Emma’s Touch and Feel Activity Board

Sometimes projects just happen almost by accident. Donna, a friend remembered that when in school they had a clock and day of the week marker and she asked me to devise something similar for our children. So we drew up the basic design to which was added a weather checker and a chore chart to make a terrific learning tool for kids. In our home the chart is placed next to the breakfast bench so that as we have breakfast the children mark of the day of the week, practice telling the time and work out the day’s chores which are written on the chalk cloth. I have given these charts as birthday presents to the kids in my mum’s group to great success.

REQUIREMENTS

 

METHOD

  1. From the homespun cut pieces measuring 10in x 17in (25.5cm x 43cm), 8in x 17in (20.5cm x 43cm), 9in x 17in (23cm x 43cm), 5in x 26in (12.5cm x 66cm) and 5in x 14in (12.5cm x 35.5cm).
  2. Referring to the photo of the chart for layout stitch out the days of the week designs on the 10in x 17in (25.5cm x 43cm) piece, the weather designs on the 8in x 17in (20.5cm x 43cm) piece, the time designs on the 9in x 17in (23cm x 43cm) piece and the chores designs on the 5in x 26in (12.5cm x 66cm) piece.
  3. Press the pieces face down in to a thick towel and then trim the days of the week panel to measure 9in x 14 1/4in (23cm x 36cm), the weather panel to 6 1/4in x 15 1/4in (16cm x 39cm), the time panel to 7in x 15 1/4in (18cm x 39cm) and the chores panel to 4in x 25in (10cm x 63.5cm).
  4. Hoop the Stitch N Shape with a piece of the border fabric and sew out the pie and the clock hands. Trim back to the stitching.
  5. With the eyelet maker create holes in the centre of the pie, the clock, the clock hands and the weather picture. Insert eyelets into each of the holes and hammer closed.
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  6. Fold the 5in x 14in (12.5cm x 35.5cm) piece in half lengthways. Press and stitch down the length with a 1/4in (6mm) seam allowance. Turn through to the right side and position the seam so that it is on the inside edge. Press.
  7. With a water-soluble pen mark the positions of the days of the week on the strip using the bottom of each day as the marking point.
  8. Measure the button size and set your machine up to stitch buttonholes. Create buttonholes that are 4mm (1/8in) bigger than the button size and sew out seven buttonholes down the length of the fabric at each of the marked points. Cut the buttonholes open.
    buttonhole panel
  9. Turn the short ends of the buttonhole strip in to neaten and stitch. Sew the left hand side of the strip to the days of the week panel.
  10. Cut seven, 2in (5cm) strips of the border fabric. Referring to the chart photo join the border fabric to the embroidered panels, pressing between each seam.
  11. Join the chalk cloth underneath the jobs panel.
  12. Add border strips to the top and bottom of the chart and the sides. Press.
  13. To create a rod pocket cut a 20in x 5in (51cm x 12.5cm) strip of the border fabric and fold in half lengthways. Tuck the short ends under and with the raw edges even centre on the top of the chart and pin in place.
  14. Thread the elastic through the button shank and tie to secure. Position the other end of the elastic under the buttonhole strip and sew in place with a few hand-stitches.
    show buttonholes
  15. Use a paper clasp to inset the pie into the weather vane. Hand-stitch the clasps down. Repeat with the clock hands.
  16. Cut Pellon to fit the chart top and press to the back.
  17. Cut backing fabric to the same size as the chart top. With the right sides together stitch the backing to the chart leaving a 10cm (4in) opening. Trim the corners and turn right side out.
  18. Quilt by ditch stitching along each of the seam lines.
  19. Press and hand-stitch the opening closed to complete.

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Now give to your favourite child and watch not only their faces light up but mum’s as well when she sees how practical and useful this particular gift is!

 

Friday Flashback – Emma’s Touch and Feel – 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 Emma’s Touch and Feel collection.

