Archive of ‘Just for Fun’ category

Bernina Part 2

Day 2 of the BERNINA Ambassador Reunion found me in BERNINA educator Debbi Lashbrook’s class. Debbi’s talent extends far beyond the teaching podium. Her eye for design is unique and yet not so far out of the box; her style appeals to everyone. She stretches the imagination and backs it up with solid stitching techniques while making everything look simple. And under her guidance, it is. In her class, we decorated three fabric strips with decorative stitches and played with those fabulous BERNINA feet on the B 580! We used the leather roller foot (#55), pintuck and decorative stitch foot with clear sole (#46C), edgestitch foot (#10C), 3-groove cording foot (#30) and more.

By this time, our group was quite comfortable with each other and laughter was heard throughout the morning. Debbi gave us the freedom to embellish as we desired. She had great samples for inspiration and we really enjoyed playing with the feet and decorative stitches.

As an embroiderer, I obviously love to add thread to fabric but I usually let the machine do all the work. Guiding the fabric as the machine stitched meandering lines of thread is something I haven’t done in a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed the process and the result. I love the organic look of the long vertical panel.

Next, we played with the circular sewing attachment. I forgot how cool it is to sew in a circle! A variety of stitches brought texture and dimension to the circles. Stitching off the edge of the fabric added an asymmetrical touch to the large panel.

Since I’m gadget girl, I really enjoyed making the corded pintucks. The pintuck and decorative stitch foot with clear sole (#46C) creates flawless corded pintucks.

Really, there is no thinking involved, just stitch! The cord slips under the thread and fills the fabric channel. Then move the fabric keeping the freshly-corded pintuck in one of the foot’s grooves to stitch another parallel line.

Some members of the group are known for over -the-top embellishing so the jokes began to fly around the room. It was an atmosphere I don’t normally sew in so I quite enjoyed the banter. Here’s part our group: Angie Steveson, me, Kaye England and Vicki Tracy.

We all started with the same materials and wound up with different pillows. I wish I had the foresight to take photos of everyone’s pillows but in the scramble to get the job done, I forgot to snap more photos. Lesson learned – you can never have enough photos!

Once the embellishing was complete, we pieced the strips and finished the pillow. After heart-warming goodbyes we went our separate ways for our journey home. I’m sure I speak for many when I say it ended too soon!

Give yourself the gift of time this week and sneak off to your sewing room. A few hours to yourself at your machine may just be the best gift of all.


Here’s your assignment this week:

Tell us how you ‘de-stressed’ during the hustle and bustle of the season. Did you sew, watch a movie, sit in front of a Christmas tree or maybe hold a sleeping child in your lap? We’d love to know how you unwind. A lucky winner will win a $30 gift certificate to spend at the DIME store!

The winner of last week’s assignment:

Leave a comment below about what sewing tool you hope Santa puts under your tree. Six comments will be chosen to receive a one month membership to the Silver Threads Golden Needle Club courtesy of OregonPatchWorks. Good luck!

And the lucky winners are: Judith D, Tammy W, Madeline L, Gail B, Denise F, and Jill H. Congratulations to you all!

Thoughtful & Quick-to-Stitch Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

Long before the holidays spring up I have great plans for stitching gifts for family and friends. But inevitably, the hustle and bustle of preparing a Thanksgiving meal, decorating the home and fighting the crowds everywhere I go and staying within budget leaves me overwhelmed. That’s why I think finding balance and coming up with a plan are so important.

This year I’ve decided to stitch Christmas stockings. Here are 5 reasons why I love this idea and think you will too:

  1. Out of the Ordinary!
    These are not your ordinary stockings from your local discount store. These stockings have a zipper from the cuff to the toe enabling you to hoop the stocking flat!

