Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Woo-Hoo! My First Pattern is Finished!

Over a year ago I designed a Clothespin Bag because I couldn't find one in stores and I really enjoyed line drying my laundry.  I did find a pattern, but it was way too expensive for my tastes.  I thought about what would work best for me and designed my Clothespin Bag.  I decided I would make one for sisters Dana and Mary since they line dry laundry occasionally as well.  I used some fabric given to me by my friend Mary as she was de-stashing.  It was  a heavy blue and white plaid twill.  I used red foldover braid to encase the raw edges.  They turned out really nice. 

I knew that if I had found a need, others probably had as well.  So I decided to write up a pattern for my Clothespin Bag. 

My sister Kathy tested it out for me and will be posting pictures on her blog soon.

I have listed it for sale HERE on Etsy.  It's a PDF file which can be printed at home.  I LOVE paper patterns, but I'm not planning to go into the business of printing patterns, that's for sure.  There are some other patterns on Etsy, but in my opinion are just too expensive.  I mean you're line drying your laundry to save money right?

Here's a pic of two of the finished items I made up to take pics while I prepared the pattern:

The red one is made from a vintage tablecloth, with the foldover red braid and (hard to see in this pic) red gingham lining.  The other is pink twill (again donated by my friend Mary)  and features Ric Rac trim and an applique made from a vintage embroidered pillowcase. 

The name Caroline's Cottage is a company name I came up with about 13 years ago.  I wanted something homey sounding and Caroline is my middle daughter's name.  I made and sold candles back then.  Unfortunately the name is not available on Etsy (I'm a relative newcomer to the Etsy scene).

I have another pattern in the works which I will finish sometime after the holidays.  It's a children's skirt and top, which unbelievably I searched for on the internet to buy, and couldn't find so I had to design it myself.  Stay tuned for that one - I'll need test sewers for that one too!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tips for Embroidering or Appliqueing on Knit T-Shirts

Finished T-Shirt
One of the best sites for general embroidery designs and tutorials on how to do just about everything there is to do on an embroidery machine is emblibrary.com.  I've done a lot of embroidery and applique on t-shirts, which can be tricky, but still make mistakes and need to go back to the basics.  Most of the time any problems I encounter are due to operator error. 

I always make sure to prewash and dry the t-shirt and any applique fabrics and then press.  Never use fabric softener because this can interfere with some fusibles. 

Selection of stabilizer is very important.  I like Floriani no-show mesh stabilizer for t-shirts.  It is fusible which I really like.  It's a cut-away type so whatever you don't trim away stays in place.  This is important because it will continue to stabilize the fabric/applique during wear and laundering.  After I fuse on that stabilizer, I add either a fusible tear away or I'll use a wash-away sticky stabilizer.  I choose the fusible tear away if the shirt is a larger size or if I'm only stitching on a portion of a shirt (in a smaller hoop).  If I'm working on a onesie or small t-shirt I use the sticky stabilizer, press the shirt in place and pin outside of the stitching area.  It's just too hard to try to hoop a small item. 

I also use wash-away film type stabilizer as a topper when satin stitching (not during the applique process).

Some of the stabilizers I use
After I launder the applique fabrics, I press well and then apply a fusible webbing.  I like Heat N Bond Lite.  It fuses well but does not gunk up the needle.  Steam-a-Seam  - even their "lite" products - will gunk up the needle - it does not work for me at all.  It's great for fusing things but don't use it in machine embroidery! Take my word for it.  Some designs have so much stitching that a fusible webbing may not be necessary but I think it's a good idea to use this in children's clothing.

Heat N Bond Lite
After pressing the t-shirt I mark the placement of the design with a wash away marker.  I find the center of the neckline and mark to the bottom of the shirt and make another line from one underarm seam to the other.  Then I hoop the shirt, making sure it's all lined up.

