Uncategorized

Look What I’m Designing for Christmas

Christmas I find to be a super duper easy theme to design for. No. “Super duper easy” doesn’t accurately describe it – it’s more like, I could sneeze and pop out a cute Christmas design.

As I said in my previous post (click here to see previous reveal), at this very moment in time I am working on creating several new patterns, and I am at my favorite part of the process.  I’ve created the design, fused it all down and now it’s ready to applique by machine or hand. And, let me say that it’s nearly impossible for me to convey in words, the pure exhiliration of this exact moment in my designing process.

Here is one for all you Farmgirls out there:

It features a windmill for the ‘O’. It will measure approximately 6.5″ x 13″ when finished. This one is done in cotton (see below for a wool version) and would you again like to know about that background? That is gray/white (version) with white snowflakes and an all over sparkle to it (“Forest Frost” by Sentimental Studios – for Moda.)This picture does not do it justice, as pictures never do. By the way, I tried searching for this fabric line online, and it looks like several quilt shops still have some of it. But fabric companies only print a fabric once, so if you love and find it, ya better snag it. Don’t dilly around is all I’m sayin’.

I couldn’t resist doing it in wool too.

Have you dipped your toes into the wool pool yet? Wool gives you portability – you can hand stitch on a small wool project anywhere, not to mention it can save your sanity should you find yourself waiting (for-ever) in any Dr. office.

If you’re reluctant to get into the wool pool, would you please share with me “why”? I’d like to know. Perhaps create helpful tutorials for you and others with the same fear.

And, which threads will I be using to machine the cotton sample . . . well  my Valdani 35wt variegated threads, of course, which I use for 99% of my machine blanket stitching needs. I’ll likely be using the brown, cottage grey and vibrant reds for this particular design.

We have my personal thread collection available on our website – click here. In case you need a simple, go-to thread collection that is.

And don’t forget, this is just the 2nd look at several new designs in the works. Oh yeah campers, there’s more sneekin’ and peekin’ a comin’.

Happy Stitchin’ folks – thanks for keeping me on your radar.

~Julie~

Uncategorized

Take a Tour of My Raised Garden Beds

Want to see a gorgeous garden? Our raised bed garden sits between our home and my office. It’s deliberate placement is so I get to walk thru it every day to get to work.  So, today, Sept. 27, 2017, I am taking you on a tour of my garden.  For your safety, please keep arms and legs inside the ride at all times.

This is a full view of our garden as I stand outside my office and look towards our home. That’s Harper, our Golden Retriever – easily the best dog I’ve ever loved.

This simple trellis has pole beans planted and climbing on the left and very very very tall gigantic sunflowers on the right. The trellis is a piece of cattle panel fence, which my husband bolted to the wood bed on either side. That’s all that holds it there. I’ve loved it all season. Simple, functional and beautiful. What more can ya ask for.

This is actually a crop of winter onions, also called “walking onions”.  While they are smaller than your typical onion, they are perennial and never freeze out in our Iowa winters. I love the idea of “not having to buy seed onions”. They reproduce like crazy, so if you’d like to give ’em a try, I’d be happy to send you an envelope of small starter bulbs.

And what kind of a garden would it be without tomatoes? This year we have a bumper crop, so far that is. These shown are Brandywine – easily the tastiest eating tomato of all time. We have 12 plants total and have already canned countless quarts and pints of tomato soup, salsa, chilli, more salsa, ketchup (yes, we painstakingly made our own ketchup) and pizza sauce. Yum yum.

And then there are strawberries. I have 3 beds of strawberries that look like this. My little boys are frequently in here munching on berries, in between playing in the empty bed over yonder – We deliberately leave one raised bed empty thru the growing season, so they have one giant box of dirt to play in. There’s usually an assortment of trucks, skid loaders, tractors . . .you know, boy stuff in that dirt bed.

We love love love our berries. Here is our yellow razberry bed. yep, yellow. They’re sweeter than the red. More like scrumptious. Here’s a closeup.

Are you enjoying this tour? I hope I’m not boring you to tears . . .. I guess if I had, you haven’t read this far down anyway, so I can share a couple more pics.

