Archive of ‘Stitching Sisters’ category

Multi-Needle Monday: Embroidering on T-shirts

Embroidering t-shirts are so simple on a multi-needle machine. Through my five years teaching on the road with my Stitching Sister we have discovered many interesting scenarios regarding hooping t-shirts. Single needle embroidery machine owners have to be creative when they hoop and embroider a t-shirt. We teach some out of the ordinary techniques such as using tape, clips, Hoop Guards, spray adhesive and pins. Some people use all of the items listed! If you are fortunate enough to own a multi-needle embroidery machine, hooping and embroidering a t-shirt is very simple.

Step1. Select the embroidery design and decide on the appropriate size hoop. T-shirts should not be embroidered on a hoop larger than a 5” x 7” for optimal quality. For example: stitching jumbo letters or multiple lines of text on a stretchy knit fabric is not ideal. Make your job a bit easier and re-size the design to fit in a 5” x 7” or 4” x 4” hoop.

Step 2. Stabilizer rule: If it stretches, cut it out. It’s that simple. Stabilize the wrong side of the t-shirt in the area to be embroidered with a fusible no-show or poly-mesh cut away stabilizer. Cut the stabilizer larger than the hoop you plan to use. For a 4” x 4” hoop, cut a 8”  square of fusible stabilizer. (Poly mesh and no-show are interchangeable terms.) Poly mesh stabilizer is available in fusible and non-fusible in white, natural or black colors.

poly mesh1

Step3. Do not over stretch the fabric when placing it in the hoop. Once the fusible poly mesh is ironed in place, carefully hoop the fabric taut without over stretching. Mark the area to be embroidered with a target sticker; cross hair centered in the hoop. The fabric should be tight like a drum, without ripples. Feel underneath the hoop to make sure excess fabric is not caught in the hoop. Remove the target sticker after it is aligned with the needle bar.hoop1

Step4. DO NOT FLOAT! (To float fabric is to hoop stabilizer and spray adhesive to the stabilizer, then add the garment or fabric on top of the hoop. The fabric is not actually contained in the hoop.) I hear so many embroiderers talk about floating the garment or fabric and floating the fabric does not create any tension on the fabric.

Embroidery machine manufacturers make hoops because it is the best way to stabilize the fabric. Yes, there are many instances when you might need a specialty hoop and we are glad to have them. On a daily basis, hoop properly and your embroidery will look professional.

Step 5. Use water soluble stabilizer on top of the fabric to keep the thread from sinking into the knit fabric. Hold the stabilizer in place with the basting file.hoop2

Step 6. Use the free-arm ability to easily embroider tubular items such as t-shirts, sweat shirts and onesies. Insert the neckline over the machine throat and let the body of the shirt hang below the throat. Get creative if the design is more vertical, you can use the sleeve to fit around the hoop’s extended attachment.

Want to learn more about stitching professionally? Take advantage of this $10 coupon for my Craftsy class, How to Start a Machine Embroidery Business.


Multi-Needle Monday: Drawstring Backpack with Tote Bag and Purse Hoop

Recently, my sister Marie Zinno was explaining to me how she hoops a drawstring bag. And I told her I use a different hoop but I think she should share her technique with you. So here’s what she had to say…

If you own a multi-needle embroidery machine I am sure you have encountered a hard to hoop bag. Duffle, tote, draw string, backpack and cosmetic bags can be so challenging for the embroiderer. Bags are very profitable and generally do not require a large high stitch count design but the difficulty involved in the set up might make you give bags a second thought.

One of the most popular styles for teams and businesses is the drawstring duffle backpack. The embroidery is usually placed in the center of the bag (because when you tighten the drawstring the upper portion is synched together). I like to use the Tote Bag and Purse hoop available from Brother and Baby Lock. The hoop used measures 5×7 and has curved arms to easily fit a bag over the bobbin throat.


I like this hoop because I can use simple tear away stabilizer and the embroidery machine “reads” the correct hoop size. There is no guessing if the design will fit and if the needle will touch the frame. Mark the center on your bag and use a target sticker to designate the area to be embroidered. Slide the bottom frame of the hoop inside the bag with the stabilizer and place the top portion of the hoop on top.




Attach the hoop to the machine and line up the target sticker with the correct needle bar. Remove the sticker and stitch the design. Carefully remove the hoop and tear away excess stabilizer from the back of bag.

Friday Night Live @ Sew Expo


It’s your chance for an evening of fun and luck! Luck? If you come to Friday Night Live at Sew Expo, Puyallup, WA on February 27th you’ll have a chance to win not one, not two, but FIVE machines!  Baby Lock is giving away over $6,000 worth of machines. All you have to do is buy a ticket to Friday Night Live and come and enjoy the show. Of course you have to be present to win. And why wouldn’t you? Because not only do you have a chance to win a machine but you’ll also enjoy a night of education and hilarity!

