Friday Flashback – Candlewick Bears – New Freebie

Welcome back to another Friday Flashback, taking a look back at some of my favourite classic collections.

This week we are looking back at the first collection, of one of my favourite techniques. Candlewick Bears.

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Candlewick designs of any sort are a kind of passion for me, and I love thinking back to the time when it all began.

Back in 2006 (the olden days when most machines were 5×7 only), there wasn’t a lot of texture in machine embroidery. A couple of digitisers (and software brands) tried to create a candlewick stitch that emulated a traditional candlewicking knot, but really, it just didn’t work well.

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I have created a number of candlewicking quilts using the hand technique, and quickly realised that the main issue was in the thickness of the thread. You cannot expect to create a knot life effect easily without using a thick thread.  Unfortunately, embroidery machines do not run to “thick threads”.  So the next step for me was to emulate how the thick thread worked.  And I created this my going over and over the very small design in a circular pattern, until what looked like a knot was formed.

Once I had created and tested this knot (honestly, Edward thought the machine was having issues there was so much knotted fabric around the house at that time), I had to learn how to implement it properly.

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So Candlewick Bears was my first candlewick collection. Initially I had 8 bears in ballet tutus, however that just didn’t seem like enough, so I went back and added another 8 designs to the set that could be used for a boy as well, with the boy angel bears.

During the creation of these designs, I learnt a lot of things, such as why presser foot height is so important (you need to raise the presser foot height to ensure that the candlewick knots can form properly), and why speed kills (I had always thought that faster was better, but when it comes to candlewicking, slow and steady will definitely win the race).

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In an earlier Friday Flashback I talked about the Floral Windows Quilt, and how I had attempted to dye my own fabrics for this quilt. With the Candlewick Bears, I decided to make up a small quilt, and used a lot of the pre-dyed fabrics for this.  I was so proud that my hand was in all of the quilt.

When I created the collection, as well as making the quilt, I can remember also making a tooth fairy pillow, which we used on the children’s doors until a couple of years ago.  It was such a simple little project, with a little organza bag for the tooth and a note, but a real keepsake for our family.

I still love running my hands along a candlewick quilt, and if you ever attend a show I am at, please feel free to touch my quilts (particularly the candlewick ones), to really feel the texture that these beautiful small knots give.

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Initially we gave one of the Angel Bears as the free design (still available HERE). As a thank you to all of our loyal customers, for the next week we are offering the Candlewick Bear – Ballet design as a free download.  Simply click HERE to collect your copy.

Thank you for taking this trip down memory lane with me, I hope you have enjoyed looking at this collection, and that it has inspired you to stitch for a loved one.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

Fit for a Queenie – Free Design

My wonderful parents are coming today for a quick visit. They wanted to come straight after my surgery, however between their commitments, and mine, this is the first chance that we have had.  I am really looking forward to them coming, as my father still spoils us by cooking dinner for us whilst he is here, and mum is going to take me out for a coffee in the morning.

Mum did have one request however. She is attending a sewing camp in a few weeks, and on the last night of the camp, they have a “dress up night”, where all of the ladies are encouraged to create something to wear.  For instance a few years ago it was all about the tiaras, and each lady was encouraged to make their own tiara.  This year it is all about aprons, and so mum has come to me.

Amongst her friends, mum has the nickname of Queenie (for our family, I have narrowed this down to Her Majesty, or Madge), however a good friend of hers created a beautiful crafting bag with the word Queenie, and a crown on it, that mum really loves. The other thing that you need to know about my mother is that since dad stopped working so hard (he now only put in about 10 hours a day) (approximately 20 years ago), he has taken over the cooking and meal preparation.  So it is a big joke that mum would never need an apron, as she doesn’t cook.

For this project, I wanted to create mum a fun type of apron. I purchased an apron from K-mart for $5.00, however you could definitely make your own, and a necklace from Lovisa for another $5.00

I have created this Queenie design, and am offering it as a freebie download for anyone who wants to make their own queen a beautiful apron.

