Coming up with original teachers’ gifts is far from easy. While some years I leave things too late and jump in with the class group gift certificate, I usually try my best to make something as a show of appreciation for all the hard work my kids’ teachers do on a daily basis. In years past, I have made hand warmers, zippered pouches and fabric buckets. For this Christmas, I found a great tutorial for fabric trays by Noodlehead and my search was done.
This was the perfect project to try machine embroidering some letters from my Nature Walk alphabet that has recently been digitized by OESD. I am very new to machine embroidery, so am learning as I go. Janome Canada generously loaned me a Memory Craft 450E to try my hand at it and, while I will tell you I love hand embroidery, watching this being done by machine is quite magical and the result is far more refined, interesting and textured than I had imagined. I love it! And, for those of you who haven’t tried one of these machines before, let me tell you the best part: the only work you have to do is change the spool of thread and press the start button! So excellent!
Here are a few progress shots of one of the letters being stitched. I really like that the “P” presser foot directs your eye to exactly what is being stitched while not hiding any of the action:
I could have just use the suggested colours that come with the embroidery files, but I had fun tailoring each letter to the recipient… trying to remember the colours she tends to use or wear most. Knowing the total number of colours needed to complete the design and where each colour would be used (the file gives you all this information), I created my own palette for each letter and thus ended up wth some truly personalized gifts.
Wanting a neutral exterior to the trays that would wear well, I opted to use “Pollen Burst” and “Hop, Skip & Jump” and the binding is either “Stepping Stones” or “Little World”, all from my Nature Walk collection.
I could see these being used to contain some jewellery on a dresser, keys and phone on a console in an entryway or if it were for me, some yarns and threads from my latest hand sewing project on a side table in the living room.
A few technical notes:
– To properly fit a letter in the bottom of the basket without possibly cutting off some details with the corner darts, I adjusted the size of the cut fabric for both the interior and exterior to 9″ x 12″ (starting with a larger piece all around to create the embroidered letter first, and then trimmed to the correct size).
– I switched the thick interfacing to the exterior fabric and the thinner one to the embroidered fabric (opposite to what Anna suggests in the pattern). This avoids too much bubbling on the interior.
Happiest of Holidays to you all!
So, we had a challenge… To sew something amazing with the Nature Walk ABC panel. The team at Michael Miller Fabrics & I were delighted with the creativity shown in the challenge and now we have our three winners!
Third place went to Paola of Sweet Julia who created this adorable dress for her daughter. The ABC panel with the dress body & knots in the rich amber colour of Little World (coupled with the cowboy boots) is truly delightful.
Second place was taken by Sherri Noel of Rebecca Mae Designs for this truly awesome sewing machine cover. Her creation of words with the individual letters is skillfully done and just perfect to house her beloved machine.
And our winner is Candice Ayala who, with some incredible painting help from her daughter, Abigail won our hearts with this Mori dress.
Congrats to all the winners! I hope you enjoy your new fabrics coming your way and Abigail and Candice, I hope you have as much fun with my colouring book as you did with the dress.
A few of you have asked now, so I thought I’d do a proper post on co-ordinating Cotton Couture solids with NATURE WALK.
Firstly, in case I haven’t mentioned it before, or if I have and you missed it, Nature Walk is printed on Cotton Couture base cloth, which is a finer and lighter fabric than regular quilting cotton, so the CC solids are really the best option for incorporating solids into the mix for your projects so that there is a consistent weight and feel when finished.
So… What works with what?
Here are the colours used in the letters:
Most of those will also co-ordinate with the other prints in the collection, but here are some more:
I hope this is helpful in planning your projects!
OK, all you wonderfully talented sewers out there, Michael Miller Fabrics & I have a challenge for you!
Yesterday, as a bit of inspiration, I guest blogged on the MMF site about the many ways I sewed with the “ABC Nature Walk” panel for Quilt Market a couple months ago. Now it’s your turn. We want to see how creative you can get with this panel!
Of course there are some cool prizes! Lots of NATURE WALK and COTTON COUTURE fabric up for grabs and something I’ve been keeping a secret… I have a couple of adult colouring books in the works. You could be one of the first to get your hands on a copy of one, based on ABC Nature Walk.
The Artist’s Alphabet, published by Eccolo
So, hop on over to the Michael Miller blog for all the details and get sewing! If you don’t yet have any of the fabric, it is easily available at most online stores (and hopefully at your local shop too… Just ask).
