Quick Holiday Gift Ideas 2019

a-great-miracle-1It’s the time of year that we need last minute gifts for a holiday party hostess gift, or an unexpected relative arrives, or you forgot “Aunt Mary” in the nursing home needs something personal that she can enjoy. Whatever the person or occasion, here are some ideas to get you started.

delph-blue-rooster-1Towels are always a good choice. They are something people will use and not put in a closet!  Kitchen towels can hold embroidery designs or applique’ designs. Add a nice border to finish them off and make them look like they came from a high end kitchen boutique’. I like using the flat kitchen towels and putting a matching border on the bottom. You can also trim the bottom with rick rack or ribbon. Remember if you are decorating a terry towel to add a clear wash away topper so your stitches don’t disappear into the terry nap.

lace-tea-bookmark-1Free Standing Lace items are great to put in a Christmas card to mail to friends who are far from you. It can be a lace bookmark (yes some people still read a physical book like me) or a Christmas ornament that can be used on their tree every year.

Cloth napkins with a lace corner or a pretty embroidery design or DSCN0915monogram is always a nice gift. You can generally find quality napkins on sale at places like Tuesday Morning, then add your design or monogram to have a gift that is inexpensive but nice.

You can make a table runner and add embroidery. Need it fast? Buy a ready made runner and/or place mats and add a pretty embroidery design, monogram or applique’.

T-shirts and Sweat shirts are great to add embroidery designs to.

Bathroom towels are always a nice gift. Whether they be a set of finger tip towels for a guest bath or a complete set of towels for a master bath. You can monogram them, add a pretty embroidery design, or make them look really fancy with an embossed design. I’ve added a wonderful tutorial video from EmbLibrary.com that shows the proper way to do an embossed plush towel.

Let your imagination be your guide. A gift you made yourself is always 2-gear-bags-2something special and hopefully, appreciated so much more than something you just went out and bought. Here are some other ideas; small zippered bags for someone to put their treasures in, larger gear type bags with lots of pockets to put travel accessories in, or anything embroidered with a person’s name on it. These are just a sample of what you can do to make someone happy

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I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday.  Here’s to an exciting new year in 2020!

I hope you enjoy reading about sewing, quilting and embroidery. Please sign up to follow my blog. As I have said, Google likes it if we bloggers have followers! Also, please pass on my link to your sewing friends so they can sign up and be informed, too. Check my other blogs as I talk about needles, stabilizers, thread, design project ideas and many more subjects. I hope you will find my past and current blogs to be informative and educational.

If you have any questions or suggestions for  blog ideas, please let me know. I want to make this blog interesting, informative and educational.

Until next time; happy sewing!

Molly

 

Scissors, Scissors, Never Enough Scissors!

Description; Scissors are hand-operated shearing tools. A pair of scissors consists of a pair of metal blades pivoted so that the sharpened edges slide against each other when the handles (bows) opposite to the pivot are closed.

DSCN0833They say you are only as good as your weakest tool. Well that holds very true for scissors. There are many types of scissors and I think I own them all. One pair of scissors (or shears as they are often called) will not do it! Most of your better scissors are forged stainless steel and hold their sharpness.

Dressmaker Shears; These are generally 8″ in length, and bent, but you can get them in a 5 or 6 inch length. These are used for cutting out sewing patterns for clothes.

DSCN0835Embroidery Scissors;  are generally small, curved or flat, and very sharp. I have several types. Flat is great for trimming threads and small spaces. and are 4 or 5 inches long.  There are single curved ones that make it easier to cut into small tight spaces when  cutting around applique’ designs. Double curved ones are great for trimming embroidery threads in the hoop, and for trimming around applique’  without taking a project out of the hoop.

Small Sub Nose Scissors; These are great for trimming threads under a quilt so as not to accidentally cut your fabric. You can also take them on a plane because they have rounded tips instead of sharp pointed tips. If you like to do needle point or hand embroidery while traveling, then having a pair of these is a great idea.

DSCN0838Duckbill Scissors; These are those funny looking ones that have a wide rounded side and a regular flat side. These are wonderful for trimming applique’s. The rounded part goes next to the background fabric while the flat straight side is on top of fabric so you can see where you are cutting. These come in various sizes so buy the size that works for you. I have 3 sizes and I use them all.

