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Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine


I never thought I’d write a book on crazy quilting but last spring I was inspired to explore the combination of piecing in the hoop and decorative stitches. It didn’t take much to leap into crazy quilting. After all, what’s not to love? It’s a time-honored technique coupled with today’s technology. Its ‘crazy’ moniker comes from the use of scraps and often includes whimsical embellishments.  Crazy quilting has something for everyone. It appeals to quilters – the piecing part; embroiderers – the use of luscious designs in colorful threads; the thrifty – great way to use up scraps of all fiber types; and the splurger: new charms, buttons, ribbons and other tidbits are just waiting to be included in a crazy quilt block.

Technique-wise, the ‘crazier’ the block, the more tasks involved in completing the block. So in Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine you’ll find three levels of difficulty: Level 1 is piecing in the hoop with colorful fabrics; Level 2 includes the addition of accent designs to the patches and Level 3 is where the crazy kicks in with buttons, yarns, ribbons, charms and more.  It’s hard to know when to stop once you reach Level 3.

Level 1

Level 1


Level 2

Level 2



Level 3

If quilt blocks aren’t your thing, then you’ll enjoy three in-the-hoop projects: a wristlet, eyeglass case and small clutch. All small canvases to display your crazy stitches.  The wristlet was just the right size project for teaching on TV with my dear friend Nancy Zieman.


We taped the Today’s Crazy Quilting series on Sewing with Nancy in September and it’s live now. You can watch online here if you don’t have it on your local channel.

When you watch, look for Nancy’s crazy quilt stitched by her great grandmother, Alice Lea Larson in 1920.  Nancy shares her story of this wonderful family heirloom that has been lovingly restored by Nancy.

Although it’s a fun day with Nancy at Wisconsin Public Television, my favorite part of the week is the prep at her office the day before taping.  That’s when we get all of our ducks in a row.  Nancy is a visionary and literally ‘sees’ the taping once she understands the technique that we’re teaching.  She works out the schedule and timing of the telecast while I work on the samples.  Once we have a firm outline, all hands pitch in to finish the samples.  And when 5:00 rolls around, everything is done and ready for tomorrow’s early wake-up call.  CQBlog1

To document my visit to the studio, I had a staff member take some photographs with my camera. When I reviewed the images on the plane ride home, I realized I didn’t have one ‘serious’ shot. Oh no, I had images of smiling faces both on camera and behind the camera! The true spirit of crazy quilting.

Nancy and I cracking up on set.

Nancy and I cracking up on set.

Cassie Kienert on camera and Leslie Fitzsimmons in her true form.

Cassie Kienert on camera and Leslie Fitzsimmons in her true form.

It was well, crazy! Hope you enjoy the Sewing with Nancy series, Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine. You can watch here.

Don’t just take my word for it, read Nancy’s take on the series on her blog:

Here’s your assignment this week:
Tell us your favorite stitch you use when crazy quilting. Once random comment will be chosen to get their very own autographed copy of Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine by Eileen Roche! Thanks for reading and good luck!CrazyQuilting
The winner of last week’s assignment:
If you had a day all to yourself to spend on a project, what would it be?  Leave a comment and one lucky winner will receive an autographed copy of my latest book, Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine (to be released January 2, 2015).

And the winner is the Pam C. – “If I had an entire day to myself I would get lost in finding inspiration for my craft. I work full time and even though my kids are grown I still don’t get much alone time. So, to have a day to get lost in thought without any interruption would be a dream. Congratulations Pam!


January Update – Buttonholes!

I love machine embroidered buttonholes! Why? Control. Machine embroidered buttonholes give me total control over the length of the buttonhole and the placement. Starting with a digital file guarantees perfect duplicates since I don’t have to guide the fabric under the foot.

