Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts

Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Finally Christmas Crafting!

After spending lots of time getting all sorts of craft and sewing patterns listed in my eBay store, I finally got time to do some sewing of my own. I have a long list of things I want to make over the next month. Today’s project was finishing a purse I started yesterday. The basic instructions came from Designer Style Handbags by Sherri Haab, but the flap was my own design.

I made the purse out of red and black Chinese look brocade. I lined it with white satin (leftover from the wedding gown I made my niece). When you open the flap of the purse, there is a little surprise, the recipient’s monogram in black with red flowers entwined. I used my Janome 300E to embroider the monogram that I had downloaded for free from the internet. I sewed the purse out on my Janome 6500.

After being away from doing much creative sewing for awhile, it was fun to be able to once again ‘play’ in my sewing room. I certainly hope the young lady who gets this purse as a present enjoys it as much as I enjoyed making it.

The other project that I’m working on is an embroidered clock. We have lots of various sized clocks for decoration in our eBay Store, and I wanted to try out decorating one myself. This one has little bluebirds and flowers. I downloaded the design from Embroidery Library. They have lots of machine embroidery clock designs. One thing to be careful with is be sure you are downloading the correct size. I downloaded two designs. One was a split design that I had to decrease slightly to get it to fit into my B hoop for my 300E. The other design wasn’t split and turned out to be too large to sew out and as I don’t have any digitizing software, I can’t fix it to sew it out. While sewing out the bluebird design I did think up several ideas that I can design myself and sew out.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Scrapbook Clocks to decorate!

Our eBay store Moonwishes has just listed a very unique item that would be of great interest to those who love making scrapbooks, doing paperpiecing, rubber stamp projects, or those who love unique clocks. We have clock kits in three different sizes that you can decorate yourself for any room in the house, give as an incredible one of a kind gift, or make to commemorate a special occassion. These clocks come with several dials that you can decorate with your own scrapbook, rubber stamp supplies and you will end up with a terrrific one of a kind clock.

We also have a lot of Christmas craft project patterns, Santa Claus dolls to decorate, and patterns for new Holidagy clothes. For gift giving, we have a large assortment of new quilting books, photography books and new Usborne Children's books. Stop in and get your Holiday shopping done without wasting a drop of gasoline. We are always happy to combine shipping and handling on multiple orders!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Creative Tucks and Textures for Quilts and Embroidery

Creative Tucks and Textures for Quilts and Embroidery by Jennie Rayment. 2004 Quilters’ Resource. Soft cover, 128 pages, ISBN 1889682403. Full color photographic illustrations throughout the book.

The first time I picked up this book and looked through it, my jaw dropped and I wondered how anyone could do what I was seeing. Not only was the author using quilting designs, she was using decorative machine stitching, AND using tucks and folds and wiggles in the fabric to create 3-dimensional quilt designs. Many of the designs are shown in plain ecru muslin to show the design details and how light reflects on the design because of the way the fabric is manipulated. Further in the book are quilts designed in color that truly highlight this amazing technique. One of the most amazing things for me was how she became inspired by looking at a mushroom upside down and the tucked circles that were developed because of this sudden spurt of insight.

I love the authors “So what” attitude to sewing "oops". Her belief seems to be, so called mistakes are really just a chance to discover a new way of doing things. I have not yet had a chance to practice any of the techniques of the book, due to my work on sewing quilts for Hurricane Katrina victims, but hope to in the near future try some of this detail work.

Anyone who loves manipulating fabric, would be inspired by this book and would gain some good insight by the directions she gives. Those who are bored with ‘flat’ quilting will find some good challenges in this book. And anyone who is serious about art quilts, would find this a great reference book for their shelves.

Jenny Haskins New Quilt Roses for Mary

Finally had some time to review some more great quilting books. As always, Jenny Haskins' books are a feast for the eyes and fuel for the creative process.

Jenny Haskins New Quilt Roses for Mary by Jenny Haskins, 2004 Quilters’ Resource. Soft cover 103 pages. Beautiful color photographic illustrations. ISBN 199068242X.

This Jenny Haskins book takes you step by step through the process of making the Roses for Mary quilt, which should appeal to rose lovers everywhere. This quilt was designed in loving memory of her mother who died in 2004. The book includes velum templates for laying out the embroidery for the quilt, although the actual embroidery designs need to be purchased separately (Roses for Mary Design CD by Jenny Haskins Designs).

To get you started with the quilt is a detailed equipment and supply list, a discussion on how embroidery works and the layering process to achieve depth and coloring, and a list of important point to achieve sewing success. The first project is a pillow/cushion and table topper to make, which will give you practice with the embroidery designs and with the quilting process.

Then you get step by step instructions for this lovely quilt. The finished quilt measures 74 ½” square. It has a center spray of roses, surrounded by four bows and then corner sprays of roses to make a center medallion. Two small plain fabric borders are next. Large corner bows (12” square) in each corner and along the edge of the quilt a 41” long spray of roses with large roses in the middles, tapering to smaller rose buds at the end of the spray. Again, two plain fabric borders make up the final border of the quilt. The embroidery threads used in this quilt are Robison-Anton threads with both color number and color description given in case you need to substitute a different brand of thread or choose to make your quilt in a different color palette.

As a special treasure at the end of the book are pages and pages of actual sewn out projects using both the Roses for Mary CD, including a glorious wedding dress, and other Jenny Haskins designs that should spark a flame of creativity in any machine embroidery enthusiast.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Finished piecing

Just finished piecing the second patchwork baby quilt. Now I have to find the time to put the borders on and quilt them to their backings. My new Janome 6500 just whizzed through the piecing. I was wondering if I would really be able to notice the speed difference in my new machine (it can sew up to 1000 stitches per minute). Sure enough I could. Wow! It is the one place I can really have a 'lead' foot.

I received some more quilting and machine embroidery books in the mail this week. I have gotten way behind with my reviews, but hope to have a new batch up soon. I am very impressed with what people can come up with to be creative when making quilts. Quilting just isn't about sewing two pieces of fabric together anymore. As our technology changes, our ability to manipulate fabric and threads grows also. My fingers are itching to try some new techniques, but I needed to stick with easy piecing for the current projects I'm working on. I would hope to have at least three baby quilts in the hands of children affected by Hurricane Katrina before winter hits.

Please remember to help out with Project Hurricane Katrina: Books for Kids if you can!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Another quilt pieced

Just finished piecing another child sized quilt to donate to the children affected by Hurricane Katrina. I have been doing assembly line piecing so it has been going really fast. I have another quilt already cut out, so I set everything out to begin piecing the next time I'm back in my sewing room. I am amazed just how fast you can piece a small quilt if you are organized and take advantage of spare minutes here and there. After this next quilt is pieced, I put them together with their batting and backing and then bind them. I plan on doing that assembly line style as much as possible. Then they will be done I can send them off. I still haven't researched where to send blankets, so if someone knows, please drop me a note in the comment section. This is one of those weird times, where you know the item is needed, but not quite sure how to make sure it gets to where the need is the greatest.

Please remember to help out with Project Hurricane Katrina: Books for Kids if you can!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Piecing another quilt

Got up early (for me) and started piecing together another quilt to donate to the children affected by the hurricane. I'm so glad that sometimes I just spend time cutting out fabric, as today I was quickly able to lay out 6 16" blocks (enough for a large crib sized quilt). I think I had about 1/4 of the piecing done before the washing machine finished its first load and I had to go on to do other things. Hopefully I can do the same tomorrow.

Please remember to help out with Project Hurricane Katrina: Books for Kids if you can!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Helping Others

Some times we want to be able to help others and aren't sure how to best go about it. Many times when a need is great, like now after Hurricane Katrina, I am burdened by what can I do and how can I make a contribution that will help. I am a hands on kind of person and so that is what I am concentrating on. I just finished making a baby quilt and will try and get several more done that can be given to children who have lost their own 'blankies' during this tragedy. I realize that currently most relief organizations are asking for money, but eventually no money in the world will replace lost comfort objects and every child deserves their own blanket.

In like manner, as a committed reader, I am concerned about the loss of books these children and their schools have suffered. In that regard, I have set up an e-book fair titled Project Hurricane Katrina: Books for Kids. Please visit the website and purchase books for your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews. ALL profits from this sale will be used to purchase and donate quality Usborne books to children affected by this horrible storm. This sale will be going from September 4 through September 30. These books make great holiday gifts and with the ability to be shipped to your home will help you avoid the cost of gas to drive and pick up gifts at the store.

