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Nancy Zieman and I had so much fun working on our latest endeavor – Designer Necklines, T-shirt Makeovers. It absolutely amazes me how progress is made when two very busy people commit to a deadline. And basically, that’s the key to success – setting a deadline and working backwards. Nancy and I had a phone conversation months ago, agreed on a taping date (late June), divided the responsibilities and started working. Remember, we are separated by huge business commitments, family schedules and 1000 miles! But through the wonders of the internet and the telephone, we made it happen. And wow- seems like we were on the right track. It’s a huge hit – right out of the gate. We’ve just about sold out of the first run but no worries, we’re printing more!

It addresses the struggles that all embroiderers face – placement – and does it in a simple way. Of course, Designer Necklines doesn’t leave you hanging at placement because it also includes delicate floral embroidery created specifically for knits and neckline embellishment. But we figured you were probably expecting more. So Nancy came up with some very cool neckline transformations – performed right in the hoop with a flawless finish.

This project was a unique experience for me. In the past, whenever I’ve had the pleasure of working with Nancy it was usually on her turf – Sewing with Nancy, Nancy’s Notions or the Create with Nancy series from FW Publications. Let me tell you something, when Nancy’s in charge, I sit back and follow her lead. She is so capable and thinks through every step of every project, that I feel like a guest, not a co-worker. I do what a guest does, get dressed, put on make-up and smile! So imagine my discomfort when I have to lead Nancy. Really, it was like bossing an icon around. Who can do it? But you know, she’s a natural born leader and even in this circumstance she encouraged me to tell her what to do!

Click here to watch the intro video!

And through dedicated team work – and not just Nancy and me – there’s a wonderful team here at Designs that brought it to life – we produced a product that makes all us very proud. My hat is off to the Designs production team: Denise Holguin, Sam Solomon, Amanda Griffin and Roy Garland. On the back end, Stephanie Stubbs, Lorraine Allen and Bryant Royal get the product out the door and to your house!

Want a chance to win one? Just tell me about your greatest fashion embroidery disaster. Come on, be honest – we’ve all made mistakes! Here’s a confession – when the hot fix crystals first came on the scene, I was adorning a sheer blouse with dozens of crystals. Little did I know I was actually fusing the blouse front to the blouse back with each touch of the hot wand! Quickly, (well, not quick enough!) I learned to slide a sheet of Teflon between the two layers! So tell me, does your embroidery disaster top that?

This is a big week here on the blog – we’re planning two postings, two give-aways and a link with Nancy! We’re pulling the name of the fashion disaster winner Tuesday (10/5) morning, posting a new blog and linking with Nancy’s blog to see what she has to say (and maybe give a prize!) on her blog.

In last week’s blog the discussion topic was…”So what’s your favorite tip for fashion embroidery?”

The winner of Contemporary Machine Embroidered Fashions is….Susan Burns!

“My tip for using blanks is to ALWAYS stitch out the design you want first on practice material before using your precious blank and finding things are not as you planned….ask me how I know this! Thanks, Sue”

Congratulations, Sue!




  • Lynn Salmon

    Speaking of embroidery fashion disasters – way back before home embroidery machines were distant dreams I had made a suede fabric dress that I decided to embellish with lots of handcrafted embroidery all over the front. Flowers, swirls, do-dads, padding stitching all added up to hours upon hours of work. (It was fun but I’m so glad I have my embroidery machine now!) I was so happy to be able to finally wear it – until I looked in the mirror.
    Two “in the wrong place” little flowers were positioned over the girls. First I was horrified, and then I laughed myself silly. These two little flowers had somehow been all by themselves in the design, so after several more hours of adding scrolls and more designs I finally had a dress I could wear in public.
    I just attended your Two Sister’s embroidery weekend in San Marcus, CA and when you mentioned about checking the placement of designs I got a chuckle and knew exactly what you meant!

  • Martha

    Well I have to say I’ve done embroidery on bags, hats, quilt blocks but I have never done it on ready made clothes. I have the biggest fear of ruining the clothes. I do wear a lot of knit tops but FEAR keeps me from trying. I really do like the idea of Designer Necklines.

