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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!

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.   🙂

Projects in-the-works for PTWT

Hi everyone!  I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last blog post.  But I have been very busy on a special secret project I’ll share very soon.  I’m SO excited about it!

So what have I been up to?  I know that has been at the top of everyone’s mind (ya right).  😉  I finished a Villa Rosa quilt top from a kit that I picked up at the Cedar Chest Quilt Shop in El Campo, Texas (SAH-LOOT!!) — a little HeeHaw humor for you U.S. readers of a certain age 🙂 —  It was a stop on the Taste of Texas Shop Hop I did in Feb with one of my junior high besties, Lee Ann.  It’s in the queue to go on my longarm.

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Have ya’ll heard of Wendi Gratz from Shiny Happy World?  She was a children’s book writer in a former life and now designs quilts.  She has a Craftsy class for Woodland Friends that I’m enrolled in and I’ve made a total of um…one block.  BUT THEN… She came out with this absolutely adorable Dinosaurs pattern and I had to have it!  I purchased the Dots fat quarters and the pattern at the same time.  Look how she includes a Thank You note in every order and she signs it!!  On top of that, you get a coupon code for a future purchase.  Sweet!  Really, how stinkin’ cute is this quilt?  It’s a quilt-as-you-go and she has a ton of videos on YouTube on how to make it all.

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Unfortunately, she was out of the dinosaur skeleton sashing and the batiks for the earth and sky.  So sad…  Not really!  That means a trip to my favorite local quilt shop, The Scrappy Quilter. Seriously, I’m in there so much I should have my own parking spot (hint, hint!)   Look at my haul!  I picked up three blues, three greens and I can’t wait to stitch up that pretty grassy batik.  Wendi uses a lot of the Burlap Brights from Benartex in her quilts for the trees, leaves, and whatnot and Scrappy had a roll of 2.5″ strips with my name on it.  I really didn’t find it but one of the sweet ladies who works there did.  On my last trip to Scrappy, I had earned (another) $25 gift card for them so…why not?  I had this dark gray grunge print in my stash I’ll use for the sashing and I’m thinking the backing will be either a gray or deep blue minky.  I can’t wait to get started!

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She recommends printing the applique pieces on pre-cut printable iron-on fusible web.  Well, I don’t have any that’s pre-sized for the printer however I do have a bunch of Wonder Under on the bolt.  So what’s a girl to do?  Why cut out 8.5″x11″ pieces from the bolt of course!  I got a total of 8 “pages” of printable iron-on from my bolt with 4″ leftover pieces from each cut.

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So being ever-practical as I am, I took those leftover 4″ pieces and taped two of them to a piece of printer paper and ran it through the old HP.  And viola!  Four more pages!  I still need more so there’s another trip to WalMart.

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On another front – I follow a blogger called GoodByeValentino.  Her name is Sarah and she used to buy very expensive RTW (ready to wear) and decided to begin buying designer fabrics to sew them herself.  Her blog says she’s saved thousands.  Ohhh kay??…Obviously, she and I don’t shop in the same locales.  ha ha  Thanks to China, and Kohls, I still can buy cheaper than I can make it most of the time.  But I love her concept.  Well Ms. Sarah put a book out called The Tunic Bible and I’ve always been intrigued because who doesn’t want to sew a top that covers the backside, amiright?  One day I was surfing on FabricMartFabrics.com and you wouldn’t believe it, but I got 4.8 yards of an amazing knit navy blue paisley print for under $5…more than FOUR yards! That stuff just screamed Tunic!  So I bought the fabric, and headed on over to Amazon to buy the book.  I have enough fabric for a muslin and the final garment.  Nice.

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One of her posts was for an out of print Vogue pattern #9047.  I love this dress!  I looked on Etsy and I found it from LanetzLiving and it was just $6 with free shipping.  The pattern arrived within a week and the vendor sent along a signed invoice a free little flip flop charm!  Cute!  Don’t you love freebies!  This will go on a necklace I wear at the coast. I will definitely order from her again.

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Back to quilting – Missouri Star Quilt Co had a Daily Deal (that’s how I built/build my stash for pennies on the dollar), and the other day they had a 10″ square pack of the Heritage line and while I didn’t sign up for the deal, I did pick up the coordinating panel, backing, binding, and the Placemats kit.  Two more projects are now in the queue for a patriotic wall hanging and placemats.  Perfect for The 4th of July!

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So that’s it!  Actually, that’s quite enough for now.  Don’t these people know I’m away from my sewing machines for 10 hours a day while I’m at “work”?