  2. No need to wrap the gift!The Stocking is the wrapping and also means you don’t have to buy something massive that will be difficult to transport or ship.
  3. A little applique goes a long way!Don’t have time to stitch? Use your favorite applique design. Appliques don’t have a lot of stitching—the applique fabric becomes the focal point.
  4. Themes!Here’s where you can have some fun. Write down a list of your gift recipients in one column. Now in the second column write down their interests and activities. This will also help you determine what to stuff the stocking with. Keep in mind you don’t have to spend a lot to fill your stocking. It’s not what you spend it’s the thought you put into personalizing it. Here’s a look at gift ideas with my friends as examples:
    Name Interests Gift Ideas
    Roger Likes to grill Cooking utensils (wooden spoons, spatulas, spoon rests, spices, recipe cards, gourmet sauces
    Casey Has a sweet tooth Chocolates, cookies, hot chocolate. Pick something unusual for them to try or go ‘old school’ and select only those candies that were from their childhood. People always enjoy reminiscing over their favorite candies as a child.
    Ashton Baby’s First Christmas Baby bibs, baby bottles, booties, onesies
    Janis Loves to sew Fat quarters of fabric, interesting buttons and notions, ribbons and trim
  5. Quality “me” time for… others!Having a hard time escaping? Everyone need a piece of your time? Let them know you’re designing their gift. Besides, the time spent stitching is minimal – and this time is your opportunity to rejuvenate your creative spirit so that you can enjoy the holidays more with others!

I think you’ll agree that coming up with a plan makes the gift-giving-gift-making task less of a ‘task’ and more of an opportunity to create and have fun. Read on for tips to embrace your inner ‘creative designer’.

A little time to design!
Take a look at your design stash to see what designs you’ve collected that fit the theme for your gift recipients. Here’s your chance to get creative AND actually use your random mix of embroidery designs! Or you can choose a holiday theme – snowflakes, Christmas trees, etc.

You can also use your built-in lettering on your embroidery machines or in your embroidery software. Come up with cute sayings or stitch the person’s name with the year.

Whatever you choose, remember it’s not what you spend it’s the thought you put into personalizing it. This sure beats anything you can pick up from your local drug store or retailer!

Pick up a stocking (or two!) from Designs in Machine Embroidery!  Click here to purchase.

A few of my favorite things…Tools!

A few of my favorite things...Tools

As an embroiderer, sewer and crafter you can never have too many tools. Here’s a look at some of my faves and a limited-time offer available to you!

Have you ever tried to cut applique with ordinary scissors? Sure, it can be done but why make it more difficult? Applique scissors are the solution! Simply slide the duck bill between the applique fabric and the base fabric to make clean precise cuts without the risk of cutting your base fabric.

Do you love adding bling to your embroidered creations? I know I do! But moving those tiny little jewels and sparkles can be a challenge with my fingers. That’s why I use a Sharp Metal Pointer and Opposable Tweezers when working with crystals.

What about thread tails or jump stitches that need to be trimmed? Bulky or heavy scissors wouldn’t be very handy or ergonomic. I’d probably skip the trimming if that was my only option! Good thing Thread Snips make it easy and convenient to handle the details. Thread Snips are super lightweight and easy to use. The narrow curved blade makes it easy to trim hard to reach or tight areas that standard scissors are too large to handle. Plus the spring-like action makes these scissors pain-free for anyone with arthritis. They are convenient for left or right handed users! Lefties should love this!

And of course, 4″ and 5 ¼” scissors are a must-have in every studio! 4″ scissors are ideal for making small precise cuts. I usually reach for these scissors when I’m cutting small squares of applique fabric or working on a fun in-the-hoop project. 6″ scissors are ideal for mid-to-large cutting needs. I like to use these scissors because they reduce hand strain compared to traditional 10″ scissors that often feel like hedge trimmers in my delicate hands!

Sure, you can get by with scissors picked up from your local craft store or even (gasp!) office supply store. But efficiency and creating a happy sewing and embroidery experience should always be the goal! With that in mind, I’ve got a deal just for you!

All 6 of the tools and scissors outlined are included in a handy carrying case and can be your free gift with the purchase of $75 or more on the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.

You can keep the kit for yourself or give as a gift! Click the link for more information.


It’s all about the Fabric

It’s all about the fabric.  At International Quilt Market that is. International Quilt Market is the industry’s trade show for machines, notions, furniture, patterns, embroidery designs and fabric – lots of fabric. The fabric companies really outdo themselves!  They put months of work into their displays and it takes a team – well, maybe an army to pull off the chosen theme.