Brands; There are many great scissors out there. It is really a matter of preference. Gingher is one of the better brands and maintain their sharpness quite well.  They are a little pricey, but if you watch for sales, or shop online, you can generally get a good deal. Fiskars are a medium priced, nice quality scissor you can find at Joanns and many department stores.  Wiss is an old line brand that you don’t see as much, but has been the “go to” scissor for tailors for many years. The man who taught me to do tailoring introduced me to this brand. It was his favorite. I bought a pair of Wiss Dressmaker 8″ shears and I’m still using them, have never had them sharpened, and they still cut beautifully. There is a newer brand out that is advertised in all the craft and quilting magazines called Kai. They come in all sizes and shapes and I have several curved ones that I use to cut applique embroidery pieces on embroidery designs, and for cutting out fabric pieces when doing cut work machine embroidery. They have a slight serrated blade that is sharp and holds the fabric nicely.

DSCN0837There are also many novelty scissors out there that are fun for clipping threads, etc. Whatever your needs, I can only suggest you buy good quality scissors for whatever project you are working on. The success of your project depends on whatever your weakest tool is. Good quality scissors will make any project go easier. DO NOT use these quality scissors on paper, –  as paper will dull your scissors. Buy cheap scissors for the kids and your husband, and keep your sewing and embroidery scissors in a safe place only you know where they are. (:-)

DSCN0839Rotary cutters are a whole new kind of cutter, used mainly by quilters and machine embroiderers. Most all brands of rotary cutters are excellent quality. They vary in style and that is a matter of preference. Just change your blades often, or cutting through the fabric can become an issue.

I hope you enjoy reading about sewing, quilting and embroidery. Please sign up to follow my blog. As I have said, Google likes it if we bloggers have followers! Also, please pass on my link to your sewing friends so they can sign up and be informed, too. Check my other blogs as I talk about needles, stabilizers, thread, design project ideas and many more subjects. I hope you will find my past and current blogs to be informative and educational.

If you have any questions or suggestions for  blog ideas, please let me know. I want to make this blog interesting, informative and educational.

Until next time; happy sewing!

Molly

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Mean I Need More Than 2 Stabilizers?

I think this is one of my most asked questions in class. Stabilizers have come a long way from the early days of using paper or coffee filters to stabilize fabrics in an embroidery hoop. That’s going way back in time! I’ve been sewing since I was a young child, but doing embroidery for the past 12 years. Times have changed, even from when I started, and those changes are wonderful for those of us who do home embroidery. The quality of stabilizers is amazing and when you use the proper stabilizer for your project, the outcome is beautiful. You can take a plain piece of fabric or linen and make a high end style pillow that would cost you up to $100 from a home decor boutique store. Your cost? The price of a yard of fabric, your embroidery supplies, and your creative imagination.  You can design a kitchen tea towel and personalize it to give as a gift. You can embroider a beautiful monogram on a set of towels for a lovely wedding gift. All these projects use a different stabilizer to make them look professional.

There are two main things to remember. If the fabric stretches, use a cutaway stabilizer. If it doesn’t stretch, you can use a tearaway. That’s your starting point. If you keep that in mind, most of your problems are solved.

Let’s look at Tearaway stabilizers, of which there are many. There is light to medium weight tearaway which can be used on designs that are not overly dense, or they can be used to “float” under another stabilizer when a design has more than 10,000 stitches.

Another one is the “sticky back” tearaway. Floriani makes one called Perfect Stick. This particular stabilizer is half water based and half fiber based. This means that the portion under the stitches will stay even if the rest is washed away. I like this one for a lot of things like embroidery on quilting fabric, tea towels, small terry kitchen towels, etc. This stabilizer, as I understand,  has a silicone base so it won’t gum up your needle. RNK Distributing makes this and many other stabilizers under the brand names of Floriani and Jenny Haskins. They also have one called Wet n Stick. With this stabilizer, you dampen the stabilizer once it is hooped, and a little water activates the sticky quality. Then “float” and stick down the item to be embroidered. This one is great for heavier towels. Once you are done stitching, dampen the back of the stabilizer and it will activate the water property again, so it will peel away and tear away easily. Again, it is half water soluble and half fiber.

You can also get iron on tearaway that you fuse to the back of the fabric, then hoop fabric and stabilizer as one.  For the most part, it is always best if you can hoop the stabilizer and the fabric together. But… there are times when hooping the fabric is not good for a variety of reasons, like a quality towel or velvet which could get “hoop burn”. Or the fabric is too delicate, so floating is the best option. Floriani has a sheet inside the tube of each stabilizer roll  that tells you how to use that particular one.

