Blueberry Backroads

Hoop Frame your Stitchery

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 27 October, 2017

A lovely way to finish any little stitchery or applique project is in an embroidery hoop! Here I'll go through the steps to frame your work of art. 

Plan ahead before you stitch! You want a background piece larger than you would normally use. I'm framing this one in an 8" hoop, and my fabric extends 3" or so beyond that.

Done stitching? Gather your supplies - a nice quality hoop (hey, it's a frame, it should be kind of cute, right?), scissors, a needle and strong quilting thread, a tracing pen or pencil, and some backing fabric or wool felt (works great because of its stiff texture), and a complimentary embroidery floss.

First prepare your backing. Separate your hoop, and lay the inner hoop down on your fabric or wool felt. Trace around the outer edge of that inner hoop and cut out on the traced line. I love a vanishing fabric marker for  this little task. Poof, those marks disappear in a day or two. Magical.

Let the framing begin! Lay your little masterpiece atop the inner hoop, and center it with the outer hoop on top. You'll have to play around a bit to line it up just right. Once you do, tighten the screw while pulling the edges taut.

Ta daaaa! Now grab your scissors and snip off the excess. Leave a good inch to an inch and a half around the edge. 

I kinda like it like this...frilly...girly...

Ok, now let's clean it up. Flip it over and thread yourself a loooong strand of strong quilting thread. You need to be able to stitch all around that excess fabric with just one strand. Put a nice big knot in it, and pull your thread up through the inside of that excess. (I think the picture is a better explanation here...)

Now start stitching a wide running stitch through that excess fabric, pulling the thread taut and cinching it as you go.

Back to where you started, cinch that thread nice and tight and knot it well. All that fabric is pulled to the back now! Magical yet again.

Now the front of your little creation looks great, but maybe you want to clean up the back too? Now's the time to sew your little backing fabric or wool felt over this pretty mess.

Cut yourself a piece of embroidery floss (doesn't have to go all the way around), knot it, and pull it up through your fabric right up by the hoop.

Blanket stitch! Lay your wool felt over the back, and start stitching it down. You can also do a cute little whip stitch. Whatevs... P.S. If you want a little extra help with blanket stitch or any other stitch, let me recommend Mary Corbet's Needle & Thread AWESOME how-to stitch videos. She's my hero.

When you run short of thread, knot it, and bury it like so...I love this trick...

As you get to the end, your wool felt may have stretched. You might then trim it up a bit.

Sew to the end and voila! You have a lovely little stitchery all framed up and ready to go. 

Let me know what you think! Oh and you can hang it right from the little screw or add a jute hanger.

This pattern is called Come Let Us Adore Him. Visit my website for patterns, kits, hoops, buttons, all that jazz.

Let's chat again soon!


Freezer Paper Template

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 15 September, 2016

Have you ever used a freezer paper template to cut out your background?

I love the technique. Quick and easy, and it allows you to embroider on your piece of background fabric before you cut it down to size. It works especially well when I'm not yet sure what I want the borders to look like. This way I can just embroider away and then decide what fabrics I like best for the border. And because you're not handling the final cut edges, you don't need to worry about fraying.

So here you see where I embroidered onto a background (times two) before cutting it down to size. By they way, I always have something behind my fabric so that you don't see the mess on the back. You can use a piece of muslin or batting, or like in this case, I used some lightweight stabilizer that I ironed to the back. I'm done with the embroidery, now what?

Time to make a template out of freezer paper! Here's what you need - well...the paper, and then your standard cutting tools - mat, ruler, and rotary cutter. How many of those do you have? Be honest...

Time to cut. So in this case, the pattern tells me to cut my background to 5 1/2" x 11 1/2". So first I cut my template to that size. Square up and cut, just like you would a piece of fabric.

Now place the template atop your background, centering the paper right over the design. And don't worry, you can try this again and again if it doesn't center correctly the first time. You can center it over the back of the fabric, but I find it easier to see the image through the paper if I place it right on the front.

Now use a hot iron, and press it in place, sticky side down. It will stick lightly to the fabric.

Hold your background up to a sunny window or place it over a light box to check and see if everything lined up just the way you wanted it. If not...

...peel away the freezer paper, and try again! And again! And again! It will stick over and over. How many times? I don't really know. But several. Enough.

