Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Fastest Draw in the West!

The fastest draw in the west…okay, it’s actually the fastest drawstring bag in the southeast, but let’s not get picky - this is an awesome quick and easy gift-giving project for all ages! Not only can it be the gift packaging, but it can be the gift as well. And it’s a great stash-buster... ahem, something that’s rather nice all on its own, right? (Click HERE to find the llama designs!)

Here’s what you need:
  • A piece of fabric twice as tall and twice as wide as the desired size of your finished bag, plus one extra inch both ways for seam allowances.
  • Something to draw it up with – ribbon, cord, twill tape or whatever you have that will make a sturdy drawstring 
  • Sewing thread
  • Optional: big hole beads to put on the ends of the drawstring cord and embroidery designs (if you want to get fancy!)

Let’s get started. I have this set of toy car tracks for my grandson and, yeah, there are lots of little parts which I’m sure his momma is going to love (not!)... but Gramma is fixing that ‘cause I’m making him a bag to keep those pesky parts in! So I needed four times as much fabric as the bunch of stuff I wanted the bag to hold.

I cut a big piece of fabric and folded it in half, then in half again. You can see all four layers up there at the right hand corner of the photo. The left and bottom edges are folds. When you choose what size your bag needs to be, make sure you leave plenty of room for drawing up the top and for the seam allowances. (This is just an example of how to quickly tell how much fabric you will need.)

There is a super fast option for creating the opening for the drawstring, and there is another option that requires one more step – a buttonhole. The only advantage of having a buttonhole is that you can use it to put the drawstring opening anywhere you want. For instance, if it is a gift-giving bag like the one I’m making here, you might want the bow tie to be in the center of the bag when it’s finished, like this:

But if it’s a bag for storage and the bag IS the gift, you can just make the drawstring opening in the seam, and the tie ends up on one side like this toy bag:

(Knobby Letters appliqué shown on the bag - click HERE to find them!)
If you choose the buttonhole method, draw or crease a horizontal line through the center of the fabric block (you can simply fold the block in half from top to bottom and iron the fold to crease), and then find the midpoint of that line by measuring its length and dividing by two. Mark the position of your buttonhole just below the midpoint like this:

Go ahead and sew in the buttonhole before you proceed. It’s helpful to use a bit of stabilizer beneath the buttonhole stitching to keep it neat and sturdy.

More options! If you want to add embroidery, a patch, or a pocket, then do that before you sew up the bag. Here are your options for that:

The blue dotted lines show the fold marks (the bisecting horizontal and vertical lines) and the seam allowance areas (the box all around the edges). The two block sections on the top half of each graphic will become the lining of the bag. The two bottom block sections will become the outside of the bag. If your drawstring opening will be in the seam, then put your embroidery within the yellow box in the image on the left. If your drawstring opening will be a buttonhole in the center front of the bag, then put your embroidery within the yellow box in the image on the right.

Important Note! If your fabric has a directional print this:

...then make sure when you fold the bag to finish the bottom seam, the print will be heading in the right direction on the finished bag. (Curly Appliqué Alphabet shown here for the name, click HERE to find it!)

Okay, let’s whip this bag up. Fold the fabric right sides together along the longest sides (if there are longer sides; your bag might be even) and sew together with a ½” seam allowance.

Press the seam allowance open. Take care not to crease the tube elsewhere while you are ironing.

Turn the tube right side out. Fold what will be the right side of the bag down into the inside, and align all the raw edges. (Important! This folded edge will be at the top of the bag, so make sure you choose the end of the tube that is at the bottom of your directional print to fold down into the inside.) If you put embroidery on the bag, that should now be on the inside during this step. If you have a buttonhole, that should be on the inside too.

Sew across all four layers of raw edges. Serge or zigzag to finish.

At this point you might want to turn the bag right side out to sew the casing if you have a free-arm machine and can stick the bag over it. Or, if you want to use a nice seam guide like my Baby Lock stick-on one, sew from the inside of the bag. You need to sew all around the top of the bag, immediately below the buttonhole if you made one, or at least 1” from the top of the bag if you didn’t. Let the start and stop of your seam line overlap a bit to secure the ends. If you want, you can sew another seam all around the top to make a tighter casing, this time about 3/8” from the top folded edge.