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I have been sitting here for two weeks looking at how to approach this post. This one is difficult for me, as it reminds me of one of the most difficult times in my life.  When our beautiful daughter Emma was diagnosed with Autism.  Now I realise that an Autism diagnosis is not the end of the world, however as a young parent, you go through all of the emotions of “is it my fault”, “what could I have done differently”, and “why did this happen to me”.  Whilst Emma has challenges in her life that other children don’t necessarily have, I cannot imagine my beautiful girl any differently.  Emm’s is such a unique person in herself that we would not change a thing about her.

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Emma’s Touch and Feel began as my way of coping with an Autism Diagnosis. Emma really wasn’t speaking, she was nearly two at the time, and we were trying anything we could to inspire her talking.  One of the things that she did love was anything tactile.  One of her favourite books was the hard page book with different animals, and samples she could touch of their skin/fur.  From this idea, came the Touch and Feel Collection.

I scoured different colouring in books and googled many different ideas on how I could make a great interactive felt book for Emma, and finally came up with 12 different blocks or activities that make up this collection.

My favourite of all of the blocks is probably the shoe block. Tying laces is always difficult, and I have given so many different shoelace pillows to different groups to raffle off over the years, that I have lost count.

Initially I made the touch and feel book, using felt for the pages, Applique Web to hold the pages together, and using my fabric hole punch to punch holes for the pages to be bound together with binder rings from Office Works.

Once the book was completed, and I could see what a success it was, I could see that making a child’s play mat would be a great thing for younger children. I took each design, and used it as a block in the quilt, adding in patchwork blocks in between for some interest.

The biggest issue that I think we had with this collection was all of the extra bits that you needed to create the designs. To this end I actually sourced and packaged up the notions for the quilt set to sell individually.  It’s one of those items that when you make the quilt you really need it, and I managed to keep the prices down to a very reasonable $25 for the notions kit (10 years on, and we have a limited number of these kits available, so if it is something you are considering, purchase the notions NOW).

This collection was so popular that it also spawned an auxiliary design collection to create a wonderful kitchen chart, for children to show the day of the week, the weather, and any chores that they have to complete. This was originally published in Machine Embroidery & Textile Art magazine, and next week I will be sharing this fantastic project with you for anyone who didn’t catch it back then.

Initially we gave away the duck design HERE as a freebie with the Emma’s Touch and Feel designs. As a thank you to all of our loyal customers, for the next week we are also offering the Dog 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.

Free Project – Embroidered Hooded Towel

Hooded towels for the beach are a must. I love that I could pop a towel on top of the kids, rub them down to dry, and then change them under the towel, without exposing them on the beach.  This hooded towel is created using a regular towel and additional hand towel.  Adding embroidery to the bottom gives the design a real feature.

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Requirements

  • 1 regular to small sized towel – mine was 68 x 135cm
  • 1 matching hand towel 40 x 60cm
  • 1m wide (25mm) bias binding to match the colour of your towel
  • Embroidery threads…
  • TearClean Tear away stabiliser from Stitch-a-ma-jigs by Julie Hall Designs
  • WetAway Topper wash away stabiliser from Stitch-a-ma-jigs by Julie Hall Designs
  • Conway Beach Bear Designs by Julie Hall Designs

 

Instructions:

