Thursday, May 25, 2017

My Sewing Room - My Happy Place!


​First let me say that I have the most incredible husband who is a talented woodworker! It was actually his idea to build me my own sewing studio. Who was I to argue? It's been five years since and I've made a lot of changes since the above wall of shelves were hung. He built me two walls of shelves, then I took it from there. The wall you see above originally held fabric that was wrapped around comic boards. One day I discovered that a couple of them had faded along the folded edge. So I rearranged everything and this is what I came up with. The curtains above hold not so pretty supplies while the shelves hold my colorful things such as scrap fabric, zippers, threads, books, buttons, etc.

​​Here is the other wall of shelves he built me. This area gets a whole lot of use because it's where my embroidery machine does it's work. Notice the wooden "wall" behind the desk? That is a Murphy bed! When my daughter is visiting from out of town, or my granddaughter is spending the night (which she LOVES to do), I just move the desk to the wall at the left, then pull down the bed. Instant bedroom! He even took the legs off that desk and added these heavy duty swivel wheels so that I can move it so easily. There is only one problem, now my granddaughter things this is HER room. But that's OK. I let her think that. In the photo above this one, you'll notice the canvas drawers under the shelves. That's where my granddaughter stores her toys. Another reason she thinks it's her room. This desk is also my ironing area. I don't do very big projects so this does the trick.


I used to keep other supplies in here until I decided to get my fabric off that wall. Now it holds my quilting cottons. My felt, fleece, and other heavier fabric have their own places in my room. I've always loved this cabinet. I bought it about 30 years ago and since then it's served so many different purposes. I do believe this is my favorite!

​Here is where the creativity begins, and the "business" aspect of Sher's Creative Space is done! Since I use a laptop, this cute desk I bought after we built the room serves double duty! I just move the laptop over and sew away. I love the little fabric baskets I put together (above the whiteboard). They are handy to stuff things in. I used a cheap curtain rod and strong 3M removable hooks. I loved them so much that I'm in the process of making some for the bathroom to hang behind the door. As for the closet, that is where I store various odds and ends, as well as my interfacings, batting, fusible fleece, and the not so pretty things.

Here are my corners. They also hold important things from pretty to useful. The wall at the right holds my aprons on some pretty hooks I bought during my last visit with my daughter in San Antonio. It also holds my granddaughters superhero cape. Doesn't every sewing studio need a superhero cape?

Since I do spend a lot of time in here, I need to have a little pretty, as well as some of my favorite things, which include photos of my loved ones. Notice the wooden "SHER" on the top shelf at the left? My awesome husband made that for me too! It's also shown at the bottom of my post.

I used to keep this table behind the door for when I needed extra work space. Since adding the embroidery machine and all its supplies, I end up keeping it up all the time. Well, except when Paige is in HER room.
The most recent addition to my room is this stand up desk. It folds flat for easy storage and is great for when I want to do some work while kicking back in my easy chair too. I figure it's nice to use when I have those days where most of my work will be on the computer. 

Notice the filing cabinet next to the desk and sewing table. I decoupaged old patterns all over it. I bought the filing cabinet at a going out of business sale and it was already assembled, which is was what sealed the deal for me. It was however the ugliest red wood color you've ever seen. 

Cookie sheets are one of my favorites in the sewing studio. These hold my pre-cut fabrics for embroidery. Since I bought the set of three, they store right on top of each other! I also have a set that I use to hold small items when I do "assembly line" sewing, such as ornaments to put on top of Christmas gifts or handmade gift card holders. They are just the handiest!

I even use every inch behind my door! The rosin paper is great for so many things. Occasionally I like to paint on glass as a hobby. I place a huge piece on my desk to protect it. The wrapping paper makes great pattern making paper because of its size. You'll also notice two wooden foldable tables. Those come in hand for so many things, in the studio, in the house, or even out on the deck when have family over and we want to eat outside and we all don't fit around the deck table.

Last but not least are my favorite storage solutions! From upper left clockwise:

Giant glass storage jars to store the colorful stuff. I have lots of those!

Plastic scrapbooking cases that store the 12 x 12 papers are so perfect to store my tiny scraps of fabric, felt, and vinyl.

File folders hold my pre-cut stabilizer. What a time saver!

Never before used garbage cans are perfect for those items that you have to roll up for storage such as interfacings, stabilizers, and vinyl.

Zipper bags of all sizes. OK, this just might be number one on my list! I have them in every size and shape from 2 inches all the way up to 2 gallons. You can fill them up, store them in a drawer and see everything you have in a very organized manner. This is the method I used before I had my own room. No one ever saw my sewing supplies because they were in pretty boxes, baskets, or drawers. When I need something, I can just open a box and see everything at a glance so I can find what I need quickly. Zipper bags were the best things ever invented!

