Archive of ‘Just for Fun’ category

A name you can trust!

Abigail adds colorful excitement to her tightrope performance with Sulky embroidery threads.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Imagine the colorful excitement you can add to your next embroidery project!  Sulky thread comes in an array of beautiful options.  Visit their website for more information.

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Of course, Sulky sells more than embroidery thread.  Thread, stabilizers, embroidery tools, and designs are just a few items you’ll find at Sulky.  Post a comment telling us about your favorite Sulky product.  Four randomly chosen people will each win 1 roll of  Stitch ‘n Seal!

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Become a Social Butterfly! Part 2

Last week I explored a special offer in an ad featured in the current issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery.  If you missed the blog, click here.

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When you spend $49 or more at the Embroidery Online website, enter coupon code:  DIME2016FREE and you’ll receive the Luminous Freestanding Butterflies collection for free.  (Offer ends 4/30/2016).

As you can see, there are all sorts of special offers and promos featured in every issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery.  If you don’t subscribe to the magazine, I encourage you to do so.  Special offers, free designs and inspiration can be found from page to page.  Flutter on to our subscription page to subscribe or give us a call at 888-739-0555.


This week I decided to explore the process of incorporating natural elements into my embroidery projects.  For the few that have seen my home (and for the rest who haven’t!) —it’s a mix of various collections including rocks and really neat branches that I’ve picked up during my adventures.  I bet you’re wondering rocks?  Branches?  What in the world does a person do with these elements?  I wondered the same until I found just the right use.  Take a look!

While visiting friends in Kerrville, I wandered their beautiful property and found the most delightful rock.  I got permission to take the rock and little did we know it would end up being a cute pedestal for a butterfly to rest upon.  I had it sitting on my desk all week as a paperweight – but it will return to its home in Kerrville to my friends as a special gift.

The letters are chip board—you can find similar ones in the scrapbook aisle of your favorite retailer.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Next, I decided to cover a branch with butterflies and use it as wall décor.  I love the mix of thread and natural elements.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Excited to find use for my other branches, I combined two small branches with carpenter’s glue.  Then I created ribbon roses and placed them in one corner with a butterfly resting upon them.  More chip board was used to spell the word “create” but I could have easily spelled my last name or other message.  The Butterfly Fairy was a last minute addition to the scene.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Here’s a close-up of the Butterfly Fairy.  One late night of butterfly stitching, my embroidery machine got hungry and started eating my fabric.  The wings that were in the process of being stitched were incomplete but too pretty to throw away.  I trimmed them and decided to use them to make fairy wings.

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Since the underside of the embroidery would be visible, I covered the wings with organza.  Then I made a doll using inspiration from Wee Felt Folk by Salley Mavor.  The dress is made from the center of a daffodil.  I loved the results and quickly posted the photo for my friends to see.  But there was just one problem which I presented to them:  “This Butterfly Fairy needs a name!”

I got a reply from a friend I recently reconnected with online.  The name she presented and I fell in love with:  Daphne!  Look at her, she looks like a Daphne!

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And that’s the story of how Daphne the Butterfly Fairy came together.  I think she represents the beauty of using the resources you have—though imperfect, to make something special, unique and meaningful.  Imagine if I had tossed the half stitched wings in the trash bin!  And I love involving others in my embroidery projects – even though some live far away they can be part of the process online.  It’s a constructive and positive use of social media that I encourage you to embrace if you haven’t already.  It is quite fun to be a social butterfly!

 

 

 

 

Become a Social Butterfly!

While my team and I were putting the latest issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery together, an advertisement from Embroidery Online caught my attention.  Did you see it? Here’s a glimpse of the ad from the Mach/April 2016 issue along with a full size stitched butterfly for scale.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The offer is pretty nifty:  Make a purchase of $49 and receive the #12600 Luminous Freestanding Butterflies for free!  Coupon code:  DIME2016FREE.  Offer ends 4/30/2016. The free collection download will be added to the cart automatically when you enter the code.

