Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Which Embroidery Pattern Format Is Right for You?

Embroidery Format Chart

It's not hard to find a fellow embroiderist who will tell you that their least favorite part of every project is the pattern transfer. Depending on the format of an embroidery design, you might be spending a a lot of time and effort transferring a pattern before you make your first stitch, or, you may be able to skip a step or two and go straight to threading your needle. Needless to say, the format of the pattern you've chosen may or may not work for your stitch goals so it's important to consider it carefully.

That's why I decided to create a helpful chart that is designed to help make the process of making some of those initial choices for your project easier so you can get a result that works for you. 

PDF Downloads

PROS: PDF downloads offer a great deal of flexibility. They can be used for embellishing clothing or irregularly shaped items like lampshades. With their instant delivery, re-usability, and generally low cost, they are a convenient and budget friendly option. There are also lots of options for transferring your design to your fabric. Iron-On markers/pencils, water soluble pens, fabric solvy stabilizer, and even just a pencil and a bright window can all be used to transfer the design onto whatever fabric you are stitching. Depending on your home printer, you may also be able to enlarge or reduce the size of your pattern to fit your needs. 

CONS: When you start with a PDF, plan to spend more time transferring your pattern to fabric than you would with other pattern formats. You'll need to have a home printer and you are also going to need some extra tools/supplies to get the job done. A pattern transferred by hand will never have those perfect tidy lines that you find with other formats so you'll need to accept a certain degree of wonkiness. 

** One quick side note about PDF downloads: Some people believe that sharing and distributing PDF embroidery patterns is okay but please know that it is not. Once a PDF pattern is purchased it is intended for personal use by the buyer only. Yes, it's tempting to want to share with friends but it hurts the artist who created pattern and is essentially stealing. PDF downloads are the least expensive of all the pattern formats and it's important for all of us to encourage our fellow embroiderists to support the pattern designers out there so that they can continue to create the patterns we all love to stitch. Stepping down from soapbox now 😀

Iron-On Transfers

PROS: Iron-On Transfers have been a popular format for decades and it's easy to see why. They are easy to use and create a crisp clean transfer of the design onto fabric. Although it may seem like once a design has been ironed on it is useless, that's not actually true. Iron-on transfers can be used more than once although subsequent transfers will appear progressively lighter. It's also possible to transfer iron-on designs to other soft natural surfaces such as wood or cardboard. Check out a project I completed using this process here.

CONS: While iron-on transfers were once the format of choice (as proven by my grandmother's huge stash), they have become much more scarce as digital options have become the status quo. Usually the selection in stores is small with only slightly more options available online. Of all the different formats, this is the one that designers are least likely to offer. While this format allows for a huge variety of fabric options, there are some limitations. Dark fabrics are not a good choice since the dark ink of the transfer will blend in with the fabric making it difficult or impossible to see. Additionally, synthetic fabrics that cannot be ironed will not work (I learned this the hard way, believe me - turns out you can't embroider fabric that has melted 😳). You also won't be able to alter the size of your design with this format. 

Pre-Printed Fabrics

PROS: There is no pattern transferring required at all with this format making it ideal for anyone who wants to get going on their project right away. Often, pre-printed panels are sold in kits so you may even have all the floss and other supplies needed at your fingertips from the get-go. Because they are professionally printed from digital files, the designs appear crisp and clear and often in color, reducing or eliminating the need for a color guide to follow. You are not limited to pre-printed fabrics sold specifically for embroidery - any fabric design you like can be embellished with embroidery. For some gorgeous examples, I recommend checking out the work of Wild Boho. Just try to not be inspired by her creative and colorful work, I dare you. 

One more advantage is the "filled in" look that pre- printed fabrics have since, in general, all the areas of the design is filled in with color. This gives you the choice to go over those areas and cover them with fill stitches if you like, or, to simply leave them as they are. Either way, the final piece will have a more completed look than designs that are comprised of outlines alone.

CONS: Pre printed panels and kits are often the most expensive format. You will often have fewer creative decisions to make (this could be seen as a "pro" as well)  since you won't be able to choose the type of fabric and may not be able to choose the floss colors. These are also a one-time deal so you won't be able to use the pattern again without purchasing a second kit/panel. There is also limited uses for the finished piece. Many are meant to be used as wall hangings or framed art once completed and are sized and packaged accordingly.

It may seem a little overwhelming at first but overall, but having lots of options is actually a good thing. It allows us to make choices that work for both our comfort level and our project goals. I hope this information is helpful and if you have any questions or comments please let me know!  

