End of another year and the opportunity to start afresh! At least, that is how I look at it. 2013 was a year of learning for me: learning about living life alone, learning about recognizing my own strengths and weaknesses and learning about accepting and working with others as they are. As I was pondering over the past year and years before that and the direction that I am taking in life, this thought came to me (posted on my personal FB page): In my life; I’ve lived, I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve missed, I’ve hurt, I’ve trusted, I’ve made mistakes, but most of all, I’ve learned: to survive, to let go, and most of all, to dedicate my life for the good of mankind.
Enough of my personal self, onto what this blog page is all about, machine embroidery and its future, specifically the home market. One of the perks of having a business page on Face book is the ability to see demographic reports. This gives a clear picture of the type of people that one is reaching. Yes, I understand that Face book is relatively new to the machine embroiderers, so I also set up the insights on my own web site. I have to say the reporting did confirm what I have been saying for a long while. Are you ready to hear the story…..:-)
Twenty years ago, when machine embroidery was introduced to the home market, it was an expensive hobby and although limited, grew momentum immediately. So many of us who were hand embroiderers found a way to re-create embroidery, via a machine. We thought it was fascinating! Of course, the cost was sky high, coupled with ingredients such as stabilizers, threads etc. Machine embroidery designs were limited, only available through commercial companies, and also high in cost. During the last two decades, however, home digitizers created and developed amazing designs for the machine embroidery market, more so than the commercial market could ever imagine. With the overflow of machine embroidery designs, the cost of the designs started to come down to a comfortable level, which is affordable, but….that really has not happened with the machines. The manufacturers have continued to raise the costs of the machines. The insights that I have followed on my website and Face book page both show that the majority of the home machine embroiderers are from the 40 plus age bracket, which means that the consumers are not able to afford the high cost of this hobby. I have rarely seen the younger generation indulge in this hobby, unless they are co-using machines of their family members/friends. Moreover, the younger generation are not able to afford the hobby as the older generation and are very particular towards their purchase, whether designs or machines. So, where the digital files have become affordable, the tool or the machines have not! Besides, manufacturers bring out new machines on an annual basis, with higher costs! This does not make sense to me…computers and even commercial embroidery machine prices are becoming more and more affordable but not the home embroidery machines…
So, what is the future of home embroidery machines and their hobbyists? I don’t know but looking at the picture that I just painted above, it doesn’t look well. A person can only purchase so many machines, so many designs and then what? To be honest, it has been a long while since there was a definite new technique in machine embroidery. All types of techniques are out there, in abundance.
My hope and wish for 2014 is that there be a definite change for the home embroidery market, with prices being more reasonable, to include prices of the extras…which include stabilizers/threads etc. For the last ten years, my goal has been towards re-capturing the embroideries of my previous generations, to give forward to the next generation…maintaining the continuity, even though it is through a machine. In 2014, I intend to continue with my goal, with possibly some add-ons (not sure yet…still thinking). Meantime, I’ve rambled on enough, it’s time to make way for the New Year, so I wish you and yours the best in the coming year. Good times, good fortune, happiness, joy and peace all around. HUGS to all and a very Happy New Year, 2014!
Several years ago, a dear friend introduced me to “zen-tangle”, a free form of sculptured doodling inside specified shapes/areas. I must say that I fell in love with the concept. Some of my earlier “zen-tangles” were awkward meandering lines, but over time, I learned to relax and just let my mind concentrate on a given area and doodle! The idea of using the same concept in machine embroidery designs came to my mind, but I couldn’t get past the interpretation concept. On a piece of paper, it was all fine to just draw, but in machine embroidery, I had to limit my self to a theme. Moreover, I had to figure out how it could lend itself to just being plain line art. That is exactly what Zen-tangle is all about, it is an interesting word for line-art!
To be honest, there are a gazillion line art or one color designs out there. Why add to what already exists, so I came up with the idea of creating my “zen-embroidery” using multiple methods. The first method used for plain simple applique. Applique is an extremely easy technique, based upon three steps. The first is the placement outline, which stitches out directly on your fabric without adding the applique fabric. This becomes the guide if you want to place your fabric in a fussy way, specially if using batiks and other specialty fabrics. Once the placement outline stitches out, just place your applique fabric onto the stitched out shape and the machine will stitch out the second step, known as the applique tack down. Applique tack down stitches out the shape but with secure stitches so the fabric wouldn’t come away from the edge, when the trimming is done.
