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Thanksgiving 2015

It’s been a fun week here on the blog. Last Wednesday, I shared my story about stitching on my finger.  I think I must have hit a nerve when 155 of you left a comment! Thank you for sharing your stories, reading some of your experiences made me count my blessings. In fact, my injury was minor, more frightening than damaging. I have healed completely. The only scar I’m sporting is a stronger appreciation for the power of my embroidery machine. I have all kinds of tools near my machine now – pencils, skewers and chopsticks. I look at them like potholders – I wouldn’t pick up a hot pan without protecting my hand, so the same goes in my sewing room!

Monday’s blog, written by my sister, Marie Zinno, was spot on.  I hope you had a chance to read it and even more so, embrace it.  She encouraged all of us to focus on creativity this week, not shopping.  Instead of hitting the mall, spend some time in your sewing room.  Share a favorite technique with a family member or friend. If you’re by yourself, give yourself the gift of time spent doing your favorite hobby.

If you are out and about, stop by your local sewing machine dealer. They work so hard to provide all of us with education, tools and inspiration. Wish them a Happy Thanksgiving and let them know how much you appreciate them.

I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. May you spend it with those you love and find time to count your blessings.


The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

So come on, tell me, have you ever stitched on your finger? You don’t need to share the gory details; just a yes or no and you’ll be entered to win a $20 gift card to !

The winner is:  

Fran: “Yes, I hate to admit it but I have sewn a finger more than once.”

Software Saturday: Applique to Instant Gift Tag

Make an impression with flawless, personalized gift tags this holiday season!  Once the gift is unwrapped, the gift tag can be used as a Christmas ornament for years to come!

In Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro, open an applique frame from your stash or choose from any of the included applique shapes.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Click on the Text tool and type the message in the Properties Box.  Select a micro font such as Bauhaus.  Click Apply.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Center the text in the frame and change the color of the text to another color.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Select the an Ellipse from the drop down menu on the Artwork tool Insert

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Drag the mouse to draw a small circle and center it above the text.  Select the circle and right click to access more options. Select Convert T, Steil.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

If you’d like to review different applqiue fabrics, select the Applique, and click on the Command tabe in the Properties box. Click on the field next to Fabric.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Select a fabric to review your work.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Stitch the applique on lightweight tear away stabilizer – one that tears clean. After removing from the hoop, use an awl or eyelet cutter to open the eyelet. Thread a pretty ribbon through the eyelet and you’re all set. Start making them now and the gifts under your tree will be beautiful!



Keep Your Hand Out of the Hoop

Well it’s taken me 20+ years but I finally did it. I stitched on my finger. If you’ve been to any of my classes, I always caution students to keep their fingers out of the hoop. I encourage them to use the eraser end of a pencil, a chopstick, a dowel, anything other than their fingers.

And I usually take my own advice except when I’m in a hurry. And that’s when I don’t take my own advice. Recently, I was stitching a t-shirt when I noticed a portion of the garment was about to flop into the design area. And without thinking, I quickly reached into the hoop to retrieve the fabric. I must have I blinked at the same time. Then I yelped! And yanked my hand back. It hurt really bad, so bad that I was afraid to look at it.  My husband ran into the room (he was outside at the grill when it happened and heard me yelp) and we stared at each other. I told him I stitched on my finger. He asked if the needle was still in there. I didn’t have the nerve to look so he did. And it wasn’t in sight. We went back to the machine and were greeted with this safety message: Finger2BL

By then I was okay, it still hurt and was bleeding but everything was under control.  Upon closer inspection of the machine, I saw the needle was still in one piece in the machine but bent.  Really bent.   Look at the image below.Finger1BL

Wow – did I yank my finger away or what?  I was lucky the machine stopped and didn’t stitch my finger to the stabilizer, garment or foot.   Here’s my souvenir:FingerBL

Many thoughts ran through my head. I could hear myself telling my students to get their hand out of the hoop. I thought of my sister, Marie, who suffered a similar injury years ago that had to be treated surgically. And I was so thankful for the folks who designed my Brother Entrepreneur 10-needle and put that safety feature into the machine. Without that safety feature, my injury would have been so much worse.   Thank you Brother for looking out for all of us embroiderers!

