Thursday, March 30, 2017

Darlings in Dainty Darling Aprons! The Cottage Mama Blog Tour

Cottage Mama Dainty Darling Blog Tour

I’m so tickled to be part of the Cottage Mama’s Dainty Darling fabric tour! When Lindsay told me last year that she had a new fabric collection coming out with Riley Blake Designs, I knew I’d love it at first sight – everything Lindsay does is just so pretty – and I was right… I LOVE these sweet prints! AND, did you know that she also has machine embroidery designs that match? How awesome is that! Since machine embroidery is my cuppa tea anyway, this is a win-win for me – pretty fabric and pretty embroideries!

There are several really dear prints in the Dainty Darling fabric collection, but the two that really spoke to me were these little dainty florals – so sweetly vintage!

Don’t you think this fabric is perfect for aprons? I sure did! These aprons are reversible. One side has a pretty monogram and the other has a cute little made-in-the-hoop pocket!

Want to make some aprons for your sweeties? Follow along with me here and let’s do that.

Here’s what you’ll need:

The free “Lucy’s Apron” pattern – download that HERE
1 yard each of Dainty Daisy Yellow and Dainty Daisy Aqua
            (or fabric of your choice)
Sewing thread to match both fabrics

You can find the floral Dainty Darling embroidery designs and the fabric on the Cottage Mama website HERE, and you can find the large Curly Appliqué Alphabet letters HERE and the Pocket Fun set HERE from A Bit of Stitch. Of course you don’t have to appliqué or embroider your aprons, but it sure does add a sweet touch, doesn’t it?! (Want to see more alphabet appliqués? Find some HERE)

I used my editing software to combine the large “S” appliqué from my Curly Appliqué Alphabet (Large Size) design set with one of the Dainty Darling embroidery designs. As I was applying this light yellow fabric onto the slightly darker blue fabric, I prevented show-through by removing the fabric behind the appliqué. (Click HERE to read more about that little trick!)

The monogram on this apron is from the same Curly Appliqué Alphabet set with another Dainty Darling embroidery design. (I think my little red-headed sweetie thought it was pretty cool!)

I like to start with pre-shrunk fabric, especially for children’s things. I back all of my appliqué fabrics with fusible web as that keeps them pretty for the life of the garment. (If you need help with machine embroidery appliqué, click HERE to read more about that.)

Aprons should have pockets! These in-the-hoop pockets are as fun to make as they are to use. This one comes from my Pocket Fun collection and is just the right size for a little hand. (Click HERE and HERE to see more in-the-hoop pockets!)

Print out and put together the pattern according to the directions on it. You’ll need to add the skirt portion by extending the bottom as long as you want your apron to be. I added 12” to the apron pattern for the two aprons shown.

Use the apron pattern to cut out one apron piece from each of the two fabrics.

Cut out the ties as indicated on the pattern. They should be cut on the straight grain. Fold in half lengthways, right sides together, and sew with a 3/8” seam allowance; leave one short end open. I finished the ends of both sets of ties (neck and waist) at an angle. Turn them right side out and press.

If you plan to add pockets or embroidery, go ahead and accomplish that before you construct the aprons.

Pin the waist ties at the upper back edges of one apron fabric piece. Each tie should be placed so that its raw edge is aligned with the edge of the apron, ½” down from the top sloping edge. Pin both waist ties in place.

Pin the neck ties along the flattest part of the apron bib as shown.

Overlay that apron fabric piece with the other apron fabric piece – right sides together as shown – and pin through all layers.

Sew all the way around the apron with a ½” seam allowance. Make sure you don’t catch the ties in the seam. Leave an opening on one lower back straight edge near the bottom.

Trim the selvages on the curved parts around the top.

Clip the curves.

Before you turn the apron right side out, you might want to stay stitch the opening seam allowance selvage.

I like to sew one line of stitching, starting and stopping a short ways past where the opening begins and ends, on both sides of the selvages. This keeps the fabric from stretching out of shape there at the opening while you are turning the apron right side out.

Top stitch all the way around the apron, closing up the opening as you sew. For prettiest results match the thread in both the bobbin and on top with the fabric. You can see that I used yellow thread in my bobbin for the yellow fabric side and blue thread in the top for the blue fabric side. Pretty, isn’t it – a nice touch!

Fun, simple and sweet! I hope you enjoy this little apron project – thanks for reading!


