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

 

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.

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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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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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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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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.

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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”

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.

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