Here’s a look at some of our favorites.

Shannon Fabrics Dude Ranch

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

They had a whole barnyard full of animals – well not the breathing and moving type but life-like definitely!

And check out the cactus – soft enough to pet!

Riley Blake Fabrics created intimate vignettes for shop owners to place orders.

Think batting can’t be exciting? Well check this display by Fairfield!

Moda went for the big splash with anchors adorning all of the chairs.

Timeless Treasures made umbrellas from their upcoming collections.

While Michael Miller was a sea of blue and white.

But it’s not all fabric – two of my pattern favorite designers were in attendance: Kim Christopherson from KimberBell designs and Amy Barickman from Indygo Junction.

Quilt Market is educational, inspirational and sentimental. It’s a time to say hello to old friends, meet new ones and ogle over gorgeous quilts.  I can’t wait to show you what I found in the Schmetz and Janome booths but you’ll have to wait til my next posting!

Here’s your assignment this week:

Walking the show and admiring all the fabric was so inspiring and with the holidays around the corner now is the perfect time to start stitching.  What holiday projects do you have lined up for this year?  Post your comments for a chance to win a Stipple! Holiday 2 Collection.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Stipple Holiday 2

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Tell us how you use your embroidery software and what you like most about it.  One lucky reader will win $25 to spend at the DIME store.  Thank you and good luck!

And the winner is:
Judy Williamson!  “I purchased a software package last year and am just now learning to use it.  I hope to be able to do all kinds of wonderful things once I learn!”

Behind the Scenes At DIME

Ever wonder what a typical day is like at Designs in Machine Embroidery?  Rest assured, it’s anything but typical!  Take a peek at a recent conversation I had with Eileen.

Denise:  “Eileen, we’re running a special promotion on your book, Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons.  Do you mind autographing a few books?”

Eileen:  “No problem.  Cart them over to the office and I’ll sign.  I’ll work on that task this morning then I’ll do some stitching in the afternoon.”

Little did Eileen know that she’d be signing HUNDREDS of books.  And I mean HUNDREDS!

At the end of the day I stopped by Eileen’s office to discuss upcoming projects.

Eileen:  “I started embroidering a new project this morning.  I’m really excited about it.  See the progress I’ve made?  It’s over there.”

I eagerly glanced over at the embroidery machine.

Eileen:  “I got as far as loading the design onto the machine!”

Special Offer!
Order an autographed copy of Eileen’s book, Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons and enjoy free shipping!  When checking out at the register, use coupon code:  smile

To order visit the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.  Click here to order now.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blo

Here’s your assignment this week:

Do you have any unfinished embroidery projects piled in your sewing room?  Perhaps you started a baby quilt and the “baby” is all grown up now?  Or maybe you’re looking for just the right fabric too coordinate with the project?  Tell us about your unfinished project(s) and SIX lucky winners will win a $25 gift certificate to the Stunning Stitches website!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Visit the newly updated Stunning Stitches website featuring Alphabets & Monograms, Cross Stitch, In the Hoop, Native American designs and also Give Back Project Challenges!

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Vote now! It’s time to choose a color for sashing and I thought it would be fun if you helped me select a color. What color or colors would you choose? Do tell! I’ll choose my favorite suggestion and will use that color(s). I’ll give you a shout-out as my special “Color Adviser” in the next blog. Don’t worry, if more than one of you think brilliantly alike I’ll mention each of you as my “Color Advisers”!

Stay tuned for the next blog by Denise Holguin to see who won!


Have you checked out the free design in the August Designs Plus Newsletter?  Our sponsor, EmbroideryOnline donated a design from one of their newest collections, the Doodle Line Quilting collection.  The Doodle Flowers Centerpiece is yours free to download and enjoy from the Designs Plus Newsletter!  (Read on to find out details!)

We were excited to try the design so here’s a peek at what we’ve been up to.  The design is a breeze to stitch—so we stitched a set in 4 different thread colors.

Then we were inspired by the name of the collection and thought it would be fun to stitch the design on white fabric with black thread—then we colored in the doodles using Copic markers.

