Halloween 2021 was year two of the chrome Skelly’s in front of Bella. Using an old bike, that got smashed by a tree a few years back, we zip-tied our skeleton couple in an upright position. Him on the seat, her on the handlebars.
From one direction they look confident as they ride along the gravel driveway, perhaps towards the back yard.. maybe to the neighbors house..
Our retail shop remains closed and will probably remain close for awhile longer, until covid is more under control. We talk about opening to a limited number of people at a time then hear about other small businesses having to close due to a positive test result from a patron or coworkers/employee. We would just hate to have that happen. Therefore, we are closed.
As we get closer to Thanksgiving, and as I am still working from home. I have been feeling unmotivated to make things yet still wanting to make something so that I feel productive in my personal life. My head is full of ideas, items I want to make, classes I want to share… but as I look at the outbuilding we use as our brick and mortar shop, I feel a bit overwhelmed.
As a visual person I know that photos inspire me, almost as much as objects themselves. One of the benefits of photos is that we can see the progress of objects, tasks, or whatever it is we are working on, evolve.
For example. The first bench I had ever made. It was a broken piece of fence.
I saw how it could become a bench with the upper section longer and the bottom section shorter. It seemed logical that I could cut it into two pieces and attach those pieces to a metal box frame.
However, during the process, I thought I’d use one of the decorative curls at the end, almost as a armrest but decorative because it would be too small to be used as an armrest. ..if ONLY I knew how to make such a curl. Well, that “curl” is known as a scroll and there is a simple gig type machine that allows for people to make scrolls. Very easily.
One scroll lead to a series of hearts out of the practice welding material bin. A bin no one really thought much of but became my personal stockpile for making hearts.
Soon I was spelling with the scroll bender, using larger pieces of flat steel. I would cut off what I didn’t need for my word(s) and use the smaller scraps as vines for metal wreaths. Note: The flowers are cut out using a plasma cutter. Another fun tool that boys don’t typically let girls play with. It’s feels like writing on a white board with a fresh juicy marker; only it’s cutting metal with fire!
As I began spelling words and nailing them up in the shop we had at the Black Diamond Bakery, people would request words for me to spell for them. I also did last names too. I would have Dawn write what they wanted spelled and I would try to mimic their handwriting. Where they looped an H or dipped a letter f.
I also made a tiara out of scrap scrolls.
And welding flower petals cut from the plasma cutter onto junk automotive parts, also found in the junk pile.
How did it all start? I found some motorcycle clutch parts, a brake drum, and welded them onto a oil pump (used as a flower stem and to connect the flower petals to). The oil pump, although I thought I had cleaned it out fairly well, kept catching on fire as I welded parts onto it. But that’s why we wear gloves, to put out the flames.
I still have my first welding project, the flower, and tiara above. Along with the white bench. I couldn’t bring myself to sell them, the are priceless to me.
When we first opened our handmade gift shop in Nov 2011 we had consignors. A few had embroidery machines and I notice they each had a different style, even when making the same item. Different type of material, thread colors, and what they did with the design.
While I do like cute and whimsical things, like finger puppets, I also like pretty too.. and sassy. We had one consignor who made a kid’s cowboy vest and another consignor made a “Duty in Charge” felt badge that went nicely on the vest. We kept selling the Duty badge to adults who would proudly wear the felt badge out the door. It was great! When I asked the consignor to make a “Bitch in Charge” badge, which was a customer request at the time, she wasn’t too thrilled about the idea. I thought it was an awesome idea. I soon saw more and more items that could be stitched out on stuff, towels with farmhouse sayings, sassy quotes.. and our current machine embroidery gals didn’t have much interest in doing these things. So I purchased my first machine and taught myself.
We sell out of Bitch in Charge badges on a regular basis and it seems I’m always stitching up sassy sayings on towels. Soon I will be adding framed art to my list of favorites. Inspiration comes from everywhere!
I love the look of a fresh wreath on the door and taking a deep breath as I enter the door, the smell of pine cones, cedar, and Christmas.
The inside was missing a wreath, the added charm plays nicely.
It’s been cold inside our Craft Studio, the wreath nicely covers the whole window portion of the door. I love how the framing around the door and window of the Craft Studio matches the bright white of the waiting bench.
The wreath on the barn door is more welcoming than the welcome mat! The mat will get worked on come this spring.
