It’s Almost Time!

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Some of you may have guessed that I recently filmed a new Craftsy class! Heirloom Sewing More Classic Techniques will be launched soon. Do you want a chance to win a free class? Click here to be entered into a drawing to win – Craftsy will draw a random entry, and I’ll let the lucky winner know the day the class goes live.

Look at some of the things I teach in the class…

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…and lots more!

Stay tuned for more photos and info. Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss any updates. And remember that with a Crafsty online class, you can take it as many times as you want, whenever you want, and you can ask me and other students questions and post photos of your work! Super-sharp HD quality video and audio make it easy to see exactly what I am doing each step of the way.

Dont’ forget to sign up for that free class!

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An Autumn Portrait

Here in middle of the country, autumn is usually a beautiful time of year. This year has been no exception. The trees put on a colorful show, the skies are often clear and blue, and the humidity lessens. Autumn is nearly over – rain and wind during the past week have denuded the trees, and there is a hard freeze forecast for this weekend, with possible snow flurries.

Twenty-one years ago (I think!) my parents had an autumn portrait taken of their grandchildren. Here are my Annie and David, and my sister’s two sons.

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Of course, I made coordinating outfits for everyone 🙂 One girl and three boys, ranging in age from just under a year to eleven years old. I chose a very soft, bright plaid cotton flannel as something that they might all be willing to wear!

I don’t have the shirts Annie and David wore any longer. Annie’s had a V-shaped, bias front yoke that I fringed at the lower edge. I don’t remember doing it, but the picture shows fringe around the collar, as well, so I assume I fringed a strip, then inserted it in the collar seam as I would piping. David’s shirt had an attached hood, and I found a brightly colored lizard button that I added to the chest pocket.

I do still have my nephews’ garments! Thanks, Mom and Cathy, for saving them.

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This was Sean’s shirt (the plaids on the front placket really do match, but the way it’s hanging shows that they don’t!) 

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You can see that I matched the plaid on the chest pocket. Just as a tip, look at the little stitched triangles at the upper edge of the pocket – this really helps keep pockets from tearing out, and adds a nice professional touch for very little effort!

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The cuffs were made with a continuous-lap placket and two pleats.

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On the left upper sleeve, I appliqued a colorful lizard to match the lizard button on David’s shirt! I added googly-eye buttons for fun.

All of the “big kids” outfits were from commercial patterns – I have no idea which ones.

Mark’s overalls may have been made from a commercial pattern, or some other pattern, or adapted from a pants pattern.

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The smocking was Ellen McCarn’s “Crayon Rainbow.”

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I wanted the legs to snap, but wanted fewer snaps than snap tape. So I cut the snap tape apart and spaced them out on the inner leg opening.

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The back waist was elasticized. The criss-cross back straps buttoned to the inside of the back waist, with multiple buttonholes to allow for growth.

Finally, these garments have been stored with others that I have made. Do you know that purple boa feathers shed copiously?! I was picking little purple feather shreds off of these garments as I was trying to get photos, but obviously missed some.

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And where did the purple feather boa enter into my sewing history, you ask? Well, as a trim on a very sparkly dress! But that’s a story for another day…

 

A Red Dress: Part 2 – Houston Quilt Festival

So many of you commented about my new red dress, which I made for the award ceremony at the Houston Quilt Festival! Well, I’m home from Houston after a very enjoyable week, and it’s time for an update. We arrived in Houston on Tuesday afternoon. Part of the prize for the top winners is travel and hotel accommodations. Here I am, ready to go to the convention center for the awards! Makeup, nail polish, Annie Pennington brooch and earrings (of course!) – the works! 🙂

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Here are those red shoes!

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The presentation of the awards is fun, with all of the category awards given first. The blue ribbon winner in each category is revealed from behind a black curtain on the wall of the auditorium, with spotlights focused on that quilt. The eight big awards are given last. My quilt, Blue Plate Special, was awarded the Master Award for Thread Artistry, sponsored by Superior Threads! After the awards are all given, attendees get to get up close to see the winning quilts, and talk to the makers. And, yes, the top winners get flowers! 🙂

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On Wednesday, there is a luncheon at which the top winners all give short speeches, then Preview Night is from 5PM to 10PM. This is the way my quilt was displayed.

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I spent a lot of time in front of my quilt for the next four days, talking to thousands of people.

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You can see all of the prize winners here. I was also awarded an Honorable Mention for my quilt Crystal Garden, but that’s a post for another day.