To show you the method: simply hoop your stabilizer. Now, note that I never hoop my fabric, always only the stabilizer. The fabric is either pinned to the stabilizer or I use fabric glue stick to hold it down. The choice is yours, you may do as I say or hoop both fabric and stabilizer. Stitch out the first stitch: placement outline. Now place your applique fabric and stitch out the applique tack down. Remove hoop from machine (do not remove stabilizer and or fabric, just the hoop) and place on a flat surface. Trim away excess fabric from outside the tack down stitches. (see left).
As far as applique scissors go, I prefer the smallest blade scissors. Simply, because the smaller the blade, the closer you are to the trimming, which will be amazingly neater than if you were to use scissors with larger blades. The best that I have found can be found at Famore. These scissors are indeed tiny, but have a look at the trimmed image above. It trims closer to the applique tack down stitch leaving the applique neat. Btw, I also use the same scissor for cutwork designs.
The third and last step is the applique itself. This can be done in a variety of ways, satin stitches, motif stitches and or simple zig-zag stitches. Very rarely do I prefer satin stitches for applique, so you will see a variety of motif stitches in my applique designs. The same is in this instance. After you have trimmed away the excess fabric, place the hoop back in the machine. The reason why I’m so adamant about placing the hoop on a flat surface, rather than in your lap…(yes I know it’s easy) is because a slight shift in the hooping can distort the design. After placing the hoop in the machine, go ahead and stitch out the rest of the design. In step 1 and 2 of the applique process, use the same color thread which will be used for the applique. So, in my case, I used dark brown for step 1 and 2 and step 3.
Are you ready to try some “Zen-Embroidery”? Go ahead, the designs are perfect for fall and if specialty metallic threads are used, these same designs will blend well for the holidays. There are five design files: Border (this is the curly type continuous border designs); leaf 1 (this is one color leaf applique design); leaf 1 non-applique (this is one color line-art design); leaf 2 (this design has two colors, different for the leaf and vines/and the stem); and the last one leaf 2 non-applique (same as leaf 2, only this is a line art design). I hope you enjoy my version of mixing Zen with machine embroidery.
Note: Each zipped file has multiple formats. Use the “save as” option to save the files to your computer/external drive rather than “open” option.
And they certainly are…as I write, we are living in uncertain times, with a Government shutdown and a fast approaching deadline of the decision regarding the nation’s debt ceiling. I’m really not into politics but I do hope and wish that those who are involved would make up their minds and get over petty differences! But the changing of times is also coming to the home embroidery market. For years, I’ve wondered what would happen to the next generation of machine embroiderers…well, that time has arrived.
Last week, I attended the last show for the year 2013 at Fredericksburg, Virginia. I had great plans for the show, but as always Murphy’s law is well and alive and at the last minute, I had to leave everything in the hands of my dear daughter and a dear friend. Speaking of dd, I have to admit, she is a chip off the old block (okay, okay :-)) and the manner in which she organized and stepped up to the plate to vend and set up my booth, was nothing short of astonishing. She did have help from another dear friend of mind, but let me gloat for a little while, in being proud of my little girl. Considering she has no idea about all my collections and the cohesiveness that I use in setting up my booth, I was amazed at how she pulled it all off. Have a look at it yourself!
I did make it over on the last day of the show and it was wonderful to meet so many friends and to make new ones. As I only had one day, I didn’t get to visit all the vendors, but I did get to a few. At the last show, I had purchased the Marathon metallic threads to test out and what can I say…they stitch like a dream, so most definitely they were on my list to purchase. I did want to purchase a few extra scissors but never got the chance, perhaps an online visit is in order.
I was thrilled to see so many new machine embroiderers, especially young girls! The ideas that these young ladies had were fascinating and I was totally amazed at their enthusiasm, and ”out of the box” approach. My biggest regret is not being able to spend more time visiting with them, as some of them had ideas that are definitely going to take the art to the next level.
