Archive of ‘Sewing Studio Tips’ category

Take These 5 Time-saving steps Before You Embroider

Embrace these five tips to save as much time as possible in your embroidery studio. These tips have saved me countless hours, I hope you find them helpful.

  1. Stock up on supplies. Nothing slows you down more than running out of the right materials for the project. Always have a variety of stabilizers and threads on hand. Take advantage of store sales and buy in bulk if necessary.blphoto1
  2. Pre-cut stabilizers to fit your most popular hoops. You’ll have a stack to go to whenever you’re ready to hoop.
  3. Consider purchasing extra hoops in your favorite sizes. This way you can prepare the next hooping while the first one is stitching. My number one go-to hoop is the 5” x 7”. I have four of them and I still believe they were worth the investment.
  4. Plan your project by using embroidery templates and target stickers. Mark the placement of the embroidery on the item with the target stickers. When you’re interrupted during the embroidery process (and who isn’t?) you’ll know where you left off.
  5. Test your designs! Stitch a sample using the same fabric/stabilizer/design/thread combination. Make adjustments to the variables before tackling the final project. Keep a towel, knit t-shirt, or cotton blouse on hand to test different designs. For specialty items, shop at thrift stores to find similar-fabrics. blphoto

Of course, once the towel or t-shirt is covered with designs, it’s time to start a new one. Starting a new one never seems to a problem for me, I save mistakes for that chore. Unfortunately, I have plenty of inventory!



The Tonight Show at Sew Expo? Uh? What?

If you’ve been a Johnny Carson, Jay Leno or Jimmy Fallon fan – then you’ll definitely want to catch the Stitching Sisters at Friday Night Live. Sew Expo, our industry’s largest trade show, is host to this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. IMG_4109_res

Yep – the Tonight Show takes on embroidery and sewing and quilting! 2015-01-28_16-50-06

What can you expect in Friday Night Live? Well, the predictable Tonight Show fare: a host, guests and entertaining segments. The host – me along with my Stitching Sister Marie Zinno; two very special guests (whose identities will have to remain a secret for right now). And of course, the entertaining segments, I mean the unpredictable segments:

• Thank You Notes to sewing industry giants, an hilarious Friday night tradition started by Jimmy Fallon.
• An embroidery fashion show – unlike any you’ve ever seen before. You’ll learn just how crucial placement and spelling can be.
• You’ll see what NOT to do with embroidery hoops and feet.
• You’ll compete in a hilarious game of Do You Have? to win priceless – and I mean priceless – prizes!
• The Stitching Sisters Top Embroidery Tips2015-01-28_16-56-39
If you’re a current Tonight Show fan (think Jimmy Fallon), then you probably know a little about his infamous lip sinc battles. Lip Sinc Battle? Hmm. Do you think those mystery guests would be game? Tell me your favorite Tonight Show host, Carson, Leno or Fallon. A random comment will be selected to win an autographed PAL!

Our winner from last week, with a $100 gift certificate at the Sewphisticated Stitcher website is Sara R. “I give bibs and burp pads as baby gifts. My BFF’s granddaughter told us the name she was planning to use. I spelled it the traditional way rather than her way, then she ended up naming the baby something totally different. Oh well.”


Friday Night Live Feb. 27, 2015, Sew Expo runs from Feb. 26 to March 1, 2015 in Puyallup , Washington.

A Clutter-Free Digital Workspace

It’s common to feel the urge to get organized in January– purge closets, cabinets and drawers. Many sewers feel the same way. We want a fresh start in the New Year, often pledging to finish projects, clear the cutting table, and tame our stashes – fabrics, stabilizers and threads. The goal is to follow that urge all year and really get our environments under control. I don’t know about you but it’s an annual event for me. It helps me get organized for the next 12 months; forgive myself for the projects that didn’t get completed and make a decision on whether or not I’ll ever finish them. And then toss them, if I know I won’t finish them. It’s a tough decision but I find once I make up my mind, it’s very cleansing to move on with a clean slate. I even like to create a clean space in my digital workspace when I work on a design.

