Sewing Room Organization

Hello AC Blog readers!! A while back (like in July) I solicited blog post suggestions on Facebook (or maybe it was on a blog post?) and I got some great suggestions. Sorry it has taken me 3 months to address some of them! I thought I would share a few pictures from my sewing room and show you how I (try really hard to) stay organized!! I think organization is a good thing or else your work space may feel chaotic and stressful. Luckily I have my own sewing room (that I share with my husband – he gets a corner and a shelf or two!). Before this house, my dining room was my sewing room and we all know how crazy that can be.

This is an old photo, but you get the idea. The furniture is from Home Decorators – Martha Stewart Living Craft Space Furniture.  It comes in a few colors and bunch of different options and has really held up well. My desk is dinged up from hitting it with hoops and such, but overall it is sturdy and we like it!

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This is an old photo as well. This is my Expedit cubby system from Ikea, which I LOVE!!!! This thing is heavy and sturdy and comes in a few other configuration options. I was told that Expedit has changes names to Kallax at Ikea, and I am not sure if this 25 cubby system is being offered, but I looked online and see the 16 cubby system and a few other options. There are also lots of basket options, doors, drawers, etc. All 15 of the bottom baskets are filled with fabric, and are organized by style. For example: fat ginghams, regular ginghams, microcheck fabrics, chevrons, polka dots, solids, floral prints, etc etc etc are in a basket together. They are wadded up and thrown in the baskets haphazardly, but they are organized!!

Thread — I have 4 standard sized thread racks hanging on the wall. You can buy them at Hobby Lobby, Joann, etc. I also have a large spool (5000M) rack that I bought at Sewingmachine.com at their West Point location. I think this is it — 30 Spool Thread Rack.

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Here is more recent photo I took while laying on the floor doing hip exercises! Pretty cool huh (not the hip exercises…)? I use mostly Isacord and Exquisite thread. I get my Isacord from Sewingmachine.com and my Exquisite from Kenssewingcenter.com! I do have some random spools of other brands, but those are my 2 go-to brands for embroidery thread.

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Another picture I posted on Facebook recently of my now-8 year old! He was peering over my shoulder the other day while I was doing a newsletter and asked me, as seriously as he could, “Do you have a website? Wait… do you own your own company?” WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN SON????? 🙂

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Another old photo! I bought this 1 2 3 4 wall cubby thing at Hobby Lobby a year or two ago. I believe it was on clearance and I thought it would be perfect for my TO DO stuff! Be on the lookout for things like this at Hobby Lobby, World Market, etc. when you are out shopping! They are great for getting organized!

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This photo was today, and luckily my TO DO pile is small!

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I have posted may times before that I used to use a Craftsman Tool Chest as a machine stand. It worked great! When we bought this house and I got a sewing room, I bought the 1-drawer piece of furniture seen in the first photo, but I kept the tool chest and I love it! I use it as my hooping station, and the drawers are great for all of my STUFF (hoops, extra stabilizer, etc.). As you can see below, when they have a sale at Joann I stock up!

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Drawers are great for all those hoop pieces! The top is great for hooping too. I bought this at Sears for less than $100 and it has 4 drawers.

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Above the tool chest I have a couple of peg boards I got at Michaels and a craft rack I also got at Michaels. It holds some of my stabilizer! This hangs above my tool chest so everything is handy when I’m hooping.

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I bought this utensil caddy at Southern Homes & Gardens here in town. It spins around which comes in handy! My only complaint is that my stuff falls through the holes of the chicken wire and often gets stuck, but you get the idea! Any utensil caddy would be great for scissors, pens and all those other “things” you use (seam ripper, marking pens, etc.) in keeping them organized.

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I am also lucky in our house to have a closet for all of my STUFF! My husband had some stuff in this closet and I kicked him out. It’s just a small closet under our stairs. As you can see below I have a dress form and some other smaller “props” which I use when doing classes or events. I bought the dress form from a local store that was closing, and the other smaller props all came from Hobby Lobby. You can find dress forms on Ebay also!

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I have tons of blanks and samples and I love that they are hung up and organized! I keep blank bibs and burp cloths in the plastic drawers underneath. It looks a little messy but it’s really organized!

