Wednesday, 29 April 2015

How to Start Your Embroidery Project - a tutorial

Hello! Welcome to my first embroidery tutorial on "Daydreams of Quilts."

First, let me say that quilting is my greatest love and I will never leave that craft medium so if you are worried there will be no more quilts here rest assured that quilt patterns are on my list of goals for this year too. Diversity keeps life interesting.

Okay, so here's how this tutorial came to be: It never occurred to me before, until one of my blog readers pointed it out, that some people don't know where to begin with an embroidery project. How to transfer a pattern and get it into a hoop is a barrier for them. So let's break down that barrier right now! It's so easy you'll wonder why you never tried it.

The great thing about embroidery is that it's an inexpensive past time. All you need is some fabric. White quilting cotton works great and is the most economical. For an heirloom piece linen is lovely but it's pricier. Then you need a hoop that's the right size for your project. I got a multi-pack at Micheal's for less than $10.00. Embroidery floss can get expensive if you need 30 or 40 colours but if it's under 10 colours then that will be under $10.00 too. An embroidery needle is necessary of course and a water soluble fabric marking pen is very helpful. You can use regular pencil but you need to make sure you cover your lines with stitches as it doesn't completely wash out.

Let's Get Started:
 1. Find a light source. If you're lucky enough to have a light table then use that. If not, use a window. Here I have taped my Kawaii Cacti pattern to the window of my back door.

 2. Tape your fabric over your pattern. Here I am using a smaller piece of fabric for just the middle and the right cactus. If you are stitching all three then make sure your fabric covers all three with room to spare around the edges. Give yourself more than you think you need so you can trim down later.

 3. Trace your pattern with a water erasable fabric marking pen. (Or see below for an alternate method). As you can see by the photo, with the pattern on the window I can clearly see the lines through the fabric for tracing.

 4. Use a hoop that is large enough that your whole design will fit inside. On a large pattern this may not be possible. That is not a problem. Just stitch as much as you can within the hoop and then undo the hoop and move it to a new area on your embroidery.

 5.  The hoop has two parts. Unscrew the screw that is holding the outer ring closed. Take the inner ring and put it behind your fabric centering the design in the ring.

 6. Take the outer ring and place it over the inner ring on the top side of the fabric. Tug the fabric so it is taught within the ring but not overly stretched. When you are happy with the placement of the hoop tighten down the screw to hold it in place.

Note: Some people wrap their hoops with linen or fabric strips. Sometimes this is done when the embroidery will be left in the hoop and this makes a decorative frame. Sometimes muslin is used to wrap the hoops if a delicate fabric is being used in order to protect the fabric from damage. Most of the time this is not necessary. (I have never done this.)

Iron transfer method:

 If you want to use an iron-on transfer pencil be aware that if you just trace over the lines on the front side of your pattern when you place it face down on your fabric and iron it your pattern will be in reverse. If you want to have the pattern exactly as it is designed then simply flip it over so the front side faces the glass of your window (or light table) and trace over the lines on the back side of the paper. It's also a good idea to put a piece of paper over top and trace onto that as sometimes toner ink can release from the paper onto your fabric with the heat of an iron.

This way, when you flip your paper to iron it the design will be as it originally was an not a mirror image. Be sure to read and follow the instructions that come with the Iron-On Transfer pencil.

Now you know how to get started with an embroidery project.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Exciting News! My first pattern is now available.

This is an exciting time here at Daydreams of Quilts! I have been working every spare moment to bring my dream of having a pattern shop to life. Today I get to share with you that my first ever PDF embroidery pattern is available in my Payhip Shop. My pattern is called Kawaii Cacti. It includes stitch and thread colour suggestions but it's up to you how you want to stitch it.

"Kawaii Cacti" an embroidery pattern by Anita LaHay at Daydreams of Quilts.
Kawaii means "cute" in Japanese. There was some debate in our house about the little ball cactus in the middle. My kids thought she had been prickled by one of her prickles and I thought she was trying hard to grow her flower on her head. Either way, she's cute! Isn't she? :)

If you've never embroidered before I am going to have some teaching tutorials and stitch along on the blog starting this week. So grab your pattern and supplies and lets make something cute! More patterns will be coming soon.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Spring Fling! And Open Wide Pouches

I have been diligently working to meet my swap deadlines this weekend. I have two swaps going out in the mail this week plus a birthday club package. I have the swaps done so now I can work on the birthday. First up here is my Spring Fling Mini Swap mini quilt.