At the other end of the garden is my entry trellis. My favorite spot in the whole garden. Again, my husband made this – he’s a handy fella. The closest vine is a hardy kiwi (I haven’t seen a fruit yet, but I patiently wait for a bumper crop one of these years) and the other vine is a fuscia morning glory – it’s full of blooms in the early morning.

Here’s the view as I stand at the beginning of the garden, looking toward my office.

So, that’s my path, to and from work everyday. Sometimes I stop off in the garden for a snack – like this morning for yellow rasberries.

I absolutely love my garden and being in it. It beckons not only me, but my whole family. Our little boys love playing in the dirt and snacking on snap peas, cucumbers, berries and carrots.

And that folks, concludes today’s tour of “Julie’s Garden”. Please exit to the right and leave a comment if you enjoyed this tour and would like to see more “inside peeks”.

Don’t forget – if you want to give winter onions a try, holler and I will send you seed bulbs. I love sharing garden bounty.

Happy stitchin, and happy gardening.

~julie

Just Fun · Wool appliqué

Wanna see what I’m creating today?

Hey Ladies & Spools

I don’t know about you, but I love an inside look.  Wait, yes I believe I do know about you and you DO LOVE inside looks. Well, let me clarify that I know you love inside looks into an artist’s studio. As for what else you like snooping around in, well I’ll just keep moving on so as to not create an awkward conversation.

Okay, so moving on. At this very moment in time I am working on creating several new patterns, and I am at my favorite part of the process.  I’ve created the design, fused it all down and now it’s ready to applique by machine or hand. And, let me say that it’s nearly impossible for me to convey in words, the pure exhiliration of this exact moment in my designing process.

How ’bout I stop yackin and just show you what I mean:

See? This is a new design in process. It will measure approximately 11″ x 18″ when finished and will likely feature a couple cardinal beak buttons from “Just Another Button Company”. Wanna know about that background? That is a light light blue with white snowflakes and an all over sparkle to it. This picture does not do it justice, as pictures never do. But trust me when I say it is breathtakingly gorgeous. When I take a peek at the selvage edge of the fabric, this background is “Forest Frost” by Sentimental Studios – for Moda.  In case you’re wondering.

Showing my upcoming design in mid-process is a bit risky, I agree, however I love a good peek as much as you do. That, and it’s simply impossible to contain my creative excitement at this moment – so why not share the excitement, right?!

Can I get a YAHOO! YIPPEE! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! ???

. . . . . whew.  That was fun.  Okay, now I’m off to machine applique this lil’ cutie.  Yes, machine stitch it.  With my Valdani 35wt variegated threads. This set has every color I need for about 99% of my machine blanket stitching needs.

Yikes, can I say that “selling” you something here, is not my intent. (always had a fear of being viewed as vaccuum salesman)  Helpful is my intent, because I realize that thread weight and color is a can of worms for some fellow stitchers. Daunting is more like it.

psst.

Can I let you in on a little secret? I never, never, ever “match” thread color to my fabric I’m about to blanket stitch around.  Never. The variegated threads do all the work. They provide blend and gentle pop of color all in one spool. I love this thread collection, which is the ONLY reason we carry any thread at all. So, if you find thread to be a bottomless pit of daunting information, weights, colors, etc., then maybe this is an easy solution for you. We have it available on our website – click here.

By the way, did you catch the hint I gave at the beginning of this post?  The word “several new designs”?  Oh yeah campers, there’s more sneekin’ and peekin’ a comin’. Not right now though. It’s like eating Doritos . . . . ya can’t eat the whole bag for lunch or your fingers will be Dorito-stained and your breath a dead give-away of your recent diet breach. So, lick off your fingers and patiently stay glued to your device. I’ll be sending you sneek peeks of ALL NEW DESIGNS.  Yep, every one of ’em.

Hmmm.  It’s close to lunch now and I have a sudden urge for Doritos . . . . but just a few . . . . . . yeah right! I won’t show you that peek – ha ha!

Happy Stitchin’ folks – thanks for keeping me on your radar.

~Julie~

Tips for Better Applique · Uncategorized

THE most important tip for appliqueing letters!

