Guest blog: A needle case using a 2021 Daily freebie

Pamela has put together this little project which you might like to try using one my 2021 freebies.

Cut a 4” x 6” piece of canvas.

Fold in half with right sides together and crease.

There is a ½” seam allowance all around which reduces the 3” front cover width to an embroidery area of 2½”. Measure over half that distance (1¼” ) to the right of the fold line.  Measure up 2” from the bottom edge of the fabric.  The intersection of the two lines marks design center. I chose Design #1 from the anniversary collection, rotating it 225°, but any design less than 2¼” x 2¾” would work and design center markings would remain the same since it is the center of the cover’s stitching area.

Hoop the stabilizer, secure the fabric to the stabilizer and embroider the design. Remove excess stabilizer and threads from the wrong side.

Press under ½” hem allowance on all sides.

Miter the corners. 

Cut a piece of wool felt or craft felt 2¾”x 4¾” and glue it or top-stitch it to the wrong side of fabric, covering the raw edges of the hem.

Quick and easy to make with no shortage of designs to choose from in Graceful Embroidery’s Collections.  Great Christmas stocking stuffer gift!

Thank you Pamela for a great idea. The design used for this project is one of over 35 machine embroidery freebies available to all members of the Graceful Embroidery Group Forum. October 10th, 2021 is the last day to join the Forum and collect these free designs. They will be released for sale in late October, 2021. At the time of this post, they do not have a name yet.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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Contrasting Elements – Guest Blog by Pamela Cox

          Once again, Hazel is celebrating Graceful Embroidery’s Anniversary by giving us a wonderful new set of designs for free; collect the entire set by visiting the website each day of the celebration and download a new design!

          In today’s blog, I’d like to explore with you the idea of incorporating “Contrast” in your embroidery projects. In any embroidered project, the design is usually the focal point. However, the embroidered design can become more predominant if it is in contrast to the background that it is stitched on.

            Because Graceful Embroidery designs are so delicate, often they are stitched on finer fabrics such as batiste or silk. But the coarse texture of fabrics such as denim, suede cloth, raw linen, wool felt, Onsaburg (an inexpensive utility fabric) all provide a unique contrast to the silky threads of Graceful Embroidery’s beautiful designs. 

          Anniversary design #1 was stitched on canvas, another coarse, heavy fabric which is perfect for tote bags, place mats, throw pillows, or in this case, a sewing-needle book.  (directions at the end of the blog if you are interested in making this project)

          Do keep in mind that when embroidering on heavier, textured fabric, it is usually best not to hoop the fabric directly, but to secure the stabilizer in the hoop and stitch the fabric to the stabilizer.  If your machine does not have this feature, use the Blue Stitching Box from the Outline Alignment Stitches design, which have a -S at the end of the file name.

It is also a good idea to slow the speed of the embroidery machine down at least by half and to use a larger size embroidery or top-stitch machine needle.

          Combining different textured fabrics and allowing the design to be stitched a bit on each surface adds another dimension in contrasting.  Anniversary Design  #3 covers a piece of fabric that is made from strips of linen and suede cloth.

     Remember to press seams open to reduce extra thickness when stitching over seams. 

Fabric provides contrast, but so can the thread. Design #2 was stitched on wool felt; top element was stitched in Sulky’s Cotton+Steel cotton thread while the lower element was stitched in 40wt rayon thread with a metallic thread accent.

 This 50wt cotton thread lends a “hand-embroidered” look to the design.  Metallic thread draws the attention to a specific area within a design.

          Embellishing fabric with ribbon or lace prior to embroidering provides additional contrasting textures to the stitching canvas.  Specialty hoops can be purchased such as the one shown: Husqvarna Viking 150mm Texture Hoop, where decorative strips are locked into any configuration desired using a series of clips.

This method does require that the fabric be secured directly in the hoop’s frame and the design size is limited to 150mm.

 If the intended design size, or the final embellished piece cannot be stitched within these restrictions, try to envision other means to meet the intended outcome:

          Using a larger hoop, 200mm square, secure a quality, cut-away stabilizer. Pin the fabric securely to the stabilizer.

          Spray the back side of the embellishing ribbon with a temporary adhesive and press into desired position on top of fabric.  Anchor ends with pins to further secure. 

Slide the embroidery hoop into the machine and “fix/baste” around the design area to further secure the positions of embellishing strips.

         

Embroider the design.  For this sample, the basting box was stitched before placing the ribbon strips.  One sheer strip was centered vertically while the second strip was placed with bottom ribbon edged lined up with the bottom of the basting box.