I will be researching the best organization to receive these books over the next couple weeks so that we know they will all be going to a good home. Please join me in this worthwhile mission of providing books to needy children.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Another Embroidery Design Link

Here is another great design link for machine embroidery designs .Gosia Designs. Besides having a large variety of design styles, they frequently have several FREE embroidery designs for you to download. You can download around 1000 different designs from their site for $25 which is obviously a great bargain. They also have dollar packs for downloading. Their designs come come in most home embroidery machine formats also. Stop in and visit and try out one of their designs.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Accidental Quilter

Just had a visit from another blogger called The Accidental Quilter. Drop in and visit and find out how to make blocks that just won't come together correctly behave. I'm sure you will enjoy her posts!

I'm waiting for the month of July to be over with and hopefully with it all the sickness, accidents, and nasty hot weather that seem to be holding me up from getting back into my sewing room. I have lots of ideas, but hard to accomplish when sweat is dripping off your nose!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sewing Along

What a week last week was! First the washing machine up and died and in the process flooded the house and we got to meet the nice guys from Bonded Services who cheerfully sucked up gallons on water after the washer fiasco. Then the computer broke down and we ended up having to call the Geek Squad. "Special Agent" Adam came and figured out what was wrong with the computer (new last November) and now we are back on line. Due to all the problems we had last week, we also got to see some real live, wonderful customer service from both of these services.

I did manage in all the chaos to sneak back into my sewing room for several sessions with my new Janome 6500 and made a new summer top. This machine is a dream to sew on. One of the huge pluses for me is the extension table that comes standard with the machine for doing quilting. I have it in place all the time and it has been great to be able to rest my arms and wrists on while feeding fabric. My arthritis is so bad, I need to prop my arms all the time to prevent pain, so with the extension table I can sew for longer periods of time. I took the time to really follow the instructions, such as measuring accurately the 3/8" hem instead of eyeballing it. Sounds crazy I'm sure, but between the excellent stitching of the machine and my being more careful, this top turned out better and more comfortable than the one just like it I made three weeks ago! There's something to be said for following the rules. Over the years I got so used to whipping through projects just to get them done, that I had been forgetting that the process to getting to the end, can and should be enjoyable.

Another great feature on this machine is the automatic thread snipper. At the end of a seam, just press the button and the threads are clipped and you are ready to go on to your next seam. No need to find the ends of the thread and get them in position before sewing. I am planning on having a lot of fun sewing on this machine.

At a yard sale the other day, we found an old 1950's Singer 306 sewing machine in its own sewing table. As we explored the drawers of the cabinet, we found that it contained 'fashion disks' to make different decorative stitches. Up to this point, I had always thought that decorative stitches hadn't come out until the 60's or 70's. Well, we bought this baby and brought it home (I think my hubby wanted it more than me). Once we got it home, I had a chance to go through the accessories better. It has a tremendous amount of pressor feet, plus the original fashion disks that came with the machine and the prior owner had bought a lot more of them. It also has the original instruction booklet. I sat down and read through the instruction manual and it was a real learning experience. I think as this was a very new style of machine, they took a lot of time in writing the manual so that women would understand what each pressor foot was for and when to use the different stitches. I have a lot of utility stitches on my new 6500 but not a lot of knowledge for what they are all for. I got a better understanding of using my speciality pressor feet and utility stitches for using my sewing machine built in 2005 from reading a manual written in 1955! We are planning on getting the old machine cleaned and in working order and then I would like to find some vintage fabric, with a vintage pattern and sew it up on my vintage machine. What fun!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Christmas in July at Embroidery Library

So many designs, so little time to sew! Embroidery Library has just come out with a huge batch of Christmas designs including patchwork reindeer to make a Christmas quilt. Each of Santa's reindeer are represented in different blocks, plus additional designs are available to have a complete co-ordinating quilt or other project. In the hoop Christmas stocking designs are now out with all sorts of styles of stockings that can be made in your hoop and then hung on the tree with small gifts or gift cards. Another large selection of outline quilting designs are also now available. Now ready for download are their two FREE July designs.

Embroidery Library has also changed their main URL to so if you have Embroidery Library bookmarked, you will need to change it.

Prepare to spend some time at the site when you go as there are so many new embroidery designs to look at, and all at great low pricing!

Friday, July 01, 2005

New Sewing Machine

Well, I took my sick, old sewing machine to the fix-it man yesterday. While there I just had to sit down and play with the Janome Professional 6500. Turns out it was on sale! Certainly was a sign for me that I needed to buy now. After all my, husbands jeans still needed hemmed up. Five minutes later I was walking out of Super Stitch with the last 6500 that he had.

When I got home I casually told my hubby to bring the sewing machine back in the house. He wanted to know if the old one had been pronounced DOA. Nope I said with a twinkle in my eye. He jumped right up and brought my new baby in the house. What a great husband I've got. He helped me get it out of the box and set up on the kitchen table. Then he sat and discussed the fine points of what makes this a great machine. And just to show what it could do, I followed the threading diagram, changed the needle to a jeans needle, figured out what stitch I wanted to use and went to work on those cut-off jeans. This machine went through that heavy denim like butter. Even with going over doubled seams, by slowing down and carefully sewing coaxing the seam under the foot, it sewed through eight layers of HEAVY denim with no problem.

Depending on the stitch, this machine can sew 1000 stitches per minute. I spent a lot of time playing with the machine yesterday and seeing all the decorative stitches it can do. It wasn't until I went to bed that I realized the one thing I hadn't checked out was the straight stitch going at 1000 stitches per minute! Guess that means I get to do it today.

I'm going to try to find the time in the near future to do reviews on both my new 6500 and my Janome 300E embroidery machine. These two machines do just about everything you could ask a machine to do except cut out the fabric or fit the pattern to your body!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Feeling Better

Feeling better this week from the tummy troubles and our dry hot air has been making my joints feel a lot better. So to make use of the time, I've been sorting out the wonderful purchases from the last two weekends of yardsales and booksales. Lots of good stuff has been put up for sale on my book sites and in Moonwishes Store. For those counted cross stitch people, we found several lovely counted cross stitch kits, including one of Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind Ebay auction #8202093887 which ends July 5. Soon we will also have boxes of craft items up for auction for those who do plastic craft, crocheting, knitting, quilting, cross stitch, punch embroidery, and other fun things. Visit our store and click on the favorite seller link to be informed when all these goodies go up for sale.

I haven't done much machine embroidery as my sewing room has no air-conditioning and is like sewing in a sweat box. I did attempt to hem up a pair of shorts for the hubby, but my sewing machine kept overloading--I need to take it to the fix-it shop.

Don't forget to sign up each month to win $50 worth of free children's books at Rodgers Educational Books. You can even earn more free books by signing up to be a hostess for an e-mail book party. This is an easy way to get your holiday shopping for kids well in hand without venturing out into the heat!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sick Today

Having one of those days. Head hurts, tummy hurts, bones ache. Totally lousy today. Got tired of laying in bed so I've been quietly surfing the net. Unbelievable how far we have come since the early 1990"s when personal computers were just coming out (and horribly expensive).

My good news for me is hubby has given the okay for me to save up for the new sewing machine that I want, which is the Janome 6500. I've been wanting one for a while but other financial commitments have gotten in the way. Now is the time! All my blog readers can help me earn my machine. Click on Google ads, Click on Amazon ads! Buy something from Moonwishes Store! Check out Rodgers Educational Books and buy some great children's books! I thank you and the quilts I make (many are donated to charity) will thank you.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

New Janome Machine

This just in this afternoon from my Super Stitch newsletter.

"Janome News

As previously announced Janome will be introducing a new top-of-the-line sewing/embroidery machine in August. Janome has just announced that the new Memory Craft 11000 will be unveiled in a live webcast on August 20, 2005. Everyone who registers for the webcast will be entered in a drawing to win a Memory Craft 11000! Be among the first to learn about the new machine, and you could be the first to have one in your home!

Visit to register for the live webcast and a chance to win Janome’s new Memory Craft 11000."

June 16

Well I got my summer blouse finished last night. First time in years I have set in sleeves and I actually did an okay job of it. Next time I use the pattern, I have adjustments to make, but for now I have a nice, cool top to wear for this summer. My husband likes the top also which is always an added bonus. I'm home most of the time and he sees me more than anyone, so I dress to please him and me!

Just an FYI for those with Janome embroidery machines. Currently at their website, you can download a free summer Christmas elf. He is surfing on a Janome surfboard. Check it out: Janome elf!

Just a reminder also that my ebay store has lots of new sewing patterns for sale. Right now we also have some great auctions running on cross stitch and needlework kits. Those auctions end on June 18. For the knitters out there, we also have an Alice Starmore knitting book Sweaters for Men up for auction. That auction ends June 20. Alice Starmore books are difficult to come by, so we are very happy to offer this one for sale.

I got my consultant package in the mail for Usborne books and I am very impressed with the quality and content of the books. They are crammed with pictures, good writing, and always something for the child to relate to and learn from the book in the book. If you are looking for quality books for your children, grandchildren, or any child you know, please stop in and visit the site. You can even earn free books by hosting an online book show. Just email me from the website and I'll tell you how!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Need Patriotic Designs?

