DIY Embroidery Target Stickers, Dexter the Dragon, and a Machine Embroidered Apron

Those who know me know that I make no bones about being thrifty in my pursuit of my hobbies.  While I’ll spend money where quality is required, I’ll also DIY where I can to save a buck… or two…or twenty…or ten thousand as in the case of my longarm.

Let’s take Machine Embroidery Target Stickers.  Nice, but not necessary.  Most professionals just chalk a 90 degree crisscross and call it good.  But if you’re using a fabric that doesn’t take chalk well like a towel, or you don’t want to have to remove chalk lines like on a satin, or you can’t find said chalk, then a sticker works great.  It stays put and provides a great pinpoint to see where you want to start.   There are pre-printed stickers out there you can buy where you get 250 stickers for (sales pitchman voice here…) “An amazing low price of just $19.99!” ($24.99 on Amazon Prime)  Or…you can buy 525 Avery removable dot stickers # 6736 and draw your own 90 degree angle on them, for just … wait for it… $10.58.   More than twice the number of stickers for half the price.  And here’s a cool little tidbit – it doesn’t matter where the crisscross is on the sticker just so long as the lines are at a 90 degree angle.  Easy peasy.  I just penciled in a page of them here.

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Dexter the Dragon’s baby sister Darla.  Y’all remember my last post about the failure on the blue dragon from Shiny Happy World?  I gave it another shot with fleece instead of Minky and success!  Here she is!  I bought some blue fleece for her big brother and will finish him this weekend.  Don’t you love her rosy tummy?

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I did some extra stitching on those wings at the spine because if my granddaughter is anything like me (and she looks EXACTLY like me) then those wings will be swung like a boomerang prior to launch at her brother.  This pretty girl is double stitched everywhere!

Apron Embroidery.  A co-worker, Diane, is really into competition BBQ cooking just like hubs and I are.  She is hosting her daughter’s high school graduation BBQ this coming weekend and they are smoking 23 beef briskets to serve nearly 400 folks.  One aspect of BBQ cooking is Showmanship.  Her sister bought all of them matching aprons and she asked me if I’d embroidery hers with her nickname DeeDee.  She told me how she wanted it and I let her proof 4 different fonts via text prior to stitching.  I just love it and so did she.

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Her apron isn’t over the trash can ya’ll; that’s aluminum can recycle in my laundry room next to my front loader.  🙂

Have a great weekend!

BOM Getting to Know Hue – Red

Another month has gone by and so goes another block of the month. This is a pattern by Nancy Rink and her quilt Getting to Know Hue.  This is Getting to Know Red. 

This month’s block really challenged my piecing skills. I learned new techniques to create blocks I’ve never done before. I absolutely love the intricacy of this quilt and all of its designs. Y’all, this is probably some of the best piecing I’ve ever done this month. Check out those points and joins. I have to say I’m very proud. 😊 It is a bit wobbly on the sides where I aimed for the center but I’m hoping that disappears in the quilting. 

A new technique I added to my piecing skills is this little trick with painters tape. I drew one-quarter inch lines from needle center on the painters tape so no matter which side I stitched from, my stitch lines were accurate. It really helped to have the line a little longer then would seem necessary because it helped me to hold the fabric straight as it went through the feed dogs and I could eyeball the exact 1/4″ just before the needle. And using this presser foot was just the thing to hold the fabric exactly in place as it stitched. From now on, this will be the only way I piece my blocks. Obviously, the SewSteady table helps. 

Next month is Orange. Can’t wait for the fabric to get here!

Failure is Part of the Journey

We all see the pictures of perfect stuff all over Facebook, Pintrest and IG of perfect sewing projects, perfect quilts, perfect lives, perfect this, perfect that, blah blah ad nauseum.  And so many of my friends think that when I sit down at a machine, miraculously perfect things happen immediately.  Well, I’m here to tell you that is not true.  While I might consider last weekend completely wasted because my project was a COLLOSSAL FAIL, I actually learned a great deal. The trick is not to allow failures to deter you from your goal, no matter what the task at hand is.  Try, try again.  Right?

I’m making this little guy.  Isn’t he adorable?

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He was going to be for my grandson’s 6th birthday this week, and I’d diligently planned it all out. I bought the softest, most cuddly blue Minky fabric for the body and had some gray Cuddle Bubble on hand for the belly. Someone put a pic of the blue/gray version on FB and I just had to make it. I found some awesome silver scuba knit at Walmart for the wings, I ordered the safety eyes from Amazon, and was all ready to go… on time.  Then I sat down at the sewing machine and every thing changed.

First of all, I cut the pattern wrong.  No biggie, I had plenty of fabric.  That’s normal in my world so I wasn’t discouraged.  Mind you, I’m covered in Minky shreds from hair to flipflops but that’s part of the adventure.  I was prepared for that.

Now the wings.  The pattern says to cut two pieces of fabric and one piece of foam in the shape of the wing, and then to sew them together.  Sounds easy enough but the result was a silver blob that no way resembled a wing.  See top wing in first image below.  Things shifted everywhere in the machine, pins/clips or no, and was a real beast.  Needless to say, I’m glad my grandson wasn’t around because a sailor appeared somewhere in the room.  On my 2nd attempt, I cut the foam and sewed it to two squares of fabric (2nd photo) and then cut out the wing around the foam.  Success!  See bottom wing in top picture.  This method allows the best shaping possible.  Also, if you do sharp points like this, there is a little garment sewing trick for collar points to take a small single horizontal stitch (or two) at the tip before beginning the next upward angle.  This single stitch gives the fabric room enough to make a beautiful point without a bunched up rounded wad.