If you choose to put the drawstring opening in the side seam, then bar-tack across the casing stitching lines at the side seam of the bag to stabilize it. When you go to insert the string, you’ll need to pick out the stitches along the seam between the bar-tacks as shown below.

Thread big holed beads onto the ends of your drawstring if you like:

Bam, finished! That was easy, wasn’t it? What are you going to put in your “fastest drawstring bag in the southeast” bags? Shoes, laundry, groceries, games, fabric? Make great big bags for lots of stuff or wee little bags for something special!

(Click HERE to find the fun little festive llamas!)
I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial - make lots of bags!


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Foiled! Shiny Scissor Ornaments

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine! Machine embroidery, meet Creative Notion’s “Artistic Foils” and let the shine begin! 

I first spied these pretty foil papers at Baby Lock’s Common Threads. All those pretty colors and the SHINE really caught my eye, but what really sparked my interest was that I didn’t need any special tools to use this product. Just scissors and an iron, pretty cool, eh? (Don’t get me wrong, I love cutting machines with all their clever possibilities, but some days it’s just nice to create "on the fly” with simple, easy stuff!)

The first thing I discovered was just how soft this product is when applied to fabric. It’s almost as if the foil becomes the fabric, which makes it a great choice for knits. AND…it also means that if one wishes to add machine embroidery on top of fabric that has been embellished with Artistic Foils, there’s no worry about needle perforations. That’s cool! I’ve been having a lot of fun with simple bean stitched designs sewn on felt and cut out to create crafty projects. Felt does not come in shiny, but I discovered that I could make it shiny with Artistic Foil. WOW!

Like my shiny scissor ornaments? Want to make some?  Here’s how…

Grab your favorite pack of super shiny Artistic Foil from your local Baby Lock dealer and some bean stitch designs from your stash. I used my "Snip It!" embroidery design set which has six bean stitched scissors to choose from. Click HERE to find them. 

Then you’ll need some No Show Mesh cut-away stabilizer (or a similar product.) You’ll also need some craft felt in a color that blends with the color of foil you plan to use. (Wool/rayon felt works best as it withstands high heat nicely, cuts cleanly, and is very sturdy. You can find wool/rayon felt in your local sewing store or online HERE.) You’ll also need sewing thread in a color that is slightly darker than the Artistic Foil and some type of permanent craft glue such as Super 77 spray adhesive or Beacon’s Fabri-Tac.

You might find it helpful to print out the design template of your chosen design so you can easily see the dimensions. Cut the craft felt about ½” larger than the design area block. Cut a piece of adhesive backing (it’s included with the Artistic Foil) about ¼” larger than the design area block. Cut the foil just slightly larger than the adhesive backing. Choose a thread color that will contrast but blend. I like to use regular sewing thread for bean stitched designs as the stitching really pops with that type of thread. Feel free to use embroidery thread if you wish; just keep in mind that it might blend in a bit more with the shiny foil background.

Follow the instructions on the foil pack to fuse the adhesive to the felt. Allow the material to cool completely before you peel up the paper backing to expose the slick adhesive. I found that the perfect setting on my iron for both the adhesive and foil was “cotton.” Experiment with a small scrap to see what setting your iron likes best. This adhesive fuses pretty fast at the right setting. There is a piece of parchment paper included in the foil pack that you can use for extra protection of your iron too.

Place the foil block over the exposed adhesive, right side (shiny side) up. Make sure it covers the adhesive thoroughly. Place the parchment paper over the foil and fuse the foil. Don't overheat it, but do go over the entire block thoroughly with the iron in smooth, slow sweeps. Once again, it’s a good idea to test your iron with a scrap or two to find out what setting is best. Too hot and you’ll melt the foil; too cool and it won’t adhere evenly. When you find the right setting for your iron it will fuse easily and cleanly. Use a dry iron. Once the product cools completely, gently peel up the clear release paper, exposing the super shiny foil. Take a minute to enjoy just how nicely pliable the felt still is!

