Multi-hooping refresher…

I believe I have written about multi-hooping several times but here is a refresher. My method does not involve any special hoop, IMG_20150217_192551or stabilizer, and it is the most easiest and simple way to create continuous borders. Any design that will be repeated several times, or a design which needs to be mirror imaged to create a larger design, can be stitched out in this manner. The Chained Hearts Collection is just released and I used one of the designs from it to embellish a waffle weave towel, shown on the right.

Anyone who has ever attended my embroidery project classes knows that I never hoop the item to be IMG_20150217_183334embroidered, rather I only hoop the stabilizer. Hooping the stabilizer is the key ingredient to creating seamless continuous borders! In all my continuous designs or designs that I perceive as a possible candidate for continuous stitching, I always place a box as the first stitch-out of the design. The box may or may not be exactly around the parameters at times, depending upon the best way that the next design can be joined. This box is stitched out directly on the stabilizer. Not only does the box aid in joining the next design as a continuous border, but it also helps in placement of the design. The item to be embroidered can then be placed on top of the stitched out box, either pinned to the stabilizer IMG_20150217_183513or adhered to using fabric glue stick. For demonstration purposes, I’ve used CH1 design. Once the box is stitched out, I remove the hoop from the machine and lay on a flat surface.

As you can see from the image on the right, after the box is stitched out, I’ve placed my waffle weave towel on top of the stabilizer and pinned the towel to the stabilizer. Now, I always place my pins as far away as possible from the stitched out box, as sometimes, the design may not be the exact size of the box! My waffle weave towel is not as wide as I needed it to be for stitching out four of the same design, IMG_20150217_184003so I already know that part of the first and last stitch-outs may be on the stabilizer. Once I have secured the item to be embroidered to the stabilizer, I place it in the machine to stitch out the design. One thing I always suggest is that one should always place the hoop on a flat surface while pinning/gluing the fabric to the stabilizer.  The first stitch out is complete. Now the fun starts!IMG_20150217_184058

After the design is stitched out, I carefully remove the stabilizer from the hoop and trim an inch or so away of the stabilizer from the stitched out box. This is so that I have enough of the first stitch-out’s stabilizer to match up with the next stitch-out. Now, I hoop another piece of the stabilizer and again stitch out the box directly on it. IMG_20150217_184352To match the first stitch out with the next, I place the first stitch out box outline next to the one on the stabilizer in the hoop. I either use fabric glue or pins to attach the first stitch out to the stabilizer. Again, I stitch out the design and lo and behold…it matches up perfectly!

IMG_20150217_185049In the same manner, I would now stitch out the same design several times, until I have the desired width stitched out. In this case, the design was stitched out four times. Hopefully, this method can be applied by you, using any of the designs that you have in your stash. Now, I create my boxes, but you can do the same, using the shapes (box/rectangle) from your embroidery machine also. Simply enlarge/condense the shape to the size of your design and make sure that the shape is the first stitch out. Then, just follow these directions to create your own borders…or continuous embroidery. :)






New Year….new beginings

The New Year started over a month ago and already the year is galloping by! I know I have been extremely lazy in writing my blog and updating friends about my journey. Life has taken on a whole different outlook! Who knew after losing my husband that 5kI would find another who would be able to become my life partner. Both of us lost out spouses to cancer and we both know the heartache and the empty feeling afterwards. To find someone who shares the same ideas, has the same values and also the same cultural background is nothing short of a miracle. We are indeed lucky and I am looking forward to life’s next adventure!

Meantime, I have been toying with so many different types and kinds of embroideries. So much so that my mind was overly confused. I so want to create everything that I end up finishing nothing! Well, this year, I intend to pick up only one collection and work with it until it is completed…easy said than done, but hey, I’m going to try. One way I deal with this over abundance of inspiration is to look at the simple things…well, I say they are simple as in the stitches used but the workmanship and the ideas are nothing short of absolute wonder and awe. Some while back I had toyed with creating designs using the simple chain stitch…it is the most easiest stitch yet it can create the most beautiful of embroideries. Kashmiri embroideries are created using only the chain stitch and I have always marveled at the beautiful shawls and wearable items embellished with this type of embroidery. While my endeavor is to re-create the vintage hand embroideries, I tend to give a modern day twist. The shawl on the right side is absolutely stunning, all chain stitch done by hand!

