“Underlining?”

Remember that weighted blanket I made for my dentist’s office back in January (Jan. 12th blog)?  My nephew’s 5 year old son broke his leg and is now in a full-leg cast for the next 4-6 weeks.  To say he’s not happy about this roadblock to his daily fun outside would be an understatement, so I thought I would help him to feel a bit calmer while inside by making him a weighted neck scarf.  I found the pattern in one of the books I got from Bonny’s so I thought I’d give it a try.

The projects are simple and the directions are easy to follow.

This differs from the weighted blanket since I am not covering the bead insert “duvet style”.  Not just the outside cover of the scarf will be washable:  the whole scarf will be washable, including the beads.

This is the example from the book. I decided to omit the “fidget ribbons” at the ends of the scarf.

As you can see, this project isn’t very large, so I was able to use some material I used for another project for him last year (did I tell you I love using scraps?).  I followed the book’s directions and cut the fabric into the two pieces needed and then decided to add a muslin underlining to the project to keep the weighted beads from wearing through the fabric too easily.

This is the outer fabric.
This it the underlining cut from scraps of muslin.

This is where I deviated from the pattern for a bit.  The difference between a lining and an underlining is how it is attached to the outer fabric.  A lining generally hangs freely under the outer fabric.  If it is attached at all, it’s only in one or two places.  An underlining, on the other hand, is sewn to the outer fabric all the way around the edges and the two pieces of fabric are now always treated as if they were one piece.  The seams for the scarf were directed to be sewn at ½”, so I attached the muslin underlining to the outer fabric using a ¼” seam.  This allowed me to use my ¼” piecing foot for the job.

I like the piecing feet that have metal guides. It makes seaming so quick!

Don’t forget to use the markings on the foot to enable you to maintain a ¼” uniform seam allowance, even when turning corners.

If you stop with the fabric at the red line, you will be exactly 1/4″ away from the edge when you turn the corner: no extra fabric marking needed.

Now that both scarf pieces had an underlining attached, I was ready for my final deviation from the pattern.

This picture shows the outer fabric and the underlining as I get ready to sew the pieces together…but first there’s one more step!

I felt I needed to join the underlining and fabric a little more securely together because I didn’t want the movement of the weighted beads to rub against the muslin and cause bunching, so I went to my quilting stitches on the machine and chose a serpentine stitch to hold the layers of fabric together.

Most machines have this stitch in some form: some a wide serpentine and some not so wide. I made no stitch adjustments.

I used the 2” guideline on my stitch plate to keep my lines of serpentine stitches straight and sewed two rows; one row down each side of the scarf.

I ran the edge of the fabric along the 2″ guide line on my stitch plate.
The 2″ guide line is right under my pointer.

You can’t even tell the stitching is there once the scarf is turned right side out.  Now there is a stabilizing stitch every two inches to keep that underlining in place.

Here are both the inner and outer view of the scarf sections with the underlining stitched to the outer fabric every 2″. Now I’m ready to join the two sections the way the pattern directs.

Once this step was finished, I was able to go back to the directions to finish up the scarf.

The scarf is sewn except for the opening in which to insert the beads.

All that’s left now is to go to the store to get the weighted beads and sew up this scarf! Turns out his sister would like one too!

“What’s New?”

About 20+ years ago my parents added a sun room to the back of their house.  They purchased a cute table and some ice cream parlor style chairs along with some other furniture and enjoyed their new space for years.  Once both of my parents passed away, the chairs came to me.  My husband and I have also enjoyed those same chairs, but by now, the thin material on them was discoloring and literally hanging on by a thread in some places.  I decided to look in my fabric stash to see if I had a piece of material that would be the same basic weight (so the seat would fit back into the chair rim) and complimentary to the chair style.  This project, once I gathered the tools and found the fabric I wanted, took about 2 hours.  Not bad for a “free” makeover!

The chair’s “before” picture.  Cute but the fabric, a very thin cotton, was worn and discolored. 

The first step was to remove the 4 screws that hold the seat to the chair’s rim.

At this point you may want to take a picture so you know how everything is supposed to look after your work is finished.

Take a picture before you tear too much apart!

I marked the seat’s front and the back so I would be sure I was putting the seat back on correctly when done. 

Marking the front and back as the seat came off the chair rim.
I carefully removed the old staples with a staple puller.

