December 1st!  Somebody tell me where the year went!  Y’all, I have to tell you that 2018 has been a blessed year around our house and I hope it was at yours as well.  Here’s what I’ve been up to for the past month.

Check out the cutting mat I picked up at the Quilt Festival in Houston last month.  This thing is like a football field!  I absolutely love it.  I got it at the show price of $75.  I’ve been butting up two large green Olfa mats for some time now and inevitably they come apart in the middle and the rotary cutter won’t cut there or if overlapped, they were like a ski slope.
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I’ve wanted a heat press for some time as well, and I picked up this 6″ x 7″ for just $99 along with a mat and pressing sheets on Amazon on Black Friday.
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I don’t do a whole lot of heat transfer vinyl (I don’t have the room in my world for that craft)  but the girls at work decided we’d all look the same on Fridays this month and we all got this bling design to go on black t-shirts.  I needed an iron right?  My blogger buddy Joy would just love this!  wp-1543668259831..jpg

Sorry Joy, when we bought the bling pieces at work, you and I weren’t in contact yet or I’d of made one for you.  I’ll think of you every time I wear it though!  Isn’t she a peach?  You guys have to go check out Joy Bernhardt on YouTube and her blog at Joyful-expressions.blogspot.com.  Joy is bubbly, happy, and always up to something.  I just love her videos and following her around in her sewing room.  That’s a new BabyLock Solaris hiding under the new cover she made for it.  Can’t wait to see what she starts doing with that beauty!
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When I went to the DIME Stitch Lab in The Woodlands in Sept, I bought a piece of software called Word Art in Stitches and let me tell you, I love this thing!  I’m a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (I have like 13 American Revolutionary War ancestors) and my local chapter wanted to have matching embroidered blouses that we could wear to public events where we wouldn’t normally be wearing our ribbons like in chapter meetings or State conferences.  I came up with this design and I’m testing it out right now on “like” fabric to see how it’s stitching out.  The micro-fonts in WAS are exactly why I purchased this software.  The lower case letters are about 1/4″ tall.  Look how clear they are!
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Not sewing related, but would you look at the price of fuel here in South Texas?  WOW!
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We had an amazing feast for Thanksgiving at the Hurricane in Port O’Connor.  There was so much food with great friends.  The restaurant provided the turkey & ham and everyone was asked to bring a side.  I brought two homemade pecan pies.  We had a wonderful time and I didn’t have to kill myself cooking and cleaning.  Perfect!  Keith gave the blessing and it’s got almost 400 Likes on FaceBook.
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While we were in POC, I stopped by Beefore It’s a Quilt in Port Lavaca, and picked up a kit for this quilt.  It’s just perfect for my house in LaVernia.  It’s really lovely and the photo doesn’t do it justice.  It’s a Villa Rosa pattern and sometimes the simplest patterns make the prettiest and most satisfying finishes.
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I made a couple of these embroidered toilet paper rolls as a gag and Keith took them in to the office as a show-n-tell.  Now I’ve got orders for 5 of them!  Thanks for adding to my to-do list!  Ha!  If you want to know how to make these, there’s a bunch of videos on YouTube.
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The Christmas Scenes quilt is off the longarm and bound.  It turned out so pretty!
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My local quilt store, Scrappy Quilter in Schertz, Texas is moving.  They found a place twice the size across the street from their old shop.  I stopped by to lend a hand and they put me to work moving about 100+ bolts of clearance fabric from a huge pile on one end of the store into a display on the other end.  I had a blast!
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I’m working on a quilt for a grandchild for Christmas.  Nothing like waiting until the last minute.
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I’ve got to get this finished, longarmed, bound, and mailed in the next two weeks.  Yikes!  I need to quit blogging and get sewing!  What are you working on?

 

 

 

I’ve had a busy sewing November so far this month.   Hubs and I planned to visit the Houston Quilt Festival and we made the trip from our coastal home in Port O’Connor, Texas to Houston.
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We ran into Angela Wolf from It’s So Easy on PBS.
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I read on Facebook that you should take along a backpack to tote all your goodies so of course, I had to make one.
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I loved the Urban Elementz booth.  The owner lives in New Braunfels, Texas which is near our home so I like to support our local artists.  I picked up the cute giraffe measuring quilt kit.  Love those shades!
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How cute is THIS?  Adorbs!
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I made up some mug rugs for my local quilt shop, Scrappy Quilter, that come from Kimberbell’s Holiday and Seasonal Mug Rugs, Vol 1.  Jo put them display!  Here’s the cardinal.
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And here are the gingerbread, pumpkin, and spider.  So cute!

