Back to School 2015

Good morning! Summer is officially OVER around here and we are starting our first FULL week of school! My oldest started middle school (6th – EEK!) last week while the other 2 started 2nd and 3rd grade. So far so good! One advantage to having 2 kids so close in age, we just did 2nd grade so it should be a breeze, right!?!? Amiright?? Please tell me I’m right…. Now I hope to have more time again to work, blog, get organized, monogram stuff, clean out closets and all that other stuff we put on our to-do list for when the kiddies go back to school! IMG_6151

We listed a few cute new designs Friday and I hope to be sampling 3 more new ones this week. Our goal is at least 3 or 4 new designs each week! birds 3 500-tile

Lastly, we are celebrating 6 years of Applique Cafe! We have listed exactly 876 designs in our 6 years online! All of them are on sale {50% off} through Wednesday!

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Check out our Digitizer’s Pick right now also! This has been a great seller and I will be changing it out soon!

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Have a great day and week!

Vintage or Simple Stitch Designs

First of all, I seem to have this thing with taking photos of stuff tilted to the right!? I guess straight on can be boring sometimes. Second of all, the new Friends of Applique Cafe Facebook Group is going great! We are up to about 775 members, and I can tell already that creating a group was the right move! Someone commented on my last post that FB PAGES are more for ME to post what’s going on, but other than that, there is not much interaction if no one likes or comments. Basically, you see what I post IF it shows up in your news feed. You rarely actually visit someone’s Facebook page unless you are looking for something. On the other hand, with a group, it’s more like a community. The people in the group are seeing what you post and are actually *liking*, commenting, etc. Very refreshing!!

So… these “vintage” simple stitch (aka redwork) designs are pretty popular right now. I though I would share what stabilizers I use for these, since the first one I did didn’t turn out perfectly. Below are several that we have listed at Applique Cafe, and they can all be found under the Zig Zag | Vintage | Raggy category. I also just sampled a new one which is Stitch the Dog. We haven’t done anything with Stitch in a WHILE. It’ll be listed in the next day or two! vintage

I have found {by trial and error} that Solvy (water soluble) stabilizer should be used on top with these designs. You can’t really see it in the below picture, but I hooped medium cutaway stabilizer underneath the shirt and solvy on top. I am a hooper btw… This is an old Monag shirt someone gave me to sample on and their shirts are pretty thick, so I went with medium cutaway. On a thinner shirt, you might use a thinner cutaway such as polymesh or no show mesh cutaway that won’t show through.  IMG_9505

The stitch time on our new Stitch the Dog is 2 MINUTES. These designs are super fast! IMG_9506

The solvy on top helps prevent the stitches from a) sinking and b) puckering the shirt. IMG_9507

This is the back of the design and you can see the big piece of medium cutaway. I trim around the design when I’m done, getting close to the stitching. For this shirt I also trimmed in between the front and back legs, as well as around the tail. IMG_9508

I had someone ask how you remove the solvy without pulling the stitches. I haven’t really noticed a problem, but for this post I did wet a couple of Q-tips and went over the stitching/outline of the design on the solvy. Since it’s water soluble, the wet Q-tip helps loosen up the solvy so it’s a little easier to pull away.

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There were a few stray pieces of the solvy sort of underneath some of the stitching. You can either pull it off, or squirt some water on it from your iron and it should dissolve. IMG_9511

Here is the finished product! Again, this is a thick cotton shirt so you can’t see the medium cutaway stabilizer through the shirt at all. The red gingham ruffle shorts are from EllieO. These vintage/simple stitch designs are great with simple gingham bottoms! IMG_9512

So here is the first designs I did of this type and I DID NOT use solvy on top. It’s sort of hard to see in the pictures, but there was some definite puckering. I added solvy on the next one and it stitched MUCH better! No puckering and the design and shirt lays flat. The arrows point to the pucker/wrinkles.IMG_9513

You can see the little dimples in the loops. USE SOLVY! IMG_9514

As you can see on the Stitch shirt, the design lays flat with no puckering! IMG_9516 IMG_9517

Here are several of our other designs in this style. The Turkey was done on a Monag shirt as well, so thick cotton and I used medium cutaway and solvy on top. It lays flat perfectly!IMG_9521

The church… I did this one on a flour sack dish towel, which is rather thin. Since it’s a towel, I didn’t want cutaway stabilizer left on the back of the towel, so I used waffle weave tearaway with solvy on top for this one, then removed ALL of the stabilizer. IMG_9522