Colors and textures make a project interesting.  The willingness to experiment and try new skills make a project uniquely yours. Enjoy and have fun!

Thank you Pamela for some wonderful ideas! I hope that you are all enjoying the Birthday event collecting these freebies. It will be interesting to see what you achieve with them.

(To collect the designs featured in this blog and over 30 more, you need to join the Graceful Embroidery Group Forum before October 10th, 2021)

FIND OUT MORE HERE

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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When a machine embroidery goes wrong!!

Please do not believe that I get good results every time I embroider on my machine. On reflection there are some days when it would have really been better to do something else! I honestly believe that a certain amount of calm is required for successful machine embroidery. No project should be hurried or began without a little planning. It is much easier to be creative in an organized and clear space. I cannot work amongst clutter. However with the best intentions in the world sometimes things go wrong for no apparent reason.

The other day I began this extra large embroidery in my 360mm x 200mm hoop. Stitch and tear stabilizer was placed in the hoop, and another layer added within the area of the hoop. I often use 2 or 3 strips for this which I save from the trimmings of previous embroidery hoopings. The fabric is attached to these layers with temporary adhesive. When embroidering in this hoop with silk dupion you want everything to go perfectly as the fabric is not cheap! I was embroidering this design from the fourth set of the Georgiana heirloom collection.

There are two schools of thought as to whether you should leave your embroidery machine running when you leave the room or whether you should always be watching it. I do the former frequently as nothing would ever get done if I watched every stitch out. Imagine my frustration when I returned to find that I had a terrible birds nest which had pulled the fabric and appeared to have moved the hoop out of alignment on the embroidery unit. Even worse it had continued to embroider for a while, hence the flower above the damaged area has been stitched in the wrong place. Well that was a first! Usually the machine stops so more damage cannot be done.

When I have a disaster like this I am very reluctant to give in and start again believing that there is always something to learn from every mishap. Eventually I managed to free the hoop and fabric from under the needle. I really should invest in one of those special kits for exactly this problem but I have not found them for sale in the UK. Upon examination and some probing with my stitch ripper on the back to free some stitches, I decided that this time it was past saving.

Give yourself the opportunity to learn from your machine embroidery mistakes.

As this was a stitch out for some photography I decided to go ahead with the embroidery as the upper section would be good. Before starting though I did several important things and I advise you to do the same in similar circumstances. Check your hooping to see if the stabilizer and fabric have moved. Adjust and tighten the hoop as necessary. In some cases it will be necessary to float another piece of stabilizer under the damaged area. I released the embroidery unit from the machine and pushed it back in place, turned off the machine to calibrate it. Then I cleaned out the bobbin area. Lastly after reloading the design I re-threaded the top thread too. When I slipped the hoop back in place I checked to see if it everything was in the right place! I moved the design along from the area of the cross where the bunched stitches were and finished the design off.

Please do not despair when all goes wrong. We have all been there! Even if you do not have time straight away to unpick things do make an attempt at some point. There is quite a skill to unpicking embroidery stitches, and I advise you to try as the practice will pay off one day and you will know the wonderful satisfaction of saving a project. I believe that there are even little gadgets to do this for you but they can be expensive. Go slowly and a magnifying light will aid your progress. Always work from the back of the embroidery where the stabilizer offers some protection for the fabric. Place something under the fabric to support the area of the hoop where you are working. Several layers of batting will form a small cushion which is perfect for this. I use a stitch ripper and when some stitches have been cut I turn the work over to pull the threads away with my tweezers or fingers.

If you have some tricks and tips please share as we all need help for when those disasters strike.

Happy hoopings from Hazel

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Combining the Strawberry plants and runners in the Strawberries & Cream collection

In the Strawberries and Cream collection I have included Strawberry plants and runners which are perfect for embroidering borders and corners. Here are some ideas and guidelines on how to use them.

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Guest blog by Jean: My Jacobean Sampler Wall hanging

This was a project I set myself to help me try to overcome the loss of my daughter some twelve months ago. Knitting & sewing have been my hobbies for many years & for the last twelve months It has obviously been a struggle to concentrate on anything, but the time has come to try & work through the sad loss.

Having watched several Tutorials on Hazel’s website I decided to set myself a challenge.

So, I set about collecting the various materials needed to produce the finished article.

For my background material I purchased the Raw Silk Material, & from my large collection of Embroidery threads I selected my colours & purchased the Jacobean Sampler designs with the PDF instructions from Hazel.

I decided to start with the tree as my centre image, so I set about the work using my Brother Innov-is V3 Embroidery Machine.

Following the PDF instructions, the tree required the use of 3 hoops & after some careful thought I succeeded in getting all the joining’s together.

