More Treasures from the Sock Drawer

30 Sep

I spent the afternoon flicking my wrists trying to dislodge fragments of fabric from my finger ends.  That is what you get when you decide to do a bit of digitised machine applique . However, it uses up the bits of fabric I can never quite throw away and the results are very pleasing. I have various collections of Sock Monkey applique designs from Designs by Juju but the first one I am trying is the jumbo baby collection. I like the fact that the Juju designs get all the fabric bits out of the way at the beginning so that once that is done the embroidery can be left to its own devices. A plus if, like most embroiderers your machine only has one needle is that, because the fabric is all placed at the beginning the first 10 or so stages can all be done with the same colour in the needle which means you don’t have to keep re-threading it. The satin stitch is digitised to do each colour in one hit too which is another plus.

In case you have not done this type of embroidery I should explain that the reason for my sticky fingers was spray glue. It is the easiest way to hold the scraps of fabric in place whilst the machine stitches over them. You can buy a temporary glue that stays sticky just long enough to do the job of holding the fabric in place. You can also buy a special glue stick if you don’t want gluey surfaces. Lots of paper on surfaces and spraying well away from any machinery are also to be recommended.

I spread A3 sheets of paper over the table on which I am going to  do the glueing. This has the added advantage that no wiping is required and the paper can be folded up and disposed of and a fresh sheet put down when it gets too sticky. Butchers paper or brown paper would also work but I would think the print on newspaper might be a problem.

This is going to be a fairly basic tutorial so experts feel free to skip to the pictures.

If you like the idea of the sock monkeys but not the sticky bit then Juju does straight embroideries too.  Here is one of them.

They are well digitised and stitch out perfectly.

Here is a link to some of the embroideries. Otherwise just put ‘sock monkeys’ in the search on the home page and there are a raft of them.

Back to the applique. The designs come in different sizes, usually two different ones with each download. For this tutorial I am using the ‘Jumbo’ designs that come in 6″ x 10″ and 8″ x 8″.    I am using 8″ x 8″ as it ends up the largest and if I’m doing jumbo I might as well go the whole hog.

First I downloaded each design onto the software on my computer and sent it to the machine. I then called up the design sheet which prints out the actual size of the finished design. This allows me to use it as a template from which to trace all the relevant pieces for the design. I have a light box which makes life easier.

The colour charts that come with the designs only show the stitching so I found it useful to print off the pictures of the finished appliques from the web site so that I could see where fabric was needed.

Digitised appliques start with a line stitched round the area where the first piece of fabric is to be laid down. This line is visible on the pattern printout so I used this to trace the shape of the pieces to be cut from fabric. I traced each piece and cut it out close to the line but making sure there was enough to be caught under the satin stitch when it was stitched. These designs have a nice wide stitch which helps.

Always use  stabiliser under the fabric.  I used two layers of medium weight tearaway stabiliser and hooped it with the fabric and the designs stitched perfectly on patchwork weight cotton fabric.

Before hooping I find the centre of the fabric so that it can be centred  on the machine. If you cannot choose where the hoop sits on your machine you have at least some indication of where the centre is so that you can get it as near the correct position as possible whilst hooping.. You can of course just use a very large piece of fabric but that’s a bit extravagant, fabric prices being what they are these days. I marked it with a pin but unless you want to damage the needle if not the machine, remember to remove it before setting the machine going. You could use a faint pencil or fading marker mark instead if you do not like living dangerously.

The design first stitches a line to show where the first piece of  fabric goes. Cut the piece slightly bigger than the template traced from the design printout. Spray with temporary spray glue to hold it in place and press gently  on to the marked area.

The second stage then tacks it down. With these designs this is repeated until all the fabric is tacked down ready for the satin stitch.

If you need to trim the fabric use a pair of very sharp scissors. If you do the trimming as each piece is added you just need to trim it close the the line. If you wait until the end you risk cutting the satin stitch.  You really don’t want to do that after all the work you have put into the embroidery, especially if you have a single needle machine and have had to rethread the needle many times.It is worth investing in a pair of special applique scissors. They have one blade shaped like a pelican’s beak that keeps the  blades away from the stitching and makes life easier. I bought good ones which were expensive but definitely worth it. Quality shows in this sort of tool.

If you remove the hoop to add the pieces of fabric try not to move the base fabric as you need it to be in exactly the same place when returned to the machine.

The satin stitch then finishes the design off.

The stabiliser then has to be removed from the back of the embroidery if you have used tearaway stabiliser. You can use cutaway stabiliser that is trimmed and left in place after the embroidery has been done. I have never used this type but it is found on the back of embroideries done on polo shirts, presumably to stabilise the stretch fabric. The jump stitches need to be trimmed from the embroidery and if you are a perfectionist you should also trim all the loose threads from the back. Jump stitches are the threads left when the machine moves from one area to another without cutting the thread.

Here are some appliques I prepared earlier.

Another colourway.

Although it is a bit more work -and leads to very sticky fingers I like applique. With an embroidery you can vary the colour but little  else. With applique using different fabrics makes them your own. If you want to use the sock monkey fabric that I used I couldn’t find any in the UK so had to import it. I found it at Christa Quilts in Las Vegas.  The added advantage for UK residents is that she charges a flat fee for posting overseas. Watch out for the VAT though as that adds 20%  plus a contribution to the Post Office coffers and delays the parcel. Worth it for must have fabric that is unavailable here though especially if you get it on one of her 20% off sales as I did.

I can’t decide whether to make one large quilt or two small ones but on balance I think maybe small ones will be best with this baby theme. Watch this space.

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4 Responses to “More Treasures from the Sock Drawer”

  1. ladybelle October 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    So, so cute. Can’t wait to see the finished quilts!!

    • quiltaholic October 1, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      I’m getting there. I am trying two different styles of quilt with 6 of each of the designs. I’ll post when finished.

  2. candy October 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Thanks for the link to the designs. I love sock monkeys and I may have to make a quilt for myself!

    • quiltaholic October 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      Glad to share.
      Once you get the hang of the way they work they are a doddle. Much less complicated than some appliques I have done. The wide satin stitch hides a multitude of sins too and I would think makes sure there is no fraying.
      The straight embroideries are also really good.

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