Tag Archives: sewing

First Applique Project

I’ve never done applique…I’ve never worn applique.  When it comes to clothing, I’m pretty minimalist.  Black, grey, white, and tan…oh, and army green!  Yeah, I’m a colorful kind of lady-not.  I’m not a fussy decorator, either.  I just like simple things…no ruffles, no florals, nothing too busy.  Couple that with the fact that all my children are pretty much grown ups and you can quickly to see why I’ve never gotten into embroidered t-shirts and/or applique.  My sewing machine is a combination sewing/embroidery machine, but other than adding names to things using the pre-loaded fonts, I’ve left the embroidery side alone.  Untouched.  Unexplored.  Uncharted territory.

Still, I won’t lie,  I’ve been intrigued.  How were people making these amazingly cute little onesies or t-shirts for babies and toddlers?   Finally, I decided I had to know.  I joined a FB group specifically geared towards owners of my sewing machine and the members were a wealth of information and encouragement.  It wasn’t long before I leapt head first into embroidery and applique.  I did this little spider first and was hooked.

This little spider made applique make sense…

So, I texted a friend of mine and asked her what size her boys were wearing and devised a plan.  Her boys were perfect for my applique adventure…think about it:  toddler boys aren’t going to be harsh critics and moms of toddler boys are always willing to get a new t-shirt.  I ordered the blanks (blank items on which to embroider or applique) and set about learning what I needed to know so I’d be ready when the blanks arrived.  I honestly had no idea how to applique…minor road block, right?  Nabbing a few recommendations, I headed over to The Itch 2 Stitch , browsed through their amazing selection of applique files and watched their video tutorial.  I bought a few applique files, and got to work with my scrap fabric. After struggling to narrow down my applique choices to these two, the actual applique process was surprisingly easy.

I tried both images first on just some scrap fabric to learn how the applique would really work. Then I tried them on a scrap of t-shirt material to mimic the shirts I’d be using for the end result (I didn’t remove all the WSS from the t-shirt sample…the final applique wasn’t shiny.)

A few practice runs under my belt and I was ready to go.  These two little shirts were the end result.   Not bad for a newbie!

They’re not perfect, but they’re really quite okay for a first time. Definitely inspired me to keep playing with my embroidery machine!

While I haven’t done more applique following my success with these two shirts, they inspired me to jump into embroidery in a big way…to the point that I was still doing embroidery at 8:00 p.m. December 24!  To say I was hooked would be an understatement, but more on that another time.  In the meantime, I’ve got two February themed applique projects in the pipeline…I look forward to sharing them with you.


Why sewing?

When I was a little girl, my mom made me beautiful things…princess-y things.  I don’t mean frilly, ruffly things, I mean things that made me feel like a princess.  She made me a little cheerleader costume to match the cheerleaders at the high school where my father taught.  She made me a velvet flower girl dress which then made its way into a few Halloween costumes.


A cape fit for a princess…

She made me this lovely lined cape which I have carried with me my entire life, despite the fact that it is moth-eaten and not a little worse for wear.  It is a beautiful navy blue cape, fully lined with a silky fabric, with little hand-made loops for the buttons instead of button holes.

Epaulets, a cute little stand-up collar and loop and brass button closure…

It is definitely princess-y.  I remember slipping my hands through the vents and having a little muff I used with it. It is this cape, made 50 years ago, which inspires me to sew. Every time I look at it, I marvel at the skill and patience it took to make such a lovely cape for a little girl who would never be able to appreciate the time and effort it took to create it.


My little girl hands would slip out of this vent and its twin on the other side and slip into a little muff…princess-y indeed!

Because of this little cape,  I’ve also carted around with me my mom’s old Singer sewing machine…waiting, nurturing the dream.  I never forgot that I wanted to sew.  I never forgot that I wanted to give things to people that would tell them they were worth my time and effort; I  wanted to give things to people made especially for them.  Well-made things, worthwhile things, personal things.  I’ve also wanted to make for myself clothing that fits beautifully…designed and crafted for my body…to make me feel princess-y.   To me, sewing can do all those things and I’ve itched to do it.  As I raised my children and got busy with life, the dream sat deep in my heart…waiting.

singer 301a1

My mom’s old sewing machine has hit the modern era and has an LED sewing light to replace the original bulb…pretty cool, right?

When the kids got older and life settled down, the dream got pushier.  The sewing machine came out of storage and this part of my journey began.  Full of missteps and frustration, blessed with awesome ladies at the fabric store who would answer the most basic of questions, and armed with Craftsy classes and YouTube videos and amazing indie pattern designers, I started sewing and I kept sewing…and sewing..and sewing.  My family received a lot of flannel pajama pants while I learned to read and understand patterns.  As I branched out, I was still so slow that what someone might see as a wonky fleece pullover probably took me five hours to make.

Slowly, but surely, though, my skills improved and my efficiency increased, to the point that I was willing to go public with my hobby.   More time passed, and now I get paid to sew for people.

I still have so far to go, but I look at that little cape hanging in my closet and I know it is worth it…so I keep sewing…and sewing.