Archive of ‘Quick Gifts’ category

Memories, the threads of time

Isn’t it fun to capture a happy memory in needle and thread? It’s not always easy to achieve but when memories and creative inspiration collide, it’s a heartfelt moment.  That’s the story behind my latest Stipple! Collection, Life’s a Beach.


You see, when I was ten years old, my father, an avid pilot, restored a World War II open cockpit bi-plane and flew it for thirty years in our tiny seaside resort in New Jersey. He loved that plane and so did all of his daughters. Although it never towed a banner as it is in this quilt, it spiraled through the air crisscrossing the sky over the sparkling blue water of the Atlantic Ocean. He would buzz our house and we would head to the airport to get a ride. If we were on the beach when he flew over, we would wave and jump around on the white sand so he could see us.  A tip of his wing meant he was heading home for dinner.

There are so many stories about that plane– thankfully all with happy landings – I just had to include this memory of my youth spent on the Jersey shore.  Oh what I wouldn’t do to stand on that sand and hear him fly overhead.


Those happy memories include many days spent at the beach and with five sisters, there were always bathing suits drying in the sun on the backyard clothesline.  In fact, I remember coming home from my morning waitress job at a local coffee shop and checking the clothesline to see what suits were left – several of us wore the same size.  My mother used to say, “First one out, best one dressed!”


And then off to the beach it was. With a good book, suntan lotion (OMG probably baby oil, how times have changed!), chair and towel, everything revolved around the beach. Everyone (except my mother) was on the beach: neighbors, tourists (same families, same street every year) and family.  The more the merrier; the bigger the circle of chairs, the better.

The scene depicted in the bottom row on Life’s a Beach shows the end of the day at the beach…one chair, one umbrella, a peaceful quiet time in the shade.


I stitched the three panels independently and they hang together with ribbons of raffia looped over wood buttons. Since each row stitches quickly, I finished a row in an afternoon, binding included! Once I had one done, I was motivated to start the next one. If you’d like, piece the three rows together to make one wall quilt.  I had so much fun designing this project and focusing on the simple days of my youth, I hope you enjoy making it as much as I enjoyed designing it.


Question of the week:  What are your favorite summertime childhood memories?

Visit the Designs in Machine Embroidery website for a limited time special offer on Stipple Life’s a Beach.  Enjoy free US shipping.  Use coupon code:  beach


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.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

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.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

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!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog


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!

Instagram made me do it.

I started a new hobby this year:  Instagram.

You’re probably thinking, it doesn’t count as a hobby.  But let me explain.

It’s eye-opening to see how many talented people there are on Instagram.  There are so many varied interests and skills all in one place.  It used to be I would admire someone’s work – whether in magazines, on Facebook, Pinterest, or even museums or craft shows and think—gosh, what amazing talent.  I wish I had their talent.

But this is 2016.  Times have changed—or rather, I’m making a deliberate effort to change.  Now my reaction is:  Gosh, what amazing talent.  I feel inspired and now I will try my own version!  Instagram is inspiring me to do.  To try.  To push myself to new heights.  And it’s my hope that you’ll do the same!  You may discover you can do more than you realize.  

One of my first attempts to try something new was the result of admiring hair accessories on Instagram.  My goal was not to make the exact project I saw—just to make my own “Denise” interpretation – based on my skills and available resources.

To help execute my creative vision, I downloaded the FSL Flourish Flower from EmbroideryOnline.  When you see the price – it’s a no brainer.  You need this design because you can develop many skills from using it.  I hadn’t ever stitched lace embroidery but I felt confident I could do it.  If you have never tried lace, you are invited to try it now! It’s a small design and very little risk is involved and the benefits to you are many! EmbroideryOnline has such a large selection of high quality designs to support my many whims and I think you’ll feel the same way as you browse their website.

The other item I used is also from EmbroideryOnline – AquaMesh Wash Away Stabilizer. Keep this stabilizer in stock in your sewing room.  It comes in very handy for lace – not to mention, it’s fun to watch the cloth-like material vanish once placed in water!  (You can wow your friends with the amazing magic trick!)