Thread spool holders. These are great. I suppose it's not that clever because that's what they are for, but they are brilliant! I use them for all my sewing and embroidery threads. I have a lot of these.

These wire baskets are just so cute! OK, this wasn't exactly one of my usual cheap or on sale solutions. But I loved them, so I bought them. They are perfect for holding my bigger scraps.

Lastly is the over the door shoe holder. You can use these for everything. I like to store all my ribbon in them. It's like not taking up space at all! If I had all that in a drawer or box, they would take up a lot of space.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the tour of my sewing studio, and I hope I've given you some ideas to use for your own sewing studio. If you have an idea that you use, please share it in the comments. We are all looking for more space to store our sewing supplies!

Friday, May 5, 2017

In The Hoop is Ready!

It has been several months in the making, but it's finally ready! Most of you were requesting the mug rug patterns to be In The Hoop, so we started there first. The most popular of the bunch are ready and waiting to be stitched up. They've all been tested, and retested. There are a lot more things to convert over to digital embroidery files, but it all takes time. There will also be individual designs and some fun little vinyl projects. Some are ready to go, just need to get them photographed and listed.

You can find the new line right HERE!

I feel so bad for you first testers. The files you were sent to be tested were early in the game and I had a lot still to learn. You were all so nice, and honest and I learned a lot since then, and I know that I still have even more to learn. I had so many testers that I still haven't finished all the files that were tested. So much to do, and so little time!

So for a very limited time only, I'm celebrating with a 20% OFF coupon code. Be sure to use coupon code ITH20 at checkout to get 20% off your entire purchase.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Machine Applique - Adjusting the Size of Your Applique Templates

One of the questions I get asked a lot is if my mug rug patterns can be made smaller or bigger for place mats and other things. Just because I put these appliques on a mug rug doesn’t mean that you have to make a mug rug. For me, they are the perfect size to use for decoration either on a wall, bookshelf, or in a china hutch. Since most people use them for decoration, maybe they’d like a bigger display for their wall or for a quilt. In any case, it’s very easy to adjust the size of the appliques.

First and foremost, I always recommend using the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print all your patterns. It’s extremely reliable, easy to use, and you can download it free from the adobe website. I have used other PDF readers and some won’t allow you to adjust the sizes of your printout.

I’m going to first show you how to make your patterns smaller. For demonstration purposes, I’m only going to be cutting out the pumpkin and not the other vegetables, leaves, or acorns.

When I look at the photo of the pumpkin that comes with the applique template, I see it has a leaf, a stem, and a tendril with it. I have to take this into consideration as well. The easiest and most accurate way of doing this would be to cut out the pattern pieces and put them together the way they are intended. A rough cut is fine, nothing fancy. Just make sure that at this point you are cutting them out at 100% / original size.

Let’s say I want to put the pumpkin on a child’s pocket which only measures 4 inches by 4 inches. I’m going to reduce the size of all four pieces so it will fit. I’m going to measure my entire piece across, and top to bottom. First though, for just this one pumpkin, I see no need to use the entire tendril, so I’m going to cut it so my pumpkin will be centered nicely. This gives me a measurement of 5 inches across, and 5 1/4 from top to bottom. I’ve decided I want my pumpkin to measure 2 3/4 inches tall. I am using the measurement of the height because it’s the bigger number. This will assure that my pumpkin fits both ways.

To get the pumpkin the size I want, we use basic math. We are going to divide 2 3/4 by 5 1/4. Remember, to make the pattern smaller, we divide the big number into the smaller number. To make it bigger, it’s the opposite. When I do the math (2.75 ÷ 5.25), I get .52. This means that I’m going to reduce my pattern to 52% of its original size.

Now go to your print box (of your Adobe Acrobat Reader) and choose print. Under “Page Sizing and Handling” you will see options. Check the one that says Custom Scale. Type in 52, then Print. You are printing this out at 52% of its original size. That’s it! Easy peasy!

When you adjust a pattern to be smaller, sometimes there are pieces that will be so super tiny, it will be impossible to applique around them. For these instances I use a straight machine stitch, and if it’s still too small, use your imagination and bring out your fabric paint, 3-dimensional paints, buttons, and beads. 

Enlarging the pattern is a little trickier because if you adjust the size of the pattern to be larger, your pattern pieces will more than likely go off the page. Don’t worry because if you are using the Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can have everything print out the way you want it the first time!

So, we already know that the pumpkin measures 5 1/4 inches tall. I’ve decided to put this one on a 10 inch quilt block, and again, I don’t want the entire tendril. So I’ve decided to make my pumpkin 8 inches high. Math time again! 8 divided by 5.25 equals 1.52. This will translate to 152%. If I put this number into my Custom Size box then print, it’s going to cut a good part of my design off, so there is a little different way to do this when enlarging.

