Favorite Last Minute Gifts - Monogram Hand Towels

At the last minute, I decided I needed more gifts.  I had recently bought a few sets of hand towels and thought I would monogram them for a few people for Christmas.  My all time favorite font for monogramming towels was previously purchased from ABC Embroidery Designs.  My favorite is called Monogram #2.  It is a rope stye script font that comes in 3 sizes.  I usually use the 3.15" height size.  It has depth and style and looks beautiful on towels in my opinion.  Please note, this site delivers their download links by email and it can take up to 12 hours to receive it.  I usually receive mine in under 2 hours.

First the setup.  To find the perfect placement, I usually fold the towel vertically and place a pin at the center point.  This then lines up with the center mark on the hoop.  I use sticky Tearaway stabilizer.  The sticky obviously holds the towel where I want it to stay.  I usually pull the towel up 1/4 inch from the bottom too.  This give me as close to center as I can get and usually places the design in the towel band.  
 I also use less of the sticky tearaway stabilizer by only replacing the part that I rip off when completed with the design.  I cut a smaller patch to replace what was removed.  It saves so much stabilizer and works like a charm.  I use a larger patch though to make sure I have enough stabilizer to hold the towel.

I completed 10 towels in about 4.5 hours.  I'm pretty happy with the end results.  They look so expensive and you just want to touch the embroidery.  

One final, to remove the excess stabilizer from the back.  I use a tooth brush (new one of course lol) and wet the excess stabilizer.  I soak it and then wait a minute or two.  Then I scratch it with a straight pin to get it started and it seems to come off so much easier for me!  It's not as sticky.   I end up with a clean towel back as well.

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Wreaths Completed - Decorating Options

Yeah, I finished all three pineapple wreaths!  I made the binding on Thursday, added it to the quilts Friday and finished hand sewing them this morning.   Here are the 3 completed wreaths.
Now, I'm not sure if I am going to decorate them.  I have 4 options to decorate with.  Ornaments, Rhinestone Berries, Flat Berries and then finally crystal beads like my original one.  Here are the options...  I'm leaning towards the 4 ornaments I think.  I have a full bag of them that I could use.
Crystals.  I would add them in a random order instead of above.

Flat Berries

Rhinestone Berries

4 Random Ornaments sewn down.
Which one do you think looks best!  I have 3 to do, maybe I'll do each one different.  Now, I need to determine who's going to receive these wall hangings. 

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One of my Favorites - Crochet Snowflakes

This is something that I like to do each Christmas Season as well.  Crochet a few Christmas Stars.  I learned how to do this from a website called Crochet Mania.  I have the information linked below.   I used a white yarn with sparkly specs in it.  Joanns has it each Christmas season.  My tree is usually the same thing each year since I love it.  Snowflakes and Angels.  I love buying these resin snowflakes from Michaels each year.  Now I almost have too many.  I wait until their 50% off sale and get the spikey ones for about $1 and the rounder ones for about $2.50.

I hope you look up the instructions on how to make these.  They are super simple once you get the hang of them. I am not a person who crochets all the time so I relearn every year.  They are great to add on packages as well!  Enjoy!

 Great Crochet Website

The website where I found these great patterns is called Crochet Mania by Teresa. She has great YouTube videos in the project descriptions that go along with the instructions. Here is the link for Snowflakes I like to do each year.  I add them to the tree as well as add them on packages.

