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!