This time, when you bring up your print window, Actual Size should be the default. Look above that setting and you will see four clickable boxes. Choose the one that says Poster. Type in your 152% where it says Tile Scale. Just to show you what is going to happen, click the box that says Size, then go back to Poster. Now you will see (in the preview pane) that your new printout will take up four pages. Choose Print. You now have four sheets of paper, and now all you have to do is tape your pages together and cut out your applique templates!

I hope this article not only helps you with sizing your appliques, but also inspires you to take all those mug rug and applique patterns and put them on all kinds of fun things like aprons, pillows, tablet sleeves, jar cozies, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Machine Applique - Tips and Tricks - Part 2

Last week we focused on supplies that will make your machine applique life easier. Today I’m going to share some of the tips and techniques that I’ve learned through the years. If you missed last week’s article, you can find it HERE. So, let’s begin on the next article. 

Before tracing around your appliques, make sure you are following the designer’s instructions about the tracing process. Some will already have the pattern pieces inverted, while others like myself, instruct you to place the pattern pieces ink side down onto the paper side of the paper backed fusible webbing. You don’t want any letters, numbers, or other images to be going in the wrong direction. 

When cutting out your pattern pieces and your paper backed fusible webbing, I find that you get best results when cutting exactly on the line or at the inside of the line (still touching the line). Some pieces are so precise that if you cut your pattern pieces outside the line, they may not fit project precisely, and it makes it much easier to become sloppy. 

When fusing the applique pieces to the background fabric, be sure to look at the designers photograph and/or illustration to see which edges of the pieces are the ones that overlap other pieces. 

When you have designs that have several tiny pieces that are similar in shape and size, it helps to mark or number the backs of them on the paper backed fusible webbing, then don't tear it away until you are ready to fuse them. That way they all end up where they belong, and they won't get mixed up!

It always helps to gather up your thread and bobbins in advance and keep them by your machine. Let’s say I have green, red, and blue thread. I always do all one color first, then move onto the next color. I also save any straight stitching or accent stitching for last. I don’t want to change the settings on my machine mid-way through applique because I want all my stitches to be exact and even. I'm afraid if I switch stitches, I won't be able to get my stitches exactly where they were before.

Before beginning any stitching on my project, I do a test stitching on a piece of fabric that is the same type as the one that I’ll be stitching on, and has the same stabilizer I’ll be using. Sometimes it takes a few adjustment on the sewing machine setting to get the stitches the size and length I want them. I always have several of these “practice pieces” on hand.

It’s also fun to experiment with different stitch designs. For my appliques, the stitches I use most are the blanket stitch, the straight stitch, and a loose zig-zag stitch. Occasionally I’ll use some of the fancier stitches my machine has to offer as well. When I have an applique that has really tiny pieces, I find that the straight stitch on my machine works best because the other stitches are too big and overwhelming.

Always keep your needle at the outer edge of the applique piece. When beginning your stitching, manually place the needle into the fabric before stitching to make sure it lands where you want it. And now that you are ready to stitch, and you already know (as discussed earlier) to secure the beginning and the ending of all your stitches. Also be sure to set your machine so that it stops with the needle in the down position. Some much older machines don’t give you this option but you will at least be able to stop the stitching with the needle down. This is important when it comes to turning corners and curves.

Corners, curves, and points can be tricky until you get the hang of it. Just make sure that when you turn your fabric to stitch around them, you are turning when the needle is at the outer edge of the fabric applique piece. It also helps to know how many stitches your machine takes to make the stitch you are using. For example, my machine uses four stitches to complete a blanket stitch. I know that there are two stitches between each “blanket” stitch. It makes it easier to know this when I’m about to turn a corner, point, or curve. I want to make sure that my needle is on the outer edge of the fabric applique piece before turning or moving.

Most importantly, take your time. I always feel that if I’m going to make a project, I’m going to make it good and rushing through never gives you good results. Also note that mistakes are going to happen, and a stitch may not be perfect, but guess what? Nobody will ever notice this but you!

So have fun and get creative!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Machine Applique - Tools and Tips to Make the Job Easier - Part 1

By far, the biggest sellers in my pattern shops are my applique templates and mug rug patterns. Judging by the feedback I get from my customers, most of them use the machine applique method. I’ll admit, it’s my favorite way as well. When I first started designing them I used the hand applique technique, but once I discovered how fast these go together when using the sewing machine, I changed my method quickly! I’ve learned a lot during my four or so years of designing mug rugs. I’ve always known how to machine applique, but I’ve learned a lot of tricks and tips along the way that will give excellent results.

