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Category Archives: Embroidery

Silk Porch Pillows Done

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Pillows (for now)

Little X-Dyed Pillow

The threads of this x-dyed dupioni are actually celadon and scarlet and it works so well with the pad cover and plants in the garden.

So I was totally beguiled and used it on both pillows. Both are backed with Form Flex interfacing which turned out to not be as crisp as I wanted for collars and cuffs, shrinks and is spotty in it’s adhesive quality. I’m so glad to find a project that can use it as no interfacing will touch my garments but that from Fashion Sewing Supply

The large pillow took most of the morning to make, far longer than I had planned to spend on it. However I had a deep need to let the creative juices flow for a change.

I cut two 22×22″ squares and interfaced them with the Form Flex. Then I cut two 10×10″, interfaced and used a salad bowl to cut the round shapes from the aqua and bright yellow-gold X-dyed dupioni that looks like bright spring green.

My mistake was to use a spray adhesive too thickly on the back of the circles to attach them to the center of the greenish beige dupioni squares. In some areas the adhesive shows through. I can live with it. I’ve already given up on achieving perfection in this porch project!

Ruthless (but hopefully) Clever Cover Up

I wanted to simulate the embroidery on the store-bought cushions so I spent a good long time straight stitching the “rays” over the edge of the first circle. I started out just eyeballing the random rays lengths but found my eye was not as accurate as I wanted so I placed a pin in the center of the circle so I’d have some point of reference as I stitched and turned, stitched and turned.


However the adhesive bleed-through was too pronounced so I used a decorative 3 step zigzag stitch on my Designer 1 to create random “Squiggles” in a different color thread and stitched over the darker areas. The photo shows the sprayed on fabric protectant is not quite dried yet.

I next applied the back circle using two different sizes of the 3 step zigzag that the Designer 1 so conveniently offers and this time it went much faster! This circle as a few spots that show through and also is not quite dried but I couldn’t be bothered to attempt a cover-up. The day is flying by and I can not justify any more fussing.

ZigZag Sun

I used Highlights Polyester Thread from Superior Threads to do all the embroidery. I am hoping that my tiny stitch length will prevent too many snags as Martini Kitty sharpens her claws. She’s so spoiled that she has refused to sit on these cushions so far. In Cat Thinking that means: how dare you change my favorite nap location?

Chair Pillow

Settee Pillows

So, I will close the sewing for the front porch for now and move on to sewing clothes for my trip coming up in a few days.

It’s been fun to design for the outdoors and to incorporate all the various colors the plants and flowers offer, and secretly I’m sort of glad nothing is perfect. Someone I know has a poolside full of seat covers she’d like to have redone, very inexpensively. Ha ha. I love her to death but I’m not going to accept any jobs right now.


Embroidery Is Good

I confess: I have an embroidery machine that I don’t use as much as I used to. I have had terrible luck with getting my very expensive digitizing software to do my bidding. It is no good at doing fabric content labels and Custom Couture name labels because it can’t seem to handle tiny fonts nor very close up work without crashing. I just bought into the wrong software, plain and simple.

My machine is runs well and is in great shape, though. I gave up trying to get the fancy labels I wanted and instead used a “stock” font to embroider the recipient’s initials in a soft gray poly thread on a section of black grosgrain 1″ ribbon which I then stitched on to this latest shrug:


I satin stitched the cut ends of the ribbon to secure them from fraying and the ribbon serves to control the traditional pleat in the silk lining.

Doesn’t a touch of embroidery class up the garment? I’m pleased.

Now to send it off for Christmas surprises and warmth and change the sewing and serging threads to some color besides black, some color more friendly to these old eyes. And I just got new glasses this past summer. Too soon to need new ones, isn’t it?

Stitchery at Ravelry

Ooooh, I didn’t expect to receive my invite so soon, last I looked there were 5000 people in front of me but

The Stitchery is now Stitchery at Ravelry.

And I’m leaving town today so I won’t have time to play over there with the yarn and fiber friends.

Oh well, since I’m also a
sewing goddess or
sewing diva or
sewist or
sewn fashion enthusiast or

(this is how we got our name The Sewing Divas, we kicked around until we were tired of kicking)(I can’t tell you how much that term bothers me, it’s too enormous, but overall it seems to work so my trepidations will have to sit down, and just shut up!)(that’s a quote from internal discussion with me, myself and I)

I have little to add to the Ravelry site at the moment.
Too many irons in the fire,
Jill of all trades,
Mistress of none,

but really I’m


perilously close to the existence of the dilettante at all times.


I don’t have the luxury of maintaining a hobbiest’s status since I must produce useful and attractive objects in almost every endeavor so I must be noun # 2:

2. a lover of an art or science, esp. of a fine art.

Yup, that’s it.