  1. Load your embroidery designs into your machine.
  2. Print out templates for each of the designs, and lay them on the towel to create a template. Mark up the hooping points on the towel. As you can see from the image below, I have laid out different bear designs to go across the towel, with palm trees and the sun breaking up the design, and adding height.
    towel2
  3. One by one, embroider the designs across your towel. Use the WetAway wash away stabiliser on top of the design, so that the stitches are formed on top of the towel, and the loops of the towel do not show through the design.
    1. If you don’t like hooping towels (and who of us do?, use a basting stitch to secure the towel to your stabiliser.
      towel3
    2. Make sure that the towel is supported on the table with your embroidery machine, and that you don’t have the towel dragging. This will help insure that the hoop is not being tugged around, and ensure the best possible embroidery results
  4. Once the embroidery is completed, remove the excess stabiliser from the top and bottom of your towel.
  5. You are now ready to construct your hooded towel. Take the hand towel and fold in half. Stitch across the top half of the handtowel to form the hood.
    towel4
  6. Fold the towel in half and pin marking points to show the half way point.
  7. Measure the hood across the centre of the towel, and using a water soluble pen, mark the beginning and end of the hood.       Using a really sharp pair of scissors, cut a slit using these measurements.
    towel5
  8. Pin the hood into place, and stitch around the opening to secure the hood to the towel.
  9. Take the bias binding and pin and stitch into place around the neckline to hide the join, finishing off with a hand stitch.
    towel6
  10. Now your loved one is ready for the sea/swim.

 

 

 

Friday Flashback – Conway Bears – New Freebie

Friday Flashback – Conway Bears

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 Conway Bears collections, including the Conway Beach Bears, and Conway Ballet Bears.

These bears are the inspiration of a wonderful friend of mine – Anne Conway. Anne is the most amazing artist, with her skills ranging for painting, to folk art, to sewing.  She is one of the artistic people that I so admire, as she just has an innate sense of style and colour.

Anne was participating in a machine embroidery class with me, learning how to make the most of her new embroidery machine, and each class would bring in one of her own projects. One week she had a fantastic bag that she had painted on, with these gorgeous bears.  I was hooked.  Immediately after class, I asked Anne if I could digitise these bears for machine embroidery.  (the girls had just started walking, and I could so see how gorgeous they would look in little ballerina bear t-shirts, with tutus on).

I then spent a couple of weeks working out how to give the bears a “furry” look. I really wanted the texture from a real teddy bear to shine through.

As I completed the Ballet Bears, Anne showed me some art she was creating for Beach Bears, and they really cracked me up. I love the Buxom Bear, with her big hat and swimsuit (she is probably my favourite), and I really loved that there were both boys and girls (didn’t want to leave my boy out).

When I was looking at projects for these gorgeous bears, I think I got a little creative.

The first item that I created was a fantastic set of shopping bags (create might be an overused word). I purchased a set of re-usable shopping bags from my local shop, and embroidered a bear on each of them.  One of these bags has still survived (and we live in Canberra which is plastic bag free!)

For the ballet bears, I can remember making the girls their little t-shirts, however I cannot for the life of me find a photo of them in their shirts. I also remember making Emma a door quilt, using the shoes and one of the bears, with Emma’s Room on it.

My favourite of all of the projects that I have made with the bears however would have to be the hooded beach towel. Cameron was such a perfect little model here.  Using the designs to create a beach scene on the bottom of the towel, really worked well for this design. (see Monday’s post for the instructions for this project).

towel1

Initially we gave the Ballet Shos, and the Palm Tree from the Conway Ballet Bears, and Conway Beach Bear Design Collections as the free design (still available HERE). As a thank you to all of our loyal customers, for the next week we are offering a second design, one of the amazing Conway Bears from each of these collections, 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.

Free Project – Applique Medallion Quilt

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I have always wanted to make a medallion quilt, so when I made a cutting mistake in one of the Violets & More blocks (cut on the square, not the diamond), I decided to make lemonade, and from the ashes came this great lap or wall quilt.

