Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Smocked Christmas Wreath

I am spending this week carpooling for Basketball camp, softball and golf. So there isn't any remarkable smocking or sewing going on to show y'all.

But I did want to give you a peek at an upcoming project I want to walk you through.

I am going to start this tutorial on a Smocked Christmas Wreath the first week in September. It is not hard but it is an exercises in endurance.

The fabric shown is Imperial Micro Check. Any fabric will do but light weight fabric without any definite pattern works the best. If you use something like a Christmas print that has snowman or something on it, by the time it is pleated they just look like blobs and take away from your smocking.

The smocking police will not rip the wreath off your door if you use a quilting cotton. :-) It will just be a bigger wreath.

If you want to look through your stash or see a good sale going on here is the materials list:
  1. 1/2 yard of fabric that is on the grain.
  2. 5 plastic rings ( like you would use to make Roman shades).
  3. 10 inch Craft ring (macrame ring).
  4. Embroidery floss.
  5. Polyester batting.
  6. A sense of humor.
  7. 14 plastic Christmas lights.
  8. Satin cording.
  9. Embroidery floss
  10. Ribbon for hanging the wreath

Sunday, June 28, 2009

DMC Floss

Well the Angel dress is finished and has been delivered to the soon to be grandmother. I am praying for a safe delivery and a healthy baby girl tomorrow. I hope to have baby pictures in a few days.

Right now I am trying to reorganized my DMC floss which made me think of a story to tell.:-)

Two Christmases ago, my husband couldn't come up with anything I really wanted or needed. He asked for suggestion. I couldn't really think of anything either but then thought why don't you just buy me some embroidery thread.

And he did!

He soon learned on his lunch hour that DMC carries 454 different skeins of floss and 18 variegated. He bought every single color!

Under the Christmas tree I had 5 bags full of floss.

But in the spirit of "If you give a Mouse a Cookie"

If you by a Smocker 472 skeins of floss................

She will need to organize them by wrapping them on little cards.

If she wraps them on little cards she will need to buy those little stick on numbers. (bottom left hand of photo)

If she buys those little stick on numbers, she will find they do not stay stuck to anything but the cat!

If the numbers do not stick then she will need to buy a new thread color chart so she can identify 454 mystery colors.

If she finally gets them all identified she will need to put them in clear organizer boxes.

If she puts them in clear organizer boxes she will discover that they do not fit in the 5 clear organizer boxes that are already filled with DMC Floss.

If they do not fit in the organizer boxes she will just need to buy more.

If she buys more then she will discover they don't fit in her wooden cabinet that holds her organizer.

But she has 472 different colors of DMC floss and she is totally happy and will worry about a new cabinet later.

Here is a link to DMC-USA. On the web site they have a lot of color and number charts as well as comparison charts.


Friday, June 26, 2009

The Eyes Have It

I am working on adding the eyes and the smiles to my Angels right now.

I wanted to show you how to make a French Knot eye that will not sink into your smocking or worse look like they belong on a bug.

By definition a French Knot is wrapped 1 time. If it has more wraps then it is a Bullion.

But guess what? The smocking police will not show up at your door if you use a Bullion instead of a French Knot for the eyes on your picture smocking!

To make a French Knot eye you will need a Sharp Needle or a Milliners Needle. The reason for this is the needle is a straight shaft instead of bulbing out at the eye of the needle like an Embroidery Needle. A Sharp Needle will allow the French Knot or Bullion to slide off your needle.

Choose a size of needle that you are comfortable with.

I am going to show this as a graph so it can be better understood. Thread your needle with 1 or 2 stands of floss. Tie a knot on one end.

Look at your picture smocking design and determine the placement of the eyes.

Bring your needle up to the right of the valley where the French Knot eye will be. I place my knot on the side of the pleat just below the pleating thread. I don't want it up higher because I don't want it to interfere with pleats.

Bring your floss to the top and wrap the needle one time. Place your finger lightly on the wrap and place your needle into the left pleat at a 45 degree angle. Gently pull the floss to make your French knot.