When you’re working with appliqued letters, if you forget to do this, I guarantee you will screw it up.

 

Jeeze! What a way to start a blog post.

Well, it’s the truth. But relax campers, because I’m about to teach you the first and most important step to appliqueing letters, so that you get it right the first time.

Let me back up by about 16 hours here.  Yesterday afternoon, I was beginning to work on a brand new design. One that contains letters. My favorite applique method is to use Heat ‘n Bond Lite, a fusible web. It’s paper on one side and the fusible stuff (not sure what that stuff is, some sort of heat activated glue, so I’ll just call it “stuff”). The thing to remember with fusible web is that if you want your finished project to look exactly like your pattern, you must reverse it before tracing onto the paper side of the HnB.

Most of the time, I’m not working with letters when I’m designing, so I pay no attention to reversing anything and my finished project ends up as a mirror image of my original sketch. Which suits me just fine. . . . . with 1 exception . . . . letters.

So, yesterday afternoon I traced all the shapes onto HnB for my new design . . . and forgot to REVERSE the letters before tracing them.

This is my original sketch, from which I traced 2 J shapes onto HnB.  See. I traced it just as you see it here.

 . . . . and I still didn’t notice as I cut out my letters, while watching the boob tube last night.

Can you see what’s wrong with these J’s?

In my defense, I was tired and should have just gone to bed, but wanted to get these cut out so I could fuse down all the shapes on my background this morning.

Seeing a brand spankin’ new design all fused on the background and ready for stitchin’, is MY FAVORITE PART. My heart beats a little faster, I physically get excited.

Okay, now fast forward to now. I pulled out my J’s, put on pre-recorded drum roll music, and . . . . .and . . . . . then turned off the drum roll.

Okay Einstein. Now can you see what’s wrong with these J’s?

In case you’re still not smellin’ what I’m dealin’ here, let me tell ya.  They are backwards.

Dangity dang it! Or something like that. But I didn’t say that, however, in the respect of a totally public blog post, I cleaned my language up for ya . . . in case you’re cat is listening.

So. Here it is.

The Most Important Rule in Appliqueing Letters is:

** Reverse your letters **

Before you do anything.   Before you grab the Heat n Bond.   Before you pick up a tracing pencil/pen.

— REVERSE THE LETTERS —

Because if you don’t, you’ll mindlessly cut out your letters while watching reruns of M*A*S*H (my preferred boob tube entertainment) or Golden Girls at 11pm at night, which will seem harmless and relaxing . . .. .

. . . . . . . . . .until you wake up from your fabric induced stuper in the morning and realize what you’ve done.

So, take it from this designer. Don’t forget to reverse any letters.

I wish I could give you a sneek peek of the new design, but I have to go reverse my letters and start over.

Keep your eyes on me though, as I will give ya a peek when I have it all laid out .. . . .. yeah, I’ll let ya share my excitement.

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Winning Image & winners for Pumpkin Spice are .. . . . .

 . . .. and the winning image by a 74% margin is

Thank you!
Last week I reached out to our tribe. That’s you.
I asked for your help to choose the best pattern cover image for my new Pumpkin Spice table runner.

Over 425 of you voted! Yowza.

Thanks a ton and then some, for your time and “click”

I also promised to award 5 lucky recipients,
with a complimentary advance copy of this pattern.

I get so excited about “giving” that I chose 7 names – YAY!

If you’re on this list, email us your mailing address to: info@patchabilities.com

And  . . . . one more “thank you”. I am humbled by the more than 425 people who voted.

It warms my heart to see that kind of response. I am grateful.

~Julie

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Help Me Pick the Image for my Pumpkin Spice Table Runner Pattern

How would you like to help me in writing my next pattern?

Are you envisioning the two of us, coffee cups in hand, sorting thru a splash of instruction pages spread across a table? You pick up a sheet of paper and make a brilliant suggestion . . . . . I give you a look as though is the best idea since sliced bread.  We high-five each other saying “that’s pure genius, that’s what it is”.

