Archive of ‘Embroidery Tips’ category

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!”

Multi-Needle Monday: Extension Table for Babylock Enterprise and Brother Entrepreneur

I’ll admit I have owned my 10 needle embroidery machine for 4 years and have recently started to use the extension table and I am wondering WHY I waited so long. My other embroidery machine is a 6 needle and the extension table was not an option so I always improvised when embroidering heavy bulky items.

One of the most convenient attributes of the extension table is the capability to slide it out of the way when necessary. The brackets are easy to install and the table clicks into place and can quickly be taken off or repositioned down to access the bobbin.

Why would you use the extension table? One of the most obvious reasons would be to give a large hoop extra support when stitching. I embroider heavy jackets, thick plush towels and luxurious blankets and using the table helps keep the large hoops balanced and decreases the chance of my project bouncing out of the hoop. The extension table also keeps excess fabric out of the way of the bobbin area and back of embroidery machine. If you have purchased the optional 14 x 14 jumbo hoop, the extension table should always be used. The “B” arms would have to be attached to replace the “A” arms.

Do not use the table as a hooping station. You should always keep a clear surface for hooping only. Use a table or counter top that is the appropriate height for you. Position a rubber mat or rubber shelf liner on your work surface to help ease the task of hooping.

Remove the extension table when embroidering bags, t-shirts and other tubular items because you will need to have the ability to fit the item around the bobbin throat.

Installing the extension table is simple to do; the hardware consists of two rails, 4 tall extension screws and 4 extra small screws. One Philips head screw driver is needed to remove small screws and insert back into tall extension screws.

The photos below will give you a clear image of how to proceed when inserting the extension table.table1BLtable2BLRemove the 4 screws shown in the red boxes and place aside. Insert the 4 tall extension screws (included with extension table accessories) into the same hole where the small screws were removed.table3BL

Attach the 2 rails to the inside area of  embroidery machine, notice the two side rails will have to be installed correctly on the left and right side.table4BLtable5BL

Insert the 4 small screws into the top metal frame of side rails.

Slide the extension table top into the rails.table6BLtable7BL

The table is flush with the bobbin throat. The hoop will rest on the table and should not bump into it at all. Use the trace feature when the hoop is attached to be certain the hoop can move cleanly.table8BLtable9BL

My bulky plush blanket can now rest on the extension table and not pull the hoop down when being stitched. It gives me great satisfaction to know I can walk away from my machine and not worry if the hoop will be on the floor when I return.

*Add a water soluble topper to the top of the plush fabrics to keep the nap from poking through the satin stitches of embroidery design.

Use the attached coupon link for my Craftsy class “How to Start a Machine Embroidery Business”- with Marie Zinno.

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.”



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

Numbered Patches in My Block Piecer

Welcome Software Saturday readers!  Recently, I was creating a Flying Geese border in My Block Piecer. I stitched 16 repeats and after the third or fourth one, I knew the patch sequence by heart. Since I’m always on a mission to find time-saving steps, I figured if I omitted stitching the actual numbers in each patch, I would save some precious time. Here’s how to do it.

Open a new file in My Block Piecer. Click on the Block Libraby icon and enter Flying Geese #7 in the box. Click the green down arrow to jump to Flying Geese #7.  Click OK.N1BL

Select the block, right mouse click and select Ungroup.  Delete both side panels. N2BL

Select the remaining patches and click on the Workflow icon and Autobuild. Click Preview.  There are 12 patches in this unit.  Click Save and close. N3BL

Copy and paste the unit to stitch two in one hooping.N5BL

Select all and Ungroup. Now click on each individual letter and delete it.N6BL

You’ll be left with everything but the numbers.N7BL

But don’t worry, when you saved the design earlier, a PDF was created with a visual guide to the block. The first image includes the numbers on each patch.N8BL

The second shows an image of the design with the numbers.N9BL

And finally, there’s an instruction sheet which guides you through each patch.N10BL

Save this edited design with a new name and use it to stitch the block. Don’t you just love this software? It gives you so much freedom when creating blocks to piece in the hoop!


Multi-Needle Monday: Cylinder Hoop Attachment – Brother Entrepreneur

Multi-needle embroidery machine owners are a resourceful and thrifty group. I follow a few Facebook organizations and blogs and try to get a feel for what they are looking for. Most of the questions pertain to hooping and stabilizer challenges on multi-needle machines. Many are overwhelmed once the machine and all the necessary notions are purchased. I remember when I first started my embroidery business; I had no idea about the different accessories that were available to ease hooping.

Last year I taped an episode of It’s Sew Easy TV and I featured the cylinder hoop for the Brother Entrepreneur multi-needle embroidery machine. The series was titled fashion through history. My segment #813 focused on the 1970’s and I embroidered the bottom pant leg of denim jeans. The cylinder hoop can be a useful tool for stitching: upper sleeve on jackets, bottom edge of short sleeve shirts (coaches and corporate), children’s pant legs, narrow opening of bags (wine bags) and any other problematic blanks.

