Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Applique Embroidery Designs by Serena Smith of Embroidery Treasures



Stitching applique designs on your sewing machine is a neat technique to combine many of your favorite fabrics. Combine applique fabrics with machine embroidery and the list of projects you can create is endless.

Why would you let your embroidery machine applique a design instead of you stitching the satin stitch around the fabric? With machine embroidery, the machine is guiding the satin stitches, mitering corners and knotting the thread at the beginning and end of the design. Some applique designs add details on top of the applique fabric after it is stitched to the base fabric, such as facial features, flower centers, animal wings or shading to further compliment the design. So why not sit back and watch your machine do the work? :)

Two fabrics are used: the base fabric, which is what the design is sewn onto and the applique fabric, which is the fabric that is trimmed and attached to the base fabric. Wonderunder needs to be fused to the applique fabric before stitching for several reasons. It adds stability to the fabric, it is easier to trim the excess fabric around the shape and can be fused to the base fabric after the stitching is complete, which can eliminate puckers and wrinkles in the applique fabric. I prefer to use Heat 'n' Bond wonderunder. It irons on smooth, without wrinkles and the paper backing easily peels off, leaving the adhesive on the fabric.

Most applique designs offer an outline or a series of outlines where the applique fabric will placed, then satin or blanket stitches finish the raw edges of the applique fabric. The most common applique designs will have 3 outline stitches: a placement stitch, a tackdown stitch & an outline stitch. Your machine will read each stitch as a separate thread color, although you may use the same color throughout the design. The thread color change tells the machine to stop so you can trim the fabric before the final stitch is sewn.

Placement stitch - This is the first color in the design. It is a straight stitch that attaches the applique fabric to the base fabric. This stitch lets you trim off the extra fabric around the outside of the applique shape.

Tackdown stitch - This is the second color in the design. Most commonly it is an open zigzag stitch that tacks down and holds the applique fabric in place before the outline is sewn. It will also help to prevent any fabric edges from showing through after the design is complete. If a blanket or decorative stitch is the outline stitch, the tackdown is usually eliminated so that it will not show through when the design is finished.

Outline stitch - The third color in the design is the finishing outline stitch. Most of the time it is a satin stitch that seals the raw edges of the fabric, but on some designs a blanket stitch or other decorative stitch is used.

If you haven't stitched an applique embroidery design or are unsure how it works, here is how to do it. You can download the heart applique design that I have created and stitch it out yourself! Just click on the link at the bottom of this page.

Prepare the applique fabric by fusing wonderunder to the wrong side. Cut the applique fabric so it is larger than the design.



Hoop the stabilizer, spray it with 505 spray adhesive and place the base fabric in the hoop. Peel off the wonderunder paper backing on the applique fabric. Lay the applique fabric, right side up, on the area where the design will be stitched. If needed you can lightly spray the wrong of the applique fabric with 505 adhesive and stick it to the base fabric. I prefer to lay the fabric down and hold it with my hands if necessary. It is very easy to spray too much of the 505 adhesive, which makes it tougher to trim off the excess fabric.



Select the applique design or send it from your computer to your machine. Stitch the first color - the placement stitch. It will be a straight stitch in the shape of the design. The thread color does not matter; it will be covered by the outline stitch.



Take the hoop out of the machine, but DO NOT take the fabric out of the hoop. Trim around the applique fabric with a small pair of scissors, cutting close to the placement stitches, trying not to clip the stitches. For best results, work on a flat surface and pick up the excess applique fabric while trimming close to the placement stitches. This will keep tension on the fabric as you clip, making it simple to do! I like to use Snip-Eze scissors which have a curved blade with a sharp point. This makes it easy to get close to the stitches without clipping them.



Place the hoop back in the machine and stitch the second color - the tackdown stitch. It will stitch an open zigzag, which secures the fabric in place before the outline is stitched.



Continue stitching the design. The third color will finish the fabric raw edge with a satin stitch. It will automatically tie off the start and end of the thread, just like any other design. You're finished!



Keep in mind that applique designs are digitized differently in how they stitch the placement and tackdown stitches. Either there are two outlines, one for placement (straight stitch) and one for the tackdown (open zigzag) or there is only one outline. If there is only one outline, it will be necessary to go back and repeat the placement stitch to secure the applique fabric to the base fabric.

Details and shading are sometimes added to applique designs after the applique is stitched. Multiple appliques may be stitched in the same design. The same procedure is repeated with each applique part in the design. The corresponding design color chart will guide you through the design colors in designs that have more than one applique part.