The fabric on this chair had been glued before it was stapled on, so I carefully removed the fabric, making sure I did not tear the old fabric.

Remember, you want to use the old fabric as your pattern for the new fabric. Be very careful, if working with a circle of fabric, that you don’t pull too hard. This will skew the fabric due to the bias grain.
Once everything was apart I could start the makeover!

The old foam was glued to the wooden seat and I decided not to remove it.  I was careful to measure one of the staples I removed so I could match the size with the new staples I would be using.

Don’t forget to measure one of the old staples so the new staples will be the correct size.

Since I did not choose to replace the foam, I added some polyester batting to the seat.  I used a thicker batting that would be way too stiff to use for a quilt.  I centered the batting over the seat and found I didn’t need to attach it:  the fabric would hold it in place.

I traced the seat and cut out the batting.
The batting was thick enough that I didn’t feel I needed to attach it to the foam. I felt the fabric would hold it in place.

When using the old fabric as a pattern for the new, I made sure to match the grain so my stripes would line up on the finished chair.

Since I had added some thicker batting to the seat, I added a ½” to the diameter of the circle of fabric.

I am a big fan of cutting away excess material rather than stretching material to make it fit.

Before starting to attach the new fabric to the seat, I marked the front and back by sticking a pin into the foam.

These pins came out as soon as I had draped the fabric over the seat and lined up the stripes with the front and back.

Now that I was sure my stripes would line up front to back, I stapled the fabric to the seat. I started by attaching the front, back and two sides first.  I then continued to work my way around the circle by stapling across the seat, turning the seat 90 – 180 degrees each time so the fabric on the front did not get skewed.

Because I was working with a circle of fabric, tucks were inevitable so I made the tucks very small.

I tried to make very small tucks and away from the seat’s edge, where they would show once the seat was re-attached.

I’m happy with the finished product and will tackle the second chair tomorrow!

A much more subtle stripe than the original fabric. Isn’t a stash of fabric great for unexpected uses? Happy Sewing!

“Napkins, Anyone?”

My sister-in-law and her sister have large enough homes to host the family dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Every time we get together as a family, we use paper napkins:  doesn’t everyone?  But for these two special holidays, we use cloth napkins.  A few years ago I made napkins for both ladies, but since I did that the family has grown significantly.  We now have boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives and grandchildren that have grown the family from about 11 to around 26.  Time to make more napkins!  For this task I used my Serger (Overlock Machine) with a 3 thread set up using Wooly Nylon in the upper looper.  If you have a serger and have never tried a rolled hem, you really need to give it a go!  Here’s what I did….

My serger is older, but works beautifully.  If you own a newer serger, some of the steps I needed to go through will not apply to you. Check your owner’s manual.   My serger was set for a 4 thread overlock stitch from my last project.  This set up uses 4 cones of thread on the machine (two needle threads and two looper threads) with an even tension setting for all 4 threads.

My serger set up for a four thread even over lock stitch.

Since I haven’t used the machine for a rolled hem in a while, I got out the directions to make sure I was covering all my bases.

I read the directions for the installation of the rolled hem foot and….
..for the set up of the machine.

As long as I was significantly changing the machine’s configuration, I thought I might as well clean the machine, oil it and change the needle.  (Please check your owner’s manual for maintenance directions.)

Make sure you use the recommended oil in the places it should be used in the machine!

Once my cleaning was done, I changed the settings on my machine to match my owner’s manual’s suggestions, removing one needle.  Notice how different the tension is from the even setting of a standard over lock stitch?

Even tension for a regular over lock stitch.
The new tension settings for the rolled hem. Notice one lever is at zero? That’s for the right needle, which I removed for this technique.

The Wooly Nylon thread has a lot of stretch to it and fills out once it leaves the machine.

This thread makes the rolled hem look great!
The middle spool in this set up is the Wooly Nylon. The other two spools are regular serger thread.

I wanted an 18” square to be the finished size of my napkins, so I made 19” square cuts (which means I get 4 napkins from every one and an eighth yard cut of 44” fabric).  Make sure you use a scrap piece of your fabric for a test for the look of your rolled hem and to make sure you are cutting off exactly the amount you want to cut.