So let’s take a look at how easy it is to create custom buttonholes in Perfect Embroidery Pro.2015-01-03_18-45-36

Once you update your software you’ll find a new icon on the top tool bar, a button (it’s easy to update, just say yes when the New Update available window appears).2015-01-03_18-49-00

Click on the drop down menu to access five completely customizable buttonholes, keyhole, round1, round2, standard narrow and standard.2015-01-03_18-49-24

Select your favorite and click the mouse on the screen. Your first buttonhole appears. I chose keyhole – that  hard-to-mimic classic buttonhole!2015-01-03_18-52-00

With the buttonhole selected, click on the Properties box to access the height and density settings. After measuring the diameter of your actual button, add a small amount (such as .10 of an inch) for the length of the buttonhole. Enter that measurement in the height box and click apply.2015-01-03_18-52-43

Naturally, you must make a test buttonhole on the same fabric as the final garment.  Include the identical interfacing, facing or lining on the sample. You can’t cheat here – it’s the only way to guarantee positive results and this is when you’ll tweak the length if necessary.

Hoop crisp or lightweight tear-away stabilizer as it tears cleanly. Once hooped, draw a straight line down the length of the hoop to use as an alignment mark for the garment edge. Spray the hooped stabilizer with temporary adhesive.

Advance to the first stitch to see what end of the buttonhole will stitch first. You want to stitch the end closest to the edge first and sew away from the edge. The fabric will not bulge next to the seam if you do this (a frequent occurrence in manual buttonholes). Rotate or mirror image the design if necessary. Stitch the test version.

Remove from the hoop and tear away the stabilizer. Use a seam ripper or a chisel and wood block to open the buttonhole. If using the seam ripper method, insert a pin at one end of the stitch to avoid slicing beyond the buttonhole.

Or place the buttonhole over a wood block, and insert the chisel into the space between the satin stitching. Press down to cut the fabric. Insert the button into the hole checking for ease. If the button slides in freely, you’re all set. If not, go back to Perfect Embroidery Pro and adjust the buttonhole.

Once you’re satisfied with the buttonhole, it’s time to stitch it on the garment. Measure the distance from the garment edge to the end of the buttonhole. For pleasing proportions, it’s best to leave a space between the end of the buttonhole and the garment edge that is half the diameter of the button. For the 2” buttonhole, move the end of the design 1” from the garment edge. Stitch the design.

Design Tips:

Buttonhole Placement: It can be challenging to determine evenly-spaced buttonhole placement. For garments, mark the widest point of the bust and the top of the garment. Fold the garment, meeting the top mark to the bust mark. Place a third mark at the fold. You now have the positions for the top three buttons. Measure the distance between two buttons. Use that measurement to mark the remainder of the buttons below the bust point.

Fuzzy Fibers: Place a piece of fusible web (protective paper removed) over the buttonhole area. Stitch the buttonhole. Tear away the excess fusible web. Press the buttonhole with a hot steam iron to melt the fusible web into the satin stitches. Once cooled, cut open the buttonhole. The fusible web will tame the fuzzy fibers.

Other great updates this month include smoother icons,  the Monogram, Motif and Applique buttons are now found under the Text designs icon and the lasso button is now under the Select Tool. All of these improvements streamline the screen – you’ll be comfortable in no time!

Enjoy January’s update!


A New Year’s Gift

If you’re like me, you might be experiencing a reprieve now that the holiday season is over. My shopping, decorating, wrapping, cooking and cleaning are done and yesterday, I finally had time to give myself a gift I’ve been longing for: the time to finish my quilt, Sun-kissed, on my embroidery machine!BabyShorte

The thought of finishing that pretty, sun-splashed quilt has gotten me through many household chores, magazine deadlines, blog posts and more. I’ve been saving this task for a block of time that I could devote to quilting it properly. I wanted to audition several different designs on it and take my time in making the decision. You see, I feel in love with this little quilt during the piecing process. I worked on it last summer during a sad time in my life and those bright colors and modern prints kept me going. They helped me focus, pray for better days and hope for a bright future. I don’t normally get emotionally attached to projects I’ve made (well, maybe a little) but this one was different. Some tasks come to us for a purpose we never intended. This was one of them.

