Thursday, November 13, 2008

Update: Christmas UFO Projects

This is a not-so-quick update of my progress on the projects I identified for the Christmas 2007 UFO work plan, which I am attempting to finish in November 2008. I encountered a few challenges along the way . . .

The Christmas Tree Countdown Calendar:

It turns out that I had completely finished 9 mini ornaments last year, while 10 more were stitched together and waiting to be cut apart.

The numbers for the remaining 6 days were embroidered but the ornament fronts needed to be finished.


Here they are all done - this is the layout I'm hoping to use for attaching them to the tree:


I haven't decided yet how to attach them to the tree; the original instructions from Embroidery Library suggest eyes and hooks. If I can find some I like, I may use that method, but it will require hand sewing. And I still need to decide on fabrics for the borders and backing to turn this into a wall hanging. Or maybe it should be some sort of stuffed stand-up figure? Hmmmm.....

Snowman & Santa Ornaments:

I've completed all the embroidery for these little guys. It was my first really successful attempt at embroidering with metallic threads. I used Sulky metallic gold and silver embroidery thread, a Schmetz Metallic #80 needle, YLI cotton bobbin thread and medium tearaway stabilizer. I hooped the stabilizer and "floated" the felt on top for each embroidery design, and stitched them each on a slow setting - not the absolute slowest, but the speed I call "medium slow".


The only problem I ran into was that I ran out of gold thread with just about 100 stitches remaining on the snowman's hat piece (the one with the holly leaves and berries).

I didn't have another spool of gold thread, so I saved the embroidery design on my SE, noted the stitch number where I stopped stitching and removed the hoop from the machine, but left the felt in the hoop as-is. The same thing happened when I was working on the snowman's body pieces -- ran out of silver right at the very end.

The next day I visited my local JoAnn Fabrics and bought the larger size spools of gold and silver. Lucky me, the threads were all 50% off for the Veterans' Day sale, plus I had an extra 10% coupon to use, so I also picked up some Sulky green metallic and Coats & Clark ruby metallic ('cuz they were all out of the Sulky red).

Anyway, when I returned to the machine, I reloaded the original design and used the nifty 'go to stitch' feature on my machine. Instead of having to advance one stitch at a time through a design to get to my previous stopping point, one of the recent SE machine updates allows us to type in a stitch number and the machine advances right to that point. I'll bet they put that in for just this kind of situation. I backed up a few stitches just to be sure I didn't miss any and started up the embroidery on the slowest setting and watched it finish the last 100 stitches perfectly.

Now that all the embroidery is completed, I need to cut apart the pieces and start assembling and stuffing these ornaments.

In the Hoop Potholders:

I've finished one of the Christmas Potholders so far:


The top sections were cut out and salvaged from one of those old placemat rejects I showed in my previous blog entry. It turns out that I still have about a yard of the "fruity" Christmas fabric, so I used that for the lining of the "bottom" section of the potholder.

I followed the basic directions for In the Hoop Potholders from EmbroideryLibrary with a few modifications to make this one. I didn't hoop all the layers, just the tearaway stabilizer. I used the dieline files to stitch the outlines of the top and bottom pieces and cut exactly on the stitching to get the proper size pieces. When the embroidery design is stitched, the dielines are included as a step to show where to place the pieces.

One other change I made was to embroider through all the layers of the top pieces. The original instructions have a step where you put the lining fabric on the bottom of the hoop before sewing the inner borders so that the back of the embroidery (where you put your hand inside the potholder) is covered. When the borders are stitched, the stabilizer is captured inside which I thought was too stiff and uncomfortable on the potholder I made last year. So instead, all the fabric layers of the top pieces are on the top of my hooped stabilizer and the back of my embroidery is visible, if you really wanted to look inside. The potholder is more pliable, which I think is important if you want to be able to grab a hot handle easily.

It took me about 2.5 hours from start to finish, including cutting and measuring and reading all the instructions. I hope the next one will go faster.

During the embroidery, I used the Sensor Q foot and I think I've finally figured out the trick to attaching this one without a struggle. I've used it before, and I do think that it makes the embroidery look a little bit better, but it was always such a bother to attach it correctly, I've just been using the R foot for most embroidery because it's easier. There's a tip for attaching the Q foot in the files section of the Designer SE Yahoo group, but I still had some trouble after studying the photos. I don't have problems with attaching any of the other accessory feet -- including the dual feed foot -- so this one has been bugging me.

This time, I removed the needle, removed the regular ankle, raised the foot height and lowered the needle position, THEN aligned the groove on the Sensor Q foot so that I could attach the screw on the left side of the presser foot bar while keeping the little arm on the right side above the needle screw. Before, the needle would always get in my way, and I couldn't get the little arm above the needle screw. I also remembered to change my machine settings for the Q foot this time. I stitched at the "medium slow" speed again, and the embroidery really does look great.

The larger In the Hoop Potholder fits my hand better than the smaller one I made last year. Here's a side by side view:


The smaller one measures about 5 x 6.75 inches and the larger one is about 5.75 x 8 inches. I don't remember which hoop I used for the smaller one (probably the 180x130); I used the 240x150 for the Christmas design.

Additional photos of these projects in process can be seen in this album:
Christmas 2008 - in progress

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