Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

 Some of our most loyal fans know our secret... shhhhh.
We are FROM San Francisco but currently located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. We hope that doesn't cause you shock and disappointment-- we're still in "the city by the bay."

Plymouth may not be as glamorous as SFO,
but it's been a case of "Bloom Where You're Planted" for us. And it does have its fun, especially on Thanksgiving Day! We actually made 7th on a list of "Most Overrated Places to Visit," even beating out the famous location below!

Yes, this is our claim to fame-- a rock!

This is supposedly where the Pilgrims set foot when disembarking from the Mayflower. We're skeptical, but it does have its own history now. See that crack in the middle? That happened when the British tried to forcibly take it away from the colonists, because it was a powerful symbol of freedom. I can just picture the two sides pulling on it like a tug of war, then having it split in half while everyone falls backwards! Truly, a great moment in history.
It is currently enshrined in a monument on Water Street, to prevent tourists from chipping pieces off.

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, our Rock puts its red sneakers on, and they let it out of the cage for a parade.

Now you don't see that at Macy's do you?

So, we just wish you a Happy Thanksgiving...
it's the same meal, but always a little bit different circumstances for each one of us, year to year. We are having a quiet one with just the four of us. We sincerely hope wherever you may be, you have much to be thankful for today.


San Francisco Stitch Co.,
from "America's Hometown"

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dot Zero

Yesterday was the first day that it was absolutely freezing here--
after weeks of Indian summer, it dropped down to 28. 
So it is officially time to hunker down in our cabins!

I treated myself to a little recreational sewing-- those of you who know me best, know I have my business which is sewing, and my hobby, sewing. "Dot Zero" is definitely hobby sewing-- I'm planning on entering a challenge next year, and if it comes out the way I have it in my head, it will head to other shows too-- ones that have a "whimsical" category.

The challenge is to use polka dot fabrics-- I really don't like polka dots and don't own any polka dot fabrics (except for my beloved grunge). But that didn't stop me-- I decided to make my own dot fabric by stitching together "snowballs," and, of course, embroidering dots.
So 156 snowballs later, here's where we are.

 After thinking about it, there is one "dot" I really love, and that's the one that's going to be in the middle-- can you tell what it is?

Yes, please.
It's that spot I gaze into every morning.

This was a coffee art mug rug I designed a couple of years ago-- 
I always wanted to make a bigger piece with it, and the one I embroidered for "Dot Zero" is 7 inches wide. 
It looks so realistic!


Don't ya wanna just wake up and smell it!

I want this quilt to be beautifully pieced. Most of my quilts are all about the embroidery, but I've been piecing for much longer than I have embroidering. Here's a couple of things I've learned.

The key to great piecing is pressing your seams the right way. If you are buying a pattern and it doesn't have pressing diagrams, move on. For the snowball seams to "nest," you have to make "innies" and "outies" as shown with the seams above-- very much like belly buttons.

Pinning and starch and two other great ingredients for perfect piecing. Sometimes when you pin, you are only looking at the top seam-- but you really need to look at the whole patch. That's why in the photograph above, it looks like just one patch is there-- but really there are two, perfectly placed on top of each other, paying attention to all four sides. You will be able to feel when the seams are in perfect alignment if you press correctly.

I am making bigger blocks of nine. So once I have the rows together, I make sure the seams in alternate rows are pointing opposite ways. That insures the rows will also nest.

Seams with a lot of fabric should be pressed open.

 And there it is! Perfect piecing just does my heart good. But, of course, I only do it after I've had my coffee!! XOX

So that's my homage to caffeine.
After I have it sewn together, the quilting will all be drawn, digitized, and machine embroidered. Quilting should be so much more than decoration-- it needs to add more to the story. So there's a few surprises still in store. I like to draw people in to my quilts, and if you look closely, you'll be rewarded!

So if you ever see one of my quilts, pressing your nose up to it is highly encouraged! Maybe I'll even rub it with coffee grounds for extra points...


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Come In! Come In! We've been waiting for you!

The best part of a holiday is, of course, 
the opportunity to show off gorgeous needlework.

So we start off with our brand new, finished in the nick of time, calendar. We ate all of the candy as-you-go style, but tonight we're going to fill it up again and let the trick or treaters pick from it. More than one per customer is encouraged in this establishment,
so head on over!

Before candy, we're going to show you around a little.
We've been having an "Indian Summer," so a lot of the plants are still going strong. If you've been following our "Beaucoup de Bouquet" BOM, you must have figured out I love to garden!

