Archive of ‘Special Offers’ category

Weighed Down by Quilting?

Not anymore with the ease of the Weightless Quilter!

Watch today’s Facebook LIVE and see why the weightless quilter is a perfect solution to your quilting needs.

Take advantage of our early bird Facebook special with code WQFB10 ($10 off shipping!) and get a FREE quilting template bundle when you act now:

Stabilizers with Deborah Jones LIVE

Happy Thursday Embroidery Friends!

Eileen and Deborah had a wonderful time getting down to the “nitty gritty” of stabilizers in their Facebook Live today. If you missed it, watch the rebroadcast below! We are currently looking for suggestions on what to call our Facebook Lives so be sure to let us know in the comments your ideas!

Get an early advantage on our Friday special and free shipping up to $10 when you use code SHIPMYCOMPASS here

Apollo 11 Embroidered Patches

Patches on the moon?  Not only did they go to the moon on Apollo 11 but they were made in Dallas, Texas!  Not only made in Dallas, Texas but made in the factory owned by the father (Marvin Gardner) of my business partner (of 21 years) Gary Gardner. We have the patches to prove it along with a personally signed letter from President Richard Nixon. How cool is that?

Don’t believe me?  Click on the video below to hear the whole story, see the history of making patches and learn just how many men have walked on the moon.

Since we showcase a special product in every Facebook Live, our brand new Hoop Mat is the week’s star. Click here to learn more about the mats.   They’re on sale Now! 

If you were alive in 1969, leave a comment telling us about your experience watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Hard to believe it was 50 years ago!

My 5 Embroidery Pet Peeves

Machine embroidery is supposed to be beautiful.  And the process of making beautiful embroidery should be fun and enjoyable.  But all of that can be for naught when the experience is dampened by poor results, painful tasks and laborious placement. Enough already!  Let’s get the fun back into embroidery.

I have five pet peeves that annoy the daylights out of me when I’m embroidering.  And since I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, I’ve come up with solutions.  My pet peeves are hoop burn, hand strain, fabric distortion, laborious placement and tedious rehooping. What’s my solution? I ditched the standard hoop about 10 years ago and haven’t looked back.* Let me elaborate.

When knits, textured and napped fabrics are squeezed between two standard embroidery rings, the hoop often leaves a noticeable impression around the embroidery.  Those lofty and delicate fibers are now flattened – and possibly permanently flattened. Yikes!  The flat frames of Snap Hoop Monster leave no hoop burn – they firmly grip the fabrics and hold them in place without permanently damaging the fibers.

Twenty years of embroidery can wreak havoc on your hands, fingers and wrists.  Pushing an inner ring into an outer ring and tightening a screw 5, 10, 20 or maybe 30 times a day is grueling punishment.  No more.  I just snap that magnetic top frame over the bottom and I’m done!

Fabric distortion is a thing of the past because I pull and tug on the hooped fabric while it’s hooped in Snap Hoop Monster.  It’s the inner and outer rings that squeeze and distort fabric – doesn’t happen when fabric is sandwiched between two flat objects – a magnetic top and metal bottom.

I’ve invented all kinds of placement tools but sometimes I want to move the fabric just a smidgen under the needle.  With Snap Hoop Monster, I lift the top frame, slide the fabric, drop the frame back in place and press start!  No hooping and unhooping to move the fabric a millimeter or two.  I like the freedom Snap Hoop Monster gives me right at the machine.

Speaking of the machine, when I use Snap Hoop Monster, I can remove the top frame and advance the fabric to the next hooping without taking the bottom frame off the machine!  Oh my, what a time saver!  If you’re not sure why I love that benefit so much, take a look at this video.  It’s long – about 12 minutes – but you’ll see how I quilt entire quilt (62” x 80”) in one day!  Oh baby – I love those Monster hoops!

If you’ve been following along, this month is Hoopapalooza at DIME and in honor of that celebration, The Hoop It Up book is on sale.  My Stitching Sister Marie Zinno and I co-wrote this handy hooping tutorial.  You’ll find 99 hooping tips in there!  You can check it out here:

*’Ditched the standard hoop over 10 years’ is an exaggeration.  I still use a standard hoop on occasion as you’ll see in the Hoop It Up book!

Top 5 Tips For Continuous Borders Video!

Hello Embroidery Friends!