I thought it would be fun to try this special offer.  By the end of this article I think you’ll agree, it’s an excellent offer you don’t want to miss.  Purchase some thread, stabilizer or other supplies from Embroidery Online to make the $49 goal.  Enter the coupon code:  DIME2016FREE and you’re on your way to becoming quite the social butterfly!

This will be an ongoing series you’ll see as you flutter through our blog, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest pages.  Every photo will be tagged #socialbutterfly and you are encouraged to post your creations made from this collection too!

 

 


I have a collection of real butterflies that are framed on my wall at home.  I thought it would be fun to make my own embroidered version and make it look like a preserved ‘specimen’.

I used a Micro font from Inspirations Software to stitch the name on twill tape. Wanting to add some excitement, I used an online translator to convert “embroidered butterfly” to the equivalent in French.  Until these butterfly designs fluttered into my world, I never ventured to embroider text on anything narrow much less in a foreign language.  I’m glad I tried!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I added a pin to mimic the look of a real specimen.  I glanced through insect collecting pages online and soon discovered there is quite a science to proper display and pinning… which I happily leave to the experts!  For my embroidered butterfly, a regular sewing pin on the body of the butterfly was good enough for me!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

As I posted very limited previews of the embroidered butterflies on my Facebook page for friends to see, I noticed a trend.  My friends are passionate about butterflies!  Sure, they have liked my posts in the past, but butterflies ignite a particular admiration.  Here’s a sampling of my friends’ comments:

“The color possibilities are endless”
“Stunning….these butterflies are so wonderful.”
“I love love love these!!”
“These are amazing!!”

Their reactions inspired me to make a custom butterfly for a friend (she likes purple) and name it after her.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

After stitching the name, I trimmed away the jump stitches then I used scrapbook brads to add a more custom touch to the project.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Here’s the finished piece!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

When I present the gift to her I will add a little notecard that says:

“I named a butterfly after you!
It’s unique and special just like you!”


Here’s a look at more butterflies I have stitched in just ONE week.  Each is slated for a special use.  To the left you’ll see butterflies getting soaked to remove the water soluble stabilizer – or as I like to put it:  “the butterflies are getting a bath”.  I’ll be sharing how I used the rest of the butterflies throughout our blog and social media pages in the coming days… and weeks… because I’ve discovered it’s super fun to be a #socialbutterfly!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The next series will be of particular interest to those who collect natural random objects. I’ll show how I used the butterflies in unexpected ways on these objects.  Until then, be sure to visit Embroidery Online to restock your sewing studio with much needed supplies and use code:  DIME2016FREE at checkout.

Opportunity Knocks!

My friend Tore works in a corporate environment—picture a quiet, organized, office setting.  The exact opposite of my space where there’s an explosion of stitched samples, fabrics, trim, buttons… and somewhere there’s a desk.

He recently told me he volunteered to supply the office decorations for the common area at his workplace.  I immediately smelled an opportunity to introduce embroidery into a new environment.  I quietly agreed to help him buy some standard St. Patrick’s Day decorations but we both knew the odds were good I’d surprise him and his office with some of my embroidered handiwork!

But where to start?
I started on social media.  

I noticed our friends at Sulky shared a St Patrick’s Day TBT blog post featuring a free downloadable shamrock design.  Perfect!  Want the design?  Visit here!

Next I used the Scalloped Letter Squares from Joann Connolly’s book, Sweet Stitches.  You might recognize the design… or you might not!  Here’s the original design below.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I combined the two designs in embroidery software.  You can do this in any embroidery editing software you own.  Keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Test, test, test. I feel like I’ve said this before!
  2. Just like in arithmetic, you need to remember order of operations. You are combining two different applique designs.  The Scalloped Letter Squares Design has a piece of fabric that covers the back to create a clean finish.  But you also need to stitch the Shamrock design before you stitch the back.  You will need to rearrange the sequence of stitches so the two designs stitch in the proper order.  You’ll have to test and experiment—but that’s part of the learning process.