An interesting thing I learned while visiting various friends was the “fear” of doing more than just a single motif/design of embroidery. Digging deep into conversation, I found out that the hesitation is due to not knowing the basics of machine embroidery. No one has explained that embroidery is no longer limited by the hoop size nor is it limited to the threads/needles etc., rather it has evolved to creating more than just a motif or stitching out a single design. Now, I’ve been in this field for fourteen years so I know there has been a lot of progress in the ME world, and so many of my friends are creating unbelievable beautiful creations, that the commercial market can’t even begin to imagine. So, what exactly is the road block and how do we get over it?
I have forever held the 5×7 hoop as my favorite in machine embroidery, actually it is the one hoop size that I choose to use the most in majority of all my designing. It is larger than the 4×4 inch field yet smaller than the 10″ length/width, which can make hooping unstable and cause issues. Can it be used to create embroideries that are larger than the 5×7″ field? Absolutely yes. As a matter of fact, my latest wall quilt is a finished 28″x31″ masterpiece, all created with the 5×7 hoop, without any master techniques. Not only that, but in several of my designs, for instance Isphahan, I use the 5×7 hoop to create indefinite length borders and all over embroideries! So, the first step is to get over the limitation. Next are the basics, such as stabilizer, needles, threads, and ofcourse bobbin. But these basics are taught by the dealer from where the machine is purchased, including tips and techniques regarding thread issues/bobbin issues and a variety of other nuisances that will happen at some point or the other.
Majority of the conversations were about how the machines were the culprits and nothing could be done to stitch out designs properly. My simple simple method for anyone who wants to find out if their machine tension is fine, is to test sew the letter (capital) I from the embroidery section. The letter I shows the bobbin thread tension and if there are any problems, what can be done to overcome them. Another one that I heard a lot was that purchased designs on CDs are not as good as what is on the machine and or what is purchased from the dealers. I’m not sure how to tackle that one, because dealers also sell design CDs, so perhaps there is something I’m not understanding.
I want to hear from you, the reader. Do you have any fears or are there any road blocks in machine embroidery for you? Do you find it easy to just stitch out one design rather than to try and stitch out a variety of them or a border of them? What is stopping you from going to the next level? HUGS, Sadia
So many times we purchase a design and or collection, only to find out that we are limited with the usage. I’m not referring to any restrictions imposed by the digitizer/company on the resale of the designs, which really is infringement upon copyrights, but rather I’m referring to usage of the designs in other ways than how the designs were portrayed. This was a very deep question when I was making the Gulshan-e-Ferdos collection. The designs in the collection create a Persian inspired wall hanging, but is that all that can be done with the designs. After all, once the wall hanging is complete, how can the buyers utilize the designs for other purposes than just a wall hanging! The designs could be used as a center piece for a bed spread, but then again I found myself staring at the word “limited”!
So, with that thought in mind, I started to play with the designs to see what other creations could be made. This turned out to be an extensive usage of time activity but the more I played the more I realized that unknown to me the designs could be used to create so many other items of home décor and wearable art. This led to creating two sections of the completed collection, a trapunto applique collection and just an applique collection.
Playing with the blueprint of my earlier sketches, I discovered that the blocks didn’t need to match up to the original blueprint. Moving the sketch blocks around, I could create so many different looks (for another wall hanging perhaps!) to create a multitude of items. My first trial was to see how I would like using a few blocks to create cushion covers! Yes, I love cushions and the more the better, and definitely a variety of covers!
Using just the center six blocks, and the applique designs, I stitched out my first test cushion cover. You be the judge of whether this works or not! In my opinion, it definitely opens the door to using the resources (designs) a bit further than the original intent! Anxious now to see what else I could do with the designs, I started playing with the sketches. This is usually when I should stop and not push the envelope as I tend to get carried away and create more designs for the collection. This time, however, I gave strict instructions to myself not to do that, although the temptation was there….
