Archive for September, 2013

Free machine embroidery and badgers

Free Machine Embroidered Badger

Free Machine Embroidered Badger

I’ve been hankering after giving the old free machine embroidery a go for some time and then in my day job, I was asked to design a new website for Little Crab Designs – I’ve since finished her redesign and the new site is now live but you can see she and her business partner do a bit of the old free machine embroidery which inspired me to finally give it a whirl and am getting a bit addicted. Most of the projects I’ve done I haven’t taken photos of. A number of book covers have been whipped up for friend’s birthday presents and finished late at night when the photos all come out too dark.

One method I’ve stumbled on by chance which I quite like is to use several layers of lightweight muslin. This came about really because I bought the muslin to make dress muslins out of – you know the test runs you make of a new dressmaking pattern to test the fit and how it works. Well this is all new to me and I’ll get onto that in future posts but it basically resulted me in buying this lightweight muslin not realising it would be a nightmare to work with to cut accurately or to do accurate seam allowances with. I tried a Collette Ginger skirt with it and it worked to see how the process of the pattern went together but as far as fit was concerned? Total disaster. So I have a few metres of this stuff sitting around and it seemed a good rough fabric to experiment with machine embroidery.

If you fancy having a go, you simply get about three layers of lightweight muslin and use an embroidery hoop to stretch it making sure you stretch it opposite to how you do for normal embroidery – instead of the right side of the fabric being on the top of the hoop, the bit you’re going to embroider on, is what would normally be your wrong side. It’s so that the fabric sits flat against the foot plate of the machine as you work.

Then just draw your image with an air erasable or water erasable fabric marker pen and stitch away. Then when you’ve finished, you cut out your embroidered shape/picture and if you want, you can fluff up the edges a bit more by cutting into them.

I got my youngest to draw a butterfly and we then made this for her summer holiday book using the same method about where we saved a butterfly we found in our back bedroom.

Youngest daughter drew a butterfly for a bit of embroidery

Youngest daughter drew a butterfly for a bit of embroidery

We ended up embroidering the front cover of her book too. She drew it and then I helped her embroider it. We then glued the fabric to card and used it to cover her book.

free machine embroidered book cover

youngest daughter’s book cover


September 5, 2013 at 10:21 pm Leave a comment

Catching Up Part 4. AKA Attempting some patchwork curtains

I know from reading other crafty people’s blogs that we do have a tendency to hoard save things which may come in useful in the future and my fabric stash is starting to overspill out of the cupboard. I bought some new curtains in the sale for my daughters’ bedroom but as we live in a Victorian house, they were just not long enough. I rummaged through my stash but had no fabric nearly large enough to make curtains. It seemed an obvious and simple solution to go the patchwork route. Please note the ‘seemed simple’ thought was prior to any experience of a larger patchwork project. The most I’d rustled up was a small pencil case and a small baby blanket for a friend but how hard could it be?

I measured the window, scribbled down the measurements, drew out a rectangle and worked out how many squares and at what size they’d need to be. I worked out about 96 squares and remembered to include the seam allowance in my calculations. Then we got busy choosing and starting to cut out the squares.

patchwork curtain squares

20 squares cut out. Just the 76 to go then…

I think at this stage, I should fess up that this cutting out stage actually took me weeks to do. I know all you who have any experience at all of patchwork would have been laughing at my naivety the second I mentioned the words ‘simple’ and ‘patchwork solution’ in the same sentence… Well I learnt the hard way and I’m sure some googling would have probably turned up a faster method of cutting out the squares. I did get a rotary cutter which was a revelation to me. I felt like I suddenly got a super power of super accurate slicing ability.

patchwork square curtain preparation

Eldest daughter helps count and organise the squares for me

Finally about a month later, all the squares were cut out and it was time for the fun bit of planning the layout.

patchwork curtains planning

planning the layout of the patches

Also it seems that Dylan, the cat doesn’t seem to have lost his super power ability of being able to lie in the most inconvenient spot at any given moment.

Dylan 'helping' guard the patches while I try to use them

Dylan ‘helping’ guard the patches while I try to use them

Then it was just a case of sewing each line into strips and then sewing the strips together. I actually managed to complete this step in just one evening and was v grateful again to the rotary cutter as with the nice even edges, it made it much easier to sew nice straight even seams. Eldest daughter was most helpful too and happily pressed each of the seams open for me. She was desperate to get them finished and is still at the age where ironing seems a lot of fun.

patchwork curtains

Almost there. The 96 squares finally all sewn together

Amazingly the 96 squares are finally all together and mostly all lining up despite my admittedly starting to rush a bit. I do like how it’s been possible to use a number of favourite fabrics in these and both girls were able to choose some of their favourites. Owls and deer seem to be featuring heavily in all their favourite fabrics right now.

Then I made tabs for the top, cut out some lining fabric, sandwiched the tabs between the lining and the patchwork curtains and sewed the top of the curtains. It was at this stage where I decided to bind the edges in silky ribbon for the contrast of texture and also because I realised I hadn’t allowed for a wider seam allowance at the edges and didn’t want the outside squares to look a bit squashed and out of balance with the others. I like how sometimes mistakes can end up with something even better than would have ever happened if it had all gone to plan.

Finally it was time to hang them up and when the sun shines through, even with the fairly thick lining, you get a patchwork stained glass type effect. If they start to fade, I may put some blackout fabric behind them but the girls like how they look right now and I’m happy they’re happy and it may be some time before I tackle a larger patchwork project again. Although now a few months on, I’m already thinking how nice a patchwork throw would look on the bed…

Ta Da! Thank goodness the seams are reasonably even  and my cutting wasn't too wobbly. If it hadn't been for that rotary cutter, this would have been a lot messier.

Ta Da! Thank goodness the seams are reasonably even and my cutting wasn’t too wobbly. If it hadn’t been for that rotary cutter, this would have been a lot messier.

September 5, 2013 at 9:47 pm Leave a comment

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