Your French knot eye should gently sit between the pleat. If it is sitting on top of the pleats it will be more prominent and will be the focal point of your smocking. You want them to look at the beautiful child that is wearing a smocked outfit that you made.

If you you can't see your French Knot eye then I would recommend using 2 strands instead of 1.

Practice making your French Knots until you are happy with your results. Try changing the entry and exit points. Change the number of threads you are using. Try different size needles. Try making a two wrap Bullion instead. The choice it yours.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sew Beautiful Magazine #125

The New Sew Beautiful Magazine is out now. I do not have anything in this issue so I will offer my review.

I am part of several chat groups and when a new issue comes out I am amazed at the contradicting complaints.

Since it is always the same contradicting argument. To save time, I have set up this Tongue and Check numbering system of the comments I have heard on this issue.

  1. Too much Heirloom.
  2. Not enough Heirloom.
  3. Too much smocking.
  4. Not enough smocking.
  5. I love Machine Smocking.
  6. Machine Smocking is just wrong It's like kissing your brother.
  7. It is not Creative Needle.
  8. Its not AS&E.
  9. Too much Machine embroidery.
  10. Not enough Machine embroidery.
  11. I like the Old Sew Beautiful.
  12. I love the new direction SB is going.
  13. Not enough stuff by Janet G (this one is for my mom).
  14. I love all the girl clothes.
  15. Isn't there anything for boys?
  16. Too much Heirloom Sewing.
  17. Not enough Heirloom sewing.
  18. I just don't like Sew Beautiful and I don't care what they do.
  19. I love Sew beautiful and I love everything they publish.
  20. Not enough in-style clothes.
  21. Too trendy.
  22. Great issue.
  23. Horrible issue.
My Comments on SB #125 are #12, #6, #19, #22.

Well that said. It really is a Great issue! I am sure this issue will sell out quickly! It is packed with eye candy and tons of techniques and little details.

It is hard to pick a favorite article but I can't wait to try the folded fabric flowers "Kanzashi In Bloom" or try the Spaghetti Bias loops.

I have a friend's granddaughter who is pictured on page 16 top left. Jerry, She sure is cute !

I always love anything the Helen Lively does. Just wait till you see her smocked Peacock "Raja" in the next issue! ~janet

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wedding from Hell

Today is my anniversary. I have been happily married 17 years to this guy.

My usual Saturday morning routine after my husband heads off to his Men's church meetings is to get a cup of coffee and read the news and emails.

When I sat down at the computer I realised the computer was already on. I moved the mouse and a guess what appeared on the screen........ A Love letter from my husband! :-) :-) :-)How sweet!...sniff sniff, weep weep.

But no matter how we celebrate our anniversary, the conversation always turns to ..................."The Wedding from Hell".

It wasn't my wedding but it effected my wedding and everyone who came to my wedding got to sit back and enjoy the spectacle!

First, some background:

My soon to be husband(STBH) and myself are (were) Air Force Officers.

I am living in Salt Lake City, Utah and my STBH is station in Austin, Texas about 40 miles from my parents.

The wedding will be here. Chapel 1 and Randolph Air Force Base.

I had always wanted to get married in this church since I was very little and since everyone was in Texas except the bride, it was very do-able.

Because I was planning this wedding from long distance and since I had an extensive background in deploying airplanes and troops all over the world, this wedding was planned out like a World War II invasion.

I wasn't a bridzella because I knew there was thing I couldn't control. For example I sent my sister to the florist with a fabric swatches and told her to get something she liked. She also narrowed the type of cake and fillings down to 3. She then drove up to Austin from San Antonio with samples in little cake boxes so I could do a taste test when I was in town.

So back to the wedding......... This church only does weddings on Saturday at 10am, 2 pm and 7 pm. When I booked the wedding 11 months in advance, the 7 pm was already booked. So I choose the 2 pm time slot. I had the church from 12:30-4:30. 2PM in June in Texas, I knew it was going to be hot.

The church came with a wedding coordinator who orchestrated all the weddings of that day.

Well, on my wedding day it is extremely hot and muggy. My sister and I drop by the reception place and everything it ready to go. We then stop by my parents and check on them. We then headed to the church.