Here’s your assignment this week:

So come on, tell me, have you ever stitched on your finger? You don’t need to share the gory details; just a yes or no and you’ll be entered to win a $20 gift card to !

The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

Now that Halloween is over, we’re just about in full swing of the next holiday – Thanksgiving.  I’d love to know if you’re hosting the meal or if you’re being treated to a year off – and celebrating in someone else’s home.  Tell us your plans and a random winner will receive a 13” x 54” ruffled-edge burlap table runner.  Perfect for a holiday table!

The winner is:  

Joan Shriver: “For years we have traveled to my husband’s sister. We always have a huge group of relatives to enjoy again, see the new babies, catch up. My sister-in-law is my best friend!”

Text on a Path

One of my favorite things about using digitizing software is learning new shortcuts. For years, I’ve been creating text on a path in a rather laborious method. But now, thanks to Ashley Jones, Inspirations education consultant, I’ve learned a time-saving method and I think you’re going to love it.

In Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro, draw your shape. Select the Artwork tool, and Ellipse.  Path1

Left mouse click and drag to draw an oval.  Select the Shape tool and grab the handles on one node to turn the oval into a balloon.  Path2

Move the node on the right towards the center. Path3

Drag the handle on the node to make a paisley shape.  The paisley shape should measure approximately 3.25″ x 2.25″.Path4“.Select the Text tool and click on the screen. In the properties box, type the message on one line.  In the font selection window, scroll down to the mini-fonts and select Bauhaus.  Click Apply. Path5

Click on the Select tool. On the keyboard, hit CTRL and A to highlight the artwork and the text. Left mouse click to view your options and select Text on a Path. Path6

Boom! The software does all the work for you! Path7

If you have some open space, add a series of periods to fill the gap. Select the Text tool and type multiple periods at the end of the line of text. Click Apply.  Path8

Rotate the design, change the color and there and you have it! Path9

Thanks for sharing that trick Ashley!

A Little Help Goes a Long Way

This may seem like an odd request coming me, editor of Designs in Machine Embroidery but I want to ask you to make a donation to Ellen March’s Go Fund Me campaign.  Who is Ellen March? Ellen is the editor of Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery magazines.   She does for CME what I do here for Designs in Machine Embroidery.  Now she’s battling breast cancer. I don’t know Ellen personally – we politely say hello at industry press events but really, we’re competitors. We lead the industry’s only machine embroidery magazines. And I’m probably breaking every rule in the ‘good old boys corporate handbook’ by asking you to help my competitor but I don’t care. I really feel for her and her young family.

When I heard of her diagnosis, I was horrified – she is the mother of young – very young – children: a toddler son and infant twin girls. I know how I hard I work – I can’t even imagine how hard she works with two mags, a television show and babies at home!  And now, to battle breast cancer on top of it all? Unthinkable.

So if you can spare a few dollars (really, every little bit helps and that’s what crowd funding is all about) give to her Go Fund Me campaign. Her family’s medical bills are piling up. And say a prayer for her speedy recovery.  She’s got a lot of living left to do.


Here’s a link to her fund:


Collar Design Placement

On October 15, Barbara Grant asked, “I want to embroider little flowers or a vine on a collar for a toddler’s dress, the heirloom kind that I used to sew by hand. How can I set up placement so the machine embroidery will stitch precisely where I want it?”

That’s a great question, Barbara, because placement is crucial to embroidery success and little bit of planning will make your embroidery look professional. You’ll need embroidery software* so that you can print templates of your collar design.  Open your design in your software program and print a template of the design on vellum or paper.  This step is most often accomplished by going to File, Print.  If you have the option, make sure you have included a crosshair. Print one template for each side of the collar (right and left) by mirror imaging the design before you print the second design.

Once the template is printed, audition it on the collar.Collar2BL

I suggest taking a photograph of the placement and then moving the template a bit and reshooting.Collar3BL

Do this a couple of times and then review the images on the camera. You’ll quickly know which one is the most pleasing.  Tape the template to the collar. Spray the wrong side of the collar with temporary adhesive.