Monday, March 22, 2021

Use RIT Dye to Stain Wood Embroidery Frames

It's been a while since I posted a tutorial here but I'm glad to say I have a brand new one to share today. 
Lately I've been brainstorming ideas for different ways these new larger embroidery frames could be finished and was hoping to find some fun and colorful options. After a little searching I came across this tutorial from RIT dye and I immediately wanted to try it.

So, here's how it went: 

First I gathered my supplies. I used two wood frames that I had lightly sanded. I only dyed the outer piece of these frames - front side only - since the other pieces won't show. I also used one box of RIT dye in "Denim Blue," a plastic container and some craft sponge brushes. I also covered my work area with some chipboard to protect it.

Instructions for how to use RIT dye were included in the box. It's pretty simple - hot water + powered dye 😀. One box makes a LOT of dye for a project of this size. I wish I would have had something else ready to dye when I did this so I wouldn't waste so much. One coat of the dye was applied and then, after allowing it to sit for 15 minutes, I re-heated the dye and applied a second coat. Then I left the frames to dry for the rest of the day. 

After drying, I did notice that the stain/dye was a tad bit splotchy. It wasn't bad but I probably would have added another coat to try to even it out had I not thrown out my leftovers. On the bright side though, I found that when I went over the frames with some very fine steel wool, the surface seemed to even out somewhat and produce a velvety looking surface that I really liked. I liked it enough that I opted to just leave one of the frames without any clear coat.

 I had some leftover polyurethane from another project at home so I opted to use that. I followed the directions on the can and applied two coats to the oval frame. It seemed to darken/deepen the color which wasn't a bad thing, but a good thing to know when you are choosing colors.

It's difficult to see the differences between the two from these photos, unfortunately. I promise the oval frame has a bit more shine to it. 

Overall I am happy with how these turned out. RIT dye comes in many colors and can also be mixed to produce custom colors. It's also easy to find (I can even pick it up at my local Target store) so that makes this a pretty simple project. There are colored wood stains available and I have not had a chance to try those yet but I am curious if they would perform differently. I wasn't able to find these in small cans (less than 1 quart) so I think I will wait until I have something else I want to dye/stain in addition to a frame so I can make the best use of it.

Here are just a couple of things I might have done differently:
  • I liked this particular color but it was a little more "purpley" than I anticipated. If I had it to do over, I might have used their "Navy Blue" shade. 
  • Again, it probably wasn't a great idea to throw out my dye before the second coat had dried. I might have put on one more coat to try to even it out somewhat.
  • I used a sponge brush for my polyurethane even though the directions on the can said to use a bristle brush. I noticed I had some streaks to deal with and I wonder if it was my brush choice that caused that. 
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and feel ready to add this handy idea to your crafting toolkit. I can't wait to try out more ways to embellish these frames!

This tutorial was not written in partnership with RIT dye - I just like to try new things, I promise 😊.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Say It With Stitches

Alright, time to 'fes up - were you one of those kids who couldn't wait to go back-to-school shopping in the fall? I admit it, I was. There's just something about a stack of fresh notebooks and folders that makes me so happy. What would fill all those pages over the coming year? You never knew for sure, but it was fun to imagine.

That gleeful anticipation was one of the motivations behind a new series of fabric panels at SeptemberHouse called "Flossy Folios". Just like those blank paper pages we all know and love, these panels are ready to be embellished with all the doodles, poems, quotes and enlightening revelations that once inspired you to put pen to paper.

Five different styles (notebook, legal pad, graph paper, writing practice paper and dot grid) are available to get you started on your paper-inspired project.  

embroidered magnet
(having a little fun with my leftover scraps)

Another motivation for these came from my recent interest in hand lettering. It's everywhere these days and although I hoped to resist the urge to try it myself (heaven knows I don't need another crafty distraction 😊), I couldn't help but be tempted to at least dip my toes into this popular trend. I knew I needed something that would help me bridge the gap between my fledgling lettering skills and my tried and true love for embroidery. I'm happy to say, I think these fit that bill.

(here's a fun bit of history about this quotation)

There are about a million quotes, sayings and funny little somethings that I love so I, personally, will never run out of ideas for embellishing these guys. 

(decided to convert this into a mini banner. I think it turned out so cute!)