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Requirements

  • Apron – K-mart have these for $5.00
  • Pearl Necklance (I purchased mine from Lovisa for $5.00)
  • Queenie embroidery design – free from Julie Hall Designs
  • Embroidery Thread (I have used hot pink)
  • TearClean Tear Away Stabiliser
  • Sewing Thread to match the apron
  • Hot Fix Crystals

 

Instructions

  1. Take the apron and iron flat
  2. Mark up the centre point on the front of the apron.
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  3. Measure 4” down from the top of the apron, and using the markings of created, hoop together the stabiliser and apron, centring these points.
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  4. Load the Queenie design onto your machine (as a hint, make sure the design will be stitch the right way around, you do not want this upside down), and stitch the design out in your chosen thread colour.
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  5. Once the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine, and the apron from the hoop. Turn the embroidery over, and remove any excess stabiliser.
  6. Take the necklace, and undo the clasp.
  7. Lay the necklace out on top of the apron, and place it at the neckline. Once you are happy with the placement, gently use your free motion zig-zag to stitch the ends of the necklace to the apron (if this part concerns you, feel free to hand stitch this part)
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  8. Take your hot fix crystals, and gently place different crystals around the design.

Your apron is now ready to wear, and perfect for the Royalty in your home.

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Friday Flashback – All Boxed Up

Welcome back to another Friday Flashback, taking a look back at some of my favourite classic collections.

This week we are looking back at one of the most useful collections – All Boxed Up.

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All boxed up is a collection of 5 different shaped boxed, with multiple lid designs for each, that are all created in the hoop, and give you the maximum flexibility to create more than 50 different boxes.

This collection began with the introduction of stitch and shape into Australia. I really fell in love with the idea of this product, however the only items out there to create with machine embroidery with it were bowls and vases, and neither of these were my particular style.

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I did however have uses for gift boxes, and so an idea began. I can remember the first thing I did was to get a couple of different collapsible boxes from my local two dollar shop. This gave me ideas as to dimensions, and different shapes.

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When I first began playing with the stitch and shape, it was clear that this was quite a solid product, and with its 2 or 3mm height, was going to need a thicker more robust satin stitch.  I spent a good amount of time looking at underlay and stitch density until I found the perfect stitch width and density to fully cover the stitch and shape, and I truly believe one of the nicest things about the all boxed up is just how full and sexy the satin stitch really is around the edges.

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The next hurdle was in working out how to join the sides together. I really wanted it to be flexible enough to move and not require glue, so stitching was the only option.  After trying a couple of different techniques, it was clear that a 3 step zig-zag stitch was the best way to go.

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Naturally, with anything the shape of a box, there was always going to be a little fiddling and contortion to getting the last side or two of the box together, however this is one of those times when the flexibility of the stitch and shape is a real bonus, and you can manipulate the stitch and shape to make stitching the sides easier.

Over the years, I have given multiple presents in the All Boxed Up Boxes. I love the small square ones done with Christmas fabric as a great way to give a gift card, and have often added a monogram to the top of the box, so that ideally the box will become a keepsake over the years.

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One of the questions that we get often with the All Boxed Up collection is when are we going to release new designs/sizes. I think about this a lot, however I am not sure that the stitch and shape would really hold up well for larger designs, and this is the main idea that holds me back.

Initially we didn’t have a free design with the All Boxed Up (my concern was that if I gave away a freebie, nobody would want to purchase). As a thank you to all of our loyal customers, for the next week we are offering the Triangle Box as a free download.  Simply click HERE to collect your copy.

Thank you for taking this trip down memory lane with me, I hope you have enjoyed looking at this collection, and that it has inspired you to stitch for a loved one.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

Friday Flashback – Floral Windows Collection

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Welcome back to another Friday Flashback, taking a look back at some of my favourite classic collections.

This week I am bringing you the Floral Windows Quilt collection.

The Floral Windows quilt collection is actually designs by an amazing Australian artist – Dianne Johnston. She created the quilt for needle turn applique, which is her passion, and very kindly allowed me to re-produce the quilt for machine embroidery.

I came up with the idea of working with this quilt through my mother. She purchased a cushion kit for me one Christmas, and after having it sit in my sewing box for a couple of years, I really loved the cushion design, however I knew that I would never be able to do the needle turn applique.  I contacted Dianne Johnston and asked about licencing the design for machine embroidery, and she agreed.

Then began the fun of creating the designs. Remembering that this was 2006, the standard hoop sizes was 5×7.  I wanted to keep the grandeur of the designs intact, so I was determined to keep the sizes to Dianne Johnston’s original 18” blocks.