Hoop stabilizer (tear-away, cut-away or wash away depending on your fabric and design).  To achieve perfect placement, use PAL, the Perfect Alignment Laser. Place the hoop on a flat surface and turn on PAL. Align the beams with the horizontal and vertical markings on the hoop.Collar5BL

Slip the collar over the stabilizer aligning the template’s crosshair with the beams.  Finger press the collar to the stabilizer. For added security, you can always add tape to the edges.Collar6BL

Carefully transport and attach the hoop to the machine, retrieve the design and verify the needle is perfectly aligned with the template’s crosshair.  Remove the template and embroider the design.

Next week, I’ll show you how to achieve perfect placement on Brother’s DREAM machine.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Now that Halloween is over, we’re just about in full swing of the next holiday – Thanksgiving.  I’d love to know if you’re hosting the meal or if you’re being treated to a year off – and celebrating in someone else’s home.  Tell us your plans and a random winner will receive a 13” x 54” ruffled-edge burlap table runner.  Perfect for a holiday table!


The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

As I mentioned above velvet can be a challenging textile. What other fabrics do you find challenging yet alluring to use? Your comment will enter you in next Wednesday’s random drawing for a $20 gift card to !

The winner is:  

Gail: “Satin, silk, and fur are the hardest to embroider on for me. Satin and silky type fabrics tend to have wrinkles around the design and fur tends to leave little bits of fur outside of the outlines.”

*You can make your own templates by stitching embroidery designs on stabilizer and drawing a crosshair in the center but if you’re serious about embroidery, then you need a robust embroidery editing and digitizing software program. It pays for itself in eliminating frustration and opening possibilities. If you don’t have software, investigate different programs at your local sewing machine retailer since you’ll want to purchase software where you can get education.

My Quilt Planner

My Quilt Planner software program is the easiest way to figure out how to quilt your quilt! Just tell the software the dimensions of your quilt and My Quilt Planner does the rest. It fits the quilting designs to your hoop and multiplies them across the quilt – absolutely no math required!  Click here to view the simple steps.  Visit your local DIME Inspiration dealer to see a live demo.


Embroidering on Velvet

A few weeks ago, many of you responded to my request for future blog topics. I’ve found your suggestions helpful and sometimes I’m at a loss for what to blog about.  I’ll be working through your requests as time permits. Kathy E. asked about embroidering on velvet and since velvet is a holiday favorite, I thought I’d tackle that first.

Kathy E. “A few years ago, I bought an expensive piece of plush black velvet. I had hopes (and still do) to embroider a large, fancy “E” on it, and then make it into a pillow. I’ve never taken on the project because I don’t know what stabilizer and needle to use. I’m thinking it would be best to use a topper too. If you could give me any tips, I’d be so thankful, then I could get this project going!”


Velvet shimmers when viewed from one angle, and becomes a deep, matte surface when tilted away from a light source. It’s an alluring textile and not one that we use very often.  Let’s discuss its challenges for an embroiderer.

  1. Velvet’s nap crushes when pressure is applied. A standard embroidery hoop will damage velvet’s delicate surface so don’t hoop it! Instead, hoop cut-away stabilizer and spray the cut-away with temporary adhesive. Finger press the velvet to the sticky surface centering the design area in the hoop.
  2. Embroidery design. Designs with complete filled areas work best on velvet. Running stitches and narrow satin columns will sink into the velvet’s pile.  Keep in mind velvet is a delicate fabric with a luxurious drape so avoid heavy dense designs.
  3. 75/11 sharp needle will do the job.
  4. It’s tempting to use a topper but you should proceed with caution here because removable is crucial. Options for toppers are no topper (most pile is very short), a lightweight water soluble film-type (think Sulky’s Solvy regular weight) or tulle.  You will not actually apply water to the velvet to remove the Solvy but you’ll tear it away since regular weight Solvy perforates at the stitch line very easily.  Tulle also tears easily and if you select a tulle that matches the velvet, any remaining bits will not be visible as they’ll blend in with the background.
  5. Once the design is complete, carefully remove the hoop from the machine and release the stabilizer from the hoop. Pink the edges of the stabilizer around the design – leaving at least ¼” of stabilizer.

Use these tips for your holiday stitching and you’ll be pleased with the results. Always remember to approach each embroidery project with common sense. Think about the care instructions for a fabric and use them as a guideline for selecting stabilizers (water, heat, etc). You can handle this!


