Tuesday, September 30

Dapper Jackalope Pattern available now!

Isn't he sweet, this dapper Jackalope? As I mentioned recently: it's my first pattern since last October so it really *was* time for a new one. I'm really happy with it and I hope you all like it too! The pattern includes colour and stitch suggestions and is now available as instant download (so you can start stitching tonight!) in my shop.

Saturday, September 27

How to pull thread from a skein

I have a confession to make. Until last week I didn't really know how to pull floss from a skein. Usually I just pulled at the first loose end I'd find. Not noticing which end of the skein it was. Sometimes it was the right end and the thread could easily be pulled from the skein, often it was the wrong end and I would end up with a tangled mess.

The other day I thought it would be wise to try and find out if there was some logic to the whole process. It turned out the DMC skeins I was using do have a 'business end'... I felt a bit silly posting my 'aha' moment on Instagram but then it turned out I wasn't the only one. It's just one of those things no one ever talks about! Soon I started referring to the whole thing as #Flossgate and like with other 'gates' it needed further investigation!

I conducted a comparative 'thread-pulling' study of four different brands of embroidery floss I found in my stash: DMC, Sublime Stitching, Anchor and Cosmo. These are all six stranded flosses, but I must add the Anchor floss is rather old so possible today's skeins will give a different result.

Let's start with DMC: the business end is the side where the thread number is.

Anchor: the right side to pull the thread from is the side where label with the brand name is.

Sublime Stitching: it took me quite a while to find out that the beginning and the end of the thread where at the same side! It's the side where the number label is. You just need to gently pull both to find out which one comes loose from the skein more easily.

Finally Cosmo: as you can see in the photo the best way to pull thread from the skein is on the side where the brand label is.

I hope this study is helpful for some of you! Do let me know in the comments if you happen to know how this works with other brands. :)

p.s. find more of my Embroidery 'Aha' moments here.

Thursday, September 25

Book review: Stitch the Halls

Although we 'do' celebrate Christmas in our house, in our own quiet way, I'm not a huge fan of covering the whole house in Christmas decorations. Most decorations that stores offer don't appeal to me anyway. Santas are not allowed in my house (only the real one is, to drop off presents) and the only decorations I indulge in are a Christmas tree and lots of sparkly fairy lights.

But now Stitch the Halls by What Delilah Did* has arrived and I suddenly feel I need Mini-sampler Stockings in my tree and send Christmas cards with tiny jumpers on.

The Polar Parade bunting is one of my favourite projects in the book. Sophie's signature silhouette designs make this decoration sophisticated and timeless. Festive, but in a not exclusively Christmas kind of way. Brilliant.

With it's 80 pages this book will not take up much of shelf space but the 12 projects are all of great quality.  Personally, I'd rather have a small volume with great useful designs than a large book with lots of mediocre stuff.

Another favourite (it's so hard to choose though!) is this tiny 'Miss Prance-a-Lot' Peg doll ornament. The attention for detail is just fantastic.

The book starts with a chapter about Supplies and the basics of  Cross Stitch and Counted Thread embroidery are discussed. I thought this was particularly interesting as Counted Thread embroidery doesn't always gets mentioned in today's Embroidery books. A lot of the projects aren't incredibly complicated or time-consuming so all in all this would be a good starting point for anyone who wants to try their hand at cross stitch and/or counted embroidery.

Just like in Story Land Cross Stitching the photos (by Rachel Whiting) and illustrations (by Ana Victoria Calderon) are very charming.

Stitch the Halls is perfect for anyone who wants to add stylish, handmade stitched decorations to their home and presents (without the 'loudness' of the usual Christmas decorations!). It's available now in stores and online shops (including Sophie's own shop).

*As you may know I'm a longtime fan of Sophie's designs. I already had the book on my 'to buy list when I received a copy from the publisher for review. :) 

Monday, September 22

Jackalope Pattern in Progress

There's much going on behind the scenes here at Follow the White Bunny HQ (which is really just my house) so you have to excuse the not so great photo I nicked from my own Instagram account. I thought I'd share a peek of my new pattern with you and I am touched by the kind comments I got on IG so far. It's kind of a big deal for me as this pattern is the first new pattern (besides the ones in books and magazines) since last October.

Pattern design doesn't always (read: rarely) come easy to me and I rejected many designs before I decided on this one. And then I made some changes while I was stitching the pattern too. I think it's really important to stitch a pattern before you release it to find out what works and what doesn't. So in the process I left out some elements and added others. Obviously the Jackalope was there from the beginning, as were the poppies (my mother's favourite flower). I'm doing my best to have the Jackalope in the shop early next week!

Monday, September 15

Come and join me in some Furry Stitching

Polar Bear stitched by Jorie
Preparations for the second Furry Nice Class are in full swing (you can still sign up but hurry!) so I thought I'd share some of the fabulous things my students made in the first Furry Nice Class and tell you a little bit about the class. Just in case you were interested in joining in. Pictured above is Jorie's version of the Polar Bear pattern that students receive at the start of the course. All the elements I talk about in the class, such as stitching animals furs, how to create depth in your embroidery and basic shading techniques, come together in this small design!

Polar Bear in Progress stitched by Kim
Throughout the class students get to download additional patterns (a sailor fox, a lucky bunny and more) to practice their newly learned techniques. The Beetle is part of the Shading Practice Pattern Sheet for example. A beetle may not be furry but it's a good design for trying out shading techniques. Central in the class is the Polar Bear design though, step by step I explain how I stitched my version and why I use certain stitches, colours or techniques.