Be accurate in the amount you cut off or the napkins will be lop sided.
I’m happy with the sample, so let the serging begin!
I choose to cut off 1/2″ since I have a marking on my machine that is easy to follow. You need to cut off something so the fabric will roll nicely to the back as it comes off the cutter.

You can chain sew the napkins, just as you would if you were piecing a quilt, but leave a long tail of thread in between each napkin so there will be a long thread tail on each corner of your napkin when they are cut apart.

Leaving a thread tail in between the napkins is important for later steps in the process.
When you cut the napkins apart, each napkin will get half the thread tail.

When chaining the napkins, don’t forget to hold the thread from the last napkin with one finger while guiding the next napkin with the other.  By holding the thread from the last napkin with one hand while holding the thread from the current napkin with the other, none of the threads will roll back on themselves, creating an unsightly bump in your hem.  Also, remember not to push your fabric through the machine.  It feeds slower than a regular stitch because of the density of the stitch.  Forcing the fabric will result in an uneven rolled hem with thick and thinner spots.  Once the napkins are finished, cut them apart

Hold the thread behind the foot with your left hand…
…and the thread from the napkin being sewn with the right hand.
Cut the chained napkins apart.
Add some type of seam sealant to each of the corners.
I usually apply a generous drop to both the front and back at each corner.

This will leave a dark spot when first applied, but will probably disappear when dry, but please, DO A TEST FIRST!  Leave the napkins to dry thoroughly, for at least 30 minutes, and then cut the thread tails off close to the corner. 

There you have it:  two 18” square napkins ready to use.    Just 28 more to sew!  They can be folded, used as a decoration, used with a napkin ring, or in a bread basket as a covering for the rolls. Use your imagination! Since they are cotton, they can be washed after each use.

The finished product. Happy sewing!

“I’ll Never Use That Foot!”

During the “Sewing Machine Basics” class, we go over all of the accessory feet that come with your new machine:  what they are and their use.  When discussing the zipper foot, I usually have at least one customer who says “I’ll never use that foot.  I don’t do zippers!”  Zippers seem to be quite intimidating for a lot of sewers so I thought I would give some tips on how to insert an easy type of zipper that you may encounter as a garment sewer or as a person who needs to replace a broken jacket zipper.  If you can just remember that this is a process where you should take your time, you’ll be fine.  Let’s begin…..

The task: to insert a separating zipper into the front of this jacket made from sweatshirt material.
I used a separating zipper that can be opened completely.
The zipper will be open for this insertion.

I changed my needle from the size 90 stretch needle I had been using for the garment’s construction to a size 90 universal needle to make piercing the zipper tape easier.   The pattern asked me to line up the zipper teeth along the seam line and stitch the zipper tape to the front of the garment.  What does that mean?

The directions are asking that the zipper be sewn to the front of the garment, a little from the edge, so I measured 5/8” away from the edge and placed the seam guide along the teeth.

The zipper teeth are placed 5/8″ away from the raw edge of the garment and clipped into place. Pins will distort the zipper, so clips are the way to go.

I was also asked to fold the top of the zipper tape inward so it “disappeared” into the seam allowance.

Folding the top of the zipper tape towards the seam allowance gives a neat finish to the top of the zipper.

I first tried to use the standard zipper foot for this task, but it was too large for me to comfortably sew along the zipper teeth and keep track of the 5/8” guide line on the needle plate…

The standard zipper foot either ran over the zipper teeth or ran off the fabric edge. It was just too big for the job.

so I changed to the Narrow Zipper Foot, which fit perfectly! 

Husqvarna Viking’s Narrow Zipper Foot. Pfaff currently does not have this foot that I’m aware of. This foot can be used on a Pfaff if you purchase a white Husqvarna Viking ankle and use that and the foot on your Pfaff. In doubt? Ask Frank!

The zipper teeth run along the seam line while the fabric is guided along the 5/8” marking on the needle plate.

Notice the zipper tape is not even with the fabric edge.

Remember:  when inserting a zipper, always sew from bottom to top along both sides of the zipper.  This is to ensure accuracy of the zipper when meeting at the top.  The left side of the zipper was now installed.

Left side installed and turned right side out.

As you get ready to insert the other side of the zipper, carefully line up the bottom edges so the zipper will easily zip when finished.

This is an important step so take your time and be accurate.