Need patriotic embroidery designs with the Fourth of July coming up? Pop on over to Free Embroidery Stuff and take your pick from their free designs, available in many different formats. Don't need patriotic designs? Go visit them anyhow and search for the type of designs you are looking for. All the designs on the site are free.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Upside Down and Backwards

I'm having one of those days! I'm trying to make a summer top to wear to a family party tomorrow. My sewing room is sweltering in the heat, so I'm only in and out for 15-20 minutes at a time. Obviously a bit of a distraction. The top I'm making has two piece sleeves and of course the pattern forget to color in the one piece to show that it needed to be reversed! I ended up with a mess. Have I mentioned I tend to be dyslexic and have trouble with anything in reverse? I cut out a new piece and of course it was backwards from what I needed. Thank goodness this was an extra large piece of fabric so I had enough of it to keep cutting until I got it right. By then, I was sweating again so had to take a break and catch up my blog!

I've been busy with the book and craft business that I do and just decided this week to sell children's books from Usborne books. They have over 1300 items for all ages of children, all fun and educational. I'm a huge supporter of the homeschool movement and these books will fit right in as a side line to my business. Check us out at Rodgers' Educational Books if you have a minute. I'm sure you will be pleased with the huge variety and reasonable prices.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Embroidered Embellishments--A Review

Embroidered Embellishments: Innovative Ideas for Machine Embroidery by Lynne Redman. Published 2005 by the Embroidery Studio. 82 pages, spiral-bound soft cover, full-color illustrations. Includes CD with three designs used in the book in the following formats: .csd, .dst, .exp, .hus, .pes, .pcs, .jef, .sew, .art. The CD also includes a JPEG file of each design with thread colors using Robinson-Anton thread colors. This book is self-published and is only in available from The Embroidery Studio.

This is a delightfully different book on machine embroidery from somebody who is a self-declared "terrible seamstress." Coming from a long background of doing many assorted crafts, Lynne Redman has developed her artistic ability into both embroidery design and embroidery embellishment. Other than the machine embroidery itself, many at the designs in this book have no sewing attached to them. Lynne has developed them using different glues or other sewing aids. She uses her embroidery designs to embellish scrapbook pages, photo albums, Christmas ornaments, and other decorative items. With this book you will learn to use many of your bits and pieces of craft items such as beads, extra fabric, vintage linens and other supplies from your craft area to create unique and exquisite projects.

In this book the author assumes that you already know how to embroider, so there's no discussion on appropriate needles and stabilizers and how to hoop. She does discuss some basic techniques that she uses in making her projects and also some items that are handy to have for the different projects in her book such as rubber stamps, decorative scissors, plastic templates, different types of glues and adhesives, and her favorite Steam-a-Seam. She also tells you how to make an inspiration Journal, using pictures that you find in magazines, different fabric and threads, beads and assorted other bits and pieces.

She has found that she uses the same creative process as she works through her projects and explains each one of them in a different chapter with projects that illustrate the concept. They include layering, embellishing, composing, and coloring. She is not afraid to combine several different techniques in one project, which makes them look like they were very difficult to do, but they are not as she explains the techniques. Many of them are fairly quick and easy once you understand the philosophy and technique behind them.

I was especially interested in the chapter on coloring, as it explains the color wheel philosophy, and why depending on your background color, you may need to change the colors in your embroidery design. I know many people are scared to take that leap and change things from what they're told to use. But sometimes just changing the shade of a color will make all the difference in making a designs stand out.

At the back of the book is also a one-page bibliography of books that she likes to use for instruction and inspiration. Most of them have to do with color.

I enjoyed reading the book and found it quite inspirational. I would highly recommend it, especially for those who want to use their embroidery machine but do not want to be sewing up large projects. The fun of an embroidery machine many times is letting it do most of the work while you concentrate on designing your project. I look forward to using some of the techniques in this book for my own projects.

Please remember this book is only available from the embroidery studio web site.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Counted Cross Stitch

Still more struggles with my newest counted cross stitch project. I kept miscounting and ending up with stitches where they didn't belong. God bless my husband David. He took my chart and increased the size on our computer, printed it out, taped it carefully back together so that all the lines match and now I can see it. Since it is now on it's own piece of paper instead of in the magazine, I can now use my magnetic board and straight magnets to keep me even more on target. Husbands like mine are wonderful things.

I also managed to finished my quilt top that I am working on with machine embroidered and appliqued roses on the border. Now I have to get some batting and enlist my hubby to help me pin it together so I can machine quilt it.

It is so nice now to have several creative options available to me depending on how I feel and what is happening in my life. I just never knew how much I missed doing embroidery by hand. I continue to be excited about needlwork as I have been selling a lot of counted cross stitch and needlepoint kits out my ebay store Rodgers Book and Craft Sales. I'm glad to see that other people are still as enthusiastic about the needlearts as I am.

All About Machine Arts: Decorative Techniques from A to Z

All About Machine Arts: Decorative Techniques from A to Z from Sew News, Creative Machine Embroidery, and C&T Publishing. 2004 C & T Publishing, ISBN 1571202277, Soft cover, 256 pages, full color illustrations.

This book is a wonderful reference source for anyone with a serger, sewing or embroidery machine. It is a compilation of articles from Sew News Magazine, Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine and other C & T Publications. If you are a subscriber to those magazines then some of the information you will have seen. With all the other information that has been added plus the logical layout of the book, you will find that this book is a handy reference to keep close while working on projects especially those requiring an unfamiliar technique.

The beginning of the book shows a gallery of projects to get your creative juices flowing. Then you get to see some famous sewers sewing rooms—and will see that not all ‘big league’ sewers have huge studios!

Then one of my favorite sections is a stitch dictionary. If you have a sewing machine that features decorative stitches, this is a handy guide for what the common different type stitches are and how to use some of them with page references to other projects in the book that feature some of them.

There is a whole section on embroidery and machine basics with handy reference charts for threads, needles, stabilizers, scissors and other supplies.

Then the A to Z section. Want to know how to appliqué? Turn to the A section. Not only will you find pages of instruction for how to appliqué using different stitches, you will also find “Follow this thread” spots with page references to information important to the particular technique that you are using. Learn about bartacks, bridge stitches, couching, ergonomics, hemstitching, lace, metalwork, pintucks, sequins, tassels and much more in this very informative book. At the back of the book is also a list of suggested reading and websites to visit to learn more about this wonderful hobby.

My only complaint with this book and others like it, is they never give a source for the magic fairies that will come clean your house and do your other chores so you have more time to devote to sewing!

Machine Embroidery: Inspirational Quilting Techniques

Machine Embroidery: Inspirational Quilting Techniques by Jenny Haskins. 1998 Aussie Publishers, ISBN 187636405X Soft cover, 88 pages, full color illustrations.

I have always loved Jenny Haskins designs and admired the work that went into them. In this book using her ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ quilt as an example, she takes us step by step into sewing one of her wonderful projects. For those who aren’t ready to attempt a large quilt project there are smaller projects also, all of which will lead to a frilly romantic looking decoration for your home or as a gift.

Jenny describes the basic equipment needed to make the quilt. Be careful though, as she uses Australian terminology to describe something is be sure you know what she is talking about. Not only does she talk about the presser feet that she uses there are photographs of each one. She discusses color and thread choices as being one of the most important steps when starting a project.

You do not need an embroidery sewing machine to makes these projects as long as you have a machine that has a fair amount of decorative stitches. You can purchase doilies and lace and appliqué them onto the quilt as needed. Realizing that not everybody has the same type of sewing machine, she has an illustration chart of each decorative stitch she uses with an assigned number. Simply compare the stitches to those available on your machine and choose the most appropriate stitch. When she calls for stitch #4, for example, then you know to use your stitch #26. Jenny is a great one for ‘stitch building’ and you will see some really detailed pictures of what she does with explanations of how to do it yourself.

This is a truly inspirational book. You may never have a desire to make one of the projects in the book, but next time you want to make a project where you pull out all the bells and whistles of your machine, this book will be a great resource.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Stitching Along

Before I started my current counted cross-stitch project, I had forgotten how relaxing it could be to just sit and stitch. Because of my physical problems, I am very limited in how much time I can sit in front of my sewing or embroidery machine. Now, with starting to cross-stitch again, I am extending my creative time. While I thought my biggest problem with stitching would be pain in my hands, I am finding that my real difficulty is looking at the chart and back to the stitching with bifocals! I can’t believe how many times I’ve had to ‘unsew’ some of my work. Then last night while doing the backstitch around a flower, I realized I was three squares off. Still trying to figure out how I got that far out of sequence. I do know how to count after all! Oh well, the design still looks good and unless you compare it to the chart nobody will really know.