Here’s what happened during my “experimental” process.  You’re looking at the back of the project that should not have the shamrock outline exposed.  Oops.  But flip it over to the front and no one will know the difference!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Here’s a look at the final outcome.  For added fun, I added a shamrock ribbon as a hook and sewed a button to each piece.   Then I glued some buttons onto some pushpins to make it easy to hang the shamrocks on their bulletin board.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I sure am lucky to have the opportunity to spread the love of machine embroidery everywhere!  You can do the same!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Takeaways from this blog:
1.  It’s ok to mix, match and have fun.  Look for ways to repurpose designs.  Combine, remove stitch elements—change the color sequences to fit your new invention.  This is what makes the creative process fun.

2.  Opportunity often knocks quietly and sometimes it might require some effort.  But the results are worth it.  You can create and design your happiness and growth as a person and in that process you might brighten someone else’s day.


Your assignment for this week:
Spread happiness.  Take the time to thank a person.  Be specific with your reason for thanking them.  Spend some time listening to someone that needs to talk.  Listen more and speak less!  Smile at the barista the next time you are at the coffee shop.  Instead of “liking” a post on Facebook, Instagram, etc, engage with the person by commenting a positive thought.  Hug your husband, your grandchild or your best friend.

The winner of last week’s blog post answered the following question:
What type of projects would you like to see more of?  Quilts, crafts, adult clothing, children’s clothing or home decor?  One lucky winner will receive a 1 year subscription to Designs in Machine Embroidery.

The winner is:
Stella:  “I would love home decor or useful items to use at home. There have already been a lot of towels and pillows, so new ideas would be fun to learn.”

Thank you, everyone for taking the time to comment.  The information you shared is very helpful as we continue to come up with fresh content you’ll enjoy!

Experiment & Have Fun

I read a comment on last Wednesday’s blog post that got my creative juices flowing.  It is from one of our frequent Designs in Machine Embroidery contributors, Joanne Banko.  Here’s an excerpt of her comment:

Denise you outdid yourself. Wow, wow, and triple wow!!! Lovely little lace designs and great ideas for hair ornaments and more!

I think these would also be pretty added to crazy quilt blocks. One of my favorite uses for pieces like this is to attach them to custom stitched greeting cards for a 3D effect.

I absolutely love Joanne’s suggestion of using the lace designs with crazy quilt blocks.  My reply to her suggested I’d be posting some more shenanigans… so as promised, here we go!

I knew I wanted to try out one of Eileen’s quilt blocks from her book, Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine.  I foraged through my home to find fabrics with a sheen.  (They are not required but I wanted to try something new.)  Since satin fabrics tend to fray so easily—I don’t generally want to work with them!  But I knew the machine embroidered version of a crazy quilt design would make it easier.

I was curious to see what the FSL Flourish Flower from Embroidery Online would look like if it was stitched in two colors.  It was digitized for a single color only.  I’ll pause a moment and insert caveats to my idea:

  1. Not all ideas work! Embrace the need to test and be open to positive outcomes as well as learning experiences!
  2. I can’t say this enough. Test, test, test.
  3. Repeat Step 1 and/or 2!

I opened the FSL Flourish Flower in embroidery software.  Then I selected the stitches I wanted a different color, and inserted a new color.  Depending on how lace is digitized this technique may or may not work.  Remember, the digitizer had a specific plan for the design when it was created.  In my example, my idea worked!  (Whew!)

Some tips:  Consider the effects of highly contrasting threads.  I found the results were nicer when I stitched the off-white thread first—then finished up with the accent maroon color on top.

Experiment & Have Fun

Also featured on the crazy quilt block is a leaf design courtesy of Embroidery Online.  In fact, you may download it from our website for free if you haven’t already.  Visit our Free Designs page on the Designs Plus Newsletter.  Scroll to March 2015.  Click here to do it now.