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The hands and feet were no trouble and sewed together just fine (after I figured out I had to hand-baste the bottom of the foot to the top) and I placed them in the same location on each side of the body pieces.  I added the wings – no problem and he was coming along nicely!

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Now the tummy.  You’d think the biggest piece would be the easiest.  WRONG!   Much like sewing a sleeve into an armscye (arm hole), the tummy must be positioned perfectly to make it all match up.  There are points on the pattern for notches to match but I couldn’t see them in the Minky.  So I gave it my best shot and sewed the tummy gusset to the body.  The result was a lopsided, unbalanced, wonky kinda dragon thingy.

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My husband was a sweetie and said to finish him anyway because my grandson wouldn’t care, but oh no.  That’s not how I roll.  There’s perfection or close to it (which would be nice) and then there’s something that will embarrass me every time I lay eyes on it.   After 10 hours of this project, I tucked it all into a drawer, got myself a cold beer, and ordered him a set of binoculars on Amazon.   However, I’m not deterred.  I’ve already picked up a half yard of blue fleece to give the next dragon a try.  Cross your fingers!

Minky Clean Up Tip

I’m blogging from the passenger seat of our F-350 Dually on the way home from the coast so I’ll make this a quick post.

I was cutting pieces this weekend for Dexter the Dragon out of some glorious cuddle minky I got from ShinyHappyWorld.com.  You know that stuff sheds like CRAZY! (Image courtesy of wearesewhappy.com.) No, Dexter isn’t pink, I just didn’t take any pics for this post. 😊

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Of course I got it everywhere.  I’ve recently jumped on the microfiber cloth bandwagon and if you haven’t yet, you definitely need to get on this ride! The trick to making these cloths work at their best is to use them when they are damp…not totally wet and they don’t work at all when they’re dry.

I used the microfiber cloth that is designed for screens on tablets or televisions, (it has a very smooth surface), because I figured that the ones that have the little loops on them like a washcloth would make the minky fiber embed in the loops. I got the cloth damp and then proceeded to wipe around and collect every bit of the minky that had shed all over my cutting mat, the table, and the floor.  The shreds stuck to it like glue. Then I took it outside, gave it one shake and viola’!  It was perfectly clean and all the minky was gone!

I love the other types of microfiber cloths for every other type of cleaning too but for minky the smooth one is the way to go.

Educational Swatch Packets

Blogging for my Garment sewers!  (Sorry quilters; next week I promise!)  I have the most amazing find!  Educational Swatch Packets from Fabric Mart.  If you buy fabric online, then this post is for you.

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Each of these fabulous swatch packets are just $4.99 each.  They offer them in Silk – 18 swatches, Wool and Suiting – 19 swatches, and Stretch Knits – 20 swatches.  Each swatch is a very generous 4″ x 5″ so you can really grab the fabric to feel the texture, weight, translucency, and hand (use your imagination here a bit).  I always read the fabric descriptions but after awhile, they all sound the same.  I bought these because it all sounded so abstract to me.

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When I found these I really just wanted the one for knits.  I’m mean honestly, who can tell the difference online between a Polyester Ponte Knit, a Hacchi Sweater Knit, and an ITY knit – all of which are made from Polyester and Lycra?  Well, that might be an easy one for you pros, but if you’re like me and all you see is “knit” which means it’s anything but a woven, then these gems are invaluable.  I do know enough about fabrics to know that the swatches are in the packets in the order described in the pages so that helps a bunch.

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So that’s it!  Best $15 I’ve spent in a long time.   🙂

#GettingToKnowHue : Getting to Know Yellow-Green

I’m in a Block of the Month (BOM) put on by #LoneStarQuiltWorks and it’s a gorgeous Nancy Rink pattern called Getting To Know Hue.  In addition to designing the pattern, she also designed the fabrics.  All colors have the same hue and the same dots and weave prints even though they are all different colors.  April’s BOM is Getting to Know Yellow Green.

This entire quilt is really pushing my piecing skills.  It seems like everything is on the bias so I’m learning to starch all fabrics on the wrong side before cutting.  My favorite is Faultless with the blue cap.  No flakes.  I learned that trick from Amy Gibson at StitcheryDickoryDock.com Love her!  If you pop over to her site, she has a free Paper Piecing cheat sheet she is sharing if you’re interested.

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When I know I’m going to be cutting bias cuts, I never push the iron over the fabric, rather I place it top to bottom and use plenty of steam.

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When I turn it over (above) I run the iron over it by barely touching the fabric until all the iron marks are gone.  That’s better.

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As with any pattern, reading it first is key.  This month, I nearly made a mistake and cut the fat eighth long-ways instead of side ways.  Whew.  It was a narrow miss!

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I love seeing all the neat stacks ready to become something beautiful!

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I swear by my painter’s tape.  The edge is the sewing line and I mark 1/4″ in for making the HSTs (half-square triangles).  However, after the first 4 of these, I gave up and went back and drew the actual sewing lines. With all this bias, I wasn’t taking any chances.

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And a short 6 hours later?  Ta-da!!  Two pretty good looking blocks if I do say so myself.  Please don’t look too closely at my wobbly seams.  I’m hoping they won’t show after it’s all together and quilted. Getting those exact points on the bias…what a chore!  But I’ll take wonky seams over tipping a triangle any day.

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Here are the blocks from Jan (blue), Feb (teal), and March (magenta).

Here’s what it will look like when it’s finished.  What are you working on?  Please reply or post a link.  I’d love to see!

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