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Conversation Hearts Surrounded by Love

I watched a video the other day from Lisa Capen Quilts on YouTube (you can learn anything on YouTube) and I fell in love with a wall hanging she was making themed around candy conversation hearts. First, I LOVE candy conversation hearts. I used to go through them in elementary school and make sure that any I passed out to my classmates for our Valentine’s Day party didn’t include one that said “cute” or “kiss me” to a boy who I didn’t want to get the wrong idea. C’mon!! We ALL did that. Admit it. 🙂

Lisa’s method was the traditional way to print or draw a picture of the design, use a light box to trace the design and words, cut out fabric backed with Heat-n-Bond, and then using a satin stitch on a domestic sewing machine, she appliqued the hearts onto a background. At one point in her video, she said it was “a little time consuming”. Ya THINK??

I really wanted to do this but have absolutely no desire whatsoever for all that work. Especially when I have a power tool, a.k.a my embroidery machine, to do it for me. And I have a very nifty piece of software called Simply Applique whose mission in life is to assist lazy embroiderers like myself. Here’s how I did it. Oh, and I’ve started a YouTube channel! I would love it if you would subscribe! I do not, and will not, monetize my channel so any products I talk about are my own personal opinion.

The hearts are an image I grabbed from Google Images which I printed and scanned into my Brother Scan-N-Cut. Once scanned, I uploaded it into the Brother Canvas Workspace to resize. Then I downloaded the image back to the Scan-n-Cut to cut out the hearts. The hearts were cut from fabric already backed by Heat-n-Bond. The background dimensions are 10″ x 26″ Kona white and then I needed a few extra inches all around the outside of Warm & White for the batting and I chose a dark pink solid for the backing and binding. The hearts are from a fat quarter bundle of solids from Free Spirit and the border is a mini-charm pack called Surrounded by Love from Moda. All the fabrics were from my stash.

The interior stipple is from a stencil I have and I used a Frixon marker to draw out the stipple design, because I’m lame and cannot do a freehand simple stipple. If I had been thinking ahead, I’d of stippled the background first on the embroidery machine because I have several stipple designs. Or even a background heart design would be cute. I just did a simple “X” on each border square.

Here’s the final product! I think it turned out absolutely adorable!! (If I do say so myself!) Now I have a cute wall hanging to remind hubs how I feel about him this coming Valentine’s Day. 🙂

Merry Christmas 2018!

As promised, I’m going to show all the quilting and embroidery gifts I worked on throughout the year for my grand kiddos. The quilts were quilted on my King Quilter using a Butler robot. And before you wonder if I spent my Christmas morning blogging, no…I wrote this a few days ago and scheduled it to post at 7 AM on Dec 25.

The first is a quilt for my 10 y/o step-granddaughter Lyric. She is all into that Monster High that young girls are into now. I found this Grimsely’s fabric and pattern at Mes Ames Quilt shop in New Orleans. I blogged how I finished the top in the RV before we even left the camp site! Sorry, I didn’t get a photo after I quilted it.

The next was for Aiden, my baby grandbaby who just turned 2 in October. They call him Aiden the Destroyer because he’s already built like a little linebacker and doesn’t mind giving a stack of toys (or a person) a tackle for no reason at all. It’s called Woodland Friends and was just a simple panel with borders. The quilting is Puffy Clouds from Intelligent Quilting. It has an 80/20 Warm and a poly batting to make the clouds extra puffy.

My local quilt shop had this kit on the wall – all except for the backing which I found on Etsy. It’s called Corner of 5th and Fun and I just fell in love with it. This one is for Callie my 5 year old granddaughter with the Christmas Birthday. I wrapped the quilt in Christmas paper to set it apart from the unicorn she got for her birthday. It too is a panel that’s cut into 3 parts and then pieced with strips of pinwheels and blocks in the border. The quilt pattern is Bunnies from Urban Elementz. I didn’t want it too dense so it might take away from the images on the quilt.

And last but not least, the Cute Monster Quilt from Craftsy by Wendi Gratz. If you haven’t already, please check out my YouTube channel for details on how I made it by using the Brother ScanNCut for the applique pieces. This one is for Calvin, my 7 year old grandson, and I was originally going to make him the Bjorn Bear quilt by Elizabeth Hartman. However, I started too late and decided the monster quilt would be quicker. I’m not entirely sure that was true! LOL I quilted it with Spirals Squared (a pattern that came with my robot Butler). If you notice, one of the monsters has blue glasses just like Calvin does! Third row/2nd monster. The glasses pattern is from the Bjorn Bear quilt pattern and I scaled it down 55% to make it fit. I cut them out on the ScanNCut as well. The fabric is from a fat quarter bundle designed for the Bjorn Bear quilt. The backing is a light gray Grunge. I had SO much fun making this quilt and it’s by far my favorite of all my quilts I’ve ever done. That’s my lucky gecko on the ceiling!

