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Happy New Year 2014!

Wishing you and yours peace, joy, serenity, and happiness in the coming new year.

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Yes I know this is the year of the ‘listicle’ or Top 10 Lists, but I’m not going to waste my time or yours by posting one for you like everyone else will do in their end of the year blog posts. I’ll leave that up to David Letterman who can do a far better job than I can. I also won’t bore you with any ‘selifies’ of myself for that matter, because lets be honest here, you really have better things to do than to look at that!

Instead, I will leave you with a photo collage of some of the fun things I did throughout the year of 2013.

I had a very busy year as you can see here:

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There was plenty of sewing, mending, altering, crocheting, costume making, designing and crafting, laughing, crying, and gnashing of teeth to be done as usual around here.

It was a lot of fun and I sure learned a lot. I hope that you were entertained and learned something new too by reading all of my crazy adventures this past year!

Cheers! And here is to an even better coming new year!

Embellishing Baby Towel Bibs – Part 1

I am spoiled. Very spoiled it seems. When it comes to embellishing the baby towel bibs that I make, I simply move over to my embroidery machine, pick a design and stitch away. The bibs always turn out so cute, and I have a chance to try a new design that I have always wanted to. But, what if I did not have an embroidery machine? Would I still make the bibs? How would I embellish them without it? Would it take a lot of time and be a lot of work? And would it be more time and work than I would want to put into a bib? After giving these questions way too much thought, I decided to embellish a couple of baby bibs without using my embroidery machine to see how they turned out.

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My first thought was the simplest thing to do, apply a store bought applique to the front of the bib. So, I dug through the closet and found my small selection of appliques. Needless to say, I don’t have many and they are not really suited for a child or baby, plus most of them are small, so I was not really impressed with my store bought applique as an embellishment.

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When my store bought appliques did not pan out, I decided I would make my own appliques instead. As I dug through the closet, I ran across my last Snoopy fabric purchases. Yes it’s true, I am the world’s biggest Snoopy fan! They would make great appliques, especially the black Snoopy pirate on the bib with the black ribbing.

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Not wanting to use all my fabric on appliques, I only cut a small square from the corner of the fabric, but tried to get all the designs out of it. At this point, I had to make a decision. Just how much time did I want to spend embellishing baby bibs? I decided that I did not want this to be an all day project or  to be difficult, so I cut the designs in squares rather than cutting out the actual designs.

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The next step was to attach the designs to the bibs.

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I started by  folding the edges over and pressing them down. This worked fine but I quickly learned two things. First, I needed a little more edge to fold over, so next time I will cut the squares slightly larger. Second, I need to spend a little more time cutting and measuring. This does not mean I have to spend all day doing this or have it perfect, but a little more time centering the designs and folding the edge over evenly would have givien me a little more professional look. But, for a baby bib that the kid is going to spill mushy peas down the front of, my appliques were just fine.

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Next I sprayed my squares with some spray adhesive. If you don’t have spray adhesive, you can just pin the squares to the bibs, but I am all about the easy way. I then arranged the designs on the bibs and took the project to the sewing machine where I quickly stitched the squares to the bib. This is where the larger edges would have been helpful.

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I think the end result of this bib turned out great. The bib is just so cute! The time factor was minimal but the fun factor was off the charts. Now I can’t wait to make more bibs.

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If you want to see my original baby bib post you can find it HERE.

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Outgrown

Does anyone remember the monkey applique blog post I did several months ago? Well, the mother of the little girl who received the shirt with the applique on it, told me the other day that her little girl was quite distressed because she was unable to wear the shirt any longer. She said that not only is it getting too hot to wear a sweat shirt, but that she is starting to out grow the shirt and it will definitely not fit her next year.

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It tickles me to find out that something I have made is being worn and liked, so I went home and found some fabric to make a summer monkey shirt. This yellow piece of fabric has been hanging out it the stash to be made into sleepers, but I had plenty for t-shirts as well. I cut a size larger than I think the she is but cut it a little shorter. I wanted to make sure it would fit her well.

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I chose a different monkey applique for the front of this shirt than the last one. I learned a lot from the first monkey applique I did. I applied those lessons to this applique, and then I learned a couple of more things along the way. The thing that I learned the most was that I needed to practice doing appliques, to perfect the technique. Good thing I have more monkey appliques to try it out with. The applique turned out too cute. The rest of the construction of the shirt was very straight forward and I am pleased the the results. I am so excited to give the shirt to the little neighbor girl.