As the zipper is sewn from bottom to top again, you will need to move the zipper pull out of the way.  You will be unable to sew next to it without creating a distortion in the zipper and your fabric.  You will need to flip the zipper foot and run your fabric along the 5/8” needle plate marking on the left of the needle.

Take your time here since it is unnatural to guide along this marking.

Taking my time with this step ensures the zipper meets perfectly at the top and at the bottom. 

The zipper meets at the top…
…and at the bottom. Yeah!

All that’s left is to clip the zipper into its final position and top stitch it.

Clips are in and everything’s ready for top stitching.
For top stitching, the standard zipper foot works great.

Remember, you will need to move the zipper tab out of the way again as you sew to avoid distorting the zipper and the material.

When you come to the zipper pull, stop with the needle in the “down” position. This will raise the foot enough for you to move the zipper pull behind the foot so you can continue sewing.
With the zipper pull behind the foot, continue sewing.
The finished product!

“Zippered Bags, 2.0”

As you may remember from my posts last year, I made zippered bags for everyone in the family this year for Christmas.  Two of the gentlemen in the family wanted a bag, but not the ones I made.  They are both avid cyclists and wanted a bag to attach to their bike big enough to hold an extra pair of sunglasses in a case.  Their preferred material:  vinyl.  They also each wanted the bag to attach to the cross bar of their bike and they didn’t want the bag to swing when the bike was in motion.  With that information, I went home to see what I could do for them. I found a piece of marine vinyl big enough to make both bags. 

Vinyl has a definite right side….
…and wrong side. All markings needed to be made on the wrong side of the material.
These are the main tools needed to work with this vinyl: a roller tool for making creases, a seam gauge for creating hems and a chalk fabric marker.
I found a hard shell glasses case and set it on the vinyl within my planned 1/2″ seams. That determined the width of the bags.
I set my seam gauge to 1/2″…..
….turned the 1/2″ hem….
…and used the roller to press in the hem.

I used the roller to press in the hem since you cannot use pins on vinyl. Once the hem was pressed it was time to insert one side of the zipper. The zipper is intentionally much longer than what was needed to make working with the bag’s construction much easier.

I used my optional narrow zipper foot for this task.
After completing one half of the zipper installation, it was time to add the top hem and the Velcro straps. This needed to be done while the bag was still flat.

I marked the back of the bag for the 1” drop I wanted for the zipper, so the zipper would not be directly on the very top of the bag.  This decreases the stress on the zipper over the life of the bag.  After marking the line, I used a 1” wide ruler laid along the line and then I folded the vinyl over it to create a crease. 

I laid the 1″ wide ruler along the purple line I had drawn….
…and folded the material over it to make the top of the bag.

Next item in the process was the addition of the Velcro straps to hold the bag to the bike.  I used 2 straps on the top of the bag and one on the bottom, off set to the right.  This was to hold onto the bike’s diagonal bar to keep the bag from swinging on the cross bar while the bike was in motion.  I overlapped the straps ½” and used the four way stitches on my machine to secure them to one another. I used my plastic stiletto to mark the strap placement on the front of the bags.

I turned one strap against the other to join them with a 1/2″ overlap…
…and used the 4-way stitch menu on my machine to secure them without having to turn them.
I used my plastic stiletto to mark the fabric with a crease for the strap placement.
With all the straps attached it was time to sew the other side of the zipper to the bag.
I used the Clover mini clips to hold the side seams since they would not leave a crease on the right side of the bag. Remember to leave the zipper open on this step or you will not be able to turn the bag right side out!
After sewing the side seams I trimmed the zipper to the proper length and got ready to box the corners.
I used a 1/2″ stitch line to create a 1″ box for the bottom of the bags.
With the 1″ boxed bottom the bag will stand up on its own.
The final step is to turn the bags right side out. It’s especially important to use a rounded tool to poke out the corners. Using the point of a scissors will likely tear the vinyl.
Each of the two bags will hold the glasses case, just the way the guys wanted.
With the Velcro straps placed on the top and bottom of the bag, the bag does not move when the bike is in motion.

Happy Sewing!