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I hope that helps as you think about organization!!

Have you been on the website lately? Hopefully you’ve noticed our Digitizer’s Pick! We change it out randomly so be sure to grab it when you see it! Right now our Rudolph 3 is featured! Also, ALL DESIGNS ARE ON SALE THROUGH 10/14/14!

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Lastly, I am teaching a class at Beth’s Heirloom in Wetumpka next Thursday night, October 16th from 6-8 pm. I will be showing you the software I use (Monogram Wizard Plus and Sew What Pro) and we will talk about using software in designing with embroidery and applique! Here is a LINK to the class!

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Visors and Cap Frames 101

Well, I said I was going to do a post on monogramming hats with fast frames (as opposed to a cap frame). I have 1 photo of a hat I did recently and I also have a real {cute} hat to monogram. I plan to post photos of the process, but visors came first today. I do monogramming for a local store and on tap for today were several logos on shirts & visors. I tried and tried and even asked on Facebook how to monogram a visor WITHOUT the cap frame, but I could.not.figure.it.out. I think it has to do with the size of the monogram (or logo in my case) and how flimsy the visor is. So…. I dug out my cap frame after not having used the thing in at least 2 years. I was dreading it and cursing along the way, but it ended up not being as hard as I thought! Lucky for you I took a gazillion cell phone pics along the way….

The cap frame consists of 3 parts and the sewing field is typically 2.5″ X 5″ if you get the cap hooped perfectly. The part below is the CAP HOOP HOLDER FRAME. I got my cap frame from Sewingmachine.com, which has a GREAT video on how to use your cap frame. I watched the video to refresh myself on the process, and I remembered from my training with Steve that you hoop visors upside down. WATCH the VIDEO!! I will explain the upside down thing more later. The holder frame attaches to a table or any surface ~ I attached mine to my Ikea Expedit shelf.

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This is the mechanism that helps you get the cap or visor hooped.

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Here is a photo of the actual CAP FRAME or CAP HOOP clamped on the holder. As you can see, there is a piece hanging down which is what secures or clamps on to the visor or hat. This part is hard to explain! Hopefully the photos will help, and again, WATCH THE VIDEO!

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There is also a DRIVER which fits on to your machine. You take the arm of the machine off by loosening the small screws and removing them and the arm. You then put the driver on which fits around the bobbin case area of the machine.

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This is what the driver looks like when it’s attached. Screws are tightened. There are 2 small screws on top and 2 bigger ones on bottom.

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This is what it looks like from underneath. I know this is a bit confusing and hopefully you may know how to install the cap frame already. This is the bigger screw tightened on the bottom, and there are 2 of these.

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Your machine came with a handy dandy tool box, and you must insert this RISER. Since the cap or visor is curved, this helps the cap or visor glide back and forth as it is monogramming. The photo below also shows you how the drive fits on to the machine.

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Now it’s time to get my visor ready. I’ve marked the center and am ready to get the visor hooped.

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I use cap backing stabilizer and lay it across the hoop {which is on the holder}.

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Most visors have a little bit of lining ~ fold that down.

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Try to line up the center mark on the visor with the center line on the cap hoop/holder.

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The huge silver piece you see below usually clamps down on the bill of a hat. We are doing a visor, so we hoop upside down and nothing goes inside that clamp. Pull the clamp over that was hanging down in a previous photo, and what you want to do is barely grip the top of the visor to keep it in place. There are teeth on the clamp that hangs down, so they will easily grab and secure the top of the visor. You want to clamp down as close to the edge as possible. If you don’t, you lose some of your sewing area.

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You are now ready to put the hooped visor on the machine. As you can see below, the lining is out of the way.

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The hoop is locked in place and secure on both sides.

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With the CAP FRAME on the machine, your machine knows it’s on there {as opposed to the regular machine arm and standard hoops}. As you can see on the screen, it shows an image of the cap frame and it shows an upside down cap/hat. The logo is also automatically turned upside down so that it will stitch correctly on the cap. We, however, are doing a visor! That visor is hooped the opposite way so you have to rotate the logo or design to stitch normally and not upside down.

