Blueberry Backroads

Articles tagged as Embroidery (view all)

Freezer Paper Template

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 15 September, 2016 0 comments

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!

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Thanks for visiting and happy stitching!


Welcome to Blueberry Backroads

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 21 May, 2015 0 comments

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!


Color Crayons & Fabric!

Posted by Sara Hardwig on 30 November, 2014 0 comments

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 0 comments

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!