Friday, July 22, 2011

My Sister's Birthday

My youngest sister Jodi just turned 40. My brother-in-law Scott informed me that he would be having a blowout for her birthday. The invitation stated "No Gifts" but I couldn't pay attention to that since this was my sister's party. I had to put on my thinking cap and try to figure out something different and something useful.

Jodi had mentioned in the past that I should make a family crest. I haven't learned how to digitize (taking a piece of art and converting it to embroidery stitches).  So that didn't sound likely. However, one of the fella's at Sew Forum started to digitize family crests. That's Tom's specialty. I decided to email him and inquire about commissioning him to digitize the Kennedy family crest. I sent Tom a couple of examples. He told me that he doesn't like to look at other art due to copyright infringement issues. But what he does is to read the information on the family and the crest and come up with his interpretation of the design. So in a matter of a couple of days. Tom sent me the artwork to approve and I had my embroidery file in about 24 hours after my approval. The good thing is that I now have the design and can use it for so many things.

So, the gift was starting to take on an Irish theme. I already have lot's of Irish and Celtic designs in my possession so I didn't need to purchase any. I opted to make a few bar mop towels with these Celtic knotwork designs from Embroidery Library. They stitch up pretty quick since there aren't too many thread changes.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may have seen a couple of pictures of casserole carriers. People really like them. I did a similar theme for my friends Yvonne and Tim for their 25th wedding anniversary. I swore I would never do another one again. It literally took hours to stitch out. Well, I must have softened somewhat to do this for Jodi. Job one is finding two placemats in the color that you want. The placemats have to be large enough. They tend to shrink so I have to be careful and read the dimensions before washing. I found these at Kohl's and they did shrink a little more than I would have liked.

I liked the Claddagh design that I used on Yvonne's. That came from Embroidery Library. I decided to try a different design for the border. I had to buy four designs before I settled on the right one. I bought three designs that were too large. I had over two hours just in computer work getting this to look like I wanted it too and to fit the embroidery hoop.

Apparently, I had difficulty getting this centered in my hoop. I say apparently because as far as I know, it was centered. Most of what I do is called the "hoopless" technique. I hoop my stabilizer then use KK2000, an adhesive spray and either pin or baste stitch my item to the stabilizer. I don't put it into the middle of the hoop. With thick towels and placemats, it's near impossible anyway. I tried to hoop but the hoop kept coming undone. My placemat was marked. My stabilizer was marked. All my registration lines were matching but the design became off center anyway. There was no way I was going to start over or try to rip out all the threads so I just left it and gave it too her.

Embroidery project from hell finished. Really, I'm not going to make another one, ever.

Come on. Really, That's IT?

Did I add correctly? I felt really good about crossing a couple of things off my to-do list.

So I decided to count them. If you look on the right hand side bar, you'll see my list of eighteen projects that I want to get finished by the end of the year. How many have been completed in 6.5 months? Only six. Yup, not as many as I thought. I guess I need to buckle down and try to work on this list instead of all the other projects floating around in my brain.

                                             I've been trying to stay focused.
                                                       I've been sewing with my friends.
                                                               I sew when I'm at quilt camp.
                                                                  I sew when I'm alone.

                                                            I try to sew in the morning.
                                                       I try to do a little sewing at night.
                                                       Will I be able to finish my list?
                                       I guess I just need to keep plugging away.            

Finally, a Finished Quilt

It's been a while since I've finished a quilt. I haven't been quilting as much lately for a number of reasons. 1) it's not a project that I can finish in a day. 2) how many quilts do I need? 3) takes a little bit of muscle power to machine quilt. 4) loving the garment construction right now. 5) something funky is going on with my machine. I think the thread is hooking onto my feed dogs and breaking. So it needs to be adjusted. 6) not a cheap hobby. I guess that's enough reasons for now.

I started this quilt almost two years ago I think. It was one of Lauren's Christmas presents. The great thing about the fabrics all came from stash with the exception of the backing. The pattern is called Star Cakes from Legacy Patterns. Easy to put together. My original plan was to free motion a bridal wreath pattern all over. This is the stencil that I have.
I chickened out though. With my machine not liking free motion right now, I wasn't up for the battle of fighting the thread breaking. So I opted to cross hatch the quilt. I've never met a cross-hatched quilt that I didn't like. Certainly, it's a familiar pattern that we've all seen on old quilts. On this type of quilt, you really can't go wrong with that pattern. My motto, done is better than not done. So I have a done quilt. Maybe not what I had originally hoped but finished non-the-less and crossed off my to-do list. Ah, that feels good.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Girl's Reversible Top

This is the second pattern that I've made from Tie Dye Diva. I was pretty excited to make it. I wasn't going to add any machine embroidery to it. Just get it done. Well that didn't happen. I decided to put some appliques on it. The cherry design is from Lynnie Pinnie and the font is from Planet Applique.
The top was pretty easy to make. Very little hand sewing. There are buttons on both sides of the top. I got all the fabrics on clearance. So I think the top maybe was about $1 and the pants were in the neighborhood of a bout $1. Pretty decent price for an outfit. But that's not all. I hit the $2 tank top sale at Old Navy a couple of weeks ago and found one tank top in Kayla's size. So the cool thing is that she actually has three looks to wear with the pants.Forgive the white streak going down the shirt, I haven't washed the tailor's chalk off of it yet.