  • Cathy Lilly

    I am very new at all this but am certainly enjoying what I am learning.I am also enjoying all the info I get from your web-site and what I can buy and read up on. Thanks so much

  • Raewyn

    Replying to Nancy about the disasters.
    I did a test sew of a Tiger design an the same fabric as my garment to see how the item lookied and the design sewed out. All fine, but then I did exactly the same on the garment and the design jumped somehow so I had half (head and part of the body) of the Tiger 2-3cms above the tail end of the Tiger.
    What a disaster. Not enough material left to rectify.
    Cheers Raewyn.

  • Lyn Blansett

    My worst machine embroidery disaster: I had just purchased my first Embroidery machine and wanted to “decorate” a navy sweatshirt with snowflakes and a cute snowman. Unfortunately, the designs I chose were very large and stiff. The snowman was very cute, but the snowflakes resembled “drink coasters” scattered over the garment instead of the delicate snowflakes I had imagined. I was able to salvage some of my work by making a baby bib with the snowman part. Lesson learned: Do Test Sew-outs!!
    My worst hand embroidery disaster: I made a skirt and blouse with pink cotton fabric and used ‘iron-on’ motifs to place the embroidery. Some of the iron-on blue motifs accidentally bled thru to the other side of the skirt, in “un-embroidered” areas. I thought that the blue would wash out, so I hand-embroidered all of the designs, then washed the garments. To my dismay, Nothing would remove the blue… Lesson learned: test the method of embroidery transfer… Of course now, I would just use my embroidery machine.

  • Judy Briley

    I was removing an advertising design so I could repurpose that sweatshirt. I couldn’t get all the old embroidery stitches out when I cut a hole in the sweatshirt. I finally found a design I had that was made up of part applique and embroidery and was able to cover both the remaining stitches and the hole I made in the sweatshirt.
    I just came home from the Stitching Sisters Embroidery Bash and learned alot. Saw the Designer Neckline shirts in person. I like the way you can redesign the neckline as well as add a design at the same time.

  • Enis

    I’m sure I’ve made more embroidery blunders than I can remember, but one in particular was when I hooped a garment and embroidered a beautiful design on it. Unfortunately, I forgot that the design was showing portriat on my computer screen in the software, but I hooped the garment landscaped for the machine. Big oops! The garment unfortunately was not salvagable, but I did cut the design out and use it as an applique on a pair of jeans.

  • Mary M.

    I was embroidering on the front of a purchased linen dress that I was wearing that night. After the last hooping I found that the back of the dress had slipped under the hoop and was attached to the stitching! What a nightmare!

  • Jean Guenther

    I was working on a V-neck t-shirt, purchased for this project, doing a lace cut out around the front neckline.I am always leary about walking away from the machine while it is working away….but on this day the phone rang, everything had gone perfect so far, so I just got up to answer and………. as I was talking I looked at my machine and the shoulder had dropped down and caught on the needle and was embedded into the design. Of course it was ruined. I had to cut a hole in the shirt to get it off the design….and couldn’t match up to finish……plus had a hole where I could not put anything that would match the rest of the shirt. I don’t know which I was most upset about. Ruining the shirt or ruining a NEW shirt!

    I can’t wait to read what others post!

  • Karen Evanoff

    I was making my daughter’s wedding gown last May and had two more embroideries to finish on the silk organza skirt overlay. I had already done about 15 embroideries. I removed the hoop from the machine and you can just imagine my reaction when I realized that the top of the skirt had been caught under the embroidery hoop!!! There was no way I could redo all those embroideries, so I spent 2 days picking out the stitches. I redid the embroidery and got it almost exactly on top of the goof, but there were holes in the silk organza that could not be covered up. So, a mistake was turned into a design element–I cut off the top of the skirt back in an inverted V, recut the top of the skirt back, sewed a seam and used a decorative trim to cover that seam. No one, including my daughter ever knew about the goof!! There are pictures in Martha Pullen’s June 28th newsletter.
    Karen in GA

