Thanksgiving Embroidery

Turkey embroidery test
Turkey embroidery test

Because our family is growing, I thought I might need more Thanksgiving napkins for Thanksgiving. I bought some new embroidery designs for my SIL, though I think they were too big.

The turkey on the platter is, I think, a test embroidery. I am pretty sure we didn’t use that one before. I didn’t buy white napkins either. I think the design is amusing now.

Fortunately, I didn’t need them in November, so this project could be shoved off until her Christmas projects were done. I went over during Craft Night the other night and started work.

SIL #2 sat me down in front of her computer and I selected colors for some of the designs. She is pretty well organized and had recorded the thread colors. I was able to select from that group so the napkins will all, pretty much, match.

Pumpkin on blue napkin
Pumpkin on blue napkin

She always has to reduce the number of colors, because she doesn’t like to switch threads once the machine has started. I think her machine can handle 6 threads at a time. I always forget to look at the number of colors and inevitably buy a design with 25 colors!

I really like that pumpkin motif and I worked to make it really pretty. I think it looks great on the blue napkin.

Blue pumpkin on mauve napkin
Blue pumpkin on mauve napkin

I started changing colors so they didn’t have the issues that bugged me. There were some black threads that looked too dark to me. It may be that the shading was removed, because of the limited colors. Regardless, I am thinking about greys and, maybe, even some browns to soften up the hard blacks.

On the mauve (dusty rose??) napkin, the blue really shows up. I used that blue thread, which I really like, only on this one. It would have been lost on the blue.

Choosing embroidery threads is hard work. I’ll go back when we have Craft Night again and choose some more.


Under the Sea Pillow FINISHED!

Under the Sea Pillow Finished- front
Under the Sea Pillow Finished- front

Yep. It’s true. I have finished the Under the Sea piece after many years of working on it. I can hardly believe it.

I am so thrilled that I have one hand project that is finally done. Granted, I could have just said “this is done” and moved on, but projects speak to me and this one was very chatty. I finally feel like it is really and truly done – enough embroidery, enough embellishment, enough stitching.

Under the Sea Pillow Finished- back
Under the Sea Pillow Finished- back

As I have said, I started this piece in a Pamela Allen class in April of 2009. I hope it was worth 10 years of work (not constant work).

The London Portfolio fabric seems to fit the front pretty well and I am pleased with the black binding.

This was not an easy project to finish and included a lot of ripping out, but like Beach Town and the Flower Garden, I am pleased with the style of working and the results. Pamela Allen is a design genius and if you want to learn to design quilts, she is a great teacher.

Under the Sea Pillow

Under the Sea ready to bind
Under the Sea ready to bind

I wanted to finish Under the Sea by now, but I had to backtrack and do some repairs, so finishing will take longer.

I made the piece into a pillow. To do that I used up the polyfil I had leftover from the dolls I made for my little niece. I didn’t have enough, so I cleared out my batting scraps and used bits of batting for the rest of the stuffing. I would have preferred all polyfil, but as a lot of this project was from reclaimed materials, I thought the batting scraps were fitting.

Under the Sea back - Michael Miller print
Under the Sea back – Michael Miller print

I wanted to control where the stitching went, so I didn’t plan on sewing right sides together and turning the piece. I sewed wrong sides together, then left an opening I could use to fill the pillow.

The backing fabric is from the Michael Miller London Portfolio collection. This particular print is called Anjou Pour Vous. I don’t know why it would be called that if the collection is called London Portfolio, but I am sure the designer has a reason. I have a number of these prints and will have to use one for a backing.

I also wanted to put a black binding on. I did that to cover the raw edges, then machine sewed the back down. I ran into problems with the black thread catching some of the pillow top and also showing in the corners where it didn’t quite match up with the top binding. Again, I ripped and replaced the bobbin with Aurifil monofilament and restitched the binding so the mismatched binding front wouldn’t have a black line around the corners on the actual top.

Also  the larger glass beads are coming off. For some reason, my French knots are not strong enough to hold them with the stress of handling. Again, I am using Aurifil monofilament to secure the beads and not disturb my overall design. The Aurifil monofilament is a hassle to use, so that is also a thankless task.

I will be so glad not to see this project on my to do list when I am finished. I know I will like it again, but right now I don’t.


Under the Sea Top Finished

Under the Sea finished top
Under the Sea finished top

After several false finishes, I am really done with the top of Under the Sea. This is a HUGE, because I started it in April of 2009 and getting it done has been on my list for awhile. One less handwork project to do can’t be bad either.

I want to make it into a small pillow. Some of the embroidery and beading are close to the edge, so I have to worry about that a little bit. There is still work to do on this piece.

Since this was heavily embellished, I will enter it in the fair in the embellishment category and hope for a prize.

Hooray for progress.

Under the Sea Progress

I am determined to finish this piece soon. I want to enter it in the fair in the embellishment category. I also want it finished. It won’t give me much in the way of used up fabric on my spreadsheet, but it will be off the To Do list and that is good.