We show up at the church at 12:30 . The wedding at 10 AM was suppose to be finished and gone by then. When we pull up to the parking lot the place is packed!

My sister dropped me off at the front of the Church and goes to look for a parking place.

I see some people under a live oak tree as I am walking up to the church. I asked are they still taking pictures? They replied the wedding hadn't happen yet!

I continue walking up to the church carrying my dress, I see the wedding coordinator. She was frazzled! I had been talking to her long distance for almost a year and she had always been cool and calm and well composed.

She came running to me and told me there was a small problem with the wedding before mine. I told her lets get inside where I can hang up my dress and lets talk about it.

By then, my sister is there and we walk into the Bride's room. The place is packed and when they see me (the next bride) they go hysterical . I still don't know what is going on.

Soon after that I hear a male voice yelling that he was going to call the security police and get someone removed from the base(well, that is a nice way of saying what he really said).

In walks a full bird Colonel in full military dress dragging his daughter (the bride). She is in a antique wedding dress with a high neck and long sleeve (did I tell you it was hot?)and you could tell she had been crying hard. When she sees me she starts crying harder. I still don't know what is going on.

She leaves the room and the wedding coordinator comes in after a while and asks me if the wedding before mine could still have their wedding while I was getting dress. I said of course.

Well now my STBH and wedding party is starting to arrive. I go find them and explain that the wedding before ours was still there and they will be using the church while I am getting dressed. But I really still don't know what.

When the first wedding party heard the wedding was going to happen half of them left. A lot of bad language was said.

Things calmed down a little and it was just my sister and I and the first bride in the Bride's room. As she was trying to compose herself, she thanked me for letting them still use the church. She they ask me if I had heard what happen.

My sister and I said in unison "No, What happen?"

She then explains.... This is the condensed version........ Right before her wedding was suppose to start someone accused the Best Man with spending the night with the bride. When he refused to even answer that question, the groom's mother in front of the entire church shouts "I knew she was a &*^%.

Everything went down hill from there.

My husband said the priest and the groom were sharing a flask of whiskey.

Well, their wedding started and I got dressed. The wedding coordinator started throwing (football passes)all the make up bags and clothes and stuff from the first wedding into a back hallway.

By this time all my wedding guest, florist and photographers had shown up and thought they were at the wrong wedding. The wedding coordinator sort of explained so they got to sit through two weddings.

My wedding was 40 minutes late and everyone thinks I was a so gracious to let them get married during my time.

But here is the rest of the story, remember I said we had stopped by my parent's place. My mother was born two weeks late and has never caught up. I knew my mother would be late. She actually showed up 20 minutes late and found out she was 30 minutes early! :-)

Also, I know there is a glitch in every wedding. This was my glitch by osmosis.

Everything worked out and we got married. We all went to the reception and had margarittas (which were the same color as the punch so my grandmother didn't know what anyone was drinking) And everyone had a wonderful time talking about " The Wedding from Hell".

And we lived Happily Ever After

But I do wonder how the first bride's Thanksgiving and Christmas went with her mother in law?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Frog Stitches

As I have said before I am always working on several projects at one time.

I am still smocking the Angels for my friends new granddaughter. I have about 3 left and the baby is due at the end of the month.

I am also working on projects for Sew Beautiful which you will see next Summer

Sorry for the wait. But it is worth it!

But what I have been doing a lot of is Frog stitches.........."rip it"......."rip it" .
I just want to share with you my technique of Frog Stitches.

With my needle work scissors or my seam ripper I cut every third stitch.

Here is a graph it might be better to illustrate what I am trying to say.

After every third stitch has been cut. Your seam should separate easily............ but will leave behind little wisp of thread.

In comes the Mom who stores school supplies in her sewing room."I just want to keep them safe.....Honest :-)

This is just a regular pink eraser.
The ladies who are reading this from Canada, Australia and South Africa (greetings) what do you call this?

