Come and See Us in Tamworth this weekend

For anyone in the Tamworth area (or those willing to travel), this weekend we are participating in the Craft Alive Tamworth Show.

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We have some new quilts to show off, including the new Elegance and CATastrophy quilts, and a fabulous special on the SewBright Sewing Light

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You can also check out our fabulous display of recycled clothing.

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I look forward to seeing you there.

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

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Friday Flashback – Deco Candlewicking – New Freebie – and how Victor/Victoria inspired this collection

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

This week I am bringing you the Deco Candlewicking collection.

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Art Deco has always been a huge influence on me. The wonderful Edward (husband) jokes that I would love him more if he was 100 years old.  Most of my furniture is from this period, with the jewels in our furniture crown being the sideboard from my grandmother, and a beautiful 1920’s table that we picked up on ebay for $50.

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When I saw this artwork up for sale, I immediately jumped on it. As per usual, I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but I “needed” it.

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It was a good couple of months later that I came up with the idea. We were on holidays up in Queensland, and one of the kid’s wasn’t able to sleep, so I was up in the lounge room of the unit we were staying in, with Emma on my lap, scrolling through the TV channels.  As I was scrolling, I found the movie Victor Victoria, and the beautiful sets that were used in the movie had me hooked (this movie has been a favourite since I was about 12, and I still watch it about once a year).

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if you look in the background of this picture, you can see the amazing curve of the wall, the gorgeous rounded table, and the screen.  All examples of beautiful art deco furniture and styling.

 

I love the lusciousness of the 1920’s, and this is what I have attempted to re-create. As well as the shapes included in this collection being classic Deco, the dense satin stitches have a lustre, adding depth and richness to the designs, without overpowering.  The candlewick elements give texture, and added interest.

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As soon as I finished these designs, I wanted to play. Over the years I have used these designs over and over again.  I have made many handbags over the years, with the Deco Candlewick designs as the feature.  Working with the cream on cream theme, I have created a beautiful table centrepiece.

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Probably my favourite piece of all of the creations I have made with these designs would be the quilt top. I had taught a class on these designs, and one participant had suggested that candlewick HAD to be tone on tone, and that tone should be cream.  Now I am a contrary person, and naturally this challenged me.  I immediately then chose to create a quilt in black with the candlewick designs.  To make it more fun, I found the brightest colours that I could find.  I love this quilt, and regularly receive compliments on the colours used.

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Initially we gave away a Deco Candlewicking Heart HERE as a freebie with the Deco Candlewicking designs. As a thank you to all of our loyal customers, for the next week we are also offering a second Deco Candlewicking design as a free download.  Simply click HERE to collect your copy.

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current free design available on our website

 

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.

What comes first? The fabric or the thread?

How do you start your projects? Do you have a great piece of fabric that you wish to incorporate into a project, or do you create the embroideries, and then search for the fabrics?

This question has been on my mind this week. I have just finished creating an amazing set of new designs – The Copper Age, and I very deliberately wanted to use the very on trend combination of teal and gold.  I figured I would have no problems at all when I came to find fabric for the project, so left that until last.  I was very surprised when I got to my local fabric shop (which generally has a great range), only to find there was very little there in that particular colour pallete.

Thankfully I had my beautiful daughter Grace with me, who has a magnificent eye for colour and colour mixing.

The first set of fabrics that we saw as was a gorgeous Japanese cherry blossom fabric from the moda range Sakura Park. This fabric was bright, cheerful, and really embraced the aesthetic that we were going for in the project, however there were no colours present in the fabric that were used in the embroidery design.

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I had in my mind to use a traditional Japanese fabric, with a gold imprint on it, however when we moved to that area of the store, and began pulling fabrics and testing them against the block we brought as a sample, it just wasn’t wowing us.

We then went and attempted to find a plain fabric, focusing on the teal that I was incorporating in the design. (I have never really paid much attention to how much trouble it is to match fabric to thread until I tried for an exact match).  We tried 4 different teals before we found one we were happy with.

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Our thought was that if we used the plain teal fabric as a break between the cherry blossom fabric, and the embroidery design, it would bring them together.

