Archive of ‘Specialty Fabrics’ category

Buffalo Plaid? It’s Everywhere!

If you’ve been looking for blanks to embroider this holiday season, chances are you found many options and 90% of them are buffalo plaid!  Whether it’s pillows, kitchen towels, throws, potholders or garments, it’s plaid!  Buffalo plaid offers some challenges for the embroiderer because of the combination of color (most likely red and black) and the high probability of it being a textured fabric.  But embroiderers have ammunition in their arsenal to overcome these potentially troublesome fabric features.

Embroidery expert Deborah Jones will be joining me tomorrow on Facebook Live and we’ll be sharing some tips for tackling tricky fabrics including buffalo plaid.  We’ll show how to keep your embroidery above the loft on nubby fabrics.   We’ll also discuss tips for making your embroidery stitches front and center on bold prints.  In addition, we’ll look at stretchy knits (a crowd favorite fabric) and how to avoid sinking stitches.  Finally, we’ll discuss embroidering on heavy bulky fabrics.

And if you’re wondering, I used all these tips in making gift #2 on my Holiday Gift Making list. Join me at 1:00 PM CST on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 where you’ll see gift #2 on Facebook or YouTube. Bring your embroidery questions,  Deborah and I will be happy to help you have a successful holiday stitching season.  See you there!

A trip to the museum

As machine embroiderers, I think it’s important to step out of our comfort zones to see new interpretations of the everyday.  That’s why I took a trip to the Dallas Museum of Art recently.  A fashion exhibit featuring the work of Iris van Herpen was on display and it was well worth the trip!

If you’re unfamiliar, she’s a fashion designer that boldly and unapologetically mixes media to make her collections.  Ever imagine using 3-D printing to make garments?  She has and she’s done it.  She mixes everything from tulle (we’d expect that) to resins, chain and magnets.

My friend and I commented on whether or not a model could sit in any of the garments.  We concluded most were not meant for sitting!  But they certainly were fascinating and inspiring.

Take a look.

This dress, called Refinery Smoke, is at the entrance to the exhibit.  I think it’s among my favorites in the collection.  The description of the dress, as featured at the museum, follows.

What a unique gift to see beauty where most of us don’t.

The next dress is my top favorite.  It has a vintage look about it – which I love.

Here’s a closer view of the detail.  Would you have ever imagined to use ball chain on a garment?  Somehow it works!  As a machine embroiderer, I can imagine a touch of Urban Threads’ embroidery designs embellished somewhere on the dress.  You’ll make a splash when you enter the room in this garment!

You might be thinking delicate feathers.  No.  Laser cut 3-D polyester film lace and micro fiber.

At a loss for words? Me too.  Among the components are silicone laser-cut feathers, gull skulls and pearls.  Of course!

Close-up view of the garment.

Can you guess the metal components in the dress below?  Umbrella tines!

While you and I may not aspire to create over-the-top pieces like these – we do have permission to be inspired.  Push yourself to see fabric and embroidery designs with a new perspective.  Iris van Herpen certainly “broke” all sorts of “rules” when it comes to creating garments – and you can too – whether it’s embroidered garments, quilts or home decor.

Look for ideas in the upcoming Volume 106 Sept/Oct issue with Katherine Artines and Volume 107 Nov/Dec featuring a variety of 3-D ornaments.

Free Updates – June 2017!

If you own Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro, you enjoy free updates forever. Really.  Forever.  Many updates work in the background to keep your software compliant with the latest Windows updates. In addition, some PEP updates include new features.  This month, you’ll find three very handy new features.  When you log on to PEP on Monday, June 5, you’ll be prompted to update your software. It’s not mandatory but it is advisable.

Three of my favorite new features are Projection, Filter and Nap Blocker. Let’s take a look at each one.

Projection morphs a single running outline into unique rows of flowing stitches.  Digitize a curvy line, overlapping here and there to mimic half of a butterfly. 

Select the line.  In the Properties Box, click the arrow next to Standard in the Type field and select Projection.   

Wow – look at what Projection produces!  Beautiful! 

I copied, pasted and mirror imaged the wing.  Then I added antennae and a body. 

It’s easy to change the distance between the rows of stitching. In the Properties Box on the Run, change the Density to produce different results.  The image above was 4.0. A bit more open is 6.0.An exaggerated spacing of 12.0 results is wide open spaces between the rows.

Filter allows you to make quick changes to specific stitch types.  Open a design that includes a variety of stitch types (satin, steil, run, complex fill, etc).  The Owl is from Inspirations’ Elegant Wisdom Collection, design #98627301.  Select the design, right click and select View, Filter. 

A new window pops up with all stitch types.  Place a check mark in the Run box and click OK. 

Now only the run stitches are visible. 

You can make any change you want to these stitches. For now, let’s just change the color to black. 