My large embroidery hoop is a little on the loose side, which is one of the reasons I use two layers of stabilizer (the mesh and the tear away).  I also like to use a screwdriver to tighten it up after hand tightening.  Maybe one day I'll splurge and get a Snap Hoop and elminate all this work. 

For a large t-shirt, I pull the back up and over the top of the hoop.  There's really no easy way to pin the excess fabric out of the way during stitching, so I just move it around as I go.  I could use sticky stabilizer on the larger t-shirts, but the shirt will be more stable if it's hooped.

 This picture shows a portion of the applique, just after it's been tacked down. 

After this tack down, I remove the hoop from the machine and cut away the excess fabric.  This is where the fusible webbing comes in. I use my Clover mini-iron to set the fusible webbing in place. By doing it at this step I avoid over-pressing the satin stitches.

In order to press in the hoop I made a pressing pad that fits the stitch area of my largest hoop.  I used ironing board fabric (teflon coated I think) on the pressing side and a quilting fabric on the other side.  In between is Insul-Brite fleece.  It's basically like a large potholder.  I added a coordinating ribbon tab so that I can hang the pad near my machine.  I can slip the pad under the hoop while it's still on the machine and press.  This saves a lot of time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fall Themed Monogrammed Kitchen Towel

I had this really cute applique design from Applique Planet, (which primarily sells applique designs geared towards children) and after making a t-shirt for Rylan with this same design I decided I needed one for my kitchen.  Their appliques are really detailed and stitch out perfectly.  I especially love the heavy top stitching on top of the satin stitch. 

Due to the extra applique fabric, embroidery thread and stabilizers, the embroidered side of the towel is heavier than the other, which can cause it to slip off of towel racks, which is extremely annoying in the kitchen.  To prevent this, I now add weight to the other side of the towel by adding a little extra fabric or interfacing to the band at the lower edge.  It's tucked into the wrong side of the band so it doesn't show but it serves to balance out the weight.

These pictures were taken after I'd used the towel and washed and dried it.  I didn't use fusible webbing on the applique fabric and even though I prewashed all fabrics, you can see that it still puckered a little after laundering.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I survived the International Quilt Festival

My friend Beth goes to the International Quilt Festival every year with the local quilt shop group.  She'd told me how much she enjoyed it, but I never went cause I'm really not "into" quilts.  Last year she told me about all the STUFF (patterns, fabric, etc.) she bought and of course that got me interested.  So I decided to go this year.

The local quilt store, Lonestar Quiltworks, puts together a trip each year.  They provide chartered buses (two this year, which were completely full) which leave the parking lot around 8:00 a.m.  The Shop owner and her employees go along and provide a "goodie" bag, light breakfast, snacks, drinks, and a boxed meal at the end of the day. It was nice not having to drive, fight the Houston traffic, then find and pay for a parking space and schlep all our stuff back to the vehicle at the end of the long day. We were able to get out right at the door. In the goodie bag was our wrist band, which was our ticket. So we didn't have to wait in any lines either.

I have a tendency to be late (surprised?) so since Beth was picking me up, I had everything I could possibly need laid out the night before.  I was dressed and ready to go a little early.  Beth was early as well (funny how we can't get to work on time but we can leave for something like a quilt festival early!).  We stopped for coffee and got to the bus by 7:15.  We got some really good seats.  I sat down, got comfortable, got my phone out to check emails and such and exclaimed "OMG - I forgot my glasses!!".  It was too late to run back and get them.  I think getting out of the house early threw me completely off.

When I got to the festival, the very first booth had "cheater" reading glasses, which I promptly purchased.  They're the same glasses I got in the Target dollar bins, only I paid $23 for these....  Taking them off (to walk) and putting them on when I wanted to read something got old fast and made me dizzy so I was a tad queasy all afternoon. 

The plan of attack was to visit the vendor section first, then go view the quilts.  This worked great for me, cause I really didn't want to look at the quilts.  From 9:00 a.m. till about 1 we went up and down the vendor aisles, shopping.  I spent all the cash I brought on aisle TWO.  Every vendor had the Square payment processors which made it convenient to continue shopping . . .