One thing that I tried with the pattern is the use of bridal loops. The pattern called for 1/8" elastic. Somehow the thought popped into my head that I should try bridal loops for a neater look. I have a huge container that is full of bridal laces. I was sure I had loops in there. Well I did find some. I only had about a 5 inch piece but certainly enough for this project. The important thing is to make sure that the tape is well inside your 1/2 inch seam allowance. I used 1/2 inch buttons and they work, however, I think using a slightly smaller button would be better like a 3/8" button.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wild Kingdom Part 2

The pink and brown leopard fabric was purchased on clearance at Joann's. I saw this fa fabric and thought of pajamas for my niece Kayla. I didn't have a pattern in mind when I purchased it so I bought a couple of yards. Her older sister Ashton spotted it in my sewing room and requested a pillowcase to be made out of it. I posted Ashton's pillowcase in a previous blog article. Fortunately, I was able to make both the pillowcase and the intended pajamas.

The pattern I used was Butterick 4910. I would say it went together quickly. At the last minute, I decided to add a little bit of embroidery and the ruffle. The little heart was a free embroidery design from GG Designs Embroidery out of Australia.

Litte Miss Muffet

I have been seeing several blog posts for featuring kid's wear using patterns from Tie Dye Diva. Tie Dye Diva offers downloadable PDF patterns available at Etsy, You Can Make This and her own website. I have three patterns so far and about five more that I want to buy. This was my first try at her patterns. It's called the Miss Muffet or Twirl Skirt. The cool thing about this pattern is that it has attached bloomers. Perfect for a rambunctious little girl. And perfect for the mom who wants to have some sense of modesty for her little girl on the playground.

I've been fortunate (well at least that's my interpretation) for scoring lots of fabric sales this summer. The fabric that I used came from Hancock Fabric's and was maybe 50% off. It isn't top of the line quality as far as cotton is concerned but I don't want to put tons of money into outfits that my niece will only be wearing for a short time.

As usual, I seem to be color challenged. I try. I really do. For the t-shirt, I wanted to get away from white. So many tops that I embroider for Kayla are white. I wanted to find a light yellow top. The only one that I found was a screaming yellow. I really overpowered the fabric. So I went with a turquoise. That's not too bad. It was once again thread color. I tried several colors and decided the turquoise blue thread would work. I should have gone with the red. I tried red, I just didn't think it worked like the blue.
As with most of my projects, I used 8CAAP font called Cartoon Me. Many times, picking a font can be a challenge. I try to match a theme or feeling that I'm trying to convey, I need to find a font that would work for the age of the recipient and I need to find a font that will fit my hoops and the project.

Are We There Yet?

My daughter Whitney actually put the bug in my ear for this theme. This is Kayla's August pillowcase. Whitney had come across this blog article for a road trip pillowcase. I really liked the idea. I'll eventually make one of those for Kayla but I wanted to do the road trip theme for a summer pillowcase. After a little poking around on the internet, I found this fabric from Maywood Studios. This fabric was stuck in my brain which was unfortunate. I'd like to buy local but couldn't find anything that fit my theme. With shipping, I spent $25 for one pillowcase. Yikes! I'm going to try to refrain from doing that again. Lucky for me, I only have three months left on my Pillowcase of the Month Club. I have the June and October fabric. I just need the September fabric.

As with most of my sewing and embroidery projects, I spend way too much time researching. I have over 500 embroidery fonts and I tried to find a font that matched. I didn't have anything that matched so then I went searching True Type Fonts on the internet that I could pull into my software. I found one that was just about a perfect match for the script on the fabric. After putting it through my embroidery software, I wasn't happy with the quality. I don't have manual digitizing, just auto digitizing and a lot of times, that doesn't produce a great product. So I went back thru my fonts and decided to use the Cartoon Me font from 8CAAP.

 I guess my reality wasn't as great as my vision. I auditioned lots of embroidery threads and decided on the beige-y yellow color. That was a mistake. I put browns and reds up to the blue fabric and didn't like it. I put black up to the thread and didn't like it. Oh well.