Click here to check out the latest Designs Plus Newsletter and to download the free design courtesy of

Did you know we have a new sponsor every month that gives away a free design in the Designs Plus Newsletter?  Join our mailing list to make sure you don’t miss out!  Click here to join.

Have you stitched the free design featured in the August Designs Plus Newsletter yet?  Post your creations on our Facebook page!


I spent a fun-filled weekend in Louisville last year and learned there’s something for everybody in that town – sports fans, foodies and embroiderers! I’m very excited about going back to Louisville and this time I’m taking my Stitching Sister with me. We’re going to have a blast with the Smocking Shop team for two full days of stitching, sharing and camaraderie. The Smocking Shop told me the other day that they want to keep the event small and intimate. To make sure every student feels pampered they are limiting the enrollment and only a few spots remain. Click here to learn more. I hope you’ll join us. We’ll be teaching our favorite techniques and we’re getting an early start on holiday stitching. We’ve uncovered the best techniques for embroidering tricky holiday projects like stockings, faux fur and more. After a weekend with the Stitching Sisters, you’ll be ready to tackle any holiday project.

Here are my top 10 reasons to visit Louisville.

10. Rub shoulders with Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Bobby Flay or David Letterman at world-famous Graeter’s Ice Cream.  I can’t wait to stand in line at Graeter’s and see the flavor of the day!

9. Enjoy the official drink of the Kentucky Derby – a mint julep.

8. Pay homage to the NCAA men’s basketball champions – the University of Louisville Cardinals.

7. Get an engraved Louisville Slugger baseball bat.

6. Take a carriage ride through the quant old section of downtown Louisville.

5. Get your photo taken with the world’s largest baseball bat.

4. Tour the hallowed grounds of Churchill Downs.

3. Hone your skills for upcoming holiday stitching.

2. Shop at the Smocking Shop.

1. Spend two fun days with the Stitching Sisters.


Here’s your assignment this week:

Leave a comment below and tell us how you currently store your hoops. One comment will be chosen at random to receive Perfect Placement Software for Wearables by Eileen Roche and Nancy Zieman – now available at a lower price of only $39.99! Thank you for sharing and good luck.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Sometimes you just have to pamper yourself. All for Me – Delightfully Feminine Projects Made in the Hoop by Shelly Smola has 6 beautiful projects just for you! Inside you’ll find:

  • Tea Party Luggage Tags
  • Glamour Girl Makeup Case
  • Petite Purse
  • Vintage Apron
  • Time for Tea Pillow
  • Time for Tea Quilt

Leave us a comment below about the last thing you made for you and only you. One random comment will be selected to win their very own copy of All for Me – Delightfully Feminine Projects Made in the Hoop by Shelly Smola! Thanks for reading and good luck.

And the winner is… Michelle H – “It’s been so long I cannot remember the last thing I made myself, I think it was a T shirt with embroidery on the front”

Now I know how my Stitching Sisters attendees feel!


Many of our students tell me one of the things they love about attending a Stitching Sisters event is they just show up. They don’t need to do any prep work, lug any machines or even bring a piece of stabilizer. They walk in and begin to stitch.


Last week, I had the same experience when I went fly fishing for the first time.  We scheduled an outing with a fishing guide and then drove to the Crooked River near Bend, OR.  He met us on the river bank, opened his truck and completely outfitted us.  We looked way more professional than our skill level but it made our first-time experience quite enjoyable. He did all of the hard work and let us just enjoy the experience, just like a Stitching Sisters event.


The whole reason I was able to dabble in the clear waters of Oregon was my Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno, and I taught two Stitching Sisters events, one in Kennewick, WA and the other in Bend, OR last week. The stores, owned by Karen and Ed Jarrett, are located 247 miles apart.  Marie opted to return home for the four days between events while my husband joined me in Bend for a little R & R.  What a week!

It started with a drive through the Columbia River Gorge from Portland to Kennewick. Marie and I had never been east of the Cascades in Oregon so imagine our surprise at the landscape we traversed.  We saw everything from lush forest to dry desert.  We met delightful students in Kennewick and had a very successful event – so many new Brother Quattro sewing and embroidery machine owners!


