Author Archive

Fabric Too Short for the Hoop?

Don’t you hate it when the fabric doesn’t fit in the hoop? Recently, I was stitching a faced scallop border on my embroidery machine and the fabric was about 3” too short to fit in the hoop. I find that so frustrating! I didn’t want to waste more fabric so I cut a 3” piece of adhesive water soluble stabilizer then removed 1 ½” of the protective paper. I pressed my fabric strip to the sticky surface. Presto! The fabric strip fit into the embroidery frame and I didn’t have to fill the hoop with fabric or stabilizer. Fab3

Stitching a faced scalloped hem on the embroidery machine is no different than stitching one on a sewing machine. It’s still a running stitch and doesn’t require stabilizer behind the stitches. The difference is the scallops are perfect when you leave the measuring and stitching to the digital precision of an embroidery machine. It works for all kinds of projects: towels, totes, quilts and garments. And now you know how to fill the hoop even if your fabric is too small!Fab2l

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

What Color Would You Select?

I’m in a quandary. I’m designing the quilting for the My Block Piecer Block of the Month Sampler. The quilt is pieced and I’m excited to load the quilt onto the shortE and get started. Here’s a look at the pieced quilt on the design wall. Please forgive the photography – I took this photo with my cell phone.2015-12-19_20-00-51

Here’s one quilting layout that I started in My Quilt Planner. This layout features the same designs on each block. 2015-12-19_19-40-36

I don’t know if this is the one that I’ll go with but it’s been fun playing with the feathers.
Here’s a preview of the feathers a quilt block.2015-12-19_19-28-22

But what color thread? I’ve eliminated black because I’d like the quilting to pop on the black patches. Shall I select bright pink, hot blue, neon green or orange? Should I try to go with one color for the whole quilt or select thread for each block? What would you do?

Stabilizing Cotton Fabric

In October, reader Shirley Clark asked, “What’s the best stabilizer to use for stitching on pillowcases or cotton fabric? I know I’ve played with this a lot, and even used a spray on stabilizer to keep it from puckering. Stitching on knits are easy, but cottons are always challenging.”

Shirley, it depends (great answer, right?) on the design and size of the project. When I’m adding embroidery – think full, dense designs – I often give cotton a little extra lift. I fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the cotton.  When making pillows or quilt blocks, I interface the entire wrong side of the block or pillow front.  Then I add tear-away stabilizer for the actual embroidery.  The interfacing stabilizes the fabric and the tear-away stabilizes the stitches.

I’ve used Pellon’s ShirTailor fusible or tricot knit interfacing. The ShirTailor adds body to the cotton and makes it a bit stiff.  I find it’s great for pillow fronts and whole cloth wall quilts (fused edge to edge).  I started using it many years ago when I wrote my first quilt book, Contemporary Machine Embroidered Quilts. Since then, my style has evolved and I find I don’t really stitch heavy embroidery designs on quilt tops anymore but the technique still works.


Today, when I’m adding embroidery designs (fill stitches) to a quilt block, I fuse tricot knit interfacing to the wrong side of the block. This added layer of support won’t change the hand of the fabric but the embroidery definitely benefits from this addition.

Of course, another way to avoid puckers on cotton is to select a design that is appropriate for the lightweight cotton. Heavy dense stitches need a firmer substrate, one that can endure thousands of needle penetrations.  If you select airy and open designs for stitching on cotton, you’ll be happier with your embroidery.

Always stitch a test of the stabilizer, fabric, interfacing and design combination. Use fabric of the same weight and fiber for the text. Make notes right on the sample if you don’t think you’ll use it in another project. If it’s a candidate for future use, write in pencil on the back.  Down the road, you’ll know what changes were required.

Here’s your assignment this week:

I hope this information helped Shirley for stitching on cotton. Our blog sponsor this week is Graceful Embroidery. Please click on the banner below to visit their site and make sure to tell us what’s your favorite Graceful Embroidery design. Four commenters will be chosen to win a $30 voucher to Graceful Embroidery!


The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

So tell me, how does your significant other show you that they are thinking of you? One comment will be chosen to win a $20 gift card to Designs in Machine Embroidery.

The winner is:  

Joan: “This week, my husband cleaned and replaced the ceiling light panels in my sewing room. I’m afraid to let him in there for very long for fear he’ll get rid of some of my stash, though.”


Little Ways to Say I Love You

Spouses, partners and significant others find countless ways to show their love.  My husband shows his love in many thoughtful ways but there’s one that I really enjoy. He’s my “eye in sky.” He travels quite a bit for business and when he’s on the road, I have proof that he thinks of me. You see, he sends me photographs of embroidered or decorated garments, wallhangings and who knows what. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the garments are worn by some innocent bystander.  Here’s how it plays out:

I’ll be working at my desk, and my cell phone will ping. When I look at it, I see it’s a message from Pete.  I love that – I get all warm and fuzzy and then look at the message. An image appears. And then another. And then the explanation of why he sent it and who the person is follows. He’s very thorough.

This week, he’s in Las Vegas at a convention. And you can imagine just how many embellished garments (or items trying to pass for garments) there are in Vegas on display.  But he knows I’m more interested in everyday wear.  He knows my current fave is uniquely printed fabrics because of our new business, MyFabricDesigns.  Pete is still in the learning phase of understanding the capabilities of print on demand fabric so he was intrigued when he saw the back of this coat:Coat1BL

And even more so when he introduced himself and asked permission to photograph the coat. She only spoke Italian but her husband granted permission in English.Coat2BL

Here’s your assignment this week:

So tell me, how does your significant other show you that they are thinking of you?

My Block Piecer Block of the Month Sampler

Toot, toot!  Beep, beep!  We’re happy to announce our My Block Piecer Block of the Month Sampler.AllblocksBL

I learned so much when I made this quilt designed by Nancy Stansbury. Nancy did a fabulous job of designing and writing the instructions. My tasks were to stitch each block, photograph the process and make it available to the dealers.  So please nudge your dealer to participate.  We want everyone who owns My Block Piecer to join in the fun. By the time you’ve completed all 12 blocks, you’ll be a My Block Piecer pro!

You’ll learn how to make one, two and three-unit blocks.block1BL

And if you’ve been hankering to learn how to upload a block of your own and turn it into an in-the-hoop pieced block, you’ll learn that in block 6.Blk6BL

I forced myself to cut my patches on a digital cutter and became so familiar with that process; I was tempted to throw away my rotary cutter!  This is the most precise quilt I ever made – I’m so proud of all my sharp points, matching seams and flawless seam allowances.  I know, I know, it’s practically cheating when you’re using digital files – everything is perfect!

The Sampler works well as a scrap quilt or even modern solids.  But I took a different path because I just melt at Kaffee Fasset’s use of colors. I threw caution to the wind and grabbed several bolts of his Free Spirit fabrics. They might not have been the best choice, several of the prints are very large for these small patches but I couldn’t resist. I paired his bright fabrics with black and I must say I’m pleased with the end result.  We’ll unveil the fully-quilted version soon – right now it’s sitting on my shortE.

If you decide to make the large version (four repeats of each block), you’ll have fun creating your own layout. I think block 11 was my favorite because it gave so many options for joining the blocks. Blk11aBLBlock11bBLBlock11cBL

So nudge your dealer and encourage them to join in the fun!

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:


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