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Here’s the embroidery display area in the store.  They are moving next month to a new place across the street and Jo wants to expand the embroidery offerings and I can’t wait to help her by making more store samples.
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I’ve got my Christmas Scenes quilt on the longarm.  One mission I had at the Quilt Festival was to visit the Quilt Butler computer folks and get some assistance with the nesting feature to make the quilted rows come out evenly.  Mission accomplished!  The decals on Elvis are also from Urban Elementz.
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And lastly, a coworker’s wife is expecting a baby girl next week so I made her a nursing cape and a couple of bibs.
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So that’s what’s been under my needle.  What’s been under yours?

Machine Embroidered Pot Holders

And on the practical side of my life…  You’ve heard the old saying “Preacher’s kids are always the worst?”  Well, here are my current potholders.  Pretty sad, huh?  They’ve definitely seen better days.
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I have no idea how old they are.  I just loved the whimsey print on the front and while I could have purchased new ones for next to nothing at WalMart, why would I do that when I can make my own?  That thought has prevented me from dropping the $5 to purchase new ones for years…and years.

I found my crosshatch design on Etsy.  I used cotton thread for the embroidery in the top and bottom because I was afraid a synthetic might melt over time.
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There’s an old saying in the machine embroidery world too, “There are those that test, and those who wish they did.”  I’m in the 2nd category on this project of course.  I figured ‘how hard can this be?’  I hooped some stabilizer, added my chosen fabric and two layers of batting and off I went.  I ended up with beautiful stiff pieces of cardboard.  Note to self, don’t use stabilizer next time.  The thought was to make the front and back the same, that’s why there are 4 pieces here.
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So on the 2nd go, I used black backing fabric as the “stabilizer” itself and then added two layers of batting and another piece of fabric from the same group of fatquarters.  It worked out perfect!
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Again, I used two pieces of 80/20 batting.  Now you might be saying, “But what about Insulbrite in the batting?”  Nope.  I have some, but I don’t like how it sounds in the finished product and after inspecting the innards of the old potholders, they didn’t have it so…
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I rounded the corners using ginormous washers from the hardware store, a.k.a my pattern weights.
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I made 2″ bias binding from the same black fabric as the backing.
wp-1541249494678..jpg I love my new potholders!
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A Pink Quilt for a Friend with Breast Cancer

This summer we learned unfortunate news that a friend of ours had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She is in her mid-50’s with a husband and a teenage daughter who is just starting her senior year of high school.  I can’t imagine anything more scary than a life threatening illness.  Her husband said they caught it early and she was immediately undergoing treatment.  You can imagine that when someone you love is very sick, you want to provide care and comfort.  Those of us who are affected by a loved one who receives such a diagnosis feel so helpless!  She lives in another state so what could I do?  Why, make her a quilt of course!

I searched the web and found 2.5″ pre-cut strips of Pinking of You, by Wilmington Essentials, which I thought would be perfect.  The link above is for a mini-strip set, so if you want to make the same size I did, you’ll need to purchase two of them.  I’m sure she doesn’t have a single pink thing in her house and it won’t match at all, but that’s not the point.  I thought I had bought the 10″ squares and when the fabric arrived I looked at it and thought, “What am I going to do with this?”  After more web searching for ideas (because I’m missing the Creative gene), I decided on what Missouri Star Quilt Company has termed a Jelly Roll Race.  You just start sewing all those strips end-to-end so they are long enough to wrap around your house! When you get to the end, you start sewing it to itself, over and over, until you run out of strips.  It’s a pretty quick sew.  Here’s a video of how to.