My stitching Sister and I have been working on our presentation – it’s has a Tonight Show theme and although I can’t promise you an appearance from Jimmy Fallon or Justin Timberlake – I can tell you we will have as much fun in Puyallup as they have in Times Square.  What can you expect?  The traditional Tonight Show Friday night format kicks off with Thank You notes. These thank you notes won’t have anything to do with New York tourists. Oh no, our thank you notes are focused on our industry.  We’ll share our tongue-in-cheek gratitude to Singer, Viking, Pfaff, Brother, Bernina and Baby Lock.

A few weeks ago, I hinted to the possibility of a lip sync battle performed by our special guests.  And our special guests have agreed!  Right now, they are working on their routines and perfecting their form.  I have to say they are not only great sports but they’re bringing their ‘game’ – full of enthusiasm for this unique opportunity to showcase their previously hidden talents. Who are they?  None other than the President of Baby Lock, Steve Jeffrey and local favorite, Eddie Schultz of Issaquah Sewing & Vacuum!  So who do you think they should impersonate? Jennifer Hudson, The Bee Gees, Elvis, Rod Stewart, Barry White, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash? Oh my, the possibilities are endless!

But we know you want more than fun – you want to learn and win some prizes. We have the fun handled, the education is a given (Marie and I are unveiling our top 30 embroidery tips) and we’ll hand out tons of prizes!  Over $6200 worth of prizes!  Five machines – complements of Baby Lock plus books and notions from Designs in Machine Embroidery.


Rachel: MSRP $800.00

Imagine: MSRP $3,000.00

Imagine: MSRP $3,000.00

Tempo: MSRP $1,400.00

Tempo: MSRP $1,400.00

Molly: MSRP $500.00

Molly: MSRP $500.00

Anna: MSRP $400.00

Anna: MSRP $400.00

Hope you’ll join us for a night of edutainment!  Reserve your seats now! 



Here’s your assignment this week:
I think we’ve all been guilty of playing a little air guitar or having a jam session in the car every once in awhile 😉 Tell us your absolute favorite song that makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs. We will pick 4 random comments and they each will receive a $25 gift certificate to Zippy DesignZ! Good luck and happy stitching.ZippyDesignZ_2015BlogBanner
The winner of last week’s assignment:
Tell us how long you can hold on to a box of chocolates.  One random comment will be chosen to win… a box of chocolates!  Mmmm!  Yummy!And the winner is:  Ellen M.
“As long as I don’t take a bite I can keep it for a month. But once I break down and have a bite, they are gone within the week. I have no self control with chocolate.”



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!

Come Sail with the Stitching Sisters and DIME


My Stitching Sister and I are so excited to sail on the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas – voted the Best Cruise Ship by Travel Weekly. Click here to see why we think this is the best ship on the water.

Allure of the Seas

When you’re not marveling at all the Allure has to offer, you’ll head into an embroidery studio filled with top of the line Baby Lock machines. Marie and I will guide you through three days of designing, digitizing, stitching and quilting with an embroidery machine. But we’re not heading to sea by ourselves, oh no, we’ll be joined by one of DIME’s Inspiration Consultants, Flash Sewing and Baby Lock staff. You’ll be in good hands for three days of embroidery fun and exploration.


You can learn more about the cruise and select your cabin at the special rate by visiting

Marie and I have already booked our rooms and we’re working on the class materials now. Since we want all of the projects to be fresh and new for this special occasion, we are making sure all of the latest techniques, ideas and trends are included in the three days of embroidery fun. So details on the stitching portion of the cruise will be available at a later date. But it’s a good idea to grab your cabin now at the special offer rate!

Please call Lenore Deck Travel at 352-270-8658 or email to There is limited space in the embroidery studio so get on the list today.

Hope you’ll join us on the Allure!


Here’s your assignment this week:

It’s not often you get to embroider in such wonderful settings as floating in the ocean on a beautiful cruise ship. What is the most unusual place you have embroidered? One comment will be chosen to receive a $25 gift certificate to the DIME website.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Urban Threads is giving away four (4) $25 gift certificates to their website. Just leave a comment below about a design you re-purposed for something new, something different! Maybe you turned a kitchen towel project into some doll clothes or made a bracelet out of a sashing – whatever it is, we want to know.


And the winners are: Meg A, Georgia N, Sandi M, and Michelle C – congratulations to all and thank you to everyone for sharing.

Multi-Needle Monday: How Many People Can You Fit in Your Sewing Room?

I don’t get a lot of company at my house but when I do, I love it. Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting my sister, her three daughters and two grandchildren. We wound up in my sewing room! Tons of room to spread out all over the house, but here we were huddled around the multi-needle machine.

My sister, Mary Pat Palombo, granddaughter Bella, daughter Christin, grandson Atticus, daughters Regina and Kim.

My sister, Mary Pat Palombo, granddaughter Bella, daughter Christin, grandson Atticus, daughters Regina and Kim.

Let me give you a little background. A little over a year ago, I wrote a post about my niece Kim’s baby shower. I shared an image of the all of the beautiful handmade gifts she received.


Well…Kim had a boy, Atticus, a beautiful red-haired Irish lad and recently made the trip to Texas to visit her sister, Christin. Just so happens, I live about 30 minutes from Christin so when family comes to the Lone Star State, I usually get to see them too.