I have to give credit to a dear friend who happened to visit while I was playing with the sketch blocks. My color palette is pretty predictable and I tend to favor the same colors throughout my collections. I recall the last time I played with bizarre colors, or colors that were out of my comfort zone…and throughout the process, it was great effort on my part not to switch the fabrics to colors that I liked! My friend’s kitchen is black and white and that was the palette that she wanted me to use! Okay, I couldn’t envision that color palette for a kitchen…maybe if I tried hard though. My friend decided this would be an ideal collection for me to use in making her placemats, which I have been promising her for a long time…a long time. What do you think of my efforts? Believe me this was not easy, I so wanted to introduce red somewhere but was sternly forbidden to even let red near the placemat. I think red would have perked up the black and white easily! But, stepping outside my “norm”, I discovered that there was a possibility of having a personalized look to items that can be created with these designs.
The collection is complete and I’m tying up the loose ends, happy that the designs can be used in other ways than intended, yet at the same time, allow for personal individuality to show through. Meanwhile, the whole idea of the blog is to interest readers in taking a second look at your “design stash”. Do something outside your normal “norm”…you’d be surprised at the endless possibilities!
For the past several months, my dining table and my sewing area has fallen victim to sketch papers and fabric/batting pieces…simply because I wanted to try something different in machine embroidery. The inspiration was a Nimda, or a Persian wool prayer rug, which repeatedly drew my attention, despite the fact that I had other designs which were almost complete and required attention to detail! The more I looked at the Nimda, the more I was drawn to it and hence the disruptive state of affairs which didn’t just retain itself to my sewing area, but also spilled over other parts of the house. The dining table was perfect for placement of sketches and standing on chairs gave me the panoramic view of what I wanted to portray.
Eastern culture lays a lot of emphasis on red color, traditionally coupled with gold and blue colors. Colors were already flying around in my head as I envisioned usage of only two colors, background and embroidery. The Nimda originally started off as an embroidery design, similar to the Secret Garden designs concept…but I soon tired of it. Redoing something which is already done bores me, and besides, the stitched out design was blah! Well…it wasn’t speaking to me, LOL.
So, as always, I went back to my sketches and started re-evaluating other techniques. My aha moment came when a dear friend sent me a picture that she had seen on Pinterest! That was the start of Gulshan-e-Ferdos! The picture of dyed fabric with wool filled open design areas and tight stippling type quilting was just the inspiration I needed!
Gulshan is a Persian word (as in many other Eastern languages) which means flowers or floral. Ferdos means Paradise. My sketches had large flowery vines beneath an arched door frame and Gulshan-e-Ferdos or Flowers of Paradise was the perfect name!
Trapunto effect was first created in the Shades of Trapunto collection, years ago. Since then, some of my technique of creating the trapunto effect has changed, although not too much. Coupled with the idea of giving a shaded effect with the trapunto really interested me, but that technique has already been tried in Shaded Florals, so I wanted something different this time.
The original wall hanging was huge and I repeatedly edited my sketches. The final was five blocks of 5×7 hoop across with four columns, or twenty blocks stitched out on the 5×7 hoop. In my original sketches, there was a lot of movement with meandering vines and other smaller flowers, which I really liked but I have to admit the extra motifs did add to the stitch out time of each block. With twenty blocks (minus border blocks) to stitch out, I just see the marketability of the collection! So…that is when the applique technique hit me, which cut down the stitch outs considerably, to where one can stitch out the complete wall hanging and complete it in one weekend! I liked that!
As the color scheme uses only two colors, light and dark or medium, the stitch out of the blocks is extremely easy and fast. The trapunto technique remains the same, where batting is placed directly onto the hooped stabilizer, without the fabric, and trimmed away per the design. Background fabric and the stippling is next, followed by the applique. Believe me there were many instances where I was tempted to add another color or two to the designs, but I think simplicity in two colors says much more than the original Nimda shown above. What are your thoughts?? The collection…almost complete!
It’s that time of year again! Every year I host a sale in June….”buy one get one free”! Well, the time is here and the sale lasts throughout the month of June. Any design or collection that you purchase, entitles you to get a design or collection, of equal or less value for free! It’s that simple. For more information, here is the direct link: Mid Year Sale.