Here’s a look at the finished block.  I added ribbon, buttons and a cute key to finish off the block.  Remember, making crazy quilt blocks is your chance to embellish with bits and pieces of treasures you have saved over the years.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

After working with the FSL Flourish Flower, my mind wandered to miniatures….

I have a miniature wooden table that is in great need of being adorned with lace linens.  The freestanding lace designs make great doilies for my table!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Takeaways for the Day:

  1. Experiment and have fun.
  2. Look at embroidery designs with an open mind. Maybe there’s a use for a design you haven’t considered.

Last week we asked you to tell us which supplies from Embroidery Online you are most in need of in your sewing studio.  This week I get to announce the lucky FIVE random winners who will each receive a $25 shopping spree to the EmbroideryOnline website.

Here are the winners!

Sheri:
“FSL was one of the first projects I tried, so much fun! I can always use new needles and a small pair (or two!) of applique scissors would be nice.”

Diana Hensley:
“I have made several baby bonnets and booties using the FSL. I love the wash away stabilizer, it is really neat to wash it out and you have something so neat.”

Donna G.:
“I could use sharp embroidery scissors, and there’s some new stabilizers I’ve not tried. The hair accessories are a cute idea!”

Eileen Ryan:
“Wash Away Stabilizer always comes in handy”

Carolyn:
“I love doing FSL! I discovered Embroidery Online in your July/August 2014 issue with there FSL Patchwork Quilt Birdhouses on the cover. I’m making wind chimes with them. Their Alligator clamps are a must, and the AguaMesh Wash Away Stabilizer, and well as Vilene’s is the best for FSL.”

Congratulations, everyone!  If you need help spending the shopping spree money, let me know!  😉


This week’s assignment:
What type of projects would you like to see more of?  Quilts, crafts, adult clothing, children’s clothing or home decor?  One lucky winner will receive a 1 year subscription to Designs in Machine Embroidery.

 

Beauty and Inspiration is Everywhere!

Sometimes you find inspiration in unusual places! This little fellow was spotted outside by my office mate who brought it to my desk.  She knew I wouldn’t be able to resist taking photos.  I’m not sure any of us anticipated I’d try to coordinate it with fabric, but the moth was cooperative – so I had to try!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

After spending time with my new friend, I felt inspired to find moth themed embroidery designs.  Here’s what I found….

I always enjoy browsing the Urban Threads website.  Click here to view the details on the Death’s-Head Hawkmoth design.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Kreations by Kara also has an interesting design.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Imagine striking black and orange colors for this design from Embroidery Library!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

This design from Embroidery Online reminds me of my last moments photographing the moth outside.  It started flapping its wings and then came at me.  I screamed for my life before it flew away.  It’s probably safer to stitch the design than to try to photograph a large, eager to escape, moth!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Where do you find your inspiration?

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

 

Here’s your assignment this week:

In what ways does nature give you inspiration?. We’ll pick a random winner here next Wednesday. If we pick your name, we’ll set you up with a $20 Designs in Machine Embroidery gift card!

The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

Pop over to My Fabric Designs and enter the contest. While you’re there, browse in the fabrics (click on Shop) and tell me what fabric you’d like to win. We’ll pick a random winner here next Wednesday. If we pick your name, we’ll ship you one yard of the fabric you mentioned in your comment.

The winner is:  

Laurel D: “What fun is this!!!???? Had to forward the news on to my sister who is a dedicated quilter (and a confessed fabric hoarder ). Can’t wait to try to create my own fabric — thanks for bringing this option to our attention … if I were to win, I’d choose the Happy Pigs to make something special for my best friend (of over 45 years) who loves pigs and is fighting cancer — what happiness that fabric could bring!”

Unusual Uses for Bobbin Thread!