Making visual decisions visually
Making visual decisions visually

After working on it last week, I thought it was done. It wasn’t done. It needed some beads. So, I laid some out to see how they would look. I thought they looked nice so I worked on it again at Craft Night on Monday.

Under the Sea Progress

Under the Sea, August 2018
Under the Sea, August 2018

After analysis of the divisions and categories with the least number of entries at the Fair, we decided embellishment was one to target. Craft Night was Monday and I decided I needed to work on this piece.

Under the Sea has been underway for awhile (uh, 2009!) I decided that I will make a pillow out of the piece and enter it. That means getting it done. I took it out and got reoriented as I don’t know the last time I worked on this piece. I had a bit of thread left so I finished a section with that thread (see purple arrow below) and then did a few more lines of stitching in the center.

I feel like it might need a few beads in various places, but we’ll have to see. I have to lay some out and look at it, otherwise I am going with done.

Sue Spargo Threads

I am a sucker for embroidery threads. Not really the floss that comes in hanks, but the Perl Cotton balls, the Aurifloss and, now, Sue Spargo embroidery threads.

I admire Sue Spargo’s work, because of the cheerfulness and liveliness of the designs. Her book, Stitches to Savor: A Celebration of Designs, is a favorite. I admire her work with the simple shape of the cups and want to do something similar with cakes. Can you imagine how fabulous a cake quilt would look with embroidery designs applied to it to simulate frosting and cake decorations?

Of course, given the colors I bought, the cakes would be cheerful, and, possibly, unappetizing. 😉

You may noticed that I have mentioned Sue Spargo embroidery threads a few times recently. After visiting Thistle Dew and Stitch quilt shops, I was hooked. Both shops had these threads and it was the first time I had seen them. I have a lot of Perl cotton, etc, but couldn’t help indulging in a few spools. I want them all.

I have used them on Under the Sea and they were great to use. I need to get inspired by Gerre and use them more.

Thanksgiving Napkins

Thanksgiving napkins, October 2016
Thanksgiving napkins, October 2016

I think my last update about this project was in August. A lot has happened and I think we are nearing the end.

SIL and her machine have been working hard. She has to recolor all of the designs so use just 6 colors. Sometimes that is really hard and she has to make compromises. Still she has done a great job and I can’t wait to have the napkins out at Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Napkins, mid October 2016
Thanksgiving Napkins, mid October 2016

My job has been to wash and press all of the embroidered napkins. I have had no bleeding or fading of the designs. I have used a lot of Flatter and Mary Ellen’s Best Press!

The embroidery machine had a hissy fit and ate one of the yellow napkins. While there were probably enough napkins for everyone, we decided to get one more packet (World Market Buffet napkins). I bought a dusty purple and these came out SUPER well. I am very pleased with them.

I really like all of the napkins. Not only are they pretty and festive, but they are also large enough to keep laps clean.

Napkins Project Continues

More Thanksgiving Napkins
More Thanksgiving Napkins

The good thing about machine embroidery is that it can happen while the maker is piecing since the machine works independently. Still, SIL is making crazy good progress. After a few napkins last week, she gave me a bunch this week.

Pumpkin motif for napkins
Pumpkin motif for napkins

This group of motifs is fun. The pie and the corn, along with the pumpkin, which you saw last week, are two of my favorites. I took a close up of the pumpkin, so you could see what a nice design it is.

Under the Sea Update

I am making some progress on Under the Sea. It is a shock, because this piece has been on my list and a UFO for YEARS. I really never thought I would finish it and here I am.

Under the Sea - Late August 2016
Under the Sea – Late August 2016

We went to Southern California for the weekend, so no sewing machine and I missed the BAMQG meeting. My DH better know I love him. 😉 I did take Under the Sea and my EPP project to work on. I didn’t do much in general – no sewing, no EPP, no quilt shop visits, but I worked on Under the Sea a little on the way home in the car.

I bought some 12wt Aurifil and have used a little of it along with the Perl Cotton that I have had laying around. It is fun to add layers of texture to this piece. The stitches are adding interest.

Under the Sea (detail) - Late August 2016
Under the Sea (detail) – Late August 2016

I am not sure about the green circles. I like them as a motif. I am not sure I like them around the turquoise dots. I don’t want to disrupt that bubble like effect.

I am hoping that the viewer won’t see them until they get closer. We’ll have to see.

More Napkins

Napkins - early August 2016
Napkins – early August 2016

SIL is embroidering napkins for the napkin project at a furious pace. I need to get busy on the tablerunners. September will be here before we know it and October and November will be hard on its heels.

SIL has finished some more napkins.

Two motifs included in this most recent batch came out very well. I really like the tree and I, especially, like the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Napkin
Pumpkin Napkin

I think they are coming out very well and I will be happy to put them on my table at Thanksgiving.

More on Under the Sea

I have been working on Under the Sea pretty steadily in the evenings. It is soothing to do the handwork. I am also surprised at how quickly I can fill up an area with embroidery.