On Wednesday, Eileen filmed a LIVE video giving her Top 5 Tips on Continuous Borders. She also gave an awesome demonstration on how helpful the perfect alignment laser (PAL) is!

Watch below.

Note: Please excuse the graininess in the beginning, still working out the kinks and the video clears up after a few minutes.

Designs in Machine Embroidery

image via



Take advantage of our Special Offer and get $10 off both PAL 1 and 2 (plus FREE shipping) when you use code FBPAL.

Happy Stitching!

Float Your Quilt Block, Part 2

Update/Correction:  The video the batting is cut to the same size as the front and back fabric – the batting should be smaller and fit within the hole in the block maker, only the front and back fabric should get stuck to the tape!  

Last Saturday’s blog showcased how to use the Monster Block Maker with one of the included embroidery designs.  This post is an expansion to last Saturday’s blog. This time, we will create a quilt block using software.

This exercise uses Perfect Embroidery Pro with My Quilt Embellisher to create the quilt block.

  1. Launch Perfect Embroidery Pro.
  2. Using the art tools, create a 4.8” square.

  1. Right click on the square. Click Convert To / Run.

  1. Change the stitch length to 4.8 mm. Click Apply.
  2. Click on the arrow underneath the My Quilt Embellisher Icon on the right side of screen. Select Embellishments.
  3. A new window will appear. Click on Butterfly.  Click the second image, Embellishments 10_Circle.
  4. Your block will look similar to the image below.
  5. Select the first outline.
  6. Right click. Select Utility.  Create Outline.

  1. Leave the default .08. Click Ok.
  2. The image will look similar to the one shown.
  3. Select the new outline. Right click.  Select Utility.  Create Outline.  Keep the default .08.
  4. The design should look similar to the one shown.
  5. Select both artwork outlines. Right click.  Select Convert To / Run.
  6. Select the second element in the design as shown. This is artwork.  Right click.  Select Convert To / Run.
  7. Rearrange the thread sequence so that the butterfly section stitches second, followed by the outline stitches.
  8. I like using different colors, so I selected different thread colors for each of my outlines. Change the thread colors as you wish.


Follow the directions included with the Monster Block Maker to prepare the template with double sided adhesive tape.  Watch the short video clip to see the steps where I made the quilt sandwich.  The double sided adhesive tape lasts for multiple blocks.  (hence my tape looks a wee bit messy, but it does keep the fabric secure).  Once the tape loses its stickiness just change the tape.

The next video shows the the outline being stitched.  This step secures the quilt sandwich.

Here’s the finished block.

Remove the block from the Monster Block Maker template.

Here’s a look at the finished trimmed block.


Additional Resources:

An Introduction to Floating Your Quilt Block

Single Needle Machines

Mult-Needle Machine 




Stitching Pumpkins

The Dallas Arboretum has transitioned from their summer floral display to an eye-catching display of pumpkins and gourds.  All the stores are stocked with pumpkin decorations.  The coffee shops even have fall colors in their window displays.  With all the pumpkins popping up everywhere, I thought it would be gourd to join in! 😉

Our newest quilting collection, Pumpkin Parade, makes it easy to join in the festivities by making fall décor.  But before I started, I decided to set up a few rules.

Rule 1.  Stay focused.  (ha!)  By that I mean I decided to start and finish one project at a time.  I usually like to start multiple projects and I get so overwhelmed that I don’t finish them!  This also motivated me to get the current project finished so I could swiftly move on to my next great experiment.

Rule 2.  Minimize the number of variables.  One of my favorite activities is to take one design and see how many variations I can make with it.  Sometimes the variations are created in software. Other times, I have fun with fabric and thread color selection.  For this project, I decided the primary variable would be fabric and thread color.  (Though I did use two different pumpkin designs).

Rule 3.  Keep the project manageable in size.  Sure, I could stitch an entire quilt—or two—or three but I do need to sleep and I wanted to be sure I could finish them in a day or two.  The advantage of the small centerpieces:  I can give them as gifts to friends, family and coworkers.  The way I like to experiment, I may have enough for an entire neighborhood by the end of the week!

Rule 4.  Have fun and don’t be overly critical!  I read a comment recently on a social media platform from someone who was seeking advice on where and how to start a project.  Her desire for perfection seemed to be holding her back before she could even begin a project.  It can be especially disheartening when social media and photo editing makes it possible to present the best, most pristine and flawless representation of ourselves and our work.  But there’s also reality.  And in my reality, my binding is not impeccable on my quilts.  I try really hard.  But I’m still learning!  And that’s the point.  We have to stay focused on improving our skills and not be so critical of our work that we become immobile.