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Project 1:  Lacy Blue Beauty!
tulle, monofilament thread

I chose a couple blue shades of thread and off-white for my flowers.  I used matching bobbin thread for each flower.  After stitching, I trimmed the petals away from the stabilizer.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Then I soaked the flowers to remove the water soluble stabilizer.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I placed the lace on a towel to dry.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Look at the pretty lace just waiting to be turned into a finished project!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I am not an expert sewer in real life and I barely play one online – but I decided to try.  I knew the goal was to sew my pieces together.  I layered the petals on a piece of blue tulle. Then I used a zig-zag stitch and monofilament thread to secure the petals.

After I finished sewing I realized laying a piece of water soluble stabilizer on top might have made it easier to hold the petals down while sewing.  The water soluble stabilizer would be dissolved after stitching.  You are invited to use your favorite technique!  

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Once all the petals were attached I trimmed away the excess tulle.  The end result is a very soft and flexible piece of lace.  I decided not to attach a barrette or clip.  I like having the flexibility to adapt the piece to my hair style so I will attach this piece with bobby pins.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Project 2.  Lace Hair Clip
Supplies:  Hair clip, brads (or crystals, sequins), linen ribbon, hot glue gun

I didn’t have any sequins or crystals at my home studio but I did have tiny brass brads that were the perfect size.  I opted for subtlety but add as few or as many embellishments as you wish.  I covered the hair clip with linen ribbon then attached the flowers.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Simple, yet attractive!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Project 3.  Bold Color
starch, balloon, hair clip or pin, scrap piece of felt

Next I expanded my lace making enterprise by stitching the flowers in bold colors—pink and orange.  I made sure the bobbin thread matched the top thread (when I remembered!)

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
I wanted the flowers to be layered and somewhat shaped on my final piece.  I dipped each flower into a bowl of starch.  Then I placed the flowers on a balloon to give a subtle concave effect.  I let my creation dry overnight and carefully removed the now hardened flowers from the balloon.  I placed a piece of felt on the underside along with a hair clip.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Just one lace design, some water soluble stabilizer and the decision to try!  Imagine what you can do and take action!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram for more photos of these lace hair accessories in action. Also be sure to follow our friends at EmbroideryOnline!  They have plenty of ideas to keep you inspired.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Your fun assignment for the week:  EmbroideryOnline is your source for embroidery designs as well as supplies!  Visit the EmbroideryOnline website and tell us which embroidery supplies you most need in your sewing studio.  From threads to stabilizers and accessories they’ve got what you need.  Tell us what you need…. and you might just receive it!  FIVE random people who comment will each receive a $25 shopping spree to the EmbroideryOnline website.  Take action!


Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog



The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question:
I’m sure Rita’s not the only who likes to scour auctions, resale shops and antique stores. Do you like to do that? If so, are you looking for anything in particular?  Leave a comment and a random winner will receive a $25 shopping spree coupon to the DIME website.

The winner is:
Michelle Hall:  “I have a couple of hand crochet coverlets and an appliqued quilt that my grandmother made.  I love to shop at garage sales and thrift stores to see what I can find and repurpose.”

Congratulations, Michelle!  Thank you for commenting!



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!



Diary of a Novice Embroiderer: A Harrowing Tale

Preface:  My friend Gus asked me to embroider a pillowcase as a birthday gift for his wife, Sophia.  I agreed and expected him to purchase a pillowcase.  Instead, he purchased fabric, sewed the pillowcase and presented it to me to embroider.  It was flawless—and I was so touched that a husband would do that for his wife.  Not only that—he had a special sentiment he wanted embroidered for his dear wife.

For reasons that defy logic, I chose the day before Sophia’s birthday party to start stitching the gift.  The timeline below showcases my thought process while completing the project.  I share my tale in hope that you can relate and find solace in knowing the creative process is indeed a process—full of ups and downs but this is how we grow and gain experience.