I removed the lighter cream strips from the set and got to it.
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I wanted to add a Pink Ribbon to the quilt top so I found one on the internet and printed it out.  Then I traced a line drawing of the outside edges, scanned the tracing into my Brother ScanNCut 650W, and it cut out a perfect fabric ribbon out of a batik I had in my stash.  I love that machine!  I attached it to the top with a blanket stitch.
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I wondered if she might haul this thing to treatments and I know those rooms can be very cold so I decided to back it in Minky.  What a mess!  That stuff shreds like nobody’s business!  I picked it up at Joann’s Fabrics along with flannel for the middle vs. the traditional batting.  The Minky is pretty heavy stuff all by itself.  I picked up the fabric for the borders from my local Scrappy Quilter shop.  The quilting pattern is Loopy Hearts from Intelligent Quilting.

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In an effort to speed up the process to get this to her as quickly as possible, I made a terrible mistake of adding the binding during the longarm process, which I had never done before.  I’m an expert binder and thought, “How hard can this be?”  My friends, take it from me, DON’T do this on a gift project if you’re not up to speed with it.  What a disaster!  It took longer to fix the mistakes in the binding than it would have to do it my usual way from the get-go.  Even now, it looks like a 4 year old did it.  Sorry my friend…let me know if it falls apart in the wash and I’ll pay the shipping to get it back, fix it right, and return it to you.  🙂

Well, I think she likes it!  I added a label to let her know she is wrapped in hugs and prayers.  I think it goes great with her décor.  Don’t you?

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She is still undergoing treatment.  Your prayers for healing for my friend Mary would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you and God bless.

 

Tricks for Great Quilt Piecing

Many of you know my dad passed back in 2014 (I can’t believe he’s been gone for more than 4 years!) and I miss him dearly (daily).  One of things I remember most about my dad was that he was handy with things.  One of the phrases he always used to say when I was attempting to do something that wasn’t working out was, “Here, let me show you a trick.”  His tricks always showed me there is a better or best way to do something other than what looks like the obvious.  So in honor of my dad, I’m going to show you some tricks to nearly perfect piecing.  I say nearly perfect because my piecing is not perfect, not by any means, but these techniques help.  This post is image heavy but it’s a must to show you how things can go wrong and how to fix them.

First of all, even the best quilters – the best in the world, make mistakes.  They have made more mistakes than you can imagine but what makes them great quilters, is that they have learned how to overcome them.  Not a single quilter in the world, with all the special, expensive rulers and gadgets, or all the experience the quilting world has to offer, makes a quilt without making piecing mistakes.  That’s why you won’t find a single quilter without a seam ripper!  😀

I’m in the middle of a quilted table topper pattern I picked up while in Las Vegas last week.  Hubs had to go there for business so I told him he had to take his wife.  🙂  It’s a Barn Star pattern so it has its share of straight seams and intersections with bias (half-square triangles (HSTs)).  Whenever you are seaming with anything on the bias, your odds of getting it right on the first go are a crapshoot.  And I played Craps all last week so I know what I’m talking about!  LOL  I won about $1,000!  I dropped a little over $200 in the Vegas quilt stores and lost probably about $400-500 so…  I’m going to call my trip to Vegas a WIN!