Working one block at a time, I began re-creating the designs, using applique for the flowers, and gorgeous satin stitches for the stems and details.

Some of the issues that I faced when I created the Floral Windows collection was in creating the templates. I needed a template for the entire 18” block.  Whilst I found a software programme which would allow me to do this, all printers behave differently, and we had to give strict instructions to print the template at 100% with no scaling, allowing for different paper sizes from around the world.

The next issue that I had was in finding gorgeous hand dyed fabrics that would work well with the designs. A girlfriend and I at the time decided that we would try our hand at dyeing our own fabrics, and spent a couple of weekends creating gorgeous hand dyed fabrics (I still have some in my stash that I use for applique).

I love using the Floral Windows design as a teaching block. It shows participants how to merge designs to create a larger design, looking at placement, templates and accuracy.

For me the Floral Windows collection really was a labour of love. It was the first quilt collection that I completed, and I love the fact that as well as using it as a quilt, you can also break up the flowers with your software and use the individual elements for clothing etc.

Whilst it has been out in the market now for more than 11 years, Floral Windows Quilt Collection is one of those designs that people still ooh and ahh about. One of the most common questions I get is can I re-jig it for the larger hoops.  This is a difficult one for me (as it would be for any designer), as despite what people think, it is not that easy – it would actually mean re-designing the entire quilt from scratch.

Initially we gave away a single peony design HERE as a freebie with the Floral Windows designs. As a thank you to all of our loyal customers, for the next week we are also offering an Iris, Rose, and Pansy design as a free download.  Simply click HERE to collect your copy.

Thank you for taking this trip down memory lane with me, I hope you have enjoyed looking at this collection, and that it has inspired you to stitch for a loved one.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

Here in Rockhampton – Qld – Craft Alive Show this weekend!

Thank you so much Rockhampton for turning on the beautiful weather for us. My wonderful Sister-in-law Annette and I have arrived here yesterday evening, after driving from 4.30am, until 8.30pm.  This morning we are about to jump into organising our stand, before taking a tour around Rockhampton.  Come and check out our special offers, and great techniques tomorrow when we open.

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Special Offer for anyone at the Rockhampton Craft Alive this weekend. Mention this post, and you will get a special gift with purchase, when you purchase from Julie Hall Designs or Stitch-a-ma-jigs collections.

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Annette and I will be more than happy to demonstrate you our show only products, including a new light that sits around your neck and gives a fantastic day light glow on whatever you are working on, and a brilliant cleaning spray that is perfect for cleaning your sewing machines, tablets, phones, and glasses (you will be amazed at just how clean they can be).

At 9.30 in the morning, I will be hosting a craft chat, explaining some of the wonderful tools I have with me, and throughout the day I am happy to demonstrate all of the gorgeous tools that we have to make your stitching life easier, and show you great new ways to use your embroidery and sewing machines.

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Once again, you can pre-purchase your tickets to this fantastic show at a reduced price, by clicking HERE.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

 

Top 3 must have Stitch-a-ma-jigs in your Sewing Office! – Special Offer

This is a question that I get asked all the time. And it is a little like asking with of your kids do you like the best?

I thought about this one for a few days, and took a real note of what I have been using the most throughout the week, and I have to say that my most valuable tool in my sewing office would have to be my Squissors.

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The squissors are small squeeze scissors, with an incredibly fine curved tip, that make my embroidery life easy!

I use these Squissors for general embroidery trimming, when I am attempting to trim any jump stitches, however they are also so amazingly sharp, that I can use them for trimming away excess applique fabric as I create applique designs.

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Probably the best feature of these squissors would have to be the curved tip, which allows you to easily get under the thread/fabric. I have spent years trying out different scissors, and strongly recommend using curved tip over the flat tip ones.

My second favourite Sititch-a-ma-jig would have to the the Stabiliser Cutter. The stabiliser cutter is a covered incredibly sharp blade, that slices through your stabiliser like butter, removing the need for you to use your scissors.  The reason this is important is because stabiliser is a paper based product, and will dull your scissors over time (think of how mad we get when the family use our fabric scissors for paper).

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I have a stabiliser cutter next to my stabiliser stash, so that it is always ready to use, and I am never tempted to reach for the scissors.