First, I auditioned the Chandelier designs that come with the purchase of shortE. I thought they would be perfect but after careful consideration, I was concerned the geometric pattern of the Chandelier repeats would compete with Sun-kissed’s strong graphic pattern. Sun-kissed called for softer quilting designs – something fluid but more interesting than plain stipple. I rummaged through my design stash and found one I had previously sketched and digitized. Happy Flowers are big and small loopy flowers that run in a continuous line of stitches and align easily from hoop to hoop. Perfect!IMG_0204

I took a few steps to get ready for the actual quilting:

  • Fill several bobbins with my thread of choice: polyester white embroidery thread and thread the machine
  • Print a template(s) of Happy Flowers on Print & Stick Target Paper (gee, how did I live without that stuff all these years?)
  • Turn on the machine, retrieve the design and attach the bottom frame on Snap-Hoop Monster to the machine
  • Load Sun-kissed on the shortE
  • Position the Sun-kissed template on the upper right corner of the quilt (the first hooping on all shortE quilts)
  • Center the top right corner of the quilt in the hoop

Stitch the first design, and the second and the third…Oh my gosh, it was so much fun. It’s such a rewarding experience to see the first half of the quilt come to life. I love this process; I call it ‘working the quilt’: filling the hoop, aligning the designs and advancing down the quilt.

In future posts, I’ll share some secrets to success on making this process smooth, like what to do when you get this frown:IMG_0206

I wish each of you a happy and healthy New Year!

Here’s your assignment this week:If you had a day all to yourself to spend on a project, what would it be?  Leave a comment and one lucky winner will receive an autographed copy of my latest book, Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine (to be released January 2, 2015).
Last week’s winner answered the question, “What memories do you have that you could convert to stitches?” Elizabeth is the winner of a copy of Calligraphy Project Designer with her comment: My dear friend and I are in recovery together. I would love to put together a wall-hanging celebrating our sisterhood. Congrats, Elizabeth!



A Clutter-Free Digital Workspace

It’s common to feel the urge to get organized in January– purge closets, cabinets and drawers. Many sewers feel the same way. We want a fresh start in the New Year, often pledging to finish projects, clear the cutting table, and tame our stashes – fabrics, stabilizers and threads. The goal is to follow that urge all year and really get our environments under control. I don’t know about you but it’s an annual event for me. It helps me get organized for the next 12 months; forgive myself for the projects that didn’t get completed and make a decision on whether or not I’ll ever finish them. And then toss them, if I know I won’t finish them. It’s a tough decision but I find once I make up my mind, it’s very cleansing to move on with a clean slate. I even like to create a clean space in my digital workspace when I work on a design.

In Perfect Embroidery Pro, My Block Piecer and My Quilt Embellisher, I clean up my thread chips. Sounds silly, right? Well, removing the excess thread chips at the bottom of the screen helps me focus. Let me show you what I mean.

I dragged one of December’s free designs onto the workspace. Notice the 11 color chips in the thread tray. The design is only three colors so I find all of those excess chips to be distracting, unnecessary clutter.Thread1

First, I clicked on the minus sign to remove all excess chips.Thread2

Now, only three chips remain in the tray.Thread3

I’m going to change the colors to reflect a warm, tropical climate (like the one Stitching Sisters are going to enjoy on our February 2016 cruise – join us!) First, click on a chip to see the thread palette.Thread4

At the top of the thread palette click on the brand to access the thread you have in your sewing room.   Thread5


Once you set this brand, the palette will always default to that brand although you can reset it anytime you’d like.

Simplifying the thread tray makes it easy to see what threads I need to collect from stash of thread. I love the new plastic drawer inserts that keep my stash under control.  It’s the fine-tuning of organizing that helps me keep my year-long goal of staying on top of clutter!

The Best Way to Learn Your Software

People ask me, “What’s the best way to learn my software?” My answer is always, “Use it!” You can read, watch videos and go to classes but until you start using your software as often as possible (ideally everyday!), you really won’t be comfortable. You just have to get in there and do it!