Notes:

Finished size of quilt – 43.5” square

All seam allowances are ¼”

The Medallion Quilt

Requirements

  • 1.5m black homespun
  • 14” square piece of fusible pellum
  • 14” square piece of batting
  • Embroidery Threads – Mettler
    • 0453 – Medium Yellow Green
    • 4644 – Dark Blue Green
    • 5664 – Medium Blue Green
    • 3045 – Lavender Mauve
    • 0660 – Pale Butter
    • 0520 – Medium Yellow
    • 0506 – Pale Orange
    • 2905 – Dark Purple
    • 2830 – Medium Purple
    • 0310 – Bright Yellow
    • 2300 – Bright Pink
    • 0221 – Lime Green
  • Bobbin thread
  • Stabiliser
  • Embroidery foot for your machine
  • Free motion quilting foot for your machine
  • ¼” sewing foot for your sewing machine
  • Quilting ruler, matboard, rotary cutter
  • Template for block 5 square.
  • 3 x 1.5” strips of pale mauve fabric
  • 95 4×2” strips of multi coloured fabrics for 3rd border.
  • Print a template using design “block 5”
  • Violets & More Embroidery Collection by Julie Hall Designs
  • Free Auxiliary Designs from Julie Hall Designs

 

Medallion

  1. Take the black homespun and cut off a 14” strip
  2. Cut the 14” strip to form a 14” square
  3. Take the fusible pellum and iron on to the wrong side of the homespun square.
  4. Take the template and place over the square.
  5. Using a chalk pencil, mark the position of the design.
  6. Transfer the designs for block 5 onto your embroidery machine.
  7. Using the numbered template to show you the stitching order, hoop with tear away stabiliser, and embroider each of the designs, pressing the back of the work between each embroidery.
  8. Once complete, remove all of the excess stabiliser and press.
  9. Trim the block to 12 ½” square.

 

First border

Take the three 1.5” strips of pale mauve fabric, and stitch together to form 1 long strip. Press

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Using your ¼” foot, stitch the pale mauve fabric to the 12 ½” block, beginning with the top and bottom, and then the two sides.

Second Border

The second border is where all of the embroidery takes place. You will need the auxiliary files, and the medallion border templates (available for two weeks as a free download)

 

  1. Cut 4 x 7” strips of fabric, and attach to the square, beginning with the top and bottom, and then the two sides.
  2. Take the medallion border templates, and mark the centre of the template by folding in half length wise.
  3. Position the template over the border, aligning centre of the template with centre of the border. (Don’t worry if it appears there will be a 1 – 1 ½” gap at the edge, we will cover that up in the final step.)
  4. Using the hooping sequence marked on the template, embroider each of the designs in turn on the border.
    img_5612
  5. Repeat for the other two sides of the border.
    violets3
  6. Using the medallion border bow template, embroider the bottom edge of the quilt.
  7. Take the individual violet design and place over the gap in the border to join (if you still have a small space, use the satin stitch on your machine to join).
  8. Trim the border down to 6½”.

Third Border

  1. Take the strips of fabric, and join together in no particular order, to form one long strip.
  2. Attach the strip of coloured fabric to the top/bottom, then sides of the quilt.
    border

 

Fourth Border

  1. Cut 4 x 6” strips of fabric, and attach to the square, beginning with the top and bottom, and then the two sides.
  2. Using the single frangipani designs, mark up the corners, and centre points of each border.
  3. Hoop the fabric using the markings made in step 2, and embroider the frangipani to complete.

 

Quilting & Binding

 

  1. I have quilted my medallion quilt using the following method, in the following order.
    1. Pin the entire quilt, using quilt top, wadding and backing.
    2. Stipple quilt the middle medallion
    3. Ditch stitch the one inch border
    4. Echo quilt the 2nd border, following the embroidery
    5. Ditch stitch the 3rd border
    6. Stipple quilt the 4th border and bind to complete.

Friday Flashback – Violets & More – New Freebie

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

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This week we are looking back at the Dianne Johnston Violets & More Collection

This is the second collection that I have created based on the amazing designs of Dianne Johnston.

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I began this collection at the instigation of my wonderful mother, who had always loved this quilt (no Mum, you are still not getting this one, do your own). Mum had just been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and was feeling down, and I loved sharing the experience of working on this quilt with her, and sharing with her how it was going.