I did our Pumpkin on another thick cotton Just Blanks shirt I had laying around. I used medium cutaway again as well as solvy. IMG_9523

For thinner cotton shirts, you might try polymesh or no show mesh cutaway such as below. Some people use this type all the time with all shirts. I got mine from Sewingmachine.com and it’s on a big roll. The medium cutaway I use is Sulky Cutaway Plus, or the commercial cutaway from Sewingmachine.com. I recommend 2.2 oz or no more than 2.5 oz for the commercial. More than that is pretty thick. IMG_9525

I also love the waffle weave tearaway that I used on the flour sack towel! IMG_9526

I hope this helps! I think the quality of your shirt also plays a part. The String of Fish design I did above was on a much thinner shirt, but I think the solvy on top would have added a little extra support for the stitches!

Try our Golf Green 2 {vintage/simple stitch} design now for $1.50 ~ our new Digitizer’s Pick!

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Facebook Plunge!

I.am.over.Facebook {pages, that is}. Can I just tell you how discouraging it is to post something and then sit and watch as no one comments. No one *likes*. And Facebook is so nice that they tell you how many people your post is “reaching”. I would almost rather they keep that to themselves!! Applique Cafe has more than 38,000 fans. That is a lot, don’t get me wrong. Howevah… 240 people may actually see a post. While that is a lot too, 240 out of 38,000 is nothing to get too excited over. So….. I have been contemplating an Applique Cafe GROUP for some time, and finally took the plunge last night.

My reservations….

Who needs another group to keep up with? Does anyone even care what I am posting about? Is Applique Cafe even relevant in the world of embroidery or applique anymore? How will I monitor a page AND a group, approve people, post stuff, etc.? I don’t want to overload or overwhelm anyone with Applique Cafe *stuff*……

Lots of questions I’ve been asking myself, but finally decided last night to just DO IT. People don’t HAVE to join. They can leave the group if I bore them to death. I can do it!!

Friends of Applique Cafe is now an official group, and I’ve been approving folks all day long which is exciting! 288 people in 18 hours isn’t too bad.

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Please feel free to join us too! By the way, as I was debating and contemplating this last night, I looked up several synonyms for “friend” and “group”… family, crowd, gang, bunch, posse, network. I hope the new {GROUP} is all of these things. I am still keeping the Facebook Page, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Blog, etc. but hopefully with one more avenue to share stuff, I can reach more of my people.

A lot of applique website owners have “staff”. I have no staff other than Jeff and he’s not even on Facebook. Bear with me! Or is it bare with me….

Product Photography

Hey friends! I hope you are all having a fabulous summer even though it is half over! I’m trying to savor every minute, hour, day and week we have left of no-backpacks, uniforms, yucky snack bags and homework. I may be sleeping until 9:00 too. Anywho… I have found yet another fabulous (yes I used the word fabulous again) Craftsy video to share with you! This one is less embroidery related, but sort of embroidery related in that it’s on PHOTOGRAPHY. More specifically, PRODUCT photography. This is something I struggle with so I couldn’t wait to watch this one. It took me a couple of days to watch all the lessons and soak it all in, but it was well worth it! There are a couple of lessons I need to re-watch as well.

Here are some of the highlights:

*Learn how to use natural light (window light for example)

*Good product photography = selling more in your online shop (our #1 goal, right?)

*Learn exactly what Aperture, White Balance, Shutter Speed and those other camera settings mean and how to use them to your benefit when taking product photos (this is the part that always confuses me!)

*A tripod is your friend (I need to get ours out and knock the dust off)

*The best time to take indoor photos using natural light

*How to tell the story of your product (adding props to really have your product tell it’s story)

*Different types of lighting, shadows and how to take outdoor photos

*Photo editing how-to (she used Photoshop, but I think some of the same features she used can be found in Photoshop Elements or other photo editing software out there)

This class is 1/2 off through next Wednesday, July 15th for my Applique Cafe Blog readers when you click on the link/photo below! As a reminder, when you purchase a video class from Craftsy, it is yours to keep. You can watch it over the course of 2 days if you want to (like I did). You can watch it 8 times if you want to (I will be watching the part about your camera 4 more times probably). You can pause to take notes, answer the phone, let the dog out or make a run to Starbucks if you want to. You can also ask questions if you need to!