One evening I was stitching happily when the bobbin case exploded.  What an incredible… fascinating… MESS!  I quickly grabbed my camera to take photos.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The unwound thread – in its loose spirals – intrigued me.  What a waste of thread… but surely I can turn this into something positive.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

And that’s when I realized fairy hair comes from serendipitous moments such as these!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

This week’s assignment:  It’s easy to loose your cool when things go terribly, unexpectedly wrong.  Share a time when you were able to turn lemons into lemonade.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

About the Model
Mavis, with her beautiful bobbin hair, is inspired from the book, Wee Felt Folk – New Adventures by Salley Mavor.  She is wearing a designer skirt from the great fashion house, “Daffodil Fashions,” a fictitious high-end fashion designer in a far-away place known as Fairyland in the country of Lambicornia.  The garment top is a pattern from Mavor’s book.  I added the decorative stitching using a built-in stitch from the Baby Lock Ellisimo, then I hand stitched beads.. because, well, Fairies like to dress over the top!

It was a 7 bobbin kind of day…

Henry was plumb tuckered out from having to change so many bobbins!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

You know you’re really busy when you have a pile of empty – just used – bobbins resting next to your machine.  Recently, I was embroidering a burlap table runner – about 12 hoopings. Somehow I thought a table runner would stitch up fairly quickly. What was I thinking? Table runners span the LENGTH of the table not the width!  And a lace design with over 30K stitches take quite a bit of time.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

 

Here’s your assignment this week:

I know many of you have taken on impressive embroidery projects. I’m sure you get a sense of satisfaction when complete. And I think its rewarding to look at the pile of used bobbin and do a head count.  So tell me, have you ever had a 7 bobbin kind of day?  What’s the most bobbins you’ve gone through on a single project?

The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

I’ll share the photos of the bride after her big day – don’t want to break any traditions! Speaking of traditions, I’m planning on embroidering a label for the gown, documenting the occasion. Have you ever done that? And if so, what information did you include? We’ll pick one random winner to receive a $20 gift certificate to Designs in Machine Embroidery.

The winner is:  

Kati: “It looks like the dress will be beautiful! I often use a piece of grosgrain ribbon inside the side of the shirts I sew to label them. I have a programmable machine that will stitch out small lettering on the ribbon. (Using tear away stabilizer)”

 

 

Will the person with the initials SFN please step forward?

Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogWill the person with the initials SFN please step forward?  We have a free towel to give you!

Here’s an unusual problem you have probably never encountered:   we end up with some unusual embroidered samples in our offices!  No, we didn’t randomly pick SFN.  This towel has an exciting history.  It was used on the set of Sewing with Nancy!

I was tapped to demonstrate one of my favorite sewing tips in a brief 5-minute segment on Sewing with Nancy. I selected the initials because well, frankly, they’re beautiful! After all, how many ERs and NZs can one embroider? The filming went off without a hitch and now the towel sits in my sample room begging for a more elegant resting spot. And now that it’s served its purpose, we’d love to see it go to a better home.  So if your name is:

  • Sarah Francesca Norris
  • Sally Florence Nicholas
  • Samuel Filipe Nunez
  • Steven Frank Nelson

Or any other wonderful name with the initials SFN, we want to hear from you!  We will ship anywhere in the continental US.  One random person with the correct initials will be selected as the lucky recipient of the towel.  Now you might be asking, how will we verify if you have the right initials?  This will be the honor system.  Besides, how many of us want a towel with someone else’s initials hanging from our towel rack?  Looks a bit suspicious to me! Although it’s not uncommon to collect and display vintage linens adorned with a variety of initials.

If it has been awhile since you’ve reviewed monogramming etiquette and you’re wondering about the proper order for initials—here’s a quick review.

If the embroidered initials are the same size, arrange them:  first name initial, middle name initial, last name initial.

If the middle initial is larger, then it is the last name and should be placed in the center.  first name initial, last name initial, middle name initial.

