Aloha! May 1st is Lei Day in Hawaii. I am Colleen Bell (aka The Embroiderist), a Shannon Fabrics Brand Ambassador, that is not from Hawaii, but I did grow up there so remembering all those island traditions is dear to my heart. Life is bright and colorful in Hawaii just as I imagine the warehouse is at Shannon Fabrics where they store all those lush fabrics that are Making the World a Softer Place.
There are many other celebrations during May. In the United States we lovingly celebrate our mothers with a special Mother’s Day. Most countries around the world have dedicated a day just to recognizing mothers, but many are not in May. Every month of the year has a country celebrating this day – January through December mothers are honored. While most of us cannot take our mothers to Hawaii or all those different countries to celebrate, we can use our sewing skills and give her a bright, cheerful gift.
Give mom what she really wants – wrap her in hugs - some colorful Cuddle®. My mom is reaching that age where her internal temperature control regulator is not working as well as it used to and she is usually cold, so a Cloud Spa Cuddle® wrap and a Cuddle® lap quilt is perfect. Cloud Spa Cuddle® is an ideal choice because it is a plush, double-sided fabric – think of that soft plush Cuddle® on both sides of the fabric. That instantly means that it does not need to be lined. It will automatically be soft and warm, but not too bulky. Since the edges do not unravel, I can leave the edges raw. Both of those factors are huge time saver when making a garment.
Indygo Junction has just the perfect “Warm & Cozy Wrap Pattern.”It allowed me to finish the project very quickly and it looked beautiful with a raw edge finish. Thank you to Indygo Junction for providing the pattern and generously donating the “Bedtime Boots Adult Slipper Pattern,” which I hope to make at a later time and feature on my blog at The-Embroiderist.com. I chose the Cloud Spa Cuddle® in Aruba for the body of the wrap. It is such a tropical color and would remind my mom of our days in Hawaii.
While constructing the wrap pattern, I used a French seam at the center back neck seam since I was keeping the edges raw. Also, I finished the seams with a straight stitch followed by a zigzag stitch treating these two stitches like a serger stitch for purposes of following the instructions.
For the lap quilt, I used the free pattern on the Shannon Fabrics website for the “Cuddle Hug Blanket” but I made mine a little larger – 33” x 41” and I did not round the corners. The pattern called for the double-sided Cuddle® fabric like I used for the wrap, but I chose two single-sided fabrics. Also, because I used the two fabrics with wrong sides together for the lap quilt, I double-checked several times to make sure that the nap of the fabrics was going in the same direction. I decided to give it some color and made one side using the Solid Cuddle® 3 in Lavender and the other side in Fly Away Cuddle® in Aruba. The three of those fabrics look beautiful together. Thank you to Shannon Fabrics for providing all the fabrics for these projects.
There are many techniques out there for reducing the Cuddle® dust while sewing, but most of them are for traditional Cuddle® fabrics that are not double-sided. Personally, I find that Shannon Fabrics Cuddle®fabrics are much better quality and do not produce as much fiber while cutting, so I was not too concerned about that issue. I decided that I would just go ahead and use my rotary cutter. I am so glad that I did as this pattern leant itself to using the rotary cutter. The Cuddle® dust was quite minimal. A little was left on my mat, but it cleaned up quickly with a damp cloth. My clothes were so unaffected that I was able to go out to dinner with only the quick swipe of the lint brush in a few places, but that is nothing different for me. I am usually walking around town with threads adorning my attire - the saga of a sewer.
Since machine embroidery is my passion, I could not resist adding it to both projects. For the wrap, I decided to machine embroider my mother's name inside her wrap and make a pocket for the package of tissues she always carries around. I purposely did not add pockets to the outside because she uses a walker. I thought they might be a distraction for her with the walker.
For the lap quilt, I chose to pick up the details of the blue jays on the other side and embroider one right in the middle where it would sit on her lap. I included her favorite phrase, “I love you more!” to constantly remind her that she is loved.
Anita Goodesign had just the right collection of blue jays to match the Fly Away Cuddle®print. The designs are so beautiful that I was so tempted to machine embroider them all over the solid lavender Cuddle® fabric, but I resisted and only used FS-BL2. Thank you to Anita Goodesign for donating such a lovely collection.
The hardest part of this project was deciding the color of the threads to use for the designs. Thankfully Floriani Embroiderychose most of the colors for me and generously donated them for this project as well as a thread color chart. Thank you so much for doing this. Once the fabric and the thread arrived, I compared the two to make sure that they were the same colors.
This is where the selvedge on the side of the fabric came in handy. Initially, I was comparing them with the print on the body of the fabric, but when I compared it to the selvedge, I realized that I did not see two of the colors that were in the color code. I am so grateful that manufacturers include this code on the selvedge.
I should have used it from the beginning to save myself time in comparing. It was easy deciding what colors would match when using the thread color chart from Floriani that actually has real thread for the samples.
There are several techniques in machine embroidering fabrics with a thick nap such as Cuddle® fabric. For each of the projects, I chose two different methods so you could see the differences. It is important to keep the nap down to allow the embroidery to be visible. This was particularly important for the Cloud Spa Cuddle® as it has a thick 5mm pile. The Solid Cuddle® 3 has a 3mm pile, which is thicker than most chain store fabrics. In both instances, I used a water-soluble stabilizer that had a sticking feature by Floriani “Wet N Gone Tacky.” It worked perfectly to keep the fabric from shifting.
In addition, I added a basting stitch feature to secure it in place.
For the wrap, I used a purchased design from Embroidery Library that uses an embossed feature: “Oval with Border (Embossed) D6652.” This is a special design that stitches the threads over a space and then lets the other fibers pop through creating the design. It is like reversing the process. The part that is the design is not stitched and the part around it is stitched. In this instance, I used their solid oval so I could stitch my mother’s name in the oval. If I had not placed something under the fonts, the letters would have been swallowed up in the nap. The font is from the built-in editor on my Ellisimo Gold by Baby Lock. After machine embroidering the design I left the basting stitch in place and used this as a fold line for making the inner pocket. I also kept the stabilizer in place so that it would keep the pocket from stretching while I sewed it down. Thank you so much to Famore Cutlery for providing the scissors for this project.
The blue jay and sentiment that I machine embroidered on the lap quilt were modified with digitizing software – “Perfect Embroidery Professional” by Designs in Machine Embroidery. I put the designs on a USB stick and copied them into the program. I added the utility feature of “Nap Blocker” to each design separately and then saved the designs with a new name on the USB stick. That is all there was to it. Super easy – two clicks and it was done. At the embroidery machine, the nap blocker also lays down a series of stitches to keep the nap from popping up. In neither instance did I need to use a topper. I love this feature for machine embroidering any fabric with a nap.
This project is so easy to sew and would be awesome as a kit, or maybe even as a sewing class to make it together with others who love sewing. Ask your local dealer for more information. Use the Shannon Fabrics store locator to find Shannon Fabrics at a shop near you.
Aloha and happy stitching!