Author Archive

Heirlooms, Objects or Moments?

Not every embroidery project you make qualifies as an heirloom. So when do you decide to add that title?  I think that’s a very personal decision. I use that term when I’m sure it’s something I want pass down to the next generation. I want it to be something that will stand the test of time. I mean, will chevron pockets really be appreciated by the next generation? I don’t think so.PocketBL

Will subway art designs be cherished by family members in the next century?  I’m not so sure.BubbleBL

So what is an heirloom?  The dictionary definition is a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations. Break the definition down and you’ll notice three key words: valuable, family and generations.  Valuable is relative – there is no dollar sign involved.  Value can increase because of scarcity and age. Family of course, means it remains in the hands one family.  Generations speaks to age – the passing of time.

Heirloom status is not really determined by today’s generation. It’s determined by the next generation and the next and so on.  Even though we may want our creation to be an heirloom, it may not pass muster with the next generation. We can pour our heart and soul into making an embroidered project but unless the recipient holds onto it, it’s not an heirloom.

When you are pouring your heart and soul into a project, enjoy the process.  The process may be the only return you get. It’s the selecting of materials, the planning, the execution and the finishing that makes it an heirloom in my mind. The creation process is a loving act – it’s prayful.  It’s time to reflect on the recipient, the occasion and the family members who will be in attendance when it is shared.  That’s the heirloom moment for me.

What about you? When you’re creating, it is an heirloom moment or do hope it’s an heirloom object?

Share your thoughts and four lucky random winners will receive a $25.00 gift certificate to


Quilting Your Row by Row – Part 2

Part Two

Last week, Rebecca Robinson, owner of Sew Suite Studio, a DIME Authorized Dealer in Lexington, SC, showed you how to quilt your Row By Row quilt strips. She used Inspiration’s My Quilt Embellisher to create the stippling.blog1


This week, Rebecca kicks it up a notch by changing the quilting to a star-shaped echo. Open My Quilt Embellisher and load the quilt row image as a backdrop. Select the stipple design and click on the Shape Echo tool. Choose #17, the five-point star. Click OK. Change the Density to 35mm in the Properties box.blog2


Customize the star a bit further by re-positioning the center point of the star. Click the Shape tool and drag the pink circle to a new location on the striped fabric section; click Apply.blog3


These auditions certainly assist in the design process. If you have a large enough hoop, you can save the design in the format for your machine. Or if you like to free-motion quilt, you can print a template of the design and use it as a pattern.  Either way, My Quilt Embellisher makes quilting fun!


Quilting Your Row by Row

Meet guest blogger, Rebecca Robinson, owner of Sew Suite Studio, a DIME Authorized Dealer in Lexington, SC. Rebecca is here to teach you how to quilt your Row By Row quilt strips. Take it from here, Rebecca.


No doubt about it – the Row by Row Experience is here to stay. Chances are you have been traveling here and there collecting row patterns and you’ve even sewn a few together. Now what? How do you get them quilted? Turn to My Quilt Embellisher to finish the job.


Since this is Sew Suite Studio’s first year to participate in the popular quilt shop hop, I’ve learned creating something from nothing can be a little intimidating. The questions of doubt – “Will they like it?” “Are the instructions clear and complete?” “Is it too simple or difficult?” We forged ahead and based on recent feedback – we have “hit it out of the park”. So, read on for some ideas on how to use My Quilt Embellisher to audition the quilting for your Rows.

Part I: The Backdrop Tool

Take a picture of your completed row. Open a new blank file in My Quilt Embellisher. Bring the picture into the software by clicking the backdrop tool. A window appears showing the last folder accessed – you may need to browse to get to the folder with your Row picture. Select the picture of your Row. Look to the Properties box in the top right of the screen to view the size of the picture displayed. Most likely, you’ll need to change the size to actual. The easiest way to do this is to click on the small arrow below the backdrop tool. Another box opens; choose Define Scale. The cursor changes to “+”. Left-click on the left edge of the star block then drag across the block to the right edge (as shown with the yellow line in the picture below).Image1BL

Release the left-mouse click and another box opens. Enter the actual width of this block. Since I know the finished width for the star block is 9”, I entered 9 in the window. Click OK.Image2BL

The backdrop picture is now the same size as my pieced row, approximately 36” x 9”. Double-click on the Zoom tool to view the complete picture. Now, on to the embellishing…


Audition the Block

Click the Embellishment tool. Click the + sign to the left of Elegant; Select Elegant06; Select Embellishments 24. Click OK.IMage3BL

I just love this design and I think it will look beautiful as the decoration on the star blocks of my Row. The best part of this process is being able to view the designs you think will look best without actually stitching. When you know what the designs look like, you’re not wasting time ripping out what you don’t like. Audition these designs to your heart’s content.

