Pillows Galore

molly-brown-jacobean-pillow-1Throw pillows on a couch, a bed or chair are an inexpensive way to add color and decorate a room. The pillows you buy can be quite pricey costing upwards of $40 to $80 or more, depending on what you get. If you want something nice that will last, you will spend a lot of money for them. By making your own, you can also customize your pillow with embroidered words and sayings that mean something to you or the person you are giving it to. Maybe do a small wedding pillow, a friendship, daughter, Mother, Father, or Grandparent design. They will cherish them forever.

I’ve been making pillows for my military friends and they are loving them. I found some army-pillow-2panels with the different branches of the service and I make and quilt the pillow for my friends and their particular branch. Military guys and gals are very proud of their service  and this is a way you can honor them. Want to just make a decorative pillow? That’s OK. I’m going to give you a formula that will serve you well for any design.

First; make your pillow top.  This can be as simple as a piece of fabric you like, a panel, or a pieced quilt block. You can also do a beautiful embroidery design on a  piece of fabric and then turn it into a pillow with the following steps.

Second; Cut your top to the size pillow you want to make. Pillow forms come in all shapes and sizes. You can get them at any craft or fabric store, like Joann’s. I get mine there when they have a pillow sale, or save with my 40% off coupon. The sizes I like best are 12″, 14″ and 16″ square. If you want a bolster size, then 12″ x 16″ is a nice size. Whatever size you decide to use, I cut my top to the same size or 1/4″ bigger all around. It depends on the weight of fabric and if batting is used.

Third; “Sandwiching” your pillow top. I like to make a pillow top in layers. I start with muslin for the lining, then batting for body and last I put the finished decorative outside of the pillow on top. Then I quilt the three layers with a simple free motion meander pattern or a quilters “cross hatch” pattern. “Cross hatching” is the simplest way to finish off the top. It only involves straight stitching and it can be done on any size machine.  All you need is an erasable marking pen and a straight stitch foot or a walking foot.

Fourth; Planning the back of the pillow. There are a few ways you can finish the back.  1. is a simple way of just cutting the back fabric the same size as the front and with right sides together, sew all around pillow leaving about 3 or 4 inches open at the bottom. I suggest sewing a straight stitch first, then go around again with a zig zag stitch to finish off the edges. (you can use a serged edge if you have a serger.) I do this, then I do the back with the same three layers and cross hatch that also to give the pillow cover body. Once it is all stitched, turn right side out, stuff your pillow form inside and hand stitch the opening to finish off.envelope pillow back 3

2. is the “envelope” style back where you use 2 pieces of fabric wrong sides together with your folds  overlapping about 2 inches in the center. Then you attach the the back to front (again right sides facing each other), and you can stitch all the way around four sides. Once done, you turn it right side out using your fold over and again, stuff your pillow form inside and you are done. This makes it easy to remove pillow case to wash when needed. zipper pillow back 3

3. is  to put a zipper near the bottom to make installing pillow form and removal easy. This is the most secure way to have a removable cover, but you need to be pretty comfortable with installing a zipper.

The envelope style is the most popular finish and to make your cover a little more snug, you can put decorative buttons to hold the folds together or put hidden Velcro on the folds to keep the backing snug.

You options are endless, and you can have or give a pillow that has meaning and is different from “off the rack” ones you can buy in a store.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me. Use your imagination and create something really nice and fun.

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Happy Sewing!

Embroidery Designs Galore

It’s been a busy “Snowbird” season and I have been busy teaching. It’s slowing down now and I plan to get back to finishing several blogs I stared last summer and fall.