To get you started, download the applique heart design (available in multiple formats) and stitch it out using some of your favorite fabrics! Click here to go to the download page.

Serena Smith is an avid embroidery and quilting enthusiast living in Kansas. Creating new projects and sharing them with others through local classes and online lessons is one of her greatest joys. Visit her website, Embroidery Treasures, for fun projects, helpful tips, inspiration, notions, fabrics and embroidery supplies!

You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided the entire article, author's name, bio information and URL remain intact. Thank you! ©2007 Serena Smith Embroidery Treasures

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Watercolor Wings Tutorial By Connie McBride Johnson





26" x 11" Timetex Interfacing, 20-gauge craft wire, watercolor pencils (browns, blues, greens, yellows), glue gun, Tacky Glue, needlenose pliers, small screwdriver, paintbrush, paper cup (for water), paper towels, scissors and a pencil.





Fold the interfacing material in half. With a pencil trace the wing pattern twice. You should have a total of four pieces- a left top, a right top, a left bottom and a right bottom.



Pin the pieces together and carefully cut out the wings.





To prepare the wings for color, dip the paintbrush into water and paint the wings. Do not saturate the wings.



Outline the left and right wings with the darkest blue watercolor pencil. Proceed next with a medium blue, followed by a light blue. Dip the paintbrush in water to blend the colors together.



Apply the green color next to the light blue. Use the darkest green, the medium green, and then the lightest green. Dip the paintbrush in water to blend the colors together.



Using the yellow watercolor pencils, apply to the center next to the green. Use a wet paintbrush to blend the colors together.



Using the brown watercolor pencil, dip the tip into water and gently make dots in the center of the yellow section.



Using a pair of needlenose pliers, cut the wire into small pieces to fit inside each wing. Do not allow the wires to protrude the tips of each wing.



Apply the hot glue one inch at a time to the tops of each wire piece. If a wire is not laying flat on the wing use the tip of the screwdriver to hold the wire down in place as you apply the glue. Hold down for 10-15 seconds and then release the screwdriver. You may need to smooth over the area with your fingertips once the glue is warm....and not hot. Repeat for other wing.



Take your time gluing the wires to the wings.



The hot glue has dried and the wires are in place.



Once the wings have been wired, the next process will be preparing for the bottom halves of each wing. Apply tacky glue all around the wires and tips of the wings. Use your fingers to blend the glue.



Press the bottom wing to the back of the top wing. Remove any excess glue. Repeat for other wing.



Once the wings have dried, trim away any excess overlapping.



Trim any overlapping excess with a small pair of scissors and cut close to the edges.



Picture of finished Watercolor Wings.


Copyright © 2005 - All Rights Reserved - Connie McBride Johnson. Connie McBride Johnson is an artist who designs and creates cloth dolls, pin dolls, bags and totes. You can view her artwork on her blog at http://clothmatters2.blogspot.com/ .

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fussy Cutting Applique Embroidery Designs by Serena Smith of Embroidery Treasures



Applique embroidery designs are fun and easy to stitch, plus they can save time by replacing fabric with stitches. But can you position the fabric so the butterfly or flower on the applique fabric is in the center of the applique design? If you can fussy cut quilt blocks and pieces, can you fussy cut the fabric for applique designs? Most definitely!

With most applique embroidery designs, the applique part of the design has 3 outline stitches to it: a placement stitch, a tackdown stitch and an outline stitch. The applique fabric is placed on the fabric in the embroidery hoop, then the placement stitch (a straight stitch) is stitched on top of the applique fabric. The applique fabric is trimmed close to the stitching, a tackdown stitch (an open zigzag stitch) is stitched and then the final outline satin stitch encloses the raw fabric edges, completing the applique design. See Applique Embroidery Designs for detailed instructions.

It is hard to know where the placement stitch will be sewn when the fabric is just laid in the hoop. You need a placement line before the applique fabric is laid down to see where the design will be stitched. Stitch the placement stitch twice and you will have a placement line for perfect fabric placement and a placement line to trim away the extra applique fabric.

Prepare the applique fabric by fusing wonderunder to the wrong side, making sure there is enough fabric around the the fabric motif which will be centered in the applique heart.



Hoop the fabric or spray it on the stabilizer with 505 spray adhesive. Select the design and stitch the first stitch - the placement stitch. This will stitch an outline of the applique design on the fabric.



