6 Things I learned the hard way

I have been working hard on learning some new skills – mostly sewing – so that my embroidery can be even better. How are sewing and embroidery connected? The better you are at sewing, the better your finished embroidery designs will be – like quilt blocks and wall hangings to name a few.

I learned a few things the hard way this week – ok, well not that hard, but it did take up a lot of my time.

LESSON 1: BE CAREFUL USING CLEAR THREAD.

The first lesson was the ever evil monofilament “invisible” thread. Great for stitching in the ditch, but darn scary otherwise. I was sewing together a few pieces using a plain white thread and I left the invisible thread on the thread rack above the machine, as I always do because I was going to use it again shortly. That turned out to be a mistake!

I was stitching along and suddenly my machine stopped. No warning, no funny noises no indication that the machine was in peril. I looked at the threading, took out the bobbin and did the regular check ups, but the wheel was still stuck – totally stuck and unable to move. I got a flashlight and looked again. Nothing. So I called Don for a second opinion. He looked for a few minutes and then saw it – the clear invisible thread had gone through with the other thread that I was using, and was stuck somewhere in the machine. We took the cover off of the machine to look and wow, the clear thread was wrapped around an inside part at least a million times, and this was made more difficult because YOU CAN’T SEE THE THREAD. Don is the machine maintenance guy, so he knows what he was doing with the machine, and we took turns picking out tiny pieces of un-seeable thread. Oh what fun.

LESSON 2: QUILT DESIGNERS ARE BRILLIANT, AND I SHOULD HAVE PAID MORE ATTENTION TO GEOMETRY IN HIGH SCHOOL…

It is truly amazing what quilt designers can do with shapes, putting together shapes in different ways to make stunning designs and quilts. Throw in gorgeous colors and fussy cut fabric and you bring out the wow factor! I have been checking out some videos and I am absolutely amazed at how designs are put together – so clever and so much easier than I ever thought. It’s easy to make complicated-looking blocks that are pieced, and ready for embroidery – either designs or quilting embroidery. Here is a Dresden plate design made with jelly roll strips. Easy and fast to make, and oh so beautiful. I can’t wait to add the embroidered quilting!! *design credit goes to the Missouri Star quilting company – it’s a brilliant design and easier than it looks.

This is so pretty!!! I am so happy I could create it!!!

LESSON 3: A WEDGE IS NOT A DRESDEN

Well, this may seem simple to everyone, but I had an Accuquilt wedge shape and wanted to make the above Dresden circle. This goes back to high school geometry because it is all about the angles. The shapes look similar, but they have different angles – the wedge makes a straight line and the Dresden is tapered at the end so it forms a circle. I was so happy that I didn’t have to rotary cut anything! I happily tossed those jellyroll strips on the Accuquilt and cut them all. I realized my mistake as I was laying out the cut blocks and they didn’t go into a circle. Even though some quilters refer to the Dresden shape as a wedge, a wedge shape will not form a circle. Lesson learned – it’s all about ANGLES. I didn’t realize it was so complicated. After researching the Dresden plate rulers, I found out that they have different angles and sizes – so you have to make sure you have enough fabric to complete the 6, 10, or more to complete the circle.

LESSON 4: ROTARY CUTTING IS HARD

Ya, it seriously is hard to learn. I need more practice, for sure. I watch the quilters easily swipe the rotary cutter through stacks of fabric so I assumed I could do the same thing. Ah, no, definitely not. Rotary cutting is a skill, learn it well because it will help your embroidery projects come to life (and the cut/sewing lines will be straight, not crooked 🙂 )

LESSON 5: I REALLY LIKE ENGLISH PAPER PIECING (HEXAGONS ARE AWESOME)

I am trying hard not to work in the evening by answering emails, doing more set up, research or ideas, as well as constantly looking at Facebook to get caught up on the Gang’s activities. I decided to research something fun and creative to sit, relax, and create in the evening. I remember that Accuquilt came out with 8 new dies for English paper piecing, so I started there. I did some more research and got out all the tools I would need and put them into a project bin. After some trial and error, I seriously wished that I had the Accuquilt dies for this project. The key is the cardstock paper shapes have to be perfect, or it won’t piece together well. It’s a hand stitching thing, so after I learned how to properly do the stitches, what order to attach the pieces, and how to remove the paper. I spent a couple of weeks practicing and trying different stitches and different methods. I love the final look, but I also love the design possibilities with more than one shape. The Accuquilt dies have 4 dies for paper and a matching 4 dies for the fabric, which is a huge time saver! I tried hand cutting the shapes. No. I tried the cutter. Also no. I tried tracing, printing, freezer paper (cool, but also no). For me, I purchased some pre-made paper cuts designed for English paper piecing. Works great, and takes the stress away and I get to just stitch and have fun.

So much to learn, but I love how it all turned out!

LESSON 6: CURVES ARE HARD TO SEW

Yep. Stitch to straight line stitching and then do curves, save yourself the frustration. Just saying.

It’s been a hectic few weeks learning, making mistakes, practicing and learning some more. It feels good to be learning some new skills, and I can’t wait to get to the embroidery parts, too!

Have a stitching adventure and step outside the embroidery box and jump into the sewing box!

Happy stitching!

Sue

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