So Where Are Those Mice?

Has anyone seen the little sewing mice from Cinderella? I requested them earlier this week but they haven’t arrived yet.  You just can’t count on anyone.
The lack of mice hasn’t kept me from making progress on my current project- the new summer blouse. I’m sitting next to three embroidered pieces of fabric awaiting stabilizer removal so I can cut them out and start sewing.
Another week, another seam.
So I am making progress. I can confidently say that the new blouse will be finished and ready to wear around the time of the first snow.
I did have a variety of priority interrupts.  I was able to spend time with Zohar, my niece’s daughter and the first baby of our next generation.  She is officially my great niece which makes me sound way older than I am, but that’s not the important part.

Just Baby and Me

She’s absolutely beautiful and smells just like a baby should smell. I had to stop the work on my blouse to make the first of what I’m sure will be many presents for Zohar. I can’t post the picture the present until Saturday. Wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise. I will say it’s minkee which means really, really soft, which is appropriate for this little warrior princess. I know she’ll be strong and tough as she gets older but right now she’s so little and sweet that she deserves the softest stuff out there.
Next present for Zohar, or maybe I should say for her parents, will be burp pads. I know she’s perfect but there is the possibility that she might make an itty bitty mess on her parents’ shoulders when she finishes expelling air after a meal.
Another distraction was finishing up a new mini design set, Words of Love. Though a bit of a departure from most of my embroidery, it’s not something foreign to my lifestyle. I’m a big believer in affirmations as life changing xxx.  Here’s a wall hanging currently hanging next to the door to my kitchen.

Words of Love designs
I also need to mention my garden as a distraction. We have an extensive garden of both flowers and vegetables. I’m not sure how it works but the garden sucks me in and holds me captive for hours at a time. Every time I go out there’s a new baby tomato to examine or a spectacular new dahlia blooming.  Our carnation bed is even mesmerizing with a zillion new blooms every day. The flowers look beautiful in the garden and cut in the house.

carnations single-carnation
But I have managed to start work on the blouse. I began, as I so often do, by testing colors for the embroidery.
The fabric is salmon colored which I’m treating as a neutral. It works well with my coloring and offers a great background.   Almost every combination looked good except the one with the gray. Who would have thought that gray would look so odd. It just shows you how colors affect colors. This gray looks perfectly normal when stitched on white. Placed on this salmon it morphed into a color from the vampire diaries.

color2 color1
The machine is stitching the last line of embroidery before I can move to the next step.  I went with the deep red and coral. There’s a story behind the color choice but I’ll leave it for another time.

Just a reminder- the embroidery is going a blouse using this pattern:

shirt-front back
So where are those mice?

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Giving Myself A Challenge

I know, this blog post is late. If I had written a blog post five months ago it would have been late.

It’s not like I don’t have anything to say.  I’ve been busy! I’ve sewn a lot, taught a lot, and worked on my house a lot. I’ve visited museums and wearable art shows for inspiration. I’ve created many, many, many new designs and started this year’s garden. And, most exciting of all, we have a new baby in the family. As I write all of this I realize why I might not have been writing a lot. I’ve been busy.
Today has been a spectacularly productive day. My embroidery machine has been stitching away as I’ve put my nose to the grindstone cleaning out my sewing room.  I’ve also completed paperwork and installed a new router. Where’s my cape? Obviously, I’m Superwoman!
Which brings me to my newest challenge. I had the good fortune to see my friend Jen’s wonderful blouse.

back  shirt-front

Wow! Great, huh?  Both the front and the back are really cool. I have to have one.  (OK, maybe it’s just that Jen is really cute, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.   I tried Jen’s blouse and it so I’m ready to go with it. Just have to decide on the embroidery.

So that’s my challenge to myself- to make this up at least once, maybe twice.

I’ll keep you posted.
Bobbi

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There’s Always a Harder Way to Do Something

You know what I say, “Why do something the easy way where there’s a more complicated way to go?”

Today’s project started as the simplest ever, sewing a sample of the Kid’s Sewing Studio’s* Square Neck Top in our new, gauze fabric. This pattern is designed to be sewn by total sewing newbies so it is a prime candidate for quick and easy.  The fabric is stable, yet drapes well, another “this should be totally easy” factor.  And, the fabric comes in great, coordinated colors and prints providing a designer look with no work at all.