Finally the staff at the store took pity on us and helped.

They initially took us over to the Japanese ranges, and after a lot of searching, agreed that none of the colours there worked.

We then went over to the mixer fabrics, and Grace pulled the perfect fabric. It is not one that either of us would have initially chosen, however as soon as we mixed the plain teal together with the emerald and gold fabric, it just sang.  The emerald fabric adds depth to the overall project, and the simple gold stamping on the emerald fabric pulls the colours all together more forcefully.

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I guess at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter which comes first. I think that if you choose the thread first, you have to be willing to compromise and open your mind to what fabrics will work with the finished project, however as I have come to learn, some of the best projects come from a mistake or out of left field.  If you choose the fabric first, you can guarantee that the colours will match the fabrics, however you may miss opportunities to broaden your fabric choices (this is a trap I fall into often).

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I would love to hear what you think. Tell us all how you create your designs, and what comes first for you – The Fabric or the Thread!

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

The Copper Age – A New Design Collection and a New Free Design

A few months ago, I was writing about different colour combinations, and how we select our colours.

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At that time, I was impressed by the wonderful colour combination of copper and teal, and just how beautiful and fresh these colours look together. I really wanted to have a go at creating a collection that could successfully use this colour combination successfully, and I hope you will agree that it has been a success.

The Copper Age is a collection of 10 gorgeous circular designs, that have all been created around a dual colour range. As per usual, I have had the artwork for this collection in my files for a few months, and had not be able to find the right project – I really love the way my art folder works, with designs sometimes sitting here for years before the right technique strikes me.

I have chosen to use the Teal and Copper colour thread that I have been lusting after, and stitched the designs onto a white homespun cotton fabric. One of the things that I love about the designs is that you can really use any colours – simply find the colours that go best with your individual décor, and you are ready to rock-and-roll.

Whilst the designs themselves only have two colours, the layering in the designs mean that sometimes there are 5 or 6 colour changes in the design – Using colour changes has allowed me to create the most textured design possible, with lots of different stitch styles in the one design.

Emma (11yr old daughter) assisted me in naming this collection. She had come into the office whilst I was working on the designs, and whilst we were talking about them, we were throwing names around.  Emma liked the Bronze Age, however I really think that the colours that I have used are much more Copper than Bronze.

So far, I have used these beautiful designs to create a table runner. I am going to share the instructions for the table runner in a later post, however I am so happy with how the runner has turned out, that I had to share with you a picture of the finished project.

I feel like these designs are focused on the home décor/quilting side of embroidery, and I am planning on creating a small lap rug for my Mother with the Copper Age designs, using a simple 9 block layout. I also think that they would make a fantastic set of placemats. Or could be used to make some amazing cushions.

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a small glance at the table runner that I will be featuring later on this week.

 

The Copper Age Designs are sized to be used by most embroidery machines. Sizes included are 5”, 6”, 7” and 8”, allowing you maximum flexibility.

Naturally, I would not upload a new design collection, without giving you a free design to play with. You can find the free design for the Copper Age Collection HERE in our Free Designs Folder.

The Copper Age Designs are available for download or available on a CD or USB, and can be yours for only $34.95. Pick up your collection HERE.

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

These Boots were made for walking….

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I am having a great time over the past few weeks, playing with some new embroidery designs.

I have been going through a period of using up artwork that I have collected over the past few years, and the new collection – Everything is Rosy is no exception. I purchased the artwork for these fantastic rose designs approximately 7 years ago, and have been looking at them on and off over the past 7 years, trying to decide what to do with them.

During that time, I have attempted to use the designs in Applique, and open thread work, but nothing seemed to work.

Until this week. This week inspiration struck, and I have been stitching roses ever since.  I have created these roses with a little texture, the leaves are a basic embroidery stitch, whilst the roses themselves are satin, giving depth to the designs.

I love working with floral designs, because you can play with the colours so much. Each of these rose designs are two toned, giving a shaded look to the flowers.

