Archive | September 2010

Ninja #7 – It’s a Girl!

Kelly is the only female so far in the husbands army of ninja’s, but she is a mighty warrior and will fight side by side with the rest of the army.

Kelly is a mixture of Roja and Hawk’s patterns. I used the body and head from Roja and the arms and legs from Hawk. I used a size G hook to crochet Kelly.  Kelly’s parts crocheted up easily on one our trips to California. Plus, she stitched together quite quickly. I must be getting better at this whole stitching together thing. Hopefully, I did not just jinx myself.

Kelly’s braids are what took some thought. First I had to decided where to place them. I was going to put them high on her head like pig tails, but then decided on low like they had slipped out of her hood. To make the braids, I took 6  long strands of yarn and pulled them behind several stitches, leave a good length on each side. I then braided each side of the six strands and tied them with cute little bows. I think the braids are adorable and were easy to make. The finishing touch for Kelly is her knives which the husband helped me design and make.

Ninja #8 and #9 are already under construction. Soon, the army will be complete.

“Doomed” Fraying

If you missed Part 1 of this story, it can be found HERE.

I know I keep talking about writing some technical posts on how to digitize designs, but I am too excited about my new designs and have been playing with them rather than focusing on the technical aspects and getting them written down. So, don’t give up on those posts yet, they are coming but in the mean time, take a look at my steps to complete the Messenger Bag of DOOM!

Looking at the bag, I did not want to just stitch the design to the lid of the bag and have the back of the design show every time the  bag was opened. I thought about unstitching the lid of the bag from its lining so I would only be stitching on the top, but decided that was way too much work. Staring at my sample pieces of the designs, I decided I would try to make a patch to sew to the lid, leaving only a single stitch line on the underside of the lid. Commercial patches are made with a special merrowing machine that makes a sealed merrowed edge to keep the sides of the patch and the embroidery from unravelling over time. These are single purpose machines, and that is all they do. Because I don’t have have a need for such a machine very often, I think $3000.00 is a bit much to pay for such a machine. Therefore I would need to make my own edge.

A very long time ago, I tried to make a patch but had very little luck with the process. I embroidered a design and then statin stitched a frame around it. I then cut close to the statin stitches and used some seam 2 seam to attach it to my project. It was great at first, but over time the edges started to fray and the statin stitches started to fail. I was not really happy with the end result. I thought on the bag that I could statin stitch the patch directly to the bag and that my solve some of the problems, but I certainly am not skilled enough to free hand the statin stitches and because of the size of the designs, there was no way I could stitch it in with the embroidery machine. The thought of using a fabric paint around the edge was quickly discarded. Although there are projects just right for fabric paint, this bag is just not one of them. I feel it would have make the project look homemade. Returning back to the picture of the bag from Disney, I decided to try what they did, sew the patch on and then distress the edges.

Having never done a distressed edge before, I was not willing to test it out first on the bag and ruin it, so I grabbed a piece of fabric from my last shopping spree and cut out a size 3 sweat shirt. One of the nephews loves Indiana Jones as much as the little brother so a shirt would be great for him. I left about a 1 and 1/2 inch border around the design and then stitched close to the design edge, sewing the patch to the front of the shirt.  Then I started fraying the edges. After fraying for a little over 2 hours, I was getting no where. Discouraged a little, I cut some of the border off and started to fray from there. When I finally frayed down to the design, I could see just how much border I really wanted. After trimming some of the border and having a good start, the fraying went a lot easier and faster. So, what I learned was that when fraying an edge do leave a good border and don’t let the starting discourage you. The more you fray the faster it goes. After fraying, the design will need a “haircut” to get rid of split ends and long hairs. I am super pleased with the results even though I trimmed some spots a little too close to the designs.

I wanted to see how the design washed, so a trip to the laundry was the next step. After a washing and drying, the edges of the design curled around the design. I like the curl except that it covers the edge of the design a bit. So, I learned that when stitching the design down to not stitch quite so close to the edge  leaving a place for the curl.


Excited by the results of the sweat shirt, I sewed the design I was going to use to the bag and started to distress the edges. When I took a break from fraying, I decided to iron the sweat shirt’s design and learned that I should have used something under the design to keep it flat to the shirt like some adhesive spray or seam 2 seam. Augh! The bag also needed this too. So, to help this problem, I stitched in the ditch around some of the center parts of the design. When I stitched the design to the bag, I left a border for the curl and I left the frayed edges longer. I am not going to wash the bag myself, but I am sure that will happen sometime in the future when it gets dirty, so I have ruffed up the fray edge to give it a more worn look.