The beauty of chain stitch is that it has a width but not the weight, so it can be embroidered on any type 10920922_955783511100584_7226654781977114580_nof fabric, well, almost all types of fabrics! When I started designing, I had the hardest time getting away from the original designs, of paisleys and florals. I wanted a light look and feel to the designs but yet at the same time, wanted the design to have a definite pattern. As you can see in the image on the left, my design has a much more open table1feel than the original Kashmiri embroideries, which seem to be heavy, as the same chain stitch is also work back, not on itself but right next to the first line.

Designing away, I found that a lot of my designs created a heart shape. Now, this was definitely not planned, but I liked it.  With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the collection is just in time! However, the hearts are so subtle that the designs can be used throughout the year on any home décor items, on wearable items and even quilt blocks. :) I’m excited to have the first collection of 2015 almost ready…and in the first quarter too!

As for the name…I had to really think it through…so, how does Chained Hearts sound to you?

An update….

10426764_837691869576416_220129615140847353_nI know I have been “missing” for several months and want to share news of my journey through life. In June of this year, I was blessed to marry and start my life again. Life never ends…and we never know what lies ahead. The past one year has been a whirlwind and as I settle down I am slowly but surely returning to my digitizing.

My husband is an amazing person, kind-hearted and loving and I couldn’t be more happier. We both share the same culture and have so much in common!

My life’s journey continues and I am ready!

Waiting on Spring!!

After a long self imposed hiatus, I have finally decided to return to my sewing room and start designing. Winter has a short lived charm on me svbband for the last seven months, I have seen Father Winter have a grand time! Yes, I’m ever so ready for Spring, and the question is….will it ever arrive this year? I did have pansies growing which cheered me up, but the last freaky winter storm did its damage. I so want to see Spring…for me it is a time of coming alive, filled with color and scent of delicious blooms everywhere, after a period of dull, grey and colorless times.

So, in anticipation, I started my next collection, “Spring Bouquets”. If I can’t get to see Spring flowers, perhaps I can grow them on my embroidery Image3machine! The collection has four applique quilt blocks, one applique border block and three quilted motif border block designs. Each full block is created by joining four blocks, and variations can be created.  I wanted bright colors but any color scheme would work. The flowers are replica of Persian style vintage floral motifs to which I gave a modern twist! Quilting is an optional preference and the designs do come with and without the quilting motifs.

The quilting motifs are simple and this time I used a cross-hatch pattern with a simple curlicue type border quilt design. Another variation that I created is a continuous quilting motif, which allows the blocks to create a secondary quilting pattern, along with the cross-hatch within the flowers.

The collection is complete as I write, except for a few fine tuning and the documentation and Image6ahope to release within a few days. The samples that I have stitched up thus far are just too enticing for me to stop stitching out more and more blocks and utilizing them in various ways. No way can I finish up the bed spread that I started to show all of you, but I do hope to at least show a few samples, some shown here.

Meantime, I’m trying to move away from the quilting bug that caught me some years ago, and get back to re-creating vintage embroideries. Yes, there are several new designs that I’ve been working on and off. Hopefully, Spring will make an appearance soon, perhaps before I release the Spring Bouquets! Love to all.


So long 2013, Hello 2014

Image1saEnd 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!

Adding a bit of “Zen” to machine embroidery

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 1a1e65b96ba2327b4ececdaa72266f3fI 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 IMG_1941qaaconcentrate 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, speciallyImage2 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 IMG_1933done.

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 IMG_1943aa 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.

Changing times

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 1385221_557055497700945_619317076_nof machine embroiderers…well, that time has arrived.

1385220_10151737617930073_822607708_nLast 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 IMG_1926aamany 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

Multi-use of resources

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 IMG_1892arestrictions 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 Image2awall 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 IMG_1905aoriginal 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 Image3afurther 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 lIMG_1910aaaast 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!