One of the best attributes of the cylinder hoop is the generous embroidery area size: 3 inches tall x 3.5 inches wide. There are three different components of the cylinder hoop: the mounting jig, the cylinder driver and cylinder hoop frame (all included with purchase from your authorized dealer). The hoop is curved and the use of stabilizer is very critical because of the “open window” frame. I suggest using fusible cut away stabilizer when stitching a fabric with stretch. The clips are necessary to hold the fabric in place and inserting the frame to the machine needs a steady hand so as not to push the fabric through the frame opening.

The embroidery machine will “read” the hoop which is helpful but consider if the design needs to be rotated.

Step 1: Loosen and remove the screws from back of machine attachment and remove the “A” or “B” arms, place the screws aside. Insert the cylinder driver on to machine where the arms were removed and tighten the bottom screws (included with the cylinder hoop) as well as inserting the screws from the arms that were removed. Attach the cylinder mounting jig to a table top or metal stand frame and tighten the bottom screw vice which is included with mounting jig. cylinder2BLcylinder3BL

Step 2: Mark the embroidery area on jacket sleeve with a target sticker; turn sleeve inside out and iron the fusible stabilizer to the inside of upper sleeve (or desired location for embroidery). Turn sleeve right side out with target sticker still in place. Insert the cylinder frame onto the mounting jig and slide the sleeve onto the frame.cylinder4BLcylinder5BL Use the included clips to tighten the fabric on the frame on both sides. Remove the frame from the jig carefully and transfer to the cylinder driver.cylinder6BL

Step 3: Embroider the design on upper sleeve area of jacket and remove frame from driver. Remove all clips and re-iron the fusible stabilizer from inside jacket sleeve. Carefully trim the excess stabilizer from inside jacket and clip thread tails if necessary.cylinder8BL

Visit It’s Sew Easy TV to view the segment:

I have included a special coupon for you to use on my Craftsy class: “How to Start a Machine Embroidery Business” with Marie Zinno

Split Long Text Messages for Embroidering on Ribbon

If you have a message that’s longer than your largest hoop, you have two choices, shrink or split the text. Since you don’t always have the option of shrinking text (you might have to fill a certain size space), you might as well learn how to split it. And it’s really quite simple. Here’s how.

Open Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro (you can also follow these steps in Word Art in Stitches). Select the Text tool and type the message in the Properties Box.  Do not hit the return key on the keyboard as you’ll want a long continuous line of text for a ribbon.  Select the font, the sample is Athletic Script. WebRib1BL

The text appears on the screen and if you check the top of the screen, you’ll find the length. The sample was 27 ½” wide. WebRib2BL

Before doing anything else, zoom into the lettering and check the spacing (kerning). WebRib5BL

This is too wide for my taste so I reselect the text (with the Text tool) and change the settings in the property box.  Decrease the height to .65” and reduce the spacing to -4. Click Apply. WebRib6BL

Now the letters almost touch – perfect for stitching on organza. WebRib7BL

But the overall width of the design is still way too big for one hooping.  Let’s breakup the text. Right now, the color sequence box shows the text is all one color and one unit. WebRib7ABL

Select the text and right mouse click. Select Break Up Text from the drop down menu. WebRib8BL

Now the color sequence shows each individual element (underlay, satins, and runs) of the design.  Don’t fret. WebRib8ABL

Click on the Hoop tool and select the hoop you plan on using. WebRib9

Move the text so that the beginning of the message is at the edge of the hoop. Select a logical group of letters. Copy, open a new file and paste.  Save that design as Hoop1. WebRib10BL

Go back to the original file and select the next group. Use natural breaks (between words) to your advantage. WebRib11BL

Save each hooping as a new file and then print templates of each one to help with placement.  See how easy that was?

Needle, Needle, What Size Needle?

I’m the first to admit, I sometime (ok, too often!) skim over the recommendations for proper sewing and embroidery.  You know, like changing the stitch length when sewing specific fabrics. Or choosing the right needle for the job. And yes, I’m often (too often!), disappointed in my initial results. My personality profile is I’m a starter; I like to jump right into a project without reading directions (good thing, cause the directions don’t often exist until I write them). But even when designing and creating an entirely new project, there are steps that I could take that would ensure success. And eliminate some frustration on my part.  You know, it’s hard to change your personality. It’s just my first instinct to jump in and get going. When in reality, I should, ahem, exhale, evaluate, gather the necessary supplies and then start.

Those lessons were reinforced this summer when I was making the wedding dress. If you remember, I couldn’t drive during that time, so my fabric trips were scarce and I really had to have my supply list complete.  Also, satin and rayon were not fabrics that I typically worked with in my sewing room.  So I did my research and made a list, and another list and another list. You know, I was laid up for six weeks, there was lots of list making!

