I have two embroidery machines, a 6-needle and a single-needle. The 6-needle is great for production work. But the single-needle is not as efficient for repetitive embroidery. It is, however, excellent for making in-the-hoop projects. An in-the-hoop project is a project created on an embroidery machine which yields something other than fabric embellishments. For example, you can make small stuffed animals, luggage tags, small bags, door knob hangers, and many other things. My favorite resource for in-the-hoop projects is Embroidery Garden.
Reen designs all of the projects on Embroidery Garden. My favorite projects are her little owl and cat purses, but I have many other designs such as bags with vinyl windows, gift tag holders, tea light covers and an iPad bag. And there are more I want to try. The Owl Sewing Kit was one of the first designs I purchased and find it makes a wonderful gift for my sewing friends.
When you purchase a design, you get a PDF with the instructions and the design itself in many embroidery machine formats. These are downloaded electronically. I also always print out the PDF so that I can write notes on it.
Before starting to embroider I first examine the list of fabrics, stabilizers, batting, and other assorted items needed and in what sizes. I then choose the fabrics for my project. This time, I opted to make two owl sewing kits using whatever supplies I had on hand.
Sometimes I really have to scrutinize the photos of the finished project to determine which fabrics are used where. I also have to look carefully to see where embroidery thread is used. For this project, I need at least 5 colors: one for the quilting on the wings, one for the eye outlines, one for the beak, black for the pupils, and an additional color for the owl’s head. I can also use a thread color that matches the main body color. I chose the following:
Some colors will do double-duty, being used for several parts of the design. Sometimes I try to match main fabric colors and sometimes I try to pick out secondary colors from the fabric. In general, the colors assigned to the thread in the embroidery design are arbitrary and will either cause the machine to stop (so you can change the thread) or at least give you the opportunity to stop the machine before the machine switches colors/needles automatically. Every time the needle stops, you need to review the directions carefully to decide if you need to change the thread color or not.
Reen’s instructions are very detailed and must be followed step-by-step. The instructions tell you when to layer fabric on the hoop, when to tape items down if needed, etc. The instructions also describe what is being sewn at each step. This gives you additional guidance to know what color thread to use in the next step.
For this particular project, the wings are sewn in one hooping, cut out, and then later added to the owl body which is sewn in the second hooping. For both, Reen suggests using a water-soluble mesh. But I have found that any kind of lightweight stabilizer works just fine. This time I used a fusible lightweight mesh “no-show” stabilizer that I happened to have. I did not fuse it.
Here are the wings, one inside out and one right side out.
The second hooping is for the owl body. Here it is in progress.
After the wings are sewn down, the fabric for the back of the owl is laid down and the back stitched to the front, leaving a hole behind a wing for turning. The hole is a little small and I found it easiest to remove as much stabilizer as possible first (to reduce bulk) and then pull one of the wings out before trying to turn the rest of the owl.
After turning the owl, you stuff it, close up the hole, add two buttons to the wings and an elastic tie and you are finished. You can put a small pair of scissors inside the front middle pocket, centering the finger holes of the scissors over the owl’s eyes. You can store sewing needles inside the wings and use the side pockets for other small objects like a seam ripper. The elastic on the bottom of the owl hold spools of thread. If you follow Reen’s instructions, you’ll find that the elastic is too large for smaller spools of thread. But if you do have some larger spools, the owl will stand up on its own using the spools for feet.
This project is another winner from Embroidery Garden. If you’d like more owl projects, Reen has *many* designs featuring owls. And if the idea of in-the-hoop projects intrigues you, give her website a look. There are other in-the-hoop designs that can be purchased from other websites, but these are truly some of my favorites.