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An arch appliqué t-shirt for a little boy who * MIGHT * be moving to St. Louis

St. Louis LOVE Shirt

St. Louis LOVE Shirt

Hello from the Netherlands! I’m here visiting our university’s campus in Leiden before attending a conference in Spain. I know, I know… My life is rough. And how does this all relate to machine embroidery?

My colleague in Leiden has a 1-year-old son, Freddie,  who I had never met so I wanted to take him a little gift. But since I had never met the little tyke and didn’t know what he was into, I decided to use the gift giving opportunity to help convince his parents to move to (my home town ) St. Louis! It IS actually a possibility that they may move… which would be great from my point of view.

So I bought Freddie a simple t-shirt from Target –  which currently has some really cute kid clothes – but not much that is plain enough for appliqué.  But I think this blue t-shirt with subtle stripes is perfect for this design.  It’s kind of retro and reminds me of the sky. AHHHH – lovely.

Like the concept?  It’s actually a hybrid of two designs I sell in my Etsy store: the arch design plus any of the states that contain an appliqué heart.  Enjoy and happy embroidering!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/248105477/st-louis-arch-machine-embroidery-and?ga_search_query=arch&ref=shop_items_search_1

https://www.etsy.com/listing/217977768/missouri-applique-and-embroidery-design?ga_search_query=missouri&ref=shop_items_search_1

Skeleton (Day of the Dead) Embroidery Design / Best Gift Ever

I love embroidering gifts for my friend Alix, because she likes just about anything I make. (See lotus flower dress from last year.) Or maybe that’s just what she tells me. Anyway – when her birthday came around this year, I felt a lot of pressure to top some of the gifts I had embroidered in years past.. but was – JUST –  NOT –  FEELING –  IT.

But – fortunately – things changed for me while taking a trip to Puerto Rico this winter. While dining in old San Juan, I noticed a skeleton face icon painted on a wall across from where I was eating. And the thought occurred to me that this would be a great design to digitize.  I had wanted to digitize a “day of the dead” skeleton face – but had not found a great design. But once I spotted this sign – I knew I had found a winner. 2016-04-06 18.08.31

I ended up finding a black longsleeved T-shirt with a slight swing in the hem on the Old Navy clearance rack that would be the perfect back drop for my design.  I had considered stitching it out all in one color but opted to get a little crazy with the color combo and I think I made the right call.

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I couldn’t be any more in love with this design.  I especially love seeing my best bud in this ensemble.  (The necklace is from Puerto Rico as well!)

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Want to make this shirt too?  Check out the day of the dead design on my Etsy store.

Confused about machine applique? Check out this “how-to” video and learn the basics of machine appliqué how to make a $6 tunic look cute and custom.

I never anticipated that after I started making embroidery designs, people would start asking me how to use them. It all seems so simple to me now. But I remember when getting started – I, too, was perplexed about certain processes. The big mystery for me? appliqué designs.

Now I do tons of appliqué on my embroidery machine. In fact, a personalized, appliqué t-shirt or sweatshirt is usually my go-to gift for kid birthday gifts. (And either they all are lying to me but the kids LOVE them).  One of my favorite items that I’ve ever made are these personalized tunics that I bought at Walmart.

In the following video you will see how I personalized a similar tunic. It’s cheap, it’s easy to do and kids will love it.  I hope this helps + let me know what you think!

Note: the single initial flower design is available on my Etsy store.

Free fabric scraps at this funky Chicago fabric store: The Needle Shop!

The Needle Shop - Chicago, IL

The Needle Shop – Chicago, IL

Anyone who does appliqué knows the value of a scrap. A small piece of fabric is all you need to make a big impact.  But if you rely on using scraps from your own projects AND you do a lot of appliqué… you start to run out of fresh options. So when I walked into The Needle Shop in Chicago and saw a large bin of free scraps, I got pretty excited!

What a fabulous concept! I have never seen such an offer in any fabric store, and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. After rooting through the scrap bin for a good 10 minutes, and feeling very grateful for my finds, I WANTED to find something to purchase from this totally awesome store. And this was not a problem.

The Needle Shop has tons of modem (primarily) cotton printed fabrics and many examples of garments made from their stock to provide lots of inspiration. I didn’t even go near their trims for fear that it would be just too tempting (and I haven’t done ANYTHING yet with my $40 trim purchase from Geneva.)

Don’t know how to sew? Not a problem – The Needle Shop also offers an assortment of sewing classes and from the looks of it – it’s not your grandma’s sewing school.

So if you find yourself in Chicago – make sure you drop by and help yourself to the free scraps. Just save a few for me!