Product Photography At Home

Jessica is very calm and easy to understand and shows great examples of how to “style” your product for photos. She uses examples such as soap, jewelry and clothing, but I think her tips would be helpful with any product. With online sales, your photo is ALL YOU HAVE to sell your product! Make it look good! Click on the photo for the discounted class!

Instagram Magic Part II

As a followup to a previous post a week or two ago (Instagram Magic), I am happy to report that I received my first batch of CHATBOOKS Instagram books in the mail this past week!! As I told you before, all of my IG photos divided by 60 photos/book totaled 13 books. I chose to receive 5 at a time, so I got my first 5 and should receive my next 5 next month (July), then the last 3 (plus I may be ready for #14 by then) probably in August. Although after receiving the first 5, I kind of want to go ahead and get them all!!

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Above are 4 of the 5 and each book measures 6″ x 6″. I was SO HAPPY looking through all of these IG photos (MEMORIES) going back to 2011! Jeff and the kids enjoyed looking through them too (and pointing out all of the clothes from 2011 that Jeff STILL WEARS!) We live in the age of cell phones photos. I can’t even say we live in the age of digital cameras anymore. We do, but I have taken mine on 2 beach trips this summer and have yet to take a picture with it. I only use my digital camera for AC design photos! Everything is on my phone.

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Each book is labeled. You chose the name of the books and I went with The Gulledges. Original, I know. I love that each book is organized by date and broken down in to volumes. I guess I joined IG in 2011? You also get to go through ALL of your IG photos and exclude any that you don’t want printed in the book. Like the picture of the rain or that rabbit you saw in the yard.

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Each photos is also labeled with the date (YAY!) and some of them have the location. I guess it depends if your location services was turned on? Each pic also has captions underneath and some of mine were blank. I guess before I “got” Instagram and understood how to use it? The Emojis also show up as little characters. NOT Emoji friendly I guess but they are cute!

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Anyway, I love this *HAPPY* and wanted to share!! If you are an avid IG lover like I am, then try it out! You can get your first book free with my code!

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In Applique Cafe news, we’ve started our 4th of July SALE!

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I also added 3 new designs last week and all of them are the quick vintage/redwork stitch designs that are so easy and popular right now. I used medium cutaway stabilizer on these shirts, plus water soluble on top. You could also use a lighter cutaway. You just want to be sure to avoid any puckering! All of these are featured on our home page in case you are working on FALLfootball helmet 3 500-horz

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

20 Things Every Embroiderer Should Know

In case you missed the weekend Craftsy sale a couple of weekends ago, I have a special offer for 1 particular class you can take advantage of. 20 Things Every Machine Embroiderer Should Know by Lindee Goodall is one that caught my attention and you can get it for 43% off through midnight next Wednesday, June 24th. Once you purchase this class, or any other, it’s YOURS to watch over and over and over again! Just click on either link below to check this one out! 20 things class

Here are the basics of this class:

1) Hooping – I say when you can master this, you’ve climbed a huge mountain!! Hooping was my #1 issue when I first started doing embroidery! I still hoop most everything!

2) Choosing Stabilizers – When to use what, where, when, how and why! :)

3) Selecting Needles & Threads

4) Removing Embroidery – We all make mistakes! Learn how to avoid them, and what to do when it happens (besides cursing and throwing the machine out the nearest window).

5) Finishing Embroidery – Trimming jump stitches if your machine doesn’t do it for you, removing stabilizer when you are done, pressing (or ironing) the finished product, etc.

6) Choosing Designs & Fabrics – Your #1 choice you make when doing applique is which design and FABRIC! Also, learn how to avoid those annoying complicated designs (with 48 steps).

7) Customizing Designs

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New designs were added to Applique Cafe yesterday, btw….. Evidently we have a beach theme + church thing going on this week! :)

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Instagram Magic

Who loves INSTAGRAM? Me!! As you can see, I have 1,000 posts on my personal IG account. I LOVE Instagram and love being able to post snapshots of life and I LOVE scrolling through and seeing snapshots of my follow-ees lives! I like Facebook too, although sometimes it makes me crazy. But, I prefer IG because it’s less *stuff* like time-sucking blog posts articles, videos and useless information. Not everything needs to go to Facebook people….

