Monday, November 24, 2014

Water Soluble Stabilizer Tutorial (embroidery on towels)

Enjoy this video tutorial on Water Soluble Stabilizers, most commonly used as a topping stabilizer when embroidering on thick, plush fabrics such as terry cloth towels.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Which brand of embroidery thread do I buy?

Recently, a customer asked me what I thought about a particular brand of embroidery thread. That's such a great question, so I thought I'd share my answer here with all of you.

In my opinion, there is no 'right' or 'wrong' brand of embroidery thread. Just like there are lots of different sewing machine makes and models, there are many different brands of thread and you just have to find the brand that works for you. Not all brands will run smoothly in your machine.

When buying a brand of embroidery thread that you haven't used before, I recommend buying only a few spools of it and actually running it on your machine before buying a lot of that brand. In fact, it's great if you can buy a few spools of a multitude of brands. Use the different brands of threads and stitch out the same embroidery design with each brand.

Then you can step back and evaluate each brand of thread. How did your machine like that thread?  Each brand of thread will run differently on your machine. Not all machines 'like' all brands of thread.  After you stitch out the design, ask yourself these questions:
            *Did the thread break a lot?
            *Was there a lot of lint in your bobbin casing when the design was finished?
            *Did the thread get tangled a lot?
            *Do you like the quality/look of the stitch out?

Ask yourself this after using each new brand of thread. And if you are using the same embroidery design it will be easy to lay them all out and compare the quality. Then you can buy what ever brand you and your machine are the happiest with. There's no judgement based on what brand thread you buy...all of the brands are good, you just need to find the one that works best for you and your machine.

Quick story, when I lived back in Milwaukee, an embroidery club member and I had the same exact sewing machine, same exact model and everything. I loved using a particular brand of thread, but every time she used that brand it gave her nothing but trouble. It constantly broke on her, she got tangles and thread nests. She tried the brand multiple times (just in case she had gotten a bad spool). But in the end it only gave her grief, so she stopped buying and using that brand of thread. I still use that brand to this day and I've never had the problems that she had with it. So that just goes to show you, that each machine has a 'mind' of it's own. And like a lot of things in life, you'll learn by trial and error.

Good luck with your thread search..and most of all have fun with it! I love looking at all the colors of thread. Soo pretty! The hardest part is choosing which colors to buy.

Happy Stitching everyone!
- Kat  :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Longarm Lessons

     One of my goals/dreams has been to be able to add longarm quilt pantograph designs and quilting services to my business. Every time I attend a quilt show I drool longingly over the longarm machines. I've even picked out the exact one I hope to someday buy.
     Now, thanks to my amazing neighbor and friend Donna (from Add the Right Touch) I'm taking steps to make my dream come true.  Donna owns Add the Right Touch Quilting and she's teaching me how to quilt on a longarm machine! And I mean teaching me from the ground up....everything from the business, to oiling the machine (it get's oiled every day!) and loading quilts. Not to mention the quilting itself and the computer program behind the machine.
     Donna knows about my plans to one day add quilting services to my business, but she's not concerned about the competition.  She simply wants to pass along her love of the craft. I told you she's amazing. She is willing to share her knowledge and I'm so fortunate to be able to learn from her.
    Here are a few things that I've learned so far.
Longarm Quilting
Quilting on a sunny fall afternoon. #loveit
  • Always cut your batting 6 inches bigger than the quilt top on all sides. I learned this one the hard way. I had my backing big enough...but not the batting. Whoopsie!
  • When doing free motion quilting don't look at the needle. Instead, look ahead of the needle to where your want the stitches to go. This lesson made a huge difference in my quilting. I could see the improvement right away.
  • If you go too fast the thread will break, but if you fmq to slow then your lines are all wobbly. This is my biggest challenge right now, just learning the flow of her machine and figuring out my own speed and rhythm.
  • Be true to yourself. My own quilting style has always involved lots of loops and swirls. They are my favorite. Donna was teaching me a new design that I had never done before, and long story short I got down to the last two rows of the quilt top and was still struggling with this design. You would have thought that I had never quilted before (it was that bad). Then I accidentally got myself stuck in the corner of a block, and I automatically did what I would have done on my domestic machine - I added in a loop and moved along to where I needed to be. Guess what! Adding in that one little loop suddenly made the design work for me. For remainder of the quilt I altered the design to include loops and they were so much better and I was no longer ashamed of the quilting (I'm telling you those first blocks were awful). I still look forward to trying and learning new designs, and I know it takes lots and lots of practice to master a new design. But this was a nice reminder to myself that if a design just isn't working for me then it's okay for me to change it to something that does work for me.

    Longarm Quilting
    This was the design that kept giving me challenges. This is one of the 'better' blocks I did before adding in the loops.

    Longarm Quilting
    Another photo of the design pre-loops.

    Longarm Quilting
    I figured out I could add loops!! This one isn't close to perfect by any means, but it made me happy.
I'm having so much fun learning, and I look forward to each and every lesson. Even vacuuming out the lint is fun just because it's part of the longarm process and I'm wicked excited to finally be working with a longarm.  I'll keep you all updated on my progress.
Longarm Quilting
The finished quilt top

Longarm Quilting
The back. It looks fantastic from this distance.  ;)

Happy Quilting!!
- Kat  :)

About Me

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Welcome to Calico Cali Designs! I’m Kat, digitizer and sewing enthusiast. I learned how to digitize in 2010 from master digitizer Walter Floriani…it was an amazing experience. Soon instead of spending my time sewing, quilting and stitching out other people’s embroidery designs, I was sewing, quilting and stitching out my own embroidery designs. I created this blog, not only as a place to share my embroidery designs, but also as a place to share all the things I make, sew, paint, embroider, and create. You’ll see posts about my life, my studio, patterns I’ve sewn and products I’ve tested. I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I’ve enjoyed creating them. Follow me on twitter . Hugs!! – Kat