If you just lightly pull the eraser across your seam and threads it will remove all these little threads.
I then use a tape roller ( this is the thing that is suppose to remove cat hair) to pick up the little threads before they end up on my husbands suit. :-)
Have a great weekend~janet

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spicy Pretzels

Since it is almost Father's day I want to share with you a snack recipe that we make all the time.

This recipe came from my sister-in-law Jan.

Yes, my SIL has the same first name as me. And to add to the confusion so does my husband's ex-wife!

(Hi Jan and Janet if you are reading this)

The whole story of names in my family get even more bizarre but I will save that for another day.

Well, back to my recipe........ As I said we make these pretzels all the time. When my daughter takes them to school or to Girl Scouts everyone is usually shouting "Yeah, Spicy pretzels!" No kidding!

They are really good on a car trip. Every so often you get hold of a pretzel with a lot of seasoning and it really wakes you up.

Spicy Pretzels

  • 1 Bag of Pretzels (Cheap pretzels are the best. I use the Wal-Mart brand small twist).
  • 1 gallon size zip-lock bag.
  • ¾ cup oil (Olive oil doesn't work. Been there done that , won't try it again).
  • 1 package dry hidden ranch salad dressing (not the Dip).
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Pepper seasoning.

    Pour Pretzels into the zip-lock bag. Pour the oil over the pretzels. Seal bag and shake till all pretzels are covered in oil.

    In a small bowl mix the dry Hidden Valley salad dressing with all the seasonings. Mix well.

    Pour the seasoning mixture over the pretzels. Seal bag and shake until all pretzels are covered. Let sit about an hour.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Customizing Your Pleater

I am going to be pleating a new Doodle cloth today. This is a Kona Cotton insert that I practice picture smocking on.

I wanted to show you how I have customized my pleaters.

The first thing I did was put my name on it. As with Scissors when I go to the Smocking Convention there will be several ladies there with the same pleater. My 32 row pleater just has a return address label.

You can barely see it but on my name plate there are the word "R.S. up". This is to remind me that the right side of the fabric should be up when pleating. But you can see there is also something scratched out.

This use to say right side down. The reason for the confusion is my Salley Stanley pleater pleats the same on both sides.

The next thing I did was add a ruler to my pleater. This is the press on sticky back rulers that you can add to your sewing or cutting table. The only problem is it come in a length of 45" and I only need about 10-13 inches depending on the pleater.

The main reason for adding the ruler is when I know I need to pleat an insert with 13 needles I can measure my fabric and see that my fabric will be about 5 1/2" or 14 cm wide.

Here is a close up. I wanted to show you that I lined up the ruler with the edge of the roller bar.
Looks like I might have a bent pleater needle. I will check it out when I align my pleater needles before I pleat.

When I store my extra needles I place them in a metal tin. This one is an Altoids Mint tin.

To make sure I don't lose pleater needle I placed a business card magnet on the back right side of my pleater. They come in a pack at an office supply place. They are for turning a business card into a refrigerator magnet. You just peel the paper off the back and stick it to a business card or in this case my pleater.

When I am setting up my pleater I can lay a pleater needle on the magnet and I know it is not going anywhere.

And when I am ready to put my pleater away, I place the metal tin that is filled with my extra needles on the magnet. Now I know where my pleater needles are and they won't be flying around in the box as I am transporting the pleater.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Scissor Fob Angels

So by now you can guess I have a lot of scissors.

Fabric, laces, and scissors are all in the same category............You can't have too many!...........Well, I also need to add sewing machines to that group.

Here is another Scissor Fob of mine. This is my Scissor Angel. She protects me from sewing disaster .............well, she tries.

Here is what you need to make your own.

  1. Clothes pin (from the craft store)

  2. Scrap fabric (darker fabrics work better then light)

  3. Scrap laces, and trim.

  4. Something to use as stuffing, (cotton batting, lavender, wool roving)

  5. Chenille stick

  6. Permanent markers

  7. ribbon

  8. needle and thread

First, you want to draw a face on your clothes pin. I learned the hard way that the permanent markers will bleed on the unfinished wood.

