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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guest Post - The Right Tools Make All The Difference!

Hey, y'all, Karin here again, doing what I do best - hijacking Kelly's blog giving Kelly a hand while she is recovering.

 (just for the one was hurt in the making of this blog post :)

The title of this post could just as easily have been "The Towels From H E double hockey sticks" but, it's not my blog, and I didn't want to offend any of  Kelly's dear readers and friends.  Be forewarned, this quick, short and easy project was anything but, and definitely proved the adage that the using right tool for the job makes the job a whole lot easier.

I had some Christmas fabric that I wanted to add to the bottom of the towels and I choose  this design from Embroidery Library.   I wanted to make the stars gold and the ornaments red...easy-peasy, right?

 (haha, little did I you sense a trend here?)

Well, you see all those little loopies and swirlies in the original design?  Can you imagine trying to remove even tearaway paper stabilizer from all those tiny stitches?  Darned near impossible, so tearaway is out.  I could use water soluble, but even after a good rinse, that often leaves the towel stiff until it's run through the washer and I didn't plan on doing that prior to gifting.  I don't like leaving cutaway stabilizer on towels that are to be used, so that was out too.  What's left?  Floriani Heat N Gone, of course!  It's very similar to water soluble, but it gets removed with a simple pass of a hot iron instead of water.  Perfect!

 So here we are, all hooped up, and ready to stitch.  I've got my towel and one layer of Heat N Gone hooped together, nice and tight.   I think puckers in machine embroidery are BAAAAD.
 I fast-forwarded a few stitches to see where I was going first, and it turned out my needle was at the top left star.  Perfect, as I wanted to make the stars gold.  You can hardly see it in the next picture, but I managed to get the first star gold, stop the machine, change thread and bobbin to red and continue stitching.  Easy right?  Haha, she says.
Apparently I wasn't paying super close attention (I might have actually dozed off...just sayin) and lo and behold, the needle went right into stitching the second star before I knew it.  It was almost half done before I was able to stop the machine.  Oh, but once it stopped, boy did I have a mess situation in my hoop.
 First I tried removing stitches with my trusty Seam-Fix seam ripper (I call that reverse stitching, and it's a stitch I use more than I care to admit.)  This wasn't your ordinary run stitch, though..oh was double stitched to make it thick and visible.  The seam ripper just wasn't cutting the mustard; surely there was a better tool in the arsenal.....
 How about if I try my Famore Angled Tweezers?
 Yup, that's the right tool for this job!  Those little pointy tips were able to get under that thread and pull it right up for me to snip off.

Remember, though, I'm only a few minutes into this project and already I've made a mistake that cost me extra time and trouble.  What happened to easy and quick?  Surely I'll pick up the pace once I remove these stitches....after all, I've only got a short time to sew up 4 towels and this design is supposed to take 19 minutes to sew out.  Oh wait, they didn't count on me changing colors so I have to add  more time.... 
It will be a cinch to swipe the Heat and Gone with my iron and remove all the stabilizer.  Quick and that.  Once again, the right tool makes the job go easy.

Here is the design all stitched out.  You can see  the Heat N Gone - it's the shiny part.
 And, once again, those angled Famore tweezers came in handy to remove a couple of red underlay stitches that were peeping out from underneath the green swirls.  Again, the right tool makes the job quick and easy.  Thank you Kelly!

 By now, I've got about an hour invested in this 19 minute stitchout.....ugh...and I've got 3 more to go.  Ummmm...maybe not.  I decided that I will do ONE more towel with this design (gotta have a matching pair, right?) and I'll cut one more piece of Heat N Gone then wrap it up and put it away.

I fiddled with trying to get that roll back into the wrapper, but you know that didn't happen.  At least, not the way I wanted it to fit.  Hugo's Amazing Tape to the rescue!  I just wrapped the cellophane wrapper around the roll of stabilizer, wrapped a short piece of tape around it and called it done.  I know I can rely on it sticking to itself without sticking to anything else or leaving any gunky residue, and when I'm ready to use the stabilizer again, a lift of one corner and it peels right off.
 And where do I keep all my stabilizer rolls you may ask?  My sweet daughter gifted me one of those upright, hanging shoe holders and I just didn't have the heart to tell her I didn't have that many pairs of I just put it away for a while.  I just hung it on one of those over-the-door hooks, and there ya go!  Might not be its intended use, but it sure works for me!  (right tool, remember?)

Why two hooks over the door?  Wait until you see the front.

