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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Guest blog: Lock down Up-cycle

I bought my first embroidery machine secondhand approximately 16 years ago but never really used the machine for embroidery.  I bought my current machine when I retired 4 years ago and thoroughly enjoy machine embroidery in my spare time. I currently own a Pfaff creative 4.5

We decorated the bedroom during the first lock down and I wanted a picture to replace our faded print picture, which had always been the perfect size for above the bed. The project cost me nothing as everything was from fabric, stabiliser and threads, Madeira Rayon 40, I already had.  The frame for the picture was also sprayed silver from a can of spray I found in the garage and the finished embroidery mounted over the previous picture with the edges slightly trimmed.

In planning this project I did some test stitch outs to determine my choice of colours. The majority of the designs came from the Summer Meadows Collection.  Hummingbirds were added from Renaissance Fuchsias collection and Dandelion clocks from Hazel’s Graceful Silk Sampler.


I used white even weave fabric, stabilized with medium weight woven iron on interfacing. Tear away stabilizer was used for hoopings. I found my inspiration in Hazel’s Summer Meadows Collection. I wanted something bright and cheerful but also something I could complete from my existing materials.

I originally planned to make a sampler but quickly realised I did not have sufficient embroidery threads for blending colours. 

I therefore looked through designs for something bright and cheerful.  The summer meadows collection was perfect and I felt I had enough threads to make this work. 

I separated and grouped mainly single flower designs from the collection and printed the separate flower designs off. 

Printed designs were arranged into the picture frame until I was happy with the lay out, with hummingbirds and dandelion clocks added to the top of the designs for balance.  I then replicated the layout into hoopings through my software.

Getting the layout right in the first place was the greatest challenge for me.

The project was relatively easy to accomplish, but upon reflection I would have preferred a couple of different greens for the flower leaves and stems, but due to lock down this wasn’t an option.

If did the sampler again, I would probably emphasize the metallic grass area more, but overall I love my picture and more than pleased with the results.

I learnt that planning, practice and preparation give the best results. The whole project took me a week to complete and it now hangs in pride of place in my newly decorated bedroom.

Hazel’s comment:

“I think you will all agree with me that this was an amazing project, especially as this lady used only what was available in her home. Well done!! She won second prize in the 2020 annual competition at Graceful Embroidery. Thank you for sharing it with us all.”

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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Guest blog: Renaissance Fuchsia Tea Party

I began my project by combining, on my computer, selected designs from the Renaissance Fuchsia Collection  and a single scallop from the May free design from Graced in Petals for the tray cloth, tea cosy, napkin and heat pad to keep the bottom of the tea pot cosy and protect the tray. Robson Anton Rayon threads were used throughout on self patterned organza backed with a a darker shade of fine cotton broadcloth and Insul- Bright heat resistant batting.

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Creating an embroidery card for Christmas 2020

Those of you who have followed my blog over the years know that each December I set about designing a machine embroidered card for my sister. This year I decided to do something a little different and I used a freebie to make several cards to send to family and friends. A word of caution, plan ahead and make sure you have some good quality blank cards with cutouts with matching envelopes.

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Use Nutcrackers when wrapping presents

When I created the nutcrackers I discovered that they were perfect for embroidering on felt. I confess it was a new medium for me but it is wonderful for machine embroidery as it appears that puckering is almost impossible. Although felt may not suitable for washing and is thick I have used it successfully for embroidered bags. My nutcrackers and angels at Graceful Embroidery are perfect for embroidering on bags for children.

However I had another purpose for my nutcrackers, that of using them to decorate my Christmas presents which became a reality this year.

Depending on the size of the hoops you have, you may be able to embroider up to 3 or 4 nutcrackers at a time but leave plenty of space between them, so trimming them is easy. There are no loops on the nutcrackers and it would spoil the embroidery if a hole was punched in the nutcrackers for ribbons. You may want to consider sewing a ribbon to the back of the embroidery. A loop could also be edited into the embroidery design in your software and you will find one that is suitable on each of my angels.

I wanted to devise the simplest method of using them so let me explain what I decided to do for my grandchildren’s presents. The nutcrackers were embroidered out on felt, using one layer of stitch and tear. When they are finished, I removed them for the hoop and trimmed around each nutcracker leaving a 1/6 inch gap. I prefer to do this than trim them close to the embroidery stitches. Each nutcracker was tidied up as much as is possible on the back. They were held in place by an oblong written card secured each end with sticky tape. When preparing your cards, you could create a decorative edging if you have craft scissors that do that. PLEASE do not use your pinking scissors!!! The nutcrackers can be slipped in behind the secured cards.