Select all, right click, View, Show All. 

That was so easy!

What if you want to stitch this owl on terrycloth?  Those run stitches will seep into the texture and disappear.  The Nap Blocker feature adds a layer of stitches behind all other stitches to hold down the nap of textured fabrics.  Select the design, right click, Utility, Create Nap Blocker.

Now the design will sit on a field of stitches whose only job is to smooth the texture of the fabric. The software automatically puts the Nap Blocker segment as the first stitches of the design. Assign a new color to the Nap Blocker, then select a thread to match the fabric. the Nap Blocker stitches will be practically invisible. 

Next Saturday, we’ll delve into to the newly-updated Style feature and explore the Vintage settings in the new Filter feature.  In the meantime, enjoy Projection, Nap Blocker and Filter.








Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Generally, I fall in love with a fabric and an appliqué design and uh, kind of, force them together. After watching Deborah Jones’ Learn from Expert DVD Applique FUNdamentals, I now know why I haven’t always been successful.

For instance, I should have considered important criteria for both the appliqué and host fabric such as colorfastness and heat tolerance. Thankfully, Deborah’s recommendations don’t limit my choices; rather they are guidelines for success. She embraces the use of all types of fabrics from plush faux fur to holographic to natural bamboo fabrics.

Deborah’s tips on selecting patterned fabrics are spot-on!  She even takes a specially prepared template to the fabric store for appliqué auditions! Talk about setting yourself up for success. I love that tip.

If the only reason you ever consider stitching an appliqué is to repair a garment, then you’ll appreciate her technique for complete coverage – inside and out. I coaxed Deborah into sharing her tip for garment repair – click here and enjoy!

You’ll reap the benefits of her in-depth exploration into cut-as-you-go and pre-cut appliqué techniques. I learned there’s more to it than just saving time. And for those of you who use software to make your own appliqués, you’re going to love Deborah’s clear and concise explanation of where to position the placement, cut and tackdown lines.

I feel so enlightened now; I can’t wait to stitch an appliqué that I know will last through repeated washings and lots of wear and tear!

This week’s assignment:

I’d love to hear how you use appliqué – is it for beauty or function? Leave a comment and you could win a copy of Applique FUNdamentals.

The 20 winners of last week’s assignment answered the following question:

Tell me what appliqué design you’d like to win for your fall stitching. Remember 20 of you are going to win $10 gift certificates to Planet Applique, so don’t be shy…tell us!

Barbara Cummings
I love the Halloween feet!  I think it’s cute!!!

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Brenda Howard
I am a racing fanatic and would love to have the Indycar and race tire appliques. Such a cool site thanks for telling me about it.

Carolyn Oglesby
I love applique and am always looking for new cute designs!

We all love to win…I love your designs:)

Darlene Pino
I like the Ghost Face applique.  I would like to make ghosts with this for my front yard with lights underneath for our Halloween decoration.  Friendly Ghost welcoming the little kiddies.

Diane Cockman
Love them all. Did the birthday cupcakes for 3 yrs. Granddaughter loved them. I think the crayons would be wonderful, as she just started PreK4.

Donna G.
I’d love to do some Halloween cupcakes on tea towels. There are so many cute designs!

Karen Rilstone
Birthday designs, the crayons, cute Halloween designs for t-shirts and totes. The list is never-ending.

I love the crayon alphabet! I want to use it on some new shirts for my grandbabies. 🙂

I need to build up my alphabet supply- I’m particularly looking at the Owl and Gator Alphas!

Kim Wilson
I love anything Halloween!

Kelly Lamb aka Sew Lambitious LLC
I would love to win a few of the Halloween applique designs to make a few things for my grandsons! Such cute designs! I found you through Designs In Machine Embroidery on FB. Thank you for the entry!

I couldn’t wait… I used the coupon code and purchased THREE applique alphabets and another “regular” alphabet.  Jack’n Jill, Crayon, and Aimee, plus Abigail.

But if I should win, my prize would be used to purchase something to use for two spring grandbabies.  The “Twins” are currently expected on the same day in the April!   The moms-to-be are my daughter and daughter-in-law.

This is such FUN!   🙂

Marlene C
I love them all. So many applique, so little time, but the one that really caught my eye is the in the hoop bunny booties.  Soooo cute.  I”m expecting a new grandaughter in Oct. and these would be really cute for her.

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Pat Fritze
A dress for my granddaughter would look really cute with the crayons around the bottom, for her first day of school.

Patty Sack
I think I would choose something for baby’s or for Christmas.  It’s hard to choose there are so many good ones.

Sheila Walton
I love the Witch feet – makes me think of the Wizard of Oz!

I really like and need some owls, here in Finland they are just coming into fashion…

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Susan Wilson
I have enjoyed stitching many of Planet Applique’s designs so I already feel like a Winner. I would get to enjoy looking back through all of her designs to decide what I would get if I did win.  Thanks so much for this opportunity!!