This morning I got up to an email from an embroidery site that I realized I haven’t mentioned yet. ABC Cross Stitch Patterns is the perfect site for those who like to do counted cross-stitch by machine and also by hand. They just realized a freebie for Mother’s Day that can be downloaded in several machine formats and also as a chart. All come as .zip files. I downloaded both the machine format and the hand format. For stitching by hand you get a chart with estimated floss usage, thread chart in both Anchor and DMC floss, stitch size and size of design depending on the thread count of your fabric. You also receive both a color and a black & white chart for working the pattern. The machine format downloads a color chart based on DMC floss colors and converts them to Robinson Anton Rayon or Sulky embroidery threads. You also will find out how many thread colors are used, how many color stops, size of design and of course the design itself.

Not only does this company have their cross stitch designs, but they have a ‘sister’ company for regular machine embroidery designs. This is a site that you definitely need to visit.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

April 27 Embroidery Library Newsflash

Embroidery library has just announced their newest designs for the fishermen lover, or those who love fishermen. There is a lot of new fish designs. Many the fish look very lifelike, and if you want to just sew out the fish without any words on them, you can omit the last thread change. They have also just released their May free designs, and currently their April free designs are available until April 30 so if you visit their site, you can still get four free designs, if you've never visited this site before. Embroidery library designs are beautiful, very detailed and are very inexpensive. This a very worthwhile site that you should visit and bookmark if you like machine embroidery.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Counted cross stitch

After I got my first embroidery sewing machine back in about 1990, I stopped doing a lot of hand embroidery. Because when I could embroider on the sewing machine projects got done so much faster. As the arthritis got worse in my hands, there was also another reason why I didn't like embroidering by hand -- it hurt! However, lately, I've realized that just sitting on the couch in the evenings propping your feet up, its kind of hard to hold an embroidery machine in your lap and certainly not relaxing. Recently in my eBay store, I've gotten in a lot of counted cross stitch kits and that got me excited about doing counted cross stitch again. So I dug into my sewing room and found an old pattern of a butterfly sampler that looked promising and got some floss and some Aida cloth together and decided I was going to try to at least do a little bit of counted cross stitch in the evenings. Well, my first mistake was picking a pattern that was rated skilled, all though in years past, I would have considered myself skilled I haven't done any major projects for close to 10 years. So I'm out of practice. The next mistake was trying to use Aida cloth for a pattern that used a lot of quarter and half stitches. After sewing a bit on the sampler, I realized the fabric was all wrong and I was getting very frustrated. Back into my sewing room, I went and found more suitable cross stitch fabric and restarted the entire project. The going is much faster now and I'm making progress.

Once I started doing this I realized how much I'd missed doing counted cross stitch in the evenings while watching TV. I like to multi-task, and since most TV is not enough to occupy my mind and hands I now have something to do. So yet again, I now have several projects to work on both in the living room and in my sewing room. A quilt for me, it has a patchwork center and a border that I'm appliquéing roses on with my embroidery machine. And another Project Linus quilt that I'm machine quilting. And now I have my butterfly sampler that I'll be working on I'm sure for the next year or two.

As I'm getting used to having arthritis, I'm finding more and more I need to occupy my mind and hands as much as possible and have many different kinds of projects to work on depending on my physical ability at the moment. Although there are many things that I can't do, it helps to have small projects, different books to read, etc. to keep myself occupied with so that I don't get bored and depressed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Counted Cross Stitch Kits

For those of you who haven’t gotten into machine embroidery or also prefer the to do handwork at times, I wanted to let you know we now have a selection of Dimensions counted cross stitch and needlepoint kits in our ebay store. There are a variety of sizes of pictures and different price ranges. If you are looking for a particular type scene, and just not finding it, check out the Dimensions website. They have all there current offerings posted. Just email me with the kit number and I will get back with you on the cost and approximate timing for me to special order it and get it to you. I get my orders in from Dimensions very quickly and I mail out orders within 24 hours of payment. If you are looking for and want a particular kit quickly this would be a good option for you.

I am always open to ideas of what you would like to see for purchase in my store, as my store is open for your convenience. No fighting traffic to get to a store, no paying astronomical prices to pay for gas to get to the store, quick shipping and friendly service instead. As always we are happy to mail worldwide and greatly appreciate our international customers.

Please note, you can always get to my ebay store via the Moonwishes Store link.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Vintage Patterns

The current Sew News magazine (May 2005) has an interesting article on Vintage Patterns written by Kristina Seleshanko. Although by virtue of the fact that it is a magazine article, it does not go into great depth about vintage patterns. The article does give a broad review of what to look for in vintage patterns, vintage being defined as “anything that’s at least a decade but less than a century old”.

We get so used to our current patterns with their lines, markings, and instructions that it is hard to imagine patterns, which were marked only with perforations and no instruction sheets. Thankfully, the author provides a timeline of the history of patterns to give you some insight as to what you can expect for certain vintage patterns depending on which decade they were produced. As sewing has evolved in the last century so too has the terminology. If you are planning on sewing with vintage patterns frequently, it might pay to get a sewing instruction book from the same era so you have greater understanding of terminology and sewing methods of the time. These books can frequently be found at thrift stores, yard sales, through Internet book sites such as Amazon, and through eBay.

Bodies have also changed throughout the years and along with that came sizing changes in the pattern companies. Being a size 12 now doesn’t mean the same as being a size 12 60-70 years ago when every pattern envelope showed women with what appeared to be 20-inch waistlines. I know I sure haven’t seen too many women looking like that recently! If you plan to buy a vintage pattern to make a garment for yourself, double-check your own body measurements against the pattern, especially if you aren’t very good at altering patterns.

There are many sources of vintage patterns: yard sales, thrift stores and via the Internet. In my eBay Store, I sell sewing patterns from the four major pattern companies: Vogue, Butterick, McCall’s and Simplicity. I do have a selection of vintage patterns throughout my store, although because I chanced upon a great deal, the majority of my patterns are current McCall’s patterns. I enjoy rooting through the patterns myself, comparing them to days and sewing memories of years ago and also to current fashions as they repeat the fashions of my teens. For example, even though ponchos can be a warm and comfortable garment, who would have thought that they would make such a huge come back?

If you have never considered sewing with a vintage pattern or have considered but were scared to try, this article can be a springboard to help you start to navigate the unknown or unfamiliar waters of vintage patterns. To learn more about Kristina Seleshanko you can visit her at her website

Monday, April 11, 2005

Free Embroidery Stuff – A Link

Another great link for embroidery designs is Free Embroidery Stuff . Different designers submit their designs each month and they are given away for free. Each month has a different theme; March was Easter, April is spring, etc. Not all designs are in all sewing machine formats, but it is worth checking in each month to see what is available for your particular machine.

Besides the monthly free designs, there is also a monthly contest with a valuable prize ( I enter and keep my fingers crossed). This month’s contest features 300 spools of thread, stabilizer and design CDs. There are also various articles dealing with machine embroidery and many useful links that a machine embroiderer would find worthwhile.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

View From My Sewing Room Window

On Sunday, we had the misfortune to be recipients of a spring snowstorm that dumped 2 feet of snow in our area. It just wouldn’t stop falling. The next couple days, the sun came out and tried to melt it all away, but 4 days later we still have mounds of dirty snow all over the place.

Yesterday I sat in my sewing room embroidering out some rose designs for my quilt border. As the embroidery machine was doing all the work, I got to look out the window in between thread changes. Kids were walking home from school dressed in T-shirts and shorts; they were having a ball having snowball fights! Everybody who could was out on the sidewalk catching up on sunshine. I heard so many people laughing and playing. It was truly a magical day. It was so nice to see that school children remember how to play in the ‘old-fashioned’ way of snowball fights, tea parties, and games of ‘You’re It’.

Looking out my sewing room window, I felt that certain peace of being taken back to my much more simple childhood.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

April 6 -- Hot Off the Press!

April 6

Hot off the press! Embroidery Library, an embroidery design site that I have mentioned previously, has just introduced their new April designs. If you love the folk look of Eastern European designs, you will love these designs. “Add vivid color and bold, geometric designs to garments and home décor by incorporating designs that were inspired by Eastern European techniques, such as Polish paper cutting and traditional Hungarian textile art. From brilliant floral sprays to pastoral rural scenes, Eastern European folk art is known for its use of vibrant color and geometric shapes.”

The designs are shown in project packs for decorating adult or children’s shirts, dining room décor packs and companion pieces. These are bright, bold designs that should make you happy just seeing the wonderful colors stitching out! For those who love Pennsylvania Dutch designs, these designs are reminiscent of them and you should certainly be able to find a project or two that you would like to do.

