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Let the Jacobean Journey Begin

My very first blog post is going to be about one of my favorite topics. Sewing!  Well, to be more specific embroidery.  I got into sewing about 5 years ago after I thought I should know how to at least hem a pair of jeans, which by the way, I still can't do.  I started out doing basic things and eventually got into making purses, totes and quilts. You know, FUN stuff. Not hemming.

After many learning moments and a lot of errors over the course of 5 years, I decided to upgrade my small Brother sewing/embroidery machine to a top of line, I can do anything machine. So last May I broke down and got a new machine after weighing the pros and cons of spending thousands of dollars on my new, fledgling hobby.  Enter the Babylock Unity.

I took a lot of pictures of the machine after I got it home. Yeah, I know kinda lame but it was brand spanking new and shiny. So of course, I had to memorialize its arrival, because I hope I never have to buy another one. And I was promptly photobombed by River.  Guess she just couldn't help herself.

I decided to get the Unity because it has a 11" harp area for quilting, which I loved and it also does a 7x11" embroidery area.  So its the best of both worlds. Win Win.  And in January, my local quilt shop Quilt Beginnings, announced an embroidery block of the month class for a Hoopsisters design called Jacobean Journey.  I've never done a whole quilt that's just embroidery and I thought, why not? Sign me up!

The class started at the end of February and it goes for 10 months so guess what?  That means I'm going to post our progress right here.  So hopefully, if any of you out there need help with this particular embroidery quilt, this blog will help and if your not doing it, you can still enjoy my photos and watch this quilt come together.  I've never done a Hoopsisters design before so it'll be new to me too.  My mother-in-law, Charlotte, is also in the class but she's doing another pattern called the Feathered Star also by Hoopsisters.  I'll post some of her progress too.

Jacobean Journey Quilt

The materials are quite simple: 4 fabrics, 4 embroidery threads, water soluble thread, batilizer and backing.  I have to tell you, I agonized over my colors.  I probably had at least 6 color variations but I eventually settled on peach/brown color scheme.  Its a really good idea to set up a color key for fabrics and thread just to keep everything straight. I've set up a notebook with clear page sleeves to print out the instructions for each month.

The quilt is broken down in squares with each square assigned a designation based on the rows across and then down.  For example, across the top the columns are labeled A, B, C, D, etc and the rows down the quilt are 1, 2, 3, 4 etc.  So block B4 is 2 rows across and 4 rows down. See? Easy?

Block 1

The first block we were assigned to do is the B4 block.  There are quite a few steps for each block and I've tried to condense it down a little. If you have the instructions, they tell you which fabric goes where and when to change threads.  I used a pre-wound bobbin in white for the entire block until the backing is tacked down. Then I use matching bobbin/upper thread.

TIP: Turn off your jump cutter or thread cutter.  This is will save you a lot of thread nests on the back. Cut the jump threads on the back in between switching the different color of thread/bobbin.

Step 1:  Hoop batilizer and stitch out the block placement outline. Place fabric D on the placement stitch making sure the fabric is at least 1/2" outside the placement stitch area. Using water soluble thread tack down the fabric. Trim fabric along the curves as close as you can to the tack down line.

TIP: I believe the instructions say "leave a scant 1/4 inch" which I don't think you should do. To me this implies "you can leave a bit of fabric" but you can't or shouldn't. Later, you'll need to trim as close as possible to the tack down stitches so that the decorative satin stitches don't have little threads popping up. Trust me. Ask me how I know.


Step 2: Stitch out the decorative stitching using Thread B. Place fabric 1 down on the placement area and stitch down and trim.  Place fabric 3 in placement area and stitch down and trim along the curve. Stitch decorative stitching.

TIP: Never trim fabric on the outside of the placement line. This is your seam allowance.

Step 3:  Lightly spray the wrong side of your backing square with a temporary spray adhesive or use a glue stick on the corners and place your backing fabric right side up. Be sure your placement stitch is covered. The adhesive will keep the fabric from folding over and getting stitched down wrong when you replace the hoop in the embroidery arm. Stitch the tack down stitch. The bobbin thread should match your upper thread from this point on since both sides of the quilt is really pretty.

TIP: Pull your bobbin thread to the top before stitching. This will cut down on thread nests.

I've stitched 12 of these blocks and each block has 20,800 stitches. Yep, that's going to be a lot of thread.  Here's the video of the entire block being stitched out. Its fairly long and my video making skills are not the best. Enjoy.


  1. I'm snickering because I took a video of my brand new shiny Baby Lock Ellisimo Gold machine being being wheeled out of the store and put into the back of my truck. Lost the video somehow but still have a picture of it in my truck in the parking lot before I drove home. I upgraded from a Singer Featherweight bought off a home shopping channel. Huge difference! Gosh I was soooooo excited to get this machine. A lot of $$$ but I've never looked back. Two months later I was laid off. That was two years ago. This machine has been my sanity. So I know exactly what you mean. It's something only a Quilter would understand. ;)


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