Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Game Day Mug Rug in Art and Stitch Plus

There's going to be a "BIG GAME" this weekend!  Have you heard?

I whipped up this mug rug design in my machine embroidery digitizing software.  Yes, you might ask me for the FREE design if you don't have embroidery software.

Check out the video (and other videos) on my YouTube Channel.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Part 2-Purchasing an Embroidery Machine

So we discussed some things to think about when you set out to buy a new sewing machine.  Now let's talk about another option.  Maybe you've seen some fun things done with an embroidery machine.  Monogram on towels are great, but there is so much more.  But hold on to your hat!  Like starting up any new craft, it can get expensive quickly.

It may have crossed your mind that this may become a business.  Again, do your homework before jumping in with both feet.  An embroidery business can be rewarding, but it does require investment of time and money.  Let's talk about embroidery as just a hobby.

First, deciding on a machine.  Again-lot's of choices.  And if you have NO experience, you'll want good support AFTER the sale.  Is the support within an easy travel distance?  You will probably have to take your machine and all your supplies to a class. You can take embroidery classes, but machines can vary with functions.  You'll want to learn on your machine.

Capabilities of the Machine.
Hoop Size
The more affordable machine may only have a maximum hoop size of 4x4 (inches).  That will be fine for the majority of designs out there.  But then comes that one design you find (that you have to have) that won't fit inside that hoop.

Someone says, "Oh, that's easy!  Split the design!"  Well, yes and no.  You will need to buy software to split the design and then have the skill to re-hoop your project and re-align the design.  There are some re-positionable hoops that assist with split designs without re-hooping, but that's another purchase.  (Beginning to understand why we need to think this through?)

Machine Communications
There will be some designs (and maybe letters or fonts)  included with your machine.  They are installed.  But you will need to get other designs (whether purchased or downloaded) to your machine.  Some machines require a direct hook-up to your computer, or designs can be transferred via a thumb drive.  Older machines may have a "card" option. This option requires a "card writer."  Yes, another option and purchase.

Depending on the machine you select, some design editing can be done by the machine.  Changing machine formats (not all machine brands speak the same language), enlarging a design, monogram designs, changing thread colors, combining or splitting designs, and digitizing (creating) your own designs are just a few things that software can do.

Here, again, there are lots of choices.  And many have free trials.  I encourage you to try them.  You most likely will not be able to save any work.  You will just be able to play and explore the capabilities.  And you should have some computer knowledge.  Some programs will work with Macs as well as PCs.  Some will not.

And, I assume, since you are reading this, you have a computer.  You need a computer.

Threads, Needles, and Stabilizers

Yes, there's more to buy to get started.  They are all necessary to get a good sew out.  It's another big subject - too many variations to get into here.  Just put it on your shopping list.

My intent is not to discourage or dissuade you from wading into the "embroidery" pool.  Just don't get in over your head.  Embroidery can be so much fun and very rewarding. I want to see you enjoying the processes and not frustrated by them.

If yo missed our previous discussion about starting the sewing machine purchase process, click HERE to begin.

Want to know more?  Just ask...

Happy Sewing!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Purchasing a Sewing Machine - Things You Should Know

So you have decided to purchase a sewing machine.  And it's overwhelming - the choices available.  Let's break it down and look at what this all means.  Today, more than ever, there are so many choices.  It can be confusing and you may be left frustrated after your purchase without carefully considering your options. 
I don't want you to have a machine, in the box, occupying a corner of your closet.  You could just pile your money there right now if that's the case!  We don't want that!  So let's get started!

First, what are your needs and requirements?  And what is your budget?

Is this your first machine?  Or are you replacing a sewing machine - maybe the old machine isn't working (too expensive to repair)  or you are wanting to upgrade?
What do you sew?  Or want to sew?  Will a simple mechanical machine with a straight stitch, or a few zig-zag and button hole stitches, fit the bill?  Will you require more decorative stitch features?  Are you wanting to try some machine embroidery?  

Wow!  That was a lot of questions! Let's try some answers...

A simple machine will do...
Ok.  Do you need new?  Or will a vintage machine do the trick?  Second hand stores, auctions (estates, local and on-line), yard sales, church rummage sales, basements, barns, and even back alleys are full of inexpensive quality machines that still have years of service left in them.
Look for a clean, rust free, model with no cracked wiring and a hand wheel that turns freely.  Accessories and a manual are a bonus, but bobbin case, power cord and foot control are a necessity.