Sue Reiss
With twin Granddaughters and being in education I love the crayons


Congratulations everyone and thank you Planet Applique!


Machine Embroidered Wedding Touches

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As tempting as it was to go overboard, I limited myself to make just one machine-embroidered element for my recent wedding: the table numbers.  In retrospect, I’m not so sure anyone noticed that the numbers were embroidered but that’s okay with me. I enjoyed the process.

Since our wedding took place in a natural stone setting (limestone floor, stucco walls, etc) I felt the table numbers and name cards should have an ‘old world’ feel.  So I used ink and water to age basic card stock tags and embroiderable paper. I had a blast doing that – I like to get my hands dirty so this was right up my alley!  First, I used two colors of Distress Ink (tea and coffee colors).

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I just dabbed the tea ink pad over the tag and then followed with the darker coffee ink.  Then I quickly swiped a wet paper towel across the tag to blend the smudges.  They dried flat and smooth!

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The next step was how to display the name tags.  I found a very affordable wire dress form with circular details and used it to hold (and transport) the name tags. Once I inserted the name tags in the dress form circles, I slid a large plastic trash bag over the dress form and tied it on the bottom. It kept everything in order for the big day.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I applied the same ink technique to the embroiderable paper (The Sewphisticated Stitcher) but didn’t get the same results. That paper quickly absorbed all the ink so the blending wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked. It seemed to call for another layer of ink. So I added a spray of paper ink.  The result? A slightly mottled paper.  Now for the embroidery.

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I used open, airy digits from Urban Threads ( I found I could fit two table number tents on each 8 ½” x 11” piece of embroiderable paper. I used a target ruler to mark the position for each letter and gently placed a target sticker in that location.  Too much adhesive might have harmed the paper but a soft touch did the trick.

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I placed the bottom frame of my 4” x 4” Snap-Hoop on the machine.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Then I slid the paper under the needle, aligning the target sticker with the needle. I used the edge of the paper as a guide to make sure the paper was square on the hoop.  Then I snapped magnets onto the frame.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I could have used the top magnetic frame of Snap-Hoop but I found just dropping the magnets (from my Magna-Hoop Jumbo) was much easier in this application.  Once I removed the target sticker, I embroidered the number.

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I repeated this for each number, rotating the number for the other side of the tent.

After completing the four numbers, I cut the paper, folded the strips and used double-sided tape to hold them together at the bottom.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

As it turned out, the table numbers weren’t the only embroidered items.  My dear friend Mary Mulari brought vintage wedding hankies for each female guest!  What a generous offer.  Many were embroidered (mostly by hand) – all were gorgeous.

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My Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno, surprised with me an embroidered table runner for the unity candle table.  A treasured memento!

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Personal touches are what make a wedding day an expression of a couple’s love.  When family members pitch in to do some of the prep – it makes for some wonderful memories. Since I have five sisters who are capable of pulling off anything, I knew we could handle doing our own flowers. So we did – centerpieces, bridal bouquets, boutonnières, and wall decorations.  I imported the flowers from South America and had them delivered two days before the wedding.  I captured two of my sisters, Marie Zinno and Kath Brown, to do the actual arranging in my garage the day before the wedding.

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The groom and I hauled the flowers to the location a few hours before the wedding and then an army of family joined forces to transform the barren space. I knew I could count on another sister, Liz Scully, for her museum-quality bow-tying expertise.  Really, this woman would win a Martha Stewart bow-tying throw-down. I supplied the pretty ribbon and she made it look perfect! Here are four my sisters (from left to right): Liz Scully, Kath Brown, Marie Zinno, me and Mary Pat Palombo during set-up.

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And after.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

My oldest sister, Mary Pat Palombo, jumped into action and was a valuable set of hands.  My cousin, Pat Mulligan, climbed a 12 ft. ladder to help engineer the hanging of a 30-ft. baby’s breath/tulle garland.  Height is no issue for Patrick since he’s used to having his head in the clouds as a captain with American Airlines.

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It was a magical day.


This week’ assignment:

I need your help selecting a new design to feature in an upcoming project. So tell me, do you like design A, B or C? We’ll pick a random winner to receive a Magna-Hoop! Wow – you could win – just leave your comment!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

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

Tell me what is your ‘go-to gift’ for bridal showers? Post a comment and we’ll select TWO random winners to win a $35 gift voucher courtesy of Designs by Hope Yoder!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

This week’s TWO lucky winners are…
Winner 1:  Sharon Aiken
“I like to make an embroidered ring bearer pillow with fsl and the couple’s monogram as well as an embroidered small satin purse for the bride to carry to the church with her essentials for last minute touch-ups.”