So far I have used these designs in a few different ways, creating an embroidered back for a denim jacket, and embroidering down the side of a pair of trousers, however when I was out at the opportunity shop last week, inspiration struck!

We are moving into winter here in Australia, and I have seen on the fashion boards a couple of times some beautiful embellished boots. After showing them to the girls (Emma & Grace – 11), we all decided it was a great idea for us to try.

We found a great pair of boots for only $4, which was perfect as I wanted to experiment with the technique before spending huge amounts of money. The boots fit Grace perfectly, and they are in great condition.

Embroidering boots can be done on any embroidery machine, the main tricks to think of when you are working with something such as a boot is to support the embroidery as you create it. I like to use the multi-needle machine for this, as it has a table attached, alternatively, on your domestic machine, ensure that your boot is able to move freely around the embroidery area.

Once I finished the boots, the girls and I went to Sydney for a get together with my family.  My 18 year old niece was so impressed with the boots, she was disappointed they didn’t fit her, and said she would happily wear them out.  High praise from a fashion snob. 🙂

Requirements

  • 1 pair of zippered boots, made out of a soft leather/vinyl/suede. (You need to be able to open up the boots and lay them flat for the hoop, so ankle boots are not suitable.)
  • Sticky backed stabiliser (you will not be able to hoop these designs, and will need to simply place on top of the hoop)
  • Embroidery threads – I have used 2 shades of green and two shades of red
  • Marking pen – I like a chalk pen
  • Squissors
  • General embroidery requirements

Instructions

  1. Take the boots and lay out on a flat surface
  2. Using a ruler and a marking pencil, mark down the centre of the boot 3 inches.
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    Take the sticky backed stabiliser, and place a piece in the hoop, exposing the sticky side to the top of the hoop
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  3. Lay the opened boot on top of the stabiliser, centring the cross hatch you created with the marking pencil.
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  4. Move the hoop to the machine, and ensure that the boot is well supported, and able to freely move around during embroidery.  I am using a multi needle embroidery machine here – however you could just as easily complete this project with a standard embroidery machine.
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  5. Slow the machine down to the lowest setting, to make stitching through the thick material easier.
  6. Embroider the design.
  7. Once the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine, remove the boot from the stabiliser, and gently take away any excess stabiliser.
  8. Repeat steps 1-8 with the second boot, ensuring that you flip the design so they are both facing the same way.
  9. Once the embroidery is complete, you may need to place an iron on piece of facing fabric to the embroidery to avoid the reverse of the embroidery abrading the skin.

I hope you love this project as much as the girls and I do.  I am off tomorrow to find another pair of boots that will fit Emma for the same technique.

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machine embroidered boots

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

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.

Re-fashioning the footstool

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The original footstool created for Machine Embroidery Magazine

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After 9 years of use, the footstool was ready to give up the ghost.

Nine years ago, I created a project for Cameron’s room. A fantastic shaped footstool, made of denim, with embroidery all around it.  It was so handy, that instead of leaving it in Cameron’s room, we brought it out to the loungeroom, and used it every day ourselves.

After 9 years of every day use, the footstool began to disintegrate, and was looking very tatty, so this week I embarked on a project to rejuvenate the footstool. I still had a little of the same fabric left, and since it wore so well, I figured I would use it again.  With new designs to show a more modern, family room look, I am very happy with the results.

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This project was a little bit of a challenge for me, as when I created the first one, my friend Rita assisted me in making the stool. Rita was trained in the 60’s as an upholster, and is a genius at anything like this.  So for this project, I was on my own, so now I have a real sense of achievement.

Old stool – the stool itself is still perfectly in shape, it is made of a plywood base, with solid metal legs and an 8 inch layer of dense foam. All of these parts were in good enough condition to re-use.

Step 1 – Pull Apart.

The first step was to pull the fabric off the stool. I removed the feet and set them aside (with the screws), and began the process of pulling all of the staples out (there were so many!!!)

