A fantastic use of Embird

November 5th, 2013

If you’ve read my last blog post you will see that I entered the Australasian Sewing Guild competition a month ago. As well as my entries there were some fabulous other entries.. In fact all the entries in the sewing competition were fabulous. It was hard to decide which was the best. But the photos I’m including here are of a very special dress. This dress won the Daywear section. I thought that you’d like to see it as the ferns on the dress were created in Embird Studio.

And here is a close up photo of the ferns.

Aren’t they awesome? Louise Sparrow from Australia created these ferns in her Embird studio software. Silver ferns are a very New Zealand “thing” and as our brief for the competition was Natural with a Kiwi twist I think that she made a fantastic job of her dress. Not only was her dress really classy, and beautifully made but she made great use of Embird to create her version of a Kiwi Twist.

Just think what you can do with Embird when you think outside the square. Not only can you create regular embroidery designs but you can make really classy garments and embellish them like Louise did without making them look like they came out of a tourist shop. There really is no limit to what you can do……

Well done Louise. And thank you for providing me with the photos and allowing me to write about your beautiful dress.

I’m back again…blogging….

October 10th, 2013

It’s been such a long time since I have written on my blog. I cannot believe that its been five months. So much has happened since then.
Embird has released a newer version than when I last blogged back in May which has given us more options and some great new features. One of the really good new features will be great if you do a lot of lettering for embroidery. If you own great embroidered lettering you have in the past only been able to use that lettering if you treated it just like a regular embroidery designs. You had to merge every letter and rearrange them in your hoop in order to be able to use them. But now, if you own Font Engine as well, you can use those embroidery lettering files. All you need to do is go to Insert in Editor and select the command Insert Ready Made Alphabet text. Select the folder to add from where your alphabets are kept and start typing……so much fun…..You can do all the usual things in the Layout screen, like changing the Baseline to a circle etc. But the only catch is that you need to own Font Engine! Now, can you think of a better reason not to purchase Font Engine?

I’m not sure if I mentioned this before or not but this year I joined the Australasian Sewing Guild Auckland Group. I have met such a lovely bunch of ladies – as well as one gentleman – who all sew. We meet once a month and sometimes take our machines and sometimes we do something else. Its been such fun. As luck would have it I managed to join them the year when the Annual Convention was being held here in Auckland. I decided very early on to attend the convention ( October 2013) as they had such a great list of classes to attend. There was a lot of work involved in organising and hosting the convention here in Auckland but the folk in our Guild did a tremendous amount of work and a wonderful time was had by all. I loved the Fabric Tour that we did mid week. I came back with bags of fabric and sewing needs. I needed them all…. :) I also loved my classes – both of them on creating pattern blocks – one a trouser block and the other a bodice block. The classes covered four days from 8.30 am to 5 pm. Being back in class after 45 years made the brain work harder but I thoroughly enjoyed it all. I came away with a trouser block which fits perfectly and also a bodice top that fits my post menopausal figure….I was very happy with the outcome. I must say that we were also feed magnificently and the organisation was fantastic. Our sponsors for the event were Bernina and they did a magnificent job as well. All the machines that we hired for the convention were Bernina’s. How good is that?

Earlier in the year I made my grandsons some winter coats and I showed them to Carol, who works at my local Bernina store. She said to me that I should enter the Guilds Convention Sewing Challenge. I was rather dubious as (like us all) I didn’t think I sewed well enough to enter a competition. However Carol encouraged me to give it a go so I decided that I would. I entered two categories – the Daywear Challenge and the Convention Collection. For Daywear I had to enter 1-2 garments and for the Collection I had to enter 5-8 garments, all co-ordinating. All garments had to be made of natural fibres and had to have a “Kiwi twist”….That’s challenge enough for anyone in my humble opinion! :)
Anyway I set to and decided what I would make and entered the competition. It was worth entering as there were three Bernina machines up for prizes and a Horn sewing cabinet – for a first time entrant.

I made a lovely bright pink wool coat lined with multi coloured pinks and grey silk lining for my daughter with a brown wool dress lined with orange silk for the Daywear Challenge. The coat and dress represented the beautiful rhododendrons at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth where Julie ran her first marathon this year. The outfit looked lovely on her. Sadly I don’t have a photo of them on her yet! But here’s the next best thing –

Then I made a wool pinafore lined in pale green silk, a green coat lined with pale green silk, a merino long sleeved T’shirt, a wool skirt lined in the same green silk, and a merino cardigan for my grand-daughter, aged 2 1/2. They represented my view of Auckland. The city skyscape, grey and moody at times, the beaches with paua shell and the green of the Titirangi hills where I live. Once again, no photos with them wearing them but I do have photos of the garments.