If this is your first machine, or you are new to sewing, and you are NOT feeling particularly adventurous, I WOULD NOT suggest you purchase your machine from Amazon or Wal-Mart.  The UPS man or the guy in tires will not be able to help you choose a needle for your next project or solve that tension issue.
Look for a local sewing center or quilt shop that may offer classes and knowledgeable staff.  And be sure to look for or ask about that support BEFORE you purchase.  If there is none, move on!  Yes, you might pay slightly more, but chances are that, if any difference, it will be recouped and worth the slight extra.

WORD OF CAUTION!  Trucks that pull up in a parking lot with "Classroom" machines, machines that sew leather, or are a "Serger-Combo" ARE NOT a good buy!  Your money and support drives off into the sunset when they pack up and leave the parking lot.  These guys are kind of like the vans that drive around your neighborhood with a load of great buys on meat!  Sketchy!

I've never seen a nice, well loved Home-Ec Classroom machine.  They have been abused by teenagers, and have broken or missing parts.  And really, where are these school that still offer Home-Ec?
Any machine will sew leather depending on weight of leather and if you use a leather needle.
"Serger-Combo" refers to an attachment.  It is a foot with a cutting attachment that does not cut very well, and guarantee you will want to throw it at the guy who sold it to you.  The machine sews a stitch resembling a cover stitch.  But Sewing Machines and Sergers are two different animals.

Final words.  Sit down and drive several brands.  Some sew smoother and quieter. Some will sew faster.  Find the model and brand that meets your comfort level.

So this is getting long.  Lots to digest.  We'll continue tomorrow with Part 2 - Buying an Embroidery Machine.

Happy Sewing !

Monday, January 2, 2017

Fresh New Year

I haven't seen quite as many news stories this year about New Year's resolutions.  Maybe we're just so happy to put 2016 behind us.  It was quite a year.

I have seen the sales, though, on items that are going to get us organized!  Not falling for it.  Plan to use up or continue to purge my ginormous stash.  And that's not to say I won't buy anything new.  There's always another "pretty" out there.

This is not MY stash, BTW, just a picture from Facebook that I hope I never resemble!  Something to show my DH that there are real hoarders out there.  I, happily, am still an apprentice!

Have my eye on Alex Anderson's new line from RJR due out in April.
What can I do with this?  Just love the colors and have a lot that will work with this.  Can hardly wait.  Something will come to me...about 3 A.M.  That's when my brain come up with it's great ideas.  Guess it's too distracted when I'm awake and need great thoughts.

So what are you up to during these dreary winter days in the Northern Hemisphere?  Lucky, Aussie's and New Zealander friends.  You are in the warm, sunny days of summer.
Drop me a line.

I'll be working on some upcoming happenings for 2017.  So stay tuned.......

Happy Sewing

Friday, October 21, 2016

Block 3 - A Little Birdie Told Me - Be My Neighbor

Applique can add beauty, or a bit of whimsey to a quilting project that piecing or creative quilting design cannot match.

Of all the the techniques that I have taught over the years, applique seems to stir fear in the hearts of my quilting students.  Never have really understood why.  Maybe it's the four-letter word - "hand." Applique is best known to be done by hand, but can also be achieved by machine.

Block 3 in our Neighborhood Sew Along has a sweet little bird sitting atop the roof singing a tune, I'm sure.  To encourage you to give applique a try, I have a couple tips and will show a couple ways to achieve success.

Option 1 - Finished Edge Fusible Applique

You will need Lightweight Fusible Interfacing and a pen or fine tipped marker. Trace the needed shapes on to fusible.

Next roughly cut apart pieces, placing them with coordinating fabric.  Leave at least a 1/4" margin around all pieces

With right sides together (right side of fabric and bumpy-fusible side of interfacing) sew interfacing to fabric following drawn lines.  Cut out shapes leaving a narrow 1/8" margin.

Cut  small slit in the center of interfacing being careful not to cut fabric as well.  Sharp, pointed scissors are best.  

Using that wonderful chopstick (we talked about in previous post) carefully turn the pieces right side out.  Use the chopstick to aid in turning and pushing out tight corners.

Since you cannot apply a hot iron at this point,  use the flat edge of chopstick and the heat from your fingers to press edges flat.

Here are two pieces of the bird.  You would next place the pieces on the block and fuse them in place according to interfacing instructions.  Then tack in place by hand or machine.