Let’s start with the basics – a true 1/4″ seam.  Do whatever you need to do to validate that you have a 1/4″ away from the needle marked on your machine.  I’ve used a Sharpie and even scored a groove with an Exacto knife into a brand new machine base to ensure my 1/4″ is true.   The best way to do this is to take a ruler and measure from where your needle drops into the feed dogs and measure out 1/4″.  This machine, the Brother PQ1500SL – identical to the Baby Lock Jane but is less than 1/3 the cost – is designed specifically for quilt piecing so it has a marked 1/4″ line.  My previous machines that were designed for garment sewing didn’t have a specific line for 1/4″ so I kind of had to give it my best guess from the center of the needle.  If that is the case with you, then make a mark or place the edge of a piece of tape at where you believe the 1/4″ away from the needle is, so all your seams are the same.  Your blocks may not match exactly in size to what the pattern says they should, but your quilt will come out correct as long as the seams are all the same.  Before I bought my 1500, I purchased a 1/4″ seam allowance ruler where I could drop my needle into a hole on the 1/4″ line of the ruler and then find the true 1/4″ SA.  This ruler is from PMQuilting (not an affiliate link) and it’s one of the best you can buy for just $7.99.  See the hole above the 3″ mark?  It says “Place Needle Here”.
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If you put your needle into the hole, you can see where the 1/4″ edge is.  This is where you need to align the left edge of a piece of painter’s or washi tape…or a Sharpie line. 😉
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If you don’t have one of these rulers, align a mark in the middle of your presser foot where the needle comes down and then make a FINE TIP Sharpie mark on the bed of your machine where the 1/4″ line is.  Don’t worry, not only will you not be sorry you permanently marked your machine, you’ll re-mark it when it fades.
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I have to put these two pieced sections together.  There’s a straight seam on the left (yellow-red on top to red-yellow on the bottom) and a bias seam in the middle of the two brown fabrics to make a point of the barn star.
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Trick #1 – The first thing to do is to start matching things in the middle.  In this case, I want to “nest” the straight seam first which is the first seam on the left.  When you match seams between two pieced parts, always begin somewhere that is not on one end or the other.  It can be in the middle or somewhere near there.  “Nest” means to make sure that one seam allowance (SA) goes one way and the other goes the other way where the seams meet.  Push these together until you feel them butt up against one another.  If your seam allowances go the same way, fix it with your iron to iron one in a different direction or clip one seam allowance near the closest intersection so the seam allowance can fall to the proper side and press it.  Due to what garment seamstresses call the “turn of cloth”, it’s virtually impossible to get a join to look right if the seam allowances go the same way due to bulk.  Here the top SA goes to the left and the bottom SA goes to the right.
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Once you have them butted up right against one another, take a pin and pin them together starting the pin on one side of the seam and coming out on the other making the pin perpendicular to the seam.  Get as close as possible.  This ensures that the seam will stay nested while you fiddle with the rest of the edges.  In the image below, I’m only one thread away from the seam on either side.  That nest is not going anywhere!
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Once you have a straight seam anchored (if there is one), now you need to secure the top and bottom edges.  If you don’t have a straight seam in the middle to work with first, find the center of the two fabric pieces and pin the two pieces together in the middle.  This ensures a balance between the two pieces from the start.  Below, now that the straight seam is nested and pinned, I’ve pinned both ends leaving the brown (bias) seam for last.  Always leave the hardest join for last.
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Trick #2 – Create a sewing line with a pin.  Where the join is supposed to happen on the bias part, set the fabrics flat as they lie, and 1/4″ away from the edge, “sew” a 1/4″ seam with a quilting pin by weaving it through the fabrics at the join.  Quilt pins are long enough to do this.  Don’t guess, don’t stretch, just pin them as they lay.  The brown is on the bias (a triangle) and it needs to meet up with another bias cut accurately on the bottom piece at this seam.
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Once pinned, lift up the top piece to check the join.  Wups, it’s off.  The bottom fabric needs to move to the left about two stitches.  Now, if this works for you, then fine.  It’s your quilt and you press on.  But that’s not what this post is about.
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Unpin and move the bottom fabric to where it needs to be and re-pin.  Keep doing this until you get it right.  There, that’s better.
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Now sew.  From one end, take two to three stitches leaving the needle in the down position and then match up the edges of the top and bottom pieces along the 1/4″ mark.  With a slight tension with your hands (don’t pull), slowly sew down the length of the seam.  Again, don’t pull, just keep the edges flat to one another.  When you get to a pinned intersection, slow WAY down as you near the pin.  Take one or two stiches over the pin and THEN remove the pin.  If you remove the pin before you get to it, you risk a fabric shift.  I know sewing over pins is taboo, but everyone does it even if they say not to.  Does that make it right?  Maybe.  If you go slow enough, (like handwheel-turning slow) the needle will find its way over the pin without breaking or messing up the timing of the machine.  Your join will be perfect.  Here, my needle is one stitch over the pin.
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Keep sewing and do the same over the bias seam join.  Then sew to the end of the pieced set.