Can’t wait to see what you create!
Hi friends and Happy New Year to you!
Last year was a full and frenzied one for me with many hiccups along the way, but also many accomplishments, most of which I will finally have a chance to share with you as this year progresses. I am hoping this year is a bit smoother, but am looking forward to what it might bring, regardless. Hope you are too!
One of my favourite projects I worked on last year was designing my latest fabric collection for Michael Miller Fabrics that just started shipping to stores.
NATURE WALK marks a return to working with watercolor and pen & ink for me, something I haven’t done since Flight Patterns. There is something so direct and natural about working by hand versus on the computer that I realized I was greatly missing. The designs flowed easily and I often felt like I was relaxing with a much-loved hobby instead of working, I was enjoying the process so much. I hope this comes across in the fabric.
The first piece I worked on was an alphabet panel that runs the entire width of the fabric. There is so much detail to discover in this piece and its uses are really versatile. I will be doing a post just on that shortly.
The collection on the whole was inspired by my family’s weekend outings. We always try to get out all together on the weekends, regardless of the weather, to wander nearby forests, paddle in a canoe, wander a beach or a garden and see what we encounter. I am constantly inspired by the creatures, colors and textures I see and the way my children delight in the treasures they discover along the way. So here I have tried in some cases, to replicate nature we observe and in others, to let my imagination wander and create fantastical versions of reality.
The end result is a collection for the little curious ones in our midst (with a few pieces for us grown naturalists too). And it is printed on the divinely-soft Cotton Couture, so you will love sewing with it!
I will have Nature Walk projects to share over the next few weeks, so I hope you pop back in here from time to time to find a bit of inspiration.
See you then.
Quilt Number 2!
When I first received yardage of BIRDS & THE BEES, the Bluejay colour story quickly inspired this quilt.
While I almost always have ideas of what I would like to sew while I am designing fabric, it usually takes having the finished yardage in hand for me to really be able to envision how I would like to use it. For this quilt, it was the intensity of the indigo alongside the jewel tones and soft white grounds that dictated direction. I simply wanted to play with colour in a dramatic way. I incorporated squares of Cotton Couture solids, some complementary, some contrasting, to break up all the pattern a bit and arranged everything in a strong “V” down the centre for impact. Even the simple quilting lines follow the “V” throughout, as does one’s eye, that then darts around catching little glimpses of a butterfly or flower here, a bird’s head or feather there…
For the binding I chose Baby the Stars Shine Bright in Navy which frames the quilt well, with little bright stars adding a happy, confetti-like feel.
There is a free downloadable tutorial on the Michael Miller website for this quilt, should you desire to whip one up yourself. Enjoy!
Something I’ve been meaning to share here are two quilts I recently made with Birds & the Bees fabric. Today, number one… FLIGHT MEDALLION
I didn’t want fabric choices to be perfectly symmetrically placed around the quilt, so it was fun playing with the different values of the coral and teal fabrics to create an effective arrangement. Likewise, the pops of charcoal, green and apricot help keep the quilt dynamic.
A big step for me in my quilting efforts was to finally try a bit of free-motion quilting (most apparent on the dark teal fabric with the stars, Baby The Stars Shine Bright). It went surprisingly well, though of course, most of the praise must go to the fabulous Janome machine I sew on for making it go as smoothly as it did.
At 48″ square, this is a fun wall quilt that will brighten a spot in our home, keeping things light, young and happy.
If you are interested in making one for yourself, I have created a free downloadable tutorial for this project on the Michael Miller website. It’s a fast and fun sew, as all the pieces are quite large. Enjoy!
As a final stop on the BIRDS & THE BEES blog-hop, today is all about pretty and feminine.
Sarah of EmmyLouBeeDoo is a talented sewing pattern designer (remember when I used one of her sweet patterns to make this Origami Oasis tunic?). Today, though she is highlighting her creative sewing skills over on her blog, where she has created a Blue ridge dress for her daughter, using fabrics from Birds & the Bees (her daughter, by the way, picked these fabrics from the collection & I think she did a great job!).
I really love the gentle sloping line to the empire waist on this dress, and the bias tape finishes it off beautifully.
Pop on over to Sarah’s blog to see more details and pictures of this little cutie in her new dress.
Thanks for rounding out the Birds & the Bees blog-hop in such a pretty fashion, Sarah!