Beetle stitched by Michelle aka Mooshie

Teaching an online class has advantages as I'm able to reach people all over the world (from Colombia to Sweden and from the US to Australia) without having to travel all over. On the other hand it's more difficult to connect with students when you are not literally in the same room. I do like to give the students the feeling that we are in a (cozy!) class room situation though and that I'm there for them to answers questions and encourage. From a survey about the first class I learned some things that I used to tweak the upcoming class and I was happy to some very impressive results from Furry Nice students. :)

The new Furry Nice class starts the 25th of September and you can reserve your spot here.

Monday, September 8

Owl Embroidery Finished

Embroidering this owl was an interesting journey. I started out with the idea of stitching a quite natural looking owl but in came the crazy neon floss and that made it so much more interesting. The French knots weren't in the original plan either. A flowery border was meant to frame the owl, but it didn't look right. Then I was a bit unsure about adding the dark green background but again I think it was the right decision. It's finished now (at least I simply stopped embroidering) so on to the next furry (or feathery) embroidery! :)

Saturday, September 6

IKEA Sewing Machine Review

When my youngest daughter turned six (she's 9 now) we bought her a Mini Janome sewing machine. For the 100 euros it cost I expected a simple but good machine from a well known brand like Janome. Sadly the Mini Janome has never worked properly, made a terrible noise when it did work and using it was frustrating for both Luna and myself. Because it's no fun trying to teach or learn how to sew when the machine jams all the time! We ended up practising on my own sewing machine (a Husqvarna Sapphire 835) and I wish I hadn't traded in my simple but perfectly fine Huskystar E20 when I bought my own machine a couple of years ago. Because it would have been perfect for my daughter.

Ye Olde Huskystar E20. I even made a stuffed turtle with it. 

Fast forward to 2014. I was at IKEA with a shopping cart full of stuff I didn't know I needed when I left home that morning, when I stumbled upon 'Sy' (it means Sewing in Swedish) the IKEA sewing machine. It was a little under 80 euros*, looked pretty sturdy to me, with all the basic stitches etc you would expect on a simple machine so I decided to take a chance and take it home with me.
* I later checked and in the US and the UK the Sy is much cheaper, about $80 (50 euros) and 45 GBP (55 euros), wish I could have bought it for those prices!

And while I bought the Sy for my daughter I really want to stress that this isn't a kid's sewing machine. It's a proper-grown up machine, so you will find no extra kid-friendly or safety things on this machine. Luna is very careful when she sews and has been watching and learning for a few years now which is why I trust her with a 'big' sewing machine.

Obviously I wanted to try it out immediately (before handing it over to my daughter) and after an initial misunderstanding on my part about the front loading bobbin case it was ready to go. Here's my (and Luna's) experience with the machine so far.

The machine is quite heavy, about six kilos, which is good as it doesn't 'walk away' from you while you sew as smaller and lighter machines sometimes do. It has all the basic stitches and then some. Like most people we just use the straight stitch and zig zag stitch. You can't adjust the stitch length on this machine but there's three straight stitches on the dial with three different lengths. I find the smallest one (A) rather tiny and the third one (C) is nearly regular in length but we use the middle one (B) the most :)

There are also various zig zag options so we're good with the most basic stitches.

There is a back stitch option and (yay!) a thread cutter on the side. It also has a light which is good. The bobbin loads in the front, something I'm not used to, so it's always a surprise when the thread runs out. On the little metal plate there's a seam guide too.

The Sy comes with a pedal (which is quite small and very plastic-y) and several extras like a seam ripper and some bobbins. I forgot to take a photo of the accessories when we just had the Sy (and by now some have gone MIA in the sewing room) but you can see them here on the IKEA website.

The one thing that I noticed right away is that the machine sews very fast, even if you can control the speed a little bit with the pedal it still goes quite fast. If you try to go slow it tends to jam. This is clearly something Luna still has to adjust to. It's also important to guide the fabric until the last bit of your sewing or it will trail off and leave you with a crooked seam. My Husqvarna which was about 800 euros more expensive does that too by the way...

For most of your straight line sewing (paired with a little sewing experience) the speed isn't a problem but sometimes you need to sew slowly, when you sew curves for example, and that would become tricky on this machine.

Winding thread on the bobbin was an interesting experience. The manual was very clear and easy to follow but it involved pulling out the hand wheel on the side which was a new to me action. The end result was a quite loosely wound up bobbin. However that didn't give us any problems when we started sewing with it. I only just found out IKEA has some excellent Sy instruction videos on YouTube including one for the winding up bobbins.

Currently Luna is making Log Cabin blocks for her very first quilt on the Sy and it's going very well. The actual quilting will probably be done on my Husqvarna though as I don't expect the Sy is quite up to that task.

If you are a beginner and you have a little more cash to spend then you might consider buying something like The Huskystar E20  I mentioned earlier. It was about twice the price (perhaps a little more) of the Sy and in my view definitely in another league. A good second hand sewing machine is always option too of course... However if you only sew every now and then and if your projects are quite straightforward (pillows, simple curtains and bags etc) the no non-sense Sy is good value for your money in my opinion.

Hope this review was useful!