Photo credits: Amber Purcell

Friday, March 10, 2017

Baby Lock Love of Sewing Challenge Part 4

It’s been so much fun participating in Baby Lock’s Love of Sewing Challenge this week. Miss Destiny and I have had a wonderful time making beautiful borders! I hope you try it out and see for yourself just how quickly the Destiny II can make this seemingly complicated task SO simple. No more guesswork; just click that connect button!

Just for fun, here are a few more photos because seriously, y’all, Baby Kate was just too cute in her little fancy princess dress. Besides...photographing a toddler is hard work - got to take advantage of all the good photos!

First we had to catch Kate and she was like - ready, set, go!

She’s a master escape artist…

And then we had to actually keep her in one spot.

Rachelle was pretty much in charge of catch and release and re-catch. She did a great job and - whew - thankfully is young enough to be faster than Kate.

I couldn’t resist putting a border along the top of Kate’s little dress. And making a faux leather gold metallic bow for a wee crown! 

The day was beautiful, perfect weather. Only one problem: it was HOT. Oh my goodness. Wouldn’t you know I had planned on the girls wearing faux FUR coats with their sparkly gold printed outfits. We did get a few fast pics before the melt down.

I had been saving this blue faux fur for just the right project for these dearies because - look! - it exactly matches their eyes!

Des was rather taken with the fur. He announced that Gramma needed to use it to make a blanket for him! 😊 He wanted to get in on the action too, little monkey. Usually you point a camera at him and he scoots!

The corset belt covers a knit band elastic waist. This gives the wearer some growing room. (Important when you’re making samples possibly to be worn by different girls!) I applied fusible woven interfacing to the lining. Then I sewed the lining and gold print fabric right sides together along the top edge. Next, I turned the belt right side out and embroidered the border through both layers along the bottom edge. I then finished the two back edges and added the button holes. 

It looks really nice peeking out from under the jacket – of course the jacket was too hot to wear, but high-waist skirts are in fashion again, right?

It was way too much fun making borders and zapping them together with that Connect Tool. I had to invent a DOUBLE border to really give Miss Destiny a work out. I was totally mind blown. Perfect placement. Every. Single. Time. (Fair warning, dear friends: Once you’ve played with Destiny II, you are going to “need” her to come stay with you!)

Want to see the whole border collection I used? Click HERE to find them.

Okay, that’s it, I’ll stop with the photos. (Yes, I have more, but I’m sparing you!)

This was an amazing adventure right from the kickoff at the very beginning of this twelve week challenge. To see the rest of the projects from the Sewlebrity Love of Sewing Challenge, click HERE and scroll down to select each of the participants. So much fun!

Thanks for reading!


Lydia Maria (photos)
Riley Blake Designs (fabrics)

State of Georgia Botanical Gardens

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Baby Lock Love of Sewing Part 3

Are you ready to finish your project? Yes, of course you are. Let’s do it! :-)

The first step to finishing up a cutwork border design is trimming the tails and removing the stabilizer. So, first things first, let’s get that done.

Use your little snips with curved blades or the snips with a crook on the end (you’ll see those in my video) to trim away any long thread tails on the wrong side. Don’t cut off the knots, but do clip off the tails. If you accidentally clip off a knot, go ahead and apply a drop of seam sealant before you proceed.

I like to cut away as much of my wash-away stabilizer as I can. I use my big scissors to rough cut off the large parts around the border, and then I use my little trimming snips to trim away most of the remaining stabilizer closer to the border’s edge. THAT is optional. You can always just dump the whole lot in a tub of water and soak the entire stabilizer away. So why do I bother to cut it away? Ha! I’m always in a hurry to get something finished, don’t you know! Removing as much stabilizer as possible greatly reduces the soak time, and the stuff floating around in my rinse water (which tends to make the fabric a bit stiff) is greatly reduced as well.

Before soaking, I like to go ahead and serge (or zigzag) any remaining raw edges. It isn’t necessary to serge tiny bits of exposed raw edge – just the big strips. Do not cut off any extra bits of fabric extending past the ends of your border; you’ll need those later. Be sure to leave a good seam allowance where the fabric pieces need to be joined.

Once the stabilizer has been cut away, the rest must be soaked away with water. (Check the stabilizer package to see what water temperature is recommended.) I find that the following does the trick for most of my cutwork projects: two fast cold soaks, followed by a longer cool soak with a drop or two of laundry detergent, and then a final cold rinse. Then I roll up the fabric in a bath towel, squeeze out the excess water, and hang it up to dry. After that, a good press from the wrong side with a steam iron (using a press cloth to protect the embroidery) finishes it up perfectly!