Spring Fling Mini designed, pieced and quilted by Anita LaHay of Daydreams of Quilts.
 I was inspired by a photo I saw on Pinterest of a pillow cover. It had a white background and bright circular flowers appliqued on it with a sun and a bird. My mini has various squares pieced together to make up the background. They have two commonalities; they are all low volume and they all have polka dot patterns on them. Then I traced various circles onto "Steam A Seam" fusible web. I used a roll of duct tape, a circular template used for planning floor plans in interior design and plantings in landscaping that has many different circles on it and a glass from my kitchen. I fused those circles onto bright coloured charm squares and free handed my stems. The straighter stems were drawn with a ruler. I quilted and appliqued at the same time after I fused everything in place. I used mono filament thread because it would have been too much to change threads for each colour in this quilt.

This is my first finish from my Q2 Finish Along goals list.
2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

This is the back of the quilt. I bought this fabric at IKEA last summer and it is perfect for the spring theme. The binding fabric is a lime green and turquoise stripe from my stash. I put corner tabs on for hanging.

I made this Open Wide Pouch (free tutorial by Noodlehead) as a swap extra. I used zakka tape for the pull tab. It has a ballerina on it that you can't see in this shot. I made the zipper pull with jewelry findings. (Glass ring, silver jump ring and silver clasp.) For the embroidery I used patterns in the Spring and Easter section of Aimee Ray's book "Doodle Stitching - The Holiday Motif Collection") The pouch is stuffed with spring and flower themed extras.

I have an Open Wide Pouch swap going out this week too. My partner had a flying geese bag in her inspiration mosaic. It looked like it was paper pieced. I am pretty accurate with normally piecing flying geese now so I made this panel in an evening. She likes Rashida Coleman Hale of Cotton + Steel so that inspired the fabric choices. I made the tab with zakka tape again and the zipper pull is again made with jewelry findings as above.

Here are my two pouches sitting atop my red and green pepper seedlings. The tomato seedlings in the background were touching the top of their mini greenhouses so the lids are off now.
Remember a couple of months ago I said I found these pouches hard? They are so easy for me now. In fact I just made up my own size for the Spring Fling one. Practice pays off! :)

I hope you are enjoying your spring (if you are in the Northern Hemisphere) and getting inspired by the season! Thanks for visiting today.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Q2 2015 Finish Along Goals List

It's time to link up our goals for the second quarter of the year with the 2015 Finish Along. (If you are looking for my Bob Along post please click here.)

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

I am realizing in compiling this list that I have an embarrassing amount of WIPs (Works in Progress). I never used to do this you know. I always finished my projects before starting another one. I think now though that it may be in the back of my mind that I'm running out of time in life to:

Ha ha! So I start several at a time now. Anyway, here goes... and I think I have a progress photo for almost everything. Sorry these photos are not very pretty. I just walked around my sewing room snapping pictures of WIPs. Think of them as the "before" shots. Hopefully there will be loads of great "after" shots in the next three months.

1. My 2011 Fat Quarter Shop Designer Mystery Block of the Month. I have two more blocks to sew (one of which I cut out this afternoon) and then I can start working on the flower stems in the finishing kit. I am saving all my scraps for my Farmer's Wife quilt which I am starting over from scratch. I know that quilt won't be finished this quarter though. Why am I starting my Farmer's Wife quilt from scratch? Because I didn't print the templates at the correct size which I thought I would be okay with but I am not. Also, I decided to sew it scrappy and I after 20 blocks I knew I didn't like that. So matchy matchy it will be. I've let this idea percolate for a few years now.

2. My Penny Candy Christmas quilt and 3. my Chicopee quilt are both pieced and draped on a chair with their binding strips waiting for me to buy the batting and backing for them. (To be honest I don't even really like Chicopee that much but I kept winding up with it in my stash! So I made a quilt... it may go in my Etsy shop but it's growing on me.)

4. My Christmas tree skirt from Sherri Falls' book "Holly Jolly"

5. A cherry and strawberry low volume baby quilt. Probably for my Etsy shop.

6. My table runner made with scraps from the napkins and place mats I made a few years ago.

7. My Halloween quilt using the "Lucky" pattern by Thimble Blossoms.

8. My Spring Fling mini quilt for the Spring Fling Mini Swap.

9. My summer picnic quilt. I just pressed and trimmed the blocks last night.

10. My April Showers "Charm Dash" quilt.

11. A dinosaur baby quilt for my Etsy shop.

12. A bugs baby quilt for my Etsy shop.

13. My Starflower quilt made with blocks from "We Bee With It" bee.

14. My Houndstooth quilt made with blocks from "The Bee Hive, Bee Hive Swarm Anita".

15. 2012 Fat Quarter Shop Designer Mystery Block of the Month. I have four more blocks to go and I am using the scraps from this quilt for my Snapshots quilt (which may be done in Q4).