Unlike sleepers, I do believe that if you are making one kid’s t-shirt, it is just as easy to make two, so you can sew from one to the next. With that in mind, I cut and made a second yellow kid’s t-shirt. I put this Woodstock design on the second shirt because it is one of those designs I have always wanted to try but did not have anything to put it on and it is a summer design. I did not have enough ribbing for the sleeves in the particle blue color I used for the neck, so I just hemmed the sleeves instead. I wish I would have known this when I cut out the shirt. I would have just cut the sleeves a little longer for the hem. All in all, the second t-shirt is just too cute too.

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I love to sew kid’s clothes. They are just way too fun to make and I can be as creative as I want with them, plus fit is generally not as much of an issue as clothes for adults. Making these two t-shirts has me excited to sew more of them.

Towel Day

My husband is a huge Science Fiction fan and a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fan since the 80’s. There is this thing called Towel Day which was created to celebrate the Hitchhiker’s series where on May 25th you wear a towel around your neck all day. My husband has been wearing a ratty towel around with him every year on May 25th since 2001. This year I decided that I would make him a nice new custom made towel to wear around with custom Hitchhiker embroidery to go along with it. It turned out so nice I went ahead and made me one too! So if you see us wearing our towel’s on May 25th make sure and stop to say “Hello”. Just in case you have no idea what I talking about, here is some more info on Towel Day.

A Primer on Towel Day From Wikipedia:

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Towel Day is celebrated every 25th of May as a tribute by fans of the late author Douglas Adams. On this day, fans carry a towel with them to demonstrate their love for the books and the author, as referenced in Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The commemoration was first held in 2001, two weeks after Adams’s death on 11 May 2001.

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The original quotation that referenced the greatness of towels is found in Chapter 3 of Adams’s work The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

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More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

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Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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So long Douglas, and thanks for all the fish!

Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs Part 3

If you missed Part 2 of this series, you can find it HERE!

Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs Part 3: Creating a digitized design using Bernina Artista Designer Plus Software

(Updated: June 13th, 2015)

As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve tried most of the embroidery digitizing software out there over the last 10 years or so, and even after trying the latest greatest I always tend to come back to my stand by software, Bernina’s Artista Designer Plus. In this post I will take you step by step how I use it to create my own custom designs which are then stitched on my latest sewing projects.

Step 1: Get ready! Get set! Start your software! GO!

Do you have it up and going?

Great! Here we go!

You will notice that when Artista starts up it will be in freehand stitch placement mode where you can just draw stitches or shapes in freehand mode. This is the mode most embroidery software starts in.

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We need to change it to picture mode so we can load our previously touched up artwork and trace the bitmapped image using the auto trace tool. To do this click on the picture tab up at the top of the design screen. Then click on the icon in the left toolbar that looks like a flower coming out of a folder. This is the Load Picture tool.

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When the file browser comes up you can select your touched up artwork saved in a variety of formats like BMP (Bitmap), JPG (Jpeg), PNG (Ping), etc. I will be using my Mickey Indy Graphic that I touched up in Part 1 of this blog series. Click on the one you want to digitize and then click the Open button in the file browser and your design screen should now look like this.

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The next step is to use the built in Artwork Preparation Tool on the left toolbar as shown below. Once you click on it the Artwork Preparation window will pop up and show you the number of colors in your design as shown below. You want to choose an amount of colors that still gives you good detail of the design, but no more than necessary. I never use more than 16, but I usually try to stay around 4-8 colors if possible.

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Once you choose your number of colors and click on ok Artista will decrease the number of colors and smooth any lines in your design it can. It will also create large single color blocks if possible. This will provide the auto digitizing function with less work to do in the next step.

The next step is to take your prepared artwork and use the auto digitizer tool to insert stitches over your artwork. To do this click on the Design tab at the top of your design window as shown below. Then click on the Select Tool in the left toolbar. Next click on the prepared artwork image on the right. This will select it so it can be auto digitized. To do that click on the AutoDigitizer Tool on the left toolbar. It looks like a paintbrush with multicolored paint on it.

At this point you will see an AutoDigitizer window pop up where you can change your Fills and Details stitch types. I normally leave these settings at their defaults but you can use the different stitch types to create different looks for your designs. Choose your stitch types or leave it at the default and click on the OK button.

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Now you should see the bar at the bottom showing that the AutoDigitizer is creating the different stitch objects of your design. Once it has finished your design window should look like the screen below.

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If you click on the Artistic View tab you should now see a 3D representation of your completed auto digitized design as shown below.

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This is all looking pretty good at this point except you will notice that it automatically digitized the white background of the design.

I don’t want this to stitch so it needs to be removed.

So I click back on the Design Tab up at the top of the design window. Then I click on the object Select Tool on the left toolbar (it looks like a white arrow). Then I click on the edge of the portion of the white background and it will be selected and turn to a pink color to show it selected.