If you don’t know where to begin, start with the free monthly projects that are available through the My Inspiration Today screen. When you open your software, click on the Free Monthly Projects icon on the opening screen. 1Proj2


You’ll arrive at the Inspired by Dime website.1Proj2a

Scroll down the page to view the download link. Click on the link to download the project.2Proj6

Once downloaded, you’ll find two PDF files in the folder – instructions for preparing the design in the software and the other for embroidering/sewing the project.3Proj7

Tamara Evans, Inspiration Consultant, has created these projects just for you. She openly shares her wealth of knowledge in each project. You’ll find quick steps to efficiently edit the designs, secrets to controlling the stitches in the software plus methods of good practice to cut down on errors.4Proj8

The software lessons in all of these projects are designed to help you learn how to use the software’s features.   Even if you’re not tempted to stitch the project – take the time to work the software lesson. What you learn can be applied to any project you would like to stitch. And before you know it – you’ll be comfortable with the icons and features.


My Most Rewarding Embroidery Task

J5Yesterday, I had the honor of embroidering my daughter’s white coat for her graduation ceremony at University of Texas, Pan American. Janelle has completed her Master’s degree and will be a certified Physician’s Assistant.

It’s been a long journey. Her path included several semesters spent in a cadaver lab during her undergraduate studies where her passion for medicine was ignited. That was followed by intense study to pass the GREs. Sweating out the application process (50 available seats for 1000 applicants) and then waiting for the acceptance letter.  The jubilation that her goals were within reach pushed her into the next phase: twenty-seven months immersed in medical studies – orthopedics, cardiology, obstetrics, gynecology, internal and pediatrics. Testing, testing, testing and finally, clinical rotations in the field. Last week, she passed her final exams with flying colors. Today, she graduates and will wear her white coat – monogrammed by her mom.

My life is a whirlwind often swirling so fast it’s hard to catch my breath. On Wednesday, Janelle brought me the white coat, fresh out of the shipping bag and asked me to embroider her name and credentials above the left pocket. She was kind enough to write it out for me first (and smart enough – maybe because she remembered just a few months ago when I embroidered linens for her friend’s wedding gift with the bride’s maiden initials! They look just great on my bed now). She dropped the coat (and her significant other’s) in my office and we went on to other tasks.

The next day, I looked at the pristine coat, tags still attached and thought about how hard it was to earn that coat. The sacrifices she made along the way and the sacrifices I made to get her through undergraduate school at the University of Oklahoma. As a single mom, I was determined to see both of my children graduate with a bachelor’s degree. It wasn’t easy but they both have succeeded.

Janelle did graduate school on her own and is now empowered to enjoy a career she loves. If she’s as lucky as me, she’ll never work a day in her life because she’ll love what she’s doing.

So, it was with great honor that I opened Perfect Embroidery Pro and clicked on the Text icon. I typed in Janelle Roche….in the properties box and scrolled through the fonts to the mini fonts.J7


I selected the Diana font and hit Apply.j1

Suddenly, there it was on the screen – all those years of preparation. I couldn’t wait to see it stitched.

I measured the pocket – 5” wide and adjusted the size of the text. I hooped tear-away stabilizer and similar fabric and stitched a test. Perfect!

I placed a target ruler above the pocket and inserted a target sticker into the hole. J3

I hooped the coat with tear-away stabilizer in Snap Hoop Monster, centered the needle over the sticker and pressed start. I have to confess, I stayed with the machine and watched it stitched every letter. I didn’t really relax until the machine stopped. Those mini-fonts in Perfect Embroidery Pro are perfect!J4

After clipping the thread tails and removing the stabilizer, I fingered the white cloth and experienced a little déjà vu remembering another white coat – her baptismal gown. Oh, how time flies.


Janelle and Kegan Milstead Graduation Day University of Texas, Pan Am, 2014

Look What Comes With the shortE


On Friday, I showed the ShortE to students in my recent Stitching Sister event. Many were intrigued by the designs that come with The Shorte so I thought I’d give you a closer look.  We’ve included two versatile sets of quilting designs for allover quilting on whole cloth quilts or pieced quilts. The stipple collection fills the embroidery hoop with linking repeats of meandering wavy lines. You’ll find nine designs in this collection: top left, top center, top right, center right, center, center left, bottom left, bottom center and bottom right.