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I love the idea that the blade is fully covered, and it is totally impossible to cut yourself with the blade of this tool.

My third most loved Stitch-a-ma-jig would have to be the pre-wound bobbins. I began using pre-wound bobbins approximately 9 years ago, when I wore out the motor on my first embroidery machine.  When I took it to the mechanic, he told me that is was more than likely due to winding multiple (and by multiple I mean I was winding 50 or so at a time) bobbins at once, putting a lot of pressure on the motor.

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I went home and did some research, and immediately began trialling pre-wound bobbins. After a lot of different attempts, I found the type that worked best for my machine, and throughout the years, as I have purchased different machines, I have found the correct size for that machine, and have continued on with pre-wounds with very little difficulty.

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One of the best benefits of pre-wound’s (besides the convenience), is that they are tightly wound, and hold so much more thread than you can hold in a normal bobbin. This means that there is actually less time spent changing over the bobbins in the machine.

As a special offer for this week, we are offering a 15% discount on these 3 tools. Simply type the code TOPTOOLS into the discount code section at checkout to get a great deal on these amazing Stitch-a-ma-jigs.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

Bullion Roses Dress- Free Project

A beautiful pinafore dress will always be a classic for a little girl. My daughters loved this one, and wore it so much when they were little.

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Requirements

  • Childs dress of your choice – Julie found this denim pinafore at Big W
  • 10cm (4in) of co-ordinating fabric – I was lucky enough to find a denim in a very similar shade
  • 1 pair of white lace topped socks
  • Red Puffy foam
  • Machine embroidery threads
  • TearClean Tear Away stabiliser
  • Sticky backed stabiliser
  • Washout cloth marker pencil
  • Self-cover buttons in the closest size to the garment
  • Bullion Roses collection from Julie Hall Designs

 

BUTTONS

  1. Remove the buttons from the dress.
  2. Using the co-ordinating fabric, embroider the rose buds – design 5, laying down the puffy foam after the first colour stop. Make sure to leave sufficient room around each embroidery to cut out the button cover.
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  3. Remove the excess puffy foam, and press. Cut out the template included with the self-cover buttons and centre the template over a rosebud.
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  4. Cut around the template.
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  5. With a needle and sewing thread, stitch a running stitch around the edge then pull to form a circle. Put the button front in and pull the thread checking to make sure the rosebud is in the centre.
  6. Clip the back of the button into place to complete. Sew the buttons into place on the dress.
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DRESS FRONT

  1. Press the dress and mark the centre point of the front yoke.
  2. Select design 3 from the Bullion Roses collection and load to your machine.
  3. Print a template of the design. Line up the centre markings on the template with the centre yoke markings. Mark the positioning points for the design.
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  4. Hoop some sticky backed stabiliser, paper side up. Score the paper with a pin and tear it away to reveal the sticky surface.
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  5. Centre the dress in the embroidery hoop using the drawn template markings.
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  6. Attach the embroidery hoop to the machine, and embroider the first two colours. Lay down the puffy foam then embroider the rose.
  7. Remove any excess puffy foam and trim to complete.

 

POCKETS

  1. Select design 5 from the Bullion Roses collection and load into your machine.
  2. Unpick the bottom part of the pockets and mark the centre point of each pocket. Use a template if necessary to mark the central axis lines for easy placement.
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  3. Hoop some sticky backed stabiliser, paper side up. Score the paper with a pin and tear it away to reveal the sticky surface.
  4. Centre the pocket in the embroidery hoop.
  5. Attach the embroidery hoop to the machine and embroider the first colour, lay the puffy foam down and embroider the rose. Remove any excess puffy foam, and trim.
  6. Press the pocket and re-stitch to the front of the dress.
  7. Repeat for the other pocket.

 

SOCKS

 

Socks are great for this delicate form of embroidery. Because of the thickness of the socks, I omit the puffy foam but the great hand embroidered look still remains.

  1. Select design 5 from the Bullion Roses collection and load into your machine.
  2. Hoop some sticky backed stabiliser, paper side up. Score the paper with a pin and tear it away to reveal the sticky surface.
  3. Lay the sock top on top of the stabiliser to adhere.
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  4. Place the hoop into the embroidery machine and complete the design omitting the puffy foam.
  5. Once the embroidery is completed, remove the excess stabiliser and trim any threads to complete.
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Now give to your favourite little girl and watch their face light up with delight.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

 

Get Ready Rockhampton – Here we come

On My Way To Rockhampton this week.