Trick #3 – After sewing, do not press the seam open yet.  Set the seam with an iron by pressing on top of both fabrics – not using a back and forth motion.  Ironing back and forth will stretch the bias piece.  Just press the entire length of the seam.  Using steam is up to you, but my experience shows that steam can distort fabric cut on the bias.
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Then finger press the seam open.  This turned out perfect.  The nest of the straight seam is perfect and so is the bias join of the brown fabric.
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Once the finger press is complete. Press again the length of the seam with the iron until everything is nice and flat.  Look at the 1/4″ seam on the edges of the block at the 1 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions.  Perfect.
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So what do you do when you think everything will work out right and it doesn’t?  Hey, things happen.  Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry.  Is this good enough for government work (as my dad would say)?  Sure.  Is it what I’m after?  No.  This topper is going on my dining room table.  Missing this point will drive me crazy every time I look at it.  Perfectionist much?
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Trick #4 – When joins don’t meet, unpick about 10-15 stiches on either side of the oopsie and try again.
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Shift the fabric until you think it’s right and pin.  Then begin sewing about 5-10 stitches above where you stopped unpicking on the INSIDE of the seam allowance.  Cross over the SA before you get to the unpicked part and stitch exactly on the previous sewing line.  About 5-10 stitches after you stopped unpicking, cross over the seam line again into the SA and stop sewing.
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The crossover above and below the stitching line will lock the stitches without a bulky backstitch.  Here you can see where I crossed over at the end of the fix stitch.
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There, that’s better!  Clean up any unpicked threads.
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OK, so you’ve shifted the fabric and now you have bubbles in one side or the other.  Dang, can’t a girl catch a break?  Not to worry!  See the bubble on top in the photo below?  If you pull the bottom fabric hard enough so the bubble on top pulls out, you’ll distort the entire block because the bottom fabric is not cut on the bias.  If you sew over the bubble, you risk a pucker in your seam.  Scandal!

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Trick #5 – If you can’t massage the section toward you enough to flatten the bubble without tugging hard, flip the entire unit over so the section with the bubble is on the bottom.  Garment seamstresses know this by rote.  Place the piece with the most amount of fabric closest to the feed dogs.  The feed dogs will ease the extra fabric in invisibly while leaving the top piece without effect.  Keep stitching until you reach the other end.
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Trick #6 – This trick of flipping the fabric works even before you start.  If you have more fabric on top, flip it over so the excess fabric is closest to the feed dogs.  If you have to flip the unit over halfway through?  So be it.  Make it work!  If it is WAY off and just wont’ fit, you’ll need to unpick your previous piecing and begin again.  Hey, them’s the breaks kid!

So that’s it!  I hope my tricks can help you become a better piecer!

Automated Machine Embroidered Applique with Brother Scan-n-Cut & Simply Applique

I know “Automated” and “Machine Embroidered” sound redundant, because just the fact that the machine is doing the embroidery means it’s automated, right? I’ve taken it a step further! Last year I blogged about how I’d like to automate applique quilt blocks.  I’ve been working on it and I think I’ve found some success!  I adore applique quilts but I have a bit of arthritis in my hands so cutting out applique pieces with scissors is not much fun, and I’m not a fan of all the stops, starts, and turns in the sewing part.  Being a techy kind of girl, I knew there had to be a better way.  Enter the Brother Scan-n-Cut and Simply Applique software.

I have a cute pattern for a Rhino Quilt that I kept from a magazine from back in 2014.  This rhino is one piece and a very simple line design so I figured this would be a good one to test on.  I cut out the pattern page of the Rhino from the magazine and scanned it in to the Brother Scan-n-Cut.  I have the wireless model that uploads the image to the free Brother Canvas Workspace.   This place is amazing.  You should check it out.

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In this cloud environment, you can edit to your heart’s desire.  Basically, you want to remove anything that you don’t want cut or stitched in some way.  Here he is before.  I think those lines are from a fold in the paper and the bottom of the page that the scanner picked up and then there were some words or marks on his body.
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And here he is after.  Ready to go!  I edited by clicking on the parts I didn’t want and simply hitting the Delete key on my laptop.  Easy peasy.
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Once you have your image the way you like it, you can download it to your laptop or back to your Scan-n-Cut machine.  For this project, I have to do both.  It gives you .fcm files for the Simply Applique software and .svg cut files for the ScanNCut.
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First I download it to the Scan-n-Cut where I have a piece of fabric stuck to the mat that has Heat-n-Bond ironed to it.  Paper side up!  Ask me how I know!  What a mess!
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I load the mat, press a button, and in less than a minute – ta da!!  One cut rhino!
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Then I download the file to my laptop and pull it into the Simply Applique software. (File/Import fcm).   I’ve messed around with the stitch depth settings a bit for placement, tack down, and satin.
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Then I save the file to a USB I can load into my embroidery machine.  The software will save to virtually any type of embroidery file – it is not proprietary to Brother or Baby Lock.
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I loaded a hoop with a piece of fabric and cut away stabilizer and let the machine do its thing!  I love how this turned out!
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This sample was all done with cheap fat quarters from a non-quilt store (don’t want to ruin my good fabric if it failed!).  wp-15374873227454877274604283714793.jpg