Line up your border ends – right sides together – and take a quick whip stitch by hand at the very edge to secure the two layers together. This will keep the bump of that thick embroidery from shifting when you sew the seam. Try not to sew too far into the embroidery.

Make use of Miss Destiny’s brain and extra eyeballs! Here are some tips:

Turn on the Width Control in the machine menu.

Put your fabric under the needle, lower the presser foot, and choose your stitch. I’m using the straight middle stitch with my “N” foot because I can see what I’m doing with that foot. Now press the Camera icon. You’ll see the fabric under the foot with your proposed stitching line on top. See that little magnifying glass icon with the + inside? It’s at the bottom of that camera view window. Press that icon. 

Now you’ll get a close-up view where you can see exactly where the foot is placed. Press the “Needle Drop Position” button. Woo-hoo! Now you’ll see PRECISELY where the needle will drop and where the machine will begin to stitch.

Not lined up where you need it to be? No problem! Click the magnifying glass at the top of the camera window (photo below on the left) to enlarge the view so you can see even better what Destiny is seeing. Now just move the Speed Control lever back and forth to move the needle. HOW COOL IS THAT? Oh my goodness. I love this feature! Talk about a bird’s eye view – this is awesome!

Now you can sew that seam together precisely.

Press open the seam allowance selvages and tuck up the extra ends.

Whip stitch those ends under nice and neat by hand. I like to whip stitch a small distance up both sides of the seam allowance selvage edges too, just to keep everything under there in place. Grab only tiny bits of the fabric with the needle so that your stitches won’t show from the right side.

There, a prettily finished seam in your border!

Thanks for reading this final project post for my week with Baby Lock’s Love of Sewing Challenge on the Destiny II. I hope you were inspired! Stay tuned for Friday's post-post, a short collection of photos and a few more garment details just for the fun of it!


Monday, March 6, 2017

Baby Lock Love of Sewing Challenge Part 2

Let’s make a continuous border using that super-cool Connect Tool feature on your Baby Lock Destiny II. It’s so easy!

Easier than catching a toddler, that’s for sure! Hopefully you have already had a chance to watch me demo this project in video. If not, you can find that HERE.  

This is what you will need to follow along and make a border of your own:

Find the border designs I used HERE. You can use any suitable border designs. (Sorry, the free download has expired, but sign up for email notices of new blog posts so you won't miss the next free offers!)

Print out the PDF design templates.

You will need Baby Lock Dissolve-Away Mesh (self-adhesive or non) or another brand of wash-away fabric type stabilizer.

Choose your fabric. For this project, I used Riley Blake Designs Sparkle Cotton Gold Medium Dot and Sparkle Cotton Gold Quatrefoil.

Find an embroidery thread in a color of your choice for the border. I used Sulky’s Rayon #942-1070 which matches the gold on this pretty fabric very nicely. (Just so you know, most rayon embroidery threads work best with non-sticky wash-away stabilizers.) Wind several bobbins with the same embroidery thread.

Then locate the positioning stickers that came with the instruction manuals for your machine. (They look like crazy 8 targets; you should have several sheets.)

I highly recommend that you start with pre-shrunk fabric. So, go get that accomplished! Load the design and thread the machine with the same color and type of thread in the top and bobbin.

Hoop your fabric on top of two layers of wash-away stabilizer. Make sure you have enough room to work on one edge of the fabric. The design should load facing to the right, which means you will be working on the right raw edge of the fabric. I found it easiest to cut all the fabric pieces for my skirt, join all the seams except the center back, and finish (serge or zigzag) and press the seam allowances open. You may also find it helpful to cut a long piece of stabilizer to begin. As you work you will be moving down the stabilizer, adding extra as needed by overlapping the ends about 4”. Try to keep your border designs about the same distance away from the raw edge as you started with.

If this is the first border design you have tried, start with the 4x4 design and use your 5x7 hoop. That will give you room to maneuver and check your work; you’ll also see results quickly.

Take advantage of that extra set of eyeballs in your Destiny II by scanning the fabric in your hoop. You will be able to see EXACTLY where you need to place the first border design. You can scan either before or after you set the design; just press the little camera icon. Once the design is on screen, you can move it where you want by touching and dragging it with your stylus or using the on-board arrow keys. Place it approximately as shown in the photo above on the right. Make sure it is completely on the fabric, but still close to the raw edge.