I had a pretty strict deadline. I wanted this sample to take with me to Puyallup, Washington for the biggest sewing show I attend, SewExpo.  Simplicity is the keyword.

fabrics

The first step off the quick and easy path was a simple thought, I wonder how this fabric will embroider?” Then a trip to the embroidery machine and all was lost.  You know what I say, “Why do something the easy way where there’s obviously a more complicated way to go?”

designs-3-designs

 

And it came out great! I love this look. So, game over!  Bye bye beautiful print, hello embroidery.

square-neck-top

So, what do you think?  Was it worth the time to add the embroidery?  Actually, this pattern is so easy that even with the extra time for the embroidery this went together very quickly.

And now I’d better get back to the sewing machine and finish up the top.  Only 7 days, 20 hours and 12 minutes till I leave for Puyallup.

 

 

*Kid’s Sewing Studio is the other company I am a part of.  Kid’s Sewing Studio produces sewing lessons for kids (though they’re so easy even adults can use them).  This pattern is one of the lessons. It’s geared for rank beginners.

 

 

 

 

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I’m in Awe

This is a busy-busy-busy time for me. In two days I pack my bags and head to Puyallup, Washington for Sew Expo, my favorite sewing show of the year.

Even with the mounting list of t0-dos, I had time to stop and watch this video about the making of Chanel’s Fall/Winter collection.

Wow!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_WUvsFY9-4&feature=player_detailpage

chanel

 

Happy Stitching

 

Bobbi

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A Gift

good

 

I like our customers. I really like our customers. I can’t count how many have become true friends. And I foresee that number growing.  So yesterday, I decided to give each of our customers a free mini design set for the holiday season to show appreciation.

Bad plan. Yesterday was December 14th and starting a design set from scratch, even a mini design set, takes a lot of time.

But I came up with plan B.  I could take a previous Design of the Month design set, add a mega design and Bob’s Your Uncle.

(If you don’t know what “Bob’s Your Uncle” means, it’s a phrase that periodically shows up on sit coms meaning “Everything’s Jake”, another phrase, mostly heard on TV, meaning that you have everything covered.)

I started poking around on my computer and found the perfect candidate, a mini-design set called “It’s a Gift” consisting of several individual wrapped presents along with an arrangement of multiple gifts.  What could be better for a holiday gift than embroidered gift design?

The set was crying out for an applique version of the “arrangement of gifts” design.  Twenty four hours later I had the new design ready to stitch.

The design set is on our site, Make sure you download it.*

On another note…. When you stitch this design, do as I do, TEST FIRST!   Don’t pull out your almost-finished wall hanging and add this design for the first time. Don’t stitch this design on that super special piece of silk your great aunt Ida brought you from China when stitching the first time. TEST FIRST!

I can’t tell you how often I’m complimented on my fabric/thread/color choices.  These folks must think I instantly know what’s going to work and what isn’t.  Truthfully, I’ve done this a lot and seen a lot of color combinations. I study color everywhere I go. Nature has some luscious color sets. Fashion teaches a lot, too. I love to browse home décor and analyze the colors. All of these have brought me to where I am. Almost always my first choice of colors and fabrics work. Yet, there are times that my vision is wrong.  That’s why I TEST. That’s why I emphasize TESTING.

It so happens that my fist stitch-out of this design was a major flop. Here’s it is:

bad

I learned a lot from this stitch-out. I learned that the gray background fabric looks washed out and the gold-on-red is acceptable, but not outstanding.   Time to try again.

So wishing you a happy holiday season with lots of stitching. And don’t forget to TEST FIRST!

 

good

DOWNLOAD AVAILABLE ON OUR SITE: www.bullarddesigns.com

*Free download through Dec. 24, 2014

 

 

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Miter Me This

2-trees

Even though this is my design from my Winter Trees design set, I think it’s stunning. It shimmers. It shines. It is graceful. If only the current technology would let you see this in person and fondle it through the internet.  You can look at the picture and get an idea of the beauty of this piece.  You can even click on the picture and see a larger version, but… really (and I guess you’ll have to trust me on this one) it’s way more spectacular in person.

So where do you use a design like this?  My first answer was a wall hanging. But it had to be a special wall hanging… one to showcase this gorgeous tree, a wall hanging bordered by fabric.

 

fabric

Perfect fabrics, that is. There’s the rub. I want to use both of these fabrics.  And I want the border print to meet beautifully at the corners. I needed (ominous music here) a miter! And it has to be a perfect miter.

Luckily, I have friends smarter than me. At the last sewing retreat, one of them, Trish McCrum, showed me an easy way to get everything to match up in a mitered corner

miter-close-up

 

It’s Actually Easy to Make a Perfect Mitered Corner (with the seams matching and everything.)