  • Doreen

    I’d really love to win. It’s hard to pick just one disaster unfortunately! I guess I’d say I was embroidering shirts for a friend’s business (shirts for her and shirts for him), when on the very last shirt the hoop top and bottom separated. In trying to get it lined back up I caught the back of the shirt to the front. Shirt ruined. It gets worse – the shirts they had purchased were on end of season clearance, I checked all the local stores and on-line and there was no more in that size and color. So I had to bring in their shirts short one and confess my mistake. It gets worse again. They had thirteen shirts. I messed up who was getting the extra shirt so that person wound up with even less shirts then the one ruined. When you are in a rush do not try and finish the project. That is always when I mess up. When you are too tired or have to rush home to let the dog out or whatever your case may be – STOP and come back to it the next day.

  • Paule-Marie

    I have had part of the project (ususally a quilt) slip under the hoop and get embroidered into the design. Luckily, I am usually sitting there and can rescue it. Still annoying. When hand embroidering, I have done the same thing. And we won’t talk about quilting a quilt. You would think I would learn, but no, there is almost always a bonehead move on every project I do.

  • Karin

    I had “help” creating my worst disaster…my dear husband was proudly showing off my work and machine’s capabilities one night, while I was in the middle of stitching a very large (63,000 stitches) design on the back of a bathrobe. Of course, it was a gift, too. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but all of a sudden, my machine powered off, right in the middle of the design. He had somehow stepped on the surge protector, turning it off. Of course, this was on a machine that didn’t have a recovery option, and I had nooooo idea where I was in the stitching. What I had to say was not fit for the company we had, I assure you. I managed to recover though, mostly, and there was only a small gap in the design. Luckily, I could cover the gap up with some regular old satin stitching. Now, he’s very careful on his approaches. and the recipient? She loves (to this day, and it’s been almost 15 years!!) her robe.

  • Jackie

    I was making a set of towels as a house warming gift and was embroidering a set of very funky tropical fish. I was doing two sets and wanted similar but slightly different fish on each set. I was using my two embroidery machines at the same time but in my rush and not triple checking as is my normal practice, I ended up mixing the colours up for each design. Because they were funky looking the colours weren’t great but OK. My husband said they looked fine so I wrapped them up and gave them as the gift. Thankfully my son who was the receipent of the gift was happy to receive them but did ask why I had stitched the fish out upside down. I hadn’t even realized and yes both sets were the wrong colours and upside down.

  • Jan

    Wow I wish that the Magma Quilter worked with my Janome MC 350E. That would of saved my hooping attempts at quilting on my machine, not to mention the material that was ruined in the process. That made me cry, I hate to waste any material, thanks of all the info it helps me out.


  • Brenda Long

    Just last week I was embroidering Halloween shirts for my 4 grandaughters..2 of them new to my family so I needed the shirts to be cute enough for them to want to wear. The first one was really cute but after looking more closely the design wasn’t appropriate for a 4 yr old, so that was a waste. I stitched out the other 3, then started another shirt for the 4 yr was stitching out nicely…until I realized the design was upside down & it was my last black t-shirt! I tried removing stitches to salvage it but the design was an embossed one so that wasn’t going to happen. Luckily I had one more tee that wasn’t a match but hopefully she won’t be too offended to wear it.
    Not a catastrophe, but bad enough!

  • Susan Spiers

    My worst disaster so far, and I know there will be more, was when my neice asked me embroider the name of her new baby girl on a small teddy bear blanket toy. The material on the blanket part, the part she wanted the name on, was a shiny silky fabric. I used a sticky back tear-away stabilizer, and when I started to tear away the stabilizer, it did not want to come off! When after tearing very carefully, the sticky residue remained & the fabric became slightly stretched after my efforts. It finally did come off after washing, and as this was one of my first attempts at machine embroidery, I found it true that you do learn from your mistakes. This was an excellent lesson for me & my sweet neice was still delighted with the results!

