Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Featured Artist: Susan Allen Abbe

We recently discovered an amazing customer of ours when she posted photos on our Facebook page of 18 fabulous bags she made with our Sew Trendy Cross Body Bags design. We were thrilled when she agreed to guest blog for us! Please meet our featured customer, Susan Allen Abbe..."I Love to Sew!"

From the time I was just five years old you could find me sitting near my mother while she sewed.  My mother and my grandmother were both wonderful seamstresses.  Mom started me with simple embroidery on tea towel type material as a child.  I loved it.  Then I graduated to my mother’s treadle sewing machine where I began sewing very simple doll clothes.  I loved to sew and gradually I graduated to more difficult projects.

 LittleGirlDressesLate80'sIn junior high school I took my first sewing class and I just LOVED sewing.  I had finally found my niche.  I excelled in making the required garments and did extra.  I was able to peer tutor students who needed more help when the teacher was busy.  By the time most students had struggled through making the required items I had gone on to make another.  At the end of the term we had a fashion show and I remember that I modeled the dress I had made and my little sister was able to join us and also model the dress I had made like mine, for her.  So fun!

In high school I continued to enroll in sewing classes and learned more of the basics and took every class that was available.  I excelled.  In fact, I enrolled in all the home economics classes and just loved them.  At the end of my high school years I had earned the Betty Crocker Future Homemaker of Tomorrow award.  I was thrilled.

Off I went to college and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics from California Polytechnic University.  I had decided I wanted to teach Home Economics but I met a special someone and married (making my own wedding dress) shortly after college and settled right down to family life.

We quickly had 5 children, 3 boys first and then 2 girls and I was a very happy full-time homemaker using all the skills I had learned in school on my own family.  I made many garments, toys, and quilts for my children.  One year, I even had time to enter some dresses in the fair.  I was pleased to walk away with some blue ribbons.  In one category “Party Dresses” I took both the blue and the red ribbons.1985ComingHomeFromFairWithRibbons

 Eventually, I went back to university for a Master’s Degree and earned my “Master in Teaching” degree.  I was hired at my first interview and began teaching junior high and high school.  I taught what is now called “Family and Consumer Sciences”.  For almost 18 years I taught and in 2006, I was named the Washington Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Educators, “Teacher of the Year”.  What a thrill!

In 2012 I retired from teaching which gave me more time to sew.  I joined the Sun Bonnet Sue Quilt Club in Sequim, WA to give me more time to see my mother and sister who are members and to give me more experience and expertise in quilting. FlowerOfTheMonthAppliqueQuiltInProgress
 FSL SnowflakesFSL BirdOrnamentsThen it happened.  I attended the 2013 Sew Expo in Puyallup, WA.  I had been thinking about buying an embroidery machine for some time.  I thought I would probably really enjoy it because of how much I love embroidery.  I bit the bullet and purchased a new Baby Lock Ellure Plus.  It is a “starter” machine and I thought if I loved it as much as I thought I would I might just have to upgrade.  So I spent much of 2013 testing the waters and LOVING the additional capabilities of an embroidery machine.  I discovered free standing lace and made dozens of snowflakes for Christmas ornaments and gave many of them as gifts.  I discovered Martha Pullen and her heirloom-type styles of embroidery.  I have always loved sweet little girl and boy items so I have joined her Internet Embroidery Club and have access to new embroidery designs each month.  Then I discovered “in-the-hoop” designs…oh my goodness…I was hooked!

Pickle Pie designs has a youtube video where I watched Lisa Archer create a thumb drive case.  It took about 5 minutes.  I was so impressed!  I thought there must be other designs that you can make in the hoop.  I visited the Pickle Pie Designs website and was excited to find the Sew Trendy Cross Body Bags.  I ordered right away and got started.  I made 18 bags either 5x7 or 6x10 for friends and family over the holidays.  Everyone loved their personalized bags!  I used many miscellaneous scraps of fabrics and trims that I had saved through the years.  I tried using suede-like upholstery fabric and gold metallic thread with wonderful results.  I bought special fabric for my granddaughter’s bag with bright colors and used peace symbol ribbon across the front and Converse tennis shoes ribbon for the strap…all things she loves…and she loved it!  They were so much fun to create that they have become my new favorite.  Purses and bags are a challenge and a joy to create.  I have made many.  I like making things that other people love and are personalized just for them.

[caption id="attachment_220" align="aligncenter" width="348"]1538010_10203115352554753_912611321_o Pickle Pie Sew Trendy Cross Body Bag[/caption]
A MonogramPurse

Now I knew it was time to upgrade my embroidery machine.  I moved from my Baby Lock Ellure Plus to the Baby Lock Ellisimo.  I have a larger hoop that has 8x12 capabilities and a machine that is much more sophisticated.

Samantha Dress1

What else have I made lately you might ask?  I just finished a hand towel for my mom’s bathroom, a work apron of denim for my husband, a watermarked taffeta purse for my granddaughter, and 2 doll dresses for another granddaughter’s American Girl dolls.  The first doll dress features a Martha Pullen embroidered bodice and sleeves and the second has a smocked bodice.  I am also hand quilting a hand applique quilt that has been in process for some time! Husband'sWorkApron

Retirement is never boring.  If you can’t find me, try knocking on my sewing studio door…you just might discover me at home, very happy, and very busy sewing! -Susan 

If you'd like to be featured on our blog, please contact us at customerservice  @picklepiedesigns.com (no spaces). We'd love to hear from you!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Applique 101

Applique can be intimidating if you have never tried it.  But once you try it, you are likely to be hooked!

Below you will find our Applique 101 Tutorial.

 Applique 101


If this is your first time stitching a machine applique, get ready for a new addiction! Appliques are oh-so-easy and tons of fun!  Stitch them on anything your heart desires – t-shirts, dish towels, bath towels, bibs, and more.

Here, we give you the basic recipe for whipping up an applique. It’s easy as pie!

Supply List:

  •  Stabilizer to suit your fabric type

  • Fabric for applique

  • Item to be appliqued, such as a t-shirt, dish towel, etc.

  • Applique scissors

  • Thread to coordinate with your fabric

  • Water soluble topping, optional

  • Temporary spray adhesive, optional

 General Applique Instructions:

 Hoop your stabilizer and the item you are embroidering. For an item like a towel, you can pin or tape the item down to the stabilizer.

The first set of stitches creates the “placement line”, which is an outline that shows you exactly where to place your applique fabric in the next step.app2


 Take your applique fabric and center it over the placement line. Tape the fabric in place along the edges to hold it steady during next step. As an alternative, you can use temporary spray adhesive on the back of the fabric before you place it over the placement lines.app4


The next set of stitches creates a “cutting line” which shows you where to trim off the excess fabric.app6

 At this point, you’ll want to remove the hoop from your machine. Trim around the cutting line, getting as close as you can to the outline without cutting through the stitches.app7


Replace the hoop on your machine. The next set of stitches creates a zigzag around the applique.app9


 The final set of stitches creates a satin outline, giving your applique a beautiful finishing touch!app13

The pretty applique shown in this tutorial is from our “Curlz Split Applique Set” CD, available at your local independent retailer!