I’ve never made any In The Hoop (ITH) projects before so I decided it was about time to give it a go. ITH items are doing using an embroidery machine. You load a digital file onto the machine which instructs the machine all the steps required to complete the project. I had never loaded a file onto my machine and knew nothing of it so it was a big learning curve. I asked a lot of questions on various Facebook groups and watched a lot of YouTube clips before I attempted this project.
The first thing I learnt was that you need a small USB stick to load your files onto to transfer it from the computer to your machine. The stick I purchased was far too big and I discovered these days it isn’t easy to buy a small USB stick, the regular shops don’t sell anything under 8GB. Luckily I found a couple of small 4GB sticks unopened in a drawer I had purchased years ago (before I got my machine) The second thing I learnt was you need to format your stick in your embroidery machine before you can copy files from the computer onto the stick. The third thing I learnt is that you don’t just copy the file onto the stick. You need to have the files in a particular order on the stick for the machine to be able to read it. I found this clip very useful.
I decided my first ITH project should be a nice simple project. I chose the Mermaid from Dolls and Daydreams. She looks cute and different. Once I loaded the file and started I realised that it wasn’t as scary as I first thought. You still follow a pattern with instructions that are set out step by step. The machine stops after each step. During the making of the doll you are adding fabric, flipping pieces over, cutting away threads and pieces. Even though the machine is doing all the work you are still very involved.
I did have a couple of mishaps and lessons learnt when making this doll. I initially had the tail fabric on the back the wrong direction (I chose this fabric to resemble scales) so I unpicked it. I discovered that you can tell the machine to go back a step if you want to redo something again such as stitch the fabric the right direction. Also if you want to skip a non crucial step you can do that too. I didn’t follow all the changes in thread colour that was in the pattern, after I stitched on her hair in front I realised she would have cream thread visible on her head. I had enough fabric so I decided to make that entire piece again. When sewing the back piece onto the front I snapped a needle. No dramas I changed my needled, turned the machine down slower and repeated that step again.
She was a great doll to learn on. She isn’t too complicated but she made me think. I print most of my pattern instructions in black and white but I know next time to really take notice of the instructions in colour before I start so I can understand where I need to use matching thread colour to pieces. A slower machine in better when doing this than a fast one. I need to take notice of fabric direction. All the fabrics and felt came from my stash. I’m sure I will make this doll again. This time I used the 5″ x 7″ pattern in my 8″ hoop. I do have a bigger hoop so next time I may maker her larger. I think she is adorable.
Over the last week or so I joined a closed Facebook group with fellow embroidery machine users.
They set a little challenge of “stitch up one of the inbuilt designs on your machine” I thought yep I’ve never stitched an image before but I can do that. The one I chose was this little bear design (Hoop ST Design 12) I will be honest the bobbin tension was wrong I realised this after I started that I should’ve set the bobbin dial on 2. I changed it half way but she has come out more white than she should be. I also don’t think I hooped the fabric tight enough. She is still cute.
I decided to try out a few more designs. These are all done using the ST hoop. The duck (Design 17) was the second one I stitched up. I hooped the fabric better and my tension was set correctly. The bunny (Design 13) I used pink threads and purple instead of the blues as I don’t have those colours. He is the biggest image I’ve stitched. I had a few broken threads on this one and had to re-thread the machine a couple of times but I think I’d forgotten to put the spool cap on the thread so that may have been the reason. The lady bug (Design 14) I didn’t have red so she became a pink bug instead. I keep thinking the movie Greece and the ‘Pink Ladies’ The numbers and letters are from the lettering section. I did them in Gothic font on large.
These took me a couple of hours to do. Some took as long as nearly 30 mins to stitch up others took only 5. It has given me confidence to play around with my machine. My next step will be to import a design into the machine. I’m wanting to use the embroidery side of the machine more this year to make Christmas gifts. This little challenge gave me a no stress chance to play with the machine without the pressure of I’ve got to get these Christmas gifts done now. I got to see what colour threads I had and what I need to buy. I got to play around with substituting colours on designs. It was a good challenge.
2014 has been a big year in craft for me. I have no idea of the amount of items I’ve made this year, maybe that’s a good thing as there has been a lot.
Like in previous years I’ve made all the gifts I’ve given throughout the year. There has been sofites, jewellery, bags, books and of course tea sets to name just a few. This year I even designed my first ever softie Lolly-Fly
My sewing skills have developed this year and I learnt new techniques like how to insert zippers and use a twin needle. I learnt how to read sewing patterns and have made clothing.