“Weighted Options”

During the holidays, I spent quite a bit of time in the dentist’s chair having work done.  I love my dentist, but it’s not my favorite place to spend the afternoon.  While I was in one of my marathon sessions, I noticed how much better I felt when I had to wear the large x-ray shield draped over my torso.  I told my dentist about this and asked if he had ever used a weighted blanket with his patients.  Since he did not have one, I offered to make him one to try.  Had I ever made one before?  Of course not, but that wasn’t going to stop me!  I did my research and found you could buy a ready made blanket insert in varying weights (Bonny carries these inserts).  Since my dentist requested a blanket weight for adults (8 – 12% of a person’s body weight) in a size that would only cover the torso, I settled on twelve pounds total, using two six pound inserts.

These inserts come in various weights and sizes. This was the size blanket I needed, so I used two inserts.

I pinned the two inserts together and hand stitched them, since they were too heavy to run through the machine.

Stitching together by hand was the only option. The 12 pounds of glass beads did not allow the material to feed through the machine properly.

Next, since this is for a dentist’s office, I felt I needed to cover the insert with a duvet style cover, which I made out of quilter’s cotton, so it could be laundered if needed.  While I was at it, I decided to add my dentist’s office logo in embroidery which I was able to create on my Brother Luminaire using the scanning feature and a promotional magnet from my dentist.

I scanned the shape of the promotional magnet from my dentist’s office into the Design Center on my Brother Luminaire. I added built in lettering and viola!

Once the embroidery was finished and the duvet cover was assembled, I add the ties which connect the weighted insert to the cover.

The finished duvet cover inside out.

The cover’s assembly directions said ribbon could be used for the ties, but I felt that would not hold up, so I made my ties out of muslin cut 1.5” wide by 18” long folded twice to make the ties.

Each of the ties was stitched over a piece of nylon stay tape folded twice to give the connection some added support for the duvet’s cover. I don’t want them to pull out!

Once finished, I had a twelve pound blanket about 36” X 48”.

The finished product….twelve pounds of comfort!

When I was at Bonny’s in Stafford last week, she had a couple books with suggestions for other weighted projects.  I got them to see if I’d like to make a second weighted project, maybe for me this time! Happy New Year!

“A Lesson Used”

For the first time in many years, I am finished with my holiday sewing before the day I need to give the gift!  You laugh, but that’s a big deal as many of you know!  I made a concerted effort this year to sew our gifts without stress by: planning my work, starting early and sticking to the plan.  I saved the simplest projects for last and so this week I embroidered some hand towels purchased from Target to give to my nephew’s family who are avid Disney fans.  I have taught the lesson on how to embroider towels for the last few years while teaching “Embroidery Basics”.  In case you have an embroidery machine and in case you need a last minute gift, this is a review of that lesson.  The only difference between what we did in class and what I did this week is that I embroidered this on my Brother Luminaire that I purchased from Bonny’s this past February rather than on my Husqvarna Viking or my Pfaff.

Step 1:  Use a towel of your choice and find and mark the vertical center of the towel.

You can use any size towel or washcloth for this technique. I used a hand towel.
Mark the vertical center of the towel with a pin. Mark the top and bottom of the towel to get a straight line.

Step 2:  Use a fabric marker to mark the center to help align the design.

I used a yard stick to mark the center between the top and bottom pins. I don’t usually draw a heavy line.
I start my centering marks one inch above the towel’s band.

Step 3:  Measure and mark one inch from the top of the band at the bottom of the towel.

I make as few markings as lightly as I can so I don’t end up with marks that are hard to remove once the embroidery is complete.

Step 4:  Hoop your stabilizer.  For this I used tear away stabilizer for a clean finish on the back once the embroidery was complete.  After aligning the design and towel with the stabilizer in the hoop, attach the hoop to the machine and align the machine with the markings on your towel.  It will be important to make sure the bottom of your design is straight.

Step 5:  Using a film type water soluble topper, baste the topper and towel to the hooped stabilizer using the Basting feature on your machine.    

You can still see your markings through the topper so everything will remain straight.

Step 6:  Embroider the design. 

A design for the 3 year old “Princess” of the family.

Step 7:  Release your towel from the hoop and carefully remove the stabilizer and the topper from the towel, making sure to hold the stitches so they don’t tear from the stress of removing the stabilizer.  Enjoy! 

A special towel for each member of the family!

I hope all your projects turn out just the way you want them to.  I will be taking time away from the blog to enjoy time with family and friends over the holidays, but I will be back in January!  Happy Sewing!

“That reminds me….”