Here is Blue Plate Special

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The quilt is 73″ x 73″, and was completed this year. It is white cotton sateen on the front and back. It all started with the dark blue print strip of fabric that surrounds the central star, and forms the border corners. That strip was left over from a quilt kit I cut out for my Mom to piece! The fabric was a print stripe, and this section wasn’t used, so I kept it. The colors for the quilt all flowed out of that little print strip. And the corners are the size they are because that’s all the fabric I had! Those strips were appliqued on, then I used a decorative machine stitch – little satin stitch dots – to accent the edges. All the rest of the color on the quilt is digitized machine embroidery. The more solid-looking, darker areas are machine embroidery applique, done with old Cherrywood fabrics from my stash. The free-standing lace border and the large swirl designs are from Zundt; the rest of the embroidery designs are from OESD. Except for the lace, the embroidery was all stitched on the quilt top only. After the embroidery was completed, I layered the top, batting (Hobbs 80/20 bleached), and backing, then did all the quilting free-motion on my APQS George, which is a sit-down machine. The quilting was done with The Bottom Line thread in the needle and bobbin. I usually like to use silk thread in the needle, but I didn’t think this quilt was going to be good enough to justify the expense! To make the lace, I embroidered segments on water-soluble stabilizer, joined all the segments together in a big loop, then soaked the stabilizer out. I soaked this for a couple of days, with several water changes, because I don’t want any stabilizer to remain in the lace. Then, after the lace was complete, and the quilting was all finished, I stitched the lace to the quilt, using free-motion stitching and monofilament thread. I hope this quilt does half as well at the other shows in which I’ve entered it!

Now, it’s time to get back to work on my quilt to enter into next year’s Houston contest.

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The deadline is only about six months away…

Arrowmont

My daughter and I will soon be going to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts to take a week-long workshop together. Arrowmont is a lovely old crafts school nestled in the Smoky Mountains, hidden just off the beaten path in Gatlinburg, TN. This will be my fifth visit there.

The first time, in 2004, I think, Annie and I took a class in glass fusing. What a wonderful time we had! The next year, she and I tried enameling.

Two years later, in 2007, David joined us, and we took a class in woodworking. It was a blast! Learning something new with grown children, focusing on the task at hand, in beautiful surroundings – well, I highly recommend it!

This is the coffee table David made. After he got home, he finished it, and it was one of his most prized possessions. When everything else in his life fell apart, this was one of the few things he took great care of. It is now in Annie’s living room, and she cherishes it.

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This was Annie’s wild and crazy table! She included every technique we were taught 🙂 Unfortunately, it sustained some water damage in a closet and had to be discarded.

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And this is what I made. It was supposed to have a quilt made to go behind the wavy lattice, but that hasn’t happened, and the table is still unfinished.

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The surroundings are so gorgeous! The entrance to Great Smoky Mountain National Park is just a couple of miles away, and there is a little scenic drive even closer.

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In 2008, Annie couldn’t make it, and David and I took a workshop in bead-making. Hot glass and torches. These are some of the beads he made.

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Because they needed to cool overnight in the kiln when we left, the instructor shipped them to us. Sadly, they never made it here. I wish so much I had some of his Arrowmont beads! Aren’t they beautiful?

David had taught himself some lampworking before we went, and fortunately Annie and I do have some of the beads he made at home. She made me a pendant with one of those beads (but of course I can’t find the photo right now!)

I made some beads, too. So what did I do when I brought mine home? Added fabric, of course! I made a quilt. This is “Monochrome.”

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It is 45.5″ x 60″ and was made in 2009. It is truly a mixed techniques quilt! It includes English hand smocking (because I needed some hand work to do while my husband was in the hospital for a week), fabric manipulation (inspired from a costume in the stage production of “Phantom of the Opera”), foundation piecing, machine applique, digitized embroidered motifs and free-standing lace. And glass beads above the tassels! It includes cottons, necktie silk, machine embroidery, monofilament, and silk threads, perle cotton, seed beads, glass, purchased tassels, and cotton batting.  Embroidery designs were from EmbroideryOnline, Zundt Designs, and Martha Pullen/Zundt.

“Monochrome” won 2nd place in the Computer-Aided Machine Embroidery category at the 2010 Houston Internation Quilt Festival, and an Honorable Mention at the 2010 AQS show in Paducah.

Here’s a close-up…

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And the beads (click on these images to see them better)…

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Now, it’s been seven years since I’ve been there. Annie and I will be learning about wood-turning. She’s done some, but I never have. If previous years are any indication, it will be a fun, memorable, relaxing, and creativity-inspiring week!

It’s A Zoo!

When I was pregnant with my daughter, who was born in 1983, I made this soft fabric book.  It is just too cute!  She used it, my son used it, my nephews used it, and it recently made it back into my hands.

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Unbutton the hippo bus driver’s nose…

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to see his floppy tongue!

The bear’s ball glove laces and ties like a shoe…

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The giraffe has bows to tie…

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The pelican used to have two little fish to hook onto the pole, but the fish are long lost…

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The lion has a tail to braid…

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Zip open the alligator’s mouth…

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and that tongue can lick the ice cream cone!  This was always the favorite!