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For the Floral Windows Quilt, I had very much stuck to the original Dianne Johnston format, having all of the flowers in Applique. With this second project, I had a little more confidence in working with Dianne’s beautiful designs, and choose to focus the applique on only the main flower, whilst keeping the secondary flowers and elements in a gorgeous satin stitch design.

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Probably my favourite block of this magnificent quilt would be the Frangipani (or Plumeria) block. Mum flowers for her wedding included Frangipani, and it has always been one of my favourites.

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The Violets & More collection is made up of 13 different blocks, each having a main focal flower, surrounded by additional violets and greenery. As well as the 13 main blocks, there are 12 half and quarter blocks to make up the design into a quilt.

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Some of the issues that I faced when I created the Violets & More collection was in creating the templates. I needed a template for the entire 12.5” 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.

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The next issue that I had was in finding gorgeous hand dyed fabrics that would work well with the designs. Thankfully I had a great stash of hand dyed fabrics from working with the Floral Windows Quilt.

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Whilst it has been out in the market now for more than 10 years, Violets & More 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.

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Initially we gave one of these magnificent Violets & More Floral designs as the free design (still available HERE). As a thank you to all of our loyal customers, for the next week we are offering a set of 14 different auxiliary designs, created to work with this gorgeous medallion quilt, from this collection, as a free download.  Simply click HERE to collect your copy, and keep an eye out on Monday for the instructions for this magnificent lap rug.

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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.

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

New Design – Women of Style – Bella

I would like to introduce you to a new design that I have just completed – Bella

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Bella is the second in a new line of single designs, all based around the theme Women of Style.

Much like Imogen, Bella is an applique design, created with fabric scraps that you probably already have in your collection, with the added richness of overstitching for depth and texture.  I particularly like with this design the wa that the underside of the hat is highlighted in dense satin stitches – it really does make the design pop.

Over the years, many people have asked me to have single designs for sale, and I have avoided this due to the workload this would entail. So offering the Women of Style as individual designs, is a test to see how they are received.

Bella comes in 5 sizes, from 130x180mm (5×7”), all the way to 200x300mm (8×12”), meaning they are suitable for almost all machines on the market these days (unfortunately anyone with a 4×4 hoop will not be able to use these designs).

Click HERE to purchase your copy of Bella today.

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

Free Embroidery Project/Pattern – Shadow work Bolster Cushion

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This bolster will make a charming addition to any bedroom or lounge.  I really wanted to create a bolster cushion that would decorate my bedroom. I was happy to go overboard with this cushion, giving it a romantic look, by using the soft style fabrics, with the shadow work in the centre, and then two braids down the side, and the prairie points on the edge.

Requirements:-

  • 1 neck roll/bolster cushion insert to fit cover 36 x 24cm diameter
  • 35 scraps of fabric 2.5” x 4.5” (can be in groups of colour)
  • 1 piece of white voile 7” x 22½”
  • 1 cream zipper 30cm long
  • Cream homespun 7” wide
  • 10cm width piece of bright coloured fabric (I used hot pink)
  • Embroidery thread (I used medium pink)
  • TearClean Tear away stabiliser
  • Shadow work Border designs by Julie Hall Designs
  • Sharp applique scissors (I recommend squissors)
  • 10 * 5”square scraps of fabric for Prairie Point edges
  • Free Bolster End Pattern by Julie Hall Designs
  • Sewing thread

 