 These are my faithful liriope that come up year after year. This year I planted purple coleus next to them.
Now I have purple flower stalks with white leaves, and white flower stalks on purple leaves. 
That is the kind of visual "trick" that I love! 

Yes, I know you're supposed to pinch out those coleus flowers, but I gave up a couple of weeks ago. The honey bees loved them.

This is sweet potato vine. It completely took over these pots. You can see a tiny, pink begonia flower still trying to peek out in the right pot there. No sweet potato vines in pots next year, but I have a stone wall they would look great drooping over.

The marigolds. They weren't as big as last year, but just look at that color. They are more orange than the pumpkins! The big pumpkin below now has a face just like "Mad Jack" on the table topper.
I love matchy, matchy!

Here's your vocabulary word for the day:

And isthmus is to land as a canal is to water.

...and we live on one!
Our house is on a thin ridge between two ponds. No tour is complete with a walk down, so follow me.

I love that the tree roots make steps.

It's a little gloomy today-- PERFECT for trick or treating!

The creature from the black lagoon would be right at home today.

And the hawks are out, crying and stalking! BEWARE!

 Mad Jack awaits midnight. He needs a candle. 
He might get a top hat later, and we're still looking for a gold marker for his gold tooth.

Yup. If there's one thing you can say about Mad Jack, 
the guy had guts.

Candy time! Do you see anything you like?

When you live on an isthmus by the black lagoon, you don't get many trick or treaters. So we reward the few we do get with something nice. My favorite is the Minion PEZ and also the emoji PES. I think those are staying.

One very strange thing this Halloween--
 the fun size candy bars is already open--
it really wasn't me!

So thanks for visiting and go and have yourself,
not a creepy, weird, strange, or scary one--

 but just like it says, have a


Monday, October 23, 2017

Mad Jack's Halloween Table Topper Part 2

Halloween is now just a week away! The last post left you with a bunch of random pieces for your table topper-- if you are devilishly clever, you may have already finished. The last design in the puzzle is now posted and we'll show the rest of our "mummies" how to "wrap" it up!

First, visit our website to get your final piece--"Happy Halloween." Stitch it and trim it, on point, to 5-1/2" x 5-1/2" as directed in the instructions.

Read the previous blog post 
to make sure you have all of your pieces:

Four 5-1/2" x 5-1/2" machine embroidery designs
One 5-1/2" x 5-1/2" fabric square
Four 5-1/2" x 5-1/2" pieced blocks from the template on the above web page (ours are orange and black)
Four 1-1/2" x 16-1/2" checkered border strips

You will also need:

20" x 20" batting
20" x 20" backing
80" of 2-1/2" binding strips

To complete your center block, sew rows of three together following the blue pressing arrows; then sew the rows together following the green arrows. All seams are 1/4." Our embroidery designs are set so that they will be visible all around the table-- you may want to change that if you are making a wall piece.


Now get your checkered borders from the previous post...
You'll notice they don't at all fit! No worries.
Pin a strip to the block as shown below. A black square will hang off the left side. Match the raw edges of the brown square (or whatever color your second square is) with the raw edges of the lab jars on the left. Then pin both ends of the strip. You can see our strip was a bit too long and there is a lot of fullness there...

Give the checkered strip a good spray of starch-- it will shrink up a bit, or at least get very floppy! Then pat it down into place. PRESS, don't iron, with up and down motion. You have now spread the fullness over the whole length, it is now fitting, and you can add more pins to hold it. Sew a partial 1/4" seam, back tacking at the blue dot and then stitching to the end as shown by the blue line.

Your piece should look as below.

The second strip does not have to hang off the edge, just make sure a black square is in the corner at the left. Use the starch TRICK above if needed and sew it on all the way across.

Continue around with the 3rd and fourth strips... when they are completely sewn on, you can go back and finish that first partial seam.

Add batting and backing to make a quilt sandwich...
we kept our quilting very simple, just stitching in the ditch around the piecing and adding a big X in the center square. Then trim all layers even.

Make up your binding strips and attach them. We just have no time left this month, so instead of  hand stitching the back of the binding, which we really would have enjoyed, we did it entirely by machine. It worked out well enough as you can see by the front and back shown below.


So all set for Halloween-- we would have liked to do a final picture with our office candy bowl filled, but it is WAY too early to do that in this establishment-- the candy would just not make it to next Tuesday.

