Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Double Wedding Ring Table Runner Made in the Embroidery Machine!

When you think of your embroidery machine not as a machine that does embroidery, but as a programmable sewing minion that can be instructed to embroider, applique, piece, quilt, create cutwork, make lace, and sew, you start to see some new capabilities and interesting options!  I have been throwing myself into techniques and software and one of the most surprising things has been the piecing and quilting I have been able to do, all on the embroidery machine.  This "in-the-hoop" style of quilting can create some really unique quilt blocks.

I started to investigate the idea of quilting with an embroidery machine with files from Sweet Pea (my first project was a pillow- click here), but the sheer number of Anita Goodesign files, in similar sizes with their "Mix and Match" files meant that I could combine designs, and using my Embrilliance Essentials and Enthusiast software meant that I could borrow and merge and delete stitches between the files!

I used four of the blocks on the left to create the design on the right.  
For this project, I wanted to do a table runner for my kitchen.  I needed something that would be small enough that no one would eat on it at the table (a pet peeve of mine), but that was large enough to be seen (to make the time investment worth it) and that could serve as a decorative way to protect my table from hot dishes.

For my design, I chose a square block from the Anita Goodesign file called Anita Goodesign Double Wedding Ring Quilt...

...Then I chose a scalloped block from Anita Goodesign Anita's Anniversary Quilt Premium Collection that I wanted for my ends. (Those scalloped ends are THE REASON I wanted that file!)  The problem is that the quilting didn't match my square block above.  My solution:  I used the quilting from the matching block in Double Wedding with the scallop shape from Anita's Anniversary file!  This was so easy with my Embrilliance software.  I simply deleted the step on the scalloped block that had quilting and then selected and copied the quilt stitches I DID want from the second block and used copy and paste to merge it.

I removed the scrolly quilting design.  Then I copied the quilting design from the second block and pasted it on the first one.  The finished block had the features I wanted.  It was scalloped and it matched my square block.

In addition to design benefits, putting the files through my Embrilliance software means that I get a more user-friendly version of the stitching steps and a full size template, if I choose to print it.

I started the sewing portion of the project by prepping my fabrics.  The way this works is that I cut the base fabrics and batting ahead of time, then use strips of fabric to do the folded fabric steps. I iron the fabrics with starch to keep them crisp.

My personal goal was to change thread only a couple of times to make it easy to do.  The only thread that will show is the satin stitching and quilting stitches.  Unlike hand-quilting, I wanted to use a contrasting color so the quilting would really show up.

The square block starts with batting placed and trimmed and then the base fabric placed and quilted.

Next, the center contrast is placed, stitched, trimmed and quilted.

Then the piecing begins: (1) the file stitches a placement box, then (2) the fabric is added face-down, then (3) the seam is stitched, then (4) the fabric is folded back, then (5) the tack-down is stitched.

I keep it in the hoop the whole time and only trim the ends after each tackdown. This file will stitch two folded fabric pieces at a time.  I did find that as soon as one was done, I needed to stop the machine, adjust the second fabric, then continue the stitching. Once it was done, I removed the hoop and trimmed all raw edges of the pieced fabrics in preparation for the satin stitching.

I continued the process with satin stitching and the end pieces.  I trimmed the block to 1/2" on all sides using my Omnigrid Quilter's Ruler.  The lines on this see-through ruler make it easy to match up the stitching lines with the lines on the ruler.

I stitched twelve of these blocks and then used my regular sewing machine to stitch them together.

This is what the back looks like at this point.

Next, I stitched four scallop blocks, using my altered block that I merged in my Embrilliance software.  I used the same process of stitching and trimming the batting, adding the base, stitching the pieced fabrics using the folded fabric method, and quilting.  Two were stitched together for each end.

The way that I stitch all the blocks together is to match the corner stitches, the satin stitches, and the center of the seams.  The Anita Goodesign instructions always say to simply match the edges since all the blocks have a 1/2" seam, but really, the elements need to be matched for the blocks to form correct points.

