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Guest Blog


By Sherry McCary

Even though I have thousands of embroidery designs, there are several that are so versatile I use them over and over again on different types of projects.

One of my favorites is the swirly design group from Eileen’s Contemporary Machine Embroidered Accessories book. I’ve used it on pillow cases, tote bags, clothes, and a carry-on bag.



Remember, look at your design stash with an open mind and find creative ways to put your designs to use!

For a limited time, order Contemporary Machine Embroidered Accessories and Eileen will take the time to autograph your copy!  Click here to order now.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Do you have a versatile design you use over and over on different types of projects? Post your comment for a chance to win a copy of Calligraphy Project Designer.


The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Tags are a great way to add flair and function to lots of different items. Luggage, lunch bags, laptop cases, gift bags and even tackle boxes are brightened by their warm welcoming appearance. Share with us an item you would like to create a tag for but haven’t quite been able to figure out how. We or one of our readers might just have your perfect solution and 5 comments will be chosen to receive a $20 gift certificate to spend at Five Star Fonts!


And the winners are..Melissa R., Anne Marie R., Denise, Marta T., and Soph.




  • Donna F

    I have several borders that have small flowers in them that I use quite a lot.

  • Belinda Germain

    Yes I do have a few favorites, one for pillow cases, one for kitchen towels, one for coasters. I have thousands, but love some so much I use them all the time!

  • Colleen Bell

    Kitalpha Swirling Border (E5879) by Emblibrary is my favorite all purpose design. It can be used as a border or a background filler and so many different ways.

  • Glenda Clark

    I use a favorite frame for monogramming items. Over and over again!

  • Ann Edwards

    I’m fairly new so I don’t have any specific design I use a lot right now. But you have given me awesome ideas. Thanks!

  • Wanda Jones

    I havea favorite lettering style that I use frequently. I embroider mostly for grandsons so I use different designs.

  • Kandy Lewis

    Have some roses that I use over and over as well as some smaller things. But I’m still learning everything. I learn new things all the time.

  • susanj

    I don’t have a favorite design I use different ways, but I will look at my designs with an eye to doing this. Thanks for the tip.

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    Been at it for a number of years and have never used one design on a number of projects. I try to not get “in a rut” so to speak.

  • Barbara Ann

    I have a swirl border design I use over and over on pillow cases and top sheets. I just change up the color and stitch a tone on tone. Next I will try that design on bath towels.

  • Sondee Belson

    I find that abstract trees and flowers that have a slight art deco feel are versatile enough to be used on womens clothing, but also home decor and many other projects. Not too floral and feminine but decorative enough to be enjoyable.

  • Colleen Johnson

    This design would be perfect for project I’m about to start – would you tell me where I might be able to get a PES file for it please!

  • Andrea Henke

    As my children have grown, so has the variety of favorite designs. No more little girl things or toy tractors.
    But glow in the dark eyes on pillow cases are a HUGE hit!

  • Donna Umstattd

    I have a geometic design that goes with alot of things both modern and old worldess it looks single motif or grouped together for border.

  • Susan Novak

    I have a favorite abstract flower design that actually came with my machine. Even tho I have purchased probably thousands of designs (well, at least hundreds), I still go back to this one for pillowcases and sheets.

  • Janis Easter

    That certainly looks versatile. I’d love to try it on a top I’m getting ready to cut out.

  • Sheila

    Yes, I do. It’s a contemporary floral set with a variety of “sprays” that you can use to build bigger designs. They go together so many different ways that I use them all the time. I am always looking for similar sets!

  • Chris

    I have a dragonfly design that I have used on several projects .

  • Cathy Martin

    I have severaldesigns that I use many times. Changing the colors and size does change the look.

  • Valerie

    I have some hummingbirds that I’ve used several times. But I’ve been planning on using practically this same swirl on the neck of a crossover top!

  • Elaine

    My favorite design is daisies. I’ve used it on tops, curtains, sheets and handbags. It’s such a happy design.

  • Sharon

    I have several fonts and borders that I have used numerous times. Love versatile designs.

  • Cathy

    Leaves, as they can be used on allot of different items.

  • Lisha

    Great idea – will need to look at my designs in this manner as well.

