Birdsong Bows: December 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

In a ruffly mood - Tips for using a ruffler foot attachment

Oh, ruffles. I love them! But oh, how I disliked making them....any method I tried resulted in some degree of frustration. So I sucked it up and shelled out the $80 for a ruffler foot for my Viking. There are universal-type rufflers for less, but I prefer to buy the factory originals since I've never had problems with them. I read the instructions and then watched this very thorough video, and decided it was time to play.
I mounted it carefully to my machine, and it was quite simple:

If you note the top, there are the settings for ruffling every 12 or 6 stitches, and even every stitch (the 1). The 0 is for straight stitching:

I knew that I needed a systematic way to document how my ruffles behaved on the different settings, so I would be able to measure and cut the correct length of fabric for ruffles on future projects. I wanted to know how much fabric it would take for a variety of combinations. I cut six, 20-inch-long strips that are 2 inches wide to serve as my testing materials:

My goal was to test the 12, 6 and 1 setting with the screw half open and also with it completely closed - the screw is the part that regulates how much fabric is tucked into each ruffle. But, I changed my mind after watching the video from SewEtcetera, in which the presenter suggested not keeping the screw fully closed when ruffling every stitch, since it made the ruffles too bulky and misbehaved a bit. So I abandoned the sixth strip and didn't test that combination of settings. But, try yours out and see what it will do (you won't hurt anything on a test strip, right?):

Next, I made marks in my strips at the 5" mark and the 15" mark. My intention here is to measure the middle 10 inches after ruffling to see how much it shrinks with each setting:

My planned settings were: 12 with the screw all the way in; 12 with the screw half-way out, 6 with the same two screw settings, and 1 with the screw half-way out.
I quickly learned that the video (and instructions that came with the ruffler) made it look very simple to slide the fabric into the ruffler. However, it wasn't as easy for me until I realized I needed to push the the part with the "fork" all the way in, toward the needle, before inserting the fabric. Otherwise, the fabric gets caught on the fork. Just thought you should know. :)
After each test strip, I stapled it to a notecard with the information on settings, measurements, etc. It's quite interesting to see how different each setting worked for me:

I plan to slip these notecards into a binder, so I can refer to them later when making projects that require ruffles!
Thanks to Tie Dye Diva, who made the cute ruffle romper pattern that I was able to match with the Catherine headband ribbon flower tutorial! The photo is courtesy of EMA Photography.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday cheer!

We stayed home for the holidays and hosted Christmas at our house. After three days of baking cookies, which is the maximum amount of time I want to stay in the kitchen, I ordered a lasagna from a local Italian deli and served it for Christmas.

We didn't have a white Christmas, but it did snow a couple of days later, and Natalia and Mr. Birdsong made this little snow girl. Sadly she doesn't have much longer to "live" because it's a bit too warm, but it was fun to have her around while we did. :)

I've been spending my "off" time sewing and have a useful little tutorial to post this week, on measuring your fabric for ruffles if you use a ruffler foot! So if you have one of those feet and have been a little intimidated by it....tune in soon and I'll show you how easy it is!

Enjoy the remainder of the holiday season, and blessings to you and your families! :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Pattern: The Jasmine Star Flower

Birdsong's newest pattern is the versatile Jasmine Star Flower! A sewing machine is suggested for this project, but you can also make much of it with hot glue instead, if you wish. Use this beautiful flower as a hair accessory, on a purse, or even as an ornament!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Congratulations to the winner of the accessories challenge!

Congratulations to the winner of the hair bow challenge this month!!!

For the first time, the Voter's Choice award AND the Judge's Choice award go to the same person, LaToya! You win both a tutorial of your choice from Birdsong Bows and Patterns and a $15 gift certificate from The Ribbon Retreat!

Our guest judge Melissa, of The Bowvine, said, "These Monkey Bows are my favorite. I always love to work with printed ribbon and make my other ribbon selections around that main focus. I love the color combos chosen, and the centers were a great choice, as well. I think the ribbon ends are very neatly done and the bows are very symmetrical. It takes talent to create a pair of bows that are perfectly matched, and I think that was accomplished here. Well done, Latoya!" Thanks much, Melissa, for being our guest judge!

And thanks so much to everyone for entering! LaToya, please contact me at birdsongbows [at] gmail [dot] com. I'll host another contest within 2-3 weeks. :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cookie contest results!

Thanks for participating in my cookie-guessing contest on Facebook! I am planning to make lemon sugar cookie cut-outs, peppermint meringues, gingerbread cookies, and coconut/macaroon kisses! I love peanut butter, but unfortunately one of my daughters is allergic!

