Tag Archives: sock monkeys

Socks and Monkey Business

8 Jan

Meet my friends the sock monkeys. Over Christmas week I moved from hating the blessed things to having great fun making them. I decided that I would like to carry kits for making sock monkeys in my new shop. After all there is many a rainy day on an English seaside holiday and there is nothing like a bit of creative needlework to fill the time. I read all the conventional information on making them and watched the odd youtube and then jumped in. The first one I hated and now I don’t know why. Meet Red.

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He is chilling in front of the computer and later on I caught him swinging from the beams.

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He also managed to teach his little friend Ginger bad habits, transforming him from a perfectly well behaved little chap into a bad mimic.

 

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At least he looks scared.

Henry got the hump because he couldn’t join in.

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However when he tried he nearly frightened himself to death.

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In case you hadn’t gathered I was experimenting with different types of eye. I liked the googly eyes best but they don’t work unless you are prepared to make buttonholes through which to insert them. In the end I decided the felt were the simplest and most effective. Red was the first and Henry the last but I actually made a few more before I was satisfied.

Meet the gang.

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I also found that the traditional way of doing some of the stages, particularly the arms was not the best for me so I developed a different approach. Hopefully the kits  will give lots of people hours of fun. First I have to jump a few hoops with Trading Standards and the European Directive on Toy Safety or some such.

Watch this space. I might even share my journey into the fascinating world of the sock monkey and the tips for making life easier.

Watch this space.

 

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The End of the Monkey Business

17 Oct

Herewith the final part of the sock monkey extravaganza. The alphabet bags.

I embroidered sock monkey appliques from designs by juju onto cotton bags. I did two sets but here is a selection. If you are interested in the other sock monkey blogs or other designs they are HERE and HERE and HERE.

I did two different styles of fabric and had matching hats on one set and contrasting on the other.

Here are a few examples.

If you want to see any more letters have a look at my website page.

They also come in girl monkeys but I haven’t done those yet as they are a bit gender specific.

Happy monkeying.

Sock It To The Baby

12 Oct

As promised in my last blog , herewith pictures of the quilt with the girl sock monkeys. Both quilts come from appliques demonstrated in the blog before that. I divided them into two quilts. These links have links to the original digitising pages.

I decided to keep this one simple too. The appliques have enough character and a design that was too complicated might take away from them. I stayed with plain 2.5″ strips and used the leftover bits for the second border and binding. ‘Waste not, want not’ as my Mother never used to say. It is also nice and bright as only parents like pastels. Babies like bright, stimulating colours. For those that hate matching seams there are a lot less of those to contend with too.

To finish it off –  the label for the girl’s quilt from another Designs by Juju design.

The label for the boy’s quilt.

If you compare the boy’s quilt you will see that it is possible to get two entirely different quilts from the same basic designs.

 

Monkeys From The Emerald Isle.

6 Oct

I decided to divide the monkeys from my last blog into two sets, boys and girls. Conveniently there are six of each. With the first one I decided to do a variation on an Irish Chain.  If you want to do a traditional tried and tested one see this link for methods .

The link above shows you how to do three different Irish Chains – single,

Double,

Triple.

Mine used 10″ monkey blocks (cut 10.5″) and 2″” squares (cut 2.5″).

Note if you are changing the size to suit your blocks – you need to start and finish with the same row. e.g the blue one above starts with two plain and three nine patch on the first row and the last row is the same. If you don’t do that the pattern will not be complete. The same goes for the patterns across. Symmetry is the key to success. As I had 6 boy and 6 girl appliques I had to do another one as I needed 7. Rows 1, 3 and 5  – 1 applique, rows 2 and 4 -2 appliques. I chose one from the jumbo summer collection as the nearest thing to a baby. He looks as if he is wearing a babygro.

Over all I was quite pleased with the result . I have done a different but still simple version for the girls. . The appliques have enough character of their own to carry the quilt.

Introducing the boys.

Here’s the extra little chap.

Here is the centrepiece.

And again.

Some more quilted monkeys.

The label using one of the plain embroideries in a small size.

I have finished the girl quilt too but you will have to wait a while before I show you.

Now – Designs by Juju have brought out a sock monkey applique alphabet. There is no hope for me. I have lots of ideas on using this so watch this space.

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.

Monkeying Around with The Hosiery.

11 Sep

Having been inspired by a link to Ladybelle’s web site and the fabulous sock monkey quilt featured there and given my obsession with machine embroidery I had to acquire the embroideries. Having done that I searched the internet for sock monkey fabric to match. There was none in the UK that I could find in a hurry so I went to Christa Quilts over the pond (not physically you understand) who just happened to be featuring some cream fabric in one of her regular  offers.  She also got me again this week by offering the whole range of sock monkey fabric at the same discount. In case you don’t know what the fabric looks like ;

If you want to see the full range of sock monkey embroideries click on this link and prepare to be surprised at the variety of things sock monkeys do.

Harrogate was a much bigger success from our point of view than Exeter. It was completely different in every way and we sold lots of goodies too so we were happy.

You will be pleased to know that sewing all the embroideries was not in vain. They were very popular. I will be extending the repertoire for next year. We will also have lots of new quilt designs.

I now have to try to sort out the stock and find room for it. Whilst I was up in the area I went to Ebor to stock up on fossil ferns. I now have 47 different ones so if you are as obsessed with fossil ferns as I am you know where to come.  nsaaquilting fossil ferns page.   I am still charging the old price despite several price rises and I have the brightest colours.

I’ll keep you posted on the sock monkeys. I just have to decide which to do first.