 Here's what's hanging on the FRONT of the door...I had a $10 coupon for Kohl's last year, and this baby cost $9.99, so, basically, it was free and it was ME, so I just *had* to have it!  The "IN" sign turns around to show "OUT" when I'm not in the room.  Handy when Driver has to come looking for me and makes me smile every time I see it!  I leave it (and my other Halloween decoration: cobwebs) up all year..much easier that way.

 Brake's over, back to stitching....I've got another 19 minute stitchout, and then 2 more towels, whose design was still to be determined.   I got smart on the second towel and decided to fast-forward my stitching so that I could stitch both gold stars at one time without having to switch colors in the middle.  Quick, smart, and easy, eh?  Haha, I thought so too...little did I know.
 Here we are, both stars stitched nicely, so let's switch back to red, and go do the ornaments.
 Annnnnd, what have we here?????  Arrrrrgh.  I turned my back to review my fabric (do you ever second guess yourself?) and look what happened!  I'd forgotten the stitching order, and I stitched RED right over top of my (previously stitched) GOLD star!  Arrrrrrgh.  See, I told you, the towels from H E double hockey sticks!
 Well, use your imagination here....and trust me when I tell you that my Famore Angled tweezers saved my butt design once again.  And here are the two towels, only 3 hours or so later all ready for their fabric trim.  Good thing I picked such an easy and quick design right? 
 Here they are after their fabric trims have been added.  Good enough to gift, thanks to all the right tools from IHAN!
 Here are the other two towels I made.  Notice the design I chose?  Yup, it's a regular, solid and dense design.  With approximately 3 times the number of stitches as the airy tree design.  And these took about the same time to stitch out, and noooo, I didn't make ANY mistakes on these, and all I had to do was change the thread at each color stop and add the trim and fabric.
This design is also from Embroidery Library, and it stitched out without a hitch.  So now my towels are all ready to wrap up and fly to Alabama, with a few days to spare.  Thank Goodness!
(actual stitching results)
Thanks for sharing all the trials and tribulations of my "Towels From H E double hockey sticks."  I'm glad they're done, that's for sure!  And I'm super glad Kelly and IHAN have all the tools I need to make my "job" easier and quicker, not to mention take care of all those self-created issues.  These wonderful tools make GREAT stocking stuffers, so be sure to drop some hints around the house and see what turns up in YOUR stocking!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Been there and done that!!! They look fabulous though and will make such nice gifts.

  2. Oh no, they do look gorgeous though! Have you invested in an editing program? You could use it to split the stars out of the design and then change the color before loading it on to your machine. Much quicker than trying to watch the machine and catch it at the right time to stop :)

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Sooze, and yup, I've actually got TWO editing programs, Floriani Total Control and Babylock's Palette 8...and you've offered a terrific suggestion....with a little more planning, I probably would have done just that. Planning is just not my forte, and even on those seldom occasions when I do plan, I often change it up as I go, so plans go flying out the window anyway.

  3. Floriani Heat N Gone is one of my all time favorites. I've never ever found anything better for towel toppers, knits or heavy texture. Love it.

    Fun design and love seeing what you are stitching.


  4. Beautiful towels!! What stabilizer did you use on the bottom? I'm not sure my iron is hot enough, because I still see some Heat N Gone shinning through? Any suggestions?

    1. Thank you Darlene! I love how they turned out too. I used Floriani's Heat N Gone stabilizer - that's all, and just one layer. I ironed it off with my iron set on Cotton. It was also probably set on steam, since I hardly ever take that off. I trimmed the Heat N Gone away from the edges of the design, leaving only a minimum still on there to be ironed off. It makes little balls of plastic & I just brush them away (onto the floor, truth be told, where SOMEone will eventually vacuum them up). In a couple of spots, I had to go back & iron again to fully remove the stabilizer. Good luck!

  5. I have a dumb question.....what is that rubber, bumpy stuff around your hoop? What does it do? Beautiful towels. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hey Beth, no question's ever dumb, and thanks for admiring my towels!!! That rubber bumpy stuff is shelf liner (available in rolls, at WallyWorld or the Dollar Store) that I've hooped, then trimmed. It helps hold the fabric taught. It also makes hooping fabric a little more difficult (darned near impossible, if it's terry cloth, so you have to use an adhesive stabilizer with terry cloth, instead of tearaway or cutaway), but the results are so worth it! It also helps minimize the hoop burn you sometimes can get with thinner fabrics. Good luck!


Thank you for reading the IHAN Blog. I love getting and reading every comment that is left here; however I may not be able to respond to all comments left during giveaways. There are times when I am juggling many tasks at one time and may not reply to all comments. Please e-mail me at if you need a reply quickly. I thank you for your understanding and-
More Later-Beth


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