Stretch fabric like T-shirts, knits, sweatshirts and some cottons need a cutaway stabilizer. A prime example is a T-shirt with lots of stretch. This needs No Show Mesh cutaway. It comes in fusible and non fusible. Several companies make this type,  but I happen to like Floriani because it comes in 3 color options, white, beige and black. I generally use beige or black depending on the fabric color. Because you cut it away about 1/8th inch to 1/4th inch  from the outside edge of the design, the beige doesn’t show through the light colored T-shirts.

You can also get a cutaway that looks like tearaway, but can’t be torn. This one is great for heavy sweatshirts, or jackets and will hold a large design with a heavy stitch count. This same cutaway is great to use behind a design that you want to turn into a decor picture in a frame or wall hanging.

There’s one more to talk about. water soluble stabilizers. These are great to use for Free Standing Lace (FSL), or for embroidery on organza, or sheer fabrics that you don’t want a stabilizer to show on the back. I like the kind that looks like funny fabric or cheese cloth. It’s sturdy and one or two layers can hold a LOT of stitches. Sulky also makes a heavy weight plastic or opaque looking stabilizer that is also good for FSL. There is another kind that looks like Saran Wrap. This is a “topper” that you put on top of your design to hold down the nap while stitching out your design.  Sulky calls it a stabilizer, but it is not to be used for holding stitches. The light or medium weight is to be used only as a topper. You pull it off and if you have any little nooks and crannies that you need to get out, a wet cue tip will do the trick. There is also a topper that you melt off with a dry iron. Follow instructions carefully to know how to use it properly. Floriani  calls theirs Heat N Gone

One of my favorite things to do is embroidery on towels. Below is a You Tube video with some excellent instructions on stabilizing terry or velour towels. The educator is Ellen Olsten and she is wonderful. I had the pleasure of meeting her when she came to our store, Expert Sewing Center, with a Sulky sit n sew event.  Watch and enjoy!

I welcome comments or questions and would love to have you “follow” my blog, so please click the follow button, fill in your email, and you will receive a notice each time I publish a new blog. Don’t worry, no emails are ever sold

Please check out some of my past blogs. I try to make them informative and educational. It is my delight to help people to enjoy and learn. Sewing has been a passion of mine since I was a young child.  There is a blog on threads, or one on needles, or ideas for gifts and more.  Also check out my creative links. These are businesses I do business with. They are all good quality companies.

Until next time…. Happy sewing!

 

 

 

 

 

Charming Gifts For Any Holiday or Special Occasion

Here are some ideas for you to make quick holiday, hostess gifts, birthday gifts  or cherished Christmas gifts for family and friends to use every year.

I said I would start adding You Tube videos that I thought my subscribers would like. Here’s the first one and it comes from our friends at http://www.emblibrary.com …I love these cute and fun napkins that can be made with cotton or washable linen fabric, and you can make them  for any occasion.  If you are an embroiderer, put a cute embroidery design that fits whatever holiday you choose, or a fun any occasion design that you can use year round. Not an embroiderer? How about an applique’ design. They call them Christmas Tree napkins, because of the fold, but with a non holiday fabric or embroidery design, they would just look charming on your table.  Let’s face it, nothing says elegance like a cloth napkin.

How about a  simple monogram on napkins you purchase at  stores like Tuesday Morning? They are elegant and can be used year round.

delph-blue-rooster-1

Kitchen dish towels machine embroidered with a pretty design, make a great useful gift. Make them fancy by putting on a bottom trim of fabric, rick rack or ribbon. Pot holders are always another useful gift. Why not make them to match your kitchen towel, and you have a lovely Holiday, house warming or party gift. Better than a bottle of wine. Better yet, wrap the towel around the wine and tie with a pretty bow. Sounds good to me.

Place mats are always fun sewing project. Four can be made with a yard of top fabric and a yard of complimentary back fabric. Sandwich them with Annie’s Soft n Stable, add a decorative binding, and you have a one of a kind gift. Are you a quilter? Make a patchwork top and you have something really special. Before putting the binding on, quilt it with cross hatching (or in the ditch) and you have a very professional looking gift. Again make matching pot holders to finish it off.

Have a golfer in your family or circle of friends? How about a golf towel with a cute black-golf-bag-1embroidered  design on it and maybe even a name or monogram. You can purchase quality golf towels from All About Blanks or Discount Embroidery Blanks. They have beautiful velour tops with terry back for wiping hands or golf clubs. Towels also come ready with grommet and hook to attach to golf bag and they have a wonderful variety of colors.

2-ivory-fingertip-christmas-towelsDon’t forget bath room towel sets. Fingertip towels with a pretty machine embroidered design or monogram are great for a powder room. Bath towel sets with an elegant monogram is always a nice Christmas present house warming or wedding shower gift.