 

 

fabric2

 

Start with your strips of fabric.

The final width of the frame is dependent on the width of your strips.  I chose two strips; one 2″ strip (the gold) and 4” strip (the dark border fabric), plus seam allowances. The finished width of each side of the frame (after seam allowances are seamed together) is 6” wide.

Now, how do you figure out how long to cut them? I’ll show you below. The length of each strip seems ridiculously long, but it’s right. You need to cut the strips using the following formula:

Double the width of the border, (mine is 6” so I need 12”, plus the width of the design (mine is 10”).  So, for me, the length of the strips for the width of the frame is 22”.  And then, for the cautious sewer, add an extra inch just to cover any problems.

In other words, for the number-oriented people, the formula is:

2 x (width of frame) + width of center panel    (for the horizontal pieces) = length to make the strips of border

2 x (width of frame) + length of center panel (for the vertical pieces) = length to make strips of border

 

Steps for making the frame:

Sew the Strips Together

In this method you sew the two strips together and after that will treat them as one piece.  (Sew right sides together.)

fabric3

 

Place the fabric on the embroidered design, right sides together, matching the edges. Match the center of the strip to the center of the embroidered piece. Make sure you start and stop 1/4″ from the ends of the embroidered piece of fabric (the dots shown here). This will be your seam allowance when you put on the other side’s frame.

It is easier if you sew with the wrong side of the embroidered piece facing you. You can see your quarter inch markers. (I took the picture from the other side, because it was easier to show how things match up.)

fabric4

 

Repeat on all four sides, shown here after 2 sides are sewn.  Note, the dots where you stop stitching in each corner. (Did I mention these dots enough? And stopping on them?)

fabric5

 

Turning it over and it looks like this. Press all seams open.

fabric6

So Now For the Big Trick, the Magic Miter!

It’s pretty simple.  You pick up one of the top corners and fold it under until everything matches.

tuck1

 

Once you have everything lined up, you hand-stitch the top folded border piece (in my picture, it’s the top edge) to the border piece underneath (in my picture, the right side of the frame).

winter-trees-finished-sm

You can do this with any center panel, but of course, I think you should do it with my beautiful tree design from my Winter Trees mini-design set.

You can do this with any piece that you want to “frame” with fabric.  Of course, I think you should do it with my embroidery design.  You can see the design set here, and even pick up a free snowflake design.

That’s it!

 


 

 

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Out With the Old -The Sewing Room Reno Begins

As you know, I have been renovating my sewing room since June of this year. I was sure that building my dream sewing room would be a speedy process. And, compared with the building of the pyramids,  it was speedy. Hopes and dreams did not correspond with reality. 2014 is right around the corner and the sewing room has just become habitable.

I’ve posted pictures of the sewing room before, like in the post about my sewing cabinets. I have something to confess, those pictures were deceptive. They made the sewing room look pleasant.  At best my sewing room has been acceptable. Oh, yes, the cabinets are nice. Yes, the room was painted a bright maize with complementary walls of orange and green. Yes, the room has nice high ceilings with beams and planks. The windows in the room are lovely, a big bay facing a wooded lot complete with woodland animals including foxes, bears and deer. Unfortunately, that was not enough. The sewing room was an overstuffed mess with a horrible carpet.

How can I describe the carpet? The problem wasn’t just the color  a disgusting brown, it was also the stains and dirt. The carpet was approximately 405 years old and had a firm hold on the dirt installed by both the original owner and 11 years of my day-to-day abuse. I am sure you could grow tomatoes in the dirt embedded in that carpet. I never entered the sewing room without shoes and the thought of disease had entered my mind.

IMG_2471

 

Well, carpet begone! Finally, after years of tucking away pennies, dimes and quarters, new floors are mine!  I trotted down to the local flooring store and picked up boxes of flooring… wood flooring, to be exact. And new flooring opened the opportunity to update the whole sewing room.

In a serendipitous turn of events, someone on the local FreeCycle had kitchen cabinets to offer! Perfect! These cabinets would be used as the base of my cutting table adding much needed storage.

The Cabinets - Before!

The Cabinets – Before!

Being a cock-eyed optimist I hadn’t comprehended how long a renovation of this scope takes.  On TV renovators go from tattered old wrecks to picture perfect homes in less than 60 minutes. And that’s for a whole house. Surely my one room couldn’t be that hard.

So I started. Did you know that before you install new floors you have to move everything out of the room? Everything!  For me that meant moving two massive sewing cabinets manufactured in the 60′s when furniture was made of real wood, heavy wood.