  • Karen Poole

    Wow I love this idea! I have this set and hadn’t thought of using it on blouses!! I’ve used it on purses but nothing else! I do have other favorites that I use over and over mostly floral designs. But I will use this one again and again now!!

  • Kathy Launius

    I have a swirl design I use a lot

  • Carol Seavitt

    Your swirl design is awesome. For me, I enjoy changing it up, so I try to use different designs.

  • Bonnie Gray

    I don’t have a design I use over and over again, but will be looking at my designs with that in mind now!

  • Irene Wilt

    I do have a favorite monogram that I go back to for a lot of things. It is a letter that has swirly leaves on it, and I love to put Swarovski’s scattered on it, depending on who the project is for.

  • Lola Gerhard

    I used this same swirl design on a number of items when I first got the book. I haven’t used it in a very long time. This makes me want to revisit it for several items I am planning to make for Christmas this year. It will be the perfect design to set off my gifts.

  • Sherrie

    I am new enough to embroidery to not have tried many things repeatedly. I have done several towels with a recipe and candy canes though.

  • joyce

    I have a swirly design that I enlarge or minimize and rotate. Also decorate with hot crystals or studs.

  • Ellen

    I haven’t done enough embroidery projects to have a favorite design I use over and over. But with a new grand baby I will be doing a lot more embroidery. So will be looking at what I have to see what I can use.

  • WyoDi

    Newbie, so nothing repetitive yet!

  • Donna

    I am very new but have used a butterfly several times. Trying to get brave enough to try lettering and monograms.

  • Ellen Perry

    I have a couple of monograms I use often

  • Pam

    For burp cloths I use a monogram design. A big Capital letter of first name and smaller lower case letters over the capital in a smaller font. Also use on towels, wash cloths.

  • Marleen

    I have some standbys that are always a bit for a quick gift. Love the versatility of the swirls!

  • Judy G

    I designed a couple of puppy motifs that I have used on several boy baby items (bibs, burp cloths, etc.), including as an applique on a crib quilt.

  • Gail Beam

    I have several different fonts that I tend to use over and over. Especially an Old English font that stitches out so nicely in metallic threads.

  • Rick

    LOVE to hear ideas for thinking outside the box!

  • Anne St John

    I mostly use Embrilliance for any lettering/names that I do, from names on towels to ‘princess’ on my almost 2year old grangaughters jumper.

  • karen

    I love my embossed alphabet and have made many gifts with it. It never fails to impress the recipient.

  • Diane Miller

    I have a rosebud design that I have often used.

  • Nancy

    I haven’t found anything yet that fits this sort of use but I don’t have software like this so may need to give it a try. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Alicia Key

    I have several designs I enjoy but after a few kitchen towels of them I’m ready to try a new design. I’ve just recently joined your email list & I’m looking forward to more of your ideas for creativity! I like the Embroidery LIbrary design that Colleen Bell mentioned above & while checking that out, I found some more that I like. I also like Andrea Henke’s suggestion of the glow-in-the-dark eyes on pillow cases! I’ll have to find some of that thread! I would LOVE a chance to win the Calligraphy files.

  • Debbie

    I have a small daisy design that I keep using over and over. I have put it on dresses for my granddaughter, pillows, purses and notebook covers. I guess I just like the design.

  • Nancy Howard

    I use Eileen’s Denim collection!

  • Veronica Morrison

    Do you remember when embroidery machines first came out and we had to insert the small cards with the designs? Babylock’s Number 23 card has some of my favorite flower designs. I have used them on many projects from pillows to t-shirts. Of course, the designs are now on my computer. Those small cards were expensive but I have been using them for 20 years. I would say they were worth the price.

  • Christina

    I have a nice kid type alphabet that I mainly use for all my baby embroidery projects. I make a lot of diaper bags and it hey come out very cute. I also like to combine some designs with my digitizing software to make new creations and expand my designs.

  • Nancy Weber

    Being a creature of habit I tend to gravitate back to my favorites,whether it is a font or design. Wish I were more creative to see other uses.

  • judy

    I love embroidering for babies. I have some designs that I have used over and over on quilts and blankets.