While visiting Embroidery Library, don’t forget to take a minute or two to download the two new free designs and see what else is available at this wonderful embroidery design site!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Buystitch – An Embroidery Link

Here is another good embroidery link Buystitch. They have new designs each week that you can purchase. Specials prices and deals each week also. The best part is, sign up for their newsletter and each week you will get a notice of the weekly specials and weekly FREEBIES! That’s right, every single week you get 10 free designs (a variety of motifs) for most of the major home embroidery machines. Figure the math: 52 weeks times 10 designs! That is a real treasure trove of designs.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Embroidery Magazines

I love magazines with their fresh new ideas on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. I especially love magazines that focus in on my hobbies. There are several that I subscribe to that have helped me grow and learn in my sewing and machine embroidery hobby.

Designs In Machine Embroidery is published bi-monthly and is a wonderful resource to learn how to do various machine embroidery projects. It is a very well rounded magazine in that it features, fashion, home décor, quilting and craft projects. There is usually at least one free design download and of this writing all of the downloads are available at their website listed by volume. Nancy Zieman, Eileen Roche, and Rita Farro write regular columns. Full-sized paper templates are included as an insert in the middle of each magazine. I love all the many ideas that I get from this magazine. Both this magazine and Creative Machine Embroidery should be in each machine embroiderer’s sewing space.

Creative Machine Embroidery: Ideas, Inspirations & Techniques is published bi-monthly with lots of great ideas, tips, and embroidery basics for those who own any type home embroidery machine. Each issue usually has a section on embroidery products such as stabilizers, threads, or even a run down of the newest machines on the market. There are also several projects presented with step-by-step instructions. Embroidery designs are clearly identified and usually there is at least one design that you can download for free from the magazine website. Be aware though, that their free downloads are available for only a limited time. All advertisements in the magazine are geared towards machine embroidery and actually are a great way to keep up with the newest things happening in the machine embroidery field. This is an especially good magazine for a beginner to machine embroidery as many of the projects are doable by following the instructions and some practice. This magazine is a sister publication to Sew News magazine and at times they join forces to present sewing patterns using machine embroidery techniques.

Creative Expressions with Jenny Haskins is published four times a year. As this is an Australian publication, it can be difficult to get in the USA, but if you like Jenny Haskins’ way of combining quilting and machine embroidery it is well worth the hunt. I have found issues at my local Barnes & Noble and also on eBay. Full of lush beautiful illustrations, this magazine can transport you to a different era as you look through it and study the detail of the projects. Each magazine has several projects with instructions and full-sized paper template inserts in the middle of the magazine. There is a six-page reference section at the back of each magazine so you will know how to do each technique that is mentioned in the instructions. Some items are just photographed for inspiration, although I wish that at least minimal instructions could be given for those but I suppose the magazine would end up being a book.

For those who have never run into Jenny Haskins and her work, she is the diva of Australian quilting combined with embroidery. Through appliqué, embroidered motifs, decorative stitching, and quilting designs she creates the most awesome quilts. Now she has made many of her projects even easier with embroidery design cards for purchase that do a lot of the work for you. Several of the quilts hanging in my home have been influenced by Jenny Haskins.

Embroidery Journal: Inspiring Ideas for the Home Embroiderer & Professional Crafter. This magazine is published four times a year. Some issues seem to have a lot of good projects and then other issues seem to forget that this is a magazine for embroiderers—projects with not a bit of embroidery in them! I think those who would get the most use out of this magazine are those who have the following software: Monogram Wizard, Explorations, Buzz Tools, Drawings. There are software tutorials in every issue. As I don’t have any of these particular pieces of software this part of the magazine is a bit useless to me. I’ve found over the year that I have had a subscription that most of the free designs they may feature either have broken links or are only for particular sewing machine formats (I have no way to convert them), so many times I’ve been disappointed with this magazine and wouldn’t really recommend it unless you need the software tutorials.

BFC Creations-An Embroidery Link

I have been a frequent visitor to BFC Creations for a while now. What keeps me coming back are their many new designs sets (usually several new ones each week), their generosity with free sample designs, reasonable prices, frequent sales, and friendly customer service. They have many unusual themes in their designs and many of their embroidery design sets make completed scenes. They also have many three-dimensional bowls and matching doilies sets. I’m hoping one of these days to make a wall hanging from the Victorian wreath design that I purchased from them, but as every machine embroiderer knows—so many designs, so little time. This is definitely a site to bookmark for return visits as they are constantly updating their site.

KennyKreations-An Embroidery Link

KennyKreations is an embroidery link that I found through an embroidery magazine just a couple weeks ago. When I had a chance to check out their site, I was very impressed. They have some very beautiful projects on the site with all the coordinating embroidery designs. Their prices seem to be very reasonable and they also have free samples of designs to download. For a quilt project that I’m working on, I sewed out their rose appliqué sample design and was very impressed with how it sewed out at both its digitized size and when I enlarged it on my customizer. I’m looking forward to using this design in the border of my quilt, as it is just beautiful. I’m also looking forward to trying out their threadplay sample. I would highly suggest that you check out this embroidery design site and bookmark it so that you can continue going back to them.

Machine Embroidery: Inspiration from Australian Artists—A Review

Machine Embroidery: Inspiration from Australian Artists by Kristen Dibbs. 1998 J. B. Fairfax Press, ISBN 1863433309, Soft cover, 96 pages, color photo illustrations.

This is a book for those of you who say to themselves, “I can’t do machine embroidery because I don’t have one of those fancy machines.” It is also a book of inspiration to those of you who do have ‘fancy’ computerized sewing machines, but want to push the envelope of what can be accomplished with just a straight or zig zag stitch. This book provides inspiration from eleven Australian fabric artists.

Even if these projects are not ‘your thing’, as you read and study the philosophy behind each person’s way of working with fabric and stitching their items, you can learn new ways of doing things. For the most part, the artists reviewed in this book only use a straight stitch or a zig zag stitch to accomplish their creative endeavors. You will rarely see any decorative stitches being used. As you will learn, even if you only have an old manual sewing machine, you too can make many of the same types of designs. You are urged to practice, plan, practice, and just do it.

The projects shown in this book do not come with instructions for recreating them or complete details about how to make them. Rather, they are illustrative of the artist’s philosophy of working, how they approach a project, how they plan and proceed with a project. Even if I never make a project like one in this book, I have found it to be an enlightening book. Whenever I read a sewing book that makes me go, “so that’s how it is done”, I’ve found to be worthwhile as I grow and learn as a sewer.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Latte Quilt – A Review

Latte Quilt by Kerrie Hay. 2003 Quilter’s Resource, Inc. Soft cover, ISBN 1889682195, 107 pages, full color photo illustrations. CD-ROM included with the designs for the quilt in the following formats: Artista version 1, 2, 3 .art, Deco & Brother .pes, Husqvarna .hus, Janome .sew, Pfaff .pcs. Also included are templates for accurate placement of designs.

Although this book is full of gorgeous photos, none of them compare to actually seeing this quilt in person. I have been privileged to do so at Super Stitch, my favorite Janome dealer, where they have had a Latte Quilt class. A finished example is hanging in the shop. When my husband saw the quilt he told me to buy the book, and when hubby tells me to buy a sewing book I am always most happy to obey! If you are ever close to North East, PA, stop in at Super Stitch to see the quilt and tell them Gail sent you!

Words can barely describe this quilt—WOW, awesome, fantastic, would come close. It is a tone on tone quilt. Each block is beautifully designed with embroidered lace type motifs combined with decorative stitching and quilting. This quilt is a labor of love and long-term commitment. With this book, you have all the instructions you need for making this quilt. The quilt is 91 ½” square with a center medallion, surrounded by 15 blocks and a pieced border. The central block is 22 ½” square and the surrounding blocks are 14” square. This quilt and is made with 3 3/8 yards of 60” quilters muslin and 6 3/8 yards of 60” Duchess satin. Not only is this quilt a labor of love, to make it as shown requires a financial commitment also as the whole quilt is dependent on machine embroidery to achieve the lacy effect and that involves over 20 spools of thread plus at least 20 bobbins worth of thread, besides all fabric and the other accessories needed.

There are a lot of detailed instructions and templates in the book for sewing up the various parts of the quilt. At the beginning of the book there are instructions for a matching pillow. At the end of the book is a gallery of photos for other applications of the designs but no instructions are given.

This quilt is your chance to make a wonderful quilt using all your machine embroidery knowledge, decorative stitches, beading, pin tucking, double and triple needlework. When you finish this quilt you will certainly have a sense of accomplishment and most likely a chance to win a prize at the fair! Myself, I think I will just try for making a pillow from the designs.

Contemporary Machine Embroidered Quilts – A Review

Contemporary Machine Embroidered Quilts: Innovative Techniques and Designs by Eileen Roche. 2004 Krause Books, Soft cover, ISBN 087349878x, 144 pages, full color photo illustrations of projects and color illustrations of techniques. Includes a CD-ROM with 14 large-format designs in the following formats: .pes, .art, .jef, .shv, .dst, .xxx.