I fold back the corners to match, making a square on the stitching and pinning in place.

I fold back to match up the satin stitching.

Pinning on both sides of the satin stitching will keep one from sliding to the side of the other.  Even with a walking foot, I find that they will not stack properly unless I pin in this way.

I want the elements to match so that the seams of the blocks are not as prominent as the pattern stitched to make the design.

I used my Steam Fast Steam Press to make the sewn-together blocks as flat as possible.  I wanted the seams to be perfectly flat without any rounding.  I smoothed it out on top of my backing and trimmed it to size.

Next, I added a label to the back.  This was just a silly idea I had after looking at quilt labels.  I just thought it would be nice to have the year this was made.  I plan on doing lots of projects and giving some away and wanted a nice, extra touch...something that set it apart from things I buy for my home.

This was done using an applique patch from Planet Applique and merging with a label I bought from Urban Threads.  I removed the word "from" in the banner using Embrilliance Enthusiast by lassoing around the text.  Then I merged in the year using Itch2Stitch Teeny Font.

 I stitched-in-the-ditch to combine the quilted top to the backing.  This is why Anita Goodesign suggests a busy print for the back:  to hide that stitching.  I used my walking foot with clear thread in the bobbin.

I matched the backing to the quilted top and trimmed to 1/4".  This is a difference from the Anita Goodesign directions.  To do this, I used a Fons and Porter Quarter Inch Seam Marker by Omnigrid. Because it is thin, it is easy to move around the curve.

From this point on, I used traditional quilting finishing techniques that I learned in a Craftsy class I took called Finishing School: Edges and Bindings.  I loved this class, taught by Mimi Dietrich, and because of the format they use, I can go back again and again to be refreshed on how to do things.  I love Mimi's style of teaching and her sweet personality.  I know that sounds silly, but if you are like me and used to Youtube for info, it is a joy to finally start learning by watching professionally produced classes with experts in their fields.  She is the first person to really get me excited about using quilting clips.  I originally bought a small pack of Clover brand clips at a local quilt shop around here.  They were super pricey so I was excited when someone pointed me to UrBest clips.  I got 100 for around $9.  They look like the Clover ones in every way except price.

I clipped the backing to the quilted top to hold them together.  Per Mimi's instruction, I stitched within the 1/4" seam allowance all around the outside edge.

I made double-fold bias binding using her instruction and stitched it on.  Her tips and tricks made all the difference and I loved that I could stop the video and use the 30-second repeat as needed.

My favorite trick of hers in the class is a no-math, no measuring way to cut the binding to the exact size needed, stitching diagonally to finish without bulk.

I pulled the folded edge of the binding to the back and hand-stitched in place.  I recently saw a Fons and Porter video where one of them said that hand-stitching is a way to bond with a quilt that has been made by machine.  I liked that sentiment so hand-stitching it was!

So my runner was finished!  Here, it is pictured on my green counter. It finished at 36" long, but the length and width are completely customizable by using larger blocks (if you can use larger hoop sizes), altering the size in embroidery software, or adding more blocks.  I have a Brother PE-770 so I always make the "D" size block which finishes under 5".  I am in love with the rounded ends and the quilting!  This is a total of 16 blocks.

I wanted it to go with my red serving pieces, colorful plates, green counter, and crazy patterned Roman shades I made a million years ago.  I love this size for keeping hot dishes off my table and to add a little pattern to the setting.

So you know what I think?  I think it would be fun to put together four of the scallop blocks to make round trivets that match for the other dishes I would have at a setting!  Adding it to the ever-growing list!

Buying Guide and Links in this Post
(some of these are affiliate links-I hope you will use them):
Thank you for checking out my blog post today.  To see my embroidery page which lists all my resources, links to my other embroidery posts, links to videos I watched to learn, and a million other helpful things with regard to embroidery, click here.

