Sunday, 27 January 2013

Machine Embroidery - a lesson learnt

So, on Friday night when 'normal' people are enjoying a drink with friends, a meal out or a play, I headed to Sew Over It in Clapham. I was off to my first class there - Machine Embroidery - or how to draw with your sewing machine as I've been explaining to those with blank faces when telling them where i'm off.

I was greeted with a huge array of fabrics, notions and patterns and offered a piece of cake - a good way to start the creative process. Downstairs I got accustomed to my machine for the evening - Rose - and got a cuppa. There were 8 of us in total and after a quick demonstration and explanation of what we'll do in the following 3 hours we were off!

First I needed to change the foot for this beast. When I bought my fab new Pfaff last summer I got one of these but have no clue how to attach it. Clearly once someone shows you its bloomin' obvious - simply unscrew the bolt so you're left with just the metal rod and the reattach your machine embroidery foot (sometimes called a quilting foot or open toe foot or free motion foot or Sandra if you like!).

We were given instructions and told to practice, before moving onto our project. Putting a piece of calico into a 6in hoop we squeezed it under the foot and just went for it! Most instructions seem to tell you to drop your feed dogs, but our instructor told us it wasn't really necessary, I expect it comes down to personal preference. Moving the machine smoothly and a good speed seems to be the key - too slow and stitches can be small and tight and thread can snap, too quick and stitches are long and loopy. 

My first attempt to draw something!

Then it was time to move onto our projects. I decided on a taxi cab cushion. First I sketched an outline onto tracing paper. Then flipped this over and copied into onto Bondaweb. This was then ironed onto the fabric and cut out leaving a small edge. I then peeled the back off the Bondaweb and ironed the taxi onto the main cushion fabric. Next I placed my tracing on top of the fabric and the hoop fitted over the top - ready for sewing. You can see from the pic below that its best to choose a section of your design and put this in the middle of the hoop and sew before rearranging to a new spot. Tear off the tracing paper as you go to reveal your masterpiece underneath!

And here it is - the final product! Not wonderful, but a good first go.

Next time, I'd go over my lines a few more times to make them stand out more, but over all I'm pretty pleased with this and I'm already brewing up some ideas for my next attempt.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


I have written a list of 9 things to do this year - I couldn't think of a tenth!

  • Have a night out dancing with the girls
  • Learn to screen print
  • Go and see a matinee film on my own
  • Learn how to free motion embroidery on my fancy machine
  • Have a weekend away with my other half
  • Go to an auction and have the courage to buy something
  • Set up an Etsy shop
  • Learn to crochet
  • Make marmalade...
All lovely things with a strong crafting theme!

So as I was informed that Seville oranges were in season I needed to crack on with making some marmalade. "Why", as Cal asked, well mainly because I wanted to know how to and you can't beat a thick slice of toast smothered in butter and marmalade in the cold weather.

Obviously I used the delia recipe, and dusted off my Kenwood and used one of its fancy attachments for the first - so although the magic juicer made short work of de-juicing the oranges it took at least an hour to cut up all the rinds!

After simmering for two hours I squeezed my bag of pips and pith (made from a square of muslim) and added the sugar and a mini bottle of Jack Daniels.

 Half an hour later and saucer test said it was ready.

 And if I say so myself - its bloomin lovely! I have 6 jars which should last for a good few months!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Sophie's Scrappy Quilt

It seems so long since I did any sewing and more importantly sewing for me ;) so I used the excuse of changing Sophie's pram to pushchair as a reason to make a new quilt for her.

I sat with a big bag of scraps and started sewing them together - it only took a little while before I had enough blocks that I could iron and sew together that made a lovely quilt front.

I even used a whole heap of scrap wadding to make the middle - it didn't look pretty but you're not going to see it and as its going to be used in the pushchair she won't feel any seams.

I used some fabric left over from making the backing of another quilt - a lovely soft grey and scrap white fabric to make the binding.

So there it is - it took me a weekend and no new fabrics! I'm pretty pleased with it and I'm sure Sophie is too, although she's not showing it!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


A superhero mask and cape made as a special present for a friend's god daughter. I hope she has some amazing adventures and shows the boy heroes a thing or two!