Denise carefully attaches binding. She’s hopeful. She’s confident. She’s determined to get the job done!

Enough about the rules, let’s take a look at my gourd-ous shenanigans I completed in 2 days.  😊

Centerpiece 1:  Youthful!

I rummaged through my fabric and found the orange print.  The downside, I only had scraps.  I decided to make the best of my supplies by making a 4-patch block.  I added a coordinating green fabric to make the centerpiece larger.

Once the top was complete, I made a quilt sandwich and hooped the project using Snap Hoop Monster.  Then it occurred to me I needed to center the design within the block.  No problem!  I used the handy Centering Ruler from the Embroidery Tool Kit to find the center of the block.  I placed a target sticker in the hole.  Then I made sure the needle hit the center of the target sticker.  Moments like these make having the right tools indispensable.

I chose an orange thread color for the pumpkin quilting design and used the stitch-in-the-ditch method for the busy prints.  My coworker, Sam, commented that he likes the difference in the busy prints.  One print is large scale while the other is a smaller scale.  Until he mentioned it, I hadn’t noticed.  Sometimes I can get so focused I miss certain elements!

Centerpiece 2:  Fall Harvest with a Touch of Blue!

I continued rummaging through my fabric and found small scraps of the beautiful blue print fabric.

It’s so delicious, I had to use it.  It’s also not what we might expect for a fall harvest but that’s why I love it!   I chose a brown thread color for the quilt designs. The brown thread coordinates well with the print.

Centerpiece 3:  Royalty!

I used a delicious batik fabric and a rich purple.

The tan thread color was influenced by the batik fabric.  This sample received a lot of attention when I paraded it around the office.  I suppose we all identify with royalty!  😉

I had an absolute blast making these centerpieces and am sad to see this blog post end.

Which version do you like best?  What other color scheme would you want to see?


Given my affinity for this collection, now’s a good time to mention we are offering free shipping on US orders.  I’ve extended the offer to October 5th.  Or give us a call during business hours:  888-739-0555 (8 am – 5 pm CDT).



Machine embroidery is for everyone!

One recent Saturday, I invited my friend, Tore Bellis, to my studio to learn how to machine embroider.  Tore is a software engineer and he’s always interested in learning new things.  It made sense to me that he should learn.

I considered what he might like to stitch and decided for his first experience, he should do more than embroider a piece of fabric. He needs to make and complete a project in one day.

That sounds like an ambitious task but it’s not with the Snazzy Snap Covers. The collection is fun for all skill levels. And given Tore’s analytical mind, I knew he’d enjoy seeing how the project comes together. The pockets would really captivate him!

The collection features 6 different styles of notebooks in two sizes. He chose to stitch the shark design for the small notebook cover.

I offered all my fabrics for Tore to choose from including a new pack of Carnival Batiks I received from the Baby Lock Common Threads event. Tore was a little hesitant to use my special new batiks but there is no better time than the present. I was pretty surprised how much he deliberated over the fabric selections. (This is a sign he’s an embroiderer at heart and perhaps even a quilter!).

He cut the vinyl fabric for the notebook cover, the batiks for the inside pockets and the blue ‘denim’ for the inside cover.

He also made a preliminary selection of thread colors. I assured him he could change his mind as the project came together.

He hooped the stabilizer and attached the hoop to the machine.

I showed him how to thread the Baby Lock Spirit by following all the numbers and arrows on the machine. He also learned how to use the automatic needle threader. The automatic needle threader was his favorite part.

I took photos throughout the process and we decided to capture his very first stitches on video. He practiced the steps before I shot the video. I explained if something goes wrong we can always stage it again and re-shoot. I quickly learned however, he really wanted the video to catch his first stitches— no exceptions. So we practiced the motions a few times until he was ready.

As he stitched, I explained the concept of placement stitches and tackdown stitches.

He stitched his first appliqué and learned about appliqué scissors.

I demonstrated how to use the scissors and suggested he compare them to using regular scissors. But without trying them he could already see the advantage of appliqué scissors. He carefully trimmed the excess appliqué fabric and carefully returned the hoop to the machine.

Tore stitched the next applique fabric – the top portion of the shark.
Then he carefully trimmed away the excess fabric.

The design quickly takes shape!

