Thursday, March 16, 2017


Since this is a machine embroidery blog, lets start with my American Beauty UFO... it so deserves a trip out of the cabinet, and yes, I need to finish it!

But now for a bit of digression... I always loved nature. Before hoarding even became popular, I did it with plants. In my early twenties, my house looked like a jungle. I'm not sure of the exact potted plant count-- it might have been close to 100, but it took me two hours to water them every Saturday. I knew all of their scientific names by heart.

Once my kids came along, my new little "seedlings" took over my time and attention, and gradually all of my greenery was given away or may have, sadly, died of neglect. (I sometimes forget my kid's names. ;-)

I have one amazing thing left-- this philodendron, given to my husband by his mother when he left for college over 35 years ago--- here it is today. My husband and I both attended the same art school, and I remember making drawings of it, being the only readily available vegetation in NYC! What started as two main stems then produced two "babies"-- each one after my own kids were born. A coincidence? We repotted one for my daughter to take off to college with her. We tease that the big plant will get her bedroom now.
Now my children have both left the house, and my former ways are starting to "creep" back in! I noticed the plants on sale now are much different, most kind of prehistoric looking and very, very hardy for today's modern woman... and the ways to display them are just as new. This is my "green wall" installed by my very handy husband. Yes, it again takes me about 2 hours to water them every Saturday, mostly because that is quite a reach!
Of course, flowers of the thread sort are high on my list of things I love to do. I originally bought my first embroidery software because I couldn't find a stitched rose of the exact variety I wanted on the entire internet! Not bad for an early effort, I think!

And this year's block of the month is "The Language of Flowers" and I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. Just as pretty on a wall and so much easier to take care of! 
This year's blocks are again quilted-in-the-hoop, and then stitched together-- here's a little photo-shopped sneak peek of the finish using the blocks we have. My math was slightly off- we'll need thirteen blocks--- but I think a summer month with a "bonus" block would do the trick! And what do you think that bonus block will be?
California poppies, of course!! 
To set them on point, you can see we'll need a half square triangle and a quarter square on the corners-- all-in-the-hoop of course!! and we will get those cooking up soon. "On Point" means the blocks are stitched diagonally, so pay attention!!!-- like when April gets stitched next to February next month. ?!?!?!?!?
So far we are planning white lilies next month, Caladiums (hubby's fave) sometime this summer, and an amaryllis for December, because for some reason, I can't digitize a poinsettia to save my life, and believe me I have tried.
We hope you're as psyched as we are-- try to stay current, and as we do a bit of planning on what each month will be, post your comments below with month and flower--we'd love to know your thoughts.
And now, we'd like to see a little spring!!!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy President's Day! QOV

Just put the last stitches on the binding of my Quilt of Valor last night... how appropriate now that it's President's Day! So I just thought I'd indulge myself and show it off one last time, and since none of my work is produced in a vacuum, thank some people who helped me on my way.

It all started with my finished Road Trip embroidery-- 

this is the first one from 2015... it was hanging around the office, relentlessly moving from one design wall to the next, unhappy and unfinished.

I have Keepsake Quilting and Wilmington Fabric to thank for offering the "Stripes and Stars" kit that made it look easy to piece stripes and stars with precuts... and it was!

 This is the back... Jennifer Pugh's "Colors of Freedom" fabric was included with the quilt, but I also purchased more of this print for the backing.

And of course, Sarah Velder at Acorn Ridge quilting does ALL of our longarm work... the woman is a genius and a powerhouse, too.
She quilted this overall pattern of eagle heads, flying stars, and waving stripes on the quilt. I was afraid it would be too crazy, but she picked just the right thread color that wouldn't show too much on the embroidery but you could see it distinctly in other places. One of the best parts of the looking at this quilt is how you can find an eagle head or flag here or there!

And this may surprise you, but for the embroidered label, I shopped at Embroidery Library! I have long believed the more embroidery available out there, makes our craft bigger and better for us all... taking the time to digitize something myself was not in the cards right now. That being said, they did call for they did call for white to be threaded FIVE times, which I would never do-- part of the fun of digitizing is figuring out like a puzzle what thread order to use to minimize that sort of thing... that being said, I'm sure the designer had their reasons, and the design stitched perfectly, even the metallic laurel... the eye on the eagle is absolutely beautifully done.

I hope it finds a home with someone who has beautiful handwriting and knows what a fabric marker is-- someone who can fill in the name of whoever receives it.