To see my paper projects, check out my Paper Gallery.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Personalized One-Zip Bag for Ballet Gift

We just wrapped up another ballet recital over here.  My daughter's ballet school does a full ballet each year (in lieu of a regular recital) where all the girls have a part, from the tiny 5-year-olds all the way to the high school seniors who dance the starring roles.  This year was Sleeping Beauty and the first year my daughter and her class danced en pointe.

It is also that time of year when we thank the teachers and teen helpers who assist during regular class instruction.  The helper in our class is a sweet and talented dancer named Rebekah.  Although our class takes up a collection for a group gift, we wanted to give her a little token of our appreciation individually.

I knew I wanted to use my embroidery machine to personalize the gift, but I also wanted to try a new technique after seeing a Craftsy promo on a new class called Zippered Bags with a Twist The One-Zip Way.  (At the time of publishing, there is a 50% off sale on all Craftsy classes!!)

If you look closely, you will see two things:  the zipper pull is a contrasting color and there's only one side of zipper tape, not the two sides you regularly see to make a zipper work!  I learned how to make this happen in the class!  I also just bought a collection of 100 zippers for $15 to play with on Etsy.

To make the bag, I just followed the instructions in the class, pausing as needed to complete each step.  I did do embroidery on the bag.  I debated and decided to do the embroidery after the flat panel was complete before the zipper was sewn and before the lining was sewn but after the fusible fleece was added.  Let me just say this:  next time, I will do the embroidery AND THEN add the fusible fleece.  It was a headache to do it the way I did it.

I used my steam press to attach the fleece.

Using my Embrilliance Essentials software, I merged a file from Urban Threads with lettering from Applique Corner to personalize the bag.  I added a basting box using the software as well.  I used the full-size template that I was able to print using the software to decide the exact placement of my design.  It was a little tricky because boxing the bag (by boxing the corners) meant that the front panel would wrap under, creating some of the bottom of the bag.

I hooped poly mesh (because it is thin and virtually invisible in every way so it does not need to be cut away).  I floated the panel over the hooped stabilizer.

 I placed the template in the hoop and then used the thumb tack method to perfectly place the panel on the hoop.

I center the design using the crosshairs.

I place thumbtacks on the back of the hoop, piercing up to the top so that the points of the thumbtacks are on top of the template.

Then I remove the template and place it on the prepared panel.  I pin the template onto the panel and then place it back on the hoop, making sure to EXACTLY place the points through VERY SAME holes in the templates.

Then I removed the template and voila!  Perfectly placed so that the center of the placement on the panel is in the center of the hoop and ready to stitch!

I continued with the class to complete the bag.

We filled the bag with chocolates and added a tag with a message from my daughter.  There was no time for a "pretty" picture with the bow and tag with candies inside.  This ballet is put together every year with the skills of the dance school owner/teacher and her only employee.  Parent volunteers make up the rest of the "staff".  That means that parents do costumes, lighting, sound, stage management, house management, stage hand work, sit with the kids, get them to their cues, handle props, take tickets, create the program, set up dressing rooms, make party tables with treats and healthy snacks in the dressing rooms, and encourage the dancers, handling various emergencies of varying degrees.  Basically under the management of the school owner, we do everything other than the choreography, direction, and teaching!   It is an amazing group of dedicated parents who love their daughters!  Next year, I will start earlier on gifts and surprises.  (I say that every year.)

Links to items and files mentioned (the Craftsy links are my affiliate links so I hope you will use them):

  • Craftsy Class 50% off sale:  click here.  Sale expires June 13, 2016 at midnight MDT.  
  • Zippered Bags with a Twist - the One Zip Way:  click here.  
  • 100 Zippers for $15.50 on Etsy:  click here.  
  • Embrilliance Essentials software:  click here.  
  • Urban Threads Sleeping Beauty embroidery file:  click here.  
  • Applique Corner Rodney font (1/4"):  click here.

To see previous year's projects for that year's ballet:

  • Beauty and the Beast - bracelets, paper flowers, cut paper boxes:  click here.
  • Cinderella - necklaces, glittered cookies, little boxes:  click here.