With the design selected, drag it over to the right to center on the star block. Notice the design is too small for the block – Also notice in the sequence view there is an artwork line around the embellishment. We want to remove that artwork (although there is a good reason it’s there, but’s that’s for another post)Image4BL

To remove the artwork, click on the artwork in the Sequence view and press your Delete key on your keyboard. Now change the size in the Properties box using the Transform icon

Change the width to 8.5, leaving the checkbox in Maintain Aspect Ratio; Click Apply.Image5BL

Click the 3D icon  for a better view. Now let’s stitch this embellishment with a thicker stitch so it’s more visible. In the Properties box, click the run icon and change the Type to Two Ply; Click Apply.IMage6BL

Change the color to white with a Left-click on any color in the color chart; select white from the thread palette box; Select OK. The below image shows what the embellishment will look like when stitched.Image7BL


Now click File/Save As/ choose file type in your machine format. Also remember to Name your file “Row Embellishment” or anything suitable for your project.Image8BL

After naming and saving the file you may delete the stitches from the screen. We will use this same backdrop to audition the stipple around the state outline next.


Create Stipple Around a Shape

Draw a line around the outside of the state shape by selecting the Artwork tool Choose the Pen. Trace around the state outline keeping the pen point along the outside edge. This can be tricky and my tracing wasn’t very straight. Don’t worry – we can fix it using the Shape tool. Do the best you can – a mouse will be very helpful here. After tracing the outside of the state, the artwork line is generated when you release the mouse. You’ll see the artwork over in the Sequence view. Select the state outline artwork, then select the Shape Tool

This tool lets you fine tune the line you drew around the state. The shape tool changes the artwork shape showing little blue boxes around the shape.Image9BL

Click on any blue box and move the dot fine tune the outline. The shape tool is very handy for making corrections and editing mistakes without starting over. When you are happy with the changes click Apply. This becomes Artwork Index 1 in the Sequence View.

Next, create an artwork rectangle defining the outside edge of the striped section of the Row. Select the Rectangle Artwork tool. Left-Click and drag to create a rectangle approximately 17 ½” x 9”. This becomes Artwork Index 2 in the Sequence view. Select both Artwork 1 and Artwork 2 in the Sequence View. Click the Combine tool . This combines the two artwork segments into one segment. Now the fun really begins – with this combined artwork still selected, click the Stippling icon . We now have stipple stitches generated over the stripes, but NOT over the state. Pretty cool. In the Properties Box, change to pattern to Hilbert with density of 10mm; change color to white; click 3D to get an accurate view of what this will look like. Next week, we’ll explore some options.Image10BL

Rebecca Robinson has been sewing since she was in 5th grade and was making her own wardrobe during high school earning the “Best Dressed” of her graduating class. She later became a CPA implementing accounting systems, still continuing to sew for fun and home decorating across moves over six states. In 2009 she purchased her first TOL sewing/embroidery machine and when she discovered the combination of sewing and SOFTWARE – she was hooked and hasn’t looked back. In 2014 she opened Sew Suite Studio, a DiME Authorized Dealer in Lexington, SC to share her love of sewing and embroidery to all who want to learn. View online at;;

Stitching in Ombre – A New Approach in Monochromatic Embroidery


Embroiderers love threads – it’s a well-known fact. We love the sheen or the matte, the brights and the dark. Truth be told, many embroiderers are hesitant to select their colors, they’re afraid they’ll make a ‘mistake.’  Many stick to one-color embroidery designs. Monochromatic doesn’t have to be boring rather, it can be quite dramatic.  Stitching in Ombre is great way to learn about thread value and its appearance on fabric.

You’ll find a fantastic example of ombre stitching in the latest issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery Vol. 99 July/August 2016.MagBL

Nancy Zieman’s Ombre: Black to White illustrates how to achieve an ombre look by repeating one or two designs in gradated thread values.

She advises stitching your threads in a satin column on the selected fabric. Study your sample and work on the arrangement of colors to help move the eye across the embroidery canvas.SampleBL

It’s also a great idea to print templates of the designs so you can ‘see’ the layout before you stitch. Make notes to remind yourself what thread spool to use and when to use it.  You’ll be glad you did if your stitching get interrupted.