Instructions:-

  1. Take the cotton voile, and using a fine pencil marker, run a line down the centre of the piece of voile. This will be your marker for matching up all of the designs.
  2. Place stabiliser into the embroidery hoop, and ensure tension is firm.
  3. Place the hoop into your machine, and load up the shadow work border design onto your machine.
  4. Lay the Colourful base fabric on top of the stabiliser, and stitch out the first colour run. This colour will not only hold down the fabric, but will also show you where to trim away any excess fabric.
    shadow1
  5. Remove the hoop from the machine, and with a pair of small, sharp scissors (I love my squissors with the curved tip for this), trim around the embroidery. Start by removing the centre pieces of each design, and then working your way to the outside.
  6. Once all of the trimming is complete, take your cotton voile fabric, and lay it on top of the embroidery hoop. Use the markings that you made on the voile to ensure that the centre line is matched up to the centre point on the top and bottom of the hoop, and pin into place around the corners of the hoop.
    shadow4
  7. Stitch out the second and any further colour runs, to attach the fabric to the shadow fabric, which will complete the embroidery.
  8. Turn the embroidery wrong way over, and remove any excess stabiliser.
    shadow5
  9. You can now repeat steps 1-8 to create the entire strip of designs along the voile.
  10. Take the squares of fabric and join together in a cross hatch motion, using a ¼” seam.
    shadow6
  11. Once you have the length of fabric joined together, cut in half width wise, and join to either side of the cotton voile.
    shadow7
    shadow8
  12. Trim the excess fabric from the side of the stitching.
    shadow9
  13. With right sides together, stitch the length of the bolster together. Insert the zipper into this seam.
    shadow10
  14. Take the 10 5” squares, and press flat
    shadow11
  15. Fold in half
    shadow12
  16. Fold the edges down to meet in the middle, forming a triangle
  17. Take the triangles, and with the exposed fold to the outside, stitch 5 triangles to each side of the bolster.
    shadow15
  18. Take the bolster end pattern piece, and cut 2 out of homespun.
    shadow16
  19. Attach to the ends of the bolster, using a ¼“ seam.
    shadow17
  20. Stuff the cushion into the cover, and you are completed!

New Design – Women of Style Imogen

I would like to introduce you to a new design that I have just completed – Imogen.

imogen500pxl

Imogen is the first in a new line of single designs, all based around the theme Women of Style.

Imogen is an applique design, created with fabric scraps that you probably already have in your collection, with the added richness of overstitching for depth and texture.

Over the years, many people have asked me to have single designs for sale, and I have avoided this due to the workload this would entail. So offering the Women of Style as individual designs, is a test to see how they are received.

Imogen comes in 5 sizes, from 130x180mm (5×7”), all the way to 200x300mm (8×12”), meaning they are suitable for almost all machines on the market these days (unfortunately anyone with a 4×4 hoop will not be able to use these designs).

Click HERE to purchase your copy of Imogen today.

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

Machine Embroidery Shadow Work Tutorial

On Friday we looked at shadow work, and some of the fantastic projects that you can create with this technique.  Today I want to take you through the actual technique of creating this beautiful technique.

Shadow work is a fabulous technique. It is quick to complete, and looks very elegant. When looking for designs to do in shadow work, select designs that have been specifically digitised for this technique. There are a couple of tricks that will assist you in achieving perfect embroidery.

 

  1. Hoop stabiliser into the embroidery hoop, and ensure tension is firm.
  2. Load up your shadow work design into the machine, and thread for the first colour (this should match the fabric that you are using, however if you have issues seeing the stitching through the fabric, you could use a contrast)
  3. Lay the Colourful base fabric on top of the stabiliser, and stitch out the first colour run. This colour will not only hold down the fabric, but will also show you where to trim away any excess fabric
  4. Remove the hoop from the machine, and with a pair of small, sharp scissors (I love my squissors with the curved tip for this), trim around the embroidery. Start by removing the centre pieces of each design, and then working your way to the outside.
    shadow3
  5. Once all of the trimming is complete, take your cotton voile fabric, and lay it on top of the embroidery hoop. Use the markings that you made on the voile to ensure that the centre line is matched up to the centre point on the top and bottom of the hoop, and pin into place around the corners of the hoop.
    shadow4
  6. Stitch out the second and any further colour runs, to attach the fabric to the shadow fabric, which will complete the embroidery.
  7. Turn the embroidery wrong way over, and remove any excess stabiliser.
    shadow5