First and foremost, there is a difference between machine embroidery and machine applique. I get so many people write me and ask me if my appliques are, or can be formatted for their embroidery sewing machine. I have to tell them no and explain to them that the appliques are made up of fabric. Machine embroidery is getting so popular right now, I can understand how some may become confused. Most of my customers already know, but for those who may be new to sewing, I’ll explain. Machine applique is the process of stitching around appliques that are made up of fabric, where machine embroidery is when your entire design is made up of machine stitches. I know that a lot of my readers are seasoned sewers and crafters, but I like to help those that are new as well.

Before we begin, I think we should talk about pre-washing your fabric. If you are one that does this, you will want to be sure NOT to use fabric softener. If you do, it could prevent your adhesive to sticking to the back of your applique pieces.

Let's discuss some of the supplies that will help make your stitching easier. Next week we'll focus on tips and techniques. Lets get started!

If you plan on doing a lot of machine applique, I would suggest investing in an Open Toe Foot (photo above). I purchased mine for under $10 at Amazon. I’m telling you, this sewing machine foot will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE! Even if you have a clear, all purpose foot, you will not believe how much easier this will make your stitching. The area at the needle is completely open so you can see exactly where your stitches will go. This is especially handy when you are going around pieces where the colors are very similar or the same. Trust me, this will make your applique life so much easier.

When it comes to stabilizers, use what is easiest for you, just be sure you use something or your stitches will not be nice and even, and your fabric will more than likely pucker or bunch up. When I am placing my applique on items such as tote bags, aprons, or anything else that will not be quilted or backed with batting or fleece, I like to use one that you iron on, then tear away. When making my mug rugs, I just iron my fusible fleece to the back of my main fabric and it makes a nice stabilizer. There are so many different types and brands to choose from so pick one that you are comfortable using, and will give good results. If you are new to this, try a couple different kinds until you find one you like best.

You are going to want to use a paper backed fusible webbing on the wrong side of your applique pieces to keep them from shifting around on the background fabric when stitching down. I always use Heat N Bond LITE. Again, there are so many to choose from, and at some point I’ve tried them all, but this particular one is designed for stitching through. It holds nice and secure with the least amount of adhesive. I’ve made well over a thousand mug rugs and other applique projects, and I have never had a gummed up needle, or an applique piece that has come off. You can always get it for a great price at JoAnn’s with a 50% off coupon, or at Amazon. 

And while we are on the subject of the pattern pieces, it will make your tracing so much easier if you print your pattern pieces onto card stock. I always use this method because your pen will just glide around the edges!

If you plan on washing your item after it’s stitched, you will need to really secure your stitches on the backside. Either knot them, or use your lock stitch on your sewing machine at the beginning and ending of each line of stitching. To make it extra secure, add a tiny drop of washable fabric glue on the beginning and end of the row of stitching, on the backside of the project. I only do this when something will be washed. For my mug rug samples I never do this because I never wash them. They are used strictly for decoration. When making things such as tote bags, baby bibs, or aprons, I find this an important step.

It always helps to have a tiny pair of scissors with a tiny and sharp point when cutting your threads. You can get nice and close to the fabric with them.

Did you know that you can enlarge and reduce the size of you pattern pieces by changing the percentage of you printout? You may have purchased one of my mug rug patterns but want to use the applique on something else that is either bigger or smaller than my mug rug. This is so easy if you are using the Adobe Acrobat Reader. That is the PDF reader that most pattern designers recommend using because it’s so user friendly. It also makes it so easy to adjust the size of the printouts. It comes pre-installed on many computers, but if you don’t have it, you can download it free from the Adobe website. And since it’s Adobe, you can definitely trust the website an the download. 

While we are on the subject of PDF readers, NEVER print from the Internet viewers that open in your browser from the Internet. Always download your patterns to your computer and open them in the Adobe Acrobat Reader. The default Internet PDF readers seem to print horribly! You will even notice missing pieces in some of them. As for the other PDF readers, I’ve used some and they didn’t allow me to change the size of my printout, but I’m sure some other ones do. At least with Adobe, you have a dependable reader.

When I first started writing this post, I didn’t realize how long it would be, so I decided to break it up into two segments. Now that we’ve discussed our helpful supplies, next week we’ll focus on some tips and techniques!

Part 2 can be found HERE

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Create Your Own Mug Rug Pattern Bundle

I'm so excited to add a new section to my shop! As many of you already know, I have some mug rug pattern bundles in the mug rug sections. Some of my customers have actually emailed me asking if they could choose their own patterns for the $4.95 bundle. Since I love my customers so much and want them to have the best, I always do it for them.

I decided to add a new section to my shop with special prices for bundles of 4, 6, and 8. The only difference is that the patterns will be emailed rather than downloaded instantly. They will get to you within 24 hours but usually much quicker.

You can visit my new section right HERE

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