We walked about 10 miles to the lunch area and and had a show and tell of our purchases thus far.  At this point I was getting tired.  We'd walked for about 4 hours straight.  But we pushed on.  The picture above shows us heading back to the vendor area.  At the very top of this picture you see a sign that says "1900".  This indicates the aisle number. I think we'd already passed some aisles when I snapped this pic. This is aisle 19!!!  You can see that the signs go practically as far as the eye can see.  After the vendor aisles there are the quilts on display, they're numbered A-whatever.  These aisles are HUGE and feature vendor after vendor.  I simply didn't have time to see them all.  We left at 6:00 p.m.  I could have spent two days easily in the vendor area.

Some of my favorite booths included one called 8th State, from South Carolina.  I didn't get a pic, but their booth was full of vintage buttons and trims.  Everything was displayed so imaginatively too - like vintage buttons on vintage BINGO cards!  And little bitty scraps of trim wound around wooden thread spools.  I do love Ric Rac so of course I gravitated to that area.   I found some Ric Rac the color of Butternut Squash, which I have NEVER seen before.  I was prepared to buy up a bunch of it when I noticed the price - $4.50 per yard!!  I just bought one yard.  It will be just enough to embellish a table runner.  She said it was from the 1960's.  Some of the Ric Rac was on metal spools.  This probably came from some dress maker shop or factory. 

Another absolutely adorable booth was Just 4 Fun, in which I purchased more Ric Rac.  They had a cute "tree" on which they had their Jumbo Ric Rac displayed, which immediately caught my eye.  They had an unusual aqua color, which matched another purchase, so I bought 5 yards.  It will embellish Journey and Willow's Christmas Dresses (more about that later).

Another cute booth which caught my eye was Lollipops.  They make bindings out of cute prints and have them wound up on a stick like lollipops.  They have lots of other stuff too.  There was a beautiful quilt on display, but I didn't get a picture of it.  It featured machine embroidered redwork in white blocks.  The redwork was vintage-y looking Christmas schenes.  The quilt featured Moda "Blitzen" fabrics.  I have been looking for a red/aqua combination and this was it!  I bought a jelly roll.  I will be making Christmas Dresses for Journey and Willow and maybe a table runner or other project out of this, along with some coordinating yardage.

Another cute booth was Sew It Up.  I've seen their ads in Sew Beautiful Magazine, but had never looked at their website.  There was SO much to see in their booth, I was overwhelmed!  The ladies who were working were so helpful and had some great tips and ideas.  I bought a really cool ruffle knit to make some leggings (not for me of course!).

One cute idea was a pair of jeans that they'd cut off the legs to make shorts, then put some of this ruffle fabric around the raw edges, then sewed a wider strip of the ruffle fabric on top of the shorts to make a tiered skirt effect.  It was cute, and a good idea, since little girls would still have on shorts but it looks like a skirt.  Their booth had tons of patterns, fabrics, trims, etc., as well as lots of finished items for ideas.  Here's a look:

Another booth I liked was Violette Field Threads

They have some patterns I'd looked at online already.  One of those, the Emmeline halter dress (shown below), was on my to-do list for Journey.  I already have a multi-color chevron out of which I plan to make it.  They didn't have all their patterns for sale, I think because a lot of them are e-patterns only.  But I was able to get a price break when I bought three, which was nice. 

At 6 we boarded the bus and stopped a little later for our box lunch.  We got home at 9:00 p.m. (Beth 30 minutes after that cause she had to drive home).  I wish I could have spent more time in some of the booths!  There was just too much to see in one day.  There were sewing machine manufacturers with every model they offer, but I didn't have time to even look.  There were scads of booths full of all manner of sewing gadgetry but I simply didn't have time!  Next year . . .