For Callie’s birthday present, I embroidered the Unicorn Embroider Cubbie. I blogged my acquisition of this adorable creature at the DIME Stitch Lab in Houston last Sept. It’s a little crooked…just like me. 🙂 I also made her the Reading Pillow as a Christmas present. I show it here on YouTube. It has an embroidered unicorn on it and the pocket contains a Little Golden Book The Night Before Christmas and an activities book. The back of the pillow is a minkey scrap.

That’s all for now. Enjoy what remains of your Christmas season and Happy New Year!

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 Game Changer in Sewing Machine Lighting

Sometimes the very best tools we can use in our sewing rooms come from non-sewing places.  I like a lot of very bright light when I sew.  Like daylight-bright-white-light.  I’ve got a couple of those outrageously-priced spot lights for sewing (upwards of $50 each) and while they work OK, sometimes that spotlight is too bright even for me, or the glare off the silver plate around the feed dogs is too much and I don’t use it at all.  I went searching for a better solution and oh boy did I find one in of all places…Home Depot!  This product is $29.99 and it’s on the lighting aisle.

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While there are 4 strips in this package, I only needed one.  The strips have a strong sticky on the back and the packaging says the light will last for 23 years.  I doubt I’ll have need for the spares.  🙂

Here is the before.  Yes, I’m machine binding my quilt.  After I attach it on the front as normal, instead of stitching on the back, I wrap it around and then stitch in the ditch from the front.  Without the light, it’s kind of hard to see the ditch.

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And here is the after!  The picture doesn’t do it justice.  I can see the ditch perfectly.  The reflection of the bulbs on the base of the machine are not a distraction and they don’t bother me at all.

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I held it up with the protective backing on first to see where I wanted to place it and then simply adhered it to the machine with the sticky backing.  I placed it a little to the back of the throat and ended up moving the cord side a little to the backside of the machine so as not to have a direct visible line-of-sight to the lights.

wp-15365130901784941874163189928168.jpg I’m SO happy with this solution!  I can see buying more for my other machines.  🙂  I wish I could just buy the electric part to use the other bulbs from this package on my 18″ sit down machine.

Geckos in Black – Simplicity 1544

This is a repeat shirt pattern I made for hubs for Christmas of 2016. He likes to wear novelty shirts on Casual Friday at work and he asked me for another shirt.  I showed him some fabric options and he chose Geckos in Black from Southwest Fabric, an Etsy shop run by Peggy Baird.  I ordered 3 yards so I’d have plenty for pattern matching.  Sorry for the glare from the lighting.
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Check out the pattern matching on the back yoke.  Steam-a-Seam my friends.
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The pattern was an easy sew and I found that stitching on black hides a multitude of sins like not-so-straight top stitching.  If you’re just starting to learn men’s shirt collars, I highly suggest doing so on black fabric and not using a contrast collar on the first (or second) attempt.
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I modified the pattern to accommodate Keith’s 50″ shoulders and 38″ waist.  If sewn as drafted from the envelope, it would look like a tent around his mid-section.  He’s definitely a sport-cut kind of guy when it comes to menswear.  I also did a short sleeve.  Who wears a novelty shirt with long sleeves?
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After I finished it, I hung it in his closet for him to wear.  The next Casual Friday rolled around and he comes out of the bedroom ready to go to work and he’s not wearing it.  I said, “Hey,  I go to all that work for your new shirt and you’re not going to wear it?”  He said, “There’s no pocket.”  What?  No.  That can’t be.  I went to look and sure enough – no pocket.  Ugh.

Well, that issue can be fixed easy enough…if you still have scraps.  But I didn’t!  I looked at home, I looked at our other house at the coast, I dug through every bin and by some freak of nature, I didn’t keep any of the scraps.  Now this fabric is $12 a yard and shipping is $6.70 so we’re talking another $20 for an 8″ square of fabric.  He said not to worry about it but I know he’d never wear the shirt unless it was the last one in the inventory – which never happens since I do laundry more than once a week.

So I went into my Etsy account and lamented to the seller about my stupidity and the situation hoping she still had some in stock.  I asked if I could buy just 1/4 yd of fabric if that was at all possible.  I mean I would buy a full yard if that was the rule but I was crossing my fingers.  Let me tell you about this wonderful lady.  Not only did she send me 1/4 yard of fabric, she sent it to me for FREE!  I couldn’t believe it!  I just love our sewing community.  They are the most wonderful, giving, and generous souls.  In our emails she said she completely understood the absolute need for a pocket and the fabric was on the way.  She has definitely earned a repeat customer!