For anyone in the Rockhampton region of Queensland this weekend, come and see us at the Craft Alive Event from the 17th – 19th March at the Rockhampton Showgrounds.

I will have not only all of my designs with me, but will also have plenty of fantastic Stitch-a-ma-jigs to delight and inspire.

Craft Alive are allowing us to share a special offer with all of our lovely customers. If you book your tickets to this fantastic event online, you will save $5.00 off the entry price.

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I will have my fantastic sister-in-law Annette with me this weekend (I am still not allowed to lift anything after surgery so she will be doing all of the heavy lifting for the weekend), so come along and say hello.

Go to CraftAlive to purchase your tickets.

Friday Flashback – Bullion Roses – New Freebie

Welcome back to another Friday Flashback, taking a look back at some of my favourite classic collections.

This week I am bringing you the Bullion Roses collection.

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I can remember as a teenager taking a class in traditional bullion rose embroidery, and beginning a lap rug (that was never finished). I always loved the idea of bullion or 3d embroidery, and so when I saw an article for puffy foam for lettering, I figured I could give it a go and attempt to make some bullion embroidery designs.

I spent a good couple of weeks stitching lots of little bits of roses, looking at exactly what was needed to create this style of embroidery.

I finally worked out the technique, which involved stitching all of the “normal” embroidery parts, such as the leaves, candlewick knots and stems, before moving onto the 3d rose elements.

Naturally the main part of the technique for bullion rose embroidery is the puffy foam. I have tried many different types of foam over the years, and have had the most success with the Sulky brand of puffy foam.  Having said this, you can use foamies, you simply need to be a little more careful with how you remove the excess foam after stitching.

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The other trick that I like to remind people of is to use a colour of puffy foam that is closest in colour to your flower colour. For instance, if you are creating a red rose, use a red puffy foam so that it will blend in the best.

When you are removing the excess foam, the trick that I teach people in classes is to lightly steam the puffy foam. Once the embroidery is complete, I take the project over to the iron, and from a height of 1” or so, give a burst of steam with the iron.  Immediately remove the foam, and it should tear away cleanly.

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I immediately came up with some beautiful rose designs. My favourite is the large spray of roses.  I love deep blood red roses (my wedding bouquet was an incredibly heavy bunch of 130 red roses).  I have used these roses as a wreath on a lap rug, on spa slippers, makeup cases, and even a stuffed bunny for Easter.

The tiny little roses are perfect for embellishing baby items, and I can remember how cute the girls looked in their little lace and rose socks.

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I love the fact that these designs all fit into the 5×7 hoop, with most of them fitting in the 4×4 hoop. This makes the designs accessible to all machine types.

Initially we gave away a single rose design HERE as a freebie with the Bullion Roses designs. As a thank you to all of our loyal customers, for the next week we are also offering the Larger Roses Spray design as a free download.  Simply click HERE to collect your copy.

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Thank you for taking this trip down memory lane with me, I hope you have enjoyed looking at this collection, and that it has inspired you to stitch for a loved one.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

Here in Dubbo – Come and see us this weekend – Discount Ticket Prices!

Thank you so much Dubbo for turning on the beautiful weather for us. Cameron and I have arrived here this afternoon, and immediately jumped into organising our stand.  Come and check out our special offers, and great techniques tomorrow when we open.

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Unpacking the car.  I am feeling very guilty that I cannot do this, and I have to leave it to Cameron

 

Special Offer for anyone at the Dubbo Craft Alive this weekend. Mention this post, and you will get a special gift with purchase, when you purchase from Julie Hall Designs or Stitch-a-ma-jigs collections.

Cameron will be more than happy to demonstrate you our show only products, including a fantastic cleaning spray that is perfect for cleaning your sewing machines, tablets, phones, and glasses (you will be amazed at just how clean they can be).

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now we just have to turn this….. into something that even slightly resembles…..

 

I am happy to demonstrate all of the gorgeous tools that we have to make your stitching life easier, and show you great new ways to use your embroidery and sewing machines.

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this….

 

Once again, you can pre-purchase your tickets to this fantastic show at a reduced price, by clicking HERE.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.