Hoop the No Show Mesh cut-away stabilizer in the appropriately sized hoop for your design. Place the felt in the center, foil side up, and use your on-board design perimeter finding tools to be sure the felt is placed where the design will stitch. Sew the design. Repeat the same steps to make another block of foiled felt. Mirror image the design and sew it again.

When you have two designs stitched (one a mirror image of the other), trim away the excess stabilizer from around the designs, cutting as close as you can to the stitching. Click HERE to find the trimming scissors I’m using in the photo – the best type ever to use for this job!

Use strong, short bladed scissors to clip open the inside of the scissor handles. I like to clip from the center to the stitching in a series of short cuts. Then I can use my curved bladed snips to easily cut away the fabric inside those handles. After you have trimmed away the inside of the handles, cut out the scissors, leaving a tiny selvage past the stitching line. It’s helpful to cut from the wrong side (stabilizer side) as you can easily see the stitches and won’t be distracted by that shiny foil. Audition the scissors wrong side against wrong side to be sure they will match up evenly. You might need to trim a bit more in some places to make them line up.

Apply permanent fabric glue to the wrong side of one of the stitched scissors and stick them together. Tie a narrow ribbon through the handles so you can hang them up. Voila! Shiny scissor ornaments!

Oh my! I’ll be dreaming of gleaming from now on – let’s see what else I can shine up! Happy Stitching, y’all! Hope you make a shiny or two, or three!

P. S. Watch this project making in action - Click HERE and view the free video titled "Foiled! Scissor Ornaments."

Monday, October 16, 2017

Boo to you too!

Let’s make a cutie-boo sign to hang up for Halloween! Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Nine 3” x 18” strips of quilt weight cotton fabric (black & white or black & gray prints - or any color combination you fancy)
  • 17” x 14” piece of quilt weight fabric for the backing
  • 2.5” x 13” piece of matching backing fabric for the dowel hanger
  • 2.5” x 52” (approximately) of bias cut fabric for binding
  • 18” x 18” (approximately) piece of lightweight quilt batting
  • 18” x 18” piece of sheer cut-away stabilizer
  • Pumpkin Boo embroidery design – Click HERE to find the design, or use something suitable
  • FREE Boo Sign pattern – Click HERE to find the download
  • Fusible tear-away stabilizer
  • Appliqué fabrics and embroidery thread (as required by your design)
  • ¼” wood dowel (at least 13.5” long)
  • 20” of narrow grosgrain ribbon (for hanger)

All the fabrics except for the bias binding should be cut on the straight grain. Note: I like to fold my bias binding in half, sew it to the wrong side of the project with a ½” seam allowance, and then wrap the folded edge around to the front where I use the hemming stitch on my Baby Lock sewing machine to secure it. If you have a favorite way of binding your quilted projects, then by all means use that instead and cut your bias binding accordingly!

Download the free Boo Sign pattern and print out four copies. Cut them out on the dotted and solid lines. Bump the dotted lines together as shown below and tape the paper pieces together. At this point, I like to make a tissue paper pattern from my joined-together paper one. (Tissue paper is easier to see through when trying out the placement over something with embroidery on it!) 

Sew the nine 3” x 18” strips of fabric together with no more than a ½” seam allowance. Press the seam allowances open. Turn the finished piece diagonally and wrong side up. Cut a piece of fusible tear-away stabilizer larger than your 6x10 hoop and fuse it to the wrong side of the fabric, centered as shown below. 

Print out the design template included with the Pumpkin Boo design. Center the printed template within the fabric block as shown below, and hoop accordingly. 

Embroider the design. Then remove the stabilizer and press from the wrong side. 

Lay the block of quilt batting over the sheer cut-away stabilizer, and place the embroidered, pieced fabric block on top, right side up. Quilt as desired, skipping over the embroidery. 