Having been successful with this first stage I now had the drive to carry on.

My next challenge was to place the corner images correctly. That is not easy as I am Partially Sighted, so I enlisted the help of my husband. We marked the corners ready for embroidering the pattern & with some trepidation set the machine up & set too, all went well!.

From then we moved on to the centre left & right edges followed by the centre top & bottom images.

Then came the time to set out all the remaining separate images required to fill in the rest of the material, using the sample pictures in the PDF I placed the individual pictures in the order I wished them to be.

Once I was happy with my selection, I again took the help of my husband to position them correctly before embroidering them in place.

Having now completed the embroidery I had to decide how it would be best displayed, initial thoughts were to stretch it myself & have it as a wall hanging but not keen on doing it myself, I opted for a professional job to be done.

I took my finished work to our local picture framing gallery & with their guidance I went for a framed & glazed mount.

Now that I have the completed work at home I am happy with what I have achieved, pleased with the professional framing & thinking about my next challenge. The most difficult part was thinking everything out, and then the positioning on the fabric. If I were to do it again, I would spend more time thinking about it before going ahead. The best thing I learnt was that I have now the courage to do it and go on to do many more Projects.

Hazel comments: “WOW! What an amazing project you produced. I am sure that it gets many compliments as it hangs in pride of place in your home. When I began to created these designs I could never have imagined what would be embroidered with them.”

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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🧵 My quilting in the hoop journey

A finished embroidered quilt block is a delight, but a great deal of careful consideration needs to go into both the digitising and the stitch out process. When I created the Jacobean Sample collection I realised that the smaller elements would be perfect for a series of complimentary quilt blocks, but I wanted them to be different. If you are familiar with my work you will know that as I begin each new digitising project, my intention is always to create much more than yet another set of embroidery designs.

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A guest blog: A Table scarf by Pamela Cox

A “Perfect Storm” of inspiration hit me as I cleaned out some attic boxes.  In one, I found this large gauze-weight fabric sack probably used to store pads from an old dining room table.  It just begged to be made into something more useful and pretty.  Remembering the Cassandra White Work Collection, the beautiful free designs gifted to us all by Hazel during her celebration of Graceful Embroidery’s 2020 Anniversary, I knew the fabric and designs would be a perfect match in making a covering for an end table that had sadly been water-marked by a plant. 

          Although you are welcomed to reproduce the featured table scarf, the purpose in writing this blog is more to share the thought process and steps that go into making any table linen so that you can create ones that are tailored to your needs.

Planning the Design

The square top measured 14” by 17¼ ” , so I began to plan a design to fit within that area, aiming for a finished layout about 12” by 16” which would allow the embroidered design to display completely on top rather than draping over any edges.

          First came the basic configuration that I envisioned the designs would delineate.

            

Next I set out to review the lovely designs and chose #36 thinking that several repeats of the design might show well in a circular pattern.

                                

My embroidery software, my Sewnet™, has a wonderful feature called “Encore” which allows a design to be automatically combined into various configurations. A large workspace (420mm x 300mm) was opened to reproduce the tabletop.

          Since the software would align the designs, the OAS stitches (Color stops 1 and 2) were deleted, setting the parameters in Encore to include 5 repeats of Design #36 in the shape of a circle. 

The auto-generated circle was then modified simply to close the space between each element, just my preference.  It looks great as is!

 If your embroidery software does not have an “Encore” feature, this circular combination can also be reproduced by rotating the top original design clockwise 72° and then rotating that design another 72°, continuing to rotate each addition element the same amount until 5 designs are available to visually place in a circle. 

          Once satisfied, combine the elements, color sort and save the file under a new file name preserving the original design file for future projects. 

          Now to the corners! Design # 30 was already in a shape that could define each corner so, one element was placed in the upper workspace with another flipped vertically and placed in the lower right area. 

          Matching the OAS blue box to workspace grid lines, the two designs were perfectly aligned in a straight vertical line with equal spacing between them. Once the two designs were combined and color sorted, the OAS stitches were deleted since my machine could handle a design 211mm x 214mm.   

Since the combined designs were to be placed on each side of the circle embroidery (the same unit just flipped horizontally to create a right and left embroidered side), I needed a way to help insure equal distancing and proper placement.

          In the “letter” program of the software, a large (20mm) plus sign (+) was added to the workspace.  It was moved to match the center indicator of the combined design.

Now combine the plus sign to the embroidery elements. Make sure it is in a color that is not found in the embroidery elements since it will not be stitched out. It is a placement marker only! Remember to re-save the file now that the red plus sign was added to the mix.