Next, press “Edit” and look for the Connect Tool – the little button on the lower right that looks like a film strip. Press that button and then press OK.

Sew the first stitch sequence of the design. This is the cutting line for the border. You will notice that it stitches twice; this helps keep the stitching intact as you trim when using this design on fine fabrics such as quilt weight cotton.

Remove the hoop from the machine and place it on a hard, flat surface. (Ahem, this is not your lap!) Remember to hold the hoop by the hoop – not by the fabric in the hoop – while you take the hoop in and out of your machine.

Make two straight cuts from the raw edge up to each end of the stitching line. Then use your little trimming scissors to cut away the excess fabric along the stitching line. Cut close, but don’t cut the stitches! (Click HERE to find the best trimming snips for this job.)

Put the hoop back in the machine and sew the next stitch sequence. This is a narrow zigzag underlay that helps to stabilize the edge of the fabric AND gives you a chance to check your trimming work. If you see any bits of fabric extending past this little zigzag line, you will want to trim them off. If your trimming looks good, go ahead and stitch the final sequence to finish the design.

Now, this is the magic part! This machine will use its great big brain, perfect vision, and the positioning stickers you will place to perfectly connect the next design. SO COOL.

Your Destiny II screen should say “Embroidery is finished. OK to connect next pattern?” Press OK. It will then tell you not to take the fabric out of the hoop and to press OK to select the next pattern. Press OK again. Now the machine will take you back to the home screen where you can go back into your saved designs and locate the same border again.

Choose that design and set it.

Before you go any further, be sure to press the CONNECT TOOL button at the lower right hand corner of the screen. Ta-Dah! Miss Destiny will automatically put the design next to the one you have already stitched. If you like where it is joined, press OK. If you want it to be somewhere else, use the tools provided on this screen or the arrow keys to move it where you want it to go. For this project, I wanted a long, continuous border, so I needed my designs to join end to end just as shown on the screen.

Once you press OK, the arm of the machine will move. Next you will get a screen that shows you the location for the first placement sticker.

Place the sticker on the fabric in the hoop in the exact spot that is shown on the screen. Watch the screen rather than your fingers as you place this sticker. I found it helpful to use a pair of tweezers to hold the sticker while positioning. Once you have the first sticker in position, press OK. Follow along on the screen to place the second positioning sticker. Press OK. NOTE: Depending on where your fabric is located in the hoop, your machine may have you place the stickers horizontally or vertically. Don’t worry – either way will work!

Your screen will now show you a picture of the two border designs connected with the positioning stickers in place. It will tell you that now it’s time to take the hoop out of the machine, take the fabric out of the hoop, and re-hoop the fabric. Take care not to disturb the stickers as you do so, and be sure to keep the positioning stickers within the stitching field when you re-hoop. I found this very easy to do by using the clear plastic hoop placement grid to locate the stitching field and make sure I was putting the stickers and the next design within it. (Use the printed paper template of the design to give you an idea of where it will stitch.)

Put the hoop back in the machine. Oooooooh, you don’t see a picture of what’s in the hoop anymore, do you? Well, I promise that Destiny knows exactly what she’s doing, but it is nice to see, isn’t it? So right now, before you go further, go ahead and press the camera button to take a picture of what’s in your hoop. Voila! Now you see that the two designs are connected EXACTLY how they should be. (If you watched Nancy’s Zieman’s Love of Sewing Challenge videos, you will know that you can press the zoom button on your screen and blow up that shot really big so you can check Miss Destiny’s work. That’s pretty neat!)

Stitch the next border design just as you did the first, and keep on going until you have completed as much border as you need. You can use the 6x10 hoop and the 5x7 border design to cover more ground faster. If I were creating a wider design I’d probably use the bigger hoops, but as this border is narrow, the 5x7 and 6x10 hoops work great and conserve stabilizer.

WOW. Look at the perfect joint! Let me tell you, I’m so blown away with Destiny’s connect feature that I may end up putting borders on everything! (Watch out, hubby, better hide your pants.) I had to see it to believe it, but her eyes really do see so much better than mine, and her brain gives mine a much-needed rest. :-)

Baby Lock once again puts the LOVE into the Love of Sewing, because Miss Destiny takes the guesswork out of stitching and replaces it with fun!

Up next, a wee bit about the finishing touches for border embroideries and some out-takes – because I had way too much fun making these projects and you deserve some grins, right?

Thanks for reading!


Click HERE to see the entire Scallop Cutwork Borders collection by A Bit of Stitch!