Do You Know Valdani?

I like to do handwork, especially wool applique projects, and I have discovered that Valdani over-dyed floss is my favorite fiber to use for stitching.

valdani blog 1I’ve been using the “Scent of Flowers” set of nine balls of floss (A15413). I have worked on several projects since I got it, and this little box of floss ALWAYS has the perfect colors for whatever I am working on. I have since gotten a boxed set of size 12 pearl cotton and can’t wait to use it!

The Valdani products we carry are over-dyed floss and pearl cotton. We have individual colors as well as sets in both the floss and pearl size 12. All Valdani products are hand dyed and guaranteed to be colorfast. They offer solids, but it’s the over-dyed colors that really excite me.

Beautiful shades that flow from one into the next create subtle effects in your handwork. I like being able to choose one shade of green, for example, for all the colors of wool leaves that I am stitching. As the floss changes colors, the stitches appear and disappear on each fabric depending on its color. This is an easy way to add visual interest to any project.valdani blog 3

The balls of floss are three strands, rather than the six we are used to, and the ball seems to last forever! I find I have no tangles when unwinding floss from the ball (versus a skein). I most often use two strands for my work, going to a single strand when I’m stitching very small pieces. Valdani started doing three strand floss for punch needle projects, so you wouldn’t have to separate strands for your tool. The floss is great for so many handwork projects!

The Valdani pearl cotton gives another option, and is useful when your applique pieces are medium size or larger. You can’t separate strands like you can with floss, so you don’t have that versatility, but then again you don’t have to worry about the strands separating while you stitch. The pearl stands out a bit more, so if you are doing decorative stitching that you want to be seen, the pearl is great for that.valdani blog pearl

The Valdani fibers may cost a bit more, but they are SO worth it! Give them a try, I’m guessing you’ll love them as much as I do!

Thanks to Cathy Mark for this post!

(To find an item on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

Your Sewing Machine Might NOT Need Repair!

Kimmy smallerOur master tech, Kimmy, is ready to help you here at Erica’s!

However, she may not need to.

Many of us look to ourselves as the problem if something goes wrong while we’re sewing. And a lot of the time, we’re actually right. Here are some things to check before you bring your machine in for service.

• Check your manual’s “troubleshooting” pages.

• Put in a new needle. Make sure it’s inserted correctly – all the way up, flat side to the back. Use the correct size and point for the fabric and thread you’re using.

• Completely re-thread the machine. With the presser foot up to make sure the tension disks are open, hold the spool on the spindle and pull the thread down into the tension disks and continue.

• Check the take-up lever. When beginning and ending, the take-up lever should be in the highest position (on computerized models, this is automatic). Be sure the thread is in the take-up lever.

• Re-thread the bobbin – be sure it’s evenly wound, not over-filled, or one color wound over another, and that it spins the right way in the bobbin case. Be sure it’s in the bobbin tension.

• Test all plugs and any extension cords.

• Use the correct presser foot for the job. A flat bottomed all-purpose foot will not ride over the raised, dense stitches of a satin stitch or buttonhole.

• Clean your machine thoroughly, and oil it if your manual says to.

• Check the hook and hook race (where the bobbin goes) for thread particles, bits of broken needles, scratches, and other damage.

• If fabric is not traveling under the presser foot, be sure the feed teeth are up.

• Tighten the handwheel release if there is one.

• Some machines will not sew if there’s a bobbin on the bobbin winder, so if you hear a whirring, check that out.

If none of this works, and you’re in our area, come in and let us help you!

Wooly Bits

Some of my favorite wool applique projects require lots of small bits of   35766different color wools. That’s what makes them so special – the variety of colors and textures. It can be expensive to collect all those wools, but we have better ways for you to build your stash!  (Shown here is the beautiful Geranium Baskets pattern, 35766.

We have 100% wool on the bolt, so you can get whatever size you need for a background.  We also carry wool felt on the bolt, again giving you the option of purchasing larger pieces. When it comes to all those little pieces though, we have several options.

Here at Erica’s, we cut those 100% wools into fat quarters (approximately 18” x 27”) or half yards (appropriately 18” x 54”). We also cut all those colorful wool felts into what we call “squares.”  These pieces measure approximately 9”x 12”, large enough for lots of uses, yet small enough to not break the bank.

When it comes to those fabulous over-dyed wools that we all long for, we have several possible ways to satisfy our needs. We have a series of 5”charm square packages that offer a variety of textures in one color.A17471We also have small bundles, again in a single shade with 8 different textures, in 7” x 8” pieces.48223

We create “squares” (appropriately 8”  x 12”) of Weeks Dye Works wools, in their “solid,” houndstooth, and herringbone.combined

Obviously, texture is key when it comes to wool, and the more the better!

One more choice – Wool Chunks – are packages of five different colors in a single texture.pileIf you’re like me, every scrap from a project gets saved. Sometimes thosewools little bits are just enough for something, but of course, we all crave more.  When that urge hits, I go for our smaller options, so I can get a bit crazy with color and texture and rationalize my purchases because they are small.  (Kind of like eating four little cookies, rather than just one big one ~ isn’t it more fun that way?)

Thanks to Cathy Mark for this post!