Today was a day to start wrapping up my holiday sewing:  sewing the finishing touches on those last minute projects before Christmas Eve (yes, I have been known to sew up until the hour before the gift needs to be wrapped and given!)  Since this year I vowed to be done early, I have tried very hard to keep that promise made to myself.  As I was working on the last of the zippered bags (remember those from my January 27th blog?) and the Santa’s Cookies and Milk place mat for the great niece and nephew, I was noticing how many different presser feet I was using while sewing.

I used at least four different presser feet in the making of this “Cookies and Milk” place mat for the 2 and 5 year olds in the family. This is the Changeable Dual Feed foot with the open toe attachment: great for clear visibility during stitch in the ditch binding attachment.
The finished place mat.
The place mat backing and binding proved the perfect place for a fun novelty print.

Using four different presser feet for one project reminded me that Bonny had sent out an email earlier in the week announcing a sale on all accessories and that led me to my blog tonight.  If you haven’t checked out the Husqvarna Viking and the Pfaff Facebook pages lately, you may want to take a peek at the different feet and sewing inspirations they are posting.  The holidays are a great time to get some accessories you may not normally get, so take a look at the following posts and see what you think (especially while Bonny has accessories on sale!).  There are embroidery ideas on each Facebook page that you should check out if you have an embroidery machine, but the techniques on the posting dates I am listing can be done by most sewing machines as long as you have the presser foot.  I hope these posts give you some inspiration as they did me.  I’ll be trying out some of these ideas as soon as the holiday projects are complete.  I am only able to link to the Facebook page itself, not to the individual posts, so please continue to scroll down the page once you get to Facebook.  Happy Sewing!

Husqvarna Viking Facebook posts:

December 6 – Multi-line Decorative Foot and twin needles

December 1 – Plaid effect with decorative stitches

November 29 – attaching cut materials to add texture

November 25 – Straight stitch patterns

Pfaff Facebook posts:

December 5 – Couching foot

November 19 – Pintuck foot and twin needles

November 14 – Creative and Performance Icon Radiant stitches at unusual angles

November 11 – Pintuck foot with Decorative Stitch Guide

October 28 – Ruffler

October 25 – Candlewicking Foot

It turns out five more people will be coming to the Christmas Eve family gift exchange, so I needed to quickly make five more zippered bags. Details on this project can be found in my January 27, 2019 blog entry.
The quilting has been done for each bag and now all that’s left to do is trim the material, add the zipper and sew up the sides. A very fast and fun project.

“Special Project, Special Feet”

My nephew’s little girl is two and will turn three during the first week in January.  She is never seen without a doll in her hands, so for Christmas and for her birthday, we are getting her dolls and I am making them some outfits.  She loves pink, purple and blue, so those are the colors of the clothes I am making.

A few of the fabrics I have to choose from. These are quilting cottons and knits.

What is fun about this gift is that I am using materials and embellishments that have some family history to them, which she might appreciate when she’s older.  As I have been working, I have been making good use of some special feet I have for my machine.   If you are tackling a project like this one, you may want to use these same feet that might be in your stash of presser feet too!

In making doll clothes, you use all of the same techniques you would in regular garment construction, just on a smaller scale.  Since all the seam allowances are ¼”, I used my Adjustable ¼” Piecing Foot with Guide (Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff).

Due to its versatility, this is my go-to presser foot whenever I need to sew a 1/4″ seam.

The foot, with the oblong needle opening, allows me to stitch an exact ¼” seam but also gives me the flexibility to create a scant ¼” by moving the needle position to the right using the width adjustment control or make the seam allowance larger by moving the needle position to the left.  I frequently use this foot for piecing quilt tops and love its versatility.  (If you decide to use a regular ¼” piecing foot with center needle position ability only, please remember to set your machine’s stitch width safety in the Settings Menu!)

My next task in this clothing adventure:  gather 40” of skirt material down to fit a 10” waistband. 

The task: gather 40″ of material down to 10″ to fit the green fabric waistband (on the left of the long piece of fabric)!

Using basting stitches to gather was not going to be strong enough for the task, so I zig-zagged over an inexpensive piece of perle cotton using my Narrow Braid Cord foot (Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff) and its guide.

The perle cotton I use for this is very inexpensive but strong enough to hold the gathering.

I just set the perle cotton inside the machine bed and made sure to keep enough unwound from the spool to keep it feeding nicely into the guide.  I didn’t even have to guide it with my hands:  the foot and guide did all the work for me.

