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!