Lay the applique fabric on top of the outline, centering the motif in the center of the shape.



Restitch the placement stitch. To do this you will need to go back a color by touching the back arrow on your machine. You could also go back a stitch at a time until you reach the starting point of the first placement stitch.

After restitching the placement stitch, be sure the motif on the fabric is in the correct place with the placement stitch. If it is not centered or where you want it, just rip the placement stitches out, reposition the fabric and restitch the placement stitch.



Trim the excess fabric around the applique shape and continue with the tackdown and outline stitch as you normally would do. The motif is in the center of the applique, exactly where it should be! Perfect placement with no guessing or ripping (hopefully!) involved!



Download my FREE applique heart and try out this technique for yourself!

Serena Smith is an avid embroidery and quilting enthusiast living in Kansas. Creating new projects and sharing them with others through local classes and online lessons is one of her greatest joys. Visit her website, Embroidery Treasures, for fun projects, helpful tips, inspiration, notions, fabrics and embroidery supplies!

You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided the entire article, author's name, bio information and URL remain intact. Thank you! ©2007 Serena Smith Embroidery Treasures

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wrinkle Free Quilt Backing by Serena Smith Of Embroidery Treasures

Starting with a smooth and sturdy quilt backing is the first step to achieve a quilt with the back free from tucks and puckers. What fabric is the best? Should it be prewashed? How can the backing gain more body after it has been washed? Read on to discover some tips for preparing your quilt backing!

What is the best fabric to use for quilt backing? Before choosing the fabric, consider what kind of quilting you will be doing on the quilt. Will it be machine or hand quilted? Will the stitching be dense and close together or will it be spread out? Will you be creating feathers, circles, squiggles or just stitching in the ditch?

Most of the time your fabric needs to be 100% cotton to match the remainder of your quilt. Avoid cotton/poly blends; they are much harder to quilt through by machine and especially by hand. If you are hand quilting, do not use a dense cotton fabric with a thread count of 200 or more. The threads are woven tighter together, which makes it much harder to work the needle in and out of the fabric. You will also want to avoid polished or specially treated cottons; the finished coating on the fabric makes more work for the needle as it is stitching.

To quilt by machine, any 100% cotton fabric is a good choice, even flannel. If you can find a coordinating fabric that is available in a 90" -120" width, this is the easiest. However, when using 45" wide fabric, you will just need to pieces the panels together to create a backing large enough for your quilt. To avoid extra bulk in the seams, be sure to trim off the selvage and trim the seams to 1/4". The selvage is treated so it will not ravel and is hard to quilt, plus you do not want the holes in the selvage on a lighter fabric to show through on the backing.

Should you prewash the backing fabric? If you have prewashed the quilt top fabrics (you should to prevent fabric color runs and shrinkage), then, yes, you should also prewash the backing. Cotton fabrics tend to have a little more body and support before they are washed, which is an added plus for a quilt backing. But, if the backing shrinks when the top doesn't or the color in the backing runs to the quilt top fabrics, you will be very disappointed in your finished quilt. Even though prewashing tends to soften most fabrics, it is best to prewash the backing before attaching it to the quilt top. Some wide cotton backings have already been prewashed. If this is the case, it will be clearly marked on the bolt of fabric. If you are unsure, always prewash first.

How can you add body to the quilt backing after it has been washed and dried? The simple answer to this question is starch! Yes, starch is great for piecing bias and odd angled quilt pieces and eliminating puckers from the fabric caused by embroidery designs, but it is also perfect to help prevent tucks and puckers in the backing fabric. Adding starch is more time consuming, but worth the extra effort.

When I prewash my quilt backing, I add liquid starch to the water. I use the smallest amount of water I can in the washing machine to cover the fabric and pour in the liquid starch, letting it sit for 10 minutes or so. How much starch do I use? This depends on the stiffness of the cotton fabric I am using, but for most cottons, I use 1 part starch to 4 parts water (1 cup of starch to 4 cups of water). After it soaks in the starch water, I run the fabric through the rinse cycle and then throw it in the dryer. I always pull the fabric out of the washer and completely spread it out, so it is not tangled or wrapped around itself before sticking it in the dryer. This will save you tons of time pressing out wrinkles later.