16. My Great Granny Squared (by Lori Holt) quilt.

17. My Swoon quilt. I've had this kit since the pattern came out!

18. My Cotton Blossoms table topper from Camille Roskelley's first book.

19. Peter Rabbit baby quilt.

20. Joy Christmas wall hanging designed by Gnome Angel.

21. My Cotton + Steel Scout quilt. All strips are cut. Just need to sew!

22. My Cotton + Steel mini quilt for the Cotton + Steel mini quilt swap.
So there you have it. That's an insane amount of quilting to get done. There's more but let's be real... it will be a miracle if I get all of these done. Even half would be good. A few of them have been carried over from Q1. I am linking up on Adrianne's blog. If nothing else, this is helping me keep track of my projects and goals even if they don't all get finished in Q2. :)

"Why is she putting quilts in her Etsy shop?" you may ask. Well, because quilting is very expensive and I would love to sell some quilts so I can buy more fabric. ;) I leave you with this:

Yes, I am the one with the cup.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Zarzak the Toe Sock Creature

I made Easter Bunnies for my two daughters yesterday but they were a bit too cute for my 10 year old son. (He's 10 today! Where did the time go!) I asked him if he liked this sock creature and he very enthusiastically said that he did so I got right to work.

This is Zarzak from the book "Make Your Own Stupid Sock Creatures" by John Murphy. He's made from two rainbow toe socks and one regular navy blue sock.

I've had the book and Zarzak kit for about five years. Everytime I looked at it he seemed too hard to make. Once I started making him though and going step by step instead of looking at all the steps together he was actually very easy. I got him done in an evening! Thank you so much to Sew Mama Sew for motivating me to finally make this guy!

His long sock arms are fun for putting him into cool poses and getting him to "hold on" to things.

Here is my son, the birthday boy, still in his pyjamas and the very happy Zarzak recipient. When I went upstairs last night I went into my son's room and pulled back the blanket and he was sleeping with Zarzak under his arm. Awww! Maybe he's not growing up too fast after all. So heart warming for the maker!
This is my third and final entry in Sew Mama Sew's Six Weeks of Softies Contest. Head over and check out all the cute softies that have been made!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Easter Bunny Softie Pink Liberty Ears

When my six year old saw the bunny I made for the six month old she wanted one too. That was just fine with me since I was going to make her one anyway. (My 10 year old son said he doesn't need a bunny. *sniff* *sob* How quickly they grow up.He's actually turning 10 at about 2:00 a.m. tonight!)

For my older daughter I used pink Liberty of London for the ears and I put on a pom pom tail because I'm pretty sure she won't pull it off and choke on it. :)

A second bunny made with this free tutorial on Abby Glassenberg's blog. The chain stitching held up much better to tearing away the paper pattern than the back stitched eyes on the blue eared bunny.

This bunny has a pom pom tail because it's for an older child. So cute!

My happy little girl can attest to the over all squeezability and cuteness factor of this adorable bunny. Abby if you're reading this, thank you so much! Both my daughters are thrilled with their softies.

Here are the bunny sisters together.

Her face just lit right up when I gave her the bunny. It was priceless. Happy Easter!
I am linking up with Six Weeks of Softies at Sew Mama Sew. Fingers crossed that I might be fortunate enough to win one of the great prizes over there!

Easter Bunny Softie Blue Liberty Ears

I have made a couple of Easter Bunny softies today. This is the first one I made. There is basically no budget for Easter this year (but I know the Easter Bunny will visit at Grandma's) so I wanted to sew my daughters toys. This one with the blue Liberty of London ears is for my six month old baby.

I found this adorable bunny on Pinterest and when I clicked the link it lead me to this wonderful free tutorial on Abby Glassenberg's blog. My bunny is made with fleece and it has craft pellets in it's bottom for weight (secured within a nylon bag.)

I wanted the face to be exactly like the pattern so I left the paper on and stitched right through the paper. When I tore the paper away it distorted my stitches on the eyes a little bit. I used a chain stitch on the eyes for the next one I made.

Here is the very happy recipient of the bunny. My little baby daughter. :)

She immediately set to work on breaking in those Liberty ears.

I believe this meets with her approval! Definitely a squeezable soft bunny for hugging.

Happy Easter!
I am linking up with Six Weeks of Softies at Sew Mama Sew. There are amazing prizes on offer to win!