  • Joan M

    I have a few thousand designs ( couldn’t stop myself from buying them when I first got my long awaited machine) and have yet to use them all, don’t think I can in this lifetime, so no, I keep trying to use something different.

  • Bernadette Sterry

    I have a set of cherry blossoms that I have used on lots of things. It’s great having a trusted design that you know translates well onto lots of different projects!

  • lynn wentworth

    I use a lil bit of everything

  • deborah lamartiniere

    I am from Louisiana so fleur de lis is my go to design.

  • Mary Mauldin

    This is not a comment regarding the above, but to let you know I get a Coupon DIME EVERY hour. It says the same thing and I get l5 to 24 daily. Is there any way you could check your software for a glitch that may be doing this. It has been going on for weeks. Thank you for your usual prompt and courteous attention to this matter.

    • Stephanie Smith

      Mary – so sorry that is happening. I have contacted the developer and you should not receive anymore of these emails. I apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for letting us know.

  • Patty Schrock

    I don’t have a favorite design right now that I have used over and over again, but regrettably I also don’t get as much time to sew as I would like. Maybe in a couple years I will get to spend more time doing this sort of thing. I love getting all these ideas though so I can use them in the future.

  • Dawn

    I seem to use two alphabets all the time. Swirlz for the girls and
    Block lettering for the boys. And I have hundreds
    Of different alphabets.

  • Carol howell

    I love to do baby things. So I use some designs over and over on bibs, burp cloths and blankets.

  • Janet Kirby

    I have been using individual capital letters in multiple sequences to create unexpected borders and edgings.

  • Cy

    I have two fonts (Different company) that are my “go to” for using on pillows cases, napkins and towels for quick gifts.

  • Sharon

    I have this butterfly outline that I have placed on many items. Sometimes, it is the single butterfly, but other times I duplicate the pattern 1, 2, or even 3 times, resizing and positioning each duplicate so that it looks like the butterfly in motion. I usually keep it in monochrome so it blends into the articles I’ve sewn it onto and makes a statement without being in-your-face.

  • Barb Torrey

    I teach high school students to use an embroidery machine to embellish their projects. We have a favorite font that is used far more than others. It has a unique name–“Girls are Weird”–but is oh, so cute on everything from beach towels, chair covers, bags, blankets, etc.

  • Debe

    I like FSL charms (they are tiny) & use them on cards, towels, & many other places. I add them to other designs like baskets, scenes, frames to give a 3-D effect. They are also nice when making snow globe or jar designs with clear plastic as you can put the charms behind the plastic before embroidering it on.

  • Vicky Isliefson

    I don’t have a favorite design set yet, because I am still exploring all the designs I have purchased. I am fond of paisley and similar swirly designs.

  • Maureen Angers

    I have one favorite reindeer design that I have used over and over again. As I became more familiar with the design I have changed the color and as I became more proficient with my software I have edited the design into different sizes for different items.

  • Dianne

    I’m to new to embroidery to have repeated any design.

  • Pam

    I too, am new to embroidery and am excited to try all kinds of new designs. I am sure that I will have some go to designs soon. For now, I am happy to experiment.

  • b tucker

    I have a go to wedding gift that everyone looooves. The Mr. & Mrs. design. Using different fabrics and thread colors to match the decor of the newlyweds offers a fresh new look that I never tire of.

  • Cathy

    I am still learning how to machine embroidery. What a great idea!

  • Doreen

    I don’t have a design that I use over and over. I try to use a different design each time. I have so many it helps me feel a little better about all the designs rather than wondering why I keep getting more and more.

  • Jane Scott

    My favorite designs that I have used over and over are the corners, tabs from “Designer Handbag” collection. Love the professional finish I achieve on my handbags. Thanks for the entire collection!

  • Donna G.

    I love to use one color designs, especially scrolls and flowers. I love the design on the shirt and handbag!

  • Becky

    I use the applique animals from Emb Library over and over again on burp cloths for baby gifts. They stitch out quickly and they are adorable.

  • Mary Connelly

    I have a little floral design that I love. It’s been used for tee shirts, pillow cases, towels and bags so far. I plan on using it on some jeans and then adding some hot fix crystals for fun.

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