This is Eileen’s first book, but not her first entry into the world of machine embroidery. She founded the Designs In Machine Embroidery magazine in 1998, has made guest appearances on television sewing shows, and has designed for Amazing Designs.

The quilts in this book are not your grandmother’s quilts. They are all new, one of a kind contemporary quilts. The author shows you step by step how to make each and every quilt in the book including a beautiful wisteria quilt using the designs on the CD. The CD designs consist of 6 different wisteria sprays, 4 sets of leaves, 3 butterflies and a grasshopper. Mixing and matching the designs can lead you to a wonderful spring and summer quilt. If that project seems a little large to tackle at first, there is a simple pillow project or a smaller wall hanging to try. All told, there are 12 different projects.

For those projects that use designs not on the CD, the designs are clearly identified in case you would like to purchase them. Most of them are from Amazing Designs. The really nice thing about this book, is not only do you get lots of tips for using machine embroidery designs in your quilts, you will learn how to add appliqué and machine decorative stitching to enhance your quilts. The author shows how much more effective designs can be if they are joined by a satin stitch or combined with some appliqué. She encourages you to be creative with all the designs. At one point she shows how she achieved a certain effect with fabric pens when her design didn’t come out just right.

I would certainly recommend this book and when I finish a few other projects, I am hoping to try out the small wisteria wall hanging. I’m also happy to get a few more butterfly designs, as someday I want to make a butterfly quilt.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Embroidery Library – A Link

One of my favorite embroidery links is Embroidery Library. They have a massive amount of designs and the prices are great (as in not expensive). On a monthly basis they issue two new free designs. You can also sign up for their newsletter. I just got a newsletter the other day where they were introducing their new quilt designs—lots of them! I’ve seen embroidered quilt designs before, but never like these. Lots and lots of quilt designs, not only full blocks but also half blocks, matching stipple quilting and quilt labels.

Not only do they have an abundance of quilt designs, they have an abundance of floral, holiday, etc. designs. Just about anything you want, you can find. The design quality is superb.

This is a site you have to check out. Nothing in it for me but a chance to repay them for all the great free designs I’ve gotten from them.

Machine Embroidered Quilts – A Review

Machine Embroidered Quilts: Creating With Colorful Stitches by Jennifer Lokey. 2004 Martingale & Company (That Patchwork Place), Soft cover, ISBN 156477516x, 79 pages, full color photo illustrations, black and white or color diagrams and patterns.

This book is great for those who have a machine capable of doing machine embroidery and for those who don’t. Most of the projects in this book are shown with either embroidery or an appliqué option. With the different design variations, you should be able to jump to even more creative options on your own. There are nine quilt projects from simple to more complicated, but most designs should be doable by a sewer with average skills.

All the projects have clear instructions with full size pattern pieces for appliqué patterns, which is a plus for me, as I hate to resize patterns. The quilts shown come in all different size from wall hanging to full sized quilts. There is a cute baby quilt, a crazy quilt, log cabin, basket quilts and several others. All the machine embroidery designs are clearly identified by maker if you want to reproduce them, or the author tells you what size embroidery you need for the area so you can use one of your own designs.

This is certainly a recommended book and I’m glad I have it in my collection.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Machine Embroidery Makes the Quilt – A Book Review

Machine Embroidery Makes the Quilt by Patty Albin. 2004 C&T Publishing, Soft cover, ISBN 1571202668, 80 pages, full color photo illustrations. CD-ROM included with 26 machine embroidery designs in the following formats: .art, .csd, .dst, .exp, .hus, .jef, .pcs, .pes, .sew, .vip, .xxx. The book has 6 projects that utilize these designs.

This is a very inspirational book on machine embroidery combine with quilting. The embroidery designs that come on the CD are shown being used in several different ways, which can lead you into thinking of even more creative possibilities. You will also learn ways to incorporate machine embroidery designs into traditional quilt blocks.

The first chapter shows lots of different ways to use machine embroidery in quilts. Embroidery is shown replacing bows, appliqué (or being used to make machine appliqué), replicating hand embroidery and crocheting, replacing parts of the quilt block, etc. The clear illustrations really show off how to include machine embroidery into your quilt.

The next two chapters discuss embroidery designs, what to look for when purchasing designs and how to digitize and customize your own designs. You will learn how to take parts from several designs and combine them into a design that is perfect for use in your quilt.

It is important to always sign and document your quilt for those who come after us and in the next chapter you will find several creative ways for making quilt labels that will coordinate with your quilt. After that comes a chapter on supplies for quilting such as appropriate stabilizers, threads and needles.

After those preliminaries, we come to the heart of the book: six different projects to make using your embroidery CD. Each of the projects makes a small wall hanging, but with a little creativity could be enlarged. Each project has complete supply lists, cutting list and assembly instructions. There are even thread orders shown in color in case you wish to change a color. You will find instructions for an Irish Chain quilt, a small crazy quilt, a bouquet of three-dimensional pansies, a redwork quilt, a double wedding ring and a miniature Baltimore album.

This is a wonderful book that I would highly recommend. I am looking to making several of the projects myself possibly as Mother’s Day gifts for two special ladies.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Appliqué Techniques—A Review

Jeanine Twigg’s Embroidery Machine Essentials: Appliqué Techniques, Companion Project Series book 4 by Mary Mulari. 2004 Krause Publications, Soft cover, ISBN 087349847X, 48 pages, full color illustrations. Containing creative appliqué techniques featuring a variety of edge treatments. Designs and techniques for use with Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, Simplicity, Singer and White embroidery machines. Includes a CD-ROM with 20 original embroidery designs.

Yet again another jam-packed idea filled book in this series. Mary Mulari is well known for her appliqué designs and has produced designs for Amazing Designs. Her expertise is self evident in this book. There are a lot of fresh ideas for using the included designs. Not every appliqué has to be sewn down with a satin stitch and she goes on to show in this book how attractive other finishes can be.

I used one of the designs in this book to decorate a T-shirt for my husband for Christmas. I took the steaming coffee cups design, added lettering with my customizer program, and in one hooping was able to stitch out a very appropriate design for him. It said “Instant Human, Just Add Coffee”. Perfect for the guy who needs a cup of coffee and a good hour to wake up in the morning!

The first chapter of the book deals with appliqué essentials and Mary’s philosophy about appliqué. Even while showing the essentials you see interesting examples of ways to appliqué such as a silk flower appliquéd to fabric using part of a design.

The second chapter covers traditional appliqué techniques. You will see what difference fabric choices can make, how to hoop the fabric and trim it, how to make templates, and how to make reverse appliqué. As most of the designs she demonstrates with don’t have the usual satin stitch edges, all her designs look fresh and interesting.

The third chapter shows lots of creative appliqué techniques with easy instructions. You will learn how to do allover stitch appliqué, raw-edge appliqué, frayed-edge appliqué, padded appliqué, three-dimensional appliqué, and the list goes on. There are lots of ideas for you to try and then to incorporate into your sewing projects.

The four chapter has you making all sorts of appliqué accents for that special touch. Appliqué some buttonhole covers for your favorite denim shirt to give it a bit of personality. Appliqué a pocket and sew it onto an apron. Use small appliqué designs to highlight a scarf. Mary encourages sewing out test samples before committing a design to a project. Then save those test designs for further projects. There is nothing better is a sewing room than bits and pieces that can be sewn together fast for a quick gift!

The last chapter is a showcase of the many projects she has made using her designs collections that are up for sale from various manufacturers. This showcase should give you lots of ideas on projects that you too can make whether from test stitch outs or sewn specifically for a project.

I really liked this book and highly recommend it. The designs that come with the book are unique and can be used in lots of ways. Mary Mulari’s enthusiasm for her work comes right through the pages. I only wish the book were longer with a lot more designs and ideas.

As far as I know, this is the last book in this series. I cannot find any information that any more books are in the works. It would seem like these six books would have covered everything a person would want to know about machine embroidery, but as I see what is going on in embroidery websites, I see a lot of three-dimensional lace projects, projects sewn completely in the hoop, doll clothes sewn in the hoop and other projects never dreamt of a few years ago. I hope Jeanine Twigg will continue adding books to this series as new innovations in machine embroidery comes about.

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Quilting Techniques—A Review

Jeanine Twigg’s Embroidery machine Essentials: Quilting Techniques, Companion Project Series Book 3 by Linda Turner Griepentrog. 2004 Krause Publications, Soft cover, ISBN 0873498461, 48 pages, full color illustrations. Designs and techniques for use with Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, Simplicity, Singer and White embroidery machines. Includes a CD-ROM with 12 complete projects, 20 exclusive designs, and 80 bonus stitch variations.