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You may already know this, but there is a website out there called Chatbooks.com and they will put your IG photos in to cute little photo albums/books and mail them to you for $6/book. Each book contains 60 photos. I think there is another website or two out there like this (or probably a dozen of them) but I keep seeing Chatbooks so I thought I would give it a try! It is super easy to use and in about an hour or less I put together 13 books of my Instagram photos!!Chatbook

What’s great is that you can go through every single album and “exclude” any photos that you do not want in your book. That’s why it took me about an hour! So all the photos I’ve posted of Starbucks drinks and non-people things, I went through and excluded (or you can delete them altogether). You can also chose the COVER photo for each book AND>>>>> you can chose how you want to receive your books. I had 13 to catch up on, so it gave me the option to have them print 1 a month, 5 a month, 10 a month or I could chose to receive them all right now. I went with 5 a month so by August I should be caught up!

I should get my first 5 books sometime next week and will be sure to post when I do! Check it out, and you can use MY CODE below to get your first book FREE!! :) Happy Summer!!

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Craftsy Weekend Sale

Just a quick post about Craftsy’s “Create the Unexpected” weekend sale! All classes, which you keep forever once you purchase, are discounted for the weekend (through Sunday, June 7th at 11:59 MT). In case you are wondering what Craftsy is, it’s a cool website I discovered a month or two ago and they have some awesome instructional videos on embroidery and applique. I posted about a couple of them – check out THIS POST and THIS POST (Stabilizer Savvy and How to Start a Machine Embroidery Business).

Another video that caught my attention: 20 Things Every Machine Embroiderer Should Know. There are a few others – embroidering on terry cloth (towels), embroidering on knits and machine embroidered applique. Check out the Embroidery tab under Online Classes or click the banner below!

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Have a great weekend!! I’d love to hear what videos you like! Email me at rosemarygulledge@appliquecafe.com or comment below to share!! :)

School.Is.Out…

Y’all. It’s SUMMER. I think I am in denial and feel like I’m just on Spring Break vacation. How did we get here? My kids finished school on May 22 and the next day we headed to the beach which we have never done before (left town right after school gets out). We are still here and are enjoying some family time for another week. Here are a few pics from this past week, plus some pics of some of our new AND old designs.

Maggie got to come to the beach with us, and she is loving beach life! A little salt air does us all good!

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One of her fave spots is looking out at the Gulf! Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach, but we may have taken her crab hunting one night (when it was dark and no one could see).

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This is my favorite of her spread eagle looking out over the pool.

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We celebrated Browder’s 12th (!!!!) birthday Monday and he requested a trip to Big Daddy’s ripoff Arcade. $100 will get you a couple of candy necklaces!! Just kidding. I think we really spent $20 for 25 minutes of entertainment and a bunch of useless tickets.

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Sissy and I made cupcakes.

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He’s 12 y’all! That’s almost 13…

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Tuesday night my mom came for a visit so we took her to one of our fave spots – Fisherman’s Corner. If you ever come to Perdido Key or Orange Beach, call and make a reservation. It’s a shack, but some of the best seafood you’ll ever eat!

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Now on to Applique Cafe stuff. First of all, we are having a SALE through June 3rd, which is…. I have no idea what day it is….

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Here are some new designs we’ve added over the past month or so sewn by Jilly’s Mom Made That. All of these designs are on our website of course and are ON SALE!

Crab 22 Elephant 42 Flower Patch 22 Saw Tooth Fish1 Umbrella and Rain Boots1 Vintage Golf Green1 Vintage String of Fish1

Here are some other AC designs that I’ve sewn recently. The shorts are from Old Navy and were a funny yellowish greenish color to match. I had ONE fabric so I went with it and some other coordinating thread colors. Love how it turned out!

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A dear friend of mine is having a baby this summer, so I did a couple of (Blanks Boutique) gowns for her! They zip up the side so they are super easy to applique!

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This is a Monkey Tails Blanks dress with our Popsicle Trio design! I love a good trio! :)

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Here are 3 other NEW designs we listed this week! I love the Vintage stitch designs (such as the Fireworks). They are SO easy and fast to stitch! I recommend using a cutaway stabilizer on the bottom AND solvy or water soluble on top for those designs.

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Happy Summer!

Organization, Part 3

Did you think I forgot about ORGANIZATION?? Here is my next (and last) installment of organization posts! Hopefully you caught my previous 2 blog posts on some cool videos I found – Stabilizer Savvy and How to Start an Embroidery Machine Business. Now back to Organization and Part 1 & Part 2 are on the blog…

Tips & Timesavers for doing monograms and appliques

Beth’s answer to this – if she has 10-15 minutes before school, carpool or a sports event, she will sit down and design monograms (in her software) so they are ready when she is ready to sew them. She also may cut fabric and iron on the backing (Heat N Bond Lite) so she’s ready!

