Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Post: Customized Embroidered Ornaments from Caren Adams!

Hey there Auntie Lolo readers, I'm Caren Adams from cadamsCREATIONS, and today I'm going to share a great way to make customized embroidered ornaments from your pile(s) of fabric scraps.

Do you have a creative child (or children) in your life? My son has been gifted with an amazing imagination. He thinks up stories that last for hours and hours, draws aliens that are too adorable to throw away, and has actually started to do bits of embroidery himself. With a real needle. Oh, and he's only five.  OK, I'll stop gushing about my Spunky, and start teaching you how to turn sketches (even the bits that kids have dreamed up!) into ornaments.  (Don't be intimidated by the hand-stitching - just use simple back stitches and you're set!)

How To Make A Custom Embroidered Ornament
Muslin, linen, or other cotton fabrics (prewashed) for the embroidered side. 
Scraps of other festive backing fabrics.
Quilt batting.
Bits of ribbon (I used 1/8-inch)
Embroidery Floss
Note: use whatever size circles you prefer.  Mine are about 2.5 inches (finished size), but I am terrible at math (and seam allowances).  I used the outside of a roll of packing tape as my circle template!

1. Find a picture you want to use. Try to use a line drawing if possible. Simple images are the easiest to re-create in small scale. (One of the images I wanted to use was too big for an ornament, so I took a digital picture of it, resized it on my computer, and printed it.)  Your image should be about 1/2 the size of the circle you're using so that you don't cut off an antenna or something.  [Experience talking here, folks!]

2. Copy your picture onto a transfer medium. In the past I have drawn directly on the fabric, but I mess up too often for that. So here are some other ways to get your image onto the fabric:
a. Iron-On Transfer Pen. This usually makes fairly fat lines - not so great for smaller images.  Also, your image will be reversed when you transfer it.
b. Freezer Paper.  Freezer paper is thin enough for you to use like tracing paper, however, your image will be reversed if you iron it on the back of your fabric - just iron it on the front, it'll make your life easier.  If you go with freezer paper you'll be sewing through the paper and will have to tear it off after you embroider the image (be careful to not tug the stitches out).
c. Wonder Under.  This is a double-sided sticky mesh that acts like double-sided tape for fabric. To use this you'll want to reverse the image, draw on the paper side of the Wonder Under, iron it onto the back of the fabric, sew through it, then carefully peel off the backing paper (making sure not to pull the stitches out) and iron it on to your backing fabric.

d. Stick and Wash Away. (This is how I do mine.) Stick and Wash Away is a new product by Pellon that I just love. You copy the image (or print it in your printer!) directly onto the fabric side of the product, peel the paper backing off, then stick it on the front of your fabric. No reversing the image, no ironing, and no pulling the stitches when you're finished.  As a great perk - it acts as a stabilizer so you don't need to use an embroidery hoop. When you are finished embroidering, just soak it in a bowl of water and it washes away!

3. Cut out your circles.  Now, I know some of you have a nifty machine to do your cutting, but if you don't, you can just do what I did and use a template.  I used a roll of packing tape, but you could use a cup, small plate, or even the spool from the ribbon.  Draw the circle on the back of the fabric and then cut the circles out and stick (or iron) on the transfer medium (see #2, above).

4. OK, now that you've got your transfer method all figured out and your circles all cut, let the embroidery begin! Use the simplest of stitches - straight stitches and back stitches are typically all that is needed. You may choose, if you are adventurous, to throw in some other types of stitches (I have posted about great embroidery references and tutorials in this post).

5. Take off the paper.  If you're using freezer paper or Wonder Under, CAREFULLY remove the paper so you don't pull the stitches.  I used Stick and Wash Away, so at this point I gave my little guys a bath.  Here they are drying off:
don't they look happy?!!!
6. Make a fabric sandwich: batting, back, then front, right (sides together).  Insert a loop of ribbon for hanging at the top.  Put the ribbon between the front and back pieces with the cut edges hanging outside the circles - pin the loop INSIDE the fabric sandwich so you don't sew it into the seam!  I used about 10 inches of ribbon and looped them in half so with the seams that makes them about 4.5 (ish) inches.  
7. Mark where you want your gap (for turning).  Stitch around the edges with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

8. Turn your ornament right side out and iron flat.

9. Optional Embellishments: At this point, you could call your ornaments finished.  Mine appeared to be lacking something, so I started playing with embellishments.  I used a knotted blanket stitch around the edge of Spunky's "space dog":
I did a running stitch along the edge of the "Space Mouse" - the running stitch shows on the other side, too, for a nice bordered effect.

pretty cool effect, if I do say so myself!
Then there was what I call the "Space Carrot".  He's a bit off-center, but I like it that way.  I think I may use a fabric pen to write the year on it!
I didn't stitch this one in orange on purpose!
So there you have it.  A quick, easy, and unique way to use up some of your scraps!  Think of what a sweet gift this would make for teachers, extended family, friends, etc.  I think I'm going to tuck one in my Christmas cards this year!  (It may help if I write an explanation on the card.  Just in case they are wondering why I'm sending them a picture of a carrot for Christmas!)

PS - kids love these, you could play games with them if you want to.  Spunky and his little sister have been having lots of fun playing with them!
If you're not one to celebrate Christmas, these would still make fun decorations.  Like I said, just a fun way to use up some of those scraps.  Enjoy!  :) Caren 

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