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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!

Easy Clips for Machine Embroidery

Need to keep fabric out of the way while in the hoop?  I bet you’ve got something in the house that will work perfectly!  Try clam clips for hair, black office binder clips, or Wonder Clips for quilting if you have them.  I prefer the clam clips because they are easy to maneuver on-the-fly if needed and can fit around a wad of fabric to keep it from slipping under the hoop.  These are especially helpful for smaller items like tiny Onesies that have to be almost flipped completely inside out to stitch.

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I keep my clips, and other small sewing room items, in repurposed clear glass candle jars.  Why throw that beauty away when the candle is gone?  A half hour in the freezer easily removes all the old wax and after a run through the dishwasher, it’s ready for re-use.  I like jars with wide open tops I can get my hands in.  These are designated for my embroidery.  No gummy hair spray residue please!

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Here’s the finished tee for my granddaughter.  She adores her bunny!  The design is from UrbanThreads.com.

 

 

 

Disney Frozen Dresses

I have been sorely remiss in blogging as of late.  Sometimes, life just gets in the way.  I’m in a new position at work, not more money of course, just more aggravation and responsibility (of course).  But I love what I do so that’s something I suppose.  Don’t think for a minute that the new business of my work day will stop me from sewing daily.  I have to keep my sanity somehow!

Before Hancock’s announced they were going out of business, a friend’s daughter had asked me to make some custom baby burp cloths for her sister’s upcoming baby shower.  My go-to shower gift is to stitch some cute fabric down the center of a couple of Gerber cloth diapers and call it good.  Too simple.  I had made some for the first of her two daughters and she said she loved them because they didn’t allow spit-up to soak through to her shoulder, they held up in the wash, they were cute, and they were custom from a friend.  That was enough to say I’d make some for her to give to her sister.  So she and I were in Hancock’s looking for baby boy fabric and she came across some adorable Frozen pre-shirred dress fabric.  The girls were scheduled for a Frozen birthday party so she asked me if I’d make dresses for the girls – now ages 5 and 3.  Of course “Aunt Becky” will make them!
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Suffice it to say, I didn’t get enough fabric for one of them – it was light pink.   I have no idea how I managed to screw that one up but I did.  It required another trip to the store – now Joann’s (45 miles away) since Hancock’s is a madhouse and looks like a tornado went through it in their “Going out of Business” sale.  These things are too simple to make.  Just fold the fabric in half wrong sides together being sure to match the shirring in the middle so it’s not wonky, sew a single seam and boom.  Done.  They even come hemmed already so you don’t have to do a thing to it.  In truth, I’m kind of glad the first one didn’t work out because it had a border print across the bottom that would have made the dress too long for the youngest, Miss Madeline.  First of all, thank Goodness Joann’s carries the same type of Frozen shirred fabric!  Could you imagine if they didn’t??  Tears! ACK!  For the 2nd attempt, the fabric I chose allowed me to shorten it by cutting off the bottom using a narrow 3-thread serge stitch.  I did this so it would match her sister’s…’cause, you know…  Without a border print, the dress retained the complete look and didn’t lose any of its Frozen-ness. 😃  Here is Miss Madeline and Miss Peyton fresh from gymnastics.  Aren’t they adorable?

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I added 12” straps that crisscross in the back with 3 sets of button holes and small buttons on the inside of the back near the shoulder blades to adjust for growth.  Construction of the straps was a 4″ x 12 1/2″ wide matching cotton, creased with an iron to fold in half lengthwise.  Fold in 1/4″ on each short end.  Fold the side edges inward toward the crease, and fold along the crease to enclose all the raw edges.  I fused a 1″ wide strip of lightweight interfacing internally for body, then stitched the long edges 1/8″ from the sides and across each end.
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How could I say no to making dresses for these two sweethearts?  When I was asked how much I was owed, I said hugs and kisses would be payment enough.  Don’t you think?

 

 

 

Super Hero Cape!