So let start with applying a finish to the clothes pin head. If I didn't live in the country, in the middle of no where, and it was a 40 minutes drive to any store including Wal-Mart, I would tell you to apply a light varnish.

So I used the next best thing- Clear nail polish! Paint the heads and shoulders with the clear nail polish. Let dry. I used a wooden ruler to help them stand up.

When the clothes pin is completely dry, draw a face on your angel with fine tip permanent markers.

You can also glue a wooden bead to the top of her head and make a bun. You can also glue an antique button to her head to make a hat.

With a drill, drill a small hole all the way through the clothes pin about 1/2" down from the top of the head.

Take a chenille stick and cut it down to 8 inches. Fold it in have to find the center. Unfold.

Raise your hand if you are old enough to call these things Pipe Cleaners.

(Hand raised)

Place the chenille stick through the hole you drilled. Try to make the arms even on both sides.

The skirt on this Angel is measured for a pair of Ginger Needlework scissors. If you are going to use another type of scissors here is how to measure the skirt length.

  1. If you have a leather sheath for your scissors, place them on your scissors.

  2. Place your scissors behind your Angel's head like it is in the first photo.

  3. Measure the length from under the arms(chenille stick) to the bottom of the scissors.

  4. Add 1/4 " to this measurement.

  5. This is the length measurement of your skirt.

To make the skirt cut a piece of fabric 3 inches long (or your measurement) by 5 inches wide.

Across the top run two rows of gathering stitches. (I used a stitch length of 3 on my Bernina). Unpick the gather threads 1/4 inch from each side.

Stitch a piece of trim across the bottom at about 3/4" up from the bottom. You can use lace, ric-rac, ribbon or anything else you desire.

Place the right sides together and stitch down the length of the skirt. Press seam open.

Place the seam in the middle of the fabric. Press. Stitch a 1/4 inch seam along the bottom. Clip corners. Turn right side out.

On your clothes pin angel, measure 2 inches down from the top of her head. Draw a line. With a saw, cut the clothes pin on this line.

Fold the chenille stick arms in toward the clothes pin.

Stuff the skirt lightly with wool roving, lavender sachet, cotton batting or what ever you desire.

Take a moment to reenact the Mr. Bill show with your angel...... "Oh No Mr Bill"

Place your angel into the skirt. The top of the skirt should come up and touch the chenille stick arms. Add a little more stuffing material to the skirt around the Angel's body.

Pull the gathering stitches up tight. Tie the gathering strings into a knot. With a needle pull the gathering strings to the inside of the skirt.

Now to make the sleeves.

Cut another piece of fabric that is 5 inches wide by 2 inches long.

Stitch lace or trim to the right side of the fabric. Press the ends under.

Place right side together. Mark the center with a straight pin. Stitch a 1/4 seam but leave about an inch unstitched in the center of the sleeves. Turn right side out.

Dress your angels with sleeves the way you would add a shrug to a doll. Place the angel's right arm through the center of the sleeve. Unfold the left arm

Place the unfolded left arm through the sleeve

Bend the arms around to the front. Place the left arm chenille stick through the loop on the right arm. Bend the left arm back up and tuck back into the sleeve.

Cut a piece of ribbon that is 18inches long. Fold in half.
Pin the two raw edges underneath your Angels arm. With a needle and thread stitch the ribbon to the top of the skirt and the bottom of the sleeve.

To make a top for your angel you can use pieces of bias tape or you can use ribbon or pieces of lace.
Cut two pieces about 2 inches long of your choice of fabric or lace.
Crisscross the fabric or lace across your angel. Pin in place. If the sleeves are bunching up under the bodice, take a tooth pick or skewer and push them down.
With a needle and thread tack the bodice in the front and back to the skirt.

Take another piece of bias trim and wrap it around your angel's middle. This should cover the raw ends of the bodice and the gathering of the skirt.
Fold the raw edges under of the waist band and tack the ends together.
I also lightly tacked the waist band to the skirt in the front and the back.

If you don't want your Angel's arms to move then you can tack the sleeves to the waist band.