Then my husband joined me and Marie headed out for the airport. Pete and I took the scenic route from Kennewick to Bend and boy, what a drive! We saw miles of unspoiled terrain under a crystal blue sky and not another car on the road. It was an all-day affair and then we were rewarded with the little-known jewel of Bend.  Charm oozes from the river that runs through Bend. Mirror Pond is the town’s center of attention with the reflection of the Sisters Mountain gleaming from its smooth surface.  Every turn produces another gorgeous vista.  Pete and I were stunned by the region’s beauty and the warmth of every person we met.


We spent a few leisurely days fishing, sightseeing and eating. Bend has fantastic restaurants! We drove to Crater Lake – jaw dropping; the High Desert Museum – educational; and the Stitching Post Quilt Shop – a delight.

Eventually, it was time to get back to work and I said goodbye to Pete and hello to Marie again! The Jarretts rented a light-filled empty store front for the event and before you knew it, it looked like sewing event!  As we set up all of the equipment, I thought of my fly fishing experience. I remembered how great it felt to try something new under the guidance of an experienced professional with only the best equipment.  That’s how a Stitching Sister student feels – pampered and ready to learn!  I hope you’ll join Marie and me at an event in the fall – we’ll be heading to Louisville, KY, St. Louis, MO and Portland, OR.


Here’s your assignment this week:

Look closely! Tell us what you think you see in the Stitching Sisters image at the top of this post. One comment will win a mystery prize! Oh the suspense…

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Oh the stories we could tell! Leave us a comment on your oddball embroidery problem and solution if you found one. One comment will win a $25 gift certificate to the Designs in Machine Embroidery website. Thank you for visiting Eileen’s blog.

And the winner is…“My problem was with my 6 needle BMP9. I could never put the bobbin in correctly. I purchased the magna-glide magnetic core bobbins and now I know that the magnet tip goes into the bobbin case. No more problems! P.S. Eileen, I had so much fun at the Stitching Sisters event at Moore’s. I really learned a lot! Can’t wait to get a class from you on Craftsy.” – Karen R.

We’re So Proud!


Toot, toot!  Beep, beep! A special digital issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery is free for you – just click here to access. You’ll find projects, free embroidery designs, videos from our sponsors and access to leading companies in the embroidery industry.

Wondering what’s inside? It’s packed with educational material for newbies, intermediate and advanced embroiderers. Devour the expert information on stabilizers and how to embroider on ribbon, polos and t-shirts! Learn to create continuous embroidery with confidence; stitch a little something for the man in your life and develop your designer’s eye – all in this one special issue!


Download the familiar .zip file, unzip and inside you’ll find an exciting interactive Adobe Acrobat PDF file you can read and enjoy from the convenience of your desktop computer or laptop. Use the free Adobe Acrobat reader to achieve full interactivity and flip through the pages, zoom in on projects and print whatever you’d like. Use the arrows on your keyboard to navigate through the pages: advance by clicking the arrows pointing down or right while the arrows pointing up or left will take you to a previous page.

WP-IconWP-PlayLook for the mouse icon and click on it to activate the zoom feature and more.  View the embedded videos by clicking the play button and enjoy.

We made it simple to navigate, easy to view and inspirational to read – I think you’ll see why we’re so proud of our new digital issue. My hat is off to the whole Designs team for making this happen – led by Sam Solomon, Denise Holguin, Stephanie Smith and Sandy Griggs. Designs wouldn’t be here without that team – they’re awesome! I think you’ll agree when you see what they’ve created.

A very special thank you to our valued sponsors: Brother, Embrilliance, Embroidery Library, Five Star Fonts, Janome America, HoopSisters, SWAKembroidery and Urban Threads –  Enjoy!

Here’s your assignment this week:

Download our FREE digital edition of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine. Give it a read and enjoy all of the interactivity, photo zooming abilities, videos and beautiful photography captured for each stunning project. Then, come back and leave us a comment on what you think about it – good or bad, we can take it. One lucky reader will win a gift certificate to Designs in Machine Embroidery for $25!