6:00 pm.  I guess I should start stitching the pillowcase.  I am relieved Eileen improved the layout of my design.  My original versions weren’t as artistic as I wanted.  My biggest concern is hooping the pillowcase.  It’s probably wise for me to stitch a test sample.   I am glad Gus bought tons of extra fabric—hopefully I won’t need it to make a new pillowcase.

6:30 pm.  Everyone at the office left for the weekend.  Eileen gave me advice on hooping and assured me I could call if I needed help.  Now it’s just me, the pillowcase and dozens of tools.  I felt like Sheldon from the Big Bang theory.  This pillowcase HAS to be perfect.  I better unhoop it and try again.


This is an important engineering feat.  Wait… no, it’s just a pillowcase.  But it really does need to be precision placed.  Yes, I should unhoop and try using a different method…IMG_8042BL

I decided to start over using a different hooping method…Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogEileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

7:38 pm.  I sent a frustrated text to my friend:  “the opposite of fun is right now!  I will never ever agree to stitch something special for someone else.  It’s so difficult!  No, it’s impossible!  However… I did learn how to use the camera function on THE Dream Machine… so that’s a positive.”

7:45 pm.  I guess it’s time to hit the Start button to take my first stitch.  I wondered if I would look back at that moment with regret.  I looked at the design on-screen—it indicated it will take 31 minutes to stitch.  After that time, I will know if the design is crooked or not.  But by that time it’s too late.  This is highly stressful.

7:51 pm.  Wow!  This is working!  It’s absolutely working!  The rich purple thread I chose is perfect!

7:53 pm.  I kept a watchful eye on the machine as it stitched.  Because the pillowcase is cylindrical (and a tight fit) in the hoop, I had to make sure the excess fabric didn’t get caught during stitching.  I should have listened to Eileen and used one of our Hoop Guards.  That would have helped.

There was a brief moment I took my eyes and hands away from the excess fabric.  Sure enough, the fabric got eaten by the machine. I remained calm.  This is why I’m at the machine, watching and waiting.  I can fix this.


I carefully clipped away the few stitches that were eating the fabric.  Then I used the machine’s stitch advance/reverse feature to back up and redo the stitches.

8:00 pm.  Look at me!  I’ve got skills.

8:15 pm.  I sent a photo to my friend showing the progress.  My friend’s reply, “Because stitching text wasn’t challenging enough, you had to add the butterfly!  You really challenged yourself!”

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

8:34 pm.  My ears perked up to the familiar, comforting chime of the embroidery machine, indicating the design is finished stitching.  The friendly smiley face appeared on the machine, as if sharing in my joy of accomplishment.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I examined the pillowcase, still hooped in the machine and proclaimed, “look at me, I stitched my first pillowcase!”

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

About the design:
Butterfly from Kreations by Kara.  Search:  BB Shadowed
Lettering from Perfect Embroidery Pro software.  The path tool was used to create a unique curved effect.


Here’s your assignment this week:

We are going to turn the table and ask you to post an embroidery related question for us in the comments below this week! Denise and Eileen will do their very best to get you an expert anwser and one lucky commenter will be chosen to win Eileen and Marie Zinno’s new, yet to be released Hoop It Up book!

The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

Thank you all for allowing me to share this occasion with you. I hope you’ve learned some tips and maybe even thought of using an idea or two for a special bride in the future. What tip or idea from this wedding do you think you are most likely to use?

The winner is:  

Beth Daniels: “I would use the ribbon idea on even some clothes that I would make with the pattern number and name of clothing.”

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.




Monogram of the Month – A tribute to a friend

How do you cope with the end of life of a dear friend?  It’s never easy – especially when life seems to have been cut way too short.  Whether you’re an embroiderer, sewer, crafter or other form of artist you have an opportunity to use your skills to create something special to honor the deceased’s memory.  This month I decided to create a special monogram with a friend in mind.  She passed away at the young age of 30 from ovarian cancer.

I enjoy the challenge of learning new software—so I chose to work with Art and Stitch 3.0 software.  I was delighted with the built-in designs and features—plus the program is very intuitive.