The coat has pale green silk lining and I cut all the paua shells to the size of sequins and hand stitched them on the coat.

I created the skyline of Auckland City in my Embird Studio software and then appliqued it on using my Bernina 830 and the jumbo hoop. two hoopings.

This was an Ottobre pattern which I hand sewed on the pearls and the jade, including the jade for mock buttons.

Also an Ottobre pattern made in pale green 100% merino
And lastly, the skirt

Again, its an Ottobre pattern (love those patterns) which I lined with the same pale green silk fabric.

I was pretty happy with the clothes that I had made but having them judged in a competition was an entirely different matter. On the Fashion Parade evening my daughter Julie and my wee grand-daughter Casey came along to model the clothes. I was dubious about Casey walking across a stage in front of an audience and was worried that she might cry, as it was way past her bed time. However, she loved the attention and I think she stole the show. She not only walked across the stage once but asked if she could go again. I think she liked all the clapping from the audience! The compere told her to come across again but when she asked for a third time I told her that she had had enough. After all there were other people waiting to parade their creations as well. :)

Then all the entrants had to come up on stage for prize giving….How nerve wracking is that??? Well, to cut a very long story short- I was Runner up in the Daywear section for Julie’s outfit, winner of the Convention Collection for Casey’s garments and the winner of the First Time Entrant category. I came away with a beautiful Bernina sewing machine AND a Horn Sewing Cabinet! I was so happy I couldn’t sleep that night…..

It’s been a long time…

May 5th, 2013

I honestly do not know where the time goes. I have been meaning to write some more posts for ages and it was only recently when a friend said that she was just about to go and read my latest blog that I realsised that I actually hadn’t written anything for some time. I told my friend not to bother checking out my blog as I’d written nothing new. It was a timely reminder to actually write something – just in case you all thought that I’d disappeared off the face fo the earth! What has happened in my life to keep me so busy?? Well, the wedding for one. I could not believe how tired I was after it. Well, actually, I think everyone was tired. The idea of a family wedding at your home sounds like a lovely idea – and it was – but you really do not realise how much work goes into having a “casual wedding”. There’s nothing casual about it! You look around the property and think “Oh, that needs done, and this needs done, and that needs a little paint touch-up! And on and on it goes…..I don’t think we’ve ever done so much gardening and tidying up before.

And then there was all the bunting that I needed to make for decorating the marquee

Plus all the clothes for my grandchildren and the aprons for the guys that were cooking the BBQ.

Ben and Henry acted as “security” for the day so they needed their special shirts

I cannot find a photo of the aprons but I did embroider the men’s names on them – thank you Embird for your beautiful text lettering!
As well as all that sewing I also made a dress for Casey for Chrstmas plus the usual outfits for the boys – all three of them, plus we had Christmas dinner at out house – but that seemed a long while ago by the time we got to the Wedding.
Wedding day dawned beautiful – the weather sunny and warm and a gentle breeze. Julie had spent a long time decorating the marque and it was looking very good.

It was time to pick up the bride and to have some photos beforehand -

Then it was off to drive Jenny to the house for the ceremony. All the neighbours had gathered for “look see” by the time we arrived.


And then there was the signing ceremony. And yes – I made and embroidered the cloth as well. Lots of little buntings appliqued to the cloth and the birds digitised (by me) to replicate the wedding invitations.

Then all the family photos. The only one missing from this photo is our grandson Jack who was asleep….

And guess who cried when the happy couple dedicated the cake cutting ceremony to me with the song “Sweet Caroline”….

A lovely was had by all and it was so relaxing once the serious parts of the day were over and the families and friends sat around for many hours just relaxing, chatting and having a lovely time….

Oh my, am I tired!

January 25th, 2013

The wedding is over, Christmas and New year have been and gone and now, hopefully, life returns to normal. Our daughter Jenny’s wedding was last Saturday and was fantastic. We had the wedding at our holiday home with a large marque in our back yard. It was lovely and casual and as I mentioned before, I made her dress. Jenny looked lovely and she is so happy. I was so proud of her.
Here’s a photo for now. I’ll post some more later

At the moment though, I’m very tired after all the organising of the wedding. Plus I now have to think about answering my backlog of emails…. :)

Sew many things to write about

December 6th, 2012

As I wrote about in my last post, I am busy sewing my daughters wedding dress. Its now almost finished. Only the hand sewing to go. many hundreds of pearls and lots of the guipure lace flowers to be sewn on. While most people hate hand sewing I actually enjoy it. As long as I can sit in my favourite chair with my feet up I find it a very relaxing job. Last night I stitched all the guipure lace flowers around the hem by hand. The hem is a “hi-low” hem with a big scoop at the back and with the lace on it looks lovely. I just have to add little pearls in the center of each of the flowers and I have finished the dress hem.