Quilting is “my thing”. I love quilts and the whole quilting process, picking out colors, dreaming up combinations of fabrics, piecing it together, except for putting it together and quilting it. With the advent of machine embroidery with quilting designs this part of the process has become much easier for me. One of the best parts of this book is the CD-ROM with its 20 designs and all the variations. Most designs come in three different sizes for 4”, 5” and 6” blocks. Some of the designs come as a straight stitch design, triple stitch or a chain stitch design. A few of the designs are only for a 5” x 7” hoop or larger. Lots of designs possibilities on this CD.

There are 12 complete quilting projects on the CD also. They are pictured in the book, but you need the CD for the instructions on how to make the designs. There are few projects in the book proper. For the most part this book is full of ideas on using machine embroidery designs in your quilting. I will not review this book in chapter format like I usually do, as this book would be difficult to review that way. “The purpose of this book is to inspire you to use your embroidery machine for quilting” p.6. Many of her projects throughout the book purposely use embroidery designs that are not included on the CD to inspire you in how you can use other designs in quilting. I think she would have done better to use more examples using her embroidery designs that come with the book. But that is my personal opinion. I always like seeing optional ways of using designs I own than options for using designs that I don’t own.

I was personally disappointed with this book because I was hoping it would address in detail quilting a large quilt by machine. All her examples dealt with small quilted projects. Quilting by machine, especially using embroidery motifs, on a large bed size quilt is a whole other ball game. Trying to combine motifs into larger ones while dealing with the weight of the quilt is a topic that deserved some consideration and barely got a mention.

Although a bit disappointed with the book, I would recommend it for someone who is unfamiliar with quilting and the various options available with machine embroidery. It is also useful for the ideas presented, and there are many, but basically all short blurbs. The best feature for me was the embroidery and quilting motifs on the CD as I know I will be using them in many projects in the future.

I trust that this review has been helpful to you in deciding whether or not to purchase the book. I welcome all comments about the reviews I do or additional comments pro and con about how helpful the books have been to you.

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Fleece Techniques—A Review

Jeanine Twigg’s Embroidery Machine Essentials: Fleece Techniques, Companion Project Series Book 2 by Nancy Cornwell. 2002 Krause Publications, Soft cover, ISBN 0873495810, 48 pages, lots of full color illustrations. Includes a CD-ROM with 20 exclusive embroidery designs with 85 variations for embroidery on fleece. Designs and techniques for use with Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, Simplicity, Singer and White embroidery machines.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is so, then this book’s pictures are worth millions of words. Lavishly illustrated with variation after variation of designs and ways of doing things. Your mind won’t be able to help coming up with ideas and getting excited about the possibility of embroidering on fleece or anything else for that matter. I had never even sewn on fleece prior to getting this book, but after reading it, I was inspired to make a small fleece project and as time and health allows look forward to making more of them.

Nancy Cornwell is the sewing world’s diva of sewing on fleece. This book certainly shows her talent and knowledge with working with this material. Nancy herself says it best on p. 4 “…it’s fun to explore what happens when we use bits and pieces of designs to create entirely new designs and effects. Throughout the pages of this book I’ll show you how to look at embroidery designs not only ‘as intended,’ but for all the opportunities each design offers for fleece embellishment.” Although there are 20 ‘actual’ embroidery designs on the CD, by following the instructions in the book, you will see many more ways to use parts of the designs. As you look through the book think about not only what you can do with the included designs but also what you can do with the designs you already own. Don’t be stuck in a rut of thinking you always have to sew out a design in its entirety. Think about that one special element which will set off your project. Of course the designs can be sewn on more than just fleece. Just be sure to sew out test samples first in case an adjustment has to be made as these designs were digitized for use with fleece.

The first chapter is about embroidery essentials especially as they pertain to sewing and embroidering on fleece. If you are new to using fleece or have been having trouble embroidering on it, you should pay particular attention to this chapter.

The second chapter deals with appliqué on fleece. Because of fleeces properties such as not fraying, there are many more ways to appliqué with it than regular fraying fabric. Depending upon the look you want, you can sew out a regular appliqué, a blunt edge appliqué, reversible appliqué, trapunto, a textured design (no appliqué fabric), or a three dimensional appliqué. It is fun to work with fabric that you know won’t fray. There are even instructions for a freestanding double sided appliqué. All the projects and instructions use the included designs.

The third chapter has you quilting on fleece. You will see stippling, more appliqué ideas, trapunto, quilting lines as designs. I am looking forward to using the stippled flower design in a quilt project.

The next two chapters shows some innovative techniques. Three of the designs are ‘nested’ designs (the same design inside a progressively larger design). You will learn how to use nested designs to make fleece chenille. Sew out the entire design for an echo quilting effect, or sew out just parts of the design for the size star, flower or heart that you want to use for your project. You will also learn how to make three-dimensional designs such as a flower to sew on a hat or scarf. Combine elements of one design with parts of another, and you have a whole new design. Take parts of one design, rotate them and recombine with the rest of the design for yet another look. By the time you have read these chapters and studied the pictures in them, you will never look at embroidery designs the same way again. Depending on the fabric you are using and the parts of an embroidery design, you can create wonderful effects.

I highly recommend this book even if you have no intention of ever sewing on fleece. The designs and each of the segments of the designs are well worth the money, but even more important is how this book can get your creative juices running when you see the possibilities all your designs have. For those on limited budgets, this book can help you increase your design base just by learning how to create new designs from old ones.

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Basic Techniques—A Review

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Basic Techniques Companion Project Series by Jeanine Twigg. 2002 Krause Publications, Soft cover, ISBN 0873495802, 48 pages. Full color illustrations. CD-ROM included with 20 exclusive Embroidery Designs. Designs and techniques for use with Babylock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna/Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, simplicity and Singer embroidery machines.

Just one look through this book, and I felt like slapping myself in the head and saying, “why didn’t I think of that?” Although this book deals with basic techniques, it goes beyond the basics and shows just how many different ways you can use a design. The included designs are ones you will probably use again and again and are worth the price of the book itself.

The first chapter is a quick overview of machine embroidery essentials, then on to the second chapter on appliqué. When pressed for time in making a project, appliqué can speed things up by not requiring so many stitches to sew out along with all the thread changes that can take up time. Instead of completely stitching out a flower, appliqué one on. This chapter shows the two ways to make appliqué templates for use with your embroidery machine. Then there are the different appliqué techniques: satin stitch, blanket stitch, sheer appliqué, outline appliqué, and reverse appliqué. I tend to be visually oriented and once I see something done I can comprehend the possibilities. Seeing how one design can be used for satin stitch appliqué or a sheer overlay opening some real design possibilities. Instructions for doing each of the techniques are included using the designs that came with the book.

Chapter three is about quilting. Now you are seeing some of the same designs that were used for appliqué, being used as quilting motifs. Imagine the possibilities of making an appliqué quilt with matching quilting motifs! Two methods of quilting are explained and also a type of trapunto quilting and fleece quilting, instructions again using the included designs. If you haven’t figured it out yet, these designs are extremely versatile.

The next chapter is all about various forms of cutwork embroidery on the machine. Not only is there explanations and instructions for the technique, it continues on with other forms of cutwork. How about sheer cutwork, which instead of empty space, leaves a layer of sheer organdy? Or a layered cutwork technique that has layers of different colored sheer fabric within the same design. There are lots of possibilities and inspiration for the cutwork fan.

Chapter five describes how to make three dimensional designs, how to texture fleece, making fringed flowers, double needle designs and using your designs with mixed media such as watercolors. I have not yet tried the fringing method. I know it works as I have seen samples of it, but hard to believe it can be done with a sewing machine!

Chapter six is about combining and editing designs. Learn how to rotate, flip, mirror image, add and subtract designs to make your own creation. You will need a machine that has on board editing, or software that allows you to do it, or make yourself some templates to accurately place your designs. Lots of ideas are given for combining designs all using the designs off of the CD. Just imagine the possibilities when combined with the designs you own.

Chapter seven is a gallery of ideas showing sewn out projects with some basic instructions on completing the projects. Unlike the first two books in this series, the project gallery includes only projects featuring embroidery designs from the included CD.

In the appendix are the included CD designs details. Each design shows each thread stop individually so you can plan which part of the design you will want to use. For example: the blanket stitch circle design has 11 different segments because there are actually five circles within the circle designs. These allow you different sized circles for appliqué projects or use all of them at once in a project.

I hope this review has been helpful to you. I believe you would find this book helpful in learning some basic techniques. You will also find the included designs are extremely versatile and are worth the cost of the book by themselves.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

More Embroidery Machine Essentials – A Review

More Embroidery Machine Essentials: How to Customize, Edit and Create Decorative Designs byJeanine Twigg. 2003 Krause Publications, ISBN 0873494393, Soft cover, 128 pages. Lots of full color illustrations, includes CD-ROM with 10 exclusive designs. Hints and tips for software success, gallery of ideas from industry experts. Designs and techniques for use with Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, Simplicity, singer and White Embroidery machines.