Open the program, then select File / New.  In the dropdown menu I chose Embroidery for the type of design and chose PES format.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I clicked on the Monogram Tools button and discovered a library of monogram styles to choose from.  Keeping my friend in mind, I chose the Pioneer Monogram.  The ribbon and flowers reminded me of her.  I typed my friend’s initials in the letters box.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Although it’s Monogram of the Month—I didn’t want to stop with a monogram.  I want more text and the opportunity to use more features in the software.  Art and Stitch has a fun feature—adding text on a circle path.  I typed “Loving daughter” in the upper portion of the circle then added “and friend” in the lower portion of the circle.  While I could probably write pages of text, I figured those two phrases would cover most everything not only for her family but for people lucky enough to have known her.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I saved the design and sent it to the embroidery machine.

Depending on your work habits you could have chosen the thread colors in the software then saved the design.  I usually don’t know what colors I want to use until I have ALL the “crayons” in front of me.  Once in my sewing studio I selected thread colors that I thought would not only coordinate well but would celebrate Alana’s life.  This is also when the creative process really did turn into a process!

First I grabbed some blue fabric.  I liked the “almost” denim look and thought it would be perfect to stitch the monogram.  But when it came time to select thread colors I realized the challenge of making sure the embroidery popped against the now not-so-nice blue fabric.  The thread colors don’t merely need to be bright—they need to be attractive and coordinate.  Not to mention they need to be colors my friend would have liked.  That is a daunting task!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The blue sample above just didn’t work.  What was I thinking when I stitched teal ribbons next to the green leaves?  The colors don’t work well together.  On the bright side, I did like the red thread.

Undaunted, I tried again.  This time I switched to white fabric.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Now, before you scoff at this sample, let me explain my logic at the time.  The leaves needed to be green.  The red worked in the previous sample—so surely they’d work for the ribbons.  But as I stitched I realized the sample was turning into Christmas with the red and green.  So I thought I’d balance things out with the stark black thread for the initials – then a dash of teal for the lettering.  I almost didn’t finish stitching this sample.  It wasn’t my best color selection!

After the first two samples I decided to regroup.  I focused on my friend’s favorite color:  emerald green.  I selected a pretty emerald green thread—and let it lead the way as I chose the rest of the colors.  The rose and golden yellow coordinated well.  I really wanted to incorporate teal—the color for ovarian cancer awareness.  So I chose a darker version of the color than I had been using.  Confidently, I stitched the sample and well, I think the results speak for themselves!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

There is a lesson in this blog.  Maybe a couple lessons if we look hard enough!

  1. Select one color and build around it.
  2. Be open to experimenting with different thread color combinations.  If you don’t get it right the first time, it doesn’t mean you won’t get it on the next attempt!
  3. Every stitch-out is an opportunity to learn!

Now that it’s stitched it’s ready to be framed and given to Alana’s family.


Here’s your assignment this week:What thread color combinations would you have chosen for the monogram?  One random comment will win a $25 gift certificate to the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.
The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question:
I’m sure you’ve come across the empty bobbin message. What do you do to avoid this? Wind several bobbins? Purchase pre-wound? Throw away almost empty bobbins? Or just bear with it? A random comment will be selected to win a pack of Print & Stick Target Paper!The winner is: Karen M.  – “Empty bobbins are not fun! I try to always keep at least 6 bobbins ready to go simply because I dread the task!”  





Last minute thoughtful holiday gifts!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

In the middle of summer my friend and I went hiking at Lost Maples State Park.  We’ve hiked before but neither of us realized what we were getting into.  The walk was difficult from the start.  I tried to distract myself by admiring the rocks.  They were pretty white rocks!

We walked for several hours before reaching a stopping point.  My friend asked if I wanted to take the same trail back or continue toward new territory.

I detested the thought of walking back.  Moving forward seemed logical.

But then the terrain changed.  Steep inclines.  Vultures were circling us.  I wondered if they spotted dinner.  My friend rallied and encouraged me.  He kept telling me I’ve trained for this – it’s just like the stairmaster at the gym.