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Then I just hit the delete key on my keyboard and POOF it’s gone! It should now look like the screen below.

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You can click on the Artistic View Tab at the top again to make sure you are satisfied with the results. Now make sure and use the File/Save As menu option from the top to save your design. Artista offers several design formats to save to so choose the one your embroidery machine uses. I always save in the PES format since I have Brother machines.

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That is it! You are all done! Now you can change thread colors or resize your completed design to make it larger or smaller or rotate it, mirror it, or whatever else you would like to do with it using the built in tools.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post series, I sure had a lot of fun creating it!

Please let me know if you would like to see other topics covered or if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer.

If you missed Part 2 of this series, you can find it HERE!

At the Closing of the Year 2010

I normally do not write a year end recap of projects I have done. I like to just keep sewing instead. But, because last year I made a new year’s resolution to try some new sewing techniques, I decided it would be fun to look back at the projects I did.

The List

6 New shirts for me

2 New pairs of work pants

3 New shirts for the husband

5 New baby sleepers

2 New baby sleepers from a larger pattern

5 New baby bibs, If you want to see my original baby bib post you can find it HERE.

4 New gifts – a young girls dress, young girls satin pajama’s and 2 young boys sweatshirts

5 Blanks embroidered – 4 kid’s shirts and the Indy bag for the brother

20 New Amigurumi creatures of all shapes and sizes – thanks to the army of ninjas

3 Blankets – two with crocheted edges and 1 fully crocheted blanket for the bunny.

Countless yards of new fabric purchased – I had WAY too much fun at JoMar in Philly.

Wow!

After writing it all down, this is more than I thought I had done. But as far as accomplishing my resolution, a few of the projects stand out.

T-Shirts for Me

Although I have made me many t-shirts in the past, this time I have redone my entire sloper pattern to get a better fit. I hate to alter patterns and clothes so needing to redo a sloper was a big deal for me and I learned a lot. I even made a muslin which I rarely do.

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The Mickey Mouse Indy Shirt

img_3829I have made a couple of shirts with a stand collar, but it was great to do another one to try the attachment of the stand and collar again to try and perfect the technique.

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Appliques

Even though it wasn’t the first appliques I have ever done, I did learn plenty about the technique of appliquéing from both the double monkey applique and applying the embroidered patch to the Indy bag for my brother.

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Larger Size Sleepers

The making of these sleepers is what my resolution was all about. I used a pattern I had never used before and followed the pattern guide. The making of the new sleeper pattern was not totally out of my comfort zone though, because of all the sleepers I have previously made.

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.The Dress for the Niece

This dress was made with the resolution in mind. I have never made a dress with a zipper before. I learned many things from the construction of this little dress and I am anxious to make another one and practice the skills that I learned while making it.

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With the new year already started, I am excited to get sewing again after the craziness of the holidays behind me. I don’t think I will commit to a structured sewing resolution this year. I will just say that I want to sew and I want to learn new techniques and perfect previous techniques, and have a great time while doing it.

Well, if I have to make a sewing resolution for 2011 it would be to not buy as much fabric as the year before, but as you know no one keeps their new year’s resolutions, so why should I.

P.S. When the husband saw my list and realized that I had made me 6 new shirts and only 3 new shirts for him, he has already picked out my next sewing project, a new shirt for him.

Monkey Sale

I received an e-mail from Smart Needle advertising a sale on their pack, Monkey Adventures. Since I love to embroidery monkeys on kids clothes, I could not resist purchasing this pack. The pack contained 10 double appliqué designs for the 5 by 7 hoop. Excited about stitching monkeys, on one of the trips to M&L fabric I specifically purchased fabrics to use in the appliqué’s of the monkeys.  When I cut out the Indy shirt for the nephew, I went ahead a cut a second shirt for a monkey design.

I had done appliques before, but I have never perfected the technique, so the stitching of the monkey design became a learning experience. It was actually more of a re-learning experience. I remember learning these same things previously when I appliqued some letters to a pair of sweat pants, but I did that so long ago now that I made the same mistakes again when doing these appliqués. I learned that I need a much sharper pair of very small scissors with very fine points if I am going to continue to do appliques. I was smart enough this time though to use a little spray adhesive on the applique fabric to keep it in place. This helped with both the stitching and the cutting of the applique. Although the design is not perfect, it is usable and sure turned out cute. If and when I stitch another monkey, I want to get a little fur or at least a fussy fabric to make the monkey.

As I stitched the monkey to the shirt, the shirt became quite feminine, so I have decided to give it to the little neighbor girl instead of one of the nephews. She just got a new little brother and needs a little extra attention.