Here’s your assignment this week:

As I mentioned above velvet can be a challenging textile. What other fabrics do you find challenging yet alluring to use? Your comment will enter you in next Wednesday’s random drawing for a $20 gift card to !

The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

So why not hop over there and come back here to tell us what Bunnycup design collection is your favorite?  Your comment will enter you in next Wednesday’s random drawing for 3 $50 vouchers to Bunnycup Embroidery.

The winners are:  

Kati: “I love all the wonderful designs from them. My favorite set is the woodland animals…they are sooo cute!”

Diane: “I really love the “Christmas Village” Set. There are too many to pick from, I really love them all.”

Deanna: “I love the Pretty Ponies designs. Cute designs, I had not checked out this website before. Love it.”



Multi-Needle Monday: Changing the Background Display on Brother/Babylock Multi-Needle Machines

If you are a lucky multi-needle embroidery machine owner, you probably took your time reading the manual about how to change the needles and setting the thread color display among other instructions. As you gained confidence the manual has been pushed aside to make room for projects, hoops and stabilizers. Occasionally I like to experiment with the background grid options on my display screen. I also have started to change the background color display to help me visualize the way my final project will look. The Babylock Enterprise and Brother Entrepreneur machines are shipped from the factory with the default setting of a gray background color for the display screen. You can easily follow the steps in your manual for changing the background color but I will show you with my step by step photos how quick and easy it is. Check your manual if you are using a different model of embroidery machine for display screen options.

For example: My current project is a black tote bag with a tennis ball design and a handful of accent colors stitched on the pocket. I appreciate the ability to change thread colors at the machine if I change my mind (which is more often than not). Using the background color display quickly shows how the color changes will look on the finished product.

At the bottom left corner on the home screen, touch the paper icon.  display1BL

You will notice 7 pages of setting options.


Look at the bottom of page 1 and touch select “Background Color”.


Scroll through the color display area (there are 66 color display options). For my tote bag I changed my background color to black. Touch the desired color and touch “Close”.


Your background screen display will now always remain the color you selected, and can easily be altered as needed for different embroidery jobs.


Join me in my Craftsy class “How to Start a Machine Embroidery Business”. Click the link below and save $10 with this coupon

Software Saturday – The Backdrop Tool in My Quilt Embellisher

One of the helpful features of Inspiration’s My Quilt Embellisher is the backdrop tool. The backdrop tool allows you to bring an image on to the screen and audition embroidery in actual time. It’s a surefire way to design beautiful blocks.
First, take a photograph or scan an image of your quilt into your computer. Take note of where you stored the photo on your hard drive.
Open a new file in My Quilt Embellisher. Go to File, Load Backdrop. Locate the image of your quilt block and click OK.MQE_b1
The image appears behind the grid on your screen. Chances are the image is not perfectly square on the screen. That’s ok; it’s an easy fix in My Quilt Embellisher. Hover the cursor over the backdrop tool on the left toolbar.MQE_b2
Click on the small arrow under the icon to access the Backdrop tools. Select Define horizon. MQE_b3
Place the cursor on one corner of the block and with the left mouse button depressed, drag the cursor across the block to the opposite corner. Release the mouse. The image will straighten on the screen.MQE_b4
In the properties box, notice the size of the image – it’s quite large.MQE_b5
That measurement is the size of the image, not the block. So let’s tell the software exactly what size our block should be.
Select Define Scale from the Backdrop tool menu.MQE_b6
Place the cursor on one corner of the block and with the left mouse button depressed, drag the cursor across the block to the opposite corner. Release the mouse. A window appears. Type in the correct measurement. My actual block measures 7” so I type in 7”.MQE_b9
The image shrinks and in the properties box, the size of the image changes too.MQE_b10
The properties box measurement is larger than 7” because it’s illustrating the size of the image – all the white/gray space that’s actually part of the image.
Now that you are viewing the block in actual size, it’s time to audition embroidery designs in the patches. This block was created for a sweet couple, Liz and Mike Tucker. The monogram font is August, the heart is Block Frill Heart (found in Embellishments) and the bird is #57488 in My Quilt Embellisher Free Designs.MQE_b12

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