We made it up the incline.  But the trek down was worse.  I turned silent.  I began praying.  Not even in English— I pulled out Latin prayers from my memory.  I was afraid.  I wondered if I’d reach the point of despair.

The trek was cruel—with loose rocks covering the entire incline down.  I hung on to branches to prevent slipping and falling.

My friend helped me along by testing the steeper rocks and making sure I stepped on firm rocks.  I wondered if we’d end up in the news.

We reached what I thought was the end of the trail and I ravenously ate my rationed chocolate granola bar—not caring that chocolate was probably all over my face.  (I’m usually very fastidious).  But the trail wasn’t over yet.  We walked through a creek then reached some shade before finally reaching the car.  I lay on the parking lot pavement—grateful and exhausted.

Somewhere along that trek I coined a new name for the trail.  Quicksand Mountain.  The name doesn’t make sense but in my delirious, panicked condition, the name stuck.

That day on Quicksand Mountain is my reference point.  If I can survive that day I can do anything.  My friend and I made it through—learning valuable lessons and having a great story to share.

That’s why I decided to make this gift for him for Christmas.  It’s simple yet has a lot if meaning.

I encourage you to stitch a simple, yet thoughtful gift for a friend or family member.  No one but you and the recipient may understand its meaning— but that makes it all the more special and unique!

The block was made in My Quilt Embellisher—but your thoughtful creation can be made using any software.  Choose your own message and design to make it a personal gift.  Follow the steps below to get an understanding of your software then create your own version.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • How to convert artwork to embroidery stitches
  • How to incorporate lettering and quilting stitches using the Outline feature.



Open My Quilt Embellisher.  Click on the Select Block icon on the top Tool bar.

Click on Basic Quilt Blocks.  Then select Peaky & Spike.  I chose the 8” x 8” block size but you can change to whatever size suits your needs.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

With the block selected, click the Transform tab and click Flip Vertical.  Note that the entire quilt block is just artwork right now.  The next steps will convert it to stitches.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Click on the Red Triangle.  Click on the Convert to Run icon.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Click the Text icon to add text.  I chose to do 4 individual lines of text because I wanted the most freedom. The first two lines of text are the Arial font.  The third line, “Quicksand” is the Mini Lancer Script.  I thought it captured the look and feel of quicksand well.  The 4th line, “Mountain” is the Arial font.  I chose to italicize it to enhance the ominous look and feel.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Next I chose the Arial 4mm font to type additional messages for the ‘side’ of the mountain.  Then I rotated the text to align with the side of the triangle.  Message 1:  “Let’s go to Quicksand Mountain!”

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I repeated this step for the other ‘side’ of the mountain. Message 2:  “It’s just like the stairmaster!”

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I added the year to the ‘peak’ of the mountain, using the same Arial 4mm font.

The last step is to convert the rest of the artwork to stitches.  But you’ll want the stitches to work around the text.

Select both lines of text as shown in the diagram.  Right click and select Group.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Right click again.  Select Create Outline.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

A window will appear.  Keep the defaults and select Ok.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

An outline will appear around the text.  This outline is Artwork only—there are no embroidery stitches.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Select all the Artwork images.

Click the Combine icon.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog


With the Artwork still selected, click the Stipple icon to convert the area to stitches.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Your embroidery design should look like the image below.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Finish the block by color sorting.  Then save the embroidery design and send to your machine.

Purchase a frame and trim the fabric to fit.


Not only do you have a one of a kind gift unavailable from any department store – but you’ve spent a moment learning your embroidery software!


Here’s your assignment this week:
What memories do you have that you could convert to stitches?  Post your comment and one lucky winner will win a copy of Calligraphy Project Designers! Good Luck!
The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question…One of these things is not like the other. Spot what’s different in the photo above? Two random comments will be chosen to receive $50 gift certificates at Stunning Stitches! Good luck.SS_DME-Banner-CertificateAnd the answer we were looking for and the two winners: Sandy P and Joyce F – barefoot lady!




1 2 3 4