OK, so one single shape is a good start.  But what about applique with multiple layers in the design?  I’m working on Ocean Friends by Pamala Jo Designs.  I wanted to make this quilt for a little neighbor boy at the coast.  Using the same process I described above, within an hour, I had this block done!  I need to work on the settings for offset stitches because sometimes the tack down missed the fabric completely even if the fabric was exactly where it needed to be on the placement line.

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To keep everything straight in my head, I pulled a screenshot from the Brother Canvas and printed it out so I could keep track of which color needed to be placed in the correct order.
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In Simply Applique, I renamed each stitch in the left menu with the sequence number, part name, and color I was going to use.  One thing I haven’t worked out yet in the software is how to remove covered stitches on the final satin stitch.  I had to watch the embroidery closely to stop the satin stitching where a piece of fabric would overlap and then begin it again when needed. I used a run stitch on the whites of the eyes and the pupils vs. a satin stitch.
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Here’s the final sample.  I had some machine issues with skipped stitches but that had nothing to do with the software.  Oh, and if I made the white fabric large enough, that would have helped too.  🙂
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In addition to continuing to test the offset placement and tack down stitches, I’m going to experiment with adding embellishments after the fact like satin stitched eyes or maybe a stitched smile. That can be done in the software so I need the practice.

DIME Stitch Lab 2018 Haul

I just took a fun little overnight road trip to The Woodlands (just north of Houston) to attend a Designs in Machine Embroidery (DIME) Stitch Lab.  I’d never been to one and wanted to check it out.  It was held at the Homewood Suites and that’s where I stayed the night as well.  I think there were about 45 in attendance and it was sponsored by the Sewing & Vacuum Warehouse.  They did a great job of hosting and feeding the herd for two days.  They even took into consideration my low carb diet and had specialty meals for me.  Nice huh?

The room was set up with nine sets of three 4 ft tables in U-shape groupings for 3 to sit at each table – total of up to nine folks on each table set.  On each table was the brand new Brother Luminaire sewing and embroidery machine (comparable to the Baby Lock Solaris I believe).  This thing is a beauty and it lights up like a runway!  It has a whole host of very cool features like the ability to edit your designs right on the iPad-sized screen and project your design onto the stitching field so you know exactly where the design will go and what it will look like when it’s finished.  I think it has a camera in it too so you can take a picture of what you want and it will show up on the screen so you can edit it.  This thing is pretty high tech.  They sold 5 or 6 of them at the event, but not to me.  lol
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This seminar was not a Brother demo though so we didn’t get schooled in all the cool features of the machine, but was instead an opportunity to try out all of the DIME products on the machine.  They had fabric and stabilizer for us to make six projects:  a dog bandana with 3-D raised foam lettering, a hot pad trivet, a giraffe Embroider Buddy, a wall hanging, a t-shirt, and a burp cloth.  All things were donated to local charities and the giraffes and burp clothes went to a children’s hospital.  Nice huh? 🙂  This is my table partner Terri.
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The bottom line of this event (while incredibly fun) is that it is for us to play with all the cool gizmos that DIME offers to make our embroidery journey fun and easier.  After a product was demonstrated by the great instructors, they had little paddles with numbers on them for each of us and little shopping bags lined up against the back wall with our corresponding numbers from the paddles.  When they were finished doing a product demo, Cheryl the head DIME Educator, would ask who wanted one and we’d all raise our paddles and she’d call out our numbers like an auctioneer.  The girls in the back would stuff our bags and in the end it was like Christmas!  Shopping while sitting down in front of a gorgeous toy and making friends along the way.  I loved it!  Here is Cheryl.  She was awesome!
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Note:  The links to the products below are affiliate links so if you use that link to buy something, I get paid by the vendor so I can buy more stuff.  Win win!

