Saturday, September 6, 2014

Custom Embroidered Monogram for the Singer Featherweight Carrying Bag

Custom Monogram Embroidery for My Featherweight Bag
Before starting another paper pieced pineapple block or making more sawtooth star blocks for the bear paw quilt, I had one more bit of machine embroidered itch to scratch.  I am SO happy with the way this monogram came out on my Singer Featherweight carrying bag!

Both of my vintage Singer 221 Featherweight machines came with their original carrying cases, but I don't use them because: 1. They are made of wood, so they are heavy.  2. They are old and stinky.  3. They have no padding.  I spent a LOT of time looking for a cute, stylish soft carrying case for my Featherweights, and the best I could find was this plain black padded nylon bag from Allbrands for $45.  (It also comes in red, but it's not the perfect Singer red you want it to be -- it's more like McDonald's ketchup red).  So I got the black bag, and it fits a little Featherweight machine with its power cord, foot pedal, a little case of accessories, and maybe a little bit of fabric.  Functionally it was exactly what I wanted, but there was nothing exciting about it.

So today I spent a great deal of time playing in my embroidery software, looking through all of my monogram designs and experimenting with different combinations until I came up with this:

Monogram Design Image from Bernina Sofware
The gold medallion motif was custom digitized for me several years ago for an interior design client's project by Richards Jarden, the professional digitizer behind the gorgeous designs of Embroidery Arts.  (You can read about the original project we used this design for here).  Richards does such amazing work -- I highly recommend his retail designs as well as his custom digitizing services.  The medallion motif, based on an historical textile from the Hearst Castle, reminded me of the ornate gold decals on my early model Singer Featherweight machines.  I think I ended up selecting one of my True Type fonts to digitize within my Bernina v6 Designer Plus embroidery software for my initials.  The thread color is that iconic Singer red like the vintage Singer logo, the red felt spool pad, and the funky red and black houndstooth reproduction cloth cord that my husband used to rewire my 1935 Featherweight's original foot pedal:

Bette, my 1935 Singer Featherweight, with Red Reproduction Cloth Covered Cords
Of course, as great a machine as the Featherweight is for piecing quilts and for teaching kids to sew, she does NOT do machine embroidery.  That was a job for 'Nina, the Bernina 750 QE.

The hardest part about this project was getting this wood bottomed, bulky padded canvas bag secured and supported properly for stitching.  For me, the bag was inexpensive and ugly enough plain for it to be worth the risk of ruining it, but I would NOT recommend my methods for your favorite designer handbag!  I tried using that adhesive stabilizer stuff that everyone recommends but this bag was so heavy that it popped apart from the stabilizer while I was attaching the bag to the machine.  I had marked the center of where I wanted the design in chalk beforehand and I ended up just eyeballing that it was straight and holding the bag out of the way while my machine basted around the hoop perimeter, securing the bag to the hooped stabilizer.  I got really lucky -- I think it looks pretty darned good.
Holding the Bag Out of the Way During Stitching
See?  I stitched my design sideways, and I used large safety pins (diaper pin size) to pin up anything that might get caught while the embroidery module was moving.  Also, because my bag was so heavy, I held the weight of it up by the strap with my arm resting on top of the sewing machine throughout the entire 35 minutes of stitching.  (As you can also see, I'm wounded from crashing my bike into a post last weekend, but that's another story for another day).

Finished Embroidery
I really could not be more pleased with how my bag came out -- this is a great example of what a huge impact machine embroidery can make.  Note that I probably spent at least four hours working on the design (thinking about what I wanted, researching, playing around with different options that I ended up discarding), another hour or so fretting about how I was going to get that bag in the hoop and complaining about how come all of my ideas have to be so complicated, and then about 35 minutes of holding that bag up by its handle while my sewing machine stitched out the design.  So no, I am not going to monogram your purse/laptop bag/backpack/floormats in your car for you.  Don't even ask.

I did manage to get this done for Anders, though:
Personalized Bible Cover for Anders
Anders starts confirmation classes this year, and he will be presented with a new study bible at church tomorrow morning.  The kids carry their bibles back and forth in these zippered covers.  Again, this project was more of a pain than you would imagine -- I used one of the built in alphabet font stitches on the 'Nina 750, but the strap of this readymade bible cover doesn't have a lot of slack and it was dicey getting the feed dogs to work properly with the strap wrapped so snugly around the free arm of the machine.

I had a fleeting thought of monogramming the kids' backpacks as well, but I'm all embroidered out for awhile.  Tomorrow, I'm going back to quilting!

UPDATED 7/19/2016: I'm linking this post with Val's Featherweight-themed Archives Linky Party today!  Be sure to check out Val's post for links to even more Featherweight inspiration.

Val's Quilting Studio


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

LOL - I have the red bag - I love how you embroidered the bag to personalize it! When we get home I need to get mine out of the bag and use it once in awhile - since I got my Juki last year I haven't touched either the featherweight or my janome

P11otter said...

What a very beautiful embroidery! Thanks for this blog post, very inspiring. Groetjes Marie.

Judy D in WA said...

What a fabulous bag! I love the story. People don't realize the time involved in something like this. And all the thinking and planning and praying. It turned out wonderful.
Hope the arm heals quickly!

Val's Quilting Studio said...

Sooo glad you shared this under our featherweight theme this week! Your personalized bag is perfect!! Good Work! Now what about running into that tree???

Val's Quilting Studio said...

Sooo glad you shared this under our featherweight theme this week! Your personalized bag is perfect!! Good Work! Now what about running into that tree???

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

How marvelous! Very clever idea, and nice embroidery!