Why did we wind up in my sewing room? It seems Atticus has a ‘lovie’ that he adores. Mom Kim wanted to make sure his lovie could be returned if he ever misplaced (dropped, threw, stashed or hid) it. Kim’s a pretty smart girl! She asked if I could embroider is name and her phone number on the binding of the lovie. I jumped at the chance because I remember my Stitching Sister Marie Zinno telling me how easy it is to do. That’s all I need, a few words from Marie saying, “Go on, you can do it!”

But she’s right; it’s super easy with a flat hoop and a built-in scanner. I hooped the lovie with tear-away stabilizer, keeping the binding within the sewing field. Since the hoop is flat, I pulled on the lovie to make sure it was taut in the frame. Kim2

I used the built-in text to write his name and her phone number. Added a basting box around the text then scanned the hoop. Notice the head of the puppy extends above the frame. I forced it down when it got close to the needle bar during the scanning process. I didn’t have to worry about the puppy’s head during stitching as the binding is positioned at the back of the hoop – the needle bar never traveled near the head.


I moved the text to fit within the binding and selected a thread to match for security reasons. I figured if someone found the lovie, they would call with the intent to put a smile on a baby’s face, not harm the mom. But let’s not make the bad guy’s job easier by using dark brown thread! Kim4

What fun in the sewing room! Tell me, do you like having company in your sewing room?

Multi-Needle Monday: Fast & Easy Applique

Aprons are the perfect accessory – whether you’re cooking in the kitchen, tending a garden or stitching in your sewing room.  I recently purchased these oh-so-cute aprons and knew they’d be the perfect accessory to wear at our Stitching Sisters events.  As I’ll show you – you don’t need to shy away from large print fabrics.  Applique is the key!

First, find the center of the apron bib by folding the apron in half or use a target ruler. Place a target sticker on the apron to mark the center.


Prepare the applique fabric by fusing fusible webbing to the wrong side of the applique fabric. Let the fabric cool and remove the protective paper.


Hoop the bib with tear-away stabilizer in a 5” x 7” hoop. I used Multi-Needle Snap Hoop Monster since the flat top makes trimming applique very easy.


Retrieve the embroidery design. On the editing screen, touch the multi-spool icon. Travel through the design and place a stop (touch the hand) at color 2 and 3. Assign the proper colors if necessary. Touch close.

If you have a camera on the multi-needle machine, use it to center the needle over the target sticker.


Touch the camera icon again to close the camera and touch Sewing. Stitch color 1, the placement guide.


Lay the prepared applique fabric over the outline. Stitch color 2, the tackdown.


Touch the hoop icon at the bottom of the screen to move the hoop out for access to the applique.


Trim the excess applique fabric close to the stitched outline. Apron7

Stitch color 3, the satin outline, color 4, the inner satin accent, the bean stitch outline and the text.


Here’s my Stitching Sister and me at our recent event in Sacramento with Meissner’s Sewing & Vacuum. What a great event! I wonder if it was the aprons!


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.”

Keep It Simple Snowman

HeaderMy Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno, is so busy right now. Every time we talk (and that’s every morning), she’s got all three of her machines cranking out holiday orders.  Marie is a commercial embroiderer based in Canton, OH and one very pleasant person. She never grumbles even in the midst of holiday stitching chaos. And if you’ve ever dabbled in machine embroidery for business, then you know what holiday chaos is like. It all starts out innocent enough; you get just the right amount of orders to keep your machines humming about 6-8 hours a day.  Your delivery dates are manageable (because you finally got a handle on estimating how much time to allot for each order); your prices are set and your inventory landed when promised. It’s all up to you now to get the jobs completed as promised.

But Marie is the first to admit things don’t always go as planned. Oh she definitely has survived holiday emergencies in previous years of power outages, machines malfunctioning and family illnesses and she handled each with panache. But this year, it’s been a bit different. It seems when a customer arrives to pick up an order they see some of the items that she’s been making for other customers and promptly order four or six or 24!

So what’s so hot in Canton this year? Snowman towels, onesies and t-shirts. When Marie’s customers spot them on display they promptly order a set of towels for their own home. And then they remember their niece who had a new baby this spring and order a onesie for that angel. Then they remember the baby has an older sister or brother, and well you get the picture.  She charges between $15 and $20 for each item and because she has an inventory of blank items, it’s just a matter of hooping and stitching.


As embroiderers we tend to overcomplicate things – take personalization to whole new levels. But really, many people are just as touched with a simple holiday design. Something that’s unique, something you don’t find in the local store.  So if you’re scrambling to finish your holiday stitching, maybe you should simplify. And think snowman!


The snowman design is from Embroidery Garden.


Here’s your assignment this week:

So how is your holiday stitching coming along? Are you stressed? Are you going to make your deadlines?  Let us know how it’s going and we’ll pick a random winner to receive a fold flat stocking, perfect for personalization.

The winner of last week’s assignment:

Tell me which of the bags above is your favorite; the red diamond, teal scallop pocket purse, green starburst or the small clutch. Two lucky winners will get an autographed copy of Designer Knockoffs, Handbags 2! Good luck.

And the lucky winners are: Desiree K. and Patty S. Congratulations!

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