At the moment there are 9 nutcrackers available at Graceful Embroidery and each one stitches out in the 5×7 hoop. I have not introduced any new ones this year but maybe next year.

May I take this opportunity to say a Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy New year. Thank you for reading my blogs and supporting Graceful Embroidery in 2020.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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The Embroidery Angel

My ever popular Celtic and Christmas angels have one failing. When created as stand alone angels their backs are a little untidy. A while back I decided that my next Angel would have a few accessories which would solve that problem. She has now been released.

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Guest blog: Creating the Paisley Pastel Dreams Quilt

My beloved Husband of 54 years passed away suddenly as lock down started and I was completely isolated from family and friends. As a means of coping I decided on the challenge of a quilt  – because of my fabric addiction and living in a small country town, I had everything I needed. I also did not want my children to worry about me as they were not able to be with me. I needed them to see that I was able to handle this unprecedented lock down and all that went with it.

I have been doing machine embroidery for about 20 years and I own Pfaff Creative Icon.

You can see the 10.6″ x 10.6″ outline block which has been added to the outer 8×8 blocks

I choose the Almond Silk Paisley Collection as well as the outline block for the 260 x 260 new hoop and did some test stitch outs for the pastel colours I had in mind.

I used 100% cotton, iron on batting and flannel for the backing.

I decided on the size – Queen size bed – worked out how many blocks I would need and then cut all the blocks 15 x 15 inches – after the embroidery was completed I quilted round the outside and then cut the blocks down to 14 x 14 inches. Each block was sashed with my contrasting colours. 

For the centre four blocks I used some elements from the set of designs and added some of the built in designs on my machine to bring it all together.

I used the “quilt as you go” method which I found really great.  To make the quilt a bit bigger I sewed strips of the fabrics I used in the quilt, cut them down to sew round the 3 edges of the quilt – two sides and bottom. I am not a traditional quilter but love embroidered quilts, so essentially this is my way of making quilts that I love.

 To prepare the sashing I cut the required length – the width of my sashing was 4″ for the front and 6″ for the back.  I drew a scant 1” line on each long side of the 4” sashing using a fabric marking pen. Then I pressed the 6” sashing in half lengthwise.  Taking the trimmed quilt blocks I joined them together along the sides.  Taking one of the blocks, on the right side I pinned the 4” sashing – right side to right side and then the folded 6” sashing underneath, sewing the raw edge on the underside of the block. It is essential to mark all the sashing as you join to make sure the joins all match. The beauty of doing your quilt this way is that as you go along your quilt is being completed and there is no need to lay it all out and quilt later.  I then attach the binding or add more sashing to make the quilt bigger.

It took me approximately 2 weeks because I was on my own and had no one to cook or care for.  I was inspired by many books and also by browsing Pinterest – it really is a combination of ideas that worked for me. I also did not want it to be too complicated.  The most challenging part of the project was definitely the hand work- when attaching the binding- not my favourite part.

I would suggest that after choosing your designs, the first thing is to decide on your fabric and then choose the thread.  Don’t have too many colours.

I was really pleased with my finished project – half way through I thought it was going to be too busy but I am glad I persevered. A rough estimate of the cost would be about R 350.00 ( I am using South African currency) This converts to around US$22.

 What did you learn from making this project? Doing something you love and choosing happy colours was very therapeutic for me.

I am going to use it for my bed unless one of my granddaughters falls in love with it – this happens often.

Well done Monica! The finished quilt is amazing.

See all the Almond Silk Paisley designs she used for this fantastic quilt.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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Guest blog: The challenges of wedding dress embroidery

A while back I was delighted to receive an email from a couple of ladies who were making a wedding dress and wanted to use designs from the Natalie’s wedding day collection. This was exactly what I had in mind when I created these designs so I was very excited. Let me take you through our discussions, the process of creating the dress, the problems they encountered and how it all worked out in the end.

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A re-blog: How to embroider Nutcrackers for Christmas

With the release of Disney’s film, “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”, there have been a surge of interest in these little figures. At present there are now 6 nutcrackers in the collection at Graceful Embroidery. These little men have been created for the 5″ x 7″ hoop.

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A re-blog: Preparing fabric for an heirloom project

Careful planning is required for an heirloom project and most times it will be necessary to test out how design combinations will look. May I encourage you to try anything that comes to mind, especially if it almost sounds too challenging. Very often what we think is not possible in machine embroidery, can in fact be done with some careful consideration along with use of the right designs, fabric, thread and stabilisers. After discovering a while back that the designs in the Regency Whispers collection stitch out perfectly on English cotton net, I am now willing to try a few more experiments and encourage you to do the same.

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