My haul included Word Art in Stitches software which I bought specifically for the 10 micro-fonts.  My son is a pastor and wants me to embroider scripture on small items and you simply can’t do that with regular software when the smallest font size is 1/2″.  It also digitizes for the puffy letters that is so popular now on ball caps.  This software can be used for any brand embroidery machine and comes with over 140 fonts.  The demo was amazing.  Most of my embroidery includes lettering so this is well worth the expense to me.  I’ll also use it to embroider on quilt backings vs. hand stitching on a separate quilt label.
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I also picked up Perfect Stitch Viewer which allows you to see a preview of your design on your laptop in the file library so know what the heck it is you’re looking at.  When you download design files from any online vendor, it comes with a file name like UT123456 and what the heck is that?  You can’t open it to see without opening your design software and pulling the file in.  Even if you re-name the file to say like “Snowman”, do you know how many snowman files I have?  Scads!  I have the Embrilliance version of this and it works great, but while I can see the preview of the .pes files, I can’t see the preview of the .jef files for the new 7 needle Janome machine we have (I’m not sure why – probably operator error).  AND this software allows me to see a preview of long arm files!  YAY!  That’s what really sold me on this version.  Worth every penny.
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Next is the Bird’s Nest tool.  How this works is when you have a bird’s nest, rather than attempt to remove the hoop – with the nest refusing to let go – and doink up your machine’s timing while you’re at it, you use this long hook to reach under the hoop and lift the stabilizer away from the machine.  Then use the long blade to get under there and slice the nesty threads.  Then you can remove the hoop safely and clean it up.  It comes in a handy zipper case with an extra blade and blade cover.  Of course, I’ve never had a bird’s nest happen to me so I don’t know why I bought it.  HA!  I wish!  Plus, it doubles as a weapon if needed or I can remove my appendix.  Money.
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I’ve wanted these little Hoop Guards for a while.  Have you ever embroidered a newborn Onesie?  Absolute miserable experience.  Nuff said.
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I’ve looked around for an off-brand version of this Print & Stick Target Paper and haven’t found it.  This makes life so much easier when hooping.  I usually print out my design on regular paper and then pin or use spray adhesive to adhere it to the item I’m hooping.  That method has a success factor of like 50% or less for me on hard-to-hoop items because inevitably, the paper comes off or I poke myself.  The tack on this paper is great and it doesn’t leave any residue when you lift it off.  They call it paper but it’s really like a lightweight sticky interfacing that bends along with the item it is stuck to and seriously stays put. You can use the printed paper many times over and over (that’s redundant I know but it’s important so I’m leaving it).  You print your design on this paper using your regular printer, cut it out and then stick it to your item and hoop your item as usual.  Since the paper is stuck firmly to the item, you can be exactly sure you’ve centered your design where you want it in the hoop.  This is especially helpful for big designs that require multiple hoopings like up the leg of a pair of jeans.  Then you load your hoop into the machine, make sure your needle is coming down exactly on center and remove the sticky paper.  Playing with this stuff at the seminar, I really found the value in it for me.
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And last but not least, is the Unicorn Embroider Buddy.  Isn’t she cute?  They had a wall full of these cute cuddly creatures of all kinds, but there was only one unicorn.  I saw her early on the first day and I went to the back of the room and asked the lady to put her in my bag right away.  I knew she’d be gone in an instant.  You can remove the insides from these creatures and then hoop their belly in a 4×4 hoop for any design you like.  On the 2nd day when I was waiting in line to check out, one lady came up to me and asked me if I’d be willing to part with it.  Was she serious??  Fat chance!  She said that the shop could order her one and she hoped that it would come in by the time she went to Ft Worth to see her granddaughter because her granddaughter just LOVES unicorns.  Well what granddaughter doesn’t?  I’ve got one too ya’ know?  You think I’m buying this for myself?  Sheesh! You snooze you lose sister!  I asked if she lived nearby and she said yes.  I said I well I don’t so I’d have to pay shipping if I didn’t get it now.  So she says, “Oh well OK, you should keep it then.”  HA!  Well gee, thanks!  Like it was ever an option that she was going to get this unicorn from me.  I was bigger than her so I’m sure I could take her but you never know about those ladies.
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Because my purchase was over $250 I got a free font.  That was nice I suppose.  Not sure when I’ll use it but hey, it was free!
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So that’s it!  I left a little early to start the 3-hour drive home.  I really had a great time!

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