  • Marsha

    Greatest disaster. Hmmmmm. So many. Ok, here’s a good one. I was embroidering a huge, beautiful flower on a lovely piece of white, expensive fabric. I started the machine and went into the other room for awhile. When I came back the embroidery was finished. What a shock! Somehow I had turned the STOP off so the entire embroidery was lime green.
    The machine didn’t stop for any color changes. Well, I learned my lesson. Marsha

  • Sue Howard

    Re: Sewing Disasters!
    Mine was not involving embroidery, because this was back in 1966 & there was no such thing–not by machine anyway. It was a pretty good disaster, tho.
    I was making my own wedding dress–princess style fit. I cut out two LEFT sleeves—it was satiny type material that had a right & wrong side, so couldn’t just flip it over; & the pieces had to be cut out individually, not with the material folded. Luckily I caught it in time & was able to just barely use that piece for another section of the dress!

  • Mary

    My disaster – I was doing a jacket back butterfly embroidery design for my sister whch required two hoopings. The whole design took 3 hours. I did the first half fine with 32 different colors. The second hooping, I matched up the register lines and started the second half three colors in the machine went crazy. The color position was all off. I backed up and retarted the color again and it went off in another direction. After doing this three times I gave up. Ruin the jacket and disappointed my sister. I have purchased the Stitch Eraser now to try and remove the second half and start over. It’s hard to restart since I have put so much time into the disaster.

  • Debra Wilson

    My biggest mistake is always inpatience. Not only does is cause me to make embrodiery mistakes (sometimes the same one more than once) it leads me to make sewing mistakes on my embrodiery projects. I try to remember to keep enough time to keep the fun in this hobby

  • Mary Beth Loup

    I could say that I haven’t embroidered enough to have a fashion disaster, but that in itself is the biggest disaster I could ever face: not daring to go for it and try more ideas; letting so many wonderful threads and design collections lie idle on the shelves until the day I realize that there isn’t enough time left in life to make good use of them. UFO’s are one thing, but it’s all the projects we never even start that are the worst disasters, in my opinion.
    BUT, I did have a funny “disaster” happen, the very first time I showed up at my dealer’s embroidery club meeting with my first sewing/embroidery combo, bought used off Ebay. My dealer was nice enough to let me bring it. As I knew nothing about “opening a memory” (this was the Pfaff 7570), she came over to push the button for me. Well, whoever had the machine before me had not erased the stored designs, and up popped a quite obscene drawing with a saucy suggestion in a fanciful font! “That’s not mine!” I gasped. The dealer calmly deleted the design and continued as if nothing had happened, but was I mortified! Soon after I traded that 7570 in for a new 2140, and have loyally supported my dealers ever since.

  • Cindy Davies

    I was embroidering a very large embroidery on the back of a shirt for a customer. I was almost to the end and my machine got caught up on some stitches. The whole shirt was ruined.

  • April

    I wanted to embroider some t-shirts for my daughters, purple shirts with a white snowflake design. It took me forever to find the right color of purple, the perfect shirt I had been looking for. I embroidered the first shirt, and it did a horrible job (all my fault, used the wrong stabilizer). Learned my lesson to test the design on a similar fabric first. I haven’t been able to find the shirt in that color again, so I haven’t finished the other shirt yet. I suppose I should do that in case the shirt no longer fits.

  • Linda Lee

    OH Boy! When I first started to machine embroidery I did a couple of little things – towels, aprons – and thought “Well, I have this down pat.” So I bought a new pair of jeans and started to adorn those fabulous rear pockets, THEN the front pockets (the back ones “looked” great)…I was going right to town and would have them ready by the evening. WELL – I never put my hand in the pocket to see how it looked that way – and low and behold – I embroidered ALL the pockets shut….YUP – I have learned a lot since that day. As you can see, I need all the help I can get.

  • Jane

    I was rushing to get a small design embroidered on the front of a white shirt. As always, I was in a hurry and doing something else when the sleeve became embroidered into the design. The shirt was tossed into the rag bag. Lesson learned about paying attention to my machine, especially when you have to scrunch to item to place the design.

  • Beverley Hilton

    One of the first garments I embroidered when I got my brand spanking new Viking Designer 1 back in 1999 was a gorgeous gold stretch sateen blouse. Simple, tank-type blouse, I plopped a tone-on-tone butterfly smack dab in the middle (or so I thought).

