big, noticing which end was attached and which end could still be pulled, and then carefully clipped the end that could still be pulled right at the felt under the needle. Now I had two thread tails on top of the felt once again. With the original two I began with, that made four thread tails. That star was finished!

In moving on to the next star I quickly realized I needed to begin with a long bobbin thread tail again, so I removed the hoop and pulled a longer tail from the bobbin again. Then I repeated the same steps to complete my next star.

Once again pulling the bobbin thread up, holding the two thread tails while that star stitched, etc.

After all the stars were stitched I rough cut them out, being careful not to cut my thread tails. Then I threaded all four thread tail strands into the eye of a needle and wove the thread tails between the layers of felt to hide them, clipping off the excess.

My star was as pretty on the back as it was on the front - see, here's the back:


Two strands of Sulky’s Petites 12 wt. thread became hanging cords, attaching my pretty stars to my little flag with simple knots on the ends.

Find the Happy Day Motifs HERE - lots more pretties you can make with those designs!

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing stars :-)

Happy Stitching, y’all!


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Success! A Onesie Dress!

Have you got an almost new onesie your little one has gotten too tall for and you just hate to part with it because it’s so cute or barely worn? Well, my own sweet grand daughter just outstretched a whole set of onesies that were brand new. No worries! I'm turning them into dresses and you can too!
Here’s how…

You will need:
  • Onesie (has to still fit in width - across tummy and shoulders - this works for too-short onesies only)
  • ½” Extremely Fine Fusible Knit Stay Tape (enough to go around waist of onesie)
  • Fine fabric for the skirt – cotton voile, quilt weight cotton, cotton lawn (1/4 yard usually)
  • Sewing thread to match fabric
First of all, figure out how long your skirt needs to be. Baby Kate is 3 months old, but she’s a size 6-9 months already. So I cut the skirt fabric piece approximately 9” wide by 28” long. You can adjust that measurement according to your own little sweetie's size.

Cut off the onesie, measuring about 3” down from the bottom of the armholes. (For larger than 3-6 month sizes it might need to be longer.) Iron the ½” fusible knit stay tape to the lower raw edge of the newly cut-off onesie top on the wrong side of the fabric. Align the tape with the raw edge and be careful not to stretch the onesie as you iron the tape on.

If you wish to add any decorative detailing to the skirt, do that before you begin while the fabric is still flat and un-gathered. I put a wee snail on baby Kate’s voile skirt with a trail of flip-stitched yarn on my Baby Lock Sashiko machine for added interest. So fun!

Sew up the skirt seam, short ends together and hem one long edge. I made a French seam in my little skirt so the raw edges would be completely enclosed. But you could either zigzag stitch or serge your skirt's seam selvage instead. I chose to do a narrow rolled hem using my Baby Lock machine’s narrow hem foot. Works great! (You can see that foot in action in a video on my Instagram page! There is also a video on the A Bit of Stitch Facebook page. Look through my videos there to find it.)

Where do we view babies the most? Front side and back, right? Usually a skirt seam would go in center back, but because this outfit is for a baby, I put my skirt seam on one side, aligned with the onesie side seam on the right.

Gather up the top raw edge of the skirt. For best gathering results sew two rows of long running stitches – one about ¼” down from the top edge and another ½” below that one.

Knot the top threads together and then pull up the bobbin thread tails. Those knots in the top threads will keep your gathers gathered at both ends!

Does you machine have a free arm? This is the perfect time to use it! My Baby Lock Ellegante has a bed that is removable, exposing just the arm of the machine which has a space beneath. This allows you to get the entire arm inside a project and for this onesie dress, THAT makes things so much easier. Sew right below the top gathered line of stitches on the skirt. Your seam allowance should be about 3/8” or slightly more.

When finished remove the gathering threads. Hopefully you didn’t sew over any and they will pull right out!

Finish the raw edges either by serging or zigzag stitching. If you serge, cut off just a little to leave a ¼” selvage. If you zigzag stitch you might want to trim before you do so you leave just ¼” selvage. Most of the stay tape will be trimmed away during the stitching, trimming process. That's okay, it's purpose was to keep the knit shirt from stretching too much while sewing.
Another note - Some folks like to use a very slight zigzag stitch when sewing on knits, or use a "for-knit" stitch your machine may have. That helps keep stitches from popping when the seams are stretched while worn.
Finished! Cute, eh?
And even cuter on a wee baby girl!

Fast and easy, right? Now go make one or two (or three) for your little pretty!

Thanks for reading!