I fell in love with this look. It has everything that appeals to me about embroidery – the dark on dark at the bottom of the vest is a textural feast for the eyes, then as the eye moves up the garment, the thread gets lighter and lighter. At the top of the vest, the last horizontal row is stitched in white bringing attention to the face.  The sparkly zipper is just plain fun and adds a wonderful finishing touch.

Next time I’m out shopping for thread, I’m going to make sure I buy not only the color on my shopping list but all of its companions up and down the value scale.

Tell me, would you wear this vest? Do you like the technique?  What color would you experiment with for your own wardrobe?

Multi-needle Monday: Sport Theme Can Cooler


Machine embroiderers have more choices every year when it comes to purchased blanks. If you have a multi-needle machine and machine embroidery business, you have discovered that purchasing blanks is the most profitable way to make money. Maybe you embroider just for gifts and charity and profitability is not important. In either case, quality purchased blanks are a must-have staple in your embroidery studio.

For example: the can cooler or can koozie. I have stocked the plain blank koozies for years for my customers and thought I have seen or stitched all the styles available. Last week while searching the website of ,I found the sport theme can cooler/koozie. It is exactly what I had in mind for my tennis team giftsSportThemeKooziesBL.

The sport theme can koozies are available for tennis, golf, basketball, football, car racing, softball and baseball. The can cooler will arrive flat, embroider the name, logo or initial on the neoprene fabric and proceed to sew the two side seams after the embroidery is complete. Here are a few tips to remember when planning the embroidery process:

1. Measure the front area of the can cooler (small target ruler from the Embroidery Tool Kit works great) that will be embroidered and place a target sticker in the center location. Only one side of the koozie is generally embroidered.

2. Remember the can koozie will need to be able to stretch to enable the can to slide inside.

3.Double check the orientation of the design on the touch screen before you stitch.

4.Reinforce the side seams because they will take some wear and tear.

5. Use sticky back tear away stabilizer.

The can coolers make perfect gifts for coaches, team mates and anyone who appreciates the sport and enjoys a cold drink on a hot day.

In the book, Hoop It Up we show you how to hoop multiple koozies in one hoop by positioning the koozies side by side and embroidering one side of the koozie only.

Use the small Target Ruler to precisely find the center and slide a target sticker underneath the crosshair.koozie1BLkoozie2BL Remove the ruler and insert a piece of sticky back stabilizer in your hoop. Keep the protective paper intact. Take a pin and score the protective paper with an X, carefully remove the 4 sections of the protective paper. The reason for this step is to keep your hoop clean and free of adhesive residue.koozie3BLkoozie4BLkoozie5BLkoozie6BLkoozie7BL

Place the koozie on the sticky tear away stabilizer and double check the orientation of the embroidery design. Align the needle bar with the target sticker’s crosshair and remove the target sticker when ready. Embroider the name or text and remove the stabilizer from the hoop. Carefully remove the sticky stabilizer from the back of the koozie. Fold right sides together and pin in place. Sew the two side seams together turn right side out.koozie8BL

final canBL

Join me in my Craftsy class to learn more about starting a Machine Embroidery Business.

Totally Over the Top


I just have to share this article I saw online last weekend on both Yahoo and Huffington Post.  This gown made my heart swoon.  Bride Kresha Bajaj Zaveri always dreamed of designing her own wedding garments. When the time arrived, she rose to the task.  Mrs. Zaveri stitched a love story, chronicling her and husband’s matrimonial journey in metallic thread. The stitches tell how they met, dates they enjoyed and the marriage proposal.

Imagine the hours that went into this gown – the design phase, the digitizing process and finally the stitching.  The article doesn’t say if the gown is hand or machine embroidered but I’m guessing it’s a combination of both.   Imagine trying to artistically portray a story into seven panels that complement each other yet blend across the skirt.  From a distance, it looks delicate and intricate. It’s only upon close inspection that the stories behind the panels begin to unfold.


Imagine finalizing the designs and then…stitching them in metallic thread! Gold and white are traditional Indian wedding colors but wow – there are miles of metallic thread on that skirt. Obviously, it’s not Kresha’s first design attempt, she’s a fashion designer by trade,,  so I’m sure she knows the secrets to stitching success.

She intends on framing the gown as artwork to display in their home. Thank heavens it’s not going to wind up in a box in a closet!

Please click on the links below to read the whole story and see the dress in detail.


More details on Huffington Post:

Last week’s assignment was:  Achieving a goal is often easier to complete if you write it down. Who is the next person you are going to embroider a project for?  What will you make? Post your comments and 4 random people will receive a $25 gift certificate for use at Baby Kay’s Appliques!