Uh, erm, eh. Well yeah, something like that, but it sounds more like this:  I create and write the entire pattern on my own.  I photograph the new design model with a couple different pieces of fall decor in the picture, have trouble picking which image I love best, and ask for your input, thus helping me choose the best image for the final pattern publication.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!  You can still do the coffee thing . . . and you can even do the “that’s pure genius” comment too if ya like.  See? You get all the fun with none of the work . . . unless you consider lifting a mug to your mouth work.

Okay, okay, enough jibber jabber you may say.

But here’s the real deal . . . . . I would love your help in choosing (see poll below) which image I use on the front of my brand new pattern “Pumpkin Spice”.  It’s a fall table runner featuring cotton and wool.  I’ve narrowed the pattern cover images down to these 2.

Option A, shows a gorgeous reclaimed wood pumpkin with “grateful” sitting upon it. My pal Dawn makes one-of-a-kind home decor pieces from wood that she and her dad salvage from century old homes, buildings and barns, which would otherwise be burned or destroyed in some manner.  If you love the “farmhouse” decor look or anything vintage, pop on over and take a peek at her site http://www.skrapwork.com/

Option B, has 3 simple reclaimed wood pumpkins that say “blessed” and “thankful”.  These little pumpkins are also from my pal Dawn at Skrapwork, but they’re not quite as bold as the large “grateful” pumpkin.

Your opinion matters and you can help me choose the final pattern cover image by voting for A or B in the poll below.  I hope you’ll put in your 2 cents. The future of the free-world depends on it . . . . . uh yeah I guess it’s not that crucial of a decision . . . . . but I could say the future of 5000 plus published patterns depend upon your vote.  So,  enter your vote below, for pattern cover A or B.

psst! I’ll let ya in on a little secret . . . . . we will draw 5 names from all the “votes” who will receive a FREE advanced copy of the pattern!  Weeeee Hewwwww!  Okay, get over and vote . . . . and invite your friends to vote.

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Tips for Better Applique · Wool appliqué

What do you do when you come to the end of blanket stitching?

This is a blog post for folks who are so new to blanket stitching by hand that they aren’t quite sure how they should tie a knot in their thread. Go ahead and admit it, I won’t tell. You’re in beginnerville babay. 

I remember when I was taking my first stitches at hand blanket stitching. Uncertainties were everywhere.

How do I tie my starting knot, is there a right way? How do I start stitching, where do I start, do I just stick my needle in anywhere?  Oh grasshopper, I have so much to teach you.

tell ya what. I learn better by watching and thought you might too. I am sitting on y front porch is afternoon while the kids are napping and I thought “I should video myself as I start and end my blanket stitching.  So that’s just what I did.

I stepped into the house, grabbed my iPad, propped it up and hit record. Here is my totally unscripted (uh, obviously) video of how to finish when you come to the end of blanket stitching.  Click here for the first saga on “how to begin blanket stitching” to see how I begin by taking that first stitch.  Those first and last stitches are where I had the most questions and I bet you do too, so grab some popcorn and watch the flicks.

and please leave me a comment.  And if ya like the video or found it helpful please please rate it. That will help others find it too.

if you think it stinks, um well, maybe don’t rate it.  But do tell me because I don’t want to put out crappy videos.

And thanks for peeking in.

Just Fun · My Babes

My kids needed a sticker book

I’m a child of the 80’s.  Does anyone else remember sticker books?

Oh my, the amount of my hard earned money I spent on stickers from the local Hallmark store in the mall.  That store called to me when I stepped into the mall . . . . . “Julie, I’m over here . . . . I have a whole sticker section just waiting for you”.  They had puffy stickers!  Yeah, imagine that. And sparkly ones too.  Ooh, ooh, and there were scratch and sniff ones.  Ahhh.  The occasional teddy bear with soft fuzzy parts on it, like a real teddy bear.  All on rolls and I swear they were like a buck a piece.  I don’t recall how much they were for sure, but I recall them being expensive by a 10 year old’s standards.  I didn’t give up my for just any ole sticker either.  I’d ponder, hem haw and ponder some more over which sticker was going to be worthy of my 50cents that day.

Here I am, 40’ish with 2 little boys.  They love stickers too.  And we have tons of them on sheets that we pick up from the prize department at any array of kids games and birthday parties.