What 5 year old doesn’t want to be a super hero with a cape?  Remember tying a towel around your neck and flying across the living room furniture or jumping high on your bed until your Mom yelled at you?  I sure do!  But really, bath towels are so yesterday.  Enter, the Super Hero Cape!  This is for my grandson, Super Calvin.
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I followed this tutorial to make it.  http://www.momsrising.org/blog/how-to-make-a-superhero-cape-by-lara-from-howdoesshe .  However, this power-tooling grammy must customize of course.  I ended up making it 13.5″ across the bottom vs. just 11″ and the length was 33.5″ vs. 31.

I found the emblem at Planet Applique and the fabric was a stretch twill with a beautiful drape I got at Hancock Fabrics. I like to do a preliminary stitch out just on a piece of stabilizer to see the size and shape.  Note the shape outline of the hoop?  It is stitching horizontally vs. vertically.  When hooped, the bottom point of the emblem is pointing toward where the hoop attaches to the machine arm – away from the machine body.
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Up front, I could not hoop properly until recently.  The words torqued, wonky, and AARRRRGH! come to mind when I attempted to hoop.  Hair pulling ensued and I’d give up on the project.  Then one day, I got an email from Eileen Roche from Designs in Machine Embroidery and it had an advertisement for the PAL. The Perfect Alignment Laser.  OMG.  Hooping Nirvana.  This bad boy provides a perfect 90 degree crosshair laser light on your hooping surface.  Slick!  I love technology.

You mark the design center of the garment with a crosshair.  I’m not going to tell you how to do this because it’s totally subjective depending on the item, but folding in half, and then quarters, and then ironing a cross-crease began the process for this project.  Because this is a lightweight fabric, I’m using a heavy duty regular stabilizer (it feels like sturdy interfacing) and Sulky Sticky+  for two layers of stabilizer.  I’ve found that when you have lightweight fabrics, using two layers of stabilizer prevents the puckers.  Puckers suck.  I’m certain there’s a better or more professional/efficient way of doing this but I don’t know what it is.
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I use a pin to score the paper and pull off the top center of the sticky backing is up.  Then I mark on the stabilizer using the plastic guide thingy that came with my machine to mark the center, sides, top and bottom.

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Then I mark a crosshair with a pencil using the dots I made.
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Now PAL comes into play.  Press the button to turn it on and TA-DAA!  A laser crisscross!  I align it exactly over the pencil marks.  Seriously, how stinking cool is this?!
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Then it’s just a matter of aligning the fabric in the hoop so that my ironed creases match up with the laser light.
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That center dot is a placement sticker from Designs in Machine Embroidery.  Hubs gave me the Perfect Placement Kit for Christmas (because I asked for it and he’s a good Santa) and these markers are included as part of it.  You can buy these stickers separately for $20 but honestly, you can get the same result with those sticky dots from the dollar store and mark a 90 degree crosshair in the center.

Now you can’t see it in the image above but I almost TOTALLY screwed this up!  I originally aligned the cape with the neckline at the top of the hoop.  No, no.  Remember on the sample stitch out it was horizontal?  Thankfully, I remembered that just in time.  Total disaster averted.  Whew!  I also like to put a few pins to help the fabric stay in place on the sticky.
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The next images are the machine doing its thing.  In machine applique, the first stitch is called a placement stitch and it outlines the amount of space your fabric needs to cover.
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Then place the first fabric over that stitch line and the machine will tack it down over the first stitching line.  The only solid yellow I had was a little transparent so I used two layers.
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When that’s done, remove the hoop and cut away the excess fabric around the design. I use those curved scissors so I don’t cut the under fabric or stitching line.
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Then the machine will do a couple more rounds to tack it down real good and then do a satin stitch around the first fabric.  No worries about extra threads.  It gets a good haircut at the end.
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Change thread colors and repeat with the other fabric.  I always cut jump threads (those long crossing threads) whenever I can in between the stitching cycles to prevent them from being anchored down where they don’t belong.

Then I stitched the top of the cape to the back RST (right sides together), turned, pressed, top stitched and added Velcro to the neck closure.  🙂
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Yeah, I know, the cape clashes with Dolly’s skirt.  lol  Here’s the neck closure.  All done!  Yeah…Who’s the super hero now?  🙂  BANG!  POW!!  BOOM!!
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