Happy with the orientation of the paper atop the fabric? Time to cut! Just line up your ruler with the edges of the freezer paper and use your rotary cutter to cut away the excess fabric.

Once you've cut around all four sides, easily peel away the paper, and your background is complete! Now you can move on to the next step of adding a border.

Use that same template again and again. If you plan to make a few of something (Christmas presents perhaps...), mark the template with its pattern name and dimensions and store for later.

That's it! Easy right? Questions, comments, more ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Keep up to date with what's new at Blueberry Backroads by liking us on Facebook and signing up for our newsletter. That's where I'll let you know when this pattern is available.

Thanks for visiting and happy stitching!


Welcome to Blueberry Backroads

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 21 May, 2015

Welcome to Blueberry Backroads' brand spankin' new website! If you love embroidery, well, you're in the right place. So do I!

Check back often, as we continue to add updates and new products. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter on the bottom of this website, and I'll send you updates on new releases, upcoming shows, prize giveaways, and more fun stuff.

That said - here's your first chance to win! Visit our Facebook Page, and SHARE the post dated May 20th to be entered to win two patterns of your choosing along with a wool felt bundle of National Nonwoven's just released colors - luscious.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy stitching!


Happy May Day!

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 01 May, 2015

Happy spring, and happy happy May Day!

April was a busy month at Blueberry Backroads. It's the month I make a big fat push to get new patterns completed and to the printer. Why? International Quilt Market! It's the big wholesale show that we in the quilt world vend at each year. It's where the creativity culminates! So I'll show you what I've been working on in a sec, but first... FLOWERS!

Just before Christmas my boyfriend and I got ourselves into a house, and my garden, once covered in snow, is beginning to bloom. Bloom, bloom, bloom...

The previous owner was a prolific gardener, and now I'm the lucky duck who gets to see what pops up. Perennials rock!

Back to embroidery. I released three new patterns a couple weeks ago, and now I'm finishing SEVEN... yes, seven more. They'll be available in a week or two. But here are the three that are up and running on my website!

Cherries Jubilee was inspired by that fabric. What's cuter than cherries? No, really...what? And I decided to incorporate a little bit of color crayon into the mix. If you follow my blog, you know it's become my new favorite thing. (How long before I need a new favorite thing...???)

Welcome Spring is one in a series... Welcome Winter is next - almost done!

Tweet! Chirp! This one was fun. I've been playing around with wool felt, and these lil' birdies are the result. I turned them into Christmas ornaments for my nieces, and then kept going. They're easy, fun, a lovely little gift.

And in getting ready for Market, I've really stepped up my kits. I've been cutting fabric, getting more and more kits and fabric on my website. It's been fun.

Those little bundles are wool felt pieces for Itty Bitty Birds. And on the right are strips I cut for Merry Little Christmas. I found that clothes rack a couple of years ago, and since my jeans don't fit, I found a much cuter use for it!

Today is the first day of the Virtual Fab Shop Hop. It's a cool opportunity to find out about other quilt shops and designers, visit their sites, see what's new, and... win prizes! There's this hippity hoppity bunny you can try to find on each page, and it enters you to win. Kinda fun - I like the interactive part of it.

So that's what's been happening on down the Backroads. I'm headed back to the sewing room to stitch away some more. Visit my website to see all my patterns, and stay up to date with what's new by Liking Blueberry Backroads on Facebook.

Happy May!


Frame Your Stitchery

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 01 April, 2015

Happy spring!

It's always an exciting day for me when I get to release new patterns. Three new ones this week! Go to my website and check 'em out. They're at the top of the Spring & Summer Patterns page.

Which takes me to this blog post - I framed one of those new patterns, my first time trying it. I love the look. Here's what Welcome Spring! looks like in its cute little frame.

So I thought I'd take you through how I did it. There was some trial and error, and fingers very sticky with fabric glue, a little swearing...but eventually I got it.

Here's what you'll need: Some fairly stiff cardboard and a box cutter, a multi-purpose adhesive, thumb tacks, nice paper for the back, a stitchery with room around the edges to frame, and your frame! But of course. The type of frame I used has that nice groove on the back to place your stitchery. Oh, and you'll need a pencil and tape measure which I forgot to place in the picture.