While these are the standard recommendations, you are welcome to exercise creative license!  Just always be sure to make sure the initials don’t spell something unexpected that won’t be appreciated.

Here are some additional blog posts on Monograms:

Monograms for Men

Lowercase Monograms

Monograms for Today’s Marriages

 

When my time in Sewing Utopia took a downward spiral…

I was in Sewing Utopia the other evening.  You are probably familiar with that magical place where everything runs smoothly.

The Loop-de-Loop designs from Embroidery Online were stitching like a dream.  The digitizing quality is superb.  And to make things even more dreamy, I was at the height of efficiency, running not one, but two embroidery machines in my EmbroideryLand, USA.  I’m so blessed to have access to plenty of resources at the office.  At this rate, I’ll finish sooner than later!

I finished the letters and took my stitch-outs to the store to audition frames.


Shopping Tips
Plan ahead!  Go ahead and use those coupons that come in week after week from the craft stores!  It’s an obvious tip but oftentimes when you’re in the middle of a project, like I was, you don’t have time to shop around for the most affordable frames available.  Your favorite craft retailer with those nifty 40% or 50% off coupons are great for stocking up on frames.  Pick a size and style that you’ll know you can use easily—white, black or even wood grain.  Go with a standard stock so you’ll be confident they will be available time and again.  Every time you get a coupon in the mail, your inbox or through an app, pick up a frame.  Before you know it you’ll have collected enough frames to complete a project.

It was at the store that my Utopian world vanished.  (Insert dramatic sound effects here!)

Do as I say, not as I do! (the ongoing series!)
Excited with my stitched letters, I got to work by adding the rick rack and buttons on a sample before heading to the store.  It was a masterpiece!  My friend Dianna will love this!  But when I went shopping for the frames, I realized to my great disappointment that I trimmed the fabric too short.  Gasp!  I flipped through each of my embroidered samples at the store.  By my estimation, two samples were cut too short.

I returned to my not-so-sewing-utopia armed with more fabric.  This time I cut the fabric to fit the frames.  I won’t make the same mistake three times.

I’m reminded of that saying:  measure twice, cut once!

I think I’d change it to:  measure twice—then cut and stitch once!

While I didn’t have anything to measure when I first began the project, it’s important to plan ahead.  Allocate enough fabric around the embroidery so you have options.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

After stitching all the white rick rack, on my yellow samples, I reached for the green rick rack to stitch on the orange samples.  It was at that point I made the unfortunate discovery that the rick rack widths were not the same.  I didn’t have enough of a single color to use for all the samples (not that I wanted to rip out my newly stitched rick rack).  Nor did I want to make a trip to the store for rick rack.  Downtrodden, I took my samples to my trusty adviser – who also happens to be the Creative Director for the magazine – Sam Solomon.  He said the difference in widths is too minuscule for it to matter.  Besides, we can call it creative license!  (I will admit that when I photographed this shot below, the difference really is minuscule!  It’s funny how monumental it felt at the time.)

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Concluding Thoughts
When you start getting weary from making a project, remind yourself the gift is always about the recipient.  Think about the person and what they mean to you when you are making the project.  I certainly did when I was re-stitching the two letters.  I consoled myself thinking—Dianna has had some long nights and weekends working.  This project will be worth it!  I surprised her by placing the frames in her office while she was in a meeting.  I’m not sure who was happier—we were both smiling from the experience!

Also hiccups along the way, like my “rick rack” width disaster – can seem monumental when you’re in the middle of the project.  But step back to look at the matter from a different perspective.  If possible, get feedback from others – and exercise your right to be a whimsical, creative designer.  Improvise, problem solve and have fun!

Whether you have a friend, family member, coworker or someone else you want to thank—do so in an action-oriented manner.  Taking the time to make something specific for that person shows you appreciate them enough to sacrifice your time for them.


 

 

Click here if you missed Part 1 of this blog post.  Part 1 goes through the software steps for adding the decorative stitching.

 

 

 

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