You know how much I love my Baby Lock Sashiko machine! Check out these sweet stitches! I used a variegated Madeira Cotona thread in autumn tones. If you’ve never done the “Sashiko Hop” while quilting over embroidery and appliqué designs, click HERE to find and view my little video (titled "Sashiko Hop").

Now you are ready to cut out the quilted piece according to the pattern. This is where a tissue paper pattern comes in handy.

Cut out the backing fabric according to the pattern as well. Fold the 2.5” x 13” strip of matching fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and sew the short ends closed with a ¼” seam allowance. Turn right side out and press along the fold. You will now have a long, skinny fabric pocket. Position it so that the opening is at the bottom, and then place the aligned long raw edges (of the opening) about 1.75” down from the center top edge of the backing fabric. Make sure the fabric strip is straight (horizontally), and sew the raw edges to the backing fabric with a ¼” seam allowance. Fold the strip down over the seam and sew again as close to the folded edge as you can to create a dowel cover on the right side of the backing fabric.

The illustration on the left below shows the first seam, folded edge facing up. The illustration on the right shows the second seam.

Apply the backing fabric with the attached dowel cover to the wrong side of the quilted boo fabric. Baste together around the edges if desired. Bind the raw edges with bias binding in the binding method you prefer. (See the comments in the first paragraph about my favorite method!)

Here’s the finished back. You can see how I attached my dowel cover a little better in this photo:

Sew loops into both ends of the grosgrain ribbon, big enough to easily slip over the dowel.

Now go hang up your cutie-boo sign and delight a little cutie!

 Happy booing to you too! Thanks for reading :-)


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Beautiful Bridges!

Beautiful Bridges!

I love vintage style sewing details, don’t you? Especially when a cool little tool lets me create a very “hand-done” look with my speedy sewing machine! Let me show you how much fun I’ve been having with Baby Lock’s Bridging Plate Set.

This awesome accessory is actually a bobbin cover plate. To install it you simply take out the standard bobbin cover and pop in the Bridging Plate cover. The set includes two plates - one for a 2.5mm width and one for a 5mm width. I found that when using heavier thread and a nice, firm quilt weight cotton, the pretty stitching showed up best with the widest width. (You can be sure I will be experimenting with the narrow width and some fine cotton heirloom lace, though!)
You’ll need a clear open toe foot or a foot with a wide opening and clear front like the Baby Lock “N” foot. Choose a simple motif stitch that will catch the fabric prettily on both sides. I chose the fagoting cross stitch motif set at the widest possible width (7mm) and longest possible length (4mm) with Sulky’s premium 30 Wt. Cotton Blendables thread. A size 14 needle worked for me, but a size 16 top stitching needle would also be good.

Trims such as ribbon, twill tape, or anything flat and generally sturdy can be joined together with the Bridging Plate. Or you can prepare fabric for joining by cutting even strips on the straight grain and pressing them well with spray starch to crisp them up and make them easy to handle. You could create fabric tubes, turned right side out with the seam allowance pressed open and centered inside of it, but I decided to make the job even easier. I just zigzag cut the edges of my fabric strips, folded them under evenly and secured them with fusible tape on the wrong side.
One good discovery was that fusing the ends of my fabric strips to a piece of iron-on tear-away stabilizer would help me keep them even as I started sewing. I used the raised edges of the bridge on the plate to figure out exactly how far apart the strips should be, and then I ironed the ends of the strips to the stabilizer. When I went to the machine to begin sewing, I just placed the stabilizer behind the bridge, under the foot, and began stitching on the stabilizer. No thread nesting and nice, evenly lined up strips. Click here to watch a video and see this in action!

I love this floral stripe fabric designed by Lindsay Wilkes for Riley Blake Fabrics. (Click here to visit Lindsay’s website and blog.) I’ve been saving my scraps of this particular print for just the right project and this was it!
This little decorative pillow was a fun project to try out my bridging skills with, but I can’t wait to create insertions for garments. Baby Kate needs a dress with some beautiful bridgework, and I need a blouse or jacket with some of this fancy down the front, don’t you think?

I hope you enjoyed this post, now go get a Bridging Plate set and stitch up some pretties for yourself!