First and last to thank are the people at Quilt Bank on Cape Cod. First for planting a seed in my head initially, and now again for the work of giving it away. It gets delivered to them at my quilt guild on Wednesday and I would guess, not distributed until Memorial Day. The people at Quilt Bank who collect these gather about 400 a year, so my achievement is pretty small all things considered! To me, it's just a simple thank you to all of our wonderful service men and women who are hard at work every day... and especially those on the front lines. 

Happy President's Day!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Nine Down, Three to Go!

We certainly are "over the hump" with this project, and hope you are, too!  We just finished the "Twelve Drummers." We're taking a trip around the world in this series, but for the drummers we are home again, watching the U.S. Drum and Bugle Corps march around the National Mall.

It's the office favorite so far, but that's the home team advantage. 
Wouldn't the whole band make a great Fourth of July set!

We are stitching our twelve days in the center of star blocks for a large Christmas quilt as shown... you don't have to, just stitch them together as shown at the top of the page for a beautiful wall hanging. We also have our charm size (have you been collecting yours for free?) which will finish up quickly into a miniature Baltimore Album quilt... so easy... but more on that in a later post.

Here's the latest on our super crazy Twelve days of Christmas Quilt... we're happy to note we still have 11 months to finish it, and who knows, maybe we will. This probably won't be for everyone, in fact, it may be for NO ONE, but if you still have coffee in your cup, read on.

Last we left it, we had two last blocks to stitch from our
"Among the Stars" quilt by Its Sew Emma.
Check, and check!
It's such a good feeling that something we started a couple of years ago is now finished... sort of. The blocks at least!

Our blocks are set on point, so we need some type of intermediate block, and we came up with this.

We noticed our favorite Christmas fabric collections from the past few years all had teal in them... we are in love with Christmas Teal,
but red and green still say Christmas best, hence the triangles. 

Now the minute we say "triangles" some of you might fall into a swoon, but here's our secret.

And before you think, "paper piecing" and pass out again, no, it isn't. Yes, it's paper, but you just count how many units you need, cut your two fabrics and face them right sides together, then just stitch them to the paper along the lines. Yes, the tedious part is tearing off the paper, but ours came out absolutely perfect. We needed a strip 9-1/2"  long, and that was perfect too, not to mention the perfect points at the 1/4" seam line, etc, etc. Sold!

We finished one block, and this will be the perfect mindless night time project to stitch through the winter months. We all need a project like that some times. Frequently, several of them.

And we need quite a few of those blocks!

This is brought to you by the magic of Photoshop-- there are still QUITE a few Triangles on a Roll to go. When you see this, your first reaction may be that the embroidery is totally lost... at least that is what the "judges in our heads" are saying, too. But believe me, when you see those big twelve inch blocks in person, they are absolutely stunning, and draw you in for every little detail.

So that's our creative vision, anyway, and we're running with it-- the only and best reason to do create something a certain way is because it's what YOU want--
you're the ultimate judge. When you're happy making it, that feeling shines through in the work and it will make everyone happy who looks at it, too.

We'd love to hear what you might make with your charm or large size blocks! Comment below and let us know how your progress is coming... and a special thanks to all who have sent us photos... the projects are all truly amazing-- you made us HAPPY!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017... Always Believe Good Things Are Coming!

   We’re sure you are all getting ready for the big night... but most of us will not be standing elbow to elbow in Times Square or flying the Concord around the globe and celebrating New Year’s ten times over! We are happy to sit in front of TV, with the fireplace glowing, and a little glass of champagne. Wherever you are, we wish you the Happiest of New Years! And while none of us knows what 2017 holds… always believe good things are coming!

   Here’s a little look back and little look forward from San Francisco Stitch Co.:

   Series Three Baltimore Album designs were some of our best work to date... it might surprise you to know that our sample shown in the instructions is really a bunch of test stitch outs cobbled together—we went back to re-stitch the final versions for our show quilt version, and this is the state of that project...

   So wherever you are in the series, don’t get discouraged… top priority for January is to finish this up, and we will all cross that line together, oh, yes, we will. Stay tuned. And yes, there will be a Series Four!

   Our Twelve Days of Christmas has six down, six to go… we had hoped to have the Four Calling Birds for you today, but the birds had a different idea. We want to salute our Aussie friends with a   Kookaburra... in addition to a crazy call, he has rather a large head and beak and just wasn’t looking the way we wanted. (Yes, he's auditioning for the Sydney Opera House in the background.)