Measure the circumference.  The circumference of my cushion is 164cm. The denim that I am using is 150cm wide.  I therefore had to cut two strips of denim for the outside of the footstool.  A mistake that I made when I created the first footstool was not cutting a wide enough piece of fabric.  This time around, I cut the fabric 11 inches wide, making the fabric simple to hoop.  After joining the two pieces of denim together, I drew a line in tailors chalk down the centre of the fabric, to allow me to hoop the fabric evenly.

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The embroidery on the denim was actually quite easy. I chose the new Watercolour collection, as I was after a subtle design that still left the footstool soft and malleable.  The Watercolour collection is also quick to stitch, meaning I didn’t spend a week creating the footstool.

Once the embroidery was complete, I trimmed the top of the panel to 4.5 inches. This gives me enough fabric for a seam allowance, and half of the height of the design.  Make sure that you don’t trim the bottom edge of the fabric, as you will need this to pull around the base and staple.

In a contrasting fabric, I have then cut 3 inch bias strips from a thick cotton fabric. Once I joined the bias strips to form a strip approximately 180cm long, I have then created the piping by feeding encasing piping rubber within the bias strips.  I used my zipper foot to stitch close to the piping edge.

Whilst I was cutting, I took the base of the footstool, and traced it onto an extra piece of denim. Add the 1.5cm seam allowance, before cutting out the top piece.

From here, it was as simple as to join the piping to the top of the footstool, and the sides to the top and piping. Once all of the seams were matched, I stuffed the foam into the new cover, before adding the plywood panel.  I borrowed Darling Husbands staple gun, and stapled the sides onto the plywood.  I then replaced the top panel covering up all of the fabric, before screwing the legs back on (to be honest, Darling Husband did that part).

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I am so happy with the way this turned out, and I am enjoying using this stool just as much as the old one.

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

2017 Trends in Embroidery from the Runway

I have never been a fashion plate. I was watching a minimalism documentary on TV last week, and was so proud that I have less clothing than those professing to own a minimalism lifestyle (we won’t touch on the fact that my office has much more than any committed minimalist could deal with).  However I do love fashion, and have been known to arrive early at the doctors so that I can pour over the vogue magazines before my appointment.

My love of fashion images has also been assisted since the beginning of Pinterest. I have a board dedicated entirely to fashion trends as inspiration that I encourage you to check out when you get a minute.

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I have been so happy to see the trend of machine embroidery on the runways for the current seasons, and would love to share with you some of these amazing images, and suggestions for how we can incorporate these into our embroidery projects.

Embroidered Handbags – this one I love. Many of the large designers this year have incorporated embroidered handbags into their collections.  Fendi, Roberto Cavelli, and Gucci have all highlighted beautiful embroidered bags, incorporating many different embroidery styles, I have an idea running through my mind of embroidering on leather/vinyl to create a wonderful useful bag in 2017.

Denim – If you have looked at any of my projects, you will know that I love a good piece of denim for embroidery. I’m not sure what it is – the colour, the ability for the fabric to withstand dense or light designs, but denim really is one of my favourite mediums to embroidery with.  Which makes this continuing trend so easy to embrace.  Add embroidery to your favourite jeans as they are wearing out in a patch style to prolong their use, or up cycle from your favourite second hand shop to make an item that is uniquely yours.

Dress and Formal Wear – Remember when Cate Blanchett first got noticed with her daring fashion choices on the red carpet, with her gorgeous gown with the sheer embroidered back panel that made it look like birds and flowers were flying across her back – well the style of embroidering on our formal wear has remained, with both sheer and heavy fabric perfect for this style. I love the sheer sleeve with tiny embroidery, but my total favourite would have to be the gorgeous white hi-low gown, with beautiful red embroidery.  Could you emulate any of these styles by customising a dress/item of clothing with embroidery.

Homewares – this is where it gets exciting. The trend this season is for bright, with lots of heavy embroidery.  Take a look at the overstuffed couch with the multi coloured embroidered panels.  Now I am not sure I would ever be patient enough to complete this project, however I really think it looks amazing, and so inspiring.  I do love the bright colours in homewares, with the primary colours, mola and folk art styles, and fun looks.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at trends, and they have inspired you as much as they inspire me.

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