I wish I had had this book when I had a digitizer program for my machine. I was constantly frustrated in my attempts to use the program and because of my work schedule at the time I couldn’t attend classes at my dealer’s shop. Finally in frustration I sold the program on eBay and now wish I hadn’t.

This book encourages you first of all to get to know your embroidery sewing machine. In the first chapter, it gives a review of the essential things you need to know to embroider well. There are also some placement pointers, which using your own design can make clothes and household items into unique objects.

Chapter two talks about the on screen editing and customizing that is possible with many of the newer embroidery machines. This is a short chapter as most machines are limited in how much editing can be done on screen.

Chapter three discusses the basics of the different available software. Where once machine embroiderers were limited to designs and software manufactured by their sewing machine brand, now there is a wide-open field of possibilities that seems to grow every day. Now, even independent companies sell individual designs and software. This chapter presents a synopsis of the different types of software, and the basics of what most programs do and how to save files (an art in itself once you have collected several 100 embroidery designs!).

Chapter four is all about customizing, stitch editing and resizing. “Customizing is all about personalization—the combining and modifying of decorative designs”. With customizing software, if you want a design a little bigger or smaller, facing a different way, or combining with another design to make a larger design, you just press a few buttons and presto it is done! I love my customizing software for combining designs. You can lay out many designs for say, a larger floral wreath, on your computer screen save the design or make changes (without having to sew out each design to see if it will work) and print out templates for accurate positioning on your fabric. This chapter also discusses stitch editing which is not included in all customizing software, but that is one of the nice things about reading this book prior to buying software, you will have a better idea of what you want, what you need and of course what you can afford. At the end of the chapter are exercises to do to practice with your software using the designs found on the CD that is included with the book.

Chapter five is about digitizing. As a general rule of thumb, most digitizer software programs will be more expensive than a customizer program. With a digitizer program, and appropriate graphics, you will be able to make your own embroidery designs in the size and colors that you want. Depending on the program, you will also be to take designs, and split them apart so that you use only one portion of a design. You will learn about how to plan your digitizing, what kind of graphic images you need, and what kind of stitch options you will be working with. There are all sorts little things you need to know when digitizing your own designs and this chapter gives you a good overview of them.

The next chapter encompasses specialty software that you can purchase. There is cataloging software available to keep all your computer designs in special folders depending on their topics and with gallery views so that you can easily find what you are looking for. Do you like to do counted cross-stitch but don’t have time to stitch up all the charts you want to? There is software to convert designs to cross-stitch. Want to sew out actual pictures such as the face of a grandchild? There is software to help you do that too. Learn about lettering programs to add personalization and saying to your designs.

Chapter 7 is all about converting a design from one sewing machine format to another. Have you found a design that you really like but it isn’t in a form your sewing machine recognizes? Depending on your software you may be able to convert the designs into ones you can use. Not all software programs have this capability; so if this is important to you, check to be sure that the program you purchase can do this.

Chapter 8 contains pages of inspirational designs by different sewing machine manufacturers and individual designers. These designs show you what is possible with your machine and a little creativity.

This book comes with several appendices. One gives some good guidance on setting up design categories in your computer using major categories and subcategories. Voice of experience here—from your first design on your computer, save them in logical folders and categories or else you will waste a lot of sewing time hunting for the design. Another appendix has lots of sayings that combined with your lettering programs and designs can make a cute total design.

I would certainly recommend this book either as a helper to making that important decision of what kind of software you may want to go with your embroidery machine or as a helper at your elbow while you are learning how to use your new software.

I hope that you have found this review helpful. Coming soon reviews of the companion project series of books and a review of my favorite on line embroidery links.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Power of a Minute

Three years ago I got sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Prior to that point, I rarely needed to set a timer. I could glance at my watch and keep all my activities on track finishing when they were supposed to. Now, however, my brain at times is mushy. I have found I have to set timers in the kitchen for everything I cook, otherwise I lose track of them, foods burn or are underdone or worse yet, I completely forget I was cooking something.

What a blessing those timers have become. I have learned the power of time in one minute. I have found that with the timer running, I race to see how many odd jobs in the kitchen I can do before the beep. Ice trays get filled. Clean dishes are put away. Counter tops are cleaned up. Trash is cared for.

With chronic poor health, all my housework is done in dribs and drabs, but finding the power of a minute has helped me keep up with things that I used to think ‘took too long’ to do in the time I had available. Now I find I’m doing more without even feeling it.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Embroidery Machine Essentials: A Book Review

Embroidery Machine Essentials: A Book Review

Embroidery Machine Essentials: How to Stabilize, Hoop and Stitch Decorative Designs by Jeanine Twigg with Foreword by Lindee Goodall. 2001 Krause Publications, ISBN 0873419995, Soft cover, 144 pages, color illustrations, includes a CD with 6 exclusives designs by Cactus Punch in the following embroidery machine formats: .art, .csd, .dst, .exp, .hus, .jef, .pcs, .pes, .sew, .shv, .vip, .xxx.

I first learned to sew on an old black Singer sewing machine. It had one stitch it could do and that was a straight stitch. As a teenager, I remember with awe my mother bringing home her new state of the art Kenmore sewing machine. It had a zig zag stitch and cams you inserted to make several decorative stitches. The little duck stitch just fascinated me. I also remember that my stepfather wouldn’t allow me to even touch that machine until I had read the instruction manual from cover to cover.

Fast-forward quite a few years to 1991. I owned a bottom of the line zig zag sewing machine and really wanted one of those machines with the fancy stitches. Something kept tickling me in the back of my though, I just knew that soon a machine would come out that could embroider. Sure enough one night I was at a grocery store flipping through a magazine and saw an advertisement for a Janome/New Home 8000 sewing and embroidery machine. I walked into my sewing machine dealer the next day and ordered one.

Embroidery sewing machines have come a long way since that time, but one thing hasn’t changed. To really get the most from your sewing machine, you need knowledge to successfully sew out beautiful embroidery designs. In those days we were all starting out from scratch on learning how to get those designs to come out perfectly. If there was any resource available that encompassed everything you needed to know to do machine embroidery, I wasn’t aware of it.

Now with the book Embroidery Machine Essentials and the companion volumes in this series (to be reviewed individually at a later date) all of us have the basics of machine embroidery at our fingertips. This book is not machine specific, but photographically demonstrates procedures with different brands of current machines.

This book begins by showing and defining the two types of home embroidery machines. Generally there is the embroidery only machine or there is the sewing and embroidery machine. Different normal and optional equipment add-ons are explained. From there the book goes on to explain the different ways to purchase embroidery designs which is a big change from back in 1991 when the only designs available came from your sewing machines dealer, were very expensive, and it seemed like forever waiting for new designs to come out. This is followed by a general discussion of the types of software available for use with you machine. Next you get a thorough explanation of stabilizers, threads, hoops, accessories and needles. The first two chapters of this book are actually a great reference for someone who has not yet purchased an embroidery machine, as it familiarizes you with what is available and the language that your sewing machines dealer will be speaking when discussing what is available.

The third chapter is one of the most beneficial for a new embroiderer. First you get a fabric reference guide that explains types of fabrics and gives recommendations for needles, stabilizers, and the best types of designs for that kind of fabric. Step-by-step it leads you through setting your material and hoop up for embroidery. Even though I have been doing machine embroidery for over 10 years, I learned things that I didn’t know in this chapter.

Chapter four gives directions for a lot of creative techniques. It tells the basics of doing cutwork, appliqué, dimensional embroidery, foam raised embroidery, lacework, tonal embroidery, making embroidered fabric, and texturizing Polarfleece.

Chapter five has 20 different embroidery projects to practice your newly learned techniques. It includes projects using the free designs that come with the book. Although many of the projects use designs from the different manufacturers, substituting designs is easy. What is being learned here are techniques, not how to use an individual design.

Chapter six is a showcase of inspirational ideas of what you can do with your embroidery machine. It is so easy to bring a machine like this home, then sit down, look at it and say “now what do I do?” This chapter shows you what you can do. Between the 20 projects in the prior chapter and this showcase you will have plenty of ideas to be your creative self.

If that isn’t enough, this book comes with an excellent resource section in the back of the book. Not only does it give phone numbers to contact companies, it gives out their web addresses. I spent a lot of time going through that list finding the different embroidery design companies to find out what they had to offer. What I found is most of them not only have designs to sell, but FREE designs to download and try out their digitizing prior to purchasing. I had never known just how many free designs were available just for the looking.

I think this book would be a valuable reference in every machine embroiders sewing area. The information is laid out well. There are plenty of pictures for those who are more visually oriented. I trust this review has been helpful for you.