Stiffening the Crochet Snowflakes

It is so simple but a little sticky since I use sugar. Here is what I do.  I usually wait until I have about 8 snowflakes to stiffen.  This amount works well for that amount.
  1. 1/4 cup of sugar
  2. 1/4 cup of hot water or boiling water. I used the water out of our water cooler. Be careful not to burn your fingers!
  3. Mixed until sugar is dissolved. If water turns cooler before sugar dissolves, try 5 seconds at a time in the microwave.
  4. When temperature is tolerable (not to burn your fingers). Dip crochet items (snowflakes in this case) to completely soak them
  5. Squeeze off excess sugar water (try not to wring or extremely distort your item)
  6. I used a cookie sheet with wax paper on it. Not sure if this is good idea or not. Maybe someone can advise. Seemed to work for me without getting wax on the items. Placed the snowflakes on it and arranged out all the crocheted details.
  7. Let sit for at least 24 hours to dry. I went back overnight and they still weren't done, I thought I did it wrong. I flipped them so the other side could get air and then I left them to sit longer and the next time I came back, they were stiff as a board.
  8. Add a yarn or ribbon hanger through one of the openings and then hang on the tree or add to a gift box.


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Paper Piecing Wreath Marathon

I decided to continue sewing the paper pieced wreaths since I sewed two extra of the same piece.  Why not finish them?  I decided I'm giving the wall hangings as gifts to a few people.  The paper piecing goes pretty fast the more you do it.  I was able to complete three wreaths.

I had this idea to try something I have not done in the past yet.  I thought, what if I put an extra layer of batting under the wreath to make it a little "puffy" in the wall hanging.  Ok so I think the official terminology is trapunto.  So, here's how I went about doing it.  It worked for me and I plan on doing this more in the future.  I reprinted the patterns and then traced the area where I wanted the extra batting.  I pinned a piece of scrap batting on the back of the pattern and then sewed on the traced lines.  I then cut out each piece and then removed the paper pattern from the cutout.

I added each piece to the back of the wreath wall hanging and used a little 505 temporary spray to hold them in place.

I then created the quilt sandwich like you normally do.  I stitched in the ditch all around the edges.  It's hard to see in the photos but it did place a puffier area in the wreath.  On the second one, I may put two layers of batting pieces prior to the sandwich.  I don't  think it stands out a lot because there is not a lot of quilting around the double layer of batting. But, I like how it turned out.  Now, I may or may not decorate the wreaths prior to gift giving.  Not everyone likes bling bling like me :-)

Off to finish two more wreath hangings.  Don't forget, you can download the pattern for free on my previous entry.
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Paper Pieced Wreath Pattern

I finally finished testing out my paper pieced pattern for the wreath.  I have two version, one previously published with a smaller bow and then I made one with a fuller bow.  The differences are only one piece in the bow.  I'm sure there are other paper pieced wreaths out there so this is just my contribution.

Also, I'll leave the paper piecing tutorials up to the experts.  Here's a link to a bunch of YouTube instructional videos I found on Paper Piecing.  Here is my recent finished wreath below.  It finishes at 14.5" squared. Each of the 4 blocks finish up 7.5" squared. I can't decide if I'm making another wall hanging and adding bling or I'm going to finish it as a pillow.  If I'm making a pillow, I need to go shopping for a 14" pillow form.

Keep in mind, wreath and bow colors can change and be customized for any holiday.  I am thinking about updating the wreath again to add some extra pieces in the top left and right sections to make it fuller.  I'll let you know if I do.  For now, this will do.

File Downloads

Here are the links to download the pdf patterns to my paper pieced wreaths.  Enjoy!!  The files are stored on a site called Media Fire.  Please be kind and reference my sight if you use the templates.

 My Tips
  • To trim the outside of the individual blocks, use your ruler to ensure a 1/4" seam.  The printouts were just a smidgen bigger.
  • Don't skimp on your fabric pieces.  It makes it so much easier when you have enough fabric to cover the requirements of each piece.  
  • I use basic printer paper.  It's cheap and readily available and super easy to print the pattern out on.
  • I leave the paper on until the 4 pieces have been joined together for the full wreath.
  • I remove the paper from the 1/4 seams inward on each piece.  Fold each piece of the paper back on each seam and finger press.  This weakens the paper and it removes more easily
  • Don't pull, if the paper doesn't want to come off easily, refold the seam line again,
  • Be creative in your decorating.
  • If you get stuck, drop me a line and I'll help you where I can

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