As always, sewing is a learning process. I have learned a great deal from both the sweat shirt and the bag. I am very pleased with the end result and will happily apply another patch with a distressed edge to any project as it give it a cool worn look that is very in style these days. Hopefully the nephew and the brother like the end results as well.

Three More

I completed the sleeper from the scraps Mom sent me in the mail. When it came time to pick a design, I just did not like the softer colors, pinks and yellows,  of many of my baby embroidery designs on the black poka-dots. So, I choose a red Suzy Zoo design which of course meant a red zipper and red ribbing. At first I was afraid that the red would look too harsh for a baby girl, but now that the sleeper is done, I think it turned out really cute.

As always with making sleepers, it is just as easy to make two sleepers at once than just one sleeper at a time, but this time I made three sleepers at one time. This did not seem to save time like making two at once does, but they were still fun to make and turned out so cute. Some of these sleepers are already tagged as gifts but at least one sleeper is just to put away for the next time that I need a gift.

P.S. I also made a pair of work pants.

Ninja #6 – Next in the Ranks

Jabar takes his place as the 6th ninja in the husband’s army. He stands ready with his bo staff to fight off any approaching enemies.

Jabar’s creation was inspired by the airplanes I crocheted. After completing the yellow airplane, I wondered if the pattern could be altered to create the next ninja. Before starting to tinker with the pattern, I checked out a couple of designs on the net to see if anyone had already done the foot work for me on altering the pattern. I found that Ana Paula Rimoli, the author of some of my favorite patterns, had the very pattern I wanted in her Etsy store. Of course, her designs are for making cute animals but with really no alterations to the monkey pattern, I had my next ninja pattern.

Jabar crocheted up quite easily. The pattern called for an I/9 hook to be used, but leery of the size of ninja that would give me, I crocheted Jabar with a G hook instead. I like the size he turned out, but I am excited to actually make the monkey with a size I hook. Jabar was easier to stitch together since I did not have to sew the head to the body.

I have ninja #7 all lined out and ready to start. Stay tuned for an upcoming surprise in the army of Ninja’s.

Creating and Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs SNEAK PEEK!

I have been very busy at work the past week and I have only had a small amount of free time so I have been spending it digitizing some new embroidery designs for my new Messenger Bag of DOOM project. I have been taking notes along the way so I can give everyone a full how to of exactly what I did to get from my ideas to the final designs but it will take a lot more time than I originally anticipated to not only get these new designs created and tested, but also to write up blog posts on exactly how you can do it yourself using your own software and equipment.

I doubt a lot of you are very interested in Indiana Jones or Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, etc. But I think several of you might be interested in how you can take your own graphic or picture of any type and convert it into machine embroidery to stitch on a garment, or just make an embroidered patch that you can sew or iron on to something you have later. I didn’t feel it was fair to keep those of you interested in this project waiting any longer, so for the meantime here is what I have been working on in picture form. The full how to guides are coming soon. I promise.


Like some of you, when I go on vacation, I don’t always bring back your typical souvenirs. Instead I seek out fabric stores and bring home precious yards of wonderful fabric. This last vacation was no exception, but what was the exception was the amount of fabric I was willing to transport clear across the country.

For this vacation, we made our way to the north east coast of the US. We visited Harrisburg, PA, Hershey, PA,  Lewisburg, PA, Lancaster County, PA (Amish country), Baltimore, MD, Washington, D.C., Arlington, VA, and Philadelphia, PA. We had a wonderful trip, although it was very hot while we were there and I got to see many historical sites. I have never been to this part of the country, so I was amazed to see the large forests of trees with cities and farms cut out of the middle of them.

Our first day was spent in Hershey, PA where I ate way, way too much chocolate. Once we left I didn’t think I would ever eat chocolate again. I did enjoy the museums and learning how a candy bar is made. That evening I entered my first of three Pennsylvania (PA) Fabric Outlet Stores in Lemoyne PA, next to Harrisburg. Wow, what an amazing store. There was an entire wall of buttons, another wall of trims and laces, another smaller wall covered in zippers, and fabric everywhere. There was a lot of upholstery for sale, but also plenty of apparel fabric for me to shop and all at awesome prices. You know me, the bargain hunter, I spent a lot of time shopping the $0.99 per yard fabric. I was going nuts shopping until I remembered that it was only my first day there and that I had to get all my wonderful treasures home somehow. (As a side note, and I tried to keep this in mind the whole trip, was the fact that I have a closet overflowing with fabric already.) We also stopped by the Walmart in Swatara, PA for some essentials which of course meant a trip to the fabric department.