The smartest addition I made to my sewing room during that time was Schmetz’s Needle Chart. At a glance, it told me what needles I needed for the massive (I mean, memorable) project and, once secured and lightly used, the chart told me what needle I was holding in my hand.  Its colorful rainbow is a welcome addition to an unused shelf in my studio.

Unused shelf? You’re astonished, I’m sure! But remember, my Stitching Sister Marie Zinno purged my sewing room a couple of years ago and I’m proud to say, it still looks that way! Back to the needle chart: it also happens to be the last thing I see when I walk out of my studio – a great reminder when I’m need of a new pack of needles.

The wedding dress required three types of needles: Stretch for the satin (it had 10% Lcyra), Microtex for the Bemberg rayon lining and Embroidery for the embroidered ribbon and label. Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Since I worked on the fabrics at different times, it was easy to switch them out. That’s when the color coding really helped! Needl2BL

You can download the chart for your sewing room.  Just click here and scroll down the page a bit to locate the chart.  The arrow in the illustration below is pointing to the download link – you have two sizes to choose from – one for your sewing room and one for your handbag. SchmetzBL


Here’s your assignment this week:

Schmetz needles are available at retailers nationwide. Whenever I’m in my local sewing machine dealer, I make sure I pick up a new pack of needles.  I’m building my stash so that I’m prepared for future projects. How about you? Do you have trouble planning properly? Do you jump right in and then regret it later? Or do you approach projects with caution and prepare accordingly?

Leave a comment and one lucky winner will win a SCHMETZ Sew Essential Combo Pack.  That’s three packs of SCHMETZ Embroidery needles with the ever popular Grabbit® Magnetic Pincushion and the free SCHMETZ Info card.  $24.95 US Retail.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog


The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

Have you ever felt a moment of relief like this? Leave us a comment telling us how you celebrated a big accomplishment and one of you will be randomly selected to win a $20 gift card to Designs in Machine Embroidery!

The winner is:  

Darlene Bares: “I have a problem saying no. So when someone asks me to do something whether its sewing or an embroidery project. I’m burning daylight because most of the time it’s last minute. I just enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and seeing their faces when its done. That’s enough for me.”

Importing Artwork in Word Art in Stitches

It’s very easy to create your own bubbles with your own artwork in Inspirations’ Word Art in Stitches.. Let me show you how.

Open a new file (File, New). Select Import Artwork from the File menu.File1BL

Select an artwork file from your computer (navigate to different areas of your hard drive by clicking on the arrow at the top of the box (Look In).  You can import the following formats: AI, EPS, EMF, WMF, DXF, PLT, SVF and FCM.  I settled for a tomato in the WMF format.  Select the file and click on open.File2BL

The image appears on the screen. In the Sequence box, you’ll see the different colors that make up this drawing.File3BL

Bubble art requires one color, an outline, so I’ll remove all of the interior colors. Select the colors in the Sequence box and hit delete on the keyboard.File4BL

Now I have a black tomato, not an outline.File5BL

No worries, the software will automatically outline it.  Select the tomato and click on the Bubble Text icon.File6BL

The outline appears in the Bubble Text window. To fill the bubble, I chose a run stitch outline, typed in Tomato in the Words box, selected a Red color scheme and clicked Apply.File8BL

It was that easy!File9BL

Adventures In Word Art In Stitches

Open a new file in Inspirations’ Word Art in Stitches lettering program. Word Art in Stitches is only available at Inspirations brick and mortar dealers.


Click on the Bubble Text icon – just hover the mouse over an icon to quickly identify the icon’s function. SewBL

A menu appears with several options for quick customization. Sew2BL

  1. Select the artwork outline. I chose a sewing machine from the hundreds of options.
  2. Select how you want the border to appear: run, steil stitch or no visible outline. I like the steil.
  3. Type in the words. Skip prepositions, just insert a few words. I typed in Word Art Stitches after removing the default My Text.
  4. Select the font. You can choose one or create custom combinations. The software forces a mini font into the list. This is a very helpful safety net as the words can get quite small.
  5. Select a thread palette. There are a dozen to choose from and you can create custom palettes.
  6. Select from several small designs to add additional embellishment.
  7. Apply is where the magic happens. Click Apply to view your work. Continue to click to see random creations. Once you see one you like, click Ok because you won’t see it again!

The menu will dissolve and you’ll find your new embroidery design on the screen. machine1BL

If you’d like to tweak the design (and who can’t leave well enough alone?), select the design, right mouse click and select Ungroup. Select the Text icon and click on each individual word to make any changes you’d like. You have so much freedom in Word Art in Stitches, you’ll find yourself decorating everything with bubble text!

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