Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Scratch another "wedding task" (or two) off the list!

My son's wedding is fast approaching, and while the mother-of-the-groom doesn't have too many responsibilities, my sweet, future daughter-in-law has asked me to take care of a couple of things.

The first request was to find some sort of vessel to put on the gift table to hold cards.  The catering company wanted some ridiculous price to 'rent' a bird cage for the evening.  I mentioned this to my friends before Christmas, and shortly thereafter, one called me with great news -- she had seen a bird cage at a thrift store for $15 and picked it up for me!  This photo isn't too great, but here's what it looked like...

All it needed was a couple of coats of white spray paint, and it looked totally 'bridal.'  

I added a large white bow to the finial at the top, and wove some violet netting through the curlicues around the top edge, and it was finished.  Cards can slip between the wires of the curved dome, or the tray at the bottom can slide out to add a larger cards.  (For my friends in other parts of the country, it is customary on the East coast to give wedding gifts of cash or checks in lieu of a physical item.  This Midwestern girl doesn't claim to understand why, mind you.  It's just the way it is.)

A few weeks later, my son's bride asked if I could help with her gift for her attendants.  Since it is a summer wedding, she wanted to give them personalized beach tote bags, filled with goodies to take on vacation.  She found an on-line source for the bag, but wondered if I could embroider each girl's initial on the front of the tote. The black bags are heavy nylon, lined with a lighter-weight nylon in bright colors.  She thought white thread would look the best.

Once I received the bags, I realized my home embroidery machine would not be sufficient for the task, so I called upon my good friend Martha for help. I tease her about being the "Queen of Machine Embroidery" because she always has beautiful embroidered items for 'show and tell' at our monthly American Sewing Guild meetings (www.asg.org).  A few years ago, she took her art up a level and purchased a Babylock Endurance six-needle embroidery machine (http://www.babylock.com/embroidery/endurance/).  It is a professional grade machine that allows her to change colors of thread effortlessly and work on larger-scale designs.

Baby Lock Endurance 6 Needle Embroidery Machine (BND9)
The six-needle Babylock Endurance
We met for dinner at her house (great pasta and wine!) and then got to work.  She had purchased a design disk of 3" and 5" alphabets, and we selected the font that had the best looking 'J,' since that was one of the letters that we needed to embroider on a tote bag.    (I don't know why, but many embroidery alphabets have an ugly or unreadable 'J'.  The look like 'I' or 'T' or a squiggle.)

I began marking the center point on each bag.  After hooping the bag, we put in on the machine, maneuvered it to the center point.
The hoop holds the tote bag on the machine and allows us to place the design right where we want it.  
Martha got the machine set up with white thread and downloaded the design to the machine's computer.

We decided that the 5" letters would look the best.  Each letter has between 3,000 and 5,000 stitches!  Once you press 'start,' the machine does all of the work.

The letter 'A', almost finished!
Martha kept a close eye on things, in case there were problems like a broken thread or the need for a new bobbin.

Martha at work in her sewing room.
After ten minutes, viola!  A perfectly monogrammed tote bag!  One down, 12 to go!

A $7 tote bag has become a $25 fashion statement!
So, check two items off of the list of wedding preparations!  I still have a few more things to take care of, plus my mother-of-the groom dress.  I sure hope there's enough time!

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