Friday, October 19, 2012

R-burst Quiltalong - Embroidery

This post is a part of the R-Burst Quiltalong.

Ok, it's been a while, but I'm back with a quiltalong update.  Today we'll be covering the optional embroidery squares for the R-burst block.  For my quilt, I am making little 2" embroideries on solid fabric and mixed them in with my print squares, like this: 

As you can see, I'm chunking away!  I haven't finished any complete blocks yet, eek!

I'm using 3 embroideries per block, so I picked out a total of 36 patterns (info on where I found them is at the bottom of the post).  My theme is various animals, and I definitely went for cuteness!  For these blocks, the finished squares are only 2", so most likely you will have to re-size and trace any design that you buy (since most are bigger than that).  That means that it is just as easy to use trace a picture or a line drawing, or even use a part of a coloring book page as it is to use an actual embroidery pattern.

For example, some of the embroideries that I did are based on cute art by Celesse.  I just dropped her a quick note and got her permission to use them for embroidery and post the results on my blog.   I also used drawings from this Japanese stamp making booklet that I learned about via Flickr. 

Finished bunny embroidery, based on Li'l Pun'kin art by Celesse
Backstitch and little filler stitches as grass

As far as transferring embroideries, to start with I mark off my fabric in 2" squares, with half inch gaps between them for the seam allowance.  I like to leave a full inch at the edges so that there is room for my embroidery hoop.  The boxes help center the designs to that they aren't too close together and so that if I make any on the fly changes, I know where they will end up compared to the final quilt square.

I prepare the images by tracing any drawings that were in color so that I had all line drawings to work with, then I resize all of them so that the longest side was less than 2".  Then I print out all the pictures on a sheet of paper and trace them onto my fabric using the blue washable pens from Joann's that come out with cold water.  Make sure that you use the washable kind and not the disappearing-over-time kind... you don't want your marks to fade away before you are finished embroidering.  I tape my sheet of patterns up on one of my windows (as a light box - the sunlight behind the glass makes the paper and fabric more transparent and the design easy to see) and trace out each design into the marked squares in my fabric. After that, "embroider as you like."  Haha

Embroidery progress
If you haven't done much embroidery before, just jump in!  You really can do it.  You'll be surprised by how fast these go, as little as half an hour per embroidery if you chose fast stitches (like chain stitch, see my bunny below).  I like this site for learning new stitches, but getting a book would also be a good idea for learning how to pull out thread, tie off, work in a hoop, etc.  I have and like Doodle Stitching by Aimee Ray, and Aneela Hoey's Little Stitches just came out and is totally cute.  I recommend either of those because they both include a lot of modern patterns along with embroidery instructions.

Another finished bunny, this one from the Japanese stamping book
Used chain stitch, satin stitch, and running stitch

I wait until all of the embroideries on a particular fabric are done, then wash off all the pen with cold water.  I heard that you should not iron your fabric or get hot water on it until the pen is gone, because otherwise it may become permanent.  That has never happened to me, though.  Let 'em dry and then iron them, then cut them into squares to add to your blocks.

Places to look for embroidery designs:
Flickr searches
Etsy (like Penguin and Fish and sewdeerlyloved)
Urban threads.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Year's resolution update, grade: D

So, back in January I posted these New Year's Resolutions:

1) Get my sewing machine serviced.  I did that right away, and then just took it in again a few weeks ago. 

2) Reduce my UFOs & WIPs by 5 by the end of the year.  I have reduced my UFOs by 8, which puts the number of remaining WIP quilts at a quantity I can actually count reliably...8.

None of the remaining quilts are those really bad UFOs that you just wish would disappear... I love them all but I am going to continue working on them at a pace that also allows me to start (and finish, of course!) new projects.  My goal in the next 2 months is to get my final count down to 5. 

3) Buy less fabric than I use.  I am instituting a 2 yards out, 1 yard in policy.  Hahahahahahahaha.  Hahahahaha.  Pardon me, I need to take a laugh break.
Ok, um, no.  This one did not, is not, will not be happening.  Instead of reducing my stash, I have increased it by about 50% this year.  I just seriously cannot. resist. Julie's. prices.  Oh well!  :) 

On the good-girl side of things, I did finally wash, iron, fold, and sort all of the fabric that I've bought this year, along with organizing it and the rest of my stash.  I have one bin of things that couldn't be fit into my fabric drawers, and I've made a deal with myself that if I still haven't used anything in the bin by January, I'm chucking the whole thing.  Don't worry, guys.  It's weird stuff like jeans & t-shirts that I saved for sewing into things.  And stretch velour.  So, nobody is gonna cry if it goes. 

4) Sew 6 items of clothing, or 1 every 2 months.  My count on clothes-sewn-this-year is 5, plus a shirt in progress.  Assuming I manage to finish that in the next three months, I'll definitely hit this goal. 

(Note that depending on your state, in the US, 75% is either a C or a D.  I went to high school in North Carolina, so I'm sticking with the grading scale used there.  Because, honestly, is 75% good enough to be called average??)