Here are the winners from last week’s assignment ….

Virginia: A sunhat to protect my bald little granddaughter’s head.

PatO: A fun summer t-shirt for my brother and his boys.

Karen W:  What a lovely thought to help a grieving family.

 Fay Williams: Will be doing things for my 6,4,and 2 year olds grandkids and for the new one due in August. Love my embroidery machine.

Multi-needle Monday: Applique Sea Life Designs

Yay! It’s finally summer! If you are like me, you are probably searching for quick and festive items to sell to your customers. Even if you use your multi-needle embroidery machine for gift giving, quick to stitch designs are always welcome. Some of my favorite designs are appliqué. Applique designs add a lot of punch with the high stitch count. It’s easy to change the look of a design by switching fabrics. Did you know most quilt designs can easily be transformed into an appliqué? I love using my edited quilt designs on t-shirts, tote bags, baby onsies and athletic wear.

sea life cover1BLsea life pillowsBL

I selected the sea turtle block design included in the Stipple! Sea Life Collection, to be stitched on a child’s t-shirt. The original design has beautiful stippling that surrounds the sea turtle. In my embroidery software I deleted the stippling portion of the design and saved it as a new design. I also printed a paper template so I could easily position the design on a child’s t-shirt. turtle finalBLOne great feature of the Stipple! Collection is that all trimming is done after the embroidery is complete.stippleimage1BLstippleimage2BL

My go to stabilizer for t-shirts is a poly mesh or no-show mesh fusible cut away stabilizer. Cut the stabilizer bigger than the hoop you plan to use. To position your embroidery properly on a child’s t-shirt, use the Children’s Perfect Placement Kit. Included in the kit are 16 clear plastic templates labeled for a number of baby and children’s accessories and clothing. Use the center front template for a child’s t-shirt. Remember ark the center with a target sticker and remove the template. turtle tshirt1BLBecause the design features a bean stitch instead of the usual satin stitch to finish the edges, I use wonder under to the wrong side of the appliqué fabric. Remember to trim the excess fabric and fuse the appliqué design after embroidery.

I love to simplify the task of hooping t-shirts, I find using the Monster Snap hoop for multi-needle embroidery machines the quickest and most efficient way. After the target sticker has been positioned with the template, slide the bottom teal frame of the Monster Snap Hoop (5×7 was used for this project) inside the t-shirt body. Attach the top metal frame and smooth the fabric as needed. Always flip the hoop over and make sure the stabilizer is positioned within the frame top and bottom.MSH BL

Carefully attach the hoop to the machine through the neck of the t-shirt. Feel underneath the hoop for any excess fabric that could possibly be caught between the bobbin plate and hoop. Line up the needle bar with the target sticker and remove the sticker before embroidering. Stitch the design, adding fabric as instructed and trim after embroidery is complete. Turn the t-shirt wrong side out, iron the stabilizer to release the adhesive stabilizer. Trim the excess stabilizer around the embroidery design.

Enjoy your long sunny summer days and happy stitching!

Join me in my Craftsy class “How to Start a Machine Embroidery Business”. click the link below to save with a coupon.

Be a Part of Common Threads

Last week I promised to share more about Baby Lock’s Common Threads event with you. During our behind-the-scenes tour of Tacony (Baby Lock’s parent company), we stopped in the Baby Lock testing lab. All of Baby Lock’s machine’s are ready for a challenge – whether that’s testing a new design, tackling tricky fabric or working out the kinks on new presser feet.  Who wouldn’t love a room like this in their home?IMG_2938
If you’ve ever been in the storage area of your local dealer, you might have spotted what many call the ‘machine graveyard,’ stacks of machines that have definitely seen better days.  Not in Tacony’s warehouse, here you’ll find organized shelves of machines that are ready for use in class.IMG_2927

There’s so much more to share about the Common Threads event that Baby Lock is graciously posting the sewing  projects that we did on their website. Now you can stitch what we stitched and you can enter to win a sewlebrity swag bag!  And wow – Baby Lock has the best gifts!