I have learnt so much about sewing silk charmeuse since we bought this fabric. I have also learnt loads about my machine. Actually, I am not sewing the dress on my machine at all. I have a loan of the shops machine while mine is having a little hospital visit. My Bernina 830 was making a funny little noise so I took it in to be seen to and as I could not be without my machine as I had so much sewing to do I asked if I could borrow the shops machine. Marianne very kindly alowed me to take her machine home. And her Bernina 830 sews like a dream. I am reluctant to return it. :) My Bernina store is run by fabulous ladies, including Marianne the owner. Carol, who works in the shop is fabulous as well as she trusted me enough to lend me her beautiful Purfex model for me to put the dress on. I dont know if you’ve seen these Purfex models but they are so well made. I used to have Singer models but they were awful compared to the Purfex models. Santa is going to bring me my own for Christmas!
I used the model and put my daughters bra on it and then stuffed the bra with wadding and then put one of those stretchy singlets on it and use wool batting from my quilting to wrap the model – under the stretchy singlet – to my daughters exact measurements. It worked a treat and made making and adjusting the shape so much easier.

I have been sewing since I was 11 years old. In fact my mother and brother bought me my first sewing machine at that age. But because I was nervous about sewing this very expensive material I read as much as I could about silk charmeuse and sewing a complete dress on the bias and learnt a lot more than I have learnt in my previous 52 years of sewing. It just goes to show that you can still learn something new all the time.

With the bias I learned to sew directional sewing. I stitched all seams in the same direction. With the dress I stitched from the widest point to the narrowest – from the bottom of the skirt to the waist and beyond – on both sides of the skirt. It makes quite a difference. Also when sewing fine fabrics with a lot of stretch (bias) I reduced the stitch length from the default 2.5 to 2. The stitches are much smaller but they allow the bias fabric to do its natural thing when wearing. There is absolutley no puckering of seams at all.The seams are beautifully flat as the smaller stitch length allows them to move in a natural manner. However it is a begger if you have to do any unpicking!! I have to put on my very unsexy magnifying glasses in order to see the stitches when unpicking! Don’t have visitors when you’re wearing these babies!!!

I also used special silk pins (very fine and very very sharp! – Believe me I know as have pricked myself numerous times with them) but they do not leave any holes or marks in the silk. I also use a very fine Mircotex needle in “my” machine. I used Schmetz Microtex Size 60/8. They have a purple mark on the shaft. They are lovely for silk. I also used a 150 thread which is finer than the normal 40/120 we generally sew with. I would think that the 150 probably equates to about a 60 weight thread but as it is polyester it is still very strong. Its breaking point would be very similar to regular sewing thread but the stitches just disappear into the fabric seams. Its lovely to sew with but I probably wouldn’t advise it to be used on clothes that need to be hard wearing – such as childrens clothes….

Make sure you’re using seam roll when pressing so you dont get the seam allowances impressed into the fabric – and always use a press cloth. I just cut a peice of cotton voile as a press cloth as I can almost see through it while I am pressing. And makes sure that your iron is set to the correct temperature setting. I used my regular steam iron rather than my iron with the tank as I dont trust that one as it is inclined to spit at times. Can’t have that on a wedding dress!!

Anyway perhaps that’s enough chatter from me for today.My grand-daughter has arrived and Gran is looking after her while her mum goes for her run. She is training for her first marathon and she is running 29kms today so we have to drive over town to pick her up when she is finished.
In my next post I’ll tell you some more about the sewing and show you some more photos. Plus tell you about the rest of the sewing I’ve been doing in between fittings. Loads and loads – “my”machine has been having a real workout!Plus I’ll tell you about something I discovered in Embird the other day…….

