How Long It Takes

housestitching2Do people ask you how long it takes to make something? I get this often, but never keep track of my time.  But I have finally come up with an answer.

housestitching1To do this much hand embroidery on this little house quilt took about 6 hours. How do I know? Because that’s how much time it takes to drive from Chicago to Akron, OH. So from now on, that’s my answer. You may use it as well.

Teach a Kid to Stitch

dishtowel Like many of you I began as a child. My mom taught me the basic hand stitches for that time honored craft of embroidery on dish towels. I took to it like a dancing tomato.

kidstitchingNow it’s time to teach our children (or grandchildren) to stitch. Hand embroidery is an art form that deals with color, texture, pattern, and the joy of making something by hand. Instead of a video game, give them a needle and thread.

handoffortunemaxSo here’s an idea. Trace your child’s hand onto cotton or silk fabric. Put it in a hoop or fuse it to batting for stability (this is how the Hand of Fortune embroidery is done). Basic stitches like the Running Stitch, Stem Stitches, and Cross Stitches are easy to learn. Older children can learn Lazy Daisy Stitches and French Knots.

That’s all you need to have fun. Teach a kid to stitch.

Random Acts of Dyeing

dyedthread3It’s back to school time! And that means dyeing thread for all my fall classes. The threads you see above are destined for my students as part of their class kits. Whether taking a quilting class or hand embroidery class, everybody gets some colorful thread. Ooooooh! Aren’t they pretty!

dyebottlesThese threads are dyed using the “random acts of dyeing” method. I don’t following the repeatable color formulas for Artfabrik threads. Instead, I use up all my left over dye stock to dye threads in random colorways. It’s a great way to discover new color combinations and prepare for my classes at the same time. See you in the classroom!

 

What I’ve Learned from Teaching

ironcleaning1One of the things I most enjoy about teaching is what I learn from my students. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years from teaching intrepid quilt makers from around the world. 

  • Irons are hot, filthy things. Use a dryer sheet to clean your iron. Here’s how.
  • Do NOT use a dryer sheet when standing beneath a smoke detector as they can trigger a smoke alarm. The fire department will come to your classroom and you are never asked back to that venue again.
  • Use size 4 embroidery needles with a size 8 embroidery thread.
  • The best place to hide your fabric stash from your husband is at a friend’s house.
  • Always bring Band-Aids to class.
  • When an iron starts an ironing board on fire, throw it out the door onto an asphalt driveway. Or wait for the fire department to arrive and never be asked back to that venue again. 

A big thank you to all my students for these helpful tips!

How to Count When Fusing

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One of the first steps in fusing fabric is to apply the glue to the fabric for 5-7 seconds with a hot, dry iron. Seems simple, right? But I have discovered that in different regions of the country, people count at a different pace. So 5 seconds in Alabama is not 5 seconds in New York City.

Therefore I have implemented the Chicago School of Fusing Method of Counting!

First, pretend you are Lawrence Welk. You are conducting the orchestra in a polka. The beat goes: 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3. (Do NOT include the North Dakota “anda” between the numbers.)

  • Count out loud. If you do this rhythm 4 times correctly, a total of 6 seconds will pass. 
  • Now draw a straight line on the non-glue side of the fusible web. 
  • Place the glue side of the fusible web onto the fabric.

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  • Place the hot (cotton setting) iron on the right side of the line.
  • Begin the polka. Repeat after me: 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3.

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  • As you begin your 1,2,3s glide the iron across the line so you end up with the line on the right side of the iron by your last 1,2,3. 
  • There! Not only do you have the correct speed for fusing but you can dance as well.

Traveling? Some Stitch Tips

silkstitching1Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to a long, long car ride next week. Why? It’s an opportunity to stitch for extended stretches of time without those bothersome interruptions like fabric dyeing, thread washing, and being chased around the garden by mosquitoes.

etuiSo as I pack up my etui, threads, and stitch projects I have a few tips for your next stitching adventure on the road:

  • Safety first. Have someone else drive the car.
  • Only stitch in the daylight. Unless you are wearing a head lamp, stitching at night can be dangerous.
  • Bring all your supplies with you (needles, thread, scissors, thimble). Most roadside convenience stores do not carry embroidery thread.
  • Find a safe place to stick the needle when it’s not being used. I can not stress this enough. You may think you are just popping out of the car for a quick coffee run but you are really losing the needle in the seat of the car only to be discovered by a disgruntled spouse when it’s your turn to drive.
  • Expect attention from passing semi-truck drivers. Truck drivers are very nosy and like to look over your shoulder when you stitch.
  • Do not listen to politics on the car radio. Reactions to stupid remarks by candidates can cause you to lose control of the needle resulting in finger stabs.
  • Do not give driving directions when stitching. The driver does not appreciate seeing a needle waving “go left” out of the corner of his eye.