Can you see the pocket?  No?
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It’s right here!
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He wore it to work yesterday and he said his buddy wants me to make him one and Keith told him “No, she only makes shirts for me.”   Men…

I just couldn’t let Peggy’s generosity go unacknowledged so I promised this glowing review of Southwest Fabrics on my blog.  I also had a bit left after the pocket so I whipped up a pair of pot holders for her with a thank you note.  I hope she likes them.  🙂  I put them in the mail yesterday.  I DID have a rust colored scrap just big enough for the backing.
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#ChristmasInJuly

Christmas in July?  SERIOUSLY?  Lots of the quilty blogs are featuring Christmas in July posts this month and I get it…really I do.  It’s a gentle reminder to get busy planning and making holiday and Christmas stuff.  The fabric distributors and retailers begin putting out Christmas fabric and it’s the beginning of a full shift for marketers who are aiming to guilt us into feeling like we need to add more to our quilting queue.  Like I need that!

Rather than succumb to the pressure, I decided to do an inventory of my stash and I was certain I’d find something Christmas-y to work on.  I only dug about halfway and I’ve run out of room to display what I’ve found.
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As you can see, I’m a HUGE fan of panels.  They sew up quickly and make great homey decorations.  What I’m missing is backing.  While these panels are high quality quilting cottons, I’m not opposed to getting Christmas fabric from Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s for backings because odds are, they won’t go through the wash.

Now over to kitted projects.  I found this kit at the Houston Quilt Festival in 2014 and when sewn up, it is strikingly gorgeous.  Yet, it’s been in hiding for 4 years.
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I absolutely love how adorable the Santa wall hanging is with the stuffed chenille mustache and bells.  I think I bought this kit 3 years ago.  Look at those yo-yo’s!  Cute!
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And let’s not forget the Christmas tree that lights up. I got this one going a couple of years ago (pre-2016) and decided to micro-stipple it on the outside of the tree on my sit-down.  After about a half hour, my short attention span kicked in and then packed it up and put it away.  For shame!  I think I will finish this one this year and take it to work.
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What on earth am I going to do with this?  I DON’T color!  I have no idea where this came from or how I got it.  I think the quilt gremlins put it in my stash.
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Wait!  I have an idea. Do you see the lightbulb over my head?  (It’s my ceiling fan but it works LOL)
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I’ll send it to my grandkids with a set of fabric markers!  I’m going to ask DIL to get the panel back to me no later than Halloween and I’ll quilt it up for them and send it in time for Christmas!  How CUTE is THAT?  A keepsake that the kids colored!  Love it!

Now this is not to say I don’t finish Christmas projects.  I bought 2 of the Christmas Pure and Simple panels several years ago and I finished one for us.  I proudly hang it every year.  Those holly leaves in the quilting are from my embroidery machine – from Amilee Scott Designs.  Everything else is FMQ on my sit-down from my early days.
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Do you all remember a few years ago when the Rudolph fabric was all the rage?  I finished that one.  There isn’t any quilting on it other than STID.  But I bring it out every year and it really adds to the kid-feeling of Christmas around here.
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So now for this year’s Christmas in July…  Remember that Christmas Pure and Simple panel I made?  There are small pretty panel pieces on the top and bottom and I still had those from the one I made for here at home.  I decided to make them into mug rugs or coasters.  This is an absolutely perfect project when you have zero time and tons of scraps.
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The backing is left over from the Rudolph quilt and the batting is from an unknown quilt project.
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This is a great opportunity to use those little used decorative stitches on your machine that are never used.  Be sure to test them on a scrap first.  I didn’t like my first choice (small green triangles…I thought they resembled Christmas trees…but no).  The pattern on the farthest left is what I ended up using on the first coaster.  Yes, those are black button hole stitches from another project.  🙂  I ALWAYS test my button holes.
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This took me about 15 minutes to sew up these four panel pieces.  I just made a decorative stitch around the outside of each one and then did a single straight stitch around the circles and squares.
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To avoid binding, I like to pink the edges.  I discovered that pinking shears are very overrated.  This was my first time to use the pinking rotary cutter.  I’ll NEVER go back!
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Here they are!  All finished!  I’ll stitch up the other 4 later this week.  Christmas in July?  Done!
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I challenge you to dig through your stash and get busy!  I’m sure you have a project or two waiting patiently.  🙂