But for today I’m going to travel a great distance to maintain the art of snoop shopping!!! I hope to have a full report when I return on Monday. And it’s a good thing that I’ve studied Georgene’s excellent Snoop Shopping article in Threads

Happy Trails

The Real Stitchery

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Today I want to let those new to my blog know that The Stitchery is a little old house that is soley dedicated to sewing, knitting and commercial embroidery. It is located about 20 minutes from my home and I go there every day that I can to sew, run the payroll and other administrative duties for the company belonging to my family, machine knit, and do the embroidery jobs I have on order.

It’s there that I usually handle the personal finances as well so one room functions as an office for me.

One room is the cutting table, patterns, clam press and ironing board with a gravity feed industrial iron that steams quite well.

One room is all the fabric and trim stash and personal sewing machine, serger and coverstitch.

One room is now going to be the commercial sewing room, invading the primacy of the knitting machines. There are two industrial Merrows, and a few domestic machines. The two Passups are still in place but the Studio 360 and the Brother 830 are pushed together by the door. I think they’d still be usable with some rearranging.

Yesterday I misspoke: home with me came the Brother 940, an electronic with patterning capabilities.

Click here to read the beginning of this blog: Welcome to The Stitchery

Vogue 2894 and Backwards

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I just completed the skirt from from this pattern.

Notice the dip in the hemline? My skirt dipped the same way.

I got very confused trying to sew up this pattern.

Maybe it wasn’t the instructions, just me and my current state of mind, but I had to put the pockets in 4 times and couldn’t figure out the pleating from the illustrations nor the printed words.

I’ve said before that I’m in remedial pattern reading but, eeesch, folks, it’s been years now and I don’t seem to be getting better at it!

When all is sewn and done, I have everything backwards: in order to use the pockets I have to have the closing on the right side and what you see in front is actually the back of the skirt.

I will do nothing, absolutely nothing, about the backwardness. After I had attached the waistband I found a flaw in the fabric (how did I miss it in the steaming and pressing???) that is an actual hole. I patched it with a lightweight fusible stabilizer and that patch, even though it’s not visible, will stay in the back so I am unaware of it. That’s my justification for not fixing everything, anyway.

LOL, out of sight, out of mind. The fabric is extremely delicate and I think I’ve used up my quota of ripping without tears.

I also bought the coordinating georgette which I have not made up yet. I see a cream or pinkish top with a black jacket. I’ll have to follow the muse, I trust her more than patterns anyway. I’m hoping the Hot Patterns will arrive soon!!!

But the fun part was trying to hem this skirt without lining it. It is too lightweight to stitch in any fashion without the stitching showing. So, I played.

I used 3 strands of embmroidery floss (circa 1970) and made three rosettes and then added a bead, repeating for the total circumference of the skirt.

I used different beads in the purple, pink and gold shades. I’m sure I could do more embroidery and make this a work of art…

but I’m going to stop now, lucky to have a hemmed skirt, backwards or no.


Malden Mills Now Polartec LLC

Officials with Chrysalis, the parent company of the new owners, Pipeline MMI LLC, say they plan to operate, not liquidate, the company. The company will operate under the name of Polartec LLC although Pipeline will own the name, Malden Mills and “use it where appropriate”.

Malden Mills, a 101 year old firm, manufactures knitted polyester fabrics to manufacturer’s specifications and sells the mill ends through it’s online store to consumers. Now you can go to Polar Tec’s online store: The company, located in Lawrence, MA, has entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is being sold to Pipeline MMI LLC, a newly created affilliate of Chrysalis Capital Partners LLC, as the only bidder upon sale of assets. It was thought that Gordon Brothers Group would buy the assets for $44,000,000 but apparently they dropped out. Chrysalis has entered into an agreement with the union concerning vacation, health and union dues.

No matter how wonderful polartec fleece is I hope that doesn’t mean that the new owners will stop making the other wonderful MM powerdry and the various forms of Windpro.

Four years ago this early spring I was able to go to a now-closed Malden Mills outlet in Seattle, Washington, and spend hours with the staff, pouring over the technical manuals and learning about the different fabrics that Mill creates for high end manufacturers. It was during that visit that the custom color silk weight powerdry coop purchase was conceived. Thousands of yards of this dark beige fabric were sold in two days time and many hours were spent getting this fabric ordered, paid for and delivered to hundreds of coop buyers.

I spent hundreds of hours online trying to keep the puchase on track. This work netted me the grand total of $0 as was the nature of this co-oping venture. I was able to buy 35 yards of the fabric at cost plus shipping, the same deal available to all the buyers involved in this group purchase.


Georgene and I worked on trying to mimick a color first produced by Georgio di Sant’Angelo but the color didn’t translate well from the original nylon into the MM polyester. We intended that it be a good color for lingerie and underlining the popular see-through fabrics of the times. Many people loved the color and found it a great fabric for underlining lace dresses and such, but some very fair skinned people hated the color. Just goes to show you can’t please everyone.