Also if you want your Angel's sleeves to be gathered at the cuff, thread your needle with 3-4 strands embroider thread.
Take a stitch through the inside of the sleeve. Unthread your needle. Pull the thread so the threads are even on either side of the sleeve. Tie the ends together, gathering the ends of the sleeve.

Okay, your Angel is almost done.
If you wish, you could stop at this point and just make her into a scissor fob.
If you do want to stop here, all you need to do to finish is take the folded end of the ribbon under the left scissor handle then feed the doll through the loop.

But lets go a few steps further and turn her into an Angel.
If you have a leather sheath for your scissors you need to measure the widest part of the sheath.
Add 3/4 of and inch to this measurement for ease. Add another 1/2" for seam allowances.
For example my leather sheath for my scissors measures 1inch +3/4 inch ease+ 1/2 inch seam allowance = 2 1/4 inches wide.
Measure the length of the leather sheath and a 1/4 inch for seam allowance.

Cut a piece of fabric that is your width measurment by twice your length measuement. My piece of fabric is 2 1/4 inches wide by 5 1/2 inches wide.
Place right sides of the shorther ends together and press. Stitch a 1/4" seam along the two long sides.
Turn right side out.
Place your leather scissor sheath behind the fabric and pin the fabric to the back with the folded side towards to head.
To make room for the bulk of the scissor the top sides need to be brought in towards the center.

Here are a few pictures to better illustrate what I am taking about. Whip stitch the fabric on three sides.

And she is done!

Here is the back.

And here if the front.

~Janet Gilbert

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sew Beautiful Magazine on Facebook

To add to the long list of things I don't know, or didn't know, Sew Beautiful Magazine is up on Face Book.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Scissor Fobs

This Fall, I will be going once again to the Smocking Convention http://smocking.org/

There is so much I learn each year at the convention. One major thing I learned is you have to mark your scissors!

Each class has about 20 ladies in a class and the odds are very favorable that someone has the exact same scissors as you have. You could use a colorful ribbon but there is a more creative idea..... A Scissor Fob!

Scissor Fobs serve more then one purpose. Besides being a creative outlet and marking your scissor they also help prevent your scissors from being dropped on their point.

Here are a few of my Scissor Fobs I have already created..........

Here is a close up.

I never make two Scissor Fobs exactly a like. I usually start with beads I like and just mix and match till I like the results.

I like the scissor fobs to be no longer then 3 inches otherwise it gets in the way.

When I am looking for parts for my Scissor fobs the main thing I am looking for is that there are no pointy edges to get caught on delicate fabric or caught up in my embroidery or sewing threads.

I get my beads at several different places like Hobby Lobby, Michael's and Oriental Trader. http://www.orientaltrading.com/craft-supplies-and-hobbies/beading-a1-377461-2-0.fltr

Here are the basic supplies I use. (left to right)

  1. Crimp tubes
  2. Lampwork beads
  3. End caps
  4. Glass beads
  5. O rings

Some more supplies

  1. Lobster clasp

  2. Crystal beads of different sizes

  3. Spacer beads

I use Fishing line to string the beads. This is 30lb test fishing line. It was what was in my husband's fishing gear. :-)

I cut a piece of fishing line that is about 24" long. This length gives you room to work.

  1. Load a spacer bead on the fishing line followed by a crimp bead.

  2. Thread the end of the fishing line back up into the crimp bead.

  3. With a pair of needle nose pliers or crimping pliers smash the crimp bead. This locks the bottom bead in place. You could also use an O ring at the bottom if you wanted to add a charm.

  4. Cut the fishing line tail to about 1/2". The tail will be threaded back up through the next beads.

  5. Load the beads up as you desire.

  6. Finish the bead line with a crimp bead then the lobster claw clasp. If you don't want to use a Lobster claw clasp you could also just make a 1 1/2 loop.

  7. Thread the fishing line back through the crimp bead.

  8. Pull the fishing line till the all the beads in the bead line are touching. If you pull too tight the bead line will curl.

  9. When the beads are pulled up, crimp(smash) the crimping bead.

  10. Thread the excess the fishing line through the next 2 beads and trim.

Enjoy! ~janet