Easy Sunglasses Case – Free Pattern for Pre-cut Leftovers

I love finding projects to use those leftover pieces from pre-cuts and I always have a couple of leftover pieces of 10″ squares that are perfect for this project.  This can be done in less than 30 minutes (15 once you’re good at it) and it’s a great last-minute personalized gift.  I love this project because I get to keep a little bit of a quilt I made and it reminds me of happiness every time I reach for my sunglasses.  I recall the shop hop where I found the fabric or feel a kindred spirit to the person who received the quilt.  This project is a win-win all the way around.

I wear big sunglasses (wrinkle prevention you know) and not all of them come with cases.  We are on the water a lot and I prefer to wear Costa sunglasses but the case they come with is hard-sided which is like digging around a brick in my purse.   The hard-sided case took up entirely too much room so I needed a soft sided case.  My sunglasses needed a quilt!

This is from Nature Walk by Michael Miller.  I used two 10″ squares and a 10″ piece of batting.  Lay them together with the outer fabric face down, batting in the middle and the inner fabric or case lining face up.

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The pattern piece is the LargeSunglassesCase.  However, if you need a custom fit, you need to measure the widest part of the sunglasses, while closed, from one side to the other to get a measurement.  Mine were 3.5″ (x 2 front and back circumference) for a total of 7″ width and I wanted a little extra on the end so I added 1/2″ for a length of 7.5″.   I made the corner of the pattern using a roll of duct tape as a template.  Very high-tech around here folks.  If you are making your own pattern, do not add any ease in the circumference.  You do not want the case to be so loose that the glasses will fall out.  The case should fit snugly around the glasses.

Once the pattern is cut, I folded it in half to see where the rounded end met the side.  That’s 2 1/4″ down from the top so I marked the spot on the pattern on both sides with a little line using a Frixion pen.  Mark this little dash on both sides of the lining and the outer fabric where the curve ends.  It’s where you will begin and end stitching.  Note:  If you don’t have time for the whole curve thing, just sew up the bottom and side of the case and be done with it.  Easy-peasy.  But I like the fancy look of the curve on the outer fabric.

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I cut all three pieces at once.  Of course, once cut, they shift around and don’t line up perfectly but I turned mine to the right side and maneuvered the fabrics so everything lined up just right.  Then I pinned to hold it all in place.  This is not an exact science and I don’t get all bent out of shape about the edges meeting because they will be trimmed after sewing anyway.

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This is a great time to try out those pretty decorative stitching patterns on your machine that you never use.  If you don’t have any, a zig zag works nicely.  I want caution you however, if you choose a decorative stitch, go a little slower than normal.  I went too fast on my first attempt, jammed my machine, and threw out the timing.  This bad sewing mama learned a $75-trip-to-the-repairman mistake.  Before sewing the real deal, I tested my stitch choice on the left over scraps.  Another boost to this project is that when you’re finished, you still have a nice sized piece to add to your scrap bin.

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This next part, sewing the curve, is a little counter-intuitive and a bit tricky.  Starting with the lining side up, flip the sandwich completely around (top at the bottom) and beginning at the dashed mark on your left, sew what is actually the top of the case.  I kept the fabric lined up with the left edge of the presser foot.  Sew down to the “top” edge, turn the fabric and continue to stitch around the curve and then stop as close as you can on the other dashed mark.  If you are sewing a decorative stitch, try to stop at the end of the stitching sequence before it begins another.  When you reach the end, do not backstitch but do cut the threads.

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When you reach the dash on the other side, remove the case from the machine, fold it as it would look when finished, and begin sewing on the front at the stopping point where you left off.  You may need to rearrange the pins to get them out of the stitching line.  Now keep the fabric in line with the right edge of the presser foot.  The idea is not to see a visible stop/start point in the stitching.

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Sew down the front side and make a definite 90 degree turn to sew across the bottom of the case to end at the fold.  Do a tie off stitch and remove it from the machine.

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It looks a little rough now, but clip the loose threads and take a pair of pinking shears to the edges.  I begin on the long side and then continue around the curve, opening up the top edge as I go until I get down to where the back/front meet so I get one smooth cut.  Then I cut off the bottom edge.

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It fits perfect!  My sunglasses are peeking out but when I tuck them fully in, they are completely covered and protected.

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It was about time to replace the other one.  You can see where my fancy stitch jammed up my machine and I had to stop stitching along the bottom.  But that didn’t stop me!  I’ve been using it anyway.  After I posted this, I went ahead and finished off the end and gave it a press.  Good as new!  I got that mint colored fabric at a shop hop through Rockport, Texas.  See?  Great quilting memories!

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