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The kangaroo used to have a little joey that fit in the buckled pocket, but the joey hopped away somewhere…

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The elephant’s skates had buttons and loops…

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And the turtle’s shell unsnaps to say…

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“I love you!”

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This was not a quick project to make, but it has held up well, and I’m so glad I have it!  I remembered that it was a Vogue pattern, so I did a quick search.  If you Google “Vogue Patterns 1959,” you can find it on several sites for sale.  I can’t vouch for any of them, but there are some copies of this pattern available if you want to make a book like this.

A Very Versatile Machine Embroidery Design #2

Corner designs are very common machine embroidery designs.  This one is from Zundt, of course.  It looks pretty simple, and rather uninspiring, right?

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Here it is, stitched in the corners, for a little donation quilt I made for The National Quilt Museum.

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The fabric is silk/cotton Radiance, the large tulip is also a Zundt design, and the circle is shaped cotton lace insertion.

But before I made this quilt, I made this one, TulipFire:

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Do you see the red embroidered on-point squares?  Those are made from this embroidery design, stitched four times in each block.

I simply combined them on-screen on my machine, and stitched the entire block at one time.  This has very dense satin stitch embroidery, outlined with gold metallic thread.

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I was thrilled (and very surprised!) when this quilt won the Bernina award for Best Machine Workmanship at the 2013 AQS show in Paducah!

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(And, yes, I made my dress, it’s an out-of-print Butterick pattern in a stable knit.)

Now, back to that embroidery design… If you skip the first color in the stitching (the satin stitching) and just stitch the second color (the metallic outline), you get an entirely different look from the same design, very light and airy.  This is Argentum, a 17″ square miniature.

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Here’s a closer look at the subtle embroidery

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So, I stitched this silver outline embroidery on silver Radiance, then hand-appliqued these teeny, tiny (about 1/8″ wide) bias tubes, then quilted the entire thing with Kimono silk 100 thread.

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This little baby won first place in Miniatures at the 2014 Houston IQA show, and has been juried into 2015 Paducah.

As you can see, these are very different looks from the same embroidery design!  Think about different ways you can use your designs.

Easy Appliqued Bib

Way back when, I went through a machine applique phase.  My children were young, and I appliqued simple designs on lots of things.  I think I used some coloring books for designs, and also an applique book or two.  Fusible web, satin stitching, and easy embellishments made for some very quick projects.  I actually burned out the foot control on my Kenmore machine with all that satin stitching!

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I made dozens of bibs for my children, and also as gifts.  These were so easy and soooo practical!  They are great, inexpensive, practical baby gifts.  Some of the bibs I made were used by both of my children, and both of my sister’s boys as well.  Little ones learning to feed themselves need bibs…

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Somehow, I don’t seem to have any photos of these bibs that aren’t hidden by the high chair tray!  But after all, that’s what they were for.

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This isn’t a great picture of the bib (although it’s a wonderful picture of the face 🙂 !)  But you can see how large and well-used it was.  This one had a turtle with a star on its shell, wearing a ball cap.

Here in a nutshell is how I made them:

  1. Start with a terry cloth hand towel.  New is good, but even used is fine.  The rough, texture-y kind of towel is better than the velvety kind.  Wash it to pre-shrink.  Cut off the hems and fringe.
  2. Choose fabric for the main bib fabric, pre-shrink, and cut to the same size as the  trimmed towel.
  3. Choose your applique shape.  Simpler is better.  Reverse the design, if it matters (monograms matter, turtles do not.)  Trace the shapes individually onto the paper side of lightweight paper-backed fusible web.
  4. Cut the shapes out, leaving 1/4″ or so around the edges.
  5. Iron the paper-backed web to the back of your desired applique fabrics.  Cut out the shapes on the traced lines.
  6. Remove the paper, position the shapes on the main bib fabric, and press to fuse.
  7. Place this upper layer right side up on top of the towel, and pin in place.  Satin stitch around all the applique edges.  Use a width of 2.5 – 3.0.  You want the applique edges to be very secure, because the bib will be washed and washed and washed!  The towel may provide enough stabilization that you don’t need any additional stabilizer.  If your stitches are tunneling, use lightweight stabilizer.  (If I were making these now, I’d use water-soluble stabilizer.  I don’t think there was such a thing when I was making the originals!)
  8. Trace around a bowl or small plate or circle template to round the corners of the bib and make a semi-circle for the neck.  Straight stitch or zigzag on these lines.
  9. Trim the outer and neck edges close to the straight stitching.
  10. Use purchased double-fold bias tape, or make your own, to bind the outer edges of the bib.
  11. Then bind the neck edge, leaving long enough tails of bias on each side to tie the bib around the child’s neck.
  12. Done!  Bring on the food!