I’ve gotten a couple of new toys this year my Overlocker and my MC 11000. I’m not good with new things so to be honest both scared me when I got them. I pushed myself to break the fear and use them. The more I played my confidence grew with them Tiny Totes came about after using my Overlocker through the year. Towards the end of the year I even ventured in to machine embroidery and free motion embroidery but I’m still baby steps with them.
Once again this year I’ve used my craft skills to contribute to charity. I’m made both cloth and woollen pouches for WIRES, stitched pillowcases for the Kangaroo Sanctuary and knitted items for KOGO.
One of the best craft decisions I made this year was to join the Australian Sewing Guild. I’d been wanting to attend something regularly with people who had a strong interest in sewing. After my first trial meeting I joined up then told another friend who also joined at the next meeting. I’ve enjoyed the workshops and sewing events that I’ve attended this year through the group. I’ve learnt so much. I love our monthly meetings. The members I now call friends.
2014 has been my first full calendar year of blogging. I reached a small milestone in November when I did blog post number 200 A Ball With Nanna. I love sharing my craft adventures with everyone. I love all the comments and stories people have shared with me this year. The valuable tips people have given me. I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to stop by and read about my little adventures in craft.
So 2014 has been a great year in craft. I already have big plans for 2015.
These are the last of the Christmas gifts I made this year. I wanted simple projects as I learnt the embroidery element of my sewing machine.
The pillow fronts are what I made when the stabilizer incident occurred. On the embroidery machine I the stitched the child’s name on the fabric then roughly free hand drew flowers with washaway pen that I hand embroidered over the lines adjusting the shape of each petal as I went.
What I really like about this project is that it incorporates both hand and machine embroidery. I love the look of machine embroidery, its fascinating to sit back and watch the machine do its thing but I will always love hand stitching.
This is a little softie that I will give as a Christmas present this year. As it will be the child’s first Christmas I can get away with showing this early. I used my embroidery machine to do the lettering then placed the train pattern around the letters to ensure if it fitted before cutting it out and stitching it up. This is a really simple gift that I have also made previously but in that instance I hand embroidered the letters. What I really like about doing this toy is that it can be given to a young child without risk of them hurting themselves as it has not parts or choking hazards yet the child can hold onto it for years to come as a keepsake as it doesn’t look like a baby toy. I hope as a teenager this is still in their room.
On a personal note I think this is a great first project if your just starting machine embroidery. It started as a rectangle square that I backed with stabilizer, hooped up, attached to the machine, set simple lettering on the machine, hit start and 5 minutes later I had a piece of fabric I could then cut into a toy. I was very intimidated by machine embroidery but this was a simple project that I could do where I was testing out how to use the machine yet making a practical item at the same time. I find it very hard to do an exercise or project without a purpose.
So after surviving my first attempt at machine embroidery whilst the machine was still loading with the darning foot, metallic needle and threaded with blue I decided to have a little play with some left over fabric. For ages I’ve had the idea of doing “Stitch N Sew” in embroidery. Until I got my machine it was on my list of hand embroidery to do. I’m not sure what I will use it for. The fabric is large enough that I can make it a variety of things with it so who knows it may get turned into a cushion, or a tote bag for craft group or maybe as part of a cover for my tablet pc
I got my fancy Janome Memory Craft sewing machine earlier this year. It is an embroidery machine as well as a general sewing machine. Up until now I have only used it as a sewing machine. The embroidery side scared me. I think I have mentioned in previous posts if I’m not familiar with something or unsure of it I get very nervous. Last month I had intentions of trying out the embroidery but life got in the way and I never got to it. Last night I watched the embroidery instructions videos that are on the machine and this morning I bit the bullet and gave it ago.
I was clueless as to what I was doing and in fact had to get the tablet pc out next to the machine to even see how to screw the embroidery arm on to the machine. I then had to work out how to even start the embroidery. Of course hit the start button on the machine! Once it started I realised I should’ve cut away the starting thread so I did that I little later than I should have. Oh well learning curve for next time. For a first attempt I’m happy with it. It isn’t as scary as it seems. I’m going to use this as part of a Christmas gift I decided upon last night. I was going to hand embroider it but I thought no I have this fancy machine I may as well use it to its potential.