Full disclosure here... my camera was full, stopped taking pictures, and I didn't notice until much later. I thought it was being "weird" and I switched to another camera. Oops! But I'll explain, and we'll get back to photos in a bit. I promise.

Measure the dimensions of that groove on the back of the frame, draw the same size rectangle onto your cardboard, and use your box cutter to cut it out. See how it fits, and cut it down if need be. It shouldn't be too tight, as you'll need a little room for the fabric to fit in there.

Next place your fabric atop the cardboard and fuss around with it until you have it nicely centered. Once it looks just right on the front (and this can take quite a bit of fussing), lay it down, and use your pencil to trace around the cardboard so you know right where it goes.

Lift up the cardboard, and spray that adhesive onto the fabric. Lay the cardboard back down within those traced lines, and flip it over to make sure everything landed where you wanted it to. If not, no big deal. The adhesive isn't super glue, and you can repeat until it's to your liking.

Back to the pictures! Place the whole thing into your frame, and again - look at the front to make sure you're all nice and centered.

Once everything is positioned just as you want it, let the adhesive dry... yeah right! Ok so that would be the right thing to do. Me, I get excited to see the end result, and don't wait. Don't be like me. Let your adhesive dry. 

THEN, get out those thumb tacks and secure that baby down. Pierce right through the fabric, into the wood in that groove. Keep peeking at the front to make sure things haven't shifted.

Now cut away all that extra fabric, leaving just enough to tack down to the back of the frame. Be careful not to pull too hard because the fabric can still shift. Only because you didn't let your adhesive dry! Or maybe you did... good job if you did.

Now cut out a piece of paper just a bit smaller than your frame. Cue that elusive tape measure and pencil.

Place the paper over the back of the frame, and tack down, making sure to catch the fabric with each tack. Now you have a pretty nice looking back! You just need to add a hanger, of which there are maaaannnnny types at your local hardware store.

But how does the front look? Ta da!

And there you have it. Now I'm sure there are many ways to skin this cat, but this worked for me, and was pretty painless, definitely inexpensive.

Frames and more stitcheries are on my website - stop on by! And visit my Facebook page to see what else I've been working on lately. 

Happy stitching in the sunshine!


Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 17 March, 2015

Hey All!

Happy happy spring! I am looooovin' on this Minnesota sunshine and inspired to work on a spring pattern with cute little birdies.

I recently discovered this super handy product from Sulky - Sticky Fabri-Solvy. It's a self-adhesive, water soluble stabilizer that's shown here in sheets. You can print or trace your design onto your fabric (or in this case, wool felt). It has tons of uses - a stabilizer, templates (which is what I'll be using it for in this post), and as a way to transfer an embroidery design onto dark fabrics or wool. Awesome right??!! I do agree. I do so so agree.

So let me show you how it works. I first printed my designs onto a sheet of the Fabri-Solvy. It's printer friendly which rocks because I need to make A LOT of little birds for this pattern and did not feel like tracing them all out. BUT you certainly can trace out any pattern you like. Throw it over a light box or up against a sunny window, and use a Pigma pen or water soluble fabric pen to trace out your shapes.

What shall we schtick it to...?? I'm making these little birdies out of wool felt. Today I choose...amarillo!

Cut your shapes out just beyond the traced lines. (If you use fusible web for applique, you'll find this to be basically the same process). Cut, cut, snip. Cut, cut, snip.

Peel away the release sheet...

And schtick it to your wool felt (or wool, or fabric, or...)

Adhere all those little pieces, and cut them out on the lines.

Once cut out, pull away the sticky stuff, and your shape emerges! Chirp!

Now what's really cool is that sticky stuff stays sticky for a few more rounds. I'll use the same little templates to cut out bluebirds next. Again, just adhere your shapes to the wool felt, and this time you'll cut along the edge of each shape. You can also pin your template in place once the stickiness is gone. Or... go to your printer and just print another sheet of birdies.

That's all there is to it. Easy, right? And because it's water soluble, you can stick it to dark fabric, wool, whatever, embroider right on top of it (hand or machine), and it dissolves away in warm water when you're done. Super cool. Just be sure both your fabric and thread are colorfast.

Tweet tweet say the goldfinch. Chirp chirp say the bluebirds.