Don’t forget  to machine embroider T-Shirts, Sweat shirts, and jackets to dress up your own clothes or for someone else. Kids love T-shirts embroidered by Grandma (or Grandpa) Be sure to put Sulky Tender Touch or Floriani Dream Weave on back of design to cover stitches so the threads inside the shirt don’t touch the skin.

These are just an idea of quick gifts that will be appreciated. If you only sew, then besides place mats, how about fabric bowls, rope bowls or wall hangings.

Ok. Now that I’ve inspired you, lets get sewing. I welcome comments or questions and would love to have you “follow” my blog, so please click the follow button, fill in your email, and you will receive a notice each time I publish a new blog. Don’t worry, no emails are ever sold.

PS. All kitchen towels, golf towels, and finger tip towels can be purchased at All About Blanks, or Discount Embroidery blanks. See Creative Links.

Until the next time….. happy sewing!

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Where Did You Get That?

Whenever I teach a class, I try to bring something new to the table. I may use ribbon, sequins, rick rack or rhinestones (I’m accused of being a “bling” girl), on whatever embroidery project I am doing. Well, I have some great companies I buy from and I would like tell you about some of them. Most of these companies also have great sales throughout the year, so be sure to sign up to get their emails. It’s well worth it. Their links are all in my Creative Links section.

Thread Art.com has EVERYTHING you could want to trim your project. That’s not all, they have many different types and weights of threads. Add, embroidery designs you can download, quilting fabric, vinyl, stabilizer, and much more. You just have to check each page to see what treasure you can find.

Another great company to buy blanks to embroider on, is Discount Embroidery Blanks.com They, and their sister store, Sewfisticated Stitcher.com  have reasonably priced blanks like towels of all kinds. tea towels, golf towels, finger tip towels, etc. Don’t let their prices fool you. The quality is great.

Also check out All About Blanks.com  They have some beautiful things you can embroider like the usual towels, but also elegant cotton table runners, napkins, handkerchiefs, etc (be sure to use 60 wt. embroidery thread when working with delicate handkerchiefs)

There are other companies out there, but these 3 companies I do a lot of business with.

How nice is it to make something personalized for someone special. We all like the sound of our own name. Well, how about their name or monogram on a gift  that they will always cherish.

Please click the follow button and sign up to follow my blog. You will get an email each time I publish something new. Check out my past blogs and I’d appreciate it if you would pass on my link to your sewing, quilting and embroidery friends.

Until next time …. happy sewing!

 

 

 

 

 

Free is Fun Again!

Whenever I teach an embroidery class my students ask where did you get that design and most times, if I give them a design, it’s because I got that design for free.  Every body likes to get things free. In the quilting and embroidery world there are a lot of companies who every month, give you a free quilting pattern or free embroidery designs. My last “Free is Fun” blog talked about some of the free embroidery designs you can get.  Well here are a few more.

Check out Hatched in Africa. This is a wonderful company in  South Africa that has “All Sorts of Embroidery” as well as projects and supplies. You can download your designs and you will get a free design with each purchase. Secrets of Embroidery  has 60 different designers. Each one has their own unique style and you can go crazy trying to decide what you want.  You can download some of their free designs to try out the company. Be careful, you will get hooked and want to try more.  I told you about Zundt Designs in my last Free is Fun blog. I said their designs are beautiful and stitch out well. Try their FSL – “free standing lace”  bowls with Floriani metallic thread. Lovely! Their designs are a little pricey but whatever your buy,  you will make often,  which makes it worth the price.

Almost all the companies have free designs and some give you free designs every month like Embroidery Library.  They also have a special Christmas Club. As you buy designs, you get points towards free designs. Like your very own Christmas present of embroidery designs.

Anita  Goodesigns  have exquisite designs. Up until now, you could only purchase their designs from a store like ours, Expert Sewing Center, but now you can purchase designs direct. Register with them and you will get word each week about a $5 or $10 “mini pack” that you can download immediately.

Embroidery Garden has a lot of “In The Hoop” projects that are always fun to do.

Embroidery Panda has sooo many designs that they sell for twenty five cents. Can’t beat that price!

If you can’t afford to immediately buy “everything you love” then these free designs are a great way to build your stock of patterns and designs, try out their company and find they suit your style. Naturally, I will always buy a design or two along with my free designs.

Many of these companies will have video tutorials to answer a lot of your questions. In the future, I will add some that I think you might like.

Not an embroiderer? Quilters have just as many free things on line. Nancy’s Notions isn’t just a store to buy supplies, it also has a section where your can download free projects and quilting blocks. Check it out.