To see my my notes and resources for machine embroidery, you are invited to my Embroidery Page on this blog by clicking the Embroidery tab or click here.

To see my previous paper projects, check out my Paper Gallery or click here.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Kickasserole Carrier

Every now and then, some crafty genius comes up with such a fun idea that I just have to try it.  That is the case with the casserole carriers that I saw, first by Heidi Hadaway Marlin, and then by Diana Smith Thomas on the Brother PE Embroidery page on Facebook.  Heidi shared all the how-to details of her invention.  Then Diana played off of that and changed it a bit for her preferences.  Diana also shared the word "kickasserole" on one of her casserole carriers and I told her I was going to remember that!

The basic idea of this project is simply to sew together a couple of store-bought placemats, add straps and some kind of personalization, and a way to close it.  Heidi used buttonholes with a serving spoon that served as a closure; Diana added an interlining of Insul-bright batting and elastic hair bands to close, while tying her spoon on top.  On mine, I used Velcro to close the cover and tucked my spoon inside the cover to keep it clean.

I found my cute scalloped, quilted placemats at Walmart.  This is part of the Pioneer Woman kitchen collection.  For Christmas, my little girl convinced my husband to buy me plates and bowls that match this pattern.  Apparently, it took quite a bit of convincing because my husband just couldn't believe I wanted Walmart dishes.  She was right though, I had been eyeing those dishes for a bit.  When I saw that there were matching placemats,  I wanted to find some kind of use for them.  I ran right out to buy them as soon as I saw Heidi's and Diana's projects!  While I was there, I bought a new 13x9 rectangular baking pan and a cute spatula that I decided would be fun as a serving utensil. (I liked the color and even the handle).  I made sure the pan would fit inside the perimeter of the placemats with room for the thickness.

I pulled some fabrics to help me decide on colors to go with the placemats for the applique.  I decided to use an Itch2Stitch applique frame.  I picked two and started on the handles.

Handles:  My handle fabric and part of my applique was cut from one fat quarter.  This fat quarter was 21" x 18".  From the other ladies' notes, I knew I wanted my handles to finish around 32".  I cut four strips that were 4" using the 18" dimension of the fat quarter for length.  That meant that I had to sew two together for each handle.  Then I trimmed them down to 34" and kept the scrap to use for the applique.  It doesn't matter where the seam falls when you use a print; the seam gets lost in the design.

Then, for each one, I pressed the lengthwise foldline.

Then I opened it back up and folded in each side and pressed that in place.

Then I folded in half again and pressed one last time using the original foldline I started with.

On one end of each of the two straps, I folded in about 1/4" and pressed it down.

Then I folded it back, and took it to my sewing machine to stitch closed by topstitching on each side.  I like my blindhem foot for that because I can let the edge of the metal in the center of the foot work as a ledge to glide my strap against.  It makes the topstitching perfectly straight without much effort.

 I set the handles aside and worked on the top of the carrier.

Embroidered top:  I opened my Embrilliance software (I only need Embrilliance Essentials for this).  I brought in the frame file and I added two different text objects.  "Nadia" is done using Itch2Stitch Magnolia Sky, spaced and re-sized to fit the space.  "Send home with" is Applique Corner Rodney in 1/4".  The design is turned in my 5x7 hoop so that it can be the maximum size.  I added a basting box in Embrilliance (found under 'utility' in the toolbar).  I printed my design so I would have a paper template  to use for placement.

I just hooped tearaway stabilizer in my hoop, found the center of my placemat and marked it with an "X".

I used the thumbtack method to place my placemat in the exact center of my hoop.  I do this by marking the cross-hairs on my hooped stabilizer using the grid inset for my hoop.

I place my paper template on the stabilizer, matching cross-hairs on the template with those on the stabilizer.  I place one thumbtack in the center of the cross-hairs from the back and a second one on another spot, usually on the x or y axis.  Noting the left and right of the template helps to make sure it is placed correctly in the hoop.