 It’s been our mantra that nothing comes out of this studio we're not thrilled with… so we're moving on to Canada and Geese for now, and we're sorry, you’ll have to wait. We hope to have the series wrapped up well before Valentine’s Day... (that's well, well before next Christmas!) Here’s a picture of a gorgeous setting block we plan for between each star block to keep your taste buds watering...

   And now for some new business…

   Most of you know that while our hearts will always be first and foremost with machine embroidery, our roots are in quilting… so for the past six months, we have been collaborating with award winning quilter, Tere D’Amato, to make our first ever, all patchwork design. It’s called the Summerhouse Block-of-the-Month and you will have your choice of Sampler, Row by Row, or Medallion quilt designs. If you don't want to commit to a large project, we're also making a one-off creative project each month in 2017. (Check out the sew cute Bath Mat Tere whipped up below!

So sign up for the series, or just visit month to month to see what’s new at the Summerhouse! We’ll be posting it for sale on the website at the crack of midnight… or maybe just as soon as we finish that glass of champagne!!

Happy New Year to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

City Sidewalks and Memory Lanes

I took a break between the "Days of Christmas" to join my college student in NYC for some city sidewalks siteseeing and shopping.  What business I had taking a vacation at this time of year in retail, well, let's just say when your daughter asks you to come down and spend time with her after the semester is over, you don't say no!  And in all my years of living and working in the city, I don't think I went out of my way to see Rockefeller Center in December once. Dancing Ladies and Calling Birds will have to wait!

First stop... Rock Center, of course! They had metallic flags lining the rink which must have been made of the lightest fabric imaginable, because even thought there was very little wind, they were whipping and flying in the most beautiful way.

The tree... needs no comment!

From there we walked up and down Fifth...

Saks Fifth Avenue definitely gets top prize for over the top decorations. The whole building was covered with a six-story pink castle and every ten minutes a light show complete with music would play. Try as I might, I could not get the picture at the millisecond when the entire building was lit. So you'll have to settle for this. I went back later to try again, but the sidewalk was so jammed, I couldn't have lifted my arms to take a picture. There was even a line to get into the store!

So we contented ourselves with window shopping...
Bergdorf's had these exquisite fairy forest themed gems.

For a minute I thought one store had a Twleve Days of Christmas theme... you can imagine with our current stitch-a-long how excited I was to see that! But these geese appear to be laying more than eggs... 

This item is actually NOT on my wish list... and would probably end up in a drawer at my house, sad to say. I'd have to wear it somewhere, and that would take me out of my sewing room wouldn't it?

After all the walking, we needed a break... 
this is a gift more to my "taste."

Loved these cute little building models at Cartier...

Always a classic...


Then we headed over to Sixth Avenue... the buildings on "Publisher's Row" seemed bent on a LARGE scale theme. Loved these bulbs reflected in a fountain...

But glad I don't have to untangle these!

Along the way, I kept trying to master the art of the "selfie." My DD tried to teach me, as easy as 1,2,3-- compose, make a cute face, SNAP! But I think my expression here shows how that went.

All I wanted was one little picture to use in this blog with a warm holiday greeting for you all... This was my best solo effort...

Glittering lights, laughter... 
don't you think that it captures the season so perfectly? 

In that spirit, now matter how quirky, imperfect, and awry your situation this holiday season, however well or badly the year treated you, wherever, however you find yourself, take the time to hold friends and family tight and just be HAPPY!

from the San Francisco Stitch Co. Gang!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Twelve Days Stitch-a-Long Progress!

So last we left it, I had found eight Christmas star blocks in my UFO pile... and I decided on a whim I would stitch my Twelve Days of Christmas designs in the middle of them, thus completing TWO projects at one time. At some point, I will need four more, so I made one at night this week. I realize why I got hung up now-- this one had 45 pieces!

The blocks are all from a gorgeous pattern called "Among the Stars" by It's Sew Emma from the Fat Quarter Shop. It was released as a block of the month in 2012 and having always wanted a Christmas quilt, one with stars, I jumped on the bandwagon and actually kept up for eight months. I checked and the pattern is still available just in case anyone out there has always wanted a Christmas quilt, a Christmas quilt with stars, and now a Christmas quilt with stars and the 12 Days of Christmas embroidered in the center.