Thirteen of you guessed something close to these cookies (or you were right on!). I listed them and put them into The winner is Lauren Cupples Loeffel! Lauren, you've won a free Birdsong tutorial/pattern of your choice. Please visit and choose any single pattern that you'd like, then send me an e-mail at birdsongbows(at) gmail (dot) com with your choice!

Happy holidays everyone, and don't forget that you have until tomorrow morning to vote for your favorite bow in the latest challenge (the post below this one!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Entries for the "Who says you can't work with animals?" challenge

Thanks to the 4 women who sent photos for our sixth challenge! The theme of this challenge is "Who says you can't work with animals?," and I asked participants to send a photo of a bow, hair flower, or other hair accessory that fits the theme!

There will be two awards! The first winner will be chosen by Melissa of The Bowvine! The winner will receive a $15 gift certificate from The Ribbon Retreat.

But there's another prize! The second way to win is to have your friends, family, Facebook friends, etc., vote for you! There's a poll in the upper right corner of my blog (in the sidebar). Voting will continue until 11 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Dec. 20. The winner will receive her choice of a free tutorial or 2 de-stash ribbon mixes from Birdsong Patterns! :)

Enjoy the entries! And thanks again for participating. I will post the winner here on either Dec. 20 or 21! Please check back here and on the Birdsong Facebook page for an announcement of the winners.

From Becky:

From Amy:

From Deborah:

From Latoya:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hair Bow Challenge 6: Who says you can't work with animals?

Image of micro monkey by Su Ami

The theme for our sixth challenge is taken from the Hollywood phrase, "Never work with animals!" But we will! :) You may make a boutique bow or bow set, a headband, a bowband, a funky loopy bow, a fascinator, a hair flower -- basically, anything you've fashioned out of ribbon or fabric -- following an animal theme. The hair bow or flower must be made from a Birdsong tutorial or pattern. You can focus on any type of animal you like. Cute and cuddly kittens? Funky monkeys? Horses? The animal kingdom is yours.

There will be two prizes again! The first will be chosen by our talented judge, Melissa of The Bowvine. The winner of the Judge's Choice Award will receive a $15 gift certificate from The Ribbon Retreat!

The second way to win a prize is through "Voter's Choice." I'll put all the bows on the blog and will host a poll in the sidebar beginning Tuesday, December 13. Invite your friends and relatives to vote for your bow! The winner of the Voter's Choice Award will receive a FREE e-book from Birdsong Bows and Patterns.

To enter, E-mail your best photograph of your finished product (either on a model or not) to me at deanna [at] by 2:59 a.m Pacific time (11:59 p.m. Eastern) on Monday, Dec. 12 (so, basically before you go to bed Monday night). Please keep your photos around 600 pixels wide, so that they're neither too big nor too small. And remember: They must be recognizably made using at least one Birdsong tutorial or pattern. No more than one entry/photo per contestant, please. If you're on Flickr, feel free to post a photo to the Birdsong Flickr Photo Group as well, for all to see!

Good luck! I can't wait to see your entries. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Percentage of December sales to be donated to Heifer

It's the holiday season, and the season of giving. But this means much more than just giving gifts to each other - it also reminds us that we need to give to others who have more needs than we do.
Birdsong will donate at least 10% of profits this month to Heifer International. What I like about Heifer is that it helps families become self-sufficient. It gives families an animal, like a heifer, goat or chicken, that can create food for the family (milk, eggs). According to their website, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training since 1944 to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in 50 countries, including the U.S., to help families and communities become more self-reliant. This keeps families together rather than causing one parent to leave their village for work in a far-flung location. And one of the other important benefits is that children - especially girls who are usually forced out of school - are more likely to receive an education once their family participates in the program.
And this means Heifer International helps empower women.

My maternal grandma, above, had to support herself and her three children with her earnings as a hairdresser - in a shop in her home. In fact, at 84, she still has customers! My paternal grandma, who passed away several years ago, raised her two boys and went into the workforce later, earning a pension and retiring in Florida. My dad worked very hard and had a well-paying, stable job that allowed my mom to stay home with my brother and me. And while having one parent stay home is ideal (whether it be mom or dad), the truth is that the middle class has changed, and usually both parents have to work outside of the home.
But, since I'm on a computer and you're on a computer, probably from the comfort of your home or office, we obviously have it much better than those who receive aid from Heifer. I can't change policies here in the U.S. to provide paid maternity leave to mothers and fathers, and I can't force businesses to grant sick pay/comp time to people so they can care for ill loved ones. I can't provide a stay-at-home mom or dad with a decent pension. But through Heifer, I can help one family change their life for the better. And maybe, one day, a girl can have the life that right now she can only dream about.