The Chandelier collection stitches very quickly and consists of a center medallion (for the center of the quilt), a half vertical (for the left and right edges), a half horizontal (for the top and bottom edges) and two border designs. There are several ways to arrange the designs to produce a variety of quilts.


The best way to get started is to print templates of all of the designs so you can audition them on the actual quilt. I love the new Print & Stick Target Template paper – perfect for auditioning quilt designs on a quilt – and they stay put! Before printing, change the thread color on each design to black to make it easy to see. If you’re using Perfect Embroidery Pro or My Quilt Embellisher, select the design and click the 3D icon to change the image to a more vivid rendition of the design.


Place the templates on the quilt and review the layout. If you’re pleased with it, it’s time to get stitching! This week, I’m finally getting a chance to quilt my Sunkissed quilt from Nancy Zieman’s Quick Column Quilt blog tour way back in September. I’m tempted to use the chandelier designs, I’ll keep you posted of my progress.


Here’s your assignment this week:Leave ac comment and tell us if you think the chandelier or stipple designs will look best on the Sun Kissed quilt. One comment will be chosen at random to receive a $25 gift card to use on the DIME website. Good Luck!
The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question…What size quilt do you typically make?  Post your comments and 2 lucky winners will be randomly chosen to win a pack of the new Print & Stick Target Paper.The winner is… Maxine M.  “I love quilting and I challenge myself constantly. I do wallhangers, baby quilts, quilts of all sizes up to king. My God’s Promise Quilt took 1st. place at the Calgary Stampede and was my first time ever putting a quilt in to be judged. I was so very humble as any quilt I make is for the enjoyment and to see the finished result is so rewarding.”


The Case for Applique: Open and Closed

By Tamara Evans

This week’s blog explores two different, but simple, methods of creating applique designs. We have received many requests for instructions to create the necktie applique on the onesie shown at our Inspiration Socials. Here are some very simple instructions using My Quilt Embellisher software. (The same steps may also be used with Perfect Embroidery Pro software.)

Find, or draw, an image of a necktie and save it to your computer. Load the image as a backdrop in the software. Resize if desired. This one 5″ long.

The applique is created in two sections so that the fabric on the top of the tie could be placed in a different direction than the tail of the tie; just like a real tie. The knot of the tie is a “closed” applique, and the tail is an “open” at the top.

Select the artwork option. Click Fill in the Properties – Artwork box, then click apply. Select the magic wand icon.


Closed Applique – The Knot

Click in the yellow knot area at the top of the tie to create an artwork image.

Zoom in to the view the new artwork. Select the Shape tool, then click on the artwork to display all of the nodes.

Since this design is quite pixelated, it needs to be cleaned up. Select and delete nodes to smooth out the shape. Reposition the remaining nodes until the shape is acceptable.

Select the artwork with the Select tool, then click the Applique tool to convert it to applique. The knot of the tie is now complete.


Open Applique – The Tail

Select the Artwork tool. Click the down arrow next to the tool to select the Pen option. Using the backdrop as a guide, click in positions 1-5 (shown below), then right click to finish the input.

With the newly created artwork selected, click the Shape tool to display all the nodes of the tie tail artwork. Select the node at the point of the tie, and then right click to display the options dialog box, as shown. Select the Smooth option for the selected node.

Adjust the “antennae” on either side of the node to soften, or smooth, the point. Pulling them further out will adjust the curve of the point.

Once the artwork has been satisfactorily adjusted, click the Select tool. Then, select the Applique tool to convert the artwork to applique, as shown.



With the tail of the tie still selected, click the Send to Back icon. Now the tail will stitch first, leaving a raw edge of fabric at the top under the knot. The knot will cover the raw edge at the top of the tail.

Save the design in the C2S format. Use this format to resize, adjust the applique stitches, etc. When ready to stitch, save the design in the proper stitch format for the embroidery machine.

Have fun with the sizing and fabric options for the necktie applique!