Click here to visit my website for fun embroidery patterns. And stay up to date on new patterns (this one's coming sooooon!) by LIKING Blueberry Backroads on Facebook.

Happy spring!


Double Sided Door Draft Stopper

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 07 January, 2015


It is COLD right now in Minnesota. I mean 25 degrees below zero plus some nasty wind COLD! So I decided to do a little "functional" sewing today and make up a double-sided draft stopper for our front door. Full disclosure - I don't do a whole lot of "functional" sewing. I embroider cute little birds and happy little snowmen. I can sew a button... maybe repair a torn seam... but that's about it. So this was a nice little challenge for me. I got to use the tape measure. I even hooked it to my belt... makes a girl feel important, you know? :)

So step one is to get that tape measure out, and measure the length of your door. Then measure the width of your door. Jot those numbers down and...

Take yourself into that freezing cold wind and purchase some "outdoor fabric". That's what it's called. Upholstery fabric or anything like that would work well too. Choose something to match your furniture or that will blend well with the floor. My door measures just shy of 2" in width, and a 1/2 yard of fabric was exactly enough. Maybe get a little more if you want to play around with it.

You'll also need a couple of pipe covers. Pick these up at any home goods store, WalMart, wherever. You want ones that are almost as long as your door. My door is 36" across, and so are these pipe covers. I'll actually cut them down a bit to allow me to open and close my door - a critical piece, don't you think?

Give your outdoor fabric a nice gentle wash, and air dry. I just threw mine over the radiator, and it was dry in 10 minutes.

Cut your fabric like this:

Length: The length of your door, plus about 3". My door is 36" so I cut my fabric to about 39".

Width: Cut to about 18". Again, my door is just shy of 2" in width, and 18" worked well. It's not a super tight fit, but seems about right.

And don't worry about getting technical. Remember, this sits on your floor, and gets batted around by the dog. Approximates are a-okay!

Fold RIGHT SIDES OF FABRIC together along the long edge. Pin one long edge and one short edge in place. Use pretty pins because you'll blog about this later.

Kindly ask your kitty to get out of your sewing chair...

And sew one long edge and one short edge. I sewed over each twice, just because of that whole sitting on the floor, dog batting it around thing. I want it to be durable!

Turn your door draft stopper, and toss those pipe covers inside.

Quick trial run to see how it fits! See here how my pipe covers are too long. I'll need to cut those down so that the door can open and close easily.

Cut those pipe covers down to your liking. I cut mine to measure about an inch less than my door.

Now pull out the pipe covers, and fold your draft stopper in half just to create a little crease down the middle. Eyeball it, and then sew right down that crease. Somewhere CLOSE to the middle is just fine!

Stop short 3" or so from the end.

Pop those pipe covers back in, and cut off excess fabric, leaving yourself enough to sew up the end.

Tuck those loose ends in, any which way you can. I sort of made a little present at the end. Sew up with some sturdy thread, and voila!

Ok, almost voila. My ends puckered a little and were getting stuck in the door. So I just folded them in, and sewed them to the bottom. Easy little fix, and you can't see it from the top.

Now for real, voila! Bye bye draft. Don't you love that rug in the entryway? A Christmas present from my mom; she made it herself! You'll have to ask her how she did that... I'm just the door draft stopper girl.

There you are, a fun and inexpensive little do-it-yourself-er. I'm going to use that striped fabric to make a door snake for an interior door. That should be even easier... I'll just make the pocket, fill it with rice, and sew up.

Happy stitching, and STAY WARM!!


Color Crayons & Fabric!

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 30 November, 2014

My new favorite thing - embroidery with color crayon tinting! I've put together a little step-by-step of how to color your fabric before you embroider. I hope you find it helpful!

I'm taking a class on this gorgeous quilt - A Gardener's Alphabet from Crabapple Hill. Each block is color tinted, and today I'm working on Block C.

Whenever coloring your stitchery fabric with crayon, step one is to wash and dry your fabrics without using any softener. Press your fabric.

Now tape your pattern to a light box or a sunny window, and use a fine-tip Pigma pen to trace out the pattern. Avoid water- or air-erasable pens as these can be permanently set into your fabric when you heat-set the color later on.