June 1st,2013 Main
Goodbye to you my trusted friend, we’ve known each other since we were nine or ten, together we’ve climbed hills and trees, learned of love and ABC’s, skinned our hearts and skinned our knees,
Goodbye my friend, it’s hard to die, when all the birds are singing in the sky, now that spring is in the air….
We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the stars we could reach were just starfish on the beach. All our lives, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time.
Qazi Imran Husain Suhrawardy, 1958-2013
Broderie Anglaise is a form of whitework embroidery in which round or oval holes are pierced in the material, and the cut edges then overcast. The holes, or eyelets, are grouped in a pattern that is further enhanced by simple embroidery stitches on the surrounding material. This form of embroidery involves considerable time and effort and depending upon the overall design, can be pretty expensive.
In my mind, I wanted the look of broderie anglaise, but thus far the ability to cut out so many holes has eluded me…well, sort of…I’m still working on it. In the meantime, the “Eyelet 1″ collection has nine designs, with floral type meandering vines, which sort of give the illusion of broderie anglaise.
The designs are extremely versatile, and can be stitched out just as adornment, without even cutting out the “eyelet holes” or as shown on a child’s t-shirt, embellished with ribbon to give a boost to an otherwise ordinary t-shirt!
The technique is really very very simple…just like cutwork there are three steps to creating the “eyelet”. Water soluble stabilizer is necessary for stitching out the designs as eyelets. If using fabric which may shrink after washing, it is highly recommended that it be washed prior to adding the embroidery. Every design has three colors. Only one color is needed to stitch out the design and the other two are deliberate stops for your machine. The first step is placement. Stitch out the first color directly on the stabilizer. I bet many of you are thinking how the fabric will be attached to the hoop! Well, I never hoop my fabric, ever, only the stabilizer. The fabric is attached using long pins or water soluble glue. As we are using water soluble stabilizer, using a glue is not a good idea as the dampness may cause holes in the stabilizer! I normally pin my fabric away from the embroidery area.
Before pinning fabric to the stabilizer, it wouldn’t hurt to sort of figure out where you will be placing the design. Print out an actual size of the design on paper and use it as a template. If you do not have software which will allow you to print the design, may I plug in a bit about Embird at this time. I have used the software for the last ten plus years and believe me, it is the most affordable and useful editing software out there.
Moving on with our instructions, use air erase pen to mark your fabric, specially if you will be creating a border as in the t-shirt above. This marking and the stitched out placement on the stabilizer makes it easy to know before hand where the eyelets will be. Once your fabric is pinned well to the stabilizer, go ahead and stitch out the next thread color. This is the cutwork guide. The fabric on the inside of the tiny zig-zag stitches will be trimmed away to allow us to create the “eyelet” hole!
I guess you now understand the reason for the three colors! The next step is very crucial and believe me, when I say do not hold the hoop in your hand to trim away from inside the round circles, I mean it! I highly recommend that you remove the hoop from the machine, place it on a flat surface (without anything else on it), and then gently trim away the fabric inside the zig-zag circles, taking care not to cut into the stabilizer. If you were to hold the hoop in your hand and then try to trim the fabric…you may move stabilizer and the fabric, which will throw your design completely off and the eyelets final stitches may be somewhere else! See my picture of the trimmed out fabric…
Now the fun part begins…stitching out the design. Once your have trimmed away the fabric from inside the zig-zag circles…take care at this time to trim away as clean as possible. The final stitches will cover up a lot but you don’t want loose threads poking through the final satin stitches. Lovely, isn’t it.
The eyelet designs can be used in so many ways. The best way that I like is to use them to gather little girl’s outfits. The idea came from a dear friend who was visiting me and saw me stitch out the t-shirt at the top of the page. My friend suggested that I use the design totally around the t-shirt and then gather it with the ribbon. Great idea! So, here is my t-shirt for my dear friend’s grand-daughter!
To use the eyelet designs as a draw-string, I had to stitch out the plain eyelet in the dead center of the t-shirt after the other designs were stitched out. This allowed me to run the ribbon all around the t-shirt, and bring out each ends from the center eyelets. Love the shirt and as for the collection….it will be released very soon!