The fabric is no longer available-- it was made by Basic Grey but I can't recall the name. Every year Basic Grey comes out with a new Christmas collection that I have to resist buying. This year's is called "Evergreen." And it has all those beautiful teals but maybe not as much black. Anyway, it gets my endorsement if the spirit moves you. We love anything Basic Grey-- the studio is filled with their "Grunge" fabric, and most of our test stitch outs are on Cream Grunge--in fact, our entire Baltimore Album project is on that cream-- it just adds such a nice little bit of texture.
It takes guts to hoop one of these beauties up for embroidery-- they are "on point" no less-- so I'll show you the process here. There are two main ideas when hooping. First, don't overtighten. Set your hoop loosely enough so that it's not going to be wrestling match to get block and stabilizer hooped. Once your hoop is pressed together, just tighten it a couple of turns with your screwdriver, then, ever so gently pull out any slight bubbles. Don't distort your block! The fabric is not supposed to be drum tight in there. And we've never had a project jump right out of the frame in the middle of stitching because it was too loose.

The second important thing is to just get your block hooped straight. You can see in the photo above, the design, while not centered, is nicely squared up. (Most machines have a design rotation feature-- our best machine can even rotate as little as one degree, but true confessions: I've never successfully positioned a design with the rotation feature.) I draw an X on my blocks with a purple disappearing marking pen and use the machine to center the design. Once I use a purple sharpie by mistake--that's why the occasional rotary cutter left open in the studio is tolerated in this establishment, but purple sharpies are strictly banned.
Now run the first color change-- you can see that design is really right where it should be, and can be confident to start the embroidery.

That being said, someone will always, always, always be in the room while these stitch-- maybe you have noticed this about machine embroidery in general-- nothing ever goes wrong until you leave the room.

Now let's speed time up and show the finished block. As a kid, I always loved the cooking shows when Julia Child would disappear down under the counter and pull out the finished dish immediately after putting it in the oven. I guess I'm an instant gratification type.

Hail the power of the blog and voila! 

You'd never guess five hours elapsed, with a list of between thread change activities that includes but is not limited to running out for diet soda, watering the Christmas tree, and making turkey soup. Machine Embroidery Rocks! And that is a pretty little piece of work, wouldn't you say?

Now we have a question for you... we have our French hens with the Eiffel tower and the Lords are a Leaping over Parliament... and we'd love to continue this little Christmas around the World flavor in the rest of the series. The Six Geese could be Canadian geese... can you think of any other tie ins for us? We have Golden Rings, Birds, Pipers (Scottish Bagpipers?) and drummers left.. we'd love to honor our Aussie fans... please add your comments below!

Three down, nine to go... thanks so much for making our Twelve Days part of your Christmas!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Winter Stitch-a-Long...

So, of course, my previously mentioned rotator cuff repair pretty much totaled the fall sewing season! And I am still lamenting the fact that there's no Santa's Helper Club this year. Especially since those Santa's Helper's office samples made for some pretty nice Christmas gifts for friends and family. I may have to shop this year! But you won't bump into me out there today.

My shoulder is getting better by leaps and bounds now... So at the studio we brainstormed what fun thing we could do to salvage Christmas this year? And the answer is.... "The Twelve Days of Christmas Winter Stitch-a-Long!" 

We've been wanting to digitize our very own version for quite a few years. Heck, six of them are birds-- what do we love to digitize more than that? Then there's the ubiquitous golden ring-- should be no more difficult than drawing a circle. But then comes those last few days with people...  people doing weird things! Leaping, piping, dancing, milking cows- that could be a bit challenging to render in thread. Before committing, we sketched up Lords-a-Leaping, just to make sure we got this-- and... I think we got this! 

To keep the stress off, notice we're calling it a "Winter Project"-- we can all start now, stitching as time permits through the next busy month, and then have the early, quiet months of next year to finish it up. Our projects will be ready way ahead of time... for Christmas 2017! In addition, to the beautiful 4x4s shown, there will be a free 2x2 charm size with fewer colors that's much quicker to stitch.

And now, just because we LOVE bigger projects and making things even more complicated, detailed, time consuming, and now have all year to do it... we found these 12" Christmas star blocks made about five years ago... (there's a benefit to having a bunch of UFOs lying around waiting to leap out like lords at exactly the right moment...)

We're going to stitch our designs in the middle of them. Just an idea, folks. You can just stitch yours on white and your finished project will be just as spectacular.

So we welcome you to our winter project... The first block has posted today-- (it's number seven, the swan-- no, we're not going in order because inspiration rarely comes as 1,2,3...) Download our free easy and quick to stitch 2x2 charm size, or get tempted by our 4x4 fully detailed version-- who else doesn't love a bigger project!

Be sure to take a quick read of the general instructions provided so you don't miss a stitch... the link to the series is below, add it to your favorites for December!

...and allow us to wish you the happiest of holiday seasons ahead!