Learn more about The Needle Shop, Chicago

Use your old t-shirts to make groovy appliqués like this funky gecko sweatshirt!

gecko-sweatshirt

There’s nothing I like more than making a custom item of clothing for my kids and their friends. But the last thing I want to do is dress them in something dorky just because I think it’s cute.  So I’m always asking  for their opinion on what they think looks cool. Unfortunately I don’t always have the perfect materials on-hand to make exactly what they have  in mind.

Right now I have a little boy who is six (Thomas), and he’s a big fan of the t-shirts I make for him.  So he has a lot of ideas for garments he would like me to stitch for him and his friends.  But when it comes to little boys – I think it’s a bit tricky finding an age appropriate design for boys his age.  I tend to favor raw edge appliqués on garments I make for little boys.  Some of my favorite designs for little boys include my fishbone appliqué and the rodeo cowboy design. These make great T-shirts for little guys.

But for his friend, Johnny (who was celebrating his 6th birthday), Thomas had a new idea.  He informed me that we needed to make a gecko shirt for his friend. You see Johnny has a pet gecko, so Thomas thought it would be the perfect emblem for a sweatshirt.  Alright – a gecko sweatshirt is it – with a raw edge applique to make it a little more boy-appropriate.

When I make right at edge appliqués I like to use a knit fabric so that the fabric doesn’t ravel around the edges when the raw edge is exposed.  The only problem was that I didn’t have any green knit fabric to make the appliqué. But what I did have, was a green t-shirt that was waiting to go to Goodwill.

t-shirt applique

An old t-shirt can be a great source of applique fabric.

Old t-shirts make great knit fabric applique. In fact, I frequently use my husband’s old white undershirts (when I find a clean patch) and use it for an appliqué design. Unfortunately –  he only wears white T-shirts so that deprives me of other color options. I suppose you could dye parts of his white T-shirts in a rainbow of colors or simply save pieces of junkie T-shirts that you’re going to get rid of anyway in different colors?

gecko-sweatshirt-in-progress

Stitching the gecko

Anyway – back to the project.  I took this hideous green t-shirt, cut out a small piece and used it for a lizard applique on a blue sweatshirt, then I I added some initials  to personalize it a bit.  I chose a blue sweatshirt because they are “uniform acceptable”  at the Catholic school they attend. I realize that the gecko may be pushing the dress code a bit but I think sister Diane will let it slide.

Want to make it yourself?  Check out my lizard applique on Etsy and don’t forget your applique scissors so you don’t cut your finished product!

My big Spring Break thrill: meeting Patricia from Project Runway in Taos, NM!

Meeting Patricia Michaels in Taos... wish I dressed a little nicer.

Meeting Patricia Michaels in Taos… wish I dressed a little nicer.

I am a HUGE Project Runway fan.  I know, I know, the show has been on for years, it’s formulaic, it’s reality TV – but I love it anyway.  As a creator – I totally appreciate how much work goes into every piece these designers crank out and I totally get it… it’s NOT easy.   Another reason why I like the show is that (unlike The Bachelor)  it’s pretty kid appropriate.  So now my kids are big fans too.

One of my favorite designers from the past few seasons is Patricia Michaels, a Native American woman from Taos, New Mexico.  Patricia had such a quiet grace on the show and seemed to never succumb to hurling insults at her fellow competitors.  Plus her work was exquisite, ornate, unique and totally reflective of her Native American culture with a few whimsical twists.

My best friend, Alix, who is often featured on this blog, just happens to live in Taos, New Mexico and met Patricia at a show in town recently. Prior to meeting her, Alix and I had talked about how much we loved her and her work on the show, so this was exciting!  Alix quickly discovered that Patricia is just as sweet and talented in person as she is on the show.  Patricia even invited Alix to another show (featuring Native American made products in Taos) this past weekend, and guess who just so happened to be in town… ME!

So – yes – I got to meet Patricia and ask her just a few of my many stupid questions about the show.  And as you can see – I have a picture here to prove it.  (The two five-year-olds couldn’t resist getting in on the action.)

I’m looking forward to future visits to Taos to pick up my own Patricia Michaels original and maybe even check out her studio.  Maybe I will come back to Taos and pry her full of alcohol to get all the real behind-the-scense dirt on Project Runway… just kidding.

Anyway – being you, my dear readers, are all creative people – I thought you would appreciate my thrill in meeting Ms. Patricia.  If you can’t make it to Taos, to meet her yourself, be sure to  check out the Patricia Michaels web site, PM Waterlily.

Mother daughter Machine Embroidery Geek fashion shoot!

