A Sew Zen Review: Freehand Machine Embroidery- Learning to Draw with Your Machine, by Poppy Treffry

Lately, I have been experimenting with free motion quilting and free hand embroidery. I really do feel like I have been in a sewing lab this past week reading, practicing, viewing, practicing, trashing… lot’s of trashing, yet no closer to that ideal of what such quilting or embroidery is suppose to look like. However, I do feel like I have learned new skills in the process, and certainly have come to know my own sewing machine better.

There are many schools of thought out there on how to approach free hand sewing and quilting, but given your machine and tools, the only way to know what will work for you, is to make test samples, and more samples, before applying them to a real project.

If you would like to have fun and relax while learning something new in this regard, I highly recommend Poppy Treffry’s method of freehand machine embroidery and applique. Poppy’s approach is simple, stream-lined and tons of fun. My kind of gal!!

I do think a universal truth in freehand machine embroidery is to use a good wooden hoop that is designated for machine embroidery. This type of wooden hoop is designed to go under the presser foot of your machine, and the wood is smooth and glides on the bed of the machine without resistance. I purchased an 8 X 8 inch hard wood hoop by Edmunds on Amazon, and this hoop works for both hand and machine embroidery.

One more universal truth here- you hoop your project for freehand machine embroidery differently from regular embroidery. Place your fabric with stabilizer on top of the larger outer hoop, and then press the inside hoop in place. This is the same hooping method with dedicated embroidery machines.

Now the fun part! There is no such thing as a bad stitch!!! Grab some scraps, your hoop, school glue, and a #90 needle. You are ready! Poppy herself does not even use a free motion or embroidery presser foot. How simple is that?!!!

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Now I’m no Poppy Treffry, but this little first effort went a lot easier than I thought, and no stitch problems on the back. I did use the free motion presser foot that came with my machine since my Janome MC 6300 machine would not stitch without a presser foot on it.

This method of embroidery and applique is very forgiving, though Poppy’s own work is quite lovely and fairly sophisticated. She does have a few short videos on her own website and YouTube where you can see her in action with minimal tools. Her book has lot’s of projects, and whether you are a novice or proficient sewer, I think you will want to try them all! The photography in this publication is beautiful and the instructions clear.

After saturating my brain with too many technical sewing details this month, I really enjoyed the opportunity to do something completely out of my comfort zone. Simple tools and preparation with this freehand method offers quite an art-filled result!

All the best,

Mary

Simply Zen: My Story

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the vision I have for this blog and thought I would share my story with you today.

When my husband and I moved to Staunton, Virginia five years ago for a so called “early retirement” we intentionally wanted to create a different kind of life. While we were extremely fortunate to have had important and substantial careers, there was no way out of the fast paced, stressful and long days our work entailed. When we looked around, only more of the same stretched out along the city horizon. We did not have time to take care of ourselves in basic ways and no amount of meditation or yoga was enough to alter our environment.

In the middle of the worst economic recession in recent history, we decided to  make the break. We retired early from our jobs, lost money on our house, and took every penny we had in savings to buy a smaller home in a place where we truly wanted to live and live well.

Since making this sea change we have found greater gifts in keeping our needs small. We are able to focus on local community and food while building sustainable and environmentally sound habits.  Simple living has certainly contributed to the positive energy we find in creating and connecting within smaller social circles. Our quality of life has grown exponentially large and the money we spend on Advil a lot less!

So, my intention for this blog is to share a little peace and quiet in the made by hand world. I want to share with and encourage others in the online sewing/quilting community as well as contribute to my neighborhood friendships. I want to create a space where we value and connect with one another as well as share the fun we have in pursuing our craft and/or business.

The design for this blog is really simple and I try to keep the social media tools to a minimum. I love to engage with readers but you will probably never find me on Facebook. I want to support creative and independent businesses; however, I do not want to enable mindless consumption and  overflowing landfills.

In the spirit of reducing the noise and clutter of life, which I find often gets in the way of our own creativity, I include some of the writers on Simplicity and Minimalism that I value in the Blogs I Follow page here at WordPress. I hope you eventually come to value them, too.

All the best,

Mary

Fabric and More: Holiday Shopping at Rachel’s Quilt Patch!!!

Those of us who sew and quilt have a real gem in downtown Staunton- Rachel’s Quilt Patch. The shop, located at Staunton Station  is owned and managed by Rachel Brown, with her daughter, Kay Shirey, and pint-size assistant, grandaughter, Emma.

There is never a time when I stop by to visit that I do not find some item  from the latest Moda or Riley Blake fabric line, a much needed notion or a unique brand of quality thread. Not only will you find many bolts of  hand selected fabrics at Rachel’s, but you will love browsing through all of the patterns, books and hand embroidery and quilting supplies, too!

 

Quilts galore, and fabric!

Quilts galore, and fabric!

Rachel Brown, owner

Rachel Brown, owner and quilter.

 

Kay Shirey, perfection quilter!

Kay Shirey, perfection quilter!

 

 

Kay's quilt in progress, Hunter Star

Kay’s quilt in progress, Hunter Star

Make a star quilt yourself!

Make a star quilt yourself!

 

Presencia Perle Cotton Thread served up in glasses!

Presencia Perle Cotton Thread served up in glasses!

Rachel's wool crazy quilt in progress. You must see those beautiful embroidery stitches up close!

Rachel’s wool crazy quilt in progress. You must see those beautiful embroidery stitches up close!

Mini-manager, Emma, 5 years old with her newly minted Holiday ornament!

Mini-manager, Emma, 5 years old with her newly minted Holiday ornament!

Diana, shop helper, AND an extraordinary quilter!!

Diana, shop helper, AND an extraordinary quilter!!

Both Rachel and Kay offer a wide range of individual and small group  quilting and hand embroidery classes. You would be learning from the best for a very small price! You will also receive bonus points and a gift card for when you make a purchase, which is another great incentive for shopping locally when you can.

However, we all have our favorite online shops, too! Do you love Jenny Doan and the Missouri Star Quilt Company as much as I do? Well, you are in for a big dose of Jenny with Rachel and Kay! They have all of Jenny’s BLOCK Books, and templates for several of the patterns in her books. Naturally, I had to buy the late Summer edition since I wanted to make the Happy Chick Pincushion once I saw the sample Kay made for the shop.  The Wacky Web template for another pattern in the book I purchased was an added surprise find!

You will always find a warm welcome and lively conversation mixed in with a great deal of knowledge when you stop by Rachel’s Quilt Patch. Treat yourself to  the wonder of the holiday season early by visiting with Rachel, Kay, and Emma on your next trip in town!

All the best,

Mary