In Perfect Embroidery Pro, My Block Piecer and My Quilt Embellisher, I clean up my thread chips. Sounds silly, right? Well, removing the excess thread chips at the bottom of the screen helps me focus. Let me show you what I mean.

I dragged one of December’s free designs onto the workspace. Notice the 11 color chips in the thread tray. The design is only three colors so I find all of those excess chips to be distracting, unnecessary clutter.Thread1

First, I clicked on the minus sign to remove all excess chips.Thread2

Now, only three chips remain in the tray.Thread3

I’m going to change the colors to reflect a warm, tropical climate (like the one Stitching Sisters are going to enjoy on our February 2016 cruise – join us!) First, click on a chip to see the thread palette.Thread4

At the top of the thread palette click on the brand to access the thread you have in your sewing room.   Thread5


Once you set this brand, the palette will always default to that brand although you can reset it anytime you’d like.

Simplifying the thread tray makes it easy to see what threads I need to collect from stash of thread. I love the new plastic drawer inserts that keep my stash under control.  It’s the fine-tuning of organizing that helps me keep my year-long goal of staying on top of clutter!

15 Minutes to Organize the Ironing Board Area

By Marie Zinno

I have a real pet peeve when it comes to ironing; corralling the water spray bottle, starch, pressing cloths, electrical cord and the ironing board itself.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

As sewers and embroiderers, we need our iron! I use the iron and ironing board almost every day for sewing/embroidery projects—not for my husband’s shirts. Every person has their preference to how the ironing board is set up and how often it is used. The best way to tackle this task is to determine if you need the ironing board up and ready to go each day or can it be placed on rack or hidden in a closet. It is your choice so design your ironing space accordingly.

In my embroidery studio, I find I need access to my ironing board quickly. The iron, ironing board and accessories are carefully stored on an over-the-door holder specifically created for this function. When I travel, I admire the functionality of the closet mounted rack to hold the iron and ironing board in a hotel room. While shopping at a home improvement store, I noticed one on display for over the door.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Maybe I am boring, but shopping in the laundry aisle can really make my day if I find a useful and cheap organizing device.

When shopping for an ironing board caddy, be sure to purchase the correct model. I have two ironing boards (one in my studio- because it gets very messy from fusible stabilizers and interfacings and one upstairs for clothing, etc). Naturally, I have two different ironing board legs, which I never noticed until researching this article.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

In the past, only the wall mounted holder was available and I’m sure many people own one. Through constant use of replacing the iron and ironing board, the drilled anchor screws came loose. Or is it just me? The over the door option was a better answer. No tools needed!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Here’s your assignment this week:

If you had 15 minutes to spare on organizing your sewing room, what area would you tackle first?  Post your comment and one lucky winner will be randomly selected to win a copy of Embroidery Studio Organization in 6 Easy Steps.

Embroidery Studio Organization in 6 Easy Steps

The winner of last week’s assignment:

Leave a comment below about how Nancy has inspired you. One lucky comment will receive a $125 gift voucher courtesy of Bunnycup Embroidery to spend at!


The winner is… Susan James!  “I have watched the program for 25 years.  Love it and I am inspired to sew many of her projects. I tape it every week and watch reruns as they are presented.  It’s something new every time.”

Let’s Get to the Point

The lowly needle gets very little attention. In fact, it’s often considered the enemy – you know, it’s the first thing you attack when something goes wrong with an embroidery design. Everyone tells you “change the needle first.” It’s like the youngest kid in the house, when mom finds something broken, the toddler gets blamed.