“Everything” meant I had to displace 9 huge Rubbermaid tubs of quilting fabric. (If you’re wondering about my massive amounts of garment fabric, I keep that elsewhere in the home. The garment fabrics’ cubic footage rivals the inventory of a Costco.)

A View of the Shelves & Tubs Before

A View of the Shelves & Tubs Before

“Everything” included the 4 sewing machines and the cabinets that supported them, an antique wardrobe filled with every sewing notion ever made and shelves so stuffed with sewing goodies that you couldn’t see the shelving at all. “Everything” included the cutting table which had stacks of fabric and notions and …. well, use your imagination.. stored underneath. And, before you can move a wardrobe or shelves, you have to empty them!!  Soon I had boxes of stuff all over the house and in a variety of places outside under the trees.

So, not only was the sewing room in a turmoil, the rest of the house was as well.

But… not too worry. At least the sewing room reno had begun!


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The Sewing Room

For the last nine years, from the time we moved to California, my sewing room has been a mess. It’s a matter of space. This house is smaller than our old Carolina home by more than a thousand square feet. We thought we had left enough stuff behind, but no. We sold, donated and tossed. It didn’t seem to matter. We still had too much stuff!
I admit that I have a lot of sewing supplies. And it’s not news that I’m a fabric slut. Actually, I own a generous collection of the whole sewing trifecta: fabric, gadgets and thread. I love it all, but storage has been a challenge.
So, until recently, my sewing room has been a mess. The words“Clean House” and “Bobbi’s sewing room” have become synonymous.
Well, worry no more. No longer will we have to call search parties to find small children in my sewing room. The days of making your way around mounds of unidentifiable sewing detritus to sew a seam are over. I’ve seen the light. And I’m not talking about a high intensity Ott Light!
It started when I was browsing through a local antiques/thrift/junk store in downtown Placerville.I must have mentioned that I sew to the proprietor because he forced me to the back corner of the store where, tucked behind a stack of motley street signs across from a spring sprung floral sofa was (as he said it) “U’re Going to Love  this. I have right here a Gen-U-Ine Sew-Ing Cab-net.”
Despite the proprietor’s resemblance to a snake oil salesman, he was right. I loved it. I laid all of my cash on his counter and put the thing on layaway. A mere 90 days and a hundred and fifty dollars later, I drove the van home loaded with one Gen-U-Ine Sew-ing Cabnet.
As you can see, it looks like a wardrobe. It’s even kind of shabby chic looking with the white paint. If you look at the paint closely you can see it’s not its original color.

white-cabinet

It’s a sewing wardrobe from the 50’s or 60’s, from before the days when wardrobes were a common item in a family room or living-room.
Inside the cabinet is a pull down desktop.

open-desk open1
And do you see the little gold square?  That’s the Singer label.singer-tag

Pulling the desk down reveals storage, shelves and spool-racks.
There’s even a raised bed to create a flat surface behind your sewing machine. Because my sewing machine isn’t a circa 1966 Singer, the raised section doesn’t match the height of my sewing machine.
Though not exactly right for my sewing machine, it IS right for serger storage and usage. And, the bottom of my cabinet houses the machine I’m not currently using.

IMG_2471

Though I’ve been sewing forever, I had never seen a cabinet like this one. Imagine my surprise when Tecla (a dear friend I’ve mentioned before) called me from a yard sale saying that she had found the coolest sewing machine cabinet ever.
Well, I didn’t believe her cause I had just brought home the coolest sewing machine cabinet ever, my vintage Singer cabinet.
Well, she was right. She had found the coolest sewing cabinet ever made, a twin to my cabinet. It was an identical twin, only still sporting its original pecan wood finish and typical 60’s handles. Other than that, it was the same. And this one was only $25!

brown-cabinet

I’m no fool. I snapped it up.
I use the second one for my computer and storage of a variety of sewing supplies. It’s amazing what happens when you have a place to put things. Now my sewing room looks like this:

IMG_2467

One of these days I’ll re-finish one or both of these cabinets, but for now I’m just happy to have them.
So, Niecy Nash, be gone!
On another note, did you see the gorgeous Bernina 830 in this picture?
I’ve had it since June and other than a few hiccups during the learning curve (all operator error), it’s been perfect. I’m giving it a work-out. I love this machine.
If you’re wondering at all why it’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post, it’s because my creative writing muse had been busy helping me write a book. I can’t say much more about it except that I’m done with my part. It will now take the publisher another year before it’s out the door.
I am happily back working the blog.

 

 

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