This is also where having extra hoops comes in handy! When I first started, my PE700 came with 1 5×7 hoop. Of course I ordered the 4×4 and 2×3, but also eventually ordered extra 4×4 and 5×7 hoops. That way I could work on hooping the next item while stitching another. I now have 3 4×4 hoops, 2 5×7 and a variety of other hoops – Durkee 9×9 and 6×6. I also have a variety of Fast Frames so I have plenty of hoops/frames to get the next item ready!

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INSTEAD of cruising Facebook (or Instagram, or Pinterest…) while that 46 minute monogram stitches, see what else you have to work on and start preparing. Iron, mark your center, go ahead and hoop it or attach it to the fast frame, cut your fabric for appliques, iron them and apply Heat N Bond Lite. Go ahead and set aside thread colors for the next project! There are lots of ways to maximize your time while sewing. Try not to get distracted! 

I think I posted this photo before, but while the burp cloth was stitching, I went ahead and ironed the bib, marked the center and ironed tearaway stabilizer on the back. I knew I was doing a small patch applique, so I went ahead and cut that fabric, ironed it and applied my Heat N Bond Lite. It’s ready to hoop and stitch!

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I was doing a few of these cute bags the other day from Ikea. While 1 was stitching, I went ahead and got the next one ready – center marked and attached to the fast frame! I didn’t have another frame to get the 3rd one ready, but I went ahead and marked my center. IMG_5574

Easiest Way to Pick out Fabric & Thread Colors

This can be hard sometimes and easy sometimes! For me, Sew What-Pro saves me A LOT of time in this department. When I am getting ready to sample or sew a NEW design, I always open it up in SWP first and change the colors around to get an idea of what colors I want to use. This gives me a head start in choosing fabrics. Here’s an example:

This is what the design looked like fresh out of being digitized, ready for me to sample. As most of you know, my husband Jeff does the digitizing and he makes each step a different color, but there’s no rhyme or reason to which colors he chooses.

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The first thing I do is change the colors to help me visualize what color fabric and threads I plan to use. For boy designs I usually start with primary colors, or my favorites like turquoise, lime, orange, etc. For girls, I usually start with hot pink and then go from there – turquoise, lime green, orange. This is just a starting place!

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This is one of our single fabric patch designs, so I typically use simple fabrics like ginghams, stripes & polka dots. As you can see, setting the colors I want to use before I sew it really helps!

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Sometimes you might be matching a pair of shorts, or matching a monogram to some trim on a bag. Those projects are easy! Sometimes I am sampling new designs and I will sort through every piece of floral fabric I own trying to find the perfect fabric. This is where organized fabric comes in handy! I have mine organized by design – polka dots, ginghams, florals, boy fabrics, textured fabrics (minky & chenille), etc.  Keeping your fabric & thread organized is a good start!

If your applique is several fabrics, start by nailing down the main fabric. If it’s a floral, see what goes with it – polka dots, ginghams, stripes, solids, etc. Most of our designs at Applique Cafe are very SIMPLE. Other than Turkey designs and a hand full of others, most of our designs aren’t more than a few fabrics which makes your job easier!

When do you not work or when is it OK to take the day off?

Beth tries really hard not to work when her kids are around! See my last post! :) If her kids are playing outside, she might throw something easy and “safe” on the machine. If she is not in the mood to embroider, she tries to stay away from the machine. I agree! That’s when you make the most mistakes, or your machine will act up FOR SURE. Personally, I try not to work on the weekends. There are some Saturdays when we have nothing going on and the kids are down the street playing, so I might sit down and get some work done. I often have people call and want to come over at all times of the day, including when we are eating dinner. I try to avoid that! You need to keep family time sacred, and as much as you think you need to work for 12 hours a day, you need to pace yourself, be more organized and set a reasonable work schedule!

Another tip or suggestions that I got:

At the end of the day, put everything back in it’s place! Put your hoops away. Make sure your fabric is all back in the right basket. Throw away the scraps and things that need to be thrown away. Finish up the day by leaving your work space organized and clean, then you are ready for the next day!

If you have any other suggestions or tips, do share! Leave us a comment and I will be sure to share!