This photo is darker than the fabric actually is.

All I can say is that I will never work that hard for free again! But I’m very glad I did it once. I continue to enjoy working with the fabric and using it for linings, underwear and basic tees.

I made this medium weight pointelle power dry nightgown 3+ years ago. I live in it all winter. The pattern I used was based on the KwikSew Book on lingerie.

Using software purchased with my Designer 1 I combined a couple of embroidery designs to create the Scottish thistle surrounded by bows for the front yoke. The design is backed with light weight tear away stabilizer and even though the photo shows the embroidery as rather lumpy, it actually lies flat and looks as perfect as the day it was stitched.

I wore the night gown sans bottom flounce to the first PatternReview weekend pajama party in Manhattan, Nov 2003. The construction is simple 4-thread serge stitch

This medium weight pointelle loved being lettuced by my industrial Merrow Overlocker MG-2DNR-1 with 2 threads running through the looper

A very similar stitch can be accomplished using a regular serger. This fabric, stretched during the stitching, produces a very nice lettuced edge.

This medium weight fabric has definitely worth my sewing time and effort as have all my adventures with Malden Mills fabrics.

A Bit of Commercial Embroidery

There’s been some talk on sewing boards lately about folks wanting to buy a commercial embroidery machine. I’ll share what I did yesterday, for most of the afternoon.

It reads, “Casa Di Mir”, a school’s name. This stitchout is 1 9/16″, or 4 cm, wide by 1/4″, or 7 mm high. It is embroidered onto a pocket top fold 4″ x 1″. I’ve also embroidered a design above the pocket. The customer chose the design, one of two that I’ve digitized for sale. I’m not prolific at digitizing.

I’ve read that this is one of the toughest job in the embroidery biz: creating personalized pockets. It looks so simple but this little name took me 2 hours to create and stitch out. I charge $10 to add a name and personally feel that that is too high. But I’ve had a few takers at that price. I think I’ll leave it at $10 and reduce the number of letters from 15 to 10. This one is 11 including the spaces and I barely got it to fit and still be readable. I had to move the letters around because the I in DI and MIR became indistinct from a distance. Seeing this photo, I think I should have done it differently! And I notice that the fabric stretched a bit out of shape during the hooping. Bleh, it’s not easy being perfect when you have a critical eye.

First I had to find a font that would allow the name to be readable and would conform to the customer’s standards of using approved lettering styles. The customer is a school and they are particular about lettering styles, nothing cute, please. The wearer will be an example to little people learning to write. OK, so first meet the customer’s standards. I chose a small block font and decreased the density of the stitches to 40. That was even a little too dense.

The Second Challenge is to get the embroidery onto the pocket without removing the it. Much easier to add the embroidery during the construction of the shirt.

Here’s is the machine I’m using for the commercial embroidery. It is a Toyota ESP9000, a single head with 15 needles and supposedly portable. At 185 lbs, the most portable I’m going to make it is pushing it around on it’s wheeled stand.

The 15 needles come in handy when you are doing multiple colors or many different single designs. Last Christmas I decided to embroider shirts for 18 employees, using stock designs and customizing them to show in thread each person’s inner dreams, if possible. This is much easier to do than a personalized pocket. Here are a few of the test stitchouts so you can see how beautiful the embroidery can be.

All of these designs were stitched above the pocket and in the end most used different colors: it all depended on the design. All of these are stock designs, I didn’t digitize them, but wish I did have the necessary skills. Ah, well. I’ll be paying for this machine a long time so I’ll have time to learn. This was fun embroidery and a big hit as Christmas presents.

But back to personalizing a pre-existing pocket. You have to make a space between the pocket and the shirt it’s sewn on to so that you don’t embroider the pocket shut. That requires a frame that can slip into the pocket opening, leaving enough fabric so that the embroidery head can punch out the lettering in between. This is the frame:

Here the frame is loaded onto the machine and the needle and stitch plate can be seen.

Here I’m trying to show is how the shirt body must be in front and below the pocket front. You don’t want to stitch the pocket closed! Ripping out is a terrible pain.

So, what is a 4″ wide pocket opening functionally becomes a 2″ wide stitching area and that’s further reduced by the need to not strike the frame with the needle. The recommendation is to stay .25″ away from the edges of your frame but I do try to fit as much in as possible. You functionally end up with 1.5″ in which to stitch.
Here’s another personalization that has 6 letters and is much easier to read when worn. I’ve loaded it onto the frame just to show you the spacing, if this were a real stitchout you’d have stabilizer and the design would be centered more carefully within the frame. It takes careful placement to avoid having the needle strike the frame.

I’m really sure this is not how I want to make my living but I’m glad to do it for my company customers. As a single head operator I’m happy to have commercial embroidery just be a part time thing.