Because I teach machine embroidery, I get a lot of questions about where to get good embroidery designs. There are A LOT of great places to buy embroidery designs, but the links I have on the blog are people I have done business with. I know they are reputable and the quality of designs is excellent. Most, also give free designs each month. Like EmbLibrary.com. They give you 2 free designs in all formats and sizes every month. They also have an amazing website with lots of tutorials, idea books, and THOUSANDS of beautiful designs that stitch out well.

molly-zipper-bag-2

Something else neat, most companies  have a place to look up past orders so that when the dreaded hard drive dies and you lose all the designs you downloaded, you can go back in and download all your orders again. It’s like having a back up to all your designs. Continue reading “Embroidery Designs Galore”

New! Needle in A Haystack (sewing basket)

Sorry I haven’t posted a new blog lately, but I’ve been sooo busy.  I also went away for the holidays to Pennsylvania during the time that they had 1 degree temps and -10 wind chill. Brrrr!!!

Back to sunny Florida.  I taught a class this week that my students asked  “why so many different needles”? So, I decided to re run my needle blog as a refresher of, why so many different needles.

I have several new blogs in the works and will get them ready for you as soon as I can. Now, read on and thank you for your support and good comments.

No, we are not going to look for needles in a haystack, but we do need to dig out all those schmetz-machine-needlesneedles in our sewing box and organize them. I teach an  Embroidery 101 workshop, which covers the use of stabilizer, threads and needles. It still surprises me when my students ask me the difference in needles. I’m going to try to simplify this mystery and give you a place to go back to when you need to choose a needle for a certain sewing, quilting or embroidery project.I have worked with most of these needle types and when you use the correct needle, your project will always look the best.

You want to choose needle size according to thickness of your thread and needle type according to your fabric application. Continue reading “New! Needle in A Haystack (sewing basket)”

Tips & Tricks #1

This blog is going to be a mix of tips from various sources and things I’ve discovered in my years of sewing. I will be doing this periodically  so as not to overwhelm you with too much information.

The one thing I found to be true is, work with the best tools you can if you want a quality product in the end. Your project will only be as good as your weakest product in your project.

One stabilizer does not fit all situations!!! Check out my blog on how to use stabilizers for the best outcome of machine embroidery.

The old adage … Measure twice (or 3 times to be sure) and cut once. It also helps to read the instructions over before your start your project. (:-)

If you want to make a quilt that will be an heirloom to hand down, be sure to use good quality cotton fabric from a quilt store locally or online. Don’t go for cheap fabric, as it won’t last. Use cheaper fabric for projects that will be considered “disposable” in time.

Check your tension and make sure that your threads are sewing evenly through your fabric. Especially when quilting through two layers of fabric and batting. You may need to loosen the tension or tighten it depending on your machine and thread. Make a sample sandwich and test on that before starting on the real quilt.

Always use good quality threads for any sewing project but particularly for quilting and embroidery.  Again, you are only as good as your weakest link. Don’t let that weak link be thread that shreds or breaks all the time. I personally like Aurafil for sewing and piecing and King Tut by Superior threads, or Sulky 30w for  machine quilting.

Don’t forget to start with a new Quilting needle, preferably 90/14, when you start machine quilting a new quilt. The same goes for embroidery, a new embroidery needle will make the project go smoother.

If your thread keeps shredding or breaking, try this; Change your needle, re-thread the top thread and reset your bobbin. Most times this will take care of the problem. If it doesn’t, clean out your machine. Another thing you can do is take a cotton ball and rub it against the bobbin case, throat plate or even the needle to see if there is a burr that could cause breakage or shredding.

I am constantly saying to my students, they spend thousands of dollars on these beautiful new sewing/embroidery machines that do everything imaginable, then scrimp on supplies. Good machines need good thread, needles and fabric to run efficiently.

Periodically, I’ll be giving you more blogs with tips. If you have a neat tip I can pass on, I’m sure my readers would enjoy hearing it. One reader commented on the blog about metallic thread. She said she uses Floriani metallic and has no trouble with breakage. Nice tip!

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Be sure to check out past blogs to see some interesting articles about sewing, embroidery and quilting.

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO SEE PAST BLOGS OR CLICK ON THE “PAST BLOGS” LINK ON THE RIGHT.

 

 

The Joys of Metallic Thread!!!