(To find an item on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

Matching Border Strips or “Cagney Did It! “

If for some reason, you cut your border too short, you can piece it to make it the length you need. I did this with my Mystery Quilt border. What happened? Combination of working on it when I was too tired, not paying attention, and having feline help, I guess.  Anyway, I cut it too short.

So I got out my Wonder Tape. (A16848)A16848 It’s a double-sided tape that will dissolve with the first washing. It has a paper protecting strip on one side. I had cut my border strips at a 45 degree angle so they would fit together.

I put a strip of Wonder Tape on the edge of the piece I’m adding, on the right side. You can see the white paper on top of the strip in this photo.20140726_154332

I turned under that edge, and since it’s ¼” tape, it’s easy to use as a guide. I first removed the paper from the part that’s most critical, as you see here, 20140726_154844 reversedand laid it on top of the other piece, matching up the stripes and leaving ¼” seam allowance on both pieces. 20140726 reversed

Once that part was done, I could remove the rest of the tape and smooth out the seam. Turning it over, the fold is visible, and that’s where the stitching goes to make the actual seam.     20140726_195552

If it isn’t clearly visible, I use my Frixion Pen (it disappears with the heat of an iron) A20672 and/or my Sewline Ceramic Fabric Pencil 40605 (removable with its eraser or a damp cloth).A20672b 40605b

Stitch on the line and you have a beautiful join and no one knows the better.Cagney rotatedDoes Cagney look guilty?

(To find an item on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

Stitch by Number

A27074Happy Hollow has made foundation piecing easier than ever!

Their new “Stitch by Number” kits will have you creating wonderful whimsical wall hangings in no time.

 

 

“Foundation Piecing” involves sewing fabrics to a foundation ~ either paper or muslin ~ in a certain order. The fabric pieces are roughly cut to fit the shape, then trimmed after they’re sewn in place.

These kits have foundation sheets as well as fusible pattern pieces. You won’t need to trim as you sew because your pieces are cut into shape. Simply choose fabrics and you’re ready to begin!

pattern piecesPattern pieces are printed in groups, depending on the fabrics they use. Fuse the pattern pieces to the wrong side of the appropriate fabric, then cut out the shapes following the lines. The pieces are labeled so that you know which section they belong to and in what order to sew.

First, sew the number “one” pieces to each section (A, B, C, for example), then sew the number “two” pieces to each section and so on. Soon, you’ll have completed sections.

Combine the sections as shown in the instructions and add borders.     section There are even basic instructions included for layering, quilting, and binding your project. Embellishments, such as buttons, are in the kits.

A27073A27072A27075Everything comes in a heavy weight plastic storage bag, and each kit includes the foundation, the fusible pattern pieces, a non-stick ironing sheet, any embellishments, and step-by-step instructions.  “Stitch by Number” kits make foundation piecing fun and easy!  Why don’t you give it a try?  Or have you already?  Tell us about it!

This blog post is by Cathy Mark

(To find an item on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

Lots going on!

11-12

One more day for our summer Sidewalk Sale!  If it rains tomorrow, we’ll be inside, in the classroom.  

We’ve got lots of fabric, models and other merchandise on sale! If you’re nearby, be sure to stop in, Saturday 8:30 – 2:30.  If you don’t live near us, or can’t make it tomorrow, you can find all the bargains on our website as well.

We have cmas in JulyChristmas in July with Husqvarna Viking sewing machines, in the store only.

We invite our embroiderers to join us monthly for our Anita Goodesign Workshops.  The one this month is also Christmas in July.  This session of our classes starts soon, so get signed up before something passes you by!  You can see all this and more in the local section of our lbq-logonewsletter.

Lunch Box Quilts comes to Erica’s on August  22nd and 23rd.   Angie will present a wonderful trunk Angie head shotshow on Friday evening and on Saturday, you can work on any of her embroidered quilts, with the designer herself getting you started.

Of course my favorite of her collections is the one I talked her closeup colorjpginto – CATS! This is “Kitten Erica,” to give me a little credit for getting her to do her Cat’s Meow, (A22604) which became her best selling collection.

If you haven’t seen our July-September Newsletter, we’d love to have you take a look.

We hope you’re having a wonderful summer, and thank you for sharing a bit of it with us!

(To find an item on our web page after clicking on the highlighted words, hold down the “Ctrl” key and touch F.  Enter the item number in the box, press enter, and you’ll be taken to that item.)

Remember, you can see What’s New at Erica’s almost every day! Any page of our website has a column on the left that tells you where to find things, and all you have to do is look for “New Items” in purple, and click to find out.

Quick Tip from Cathy on Laminates

 

We love laminates20140610_080639 !  But there are a few things to know about when working with them.

Cut laminate fabric with the wrong side up.  If you don’t, the rotary cutter won’t cut smoothly.  It will drag.

 

 

 

Place pins on the inside of the seam allowance.  Pin holes don’t go away.  So if you put the pins in the seam allowance, you won’t have to worry about that.20140610_080542

Use a Teflon foot.  If you don’t, the fabric won’t move along while you 20140610_080600sew because of the drag.  The Teflon foot makes it so easy.  The fabric moves as if you were sewing on regular fabric.

Don’t be nervous about sewing on laminates!  Try it; you’ll like it!

Thanks to Cathy Young, (my daughter!)