I take the fabric out of the dryer while it is still slightly damp. Then I press it, as large of an area as I can fit on the ironing board at a time. The slight dampness in the fabric makes it easier to press out the creases and wrinkles. If the fabric does not have the body or stiffness that I like, I use my bottle of spray starch and starch the fabric as I am pressing. (See What is the Benefit of Starch? for more starching tips.) Large pieces of fabric, especially wide widths are harder to press. Just press it sections at a time and you will reach the end. For fabrics that you piece together, consider prewashing, starching, drying and pressing each panel before stitching the backing together. It will be easier to handle during the washing and pressing process. After each panel has been pressed, stitch them together and trim and press the seams.

Quilting your quilt should be fun, not a frustration from puckers and tucks in the fabric. Try to prevent these little frustrations before you even start sandwiching the pieces together by fabric selection, prewashing and starching the backing. Hand fun with your next quilt or wall hanging!


Serena Smith is an avid embroidery and quilting enthusiast living in Kansas. Creating new projects and sharing them with others through local classes and online lessons is one of her greatest joys. Visit her website, Embroidery Treasures, for fun projects, helpful tips, inspiration, notions, fabrics and embroidery supplies!

You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided the entire article, author's name, bio information and URL remain intact. Thank you! ©2007 Serena Smith Embroidery Treasures

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cat Pin Doll Pattern by Connie McBride Johnson



This is the template used to make the cats. The pin doll is 5 inches by 5 inches.



Directions for Cat Pin Doll:
1) Copy the pattern to freezer paper.
2) Iron the freezer paper pattern onto selected fabric.
3) Sew around the freezer paper leaving an opening between the front and back paws.
4) Turn inside out.
5) Stuff the cat with fiberfil.
6) Finish the pin by sewing the opening closed.
7) Attach a pin to back.



To see more of Connie's cat pin dolls please CLICK HERE.

Copyright © 2007 - All Rights Reserved - Connie McBride Johnson. Connie McBride Johnson is an artist who designs and creates cloth dolls, pin dolls, bags and totes. You can view her artwork on her blog at http://clothmatters2.blogspot.com/ .

Friday, October 26, 2007

Quick Baby Receiving Blankets by Serena Smith of Embroidery Treasures

Baby receiving blankets...easy to sew...fun to personalize...great baby gift idea!! With a little fabric, several embroidery designs and a few spools of embroidery thread, you can have a quick, but special gift for a special little person! Here is a simple way to create a large blanket in a matter of minutes!

You will need 1 1/4 yards of 45" wide fabric, cotton or flannel. Press out foldline. Fold fabric in half with selvages together and then in half again as shown below.



Cutting through all 4 layers, cut off selvage edge. Using a dinner plate or circular object as a guide, cut off the corner so you have a nice, rounded edge as shown below.



Open up the blanket. Set your serger to a rolled hem and serge a rolled hem around the edges. Select one corner of the blanket and fold corner in half to find the center. Then mark 5" up from the rounded corner edge. Put the center of your embroidery design or lettering at this point. If you mark a + ( horizontal & vertical line) as the embroidery center, it provides an easy way to straighten the fabric in the hoop before machine embroidery.



If you don't have time to add the embroidery, just select a print, round off the corner and roll hem the edges.

You have a finished 45" square blanket! Most receiving blankets bought at a store are only a yard or smaller. This is a little bigger, so they can use it longer!

Make several ahead of time and you will have a gift ready! Or cut and roll hem several blankets and just add embroidery once you know the baby's info! Embellish with designs that match the baby's nursery!

See some unique baby blankets I have stitched here!
Find out about my flawed pink blanket that turned into a creative idea here!

Serena Smith is an avid embroidery and quilting enthusiast living in Kansas. Creating new projects and sharing them with others through local classes and online lessons is one of her greatest joys. Visit her website, Embroidery Treasures, for fun projects, helpful tips, inspiration, notions, fabrics and embroidery supplies!

You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided the entire article, author's name, bio information and URL remain intact. Thank you! ©2007 Serena Smith Embroidery Treasures

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An Embroidered Quilt Label by Serena Smith of Embroidery Treasures

Quilt labels are a fun and essential addition to any quilt or wall hanging. It is very important that you label your work. It is also very fun to create different kinds of labels. My favorite method of applying a label is to machine embroider it directly on the backing fabric before the quilt is completely quilted. Here's how it works:

I safety pin the quilt top, batting and backing together. The pins need to be 3-5" apart to hold the layers securely. I use curved safety pins which make it easy to go down and back up into the fabric. This is just a small lap quilt so I put a pin in each corner of the block and in the border.