There is nothing better than seeing your friends and family wear the embroidered and appliqued items you have made, right? These pictures, from my friend, Alix, totally made my day…. mother and daughter having fun making silly pics with PhotoBooth and both wearing the shirts I made them.  Pretty silly. Enjoy!

flower applique design flower applique design flower applique design

Like the designs? Check them out on my Etsy store.
8 leaf flower applique design
Single initial groovy flower design

Not all glow-in-the-dark machine embroidery threads are created equal.

Party favor t-shirts with glow-in-the-dark thread.

Party favor t-shirts with glow-in-the-dark thread.

Why is it that I feel compelled to create ridiculous, personalized, embroidered party favors for my kids parties?  As if I don’t have enough projects.  Fortunately with this last one, I can at least say that I learned a valuable lesson – albeit the hard way: not all glow-in-the dark embroidery threads are created equal.

I had been intrigued by the notion of embroidering with glow-in-the dark thread for a while so when my daughter decided to have her birthday party at the glow-in-the-dark golf course – how could I resist NOT stitching something for the attendees in glow-in-the dark thread?

My plan was to keep in simple.  I created a straight-foward 1-color personalized design for the t-shirts that I purchased for next to nothing at JoAnns, Then I started cranking out the shirts.  Everything was going fine… until – I RAN OUT OF THREAD!   Normally this is not such a big deal – but it was the Sunday morning of the party and the fabric store where I bought the original glow-in-the-dark thread was closed.  UGH.   So I ran to JoAnns as soon as it opened and was surprised/thrilled that they carried it.  When I got back home – I carried on stitching the t-shirt that I had left in process on my machine.  Finally – I finished all the shirts.

Fortunately – the girls loved their t-shirts and immediately put them on over the clothes to wear to the glow-in-the dark golf course.  But when we got to the venue I was surprised/horrified to see that some of the shirts glowed and some of them didn’t.  And the shirt that was stitched half with the original glow-in-the-dark thread and half with the JoAnns brand half-glowed.  Interesting.

I have learned my lesson when it comes to embroidery with glow-in-the-dark thread and won’t be buying the JoAnns brand anymore.  Fortunately eight-year-old girls are not tough critics and really couldn’t have cared less.

Cobbling and monogramming for babies

Monogrammed baby booties

For some strange reason, I have been absolutely OBSESSED with the idea of shoemaking. I have even tried my hand at making shoes for myself and developed my own pattern for some ballet flats. And for my birthday this year, my mom actually gave me a class at the Chicago School of Shoemaking, which I am SO excited to attend.

So naturally when I was racking my brain for Christmas gift ideas for some little people on my list, I  thought about making shoes. I got the idea while browsing the patterns at Joann’s recently, when I discovered an adorable Green Pepper pattern (#557) for some sporty looking kid slippers… perfect  for the three babies I have on my Christmas list.

But why spend the time making fuzzy baby slippers yourself, when you can just buy them off the shelf? Because when you make them yourself, you have the opportunity to monogram them. And doesn’t every baby need to have a monogram pair of slippers? I think so, which is why I decided to make three pairs for all the babies on my list.

For the outer fabric I chose a quilted cotton/poly fabric, and for the inside, a white fuzzy fleece. To complement the white lining material I monogrammed the booties with white thread. For the soles of the booties I used a no-slip dotted rubber fabric.  Even though these babies are not on their feet yet, it’s only a matter of time…

The booties turned out SO cute. I think they will be a total hit at Christmastime.  If you are looking for a unique baby gift around the holidays – I highly recommend this project.  Just be sure to double check for any pins left in the booties before you wrap them up!

In-the-hoop wine tag for awkward Thanksgiving meals.

In-the-hoop wine tag for those awkward Thanksgiving meals.

In-the-hoop wine tag for those awkward Thanksgiving meals.

A friend of mine is totally and completely dreading her Thanksgiving dinner.  Let’s just say she has a bit of strained relationship with her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law.  Nevertheless – the matriarch has insisted that they all dine together for Thanksgiving.  AWK-WARD!!

We have had several discussions about coping strategies – agreeing that consuming the perfect amount of alcohol to “take the edge off” a bit is probably wise.  You see – we are both loving drunks – so even people we are not so crazy about become more tolerable after a glass or two of fine.

So to put her in the right spirit I will be delivering a bottle of pinot grigio with the pictured tag attached that I designed and made in-the-hoop on my embroidery machine.   And I CAN NOT wait to bring it over.

Perhaps you are in a similar situation?  You gotta laugh (and have a drink).

In-the-hoop Thanksgiving wine tag is now available on the Machine Embroidery Geek Etsy store.