Now there are a couple of teasers for you, 
but first we need to have a "talk." 

We are not going to make a PDF of this...
it is double work, it costs money, and this has been mostly a free project. Yes, change is hard, but the blog allows bigger pictures, and best of all we can have a little conversation and learn from each other. (Paying sets will still have PDFs.)

The good news is, you can make your own. I learned this from Bunnybe (thank you!) when she commented on the last post!

Simply press CTRL-P while you are reading this page. A dialogue box will come up to print the page. You can do that, OR look for where it says "DESTINATION" and "SAVE TO PDF." Follow the prompts and you can save a copy to the folder with the designs in it for later. And that's all I have to say about that!

Back to embroidery...

This is our Creepy, Countdown Calendar!! Almost done! The good news is, we are going to release the last set EARLY so you can have more time to finish and display it on Halloween! Expect it in the next couple of days if you are a subscriber. You will be getting the last three pockets, the large heading "Happy Halloween" for free, with complete instructions to finish up.

The October Flower Basket of the Month will release in OCTOBER, YAY!

Who doesn't love Sunflowers! It's already well underway.

So that's how October will finish up here at SFOXCO...
what are your Halloween plans?


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mad Jack's Halloween Table Topper

If you follow San Francisco Stitch Co. and you do machine embroidery, we hope you've been following this month's free stitch-a-long! To accent our Creepy Crawly Countdown Calendars, we're making a matching table topper for under our candy bowls on the big night!

This is what we have so far-- three 4x4 stitchouts. It didn't start out with a story line, but as we were picking our favorite advent pocket each week to make into the free design, we kind of thought it looks like that gold-toothed pumpkin has scary hands and is behind all the shenanigans in the lab jars! So "Mad Jack's Table Topper" was born. What is he cooking up? You'll have to come back next week to find out... and it isn't cookies!!

Obviously the goop in the lab jars is going to explode, and we all know, you see stars when that happens. A 54-40 or Fight block has just the right type of explosive star. So grab the template on the Creepy Crawly website page and follow along (it's at the bottom of the web page). 

You'll need orange, black, and an accent fabric and you need to heavily starch them for the best results. This is how to audition your fabrics-- just fold them and lay them out like this.

Two thumbs up!

Print out the template and measure the square to make sure it's an inch-- then cut out them out into three triangles--don't trim off the tips of the triangles yet.

Starch your fabrics, stack four of them and pin the templates to the  fabric stack-- using two pins helps keep the paper in place.

Cut out the triangles. Position your ruler as shown in the photo above when cutting-- otherwise it will rock on the pins.

Then cut off the little tips off the end of each point last.

Now continue with the smaller, orange triangles. 
You'll have four of each piece.

Ready to sew! Layout the pieces for one unit.

Pin the right orange triangle on top of the black triangle-- the missing tips easily show you how to line up the parts. Stitch 1/4" seam--- these are some wiggly, bias edges, so if you didn't starch, you're paying for it right now!

Do the same for the right triangle. 
The finished unit measures 5-1/2" x 5-1/2."

 Make all four; then cut your accent fabric square to
5-1/2" x 5-1/2" as well.

And here are all the pieces laid out-- you could probably start sewing some of them together, but we are just going to wait until we have all of them.

Of course, a simple block is never enough for us, plus we have a really large candy bowl, so we're going to add a border. You can do this, not do it, or just add a large border with a fun halloween print to finish off. It wasn't hard to do ours. XOX

Cut 8 black strips and 8 assorted color strips to about 1-1/2" x 8." We're saying "about" because you don't need to measure 8 inches exactly. Just square off one short end on each strip.

 Now sew them together in pairs, 
pressing the seam toward the black fabric...

 and then sew all the pairs together, again, seam to the black. 

 Now trim the top even, and cut four 1-1/2" strips.

Mad Jack has a fun Halloween checkered border now!

I'm sure you can see how this stitches together now, so just work it along this week, and we hope to have that missing piece on Friday! That should give us enough time to do a little quilting and bind it.

If you haven't already bought candy to reward yourself for stitching a Creepy, Crawly design each day, now would be the time to think about filling that candy bowl! Buying a type of candy that you don't like is a good diet strategy, but not one that we have ever put into practice. Mostly because we love EVERYTHING!

Comment below if you have any questions-- we'll be sure to answer. Or just let us know your favorite candy. We'll be sure to buy it.