The quilt is done – at last

November 15th, 2012

Well, I actually finished Casey’s quilt about three weeks ago but havent had a chance to sit down and write about it as I am in “wedding frenzy” now. Thank goodness I started the Fairyland quilt some time ago so that I could get it done before Christmas as I would have been panicking by now with the news that our youngest daughter – who has been stuffing around with the date of her wedding – announced about a month ago that she would like to get married on January 19th 2013 – yes, 2013!! That means that her wedding is only 8 weeks away. And guess who is making her dress!! But I’ll write about that as I progress with the dress.

Anyway, the quilt went well but I was a little “over” applique by the time I’d finished. It took a great many hours to complete all the applique blocks – much longer than I expected. I also added some some of my crystals to the quilt as well as that little girl really likes her “pretties”. When Casey was visiting I would always show her the quilt. She is 21 motnhs old now and a real little girl. She loved it. She would jump on it and wrap it around herself – just the quilt top – and then walk all over it – and point out the various animals on it such as the elephant, the cat, the dog and the mouse. I don’t think she even saw the fairies – she loves the animals on it. But I added the bit of sparkle to some of the fairy wings – a bit of bling – but I made sure that they were added to fairies on the edge of the quilt rather than the middle, in case she lay on them and could feel them. I’m such a “princess” that I cannot stand labels in my clothes or anything irritating my skin so I am always aware that others could be like me – heaven forbid!! But I felt that the little extra sparkle looked good on the quilt and Casey loves it too….

One word of warning though in regards to the Fairyland blocks – Block 7 has an incorrect sewing order, so if you are doing this quilt then look out for it if you have the current designs. I have written to Secrets of Embroidery to advise them and they have passd it onto the designer and hopefully the sewing order will be fixed.

My biggest quandary was what to put around the borders of the quilt and what color. I ended up taking one of the blocks to Cushla’s Fabrics in Devonport, Auckland and asking for their advice. I felt that the quilt was already very pink so really wanted to put another color in for the border. After much humming and haa-ing we all decided that a nice turquoise and purple would be a nice contrast on the quilt. That decided it was off home to make a start on the finish. Because I wanted the quilt to retain a soft and cuddly finish I stitched minimal quilting stitches on top to anchor all the layers. I wanted the quilt to be cosey like a duvet cover and not heavily stitched as some quilts are. So I stitched around each of the blocks and their little borders and then around the main border. I was happy with the result – very happy to be finished it – and Casey loves jumping on it on her bed. She knows that her Gran made it for her but in case she forgets I put a little message on the back of the quilt for her for the future……

So, that’s it for now – no more quilts for a while. I have a wedding dress to make!

Actually I have started making the dress already. My daughter Jenny and I went shopping last weekend and bought the fabric. I was apprehensive about going shopping with her as she is not a shopper nor a person that sews or has any interest in sewing. (Mum always does that for her…) The problem with someone who doesn’t sew is that they often cannot visualise changes to a pattern or how the fabric will look etc. However we went to Newmarket in Auckland and went to Centerpoint Fabrics – a specialist fabric store with lots of fabric of all kinds but specialises in wedding fabrics. I could not believe it – she basically saw the fabric she liked within three minutes of entering the store. The lady assistant was fantastic and showed us all options but then Jenny decided on the original fabric she had seen. We bought it. After all my worrying about how stressful this shopping trip was going to be and me being worried that she would get fed up and give up and I’d be left with no fabric to start on for ANOTHER WEEK was all to no avail. I should have had more faith….LOL!!

I have started on the toile for her dress. In fact, because she doesnt really know exactly what she wants I have made four bodices and two skirts so that she can mix and match and choose what she likes. To be on the safe side I have already shown her best friend and bridesmaid the options and she likes them and will be here when Jenny comes for her first fitting.


This is one version with a cowl neck and little pearls under the cowl. The cowl is just pinned on in case she doesn’t like it. I have pinned some of the guipure lace onto the sleeve as well. I think it looks pretty but she has an alternative as well as the other sleeve is currently plain

Oh, and I forgot to mention – the fabric is Silk Charmeuse and the lace is Guipure Lace (or Venetian lace) – and the pattern is completely on the bias.

I googled Silk Charmeuse after I had bought the fabric and read about how difficult it is to sew……oh dear – and it’s all on the bias……oh double dear….But my practice toile stitched lovely on the bias on my Bernina 830 (I used satin) so I am hoping – fingers crossed – that the real fabric will stitch okay as well. I have certainly read plenty about it – NOW!

I will write about the dress and the wedding as I make the drsss – so look out for more on this, if you’re interested.
Jenny is getting married in our back yard at our holiday house on the Coromandel Peninsula as she just wants a low key wedding as she hates a fuss…..