They love to “stick” them.  But where to?  To the fridge – yeah try scrapping those off of a stainless steel fridge – good times I tell ya, good times.

Yeah, the problem is, they don’t have this fancy shmancy “sticker book” (aka a photo album with a puppy on the cover) that I once had.  So, I got to thinking, “I need to find them a place to stick it”.  Call me cheap, but I wasn’t about to go out and buy them a puppy photo album for their stickers, however I am a creative kind of gal so I drummed up an idea.

I would design and publish them their very own personalized sticker book!

What a genius idea! Damn I’m good.

So, while they were napping the other day, I snuck into my office, grabbed a piece of artwork they had created, scanned it into the puter (my nickname for my computer – not to be confused with seldom seen body parts), added some text to the front, some Mommy words of widsom to the bottom of each page and whallah!

Front cover can be personalized with name and title
back cover personalized text: “Created by Mom on June 17, 2017. So you would have a fun cool place to put all of your super cool stickers.”

This shows the cover (left) and back cover (right) It is 8.5 x 11, with about 6 pages inside to fill up with stickers.  And each page at the bottom has a little note such as: I love you, be kind to others, etc.

Yeah, too cute eh?

And then I wondered if other parents are looking for something like this.  And if so, I would be more than happy to personalize and publish one for their little sticker monsters too.

My stainless fridge thanks me, my end tables are thanking me, my kids bedroom furniture is thanking me.

Would you like to get this sticker book for your kids?

Just $14.99, includes personalized cover, and shipping.  Yeah – what a deal!  And your furniture will be thanking you too!

Order by contacting me at:  julie@patchabilities.com or call:  563-568-5352

OR, take this cute idea and make and print your own.

Ahhh, I can hear your fridge sighing with relief already.

Tips for Better Applique

You Can’t Machine Blanket Stitch Wool? . . . . or Can You?

Why don’t we think about machine stitching on wool?

A while back, I had 24 wool models to whip up before Quilt Market and I had, well let’s just say I was pressed for time. . . . and that is an understatement.

So, I began thinking “how can I speed up the applique stitching process?” Because unless I were to magically clone myself or find a few hard-core appliquers such as myself, I had to figure out a shortcut.

It seemed impossible.  I, being an optimist know that it’s only “impossible” until someone does it.

I began a somewhat frantic internet search for “machine wool applique”.  My search turned up a few videos of people actually using their sewing machine to blanket stitch wool, but they also seemed to be telling me that they had more secrets or tips up their sleeve and they weren’t including these obviously highly valuable tips in this particular “free” video.  Ugh.  That disgusts me, I gotta tell ya.

So, I turned off the damn computer, turned around and dove into the unknown realm of “machine applique on wool”.  Can you hear Twighlight Zone music?

Dig in and give it a go. That’s how I approach a challenge.  Dig in.  What’s the worst that will happen . . . . that it won’t work?  What’s the best that could happen . . . . that I discover a faster method to get my models completed?   YAY – I like the sound of this!

I dug in.  And now, for the low low fee of FREE! (pooh on you, stupid sales funnels) I’m going to give you a list of all the materials and things I considered as I dove in:

  1. Thread? I can’t run the No.12 pearle cotton (used when hand stitching on wool) thru my sewing machine (it’s too thick), so what do I use? I typically used 50wt cotton thread (various colors) to machine blanket stitch all my cotton models, but I want the stitching on the wool to look as close to “hand stitched” as possible, so I needed to use a thread weight that fell somewhere between the 50wt and the No. 12 pearle cotton. For all of my wool projects, I use Valdani No.12 pearle cotton in variegated colors. Here’s a picture of the colors I most often use. The colors look a bit bright here, but trust me, the red is red and the rest of the colors are not as bright as they appear here.
    Patch Abilities Essentials #1 collection includes 12 most often used variegated colors in Valdani 100% COLORFAST No.12 pearle cotton. Get them here.

    It’s a pearle cotton collection called: Patch Abilities Inc Essentials Collection (click to purchase). These colors are perfect but can I get them in a machine weight thread?  So I called my good gals at Valdani and inquired.  GREAT NEWS!  Nearly all of the colors in my Essentials collection come in a 35wt machine thread.  YAHOO!