I remove the paper template, leaving the thumbtacks.  

I take off the paper template, fold it along the crosshairs and place it on the X that I made on the placemat.  Folding it helps to match it up against the mark.

I had to pin it in place because this fabric was slick and with the multiple layers and quilting, my normal use of tape wasn't working.  (I usually spray with textile adhesive but the placemat was too thick for that to be effective).  Then I placed the placemat with the pinned-on paper template on my prepared hoop, matching the thumbtacks up into the very same holes they made previously.  I double-checked by lifting the placemat and visually inspecting that the cross-hairs continued and appeared to match perfectly.

I removed the pins to remove the paper template and then replace them  to pin all the way through to include the stabilizer. This shows my pins.

 I placed my hoop on my embroidery machine and stitched out my design, starting with a basting box to hold the placemat in place.  I did apply water soluble stabilizer (WSS), but I had to stop the stitching of the basting box a couple of times so that once an area was stitched down, I could remove my pins so they wouldn't be enclosed in the WSS.  Then I continued with sewing all the steps of the embroidery file.

Once done, I removed the basting box, WSS from the front, and tearaway from the back.

Attaching handles to the back:  I used the embroidered front on my gridded cutting board to figure out where I wanted my handed to be.  I used tape on my grid to mark the corners and centers.  I placed the handles on the top placemat (the embroidered one) and marked with tape on the grid where they were placed.

Then I removed that placemat and put the bottom placemat in its place, using the tape marks to get it placed properly.  I place the handles using the marks I made. I use a ruler to overlap the ends in the same place so that the two handles match.

I overlap the raw end with the one I turned under 1/4".  The overlap is about 1/2" or so.

I take it to my sewing machine and stitch a 6" box inside the topstitched handles to secure them to the bottom placemat, which will now be the bottom of the carrier.

I move the handles out of the way so that I don't accidentally stitch through them!

I use the center mark on my presser foot to make sure the line I stitch is straight for the box.

The handles are stitched in place.

I gather up the handles and pin to the center of the placemat to keep them out of the way while I sew the sides up and sew the closure.

Closure:  I used Velcro to close one end of my carrier.  I sewed that before the sides were sewn. I cut a length of each side (hook and loop) and pinned them in place, making sure they matched on the ends of the carrier.

 After the Velcro is sewn in place, it really barely shows because of the busy print and quilting lines.

Sew the sides:  Next I finish by sewing all sides except for the one I just did with Velcro.  I put wrong sides together, match up the scalloped binding edge and just topstitch all around!  (The picture above shows two clips.  That is where the stitching stopped and started so you can see that the end is left completely open between them to make it easy to put the casserole dish in and take it out.  I make absolute sure to back-stitch to secure the stitching at the beginning and end so that regular use won't cause the seam to tear from stress).

Because these were reversible placemats, the inside of the carrier is pretty and looks lined.

 I unpin the handles and put them in place around the carrier.  And it is complete!

And my new 13x9 pan fits perfectly!

The spatula fits in just perfectly with it, as would a serving spoon or other utensil.

And it closes up perfectly.

Links shared in this post (none of these are affiliate links):

  • Pioneer Woman reversible placemats (this is a four-pack, but they sell them individually at the store):  click here.
  • Itch2Stitch Fancy Double Applique Frame:  click here.
  • Embrilliance Essentials embroidery software to merge, resize, add text:  click here.
  • Font used for "Nadia" is Magnolia Sky:  click here.
  • Font used for "Send home with" is Rodney:  click here.
I used a Brother PE 770 embroidery machine and a Brother sewing machine to make this project.  Embroidery thread I used was from Metro.  The sewing thread was from Coats and Clark.  I used pre-wound bobbins and tearaway stabilizer from World Weidner.  For all my notes and resources for embroidery, check my embroidery page on this blog, or click here.  

But wait! There's more! Click 'older posts' above!

But wait!  There's more!  Click 'older posts' above!