    It was pretty well placed for latitude, but it was off to the left and pretty cockeyed. I didn’t know much about stabilizing yet, so the stretch sateen was horribly puckered. But worst of all, that one poor little butterfly looked just plain lost in the expanse of the blouse.

    I learned that I needed to learn about stabilizers. I learned that one butterfly does not a design make. And I learned that if you intend to place it in the middle, you’d better mark and take care that it actually IS in the middle! The one bright spot — the colors were spot-on!

  • Gail Beam

    I have made a number of mistakes, but one of my worst was one I made on a pillow pocket style stadium blanket for my sister. She wanted a dog stitched out on the front of the cover and I thought it would be so easy! I took the blanket out of the case and thought I had the outside of the cover hooped. Wrong!! When I finished stitching out the dog, (which stitched out beautifully) and put the blanket back in the pillow pocket, I discovered that the dog was on the inside and the outside was the back of the design! Thank goodness I was able to salvage it by stitching out another dog on a piece of fabric and making it into an applique to sew over my mistake.

  • Pamela Wilson

    My worst embroidery mistake was to make a beautiful pillowcase for a 5 yr olds birthday and embroidering his name and a cartoon car on it. Well the car was so dense and would not even bend. Well, I figure a 5 yr old may not be as picky as me, so I quickly embroidered his name on it and wrapped it up. You should have seen his face when he couldnot open the pillowcase because I embroidered it shut when I put his name on it! Of course, I had to make him a new one. Next time I won’t get frustrated with a dense design and hurry through a project!

  • Janet

    I had a beautiful design all but finished and realized I had put the second to last thread in the wrong spot and tried to take it out, but to no avail. Had to put the towel in the motor home where no one but family would see it. Never did find that color again so didn’t get to finish the set.

  • Sue

    My worst embroidery mistake (and I have had plenty) was when I embroidered a baby blanket for my newest grandson, took it to him, and my son pointed out to me that I had misspelled the baby’s name. I was devastated because my son had spelled the name to me when he called to tell us about the baby’s birth. I tried to take it out but it was a fleece blanket and it just didn’t work out.

  • Gee Maszenski

    My worst mistake was the time I REALLY wanted to embroider something for my oldest brother. (First, I have to say that my oldest brother was like many boys – he was always in trouble of some sort. Even as he got older, trouble always seemed to find him.) So, one year I embroidered a really cool Southwestern design on a sweatshirt for him. It was the coyote howling at the moon. Unfortunately, I used variegated thread – a lovely brown. The coyote came out looking like he was wearing a nice but faded prison outfit! I shared it with my family – who laughed and thought it was appropriate. My brother wore it for years.

  • Lynne

    This may have not been my worst, but it was my most embarassing. My father in law bowls 9 pin at a 100 year old club where we live. The game is interesting and totally different from 10 pin bowling. He asked me to make shirts for his team. He has longhorns and his team is the “longhorns”. I purchased the t-shirts, found a suitable longhorn pattern and wrote down everyone’s names and double checked the spelling. What I did not do was check the size of the shirt to go with the name I was putting on the front. The longhorns were on the back and they stitched out well. The names all stitched out well, but we had a man named Sally and a woman with the initials of my father in law on her shirt. Well, everyone got a good laugh out of it, including the other teams that were there. I went out the next day and got 2 more tees and fixed the problem. They do still wear their mis-named shirts on occasion, more to draw a laugh from the other teams than anything else!

  • LeAnne

    I embroidered a shirt for my husband with two wolves. Since it was a present, I couldn’t have him try on the shirt first, and the wolves ended up in his armpit! I followed measurements I found on how to place items on clothes. I don’t use “generic” placement measurements anymore.

  • Sophia

    I’m so glad God gives us all a sense of humor. I have so many stories about sewing in general, and machine embroidery in particular. I was embroidering for the first time on Dark Purple Satin—my first ‘Mother of the Groom” outfit since I’d become a machine embroiderer. I was so pleased with how the designs looked on the satin—nice contrast, no puckering, lined up perfectly on the centering lines—-until I pinned the two sides together—one design was upside down(!) mirrored, but not quite the way I intended!! Needless to say, I pay a lot more attention when laying out the pattern pieces and embroidery directions.