In my sewing room, I store my new needles in marked containers. They’re easy to find and hopefully, there’s an ample supply. But the needles that I take out of my machine after a minimum amount of use get tossed on the sewing table. For instance, if I embroider a quilt block and then hoop a t-shirt, I’ll switch my needle from a sharp to a ballpoint. The trouble is, the sharp needle is still good – and has a few hours of stitch time remaining. But once it’s placed on the sewing table, I immediately forget what type of needle it is, let alone the size.

Apparently, I’m not the only sewist with this problem because Schmetz has addressed this problem with clarity and style. Are you ready? Coming soon to a dealership near you, are color-coded Schmetz needles! Hip, hip, hooray!

On the left side of the chart, you’ll find the color of the needle type while the right side is color coded by size. After awhile each color will become recognizable for its intended task or job. I like things like that – it simplifies decisions and eliminates guesswork.

Of course, when I buy my needles, I’ll still depend on the handy information on the packaging. But later, when the needle is separated from its nifty packaging, I’ll know exactly what type and size I am holding in my hand!

The humble needle has been elevated to new status – and a colorful one at that!

Here’s your assignment this week:

It’s time to take a look at your design collection!  Tell us what embroidery design theme you seem to collect the most. Do you favor flowers, birds, quilt blocks, redwork, fruits, vegetables, dogs, cats, monograms, lettering, fish, Christmas, lace, borders, frames, etc.  Post your comment for a chance to win a $25 shopping spree on the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.

The winner of last week’s assignment answered the question:

What type of projects do you like to embroider?  Quilts, adult clothing, children’s clothing, in-the-hoop, home decor, crafts… something else?  Let us know and you’ll have a chance to win an embroiderable stocking!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The winner is Beth, with her comment:  “I like to do all kinds of embroidery but I am really drawn to the in the hoop things.  I have made all kinds of purses and stuff in the hoop.”


Starch is the unsung hero of the sewing room.  We often overlook it but I have a favorite use for liquid starch and so does Sherry McCary, seamstress extraordinaire at Designs. I apply liquid starch to the wrong side of delicate fabrics that will be embroidered with water soluble adhesive stabilizer. It not only adds body to soft fabrics during the embroidery process but also creates a shield between the adhesive and the fabric. After the embroidery, the water soluble adhesive stabilizer just slides away and does not penetrate the fibers. Read how Sherry depends on it for piecing projects.

Smooth Cutting and Stitching with Starch

By Sherry McCary

At a sewing retreat my good friend Pat Fountain saw me struggling with sewing some bias blocks together and gave me this great tip to tame cantankerous bias edges. It also saves money on starch and can transform even lowly muslin into a fabric that can be used for “real” projects:

Buy a half-gallon container of inexpensive starch and a pump-type spray bottle from the grocery store. Fill the spray bottle half-way with starch and fill the rest with water.  Before you begin a project, drench the fabric with the starch mixture. It should be soaking-wet. Hang or drape it somewhere and let it air dry 10-15 minutes, or until it’s almost dry, but not quite.

Next, iron the barely-damp fabric, spraying with another layer of starch as go. Fabric will be super-easy to cut and work with following these starching instructions. Quilters especially will love the ultra-flat seams that can be achieved with fabric that has been treated this way.

In addition to the savings to be had by mixing your own starch, you’ll save “pointer finger fatigue” since you won’t be having to press the spray button on purchased cans of pre-mixed starch!

Here’s your assignment this week:

Leave us a comment below about your secret sewing or embroidery weapon and one comment will be chosen to win a secret weapon of their very own, Target Stickers! These handy stickers are reusable, repositionable and provide you with perfect placement everytime. Thanks and good luck!

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Leave a comment below about your favorite scarf on the Love My Scarf Blog Tour and what inspired you to create one of your own! One lucky winner will receive this beautiful butterfly pin created on behalf of the Brookharts family in memory of their wife and mother, Joanne. If you’d like to pick up one for yourself or a friend you can do so here.

And the winner is…“The scarf is beautiful and the scroll design is so delicate and doesn’t overload the scarf.” – Karen W.