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!

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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!

***PLEASE SCROLL DOWN OR CLICK ON LINKS AT RIGHT TO READ MY PAST BLOGS. THANK YOU. 

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”