I was rushed. I was doing a test stitch of a little tea light hut and thought I’d place a little Gnome roasting a weenie on the back panel of the hut since there wasn’t anything there. ..and I went from his beard that I thought was TOO light of a color to a couple shades more pink for what would be his shirt and pants. But the color ended up looking like flesh .. and then I thought to myself, why wouldn’t a gnome be naked in the back of his hut roasting some hot dogs??!!
I’ve been asked about some basic equipment items for machine embroidery. So I thought I’d go over some basics here..
At this time I am not an amazon affiliate.
First, you need a machine. There are some FANCY machines on the market that will set you back up to $18,000 to $19,000. for a single needle machine. I personally don’t think it’s a good beginner machine. But you want something bigger than a 4×4 hoop, go with a 5×7 hoop. Once you’ve been embroidering for awhile, I suggest then looking for a used machine. Offer up, Market Place on Facebook, and sewing retail shops are good places to start.
I am a fan of Brother and Baby Lock. My class machines for beginners are Brother PE800. Brother/Baby Lock are very similar, Brother being the a little cheaper $$. Same software used for designs (.pes) and both are easy to use, as well as tough!
You are also going to need some stabilizer…Stabilizer is paper like material used on the back side of items we embroider. It gets “hooped” in the embroidery hoop along with the item we are adding our design to. Stabilizer helps hold your stitches to the material, felt, fabric, vinyl, etc.
Tear away: Much like it says, this is stabilizer gets removed after you’ve stitch your design. Typically this is a simple design with very few stitches, like less than 5k stitches. or used as a second layer of stabilizer if your design is super dense. If you see your design starting to pucker while you are still stitching, you may want to slip an extra sheet of tear away under your hoop. I like to get the precut sheets, I have the roll too for larger jobs but the precut sheets are so much easier to work with.
Cut away: This is thicker stabilizer that stays with the material after it is stitched. Used for woven fabric, thin fabric, very dense designs (10k or more stitches). Sometimes also used on towels. At first the stabilizer is stiff but after a couple washings it’s less stiff. A great example of WHY to use this or what happens if you don’t, and I know we’ve all seen it, is when something has been embroidered and where the stitches are is all warped. Maybe even itchy. That’s a lack of the CORRECT stabilizer.. and sometimes you do need more than one.
Wash Away Topper: This typically goes on TOP of the fabric. Usually towels, to keep the stitches from sinking too far down and it helps keep those towel loops from getting caught. It’s water soluble, water makes it melt. This is also used for free standing lace work too.
Let’s talk about bobbins, you’ll need them when you are in the middle of a project – ALWAYS! ..and I get the prewound type. I tried doing it myself and now I only fill a bobbin when I need a color other than white. I also save my empties, so I have plenty to wound when I need a color, might as well do a few while you are at it!
Thread.. there is MORE than every color in the rainbow available. ..and you don’t need them all. I learned the hard way and have ended up with a few favorite colors. Get the standard white, black, red, brown – or whatever you find yourself using the most, in bigger spools. Meanwhile, keep it simple and read reviews if you want to see how well something works. You will know when you are using a brand of thread that your machine doesn’t like. Your machine will throw a fit by breaking the thread end-less-ly! Don’t skimp too much on the cheap stuff, if you are going to take the time to stitch it, make it last.
Pick a favorite barn friend to stitch up! These designs are simple two color designs that work well for a beginner. Pick black/charcoal or whatever 2 colors that match your kitchen (or your BFF’s kitchen).
Machine embroidery. It’s a whole new world. It’s memorizing, the steady fast-pace of the machine as it loops and hoops through fabric, vinyl, felt, burlap.. Want to give it a try? I have four machines available for you to try as part of your class.
Most people think that “embroidery” is simply adding a design to clothes, which it can be. Especially with the clothes and designs we see on the racks in stores today. But have you ever wondering why sometimes the design is ripply or itches? It depends upon the type of stabilizer used and the way the design has been digitized. We cover this in the beginner 101 classes. Knowledge is power and what’s the use of spending money on a cool pair of jeans with a beautiful design if they don’t feel and look good??
Since the embroidery machines used are mine and are not for sale. You are able to learn how to use the machine without the sales pitch. We can go over what to look for, what are some good things to ask about, and how to find information on the machine that will tell you about stitch counts and service dates. With some tips on where to go.