He continued stitching and we reached a point when difficult decisions would have to be made. What thread color for the fish designs? Tore auditioned several options.

He contemplated the shades of blue.

Tore decided to experiment with a tan color that would pop off the blue vinyl. He’s becoming a professional at threading the machine at this stage of the process.

At this point Tore was ready for the particularly clever part of the construction process: the inside of the notebook cover.

Tore aligned the “denim” fabric with the notches on the back of the design. We used a spray adhesive to hold the fabric in place. Then he stitched the fabric down.

Next, the fancy batik pockets (my favorite part of the design). Tore aligned the pockets with the notches on the design.

He secured the pockets with Painter’s Tape.

He was ready for the final thread color that would secure the pockets and define the shape of his notebook cover. This was the last critical thread color decision to make and he was not hasty. I suggested red since it’s a shark notebook to hint at the idea of blood. I pulled out all my threads (not just red) so he could browse options.

Then I found him at the machine, contemplating which shade of red.
He said, “This one is more ‘blood’ while this is more vivid. Do I want blood or do I want vivid?”

These were important questions only he could answer, of course. He made his decision and finished stitching the design.

He heard the celebratory chime on the Baby Lock that proclaims the design is finished. I pointed out the smiley face on the touch screen of the machine that also indicates the design is complete. (Even though I’ve been embroidering for a few years, I never tire of those features!).

Tore unhooped his masterpiece.

Then he trimmed the notebook to its final shape.

The last step: installing snaps! Among Tore’s many hobbies and talents, he’s installed snaps with his leatherwork projects. But we still practiced our snap skills on a piece of fabric.
And just like that, my friend who has never machine embroidered made his first in-the-hoop project!

Tore went home that night and ordered a six-pack of mini notebooks from Amazon. Now he’s planning his next set of notebooks.

The take-away from this piece:

  • Machine embroidery is for everyone! Share your hobbies with friends and family members. Don’t forget to consider kids or grand-kids. Depending on the child’s age, you can do some of the more involved parts of the task. It’s not only a time to bond but there’s a delightful element of discovery you can enjoy through a novice’s eyes.

Special Limited Time Offer (1 week only!)
Take $10.00 off your order of Snazzy Snap Covers! Use coupon code: snazzysaturday. Visit the Designs in Machine Embroidery website by clicking here.

Happy Campers!

One of the fun aspects of working for Designs in Machine Embroidery is the ability to create and present new ideas.  We gather inspiration from what’s trending, from our own likes and interests, from friends and associates, museums and countless seemingly unrelated fields.  These ideas come to life in Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine, but also through this blog and our products.  It makes the work more interesting for us but more importantly, we hope it keeps us relevant and timely for you, our readers!

When Eileen and I were brainstorming about a new design idea, I had been admiring vintage campers.  I see them as I travel to my favorite hiking and adventure destinations.  There’s something wonderfully nostalgic and charming about them – and they need to be expressed with stitches!

Eileen gave me the green light to design this vintage camper embroidery design.  I considered how I’d like to decorate the camper and who I’d want to include in my camping adventures.  Four-legged friends, of course!  That’s why I included a dog and cat looking through the windows.

The embroidery design is fun to stitch as is—and we’ve created a step-by-step instruction guide to use the design to make a cosmetic bag (or use it for gadgets or other items that need to be tucked away in a cute bag).  Use the design to stitch a sweet pillow or decorate a quilt block.

If you’re like me, you enjoy tweaking the design to add that unique touch.  You can do that with this design.  Add ribbon as embellishment to the camper.  Or use tiny pom pom fringe for a more whimsical look.

Don’t have a cat?  Remove the cat design and add a second dog.  Or remove the pets altogether.  You get the idea.  Have fun and make this vintage camper design your own.  Embellish with beads, crystals or rhinestones.  Add lettering to customize the design further.  Use software to add a square “Welcome” mat.

Most of all, embrace your creativity with enthusiasm!

This camper design along with the cosmetic bag instructions, are included as a free gift when you subscribe to Designs in Machine Embroidery.  You can subscribe for 1 or more years and the offer works with renewals.  Live abroad?  We’ll ship the magazine wherever you live!  The camper and cosmetic bag instructions are an automatic download you’ll receive upon paid subscription.  You can start stitching now!  Click the image below for the subscription page or give us a call:  888-739-0555 / 8 am – 5 pm CDT.




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