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Double check to make sure it is right side up! Mine flipped upside down again in editing so make sure it’s rotated the right way.

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I’ve assigned my colors and am ready to line up my needle and sew. I line up the lead needle and make sure it is lined up with the center mark on my visor. That way the logo will be centered on the visor.

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The visor is now stitching, and you can see below how everything looks.

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Here is another photo of how the cap hoop/frame is locked in place (on both sides).

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Here are 2 photos of the visors after I’m finished. I did a white and khaki one, both with the same logo. I trimmed the jump stitches in between the letters.

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I’ve taken the visor off the frame and will pull away the cap stabilizer which is tearaway and comes in strips.

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I usually pull away all of the stabilizer inside the letters.

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Flip the lining back up and your visor is ready!

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Here are the finished products!

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Are you either thoroughly confused, or scared to death?? It’s really easier than it seems, and I highly recommend the video! I have not used my cap frame in like 2 years, but it only took me 15 minutes or so to get it all set up and the visors embroidered.

I will work on my blog post ASAP on monogramming a regular hat or cap using FAST FRAMES! Stay tuned!!

Fix the Loop!

Don’t you hate when this happens? You are doing an embroidery design, or a monogram, or even an applique and your thread “loops” up on you. I’ve struggled forever with this and what causes it. There have been times where I’ve totally blamed the spool of thread. It was a bad spool or the thread was not twisting off the spool correctly. Recently I did some knit toboggan hats and my monogram looped on every.single.one.of.them. I emailed my sewing machine guy and he said it was a density issue. For example, knit hats + dense monogram = the thread/needle does not penetrate the knit properly and therefore loops. Sometimes I think my machine is dusty or dirty, so I change all my needles and clean the bobbin area to get rid of any dust or pieces of thread.

Below is a “Footprint” embroidery design I’ve recently sewn on 3 dozen burp cloths for a local ministry, Footprints Ministry. As you can see by my arrows on the photo below, the thread looped up on me in one spot. If this happens, don’t cut it! That may cause your design to unravel. What I USED to do was stick a regular needle or straight pin through and then try to pull the thread to the back by pulling on my bobbin thread in that area with a needle. It worked most of the time. Now if your monogram loops terribly and you’re looking at 15 places where the thread is loopy, then you might need to remove the monogram and back up and sew it again. But, if it’s just a loop here & there, I have a great tool for you.

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It even has a cute name ~ Dritz brand Snag Nab-It!! I got mine at Joann and it looks like this. It’s basically a needle (just shy of 2.5″ long) with 1 sharp end and the other end resembles an emery board. It’s jagged like sandpaper. They are $2.99 and are considered Notions, so catch them on sale or use a coupon. I also found some on Amazon.

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So here’s how it works! You stick the Snag Nab-It in to your garment where the loop starts or finishes. You may notice the needle is pretty thick, so it can be a little tough to pull the needle all the way through (especially pulling the jagged end through). If it leaves a hole, then spritz a little water on your garment and it should be fine.

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As you pull the needle through, the rough end grabs the loose thread and pulls it through to the back of your item (back there with the bobbin thread). You could then apply a little Fray Check on the back of the item or leave it as is. The thread would have to be pulled to come back through to the top which is unlikely.

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Here’s a closeup of the end.

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As you can see below, the loop is gone! I successfully pulled it through the burp cloth to the back of the design. Yay!

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Here is another example! I monogrammed this bib today and the thread I was using is an off-brand thread that I never use. As you can see, it didn’t “loop” too terribly bad, but the monogram is not as tight as I would like.

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Again, I stuck the Snag Nab-It through the bib where the loose thread was (on the very edge of the satin stitch) and pulled it through.

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As you can see, it tightened that loose thread by pulling it through to the back side of the bib. Ironing also helps “set” the monogram. I keep my iron on medium heat, no steam. I have heard that rayon thread can melt, but I use 100% polyester embroidery thread so ironing it quickly only “sets” the monogram. I typically use Isacord (www.sewingmachine.com) or Exquisite thread (www.kenssewingcenter.com) which are almost identical.

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Hopefully this helps with that frustrating looping problem! Do you have any other cool tools you use? If so comment and share!