Because the edges are finished or turned, it gives more of the appearance of being "hand" finished.  It also gives "lift" or a 3-dimensional look to your work.

But we have some really tiny pieces with this project, so not all can be accomplished with this method.  The tiny beak is just too small to turn.

So let's look at my favorite method.....

Option 2 - Raw Edge Applique

This method requires a double sided fusible - like Heat N Bond or Steam A Seam Lite (I carry both).  Again trace pattern pieces on the paper side of fusible.

These fusibles have a paper and a fusible side.  When you fuse it to the backside of fabric, allow to cool, you can remove the paper backing to reveal a second fusible side.  This fusible side is slightly tacky (like a Post-It Note) and helps with placement.

 Roughly cut pieces apart, leaving margins and place on the back side of appropriate fabric.

Take pieces and fusible to ironing board and fuse to backside of fabrics.  Allow to cool and then cut shapes on drawn lines.  Remove (peel) paper backing off.  If you are having trouble removing, bend a corner back or pop up with the point of a pin.

Next apply pieces to your block. When happy with placement, iron in place.  Pieces CANNOT be moved or removed easily so be sure you have it where you want.  Use that chopstick again to move or place small pieces.

Pieces can be secured with machine stitching.  Work on a sample scrap trying different stitches on your sewing machine and don't forget to adjust both stitch length and width. You may choose a tight narrow zig-zag, a blanket or blind stitch, or a simple narrow topstitch.  Choose whatever you find pleasing.  I choose a blindstitch.

 Here's a little BlueBird for my block.  I didn't add a eye yet.  Maybe a button or bead when the quilt is finished.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Block Two - Be My Neighbor

Are you having fun?  I have loved diving into my scraps, pulling out a bit of fabric and remembering when and where I used this fabric, friends I may have been with, or the lucky recipient of something made with love.  Brings warm and fuzzy feelings to be using the last bits.

Building Permits for Block Two went out early this morning. So let's get started.

Cut all your pieces according to pattern instructions.  And then piece together in sections.  There are two distinct buildings, so it is easier, I find, to build one at a time.

Two roofs which require those pesky Flying Geese.  The silo has a chimney - a neat little twist.

Have both my roof sections completed here.

And then there's all those HST's (Half Square Triangles).  They can be a bit tricky if your seam size strays North of a quarter-inch.

But there's a solution....

If you find that your HSTs aren't quite measuring up to size, cut your squares a little larger.  Draw the diagonal line and sew either side of line like normal.

Cut apart and press open.

Get out that square-up ruler.  Align the diagonal line on the ruler with the seam of the square as pictured.  Align with the measurements of square required and trim away excess.

Making your HSTs over-sized assures that you will have perfectly sized HSTs.
And that's it for this week.  Wasn't that fun?

Happy Sewing!

P.S. Don't forget to SHARE your pics!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Five Weeks Til Christmas

Block One is out today.

This quilt was inspired by a pattern by Kate Spain called Solstice for Moda Fabrics.  I have adapted it for another Moda fabric line from Sandy Gervais called Very Merry.  I have added different borders and prepared instructions for multiple sizes.
You are welcome to use your own color / fabric adaptations.  If you wish to use our fabrics, Kits will be available at our website - KK's Quilt Studio.   

For Block One.  If you would like to make:

Bed Runner (34 x 106 inches) - Make one Block
Throw/Lap Size (70 x 70 inches) - Make one Block
Queen Size (88 x 106 inches) - Make six Blocks
King - (106 x 106 inches) - Make five Blocks

There are several Flying Geese in this block.  I HATE all those extra little triangles that usually get trimmed away.  Just a waste.  So I am all about the No Waste Method of making Flying Geese.  It may even make you love making Flying Geese.  I used to avoid them - passing on patterns that had them.

First cut one large square (geese) and four smaller squares (sky).  Measurements depend on finished size.  I have a handy chart I saved from somewhere - can't see to find where - but Dani Fisk - this is yours, Thank you.
Right Click on picture to save.

Moving along.  Draw a line corner to corner on all your smaller sky pieces.

Place two sky pieces on larger goose as shown below and sew a scant 1/4 inch away from line - both sides.

Cut apart on drawn line.  Press open.  Yes, they look like little kitties!

Place last two squares on these "kitties!"
Repeat sewing either side of line and cut apart.  Trim away all those little dog ear corners.

You are almost there.  Press open again and voila!  Four Flying Geese almost like magic before your eyes!  And virtually pain free!

That's all for today.

Happy Sewing!