You can use that $25 to buy anything on our website including a 1 year subscription to our print magazine offered at the special price of $24.97 for a limited time only.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Go over and give Craftsy a looksy! Tell us what classes interest you or if you’ve already taken a class on Craftsy – tell us what you love about it. One lucky reader will receive a link for a complimentary download of Eileen’s new class, The Machine Embroidered T-Shirt!


And the winner is…“I’ve been checking out Craftsy website, and some of the free classes. My sister told me about this site, she had taken a class and loved it! I would really LOVE to win the chance to take the T-shirt class. I have a fear to try new things, but I’m sure taking the class would give me more confidence. Thanks for sharing your embroidery expertise.” – Jane B.

Congratulations Jane, we hope you enjoy your class and share your experience with us!

Made by Hand and Delivered in Person

What better way to shower a first-time mother-to-be than by creating a gift from the heart. And if you can deliver it in person – all the better!  Last weekend, our family showered our niece with dozens of gifts for the new baby.  Lucky girl that she is, some of those gifts – well, many of those gifts – were made by hand. I gathered the handmade items for a photograph to share with you because I know many of you love to stitch for others.

Handmade Machine Embroidery Items

Two of my sisters created gorgeous items. The grandmother-to-be not only made a quilt and matching crib bumpers but also crocheted a blanket. The great-grands jumped into it too!  The gorgeous mint green crocheted blanket was made by her paternal great-grandmother. And my mom, the maternal great-grand, doesn’t sew or craft but she knows where to turn to get the job done. (No, she doesn’t turn to me!). A fellow assisted living resident crocheted the diaper bag and wipes container. Oh wow.  A big hit with the hipster parents-to-be.

A dear family friend, Kathy, made the sheep applique quilt.  Kathy is multi-talented in the crafting world and really pulled out all the stops with the quilt. Intricate piecing and raw edge applique are brought to life by gorgeous quilting.  Kathy is new to quilting but you would never know by the looks of this quilt.

The new babe’s room will be decorated with a Sunshine theme and my stitching sister Marie Zinno went to town on that theme.  She stole the show with her diaper cake, 12 onesies and embroidered pillow.


The gray daisy quilt in the background was my contribution to the new baby’s room.  I told the mother to use it, not hang it on the wall. I said, “When I see this quilt in a year or two, I want it to be rumbled and well-loved – not preserved!”

Marie and I were so lucky to attend and give these gifts to our niece in person. Our schedules are pretty intense but the shower was set around our Stitching Sisters events. The shower was in New Jersey on Sunday and we led some very lovely ladies in a 2-day hands-on seminar in Maryland on Friday and Saturday.  We had a blast with these fine ladies and many of them went home with new skills and goodies. Here’s a couple of happy faces.

Stitching Sisters Event

Then we hit the road and drove through the early spring farmlands of Southern New Jersey to arrive in time for the shower.  Whew!  But it was worth it. And we’re not done yet.  In two weeks we head to one of our favorite dealerships in the country, Moore’s Sewing in Pomona and Huntington Beach, CA. It’s been two years since our last visit and we have an all-new presentation for George Moore and his customers.  We can’t wait to get there – in fact, I’m pretty sure Marie is already packing her bags cause it’s still gray and dreary in Ohio!


Here’s your assignment this week:

Tell me how you get your embroidery fix, is it a daily activity or one you squeeze in when you find a free afternoon?  Just leave a comment and you could win one of two Gold Memberships to Daily Embroidery. That’s a $120 value each!

Daily Embroidery’s Gold Membership program offers unlimited downloads to their massive and ever-growing design collection with two new designs added daily.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Share a comment about contemporary quilting and you could win a trio of Stipple! Collections: Geometrics, Butterfly and Seashells.

And the winner is…”I too absolutely hate hand stitching or sewing. I always try to find another way somehow to sew by machine if anyway possible! I love your embroidery techniques and your embroidery stipple products! These are the 3 that I do not have and would very much love to have them. Hope I can be a winner this time around! Thanks so much for all of your quilt projects! Love them!.” – Ginger S.

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