To locate a DIME Inspiration Social near you, click DIME Inspiration Socials

Meet the shortE


Until now, quilting a whole quilt on an embroidery machine was like pulling a 24 ft. fishing boat with a Volkswagen bug. It just didn’t make sense. Well that has changed. I’ve been working on a solution for over a year and I’m so excited to finally begin to share it with you.

Let me introduce you to the shortE – the Embroidery Short Arm with a Long Reach. The shortE holds the weight of the quilt while Snap Hoop Monster creates the tension on the quilt sandwich.  The shortE is a frame that sits under (and around) your machine so your machine can do its thing – stitch beautiful embroidery.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The shortE works with any single needle embroidery machine that is compatible with a Snap Hoop Monster. Why? Snap Hoop Monster enables you to rehoop right under the needle. You don’t have to remove the quilt from the machine to rehoop – this is a huge issue when quilting with your embroidery machine!

Meet the shortE

I’ve been having a blast quilting with my machine. I started small – table runners, crib quilts and the like. Then I ramped up to 66” x 80” and then…at the suggestion of an experienced quilter, I moved to queen and king size quilts. And it works!  Oh my goodness, I haven’t had this much fun with my embroidery machine since I designed my first Stipple! Collection.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I’ve always loved quilting – love to play with the fabrics, piece them together but the actual quilting – left me in a lurch. I’ve never wanted to invest in a long arm – too expensive and WAY too large for my sewing space.  But now I can get the same experience and results with my embroidery machine! One very cool feature is the shortE sits on any sewing machine table or folding table.  It’s completely adjustable to accommodate different heights and machines.  Very versatile!

Quilting with the shorte is a bit like quilting with a long arm. You have to ‘work the quilt’.  Just like longarmers have to advance the fabric rolls, you will do that too on the shortE. And just like longarmers clamp the sides of the quilt to create tension, you will make sure the quilt sandwich is snug in the Snap Hoop Monster frame.   Take a look for yourself…


Meet the shortE!

shortE for Large Quilts!



Here’s your assignment this week:What size quilt do you typically make?  Post your comments and 2 lucky winners will be randomly chosen to win a pack of the new Print & Stick Target Paper.
The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question…Is there something special you made for someone and loved it so much wanted to keep it for yourself? Tell us what it was and one random comment will be chosen to win a $25 gift certificate to use on the DIME website. Good Luck!The winner is… Ann S.  “I actually made a photo pieced applique for my daughter.  It was my grandchildren,twin girls.  I meant to give it to her but it looked so good on my wall.  I’ll just keep it for a little while.  She’ll get them at some point.”


December Update in Perfect Embroidery Pro

Beads, Crystals, Pearls and Rhinestones

Do you love to add crystals, beads and pearls to some of your embroidery designs? Then you’re going to love December’s free update in Perfect Embroidery Pro! Now you can audition gems on a design in Perfect Embroidery Pro before you ever take a stitch. Click on the video below to see how easy it is to add crystals to a lace neckline.

If less sometimes leaves you wanting more, then watch the video below to see how a demure neckline can be transformed with holiday sparkle.

Gems are not just for garments as they make lovely additions to home décor items. LuLu Christmas includes a lovely trio of Christmas ornaments – perfect for linen guest towels when sprinkled across the towel. But I don’t always have time to fill the width of fabric with edge to edge embroidery yet I still want a fluid design. The video below shows how crystals are a simple solution in Perfect Embroidery Pro.

When  you update, you’ll find 24 beads, 12 crystals, 16 pearls and 40 rhinestones – each customizable by size. And of course, you can add your own images to the library. Just set the position of each crystal by placing a node on the design or let the software automatically create a string of gems for you – all evenly spaced. Adjust the spacing by changing the instructions in the properties box or fine tune the placement by adjusting the individual nodes.

Stitch marks (you choose between a cross and a circle) are inserted into the design so that the placement can be easily achieved after the embroidery is complete. The size of the stitch marks is adjustable so that even the tiniest gems cover the small marks.

I hope you enjoy December’s free update – I know I’m going to have fun adding sparkle to my creations!

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