Today, I want to tell you about using that “dreaded” metallic thread in our home embroidery machines that sew every other kind of thread so beautifully.

Metallic thread is known for being problematic when it comes to doing embroidery on our home machines.  However, if you know how to work with it, you will love how beautiful it looks, especially in your holiday designs. The sparkle metallic thread gives the design, just makes the design look so gorgeous.

The first thing you do is SLOW DOWN YOUR MACHINE. Our machines work so fast that the thread has a tendency to heat up, then stretch and break. I slow mine down as far as they can go to 350 or 400 speed.

Next, you must have the thread feeding off the spool the same way it is wound on the spool. Don’t lay it sideways in your thread holder. The thread will twist as it feeds into the machine. Second, DON”T put the thread standing upright in a cup or thread stand along side the machine. The thread will still twist as it comes off the thread. Instead, lay the thread on it’s side in a cup so it feeds off the thread the same way it is wound on the spool. Again, the object is not to let the thread twist as it feeds into the machine.

Another way is to put the metallic thread on a secondary thread  holder on your machine if you have one, providing it will let the thread feed off the spool the old fashioned way our old machines used to do.  There are some new attachments you can purchase from sewing supply stores such as Sewing Supply Warehouse or Nancy’s Notions. (links on the right). These are neat and work very well.

When purchasing metallic thread, remember there are many different brands and thicknesses. Floriani has one that has a polyester base and sews out beautifully. Madeira sells a couple different types of metallic. One thicker and one standard. Also, Sulky makes a nice metallic. These are only a few of the brands that make metallic. Shop around and try different brands until you find the one you like and most importantly, the one your machine likes.

If you read my blog on Needles, then you know it is advisable to use a metallic needle. These needles have a slightly larger eye opening so as to let the thread flow easily.

One final piece of advice I have learned. Don’t choose a design that is so dense that you will risk breaking the thread in the needle, or the thread in your design.  Let your metallic be a highlight on a design. Why not  decorate a Christmas towel with a beautiful design that will show off that pretty metallic thread. If you want to be adventurous, Try making the Anitagoodesign special edition called GOLDEN TAPESTRY.  This one was made by Cindy at Expert Sewing. She used Floriani metallic thread and it was sewn on Silk Dupioni fabric. cindy-tapestry-sm

If you have any questions about sewing with metallics, please feel free to contact me. I will answer all questions as best I can. Don’t be afraid to  try it. Just remember the do’s and don’ts of using this lovely edition to your embroidery.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Be sure to check out past blogs to see some interesting articles about sewing, embroidery and quilting.

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO SEE PAST BLOGS OR CLICK ON THE “PAST BLOGS” LINK ON THE RIGHT.

A Needle In A Haystack (Sewing Box)

No, we are not going to look for needles in a haystack, but we do need to dig out all those needles in our sewing box and organize them. I teach an  Embroidery 101 workshop, which covers the use of stabilizer, threads and needles. It still surprises me when my students ask me the difference […]

Sorry I haven’t posted a new blog lately, but I’ve been sooo busy and I went away for the holidays to Pennsylvania during the time they had 1 degree temps and -10 wind chill. Brrrr!!!

Back to sunny Florida and I taught a class this week that my students asked about “why so many different needles”? So, I decided to re run my needle blog as a refresher of, why so many different needles.

I have several new blogs in the works and will get them ready for you as soon as I can. Now, read on and thank you for your support and good comments.

No, we are not going to look for needles in a haystack, but we do need to dig out all those schmetz-machine-needlesneedles in our sewing box and organize them. I teach an  Embroidery 101 workshop, which covers the use of stabilizer, threads and needles. It still surprises me when my students ask me the difference in needles. I’m going to try to simplify this mystery and give you a place to go back to when you need to choose a needle for a certain sewing, quilting or embroidery project.I have worked with most of these needle types and when you use the correct needle, your project will always look the best.

You want to choose needle size according to thickness of your thread and needle type according to your fabric application. Continue reading “A Needle In A Haystack (Sewing Box)”