Winner 2:  Nancy Stringer
“My favorite gift for a bridal shower is handmade linen napkins, embroidered with something specific to the couple…something they couldn’t just buy.”

Congratulations Sharon and Nancy!

Special Program!

It’s Sew Easy is a unique how-to television program. You won’t find a host – instead, a selection of industry experts share their top tips with you. It’s an in-depth personal sewing/embroidery/quilting lesson in your own home.

Watch a special viewing of episode 105 of It’s Sew Easy at It will begin airing at noon EST on April 27th and be available for viewing for ONE week only. You’ll see my exclusive tips for monogramming napkins and towels which include speedy tips for embroidering multiples. And you can catch Tricia Waddell and Katrina Loving demonstrating how to use needle-turn appliqué on pillows and wall hangings. Finally, Pam Damour wraps up the show with 10 steps to the perfect pillow. Click here to watch It’s Sew Easy!

Content in this feed is © Copyright 2012 by Eileen Roche and may not be republished without written permission. You’re welcome to forward to a friend or colleague but it’s not okay to add the RSS feed automatically as content on a blog or other website.


How to Embroider on Minky

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How to Embroider on Minky

Do you love the feel of Minky but have been afraid to add embroidery to this luscious fabric? Its cuddly-soft texture, stretchy give and lush fibers tend to scare the most courageous embroiderers. But don’t worry; it’s fairly easy to tame Minky. Let me show you how.

First, select a ball-point needle to handle the job of slipping the thread between the fibers not slicing into the stretchy fibers. A 80/12 ball point will handle most Minky jobs.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eliminate the stretch during the hooping process by pressing a fusible polymesh (permanent cut-away) to the wrong side of the design area. Most fusible cutaways require a rather low iron temp so harm to the Minky is minimal. Of course, it’s always wise to test first. Make sure the stabilizer extends beyond the hoop.

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Select the correct design for the fabric. Just because you want a design to work, doesn’t mean it will! Designs with delicate running stitch outlines such as this Brother Quattro built-in design are not appropriate for Minky.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Look for designs that have a complete fill (that doesn’t mean bullet-proof embroidery) that will hold down Minky’s nap with some open areas to let the fabric relax. This rose damask design from Embroidery Library is good example of a design appropriate for Minky.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Here’s a fun Steam Punk design from OESD. Unfortunately, only part of this design would work on Minky. Save this for t-shirts, broadcloth and denim.

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Other possibilities for Minky include appliqué and embossed designs.

Select lettering with generous satin columns that will stand up and cover the Minky. The image below are two excellent examples of lettering for Minky (Floriani software).

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The lettering shown here is too delicate for Minky. The opening in the Y on the left is completely closed while the running stitches on the sample on the left will be invisible once the water soluble stabilizer is washed away.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

If possible, edit the design in software and add extra underlay to hold down the nap. Or consider placing a crisp tear-away on top of the fabric to receive the fill stitches then tear it off before adding the final details and outlines. If using this method, select a white tear-away for light colored thread and a black tear-away for dark thread. The stabilizer will blend into the background fabric. For instance, if you’re stitching Santa’s beard on red Minky, place a piece of white tear-away over the design area. Stitch the fill stitches of the beard then tear it away before completing the beard.

A water soluble lightweight film-type of stabilizer on top of the fabric will help keep a design crisp. Just tear it off after all embroidery is complete.

Select a hoop that is the appropriate size for the design. I use Magna-Hoop for all appliqué designs on Minky and Snap-Hoop for all other designs. The flat magnetic hoop inserts and hoops leave the Minky with no visible hoop burn – a real bonus with this stretchy fabric.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Finally, keep your bobbin area clean. Minky tends to shred and build up in the bobbin case can occur much faster than other fabrics. This shredding is why I try to avoid spray adhesive when embroidering on Minky. Imagine the mess you can make with the adhesive, Minky lint and the speed of your embroidery machine. Kind of makes me shudder.

Each embroidery project you tackle is a challenge that you can overcome. Just use some common sense, pull from your past experiences (okay, mistakes – heavens knows, I’ve made hundreds!), take a deep breath and move forward. Remember, it’s just fabric and thread, not muscle and bone.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Tell me about an embroidery project you are most proud of accomplishing. TWO lucky individuals will win the Crazy Quilt Series 1 (in 4 sizes!) courtesy of Molly Mine.

This is a series of 20 blocks in 4” x 4”, 5” x 5”, 6” x 6” and 8” x 8” sizes. All blocks and sizes are included and all blocks are completely embellished! Simple applique designs that need no turning or ironing!

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

Tell me what you like best about attending embroidery events and you could win a one-year subscription to Designs in Machine Embroidery.

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The winner is…Anna Cameron!

“It’s the atmosphere and exciting hum of the place. Its is so easy to talk to the other ladies or gentlemen because you know you have one thing in common.” – Anna Cameron