Another of my favorite sites is QuiltersCache.com . They have traditional and new style quilt blocks in all sizes, complete with instructions, etc that you can download for free.

There are so many resources of free “stuff” if you just take the time to search them out. I will have more for you in the future. It’s a great incentive for you to check my blog often to see who else I can tell you about. 🙂 I will only talk about the companies that I personally love and I know are honorable and reputable to do business with. These are companies I have purchased from for many years. To get many of these “freebies” you need to register with the website, then you will get emails for when they have sales, or you can just sign in to see what they have new.

TIP: Make sure you use the proper needle for your embroidery project. Most projects you will use a 75-11 embroidery needle. If you are working on denim or thick fabric projects, you may want to try a 90-14 embroidery needle. If using Metallic thread, use a needle rated for metallic thread. The eye is a little larger to allow the thread to travel through the eye a little cooler. Please read my blog that tells you about the various needles and when to use them. The proper size needle really can make a difference in the quality of your project.

Check all the Creative Links on the right to go direct to the various websites I talk about.

Please click the follow button and sign up to follow my blog. You will get an email each time I publish something new. Check out my past blogs and I’d appreciate it if you would pass on my link to your sewing, quilting and embroidery friends.

Until next time …. happy sewing!

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Thread; Thick or Thin – Which Do I Use?

thread-clip-artI just did a class where I must have had 10 different questions about thread.  So, I thought I would update and re-run this blog with the hopes that it may answer any questions you may have.

When I teach a free motion quilting class  and I try to explain the difference between the thread sizes, I get lots of question. For some people, thread thickness can be very confusing. It’s hard to compute in our brains why the higher the number, the thinner the thread and the lower the number the thicker the thread. I am going to try to simplify  which is which.

Normal sewing thread is usually 50 weight thick. This is the standard in the industry.  This is the normal thread you buy at Joann’s or wherever you buy your everyday sewing or quilt piecing thread.

To sandwich my quilts together I like to use a 30 weight quilting thread  Iuse a 90-14 needle or higher.  It’s a little thicker and shows up nicely when you are machine quilting. There are many good brands of thread but my personal preference is Sulky quilting thread solid or variegated, or King Tut solid or variegated. King Tut has nice large spools. Great if you are quilting a large quilt that will use a lot of thread.

There is one more thread for quilting. It’s a 12 weight that is much thicker and nice for hand quilting. It gives a nice texture to the finished quilt. If you use in a machine I would use a top stitch needle like a 90-14 or 100-16

Embroidery thread is 40 weight. This  is the standard for anyone using embroidery thread for their machine embroidery designs. This thread is a little thicker than your normal sewing thread to give you more depth in your design. It can also be used for quilting your quilt sandwich when used on a machine. It has more sheen and can look very nice on the more modern style of quilts. For quilting you would want to use the same weight thread in needle and bobbin.

60 weight thread is what you use in the bobbin of your machine when doing machine embroidery. It comes in several colors ie; white, tan, cream, grey and black. You can buy it in pre-wound packets or your can buy  Finishing Touch bobbin thread in spools that you can wind on your own machine if that’s what you prefer. Also, some machines don’t like pre-wound bobbins. My Brother Quattro and Dream machines love both pre-wounds as well as bobbins I wind myself. There is also a 60 weight cotton thread you can buy to use in your bobbin if you want the back and front of your project to look the same such as in lettering. 60 weight cotton thread is also nice to use when sewing applique’s on the machine or by hand. If you are machine embroidering small lettering, like on a recipe dish towel. then you may want to look into using a 60 weight embroidery thread. It has a nice sheen and softer hand for small fonts. You can use the same thread top and bottom if you like. That’s what I do. It gives me a nice finish.

The last one I want to talk about is a beautiful thread you can use for heirloom sewing and for tacking down appliques. It’s 100 weight thread. It’s the finest thread on the market.  It can be purchased in cotton and silk. Very delicate and lovely when sewn.

I hope this helps any one who may have been confused about thread weight and  the use of each type of thread. Except for embroidery I always use the same weight thread in my needle and bobbin. My favorite threads for sewing and piecing are Aurifill, Mettler, Superior, Sulky and Gutterman. For embroidery threads I like Floriani, Isacord, Brother Madeira, Robinson Antone and Sulky. All are excellent brands.

If any one has any questions please email me through my contact page. I will try to answer questions as best I can and if you have any suggestions for future blogs, I would love to hear them. I would also like it if you click the follow button (google likes it if we have followers)  and check out the creative links of businesses I buy from.

Until next time….. happy sewing!

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