You will find that this large plus sign will provide a visual when placing the side designs equal distance from center especially when viewing the full layout in the software.  It also provides a visual for measuring distances between center and side design center.

Prepare the fabric

          I cut my fabric larger than my final planned project (17” x 35”) for several reasons.  First, I intend to have a bit of UN-embroidered fabric hang over the sides of the table with self-fringed edges.  Machine embroidery tends to “shrink” the fabric a bit as the design is stitched out.  Extra fabric will allow a piece to be re-squared if necessary.  Finally, although we plan and try our best, sometimes the design is not placed exactly straight, or in exactly the right area and a bit of extra fabric will afford some corrective wiggle room.  

          With the embroidery planned, it is now time to begin stitching!  First divide the fabric into quarters by hand-basting the guidelines. Baste well beyond the design lengths since only the basting that falls within the stitching area will be removed allowing the remaining lines to aid in re-cutting if necessary. 

          The intersection of the quartered fabric lines marks the center of the circular element. Measure out on each side, the same distance from fabric center to the side design center (red + marker).  This measurement will depend on your chosen designs and combinations.  Notice in the full layout already shown, there is a slight difference between the measurement I documented from my software.  It doesn’t matter which you choose, or round up to, in my case I rounded up to 6½” while the diagram above shows 6.45” and 6.4”.  The absolute exact measurement is not as important as marking the same distance on each side of fabric center.  Once again, hand-baste the lines at the proper distance you need.  Horizontal center line is the same for all three elements.

Get Ready to Stitch

          I love Sulky® Soft ’n Sheer™ stabilizer and use it for almost every project. In this case, it was a must since the fabric was so thin.  The stabilizer was secured in a large hoop preparing to first embroider the middle design.  The fabric was laid on top of the stabilizer centering it in the hoop as close as possible.  This is one advantage to hand-basting guidelines; they show on both sides of the fabric and the sheer stabilizer allows grid lines from a quilters mat to show as well.  Helpful in keeping everything centered and straight.

Place a few pins to hold the fabric while the hoop is locked in place on the machine. Match the machine-needle center position to intersecting lines which indicate the middle design center. Once satisfied that they match, secure the fabric to the stabilizer by basting a box around the design area, a feature found on many embroidery machines.  Use the machine’s foot-pedal when stitching this box for full control in keeping the fabric as straight, taut and wrinkle free as possible.

          Go ahead and embroider the center design!

          Once finished, remove excess stabilizer.

Hoop another piece of stabilizer, matching side design center and hoop center, (intersection of lines measured over from fabric middle) then match with machine needle position.

Baste the fabric to the stabilizer and embroider one side design. Do not remove excess stabilizer at this point. Repeat for the other side remembering to flip the side design horizontally!!!

Finishing Touches

            Fold the scarf in half and pin matching the edges of basting boxes around the side designs to square cut the fabric piece to its desired size.

         

          The table-runner can be finished in many ways.  I chose to hemstitch the top and bottom edges.   ¼” of fabric was turned to the wrong side and then folded over again.  Rayon embroidery thread was used with a wing-needle.  An applique stitch was selected slightly increasing length and width.

The wing-needle makes small holes in the fabric as it penetrates, and the stitches then hold that space open

          Self-fringe is made by pulling threads from the fabric.

The freed threads can be left as is, cut to any length desired or bunched and tied to create tassels.  Save the long, pulled fabric threads if making tassels and use it to tie the grouped threads.

          I was please with the finished project and know that you, too, will be happy with your handiwork. 

It’s kind of hard to go wrong when a project features designs by Graceful Embroidery.

Thank you Pamela for this wonderful blog. All the designs that she used come from Cassandra’s White work 1 which has now been released along with 4 other sets. They are all on offer until 10th April 2021.

Check all the designs out here.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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How the Cassandra’s White Work collection can be used

I am often asked for suggestions on how to use my designs. As I digitize each individual design I try to imagine how it can be used, so in this post I will share some ideas on some of the possible uses of the designs in the Cassandra’s White work collection. Even though these are heirloom embroidery designs for christening gowns and other white work projects they can be used for so much more…..

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An update on my Epic 2

My Husqvarna Epic 2 has been keeping me busy for well over a year now, which is probably why I have not got around to sharing my opinions and experiences on this machine. Firstly I have to say that it is true to its name: EPIC!

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A green and gold Father Christmas

I am not a great fan of the truly traditional colours of Christmas, preferring some of the more unusual colour schemes. My Father Christmas can be embroidered to be a dimensional figure but he also work very well as an ordinary embroidery. Here is my story of one of my “flat” versions embroidered on smooth gold silk dupion.

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