  • Danyl

    My big goof came about in the form of a spelling error. A friend who travels a lot, asked me to put the names of all the places he had visited on his jacket. I carefully positioned all of the text and thought it looked pretty good. A couple of days later his wife called and asked “Where in the world is Figi?” It took a lot of work but I managed to replace the g with a j and now I always double check the spelling.

  • Vicky Morrow

    I was making a pant suit, and the top pulled over the head, with a v neckline.
    I was really proud of myself when I decided to add embroidery around the ‘v’ before I completed the final assembly steps. I reasoned that after the top was complete, I wouldnt be able to embroider right next to the v because of the facings. Well, after the embroidery was complete, I added the facings and completed the shoulder and side seams. Then I held it up, and boy, did I have a problem! Not only was the front section crooked from the grain of the fabric, but my perfect v was taking off at a very strange angle instead of going directly down the center front. Ugh!! Now I mark the center line with chalk before I hoop.

  • Peggy

    My disaster with machine embroidery was placing my design on a t-shirt upside down. It was an entry in our local fair, so I had to do another. I especially wanted to enter, as this is a new category at our fair. I wanted to enter hoping there would be continued interest in this category. My t-shirt won a blue ribbon!

  • Jeanette Selleck

    I was making items for “big sis-little sis” on a dance team. Their nicknames were Piggly and Wiggly. Wiggly was ordering a towel and she kept saying “Piggly Pink- Piggly Pink”. I mistakenly thought she meant what she said so I embroidered Piggly Pink on towel. I was so surprised when she came to pick it up and said…”No, it is supposed to be just the word Piggly in pink colored thread!” I asked her if I could applique a cute pig with a pink bow over the word pink and I told her if she didn’t like it I would redo the towel and not charge her. Well, it turned out darling (I did a reverse applique on the back of the towel!). So she got a much better design that I didn’t even charge her for. After that I made them write down exactly what it should say on the order form. I now only embroider for myself by the way!

    Another time I was embroidering a sports bra for another girl on the dance team. It was supposed to say 1-2-3-4 and cheer on the second line. I was brand new to embroidery and didn’t realize I had to leave extra room between the letters so it could stretch. This could have fit no one!

  • Peggy Schroeder

    After measuring, and remeasuring, I STILL managed to stitch out a whole Embossed design (of a horse) on the front of my new favorite shirt, and it was nowhere near where it was supposed to be in order to be on straight! It ended up off-center, and crooked as well. What a waste-and I had even stitched out a trial one. I have no idea what I did, but I had to start all over. The disasters that I really can’t stand are when I am almost to the end of a very large design, and the machine messes up, or the fabric gets caught. By the time I get it fixed, no one would want to wear it.


  • Kelly

    My worst oops was sewing a design and the name and business name all upside down on a special order golf shirt-and the knit ripped when I tried to remove the stitches.

  • Kandy

    My worst disaster to date was when I got a part of my project that wasn’t to be embroidered on into the rest of these design. It’s off the hoop and start to rip out. I think even with embroider work you need to rip it out. Another was doing a corner design and setting it up 4 times before I finally got it correct to do the stitching on my tablecloth. I ripped that one out with the few stitches 3 times. What a nightmare those were.

    But each experience is a learning process and even sitting down with your magazine is a learning process because I get new ideas and learn new ways to do things.

  • Mitzi

    I enjoy your blog because it highlights practical problems and solutions in machine embroidery, and always serves to inspire me to learn more and stretch my design horizons!

  • Pat Black

    My worst boo-boo ruined, not only the blouse but almost my machine!
    Thinking, all this worry about metallic threads is not my problem: I began with gold metallic, and toward the end of the first color, the thread breaks. Oh, I’ll just use some “Sewer’s Aid” and spread it on the spool and my needle. Great! Good job I say. Later in the day, went back to my sewing room to finish the 20,000 stitch out. Thread breaks! I reach up to my shelf, and grab what I thought was “Sewers Aid” and applied it liberally. With horror I realized it was “Fray Check” instead! Cost me a trip to repair my machine, and a new blouse, and a 1000% deflated ego!

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