You can make Evy Hawkins’s purse, Lindsay Wilkes’ pillowcase dress for Little Dresses of Africa and Sara Gallegos’s zipper purse.  We started on the top-of-the-line Destiny.DestinyBL

Evy Hawkins led us in a fun in-the-hoop purse with her signature applique.EvyBagBL

Lindsay Wilkes, walked us through Little Dresses for Africa after a rousing presentation from founder Rachel O’Neil, Look how charming these dresses are. We made 50 sweet dresses, ready to ship across the ocean.DressBL

Of course, you can’t get to know Baby Lock very well unless you take a spin on one of their sergers.  Sara Gallegos taught how to quilt, insert a zipper and piece a zipper pouch on the Baby Lock Ovation!  What fun!SergerBL

Jump on over to to get the projects, learn more about Common Threads and enter to win the sewlebrity swag bag!

Multi-needle Monday: Custom Sandals in Capri

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of going to Italy with my husband to join one of my oldest friends on the Isle of Capri. My girl friend of 35 years planned a birthday extravaganza for her 50th birthday and invited 15 others to join her. She planned some of the outings and dinners to the last detail, each location more spectacular than the next. Dinner under the lemon trees, another location was a sunset view of Mount Vesuvius and of course a boat cruise around the famous island and the Blue Grottos. The group was an eclectic blend of old friends and fairly new but all wonderful people that shared an amazing few days together with our mutual friend.  Walking along the streets of Capri is a sensory overload! All of your senses are in tune and you enjoy every little experience. It is a magical place. capri1BL

We toured the cobblestone streets all lined with beautiful shops and small restaurants each store front utilizes every inch of space to grow flowers or fruit. In Capri there are a few “must have” souvenirs; perfume (you can create your own specific sent), limoncello (a liquor created from the fresh and abundant lemons growing everywhere on the island) and custom sandals (one of my favorite). The women in our group decided to take advantage of the custom sandal option as the men went taste-testing the limoncello. Yes this is a lemon I am holding! lemon1BL

As exciting as it sounds to design your own sandals, it is kind of overwhelming. So many choices! sandal1BLsandal2BL The tiny shop is full of leather strapping, tassels, braided trim and fancy jewels to embellish your sandals. Did I mention the sandals are completed all on site and available in a few hours?  You have the option of choosing the style, color and trims and they construct the sandal. The expert cobblers are so sweet and talented as they work in a space as big as my closet at home. As shown in the photo I selected a basic navy blue sandal (I know it’s kind of boring) but I am not into jewels and I wanted something timeless.

My husband and I went to pick up my sandals the next day and he was shocked at the choices and the quality. I tried the sandals on for a final fit and the clerk asked me in Italian(I eventually figured out what he was asking) if I wanted to have a monogram. sandal6BLsandal7BLMe a monogram??  Of course. I was the only one in my group who was offered the monogram apparently. He stamped the leather sole with my two initials.sandal8BLsandal9BL

Pictured below are the tools and work space in the sandal shop.sandal3BLsandal4BL

I hope you enjoyed my blog although we are a bit off subject. Enjoy the link to my Craftsy class “How to Start a Machine Embroidery Business”.

Common Threads

I just returned from a Baby Lock retreat with quilters, sewists, embroiderers and fashionistas. Mix in some industry executives and you’ve got quite an interesting group. Common Threads is an invitation-only event with the intention of spreading the love of Baby Lock to its brand ambassadors and creating a community. It’s a time to share new ideas, charitable thoughts and product knowledge.  It’s a ‘coming home’ of a sort as it was the third gathering for many or the attendees.

At the end of the action-packed three day event, everyone shares their thoughts of what the three days meant to them.  Everyone shared their gratitude to Baby Lock for making the event happen. Some were grateful for the opportunity to ‘play’ without an agenda (translate – deadline). Many found new friends while others cemented long-established friendships.  Others were amazed at the willingness of many to share information and welcome newcomers. A few were even moved to tears. As shocking as that might sound in a business environment, I completely understood. The one thing all of us have in common is that much of our work is done in solitude without reassurance or encouragement. We push ourselves believing in our work and hope it flies.  The most refreshing comment of the wrap-up was, “There are no mean girls here.”

How true because for three days, we played!  It started on the top-of-the-line Destiny.DestinyBL

Evy Hawkins led us in a fun in-the-hoop purse with her signature applique.EvyBagBL

Lindsay Wilkes, walked us through Little Dresses for Africa after a rousing presentation from founder Rachel O’Neil, Look how charming these dresses are. We made 50 sweet dresses, ready to ship across the ocean.DressBL

Of course, you can’t get to know Baby Lock very well unless you take a spin on one of their sergers.  Sara Gallegos taught how to quilt, insert a zipper and piece a zipper pouch on the Baby Lock Ovation!  What fun!SergerBL

More to come on June 24!

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