Prepare a clean, smooth surface on which to color. Trim away loose threads, and give yourself ample space.

Tint everything that you will color in WHITE. This fills in those little fabric pores and gives you a nice base over which to color.

Next, pull out the crayons and embroidery floss that you'll be using in order to decide on colors ahead of time. The pattern tells you which colors to use so make sure you have those handy and that you like the combination. Don't be afraid to change it up!

Here I pulled out the floss and the crayons, and then I put them together to make sure I liked the pattern's suggestions. I did!

Experiment, experiment, experiment. Always have a scrap of your background fabric on hand to play with before coloring your actual block.

 Begin with your lightest shade of crayon, and get darker as you go. You can always go darker, but it's pretty hard to go lighter! I color everything in - sort of a second "base" of color - before I begin to shade. And you can always leave some parts white. Where light hits an object, it often looks white. Remember - you can always darken it in later on!

Now this is where we get into shading. A little planning is helpful. Just remember that objects in the foreground tend to be lighter than those in the background. The edge of an object, where is sits behind another, is often darker. In this example, I think of the area below each line on the carrots as being shaded, therefore darker. Here's what I mean:

Next come the greens, and I just followed the same process, going light to dark.

I colored in the Letter C as the pattern suggested, and my coloring was complete!

 Now it's time to heat set. Place a clean paper towel over your project, and press with a hot iron, without using steam. Lift up the towel, and if it's completely free of crayon, your done! If not, repeat with a clean towel until the towel comes back clean.

Now here's the block after heat setting. The heat helps to smooth the color, giving it a nice finished look.

Now layer your stitchery over a background piece of muslin (also pre-washed); baste; and embroider!

So what do you think? Not too hard, right? Everyone's block will look different, and that's the best part of being creative. Hope you have fun, and contact me anytime with questions, comments, ideas... I'd love to hear from you!


Metallic Hand Embroidery Floss

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 24 November, 2014

Hey All!

I LOVE working with metallic embroidery floss. Well, I don't exactly love working  with it, but I do love its effect. It can be tricky! So I've put together a few tips to help you work with the stuff.

First off - it's kind of difficult! No two ways about it, it just is. You have to have a little extra patience to work with metallics. But they add so much to a project, that I think they're worth it. Here are a few things I've done with metallic hand embroidery floss.

On A Patchwork Forest, I used a blue metallic floss to give the embroidered snowflakes a little sparkle.

On All is Bright, the metallic gold gives the project and old-fashioned Christmas card look.

And on Christmas by the Fire, the metallic golds and copper set the fire aglow.

My patterns call for DMC metallic floss. There are other brands out there, but DMC is just the one that I've tried. I like their colors and availability. Here are a few I've picked up at local craft stores.

Below is a picture of what happens to the ends of this floss. It frays like crazy! Just be aware of that, and USE SHORT STRANDS. Plan to cut your floss to no more than 15" or so. It takes a little extra time when you need to re-thread the needle, but the overall frustration level will be less - trust me! And TRIM THE LOOSE END AS YOU GO to prevent it from getting all knotted up. You'll lose some length, but the look will be cleaner.

USE A NEEDLE WITH A LARGE EYE. I like to use a chenille needle like the one pictured on the bottom. The metallic-ness (my new word) holds together better when there's less friction against the needle. I think this is the most important tip of all!

PLAN ON THERE BEING A LITTLE WASTE. It' hard to store this stuff once it's been separated! DMC metallics come in 6-strand skeins, and if you don't use all six strands for a project... well... those leftover strands end up looking like this - pretty but not all that functional. When I start a new project, I always start with a fresh strand of floss.

I like to store all of my embroidery floss like this. Pick up these little PLASTIC FLOSS BOBBINS at most craft and sewing stores. And be sure to LABEL THE BOBBIN with the floss color so you can easily find it for your next project.

SEW SLOWLY! In this picture, you see what often happens as you embroider. The strands separate. Now you can try different methods of knotting to alleviate this, but I find that just going slowly, and taking the time to pull individual strands through when necessary, is the way to go. It's just a matter of being patient and knowing that the end result will be worth it!

If you're a machine embroiderer, I came across this helpful tutorial from Nancy's Notions. I haven't done any machine embroidery myself, but I think her tips make a lot of sense.

So there you go! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you!