    Essentials #1 collection in 35wt machine thread. Woo Hoo!! this thread rocks!

    I was ecstatic. I could see a glimmer of light at the end of my tunnel.  I ordered a set of the colors in 35wt and impatiently waited for them to arrive from Canada.  It only took a few days, thankfully. When the package arrived I looked like a kid at Christmas tearing open the package, unpacking the threads and put them to use immediately on my sewing machine. . . . . . . . . . . . are you on the edge of your seat? Read on my friend, to see if it worked.

  2. Sewing machine settings like tension .. . . . did I need to adjust these? No, not for me and my machine which is a Viking 500 Computer.  Some of those videos I watched said they had to adjust the tension of their machines but never did say to what, so I just started stitching to test the water.  I do not adjust my tension.  Your machine may run differently, so check in your owner’s manual (if you still have it), or just dig in and give it a go.  If your bobbin thread shows on the top side or if your stitches pull down into the wool too far, then you’ll need to play with the tension.  Don’t ask me more details than that as your machine is not the same as mine . . .. and I just plain don’t know. HA.
  3. Bobbin thread? Can I use any thread in the bobbin if I’m using a heavier thread on the top? Um, this again is best answered by you digging in and see what it looks like.  For me, I started out thinking I should have the same weight of thread in the top and bobbin.  I stitched nearly all my models this way.  Then yesterday, I was machine blanket stitching on wool and forgot to change the bobbin to some of the 35wt thread . . . . . and the stitching looks the same.  Huh?  Who’da thunk.  So, again my answer to you is “dig in and give it a go”.  I’m channeling Richard Branson a bit on this advice, but it’s the best advice.
  4. Stitch settings? This is where I make adjustments.  Widen my stitching to nearly double of what I use on cotton.  For instance, if I would set the width (cross over stitch) at 2, I’ll widen it to 3.5 or 4.  Stitch length (the straight part of the stitch) I lengthen by 1 or 2 increments.  If I stitch cotton at a length of 2, I’ll lengthen it to a 3 or 3.5 for wool.  My goal is to make my machine blanket stitch look as organic as I can.  Machine blanket stitching on wool WILL NOT look just like hand stitching, but I have found I can get close.
  5. Corners and points? I have succumb to sacrificing the hand stitched look when it comes to the corners and points because you have limited control over stitch placement with the machine. I can, however, manually adjust the needle position and direction of the crossover stitch a bit. When I’m hand stitching I put a diagonal stitch at the corners and points, so I do this on the machine too by taking my time and making manual adjustments where needed.

That about sums it up on the points I considered when I dove in to machine appliqueing my wool.  Here is a small list of pros and cons to hand stitching vs. machine stitching wool applique.

just the star is stitched here
after I’ve machine blanket stitched the star and circle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought I’d show you some of the actual machine stitched wool blocks.

These little blocks are a new design I’m working on. I machine stitched these little cuties yesterday which took me a total of approximately 30 minutes.

Pros to machine stitching wool

  • Speed.
  • Save time.
  • Uniform stitches – I didn’t think about this one until just now, but I know that getting uniform stitching by hand is a pain point with lots of you.
  • Speed – it’s so dang nice I had to say it twice

Cons to machine stitching wool

  • Stitching does not look hand stitched or organic – it’s close, but it’s not the same
  • Limited control over stitch placement
  • Stitches sink down into wool more than they would if hand stitching
  • Too uniform of stitches (again, pertains to not having an organic look)

So . . . . that’s what I learned about machine blanket stitching on wool.  It works!  You have to be willing to sacrifice the hand stitched look for speed, but it works.

For the love of Pete, I am stumped as to why machine stitching on wool is not a usual option that we think of . . . .  perhaps I’m a trail blazer.

Do you have any experience with machine appliqueing on wool?  I’d love to hear your comments.  And I’d especially love to hear what drives you crazy about wool.  Are you afraid to try a wool project – – tell me why?

I just love to hear what keeps you from digging in.  Please tell me, maybe I can help.