The Seas Were Made of Ink

5 Nov

I’ve given up on the printing. I finished yesterday with black fingers and a dirty desk. Something to do with breaking the habit of a lifetime , buying compatible cartridges and expecting them to behave like proper ones. Hey ho, that’s life. I have sent them back as instructed so if you’re in the pub/cafe and you see someone with inky fingers astound him/her by asking if he/she is a postman/woman. (Political correctness can play havoc with the typing fingers.)

Having finished my appliqué dragon quilt top – yes I know I still have to quilt it – I have embarked on an embroidered version. I was very impressed with the quality of the embroideries and so I have decided to make a quilt  and lots of accessories. I will keep you posted with the progress.

Here are the embroideries.  I am making a baby quilted mat  and, I thought a matching bag for all the katundu babies need on their travels. I am going with gold, mauve and purple as a cross section from the embroideries.

This is the fabric I will use for sashing.

I did one of these sets using Beatrix Potter characters and was pleased to find that some of my fabric collection matched the embroidery threads perfectly. Having matching  colours pulls it all together.

As with appliqué I started with the fabric a couple of inches bigger than I wanted it finished thus allowing the fabric area to shrink a little during embroidering.This is particularly likely to happen with an embroidery with a large amount of stitches per inch. There is nothing worse than doing a perfect embroidery and then finding the fabric is now too small or distorted and needs straightening up but there is not enough fabric.

Digitising is another thing I would like to do but meanwhile I just admire the beautifully competent embroideries that some  companies and individuals produce. It has also to be said that there are also some who are perhaps not so good. Most online sites supply free trial embroideries so that you can see the quality of their digitising. That way you at least get an idea of the standard.

Always use a reasonable thickness of stabiliser on the back. I was taught to use two pieces on top of each other, twisting one at rightangles to the other so that the grain goes in two directions. Makes it more stable I guess although I was told to do it by someone who knows so I do it. Experimentation is good for the soul but I work on the principle of ‘He who dares often comes a cropper’ so sometimes I go the tried and tested route.

As with applique I use a bobbin thread unless I am doing freestanding lace in which case I have been known to wind the same thread top and bottom. I am experimenting with coloured bobbin threads for applique and I have a feeling I might start to use those for FSL in time. However, with most embroideries I use white bobbin thread.

Everybody’s embroidery machine will be different so you need to read the manual and experiment. If you are using a machine that  also does other stitches you may need to drop the top tension  as in satin stitch appliqué described on my other blogs – this one  and this one . If it is a dedicated embroidery machine then you will probably know it’s habits. It may still need some adjustment though. Like people, just when you think you know them they do something totally unexpected an ruin your day.

Preferably try out the embroidery on something other than the piece you are planning to give as a present or enter into a competition.  That way, if it needs adjusting it can be done without spoiling anything important. Have you ever tried to unpick a digitised embroidery. I have and take it from me it is a pain. No point in having a nervous breakdown when a bit of patience would have prevented it.

The sashing is attached.

Next stage the borders. These are a bit easier as the fabric I used for the embroideries is thicker than the sashing so it wasn’t as easy to attach especially as I use an overlocker whuch is not as easy to control as a standard machine and once it has chopped off the seam edge your personal dictionary suddenly has more words than you realised so care is the order of the day. The borders, being the same as the sashing are easier to deal with.

The finished Top.

Now I just have to quilt it.

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4 Responses to “The Seas Were Made of Ink”

  1. Paataty November 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    You do such lovely work. The baby and mom will love this.

  2. Shirley Medhurst November 6, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Love this.
    Which embroidery machine do you use for your work? (If you don’t mind me asking)
    You’re work is beautiful.

    • quiltaholic November 6, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      For my applique I just use an ordinary sewing machine with zigzag on short stitch length.
      For actual machine embroidery as on the embroidered quilt above I have a 15 needle Tajima so once I have chosen the colours and threaded it up it’s a breeze.
      When we returned from overseas The Big Cheese got a boat and I got an embroidery machine. Fair trade I think.
      I used to use a one needle Brother machine though and that also does very impressive embroideries. It is just that with the 15 needle I can do other things at the same time. The only time I need to watch it is if there are more than 15 colours and I have to change them mid-pattern, otherwise I could end up with some very strange colour combinations. I once gave Santa a green beard just by reading the number on the reel incorrectly.

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