P.S. The embroidery design shown on my little baby pillow is now included in the “For the Love of Llama” machine embroidery design set. Click here to find it. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sachet Sweetness

Just in time for Mother’s Day! Make this quick and easy sachet in your hoop using the frame tool feature on your embroidery machine. These are so easy; you’ll want to make a boxful!

Here’s what you’ll need:

 - 1 fat quarter or approximately 9” x 20” of quilt weight cotton, cotton organdy, handkerchief linen or damask in a color of your choice (I used white)

- Sewing thread to match the fabric

- Embroidery threads for your design

- Any suitable embroidery design that is approximately 2” x 3” in size – or at least no larger than 3” in any direction

Click HERE to find perfectly sized designs for tiny places just like this sachet. (And a free lace frame design suitable for framing tiny designs!)

- Lavender petals (or other pretty smelling sachet ingredient)
Click HERE to find French Blue Lavender from All About Blanks – perfect for this sachet!

- 4x4 hoop

Now you’re ready to get started; here’s what to do:

Cut two blocks of fabric approximately 8” wide by 4” tall. Serge across one long side of each block. Turn under the serged edge on one block, press and stitch to hem it.

Cut another block of fabric slightly larger than the 4x4 hoop. Stabilize this fabric with one layer of a lightweight tear-away such as Totally Stable by Sulky. Hoop the fabric and embroider the design. If you are using the Framed Flower Motif design (free offer), embroider the lace frame portion and then float an additional layer of soft tear-away under the hoop before you stitch the flowers in the center. If you are using a design of your choice, use a stabilizer that is suitable for your fabric and the design density.

Center the embroidery design before you begin stitching. Don’t remove the fabric from the hoop when you are done…keep reading!

Thread the embroidery machine with regular sewing thread in the top and bobbin in a color that matches the fabric.

Locate the frame tool function on your embroidery machine. Usually it’s on the home screen somewhere. (On my Baby Lock Destiny I’ll click on “Embroidery” and there it is on the left.)

Choose the single running stitch outline under the square frame choices.

In your editing tool box choose size and resize the box to fit within the 4x4 hoop. I resized my box to 3.89” x 3.89” which is just about right for this pretty little framed flower design.

Some machines will allow you to change the stitch density of the frame designs. If so, run that number up as far as it will go. On my Baby Lock Destiny that’s 120% which is a pretty nice regular sewing seam! If your machine only has a long basting stitch for this frame you might consider using one of the other frames. Experiment by testing a few to see which will work best for “sewing” in the hoop.

If you wish to sew the frame around the embroidered design before you add the back fabric pieces, go ahead and do that. That’s not really necessary as long as you center the frame design just like you centered the embroidery design. It will work!

Lay the hemmed block of fabric across the hoop, aligning the hemmed edge slightly lower than the center of the embroidered design. Make sure this fabric piece is facing right side down. Next, place the block with the serged edge on top, right across the middle and slightly above the hem on the piece of fabric underneath.

Sew the frame design. Watch the embroidery foot carefully; when it goes over that flap of fabric on one side it may catch. So pay attention and use a wooden skewer to help keep that bit in place as you stitch across it.

You may wish to sew around twice. If so, just repeat the frame stitching.

Remove the fabric from the hoop and tear away the stabilizers. When ripping along the frame seam stitching, press your finger on the line of stitches and tear toward it. This will help prevent dislodging those stitches!

Cut out the sachet leaving a fat ¼” selvage past the stitching line. Clip the corners and turn right side out. Use your Dritz Point Turner tool! That curved edge is the perfect thing for smoothing out rounded edges if your sachet has rounded corners.

Press the finished sachet lightly from the wrong side if necessary. Whip up a little packet of sweet smelling something to slip inside. This is very easily done with silk organza and your serger. Click HERE to find silk organza, perfect for this use!

Pop that packet inside your sachet. Wasn’t that easy? Now go make one for every “mother” friend on your list and a dozen or so for yourself!

Happy Mother's Day to you, thanks for reading!