The gathering cord is stitched just inside the seam allowance so I won’t have to remove any stitches after I’m done. Once the skirt is gathered and attached I simply pull out the cord to lessen the bulk.

The zig-zag stitch just needs to be wide enough to cover the perle cotton so it moves freely in the casing of thread.

The zig-zag is just big enough to allow the perle cotton to move freely. Gathering is a breeze!

Since the perle cotton is fairly heavy, it is able to handle the large amount of gathering needed for this skirt that uses 2 different layers of fabric gathered together as one.  As you can see, there are 4 dresses and 4 play outfits, so this little girl should have fun for hours.

4 new dresses…..
…and 4 play outfits.

Doll clothes are a great place to use those fun mini embroidery designs, too! Happy sewing!

From “Amazing Designs Mini Emblems” embroidery collection.
From Pfaff’s “Mini Decorator” embroidery collection.

“2 + 7.5”

Late Friday evening I went into my sewing room, looking for a particular piece of fabric.  Of course, I could not find it immediately, but as I was going through my bins of fabric (yes, that was bins plural!), I came across two pieces of fabric I had forgotten I had (this is the “2” in the title).  Has that ever happened to you?  As soon as I saw them, an idea popped into my head.  The fabric seemed to be speaking to me, so I wrote down what it said it wanted to be.

Not exactly a professional quality pattern, but I knew what I wanted. My finished product was projected to be between 48″-49″ long and between 16″-17″ wide. By the way, wof stands for Width of Fabric.
These are the two rectangles of fabric. They are my sister-in-law’s favorite color and her favorite subject! The table runner is for her.

With my drawing and fabrics in hand, I went to my computer to look for the embroidery designs I knew I wanted to use and then went straight to the cutting table (i.e. the dining room table) to cut out the pieces.  Within an hour I had found the fabric, sketched the design, found the embroideries and pieced the top.  Not bad!  Next I marked the center of the middle of the table runner and laid out the paper templates for the embroidery placements.

Once the top of the table runner was assembled….
….I marked both the vertical and horizontal center of the table runner’s middle piece…
… and began laying out my paper templates…
…until I was happy with my arrangement.
I marked my centers for each template and I was ready to start stitching. Did you notice the backing is attached with the batting and top to make the quilt sandwich?

At this point I made a decision on my batting:  I decided to use OESD’s Fusible Fleece and I fused that to the backing fabric.  This way I knew my work would be stabilized as I embroidered and I had no chance of the backing fabric creasing without my knowledge.  (Ask me how I know that can be a problem!)  I used my 200×200 hoop for the center embroideries and used the plastic alignment template that came with the hoop to make sure I was centered when I got to the machine.

I put the template on when I get to the machine to check my alignment.
Once I’m sure the center is lined up, I remove the template and begin the embroidery.

Remember that embroidery always uses less tension on the top thread than in regular sewing.  I order to make the embroidery look like quilting rather than an embroidery design the top thread tension must be increased to form a more balanced stitch.  I wanted to use the Active Stitch Technology on my Pfaff (known on the Husqvarna Vikings as the Deluxe Stitch System) to give me the best thread feed, so I increased it from 50 to 80.

My Pfaff has this adjustment in the Stitch Out Progress area in Embroidery Stitch Out. The Husqvarna Vikings usually have this adjustment in the Settings Menu when in embroidery mode.

Once I finished embroidering the center panel it was time to quilt the borders.

I usually use my Endless Hoop to quilt the borders.

Since you can’t see the design as well on the borders, here it is:  from Pfaff’s Brilliant Blocks and Borders collection.

This design has registration marks at the beginning and end to create seamless border designs.

In case you are interested, the center embroideries are from the following collections: 

Pfaff’s Holiday Line Art Collection
Husqvarna Viking’s Holiday Felting Collection
Pfaff’s Holiday Line Art Collection

7.5 hours after I began this process, I have a finished product. 

The finished product has actual measurements of 48 5/8″ long X 16 1/2″ wide.

For all you embroiders out there, there are about 80,000 stitches total in this table runner, including the center and border designs.  The stitching took a little more than 6 hours to complete and the remaining time was spent in the table runner’s assembly. Thus the title of this writing: two rectangles of fabric and seven and a half hours of work! “2 + 7.5”