The next day was off to Lancaster and the surrounding small towns of Amish country. This area was filled with beautiful homes and farms, with lots of corn, soybeans and tobacco growing in the fields, plus a quilt shop on every corner. After checking out several quilt shops and seeing some awesome quits and beautiful quilting fabric, it was time to find a real fabric store. It took some looking around. These stores were not on the beaten tourist path, but that did not stop me. I found two. One in Intercourse, PA, that was a half book store, half fabric store, but it still carried some gorgeous fabrics, one of which I bought to make me a shirt, and another store in Bird in the Hand, PA that had quilting fabrics on the top floor and apparel fabric on the bottom floor. At first, I did not see the bottom floor and told my husband that they lied about the apparel fabric on there sign out front, but he directed me to the basement where I bought a piece of fabric for him a shirt. This business was for sell, which got me thinking about how fun it might be to live in this little town and sell fabric. Lancaster was where I visited my second PA Fabric Outlet Store. It was as amazing as the first one, so I had to buy fabric from them too. They were also having a sale and if you brought in a coupon you could draw a ticket for a discount off your purchase. I only drew a 5% off ticket, but with the already discounted prices, the extra 5% off was just a win.

The next couple of days I went fabric-less. We traveled to Lewisburg, PA to visit my niece and her family. (You know the nephew I always talk about, well they are actually her kids, so my great nephews, but it makes me feel too old to admit that very often.) We had a great time visiting and playing with the kids. It was great to see them. My niece offered to take me to Walmart to look at fabric, but I told her I could take a break on fabric shopping for a day. (Mostly because I already had half a trunk full.)  The next day we journeyed to Baltimore, MD where I did not purchase any fabric, but had a great time seeing the George Washington Monument, the inner harbor plus taking a boat harbor tour. The next day it was off to Washington D.C. We only had one day to see all of our capitol so there was not even time to think of fabric shopping. We visited many monuments, the Capitol building, the White House, and the Arlington cemetery, where we were privileged enough to see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier.  We also did the night tour of the city and I highly recommend doing that if your visiting Washington D.C. as the monuments at night look awesome.

The next day took us to Philadelphia, PA via more of Maryland and Delaware. Let the fabric shopping begin! Our first stop was on 4th street, also known as Fabric Row. Yes, the majority of the stores on this street were fabric shops. I wandered through several of the shops but spent my money at, you guessed it, the PA Fabric Outlet Store, my third of these on this trip. Of the three, this shop was the smallest but was still packed with fabric, notions and great deals. Then we took a long car ride through some small one-way streets to Jomar on the outskirts of the city, and it was well worth the trip. I have read several blogs about Jomar and how much people love to shop there. I see now why this is true. When we entered the store, I headed right for the fabric department, and was a bit overwhelmed by all the fabric and the deals. I made my way through the store feeling and touching all the wonderful fabrics at super prices, until I hit the $1.00 per yard section. At this time I sent the husband for a cart. (I want to mention here that the husband was and is such a good sport to spend his vacation in fabric shops with the wife.) As I shopped the $1.00 per yard section and filled my cart until I made my way to the $0.50 per yard section and had to revaluate my purchases in the cart, all the time trying to remember that I had to get all this home somehow. I bought several  knits for both the husband and I shirts, sports weight fabric for pants, even some stretch velour for baby sleepers. I was in fabric heaven. (By the way, we did do some site seeing, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Jim’s Cheesesteaks, in Philadelphia and did another night tour which was great.)

As with all good things, I began to have some buyer’s remorse as I packed my fabric purchases into the suitcase. I had planned for this and had arranged our luggage so I would have a suitcase just for fabric, but I began to worry about the weight and started to pick out which pieces of fabric, I would sit on in the plane and which I would leave at the airport if my luggage was over weight. Luckily when the skycap placed my suitcase on the scale, it was 49 lbs and I did not have to give up any of my treasures. I was a little disappointed though, if I had known I had one more pound, I could have bought one more yard. (The husband rolls his eyes.)

Now with all this great fabric from all the summer trips, I am really ready to get sewing. It’s going to be a busy fall and winter! Stay tuned.