Monday, October 5, 2009

Snowmen for All Seasons & Scissors Mishap

Along with the other projects I have going, I decided to start on some new machine embroideries. I recently finished embroidering all 56 of the Anita Goodesign leaves for my Autumn Leaf quilt. Now I needed a new project to start on so I can keep my machines running. Got to keep them working to make them worth keeping around. Can't just have them sitting there idle after investing so much into getting them in the first place. You've got to love the hum of a fine-tuned piece of machinery! LOL! So I started on the new project - Anita Goodesign's Snowmen for All Seasons. Here you see the October and November snowmen made up as the larger version appliques. The designs come in two applique sizes and one fully embroidered version. I thought, "Hey, let's go big this time!" I'm planning on putting them all together as a scrappy quilt once all the months are completed. It should be a cute quilt.

Just for kicks, here's a photo of the machine I stitched these up with. It's my Pfaff Creative Vision. It has been running well since I took it in to have some attention from the dealership - a little tweaking and the newest update. There's a slight squeak as the carriage moves the embroidery frame back and forth (somewhat annoying) but otherwise is running great. Nice to have the machines humming along while I sew on something else or am busy cutting fabric.

As I spin my chair around to the right I have my Husqvarna Viking Designer 1 set up to do a second embroidery or regular sewing depending upon my mood and needs at the time. Sometimes I get them both embroidering away and spend most of my time changing out threads when a color change comes up. Other times when I want a more relaxed pace I'll sit there piecing my quilt squares or sewing on another project. This has been one of my favorite machines to sew and embroider with for the past 8-9 years. I still am pretty attached to it even though I have the newer Pfaff. It's a good workhorse - very dependable over the years. I love that it can sew through anything and do a good job every time.

I had been visiting Susan's blog some time ago when she posed the question, "How do you use up left over yarns after knitting or crocheting?" I commented that they can be used to add texture and interest when couched down on an art quilt or other sewing project. Then I mentioned that I would do some playing around with some scraps to show what I meant. I went on to invite those who wanted to, to come check out my couching progress on my blog. Unfortunately I did not have time make time to get this done in the time-span I said I would. Today I took some time to dig out the samples and take photos of some couching I did once for a class I taught some years ago. These are photos of that sampler project we made for that class. This one is loosely based on a plaid effect with criss-crossing lines of stitches.

Here's a closer look at the couching of the yarns and ribbons. Couching just means stitching down the yarn and ribbon either with a stitch that is small in order to be hidden next to or underneath so the yarn or ribbon is the predominant feature. Or stitched with decorative stitches (by hand or machine - obviously I'm a machine type of gal) to showcase the stitches along with the yarn or ribbon. When you add on, or build up, the area next to or near the yarn/ribbon with decorative stitches we called that 'stitch stacking' or 'stitch building'. Stitch Stacking is a technique I learned while working at J&R Vacuum and Sewing. I'm not sure when of where it originated from, but the Pfaff Educators taught it and it was often used by Jenny Haskins who has utilized 'stitch stacking' for years in her machine stitched and embroidered quilts. Jenny spent years promoting Pfaff products for VSM and headed up their organization in Australia. I had the pleasure of meeting Jenny and her son, Simon, several times at Pfaff Conventions over the years. We also hosted her at seminars at the J&R Sewing dealership where I used to work several times before she quit making so many personal appearances. She's quite a lively gal. And she has so much experience to share in the sewing and embroidery field. Now she has trained representatives doing most of the traveling for her and teaching her techniques. One of these educators, Margaret Moorehead, is a former Pfaff Educator now doing Jenny Schools and Training Seminars. She is also a wonderful person with a tremendous amount of sewing and embroidery knowledge to share.

Here's another small sampler quiltlet I made for use in that couching techniques class. The stitches were from my Designer 1, but any stitches you might have on your machine can be used for stitch stacking. It's fun to have lots and lots of stitches to select from. But even if you don't have a machine with very many stitches you can still use the ones you have. You'll be able to get different looks from your stitches either building up several next to one another - touching or overlapping one another - or by embellishing with different colors of threads, yarns and ribbons.

Here again, is a closer look at the previous little art quilt. I like the flowing lines of the curved lines as they mirror each other on either side of the central axis line. I tend to go for the curving organic lines rather than straight, evenly spaced geometric lines.

While stitching up my second Snowmen for All Seasons November block my little double curved embroidery scissors literally broke into two pieces while I was cutting with them. I was a bit taken aback - totally unexpected. I never had this happen to me before. It's not like I was abusing the scissors either! You can see what's left of the tiny little screw that was holding the two halves together. It was the screw that actually broke in half. The other half is still stuck inside the scissor. If I could find a way to get that to back out I might be able to find a tiny replacement screw. It's pretty little. I took it back to the dealership since I know they have some small screws, but it wasn't able to be fixed. I might try taking it to a jeweler. In the meantime I went ahead and bought another double curved scissors.

I like having this type of little scissors next to each of my sewing/embroidery machines to snip threads and get into those tiny little places. These are a nice, sharp scissors even cutting all the way to the tip. Not every scissor can actually do that. This afternoon I got to thinking that I must have some more little scissors tucked into my sewing accessory trays or in some drawers. I felt I just had to have more on hand somewhere. So I got to looking around my Sewing Studio and uncovered all these little scissors. I guess I wouldn't have had to buy a new pair of scissors the other day - I've got plenty. It helps to be organized. It alieviates the purchasing of duplicate tools and accessories. On the bright side though, now I know I'm prepared for every tiny scissor emergency need that arises. LOL!