After it is completely pinned, I am ready to stitch. I am stitching in the ditch on the outside of the purple sashing. I use a walking foot with clear thread in the needle and yellow thread in the bobbin. I will quilt all the squares except one of the bottom corner blocks. This will be the block where the label will be stitched on the back.


After all the blocks are quilted, except for one corner, I'm ready for my label. I mark where I will be stitching on the corner block by placing straight pins in the ditch along the stitching line. I put the straight pins in on the quilt top, being sure that I go all the way through to the back. It is difficult to see the pins because of the print, but my finger is pointing to where they are pinned in the fabric all around the purple sashing.


I turn the quilt over to the back and the straight pins allow me to see exactly where the stitches will be. Don't confuse the straight pins with the safety pins! Following the straight pins as a guide, I can easily mark a guideline with a blue water soluble marker to show me where the stitches will be. My label should not extend beyond the marked line.


I can mark a vertical and horizontal line to mark where I want my design label to be placed. The marked square easily lets me stitch my design so it is straight with the block instead of guessing and ending up with the label being stitched crooked.


After I have taken out the safety pins and straight pins, I can separate the backing corner from the rest of the quilt. Then I can place the area of backing fabric I want to stitch in the embroidery hoop, put the hoop on the machine and embroider the label. I am only stitching through the backing, not the entire quilt!


After the embroidery is complete, I take the fabric out of the hoop, carefully press the design and lay out the quilt. Once again I put straight pins in the ditch of the purple sashing on the top of the quilt, going through to the back. When I turn the quilt over, the straight pins should be pretty close to where my blue marker outline is drawn. If it is not, I may need to shift the layers a bit to make them match a little better.


I can go back to the machine and stitch in the ditch on the outside of the purple sashing from the quilt top. This finishes my quilting and keeps me from quilting into my label. Spray a little water on the blue lines and they will disappear. Then I can finish and bind the quilt as normally done.


Here's the finished label after the quilt is bound! I usually include in the label a design that matches with my theme on the quilt top, the quilt name, my name and the finished date.


I hope this gives you some ideas for applying quilt labels! This method works very well if you are not doing a large amount of quilting that is very close together. In that case, you would need to stitch the label on a separate piece of fabric and then handtack in onto the quilt.

You can see some other ideas for quilt labels here.

Serena Smith is an avid embroidery and quilting enthusiast living in Kansas. Creating new projects and sharing them with others through local classes and online lessons is one of her greatest joys. Visit her website, Embroidery Treasures, for fun projects, helpful tips, inspiration, notions, fabrics and embroidery supplies!

You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided the entire article, author's name, bio information and URL remain intact. Thank you! ©2007 Serena Smith Embroidery Treasures

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sewing & Craft Projects From Serena Smith of Embroidery Treasures

Serena Smith is a FABULOUS teacher and seamstress and she has several FREE Sewing & Craft Projects on her Embroidery Treasures website that I thought you might like to know about. They are as follows:


Print your favorite photos on fabric and create fun & unique projects! Create your own fabric with a Bubble Jet Solution or use pre-treated fabric sheets. See some of my projects! Download printing photo instructions.

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/


Fall Fleece Jacket
View & Download the complete directions.


Embellish a fleece or berber jacket just in time for the Fall season! Fun, unique and warm to wear, this jacket will catch the eye of anyone passing by!

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/


Fringed Fleece Blanket & Pillow
View & download the complete directions.


Create a fun and easy blanket and pillow with fleece and embroidery designs. No sewing involved in this reversible blanket!

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/


It's In The Bag!
View & download the complete directions.


Are you looking for a place to store your plastic grocery bags? You can make the perfect kitchen caddy with or without your favorite embroidery designs!

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/


Wrap It In A Bag!
View & download the complete directions.


Create a simple but unique gift bag that can be reused over and over!

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/

Please respect Serena's Terms of Use: I am providing these for you to download for FREE. My only requirement is that you use them for personal use only; please do not copy or share my handouts! If someone would like a copy, please direct them to my Embroidery Treasures website for their own downloading. I have spent many hours preparing these lessons; please respect my work and not copy my information. Thanks!!

Serena Smith is an avid embroidery and quilting enthusiast living in Kansas. Creating new projects and sharing them with others through local classes and online lessons is one of her greatest joys. Visit her website, Embroidery Treasures, for fun projects, helpful tips, inspiration, notions, fabrics and embroidery supplies!

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures http://www.embtreasures.com/