As I said a few days ago, I am pleased with the work. I am still pleased despite some design challenges.

  • I want the embroidery to be simple, so that limits the stitches.
  • I don’t have enough colors, but when will I have enough colors? This should not come as a surprise to anyone who reads regularly.
  • The browns, rusts and golds are not my favorite, but I am finding that I don’t dislike them enough to toss the project.
  • Beads or no beads?

I have been pretty tired or working on other things the past two nights, but I’ll get back to this soon.

Not a Complete Solution

Under the Sea, in process
Under the Sea, in process

Under the Sea has been on my 26 Projects list for a long time. I started it in 2009 in a class with Pamela Allen. I started it at the same time I started the Flower Garden. I finished The Flower Garden in 2013.

Despite my best efforts, this piece has been on my mind. After my Special Whine, I picked it up and have been embellishing it with Perl cotton and other types of embroidery thread in the evenings while I watch TV.

Under the Sea, in process again
Under the Sea, in process again

I am pleased. Doing the embroidery, though simple, has calmed down my creative crisis, if just for the moment.

Of course, I don’t have enough colors of Perl Cotton. When do I ever have enough colors? I am making due for the moment.

Under the Sea, detail
Under the Sea, detail

I know these colors are odd colors for me. It is a problem, because I keep wondering where to add pink. The turquoise additions do help.

I am trying a combination of greys with the turquoises and blues to see how that looks. I am not sure if it makes any difference, in the way my mind wants, because so much of the piece is made up of browns and oranges.

The piece is small and I think I will make it into a cushion cover and give it away. Not my colors, you know. We’ll see.

Thanksgiving Napkins Progress

Two leaf napkins
Two leaf napkins

A few weeks ago I wrote about Thanksgiving napkins that SIL and I** were in the process of making. We have finished some of them.

There is some trial and error in the process, but SIL is working hard to minimize the loss of any napkins. So far so good.

Progress is good.


The process is

  • wash napkins
  • press and starch napkins
  • pick embroidery designs
  • figure out thread colors
  • test embroidery
  • embroider on napkins
  • rip off excess embroidery
  • wash
  • iron
  • Repeat
Warm leaf napkins
Warm leaf napkins

I did the washing and ironing. As I do with all of my fabric, I washed these napkins in hot water. Hot water is the worst than can be done to them, I think, in terms of washing. I ironed them with Mary Ellen’s Best Press, mostly. I used some Flatter, but I really don’t like the smell of the one I bought.

SIL had a few embroidery designs in her library that were suitable. I went looking at a couple of sites she suggested and bought a few. We plan to reuse the designs. I don’t want or need 30 different designs. using different threads and stitching them out on different colored napkins makes the designs different enough.

We do all the napkins we are doing to do with one design before we switch to the next design.

We had to simplify some of the thread choices, because SIL has a machine that can accommodate 6 thread colors. It is easier not to have to deal with thread changes in the middle of stitching out a design. I kind of wish she had bought the 10 needle machine, but I wasn’t laying out the cash. 😉 Also, I wouldn’t be doing this at all if she hadn’t brought her machine to live around the corner from me. I had planned to make napkins the normal way I make them, which is odious at the best of times. It would have been a ton of work as well as a ton of money for Thanksgiving appropriate fabric. If my math is right (1/2 yard of fabric for each napkin), I would have needed 15 yards of fabric. I love buying fabric, but this is much easier and much more cost effective.

More leaves
More leaves

SIL had some tension issues at the beginning. After much fiddling, she resolved them, but thinks the machine may need a spa day.

So far, we have about 6 done. Fortunately, once the machine is set up, it stitches the designs out without someone standing over it pressing a foot pedal. It is still a lot of work and I am trying to help as much as I can.









**Nota bene: Most of my part is making color choices and buying stuff. I also wash and iron the napkins as needed. She is operating her massive embroidery machine.

More Thanksgiving Decor

I am on the fence about putting this down as a project, so I’ll have to call it a sort-of project. I have to do some work, but a lot of the actual sewing is done.

The family splits up the holidays because there are a lot of us and it is hard work to feed 24+ people. Thanksgiving is our holiday. I have been wanting Thanksgiving napkins for awhile, but the thought of making napkins is daunting and it has been daunting. Of course, I could have hemmed some fabric quickly and been done with it, but if I was going to make napkins I wanted to make them nice. Such a project would also involve buying a lot of autumn colored fabric. Not my favorite colors.

World Market napkins
World Market napkins

When I saw napkins at Cost Plus World Market in the right colors and sizes for a great price, I was thrilled. I texted SIL with an idea and went back later and bought them. SIL has a 6 needle embroidery machine and is willing to do some embroidery on the napkins to make them festive. She has several embroidery designs and I will buy a few for her as well.

After we gather the designs and the supplies (I’ll have to buy some stabilizer, though I have a bit from my old embroidery days), then we’ll have to plan the project out. We have several months before Thanksgiving, so the sort of project is doable.

Now back to the tablerunners!