These panels are what I consider a "project starter" - they are sold blank so they can be personalized however one likes. In case you need a jump start though, every purchase includes a link to a free digital download which contains the patterns for all the examples seen in my listings plus a color and stitch guide. Also included are links to directions for transferring patterns to fabric AND an ever-expanding inspiration board brimming with ideas for these panels and beyond.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Capture the Year in Stitches

2020 Brought us so many historic moments both good and bad. How will those moments be remembered years from now? Have you ever considered documenting your year in embroidery? Perhaps you've seen some of these year-long projects on craft blogs or social media. There are many inspiring ways artists have captured each month's milestones. Whether it's through words, tiny motifs, or color schemes, their stitches tell a story of all that made the year special and memorable. To see a jaw dropping example, check out this blog post.

In fact, embroidery can be a wonderful medium for documenting just about anything. It can be used for journaling as seen here and here. Or, if you are a data enthusiast, why not explore recording data in stitches? I recently came across this helpful post about documenting weather with counted cross stitch (spoiler alert - no matter what the weather brings, the results are beautiful!) Even knitters and crocheters can get in the game with a woolly weather-driven project.

If you'd like to give it a go but aren't sure where to start, try the free documentary wheel pattern available here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

New Needlecase Design Debuts at SeptemberHouse

A new addition to the SeptemberHouse needlecase collection has landed! 

Needlecase in modern bird design by SeptemberHouse

This brand new bird design in black, ivory and chartreuse is now available in my Etsy shop and on Handmade Amazon

Modern Embroidery Supplies by SeptemberHouse

Other favorites are still there as well, waiting to add a little flair to your flossbox or to be tucked into the stocking of your favorite fellow stitcher this holiday season.

Modern Embroidery Supplies by SeptemberHouse

P.S. The magnet inside these cases is removable so they are great for storing any tiny thing(s) you like!


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

New Needle Minder Designs Have Arrived

I've been keeping myself busy with some new design work lately and wanted to be sure to share a couple of the new additions to the needle minder collection at SeptemberHouse.

Needle Minder Crab Design from SeptemberHouse

Because I live, and have always lived in the Midwest, nautical and coastal themes are usually not on my radar screen but I thought I would branch out a bit and have a go at a crab design. Crabs have such a cool shape and I was excited about seeing how they could be embellished. I am so happy with how this turned out and I just know I'll be exploring more ocean-y ideas in the future.

Needle Minder Floral Design from SeptemberHouse

 And speaking of fun, this new floral design was a joy to create. I started out kind of rigid with it - trying to get it to look like my other flower designs...but also not quite. Those vague parameters started stressing me out and I decided to just throw out the rules and let this one become whatever it wanted to be. That's when things got interesting. I love the imaginative, other-worldly quality of this one and I am so glad to add it to the other floral offerings - even if it doesn't necessarily "fit" with the other designs. 

More new items on on their way including a new needlecase design. I can't wait to share that one too!

Friday, September 18, 2020

These might look familiar

It may have taken a little longer than planned (thanks a lot, covid-19!) but 2021 calendars are finally available!

2021 Calendar Kit for Embroidery by SeptemberHouse

I didn't depart too far from past designs with this one. A floral theme was used for these and I tried to create flower designs that are broken up into smaller areas/pieces. That way they are easier to fill in with stitches (in my opinion). Of course, for those who would prefer to cover a larger area with whatever fill stitch they have chosen, it's always possible to just stitch right over those smaller details. As with any project I take on, I love to have lots of options so I can really customize it. So, I try to create kits that have that feature too. 

2021 Calendar Kit for Embroidery by SeptemberHouse

This year, there are three colors available. I stitched up my example in a monochrome color scheme which I loved! For someone who is a little anxious about matching up colors and developing palettes, monochrome is the way to go!😀 Admittedly though, I could not help but be extremely curious about how a more dynamic color combination might look. Not to mention how these might look with the addition of beads or fancy flosses/threads. My hope is that customers will share some photos of some of their bold color and stitch choices. It's always so fun to see what everyone comes up with and I am always amazed at the creativity and skill shown in the finished projects. 

2021 Calendar Kit for Embroidery by SeptemberHouse

As in past years, these kits come with a color and stitch guide (plus a link to additional content) and two skeins of DMC embroidery floss. The color of the floss matches the printed color on the calendar. Deciding what floss to include was tough this year. I know people are going to go in all kinds of different directions with these (which is great!) but I knew I could not realistically keep all the different possible combinations in stock.

You can check these kits out here and if you have any questions about these please don't hesitate to let me know, I am happy to help!