Archive of ‘Top 5’ category

Where’s the embroidery?

As embroiderers we often think in terms of, ‘what will I embroider on this fabric?’ Oftentimes, some fabrics are quite busy and embroidery doesn’t seem possible. But sometimes the fabric is just too irresistible to pass up—like this bright and colorful linen.

You might be asking… that’s a great bag, but where’s the embroidery?

Take a closer look.

The bag was constructed using Handbags 2 Designer Knockoffs. The bag’s corners are machine embroidered applique. I used a luxurious red suede to coordinate with the print fabric. When Nancy Zieman and I wrote this 68-page book, we set out to prove that machine embroidery can be beautiful but also functional. It can simplify sewing tasks and ensures flawless results. We let the embroidery machine handle the trickiest tasks of bag construction: making four perfect corners and attaching the straps. We also created this collection to give you the freedom to design any sized bag.

Some favorite features of this bag include the details. Never neglect the details—they can elevate an ordinary homemade project to a designer handcrafted project. I used a black zipper rather than one that blended in and I added the tabs at the ends of the zipper.

Black grommets (made by Dritz) were the perfect choice—they are available at most sewing supply stores or online.

When designing a bag—consider a light color for the interior. I chose lime green for a splash of color and because it’s a light color, I can easily find things inside the bag. There’s nothing worse than a black abyss where you have to go ‘fishing’ for your wallet, lipstick or pen!

Remember, ladies, look at embroidery as both beautiful and functional!

Here’s your assignment this week:

Look carefully at the image below. Can you help this clown find his beloved dog?

Image_puzzle

One correct answer will be chosen to receive Handbags 2 Designer Knockoffs by Eileen Roche and Nancy Zieman. Good luck!

Handbags 2 - Designer Knockoffs

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

We’ve showed you plenty of mistakes we’ve made in the past few weeks and asked you to share your stories as well. Now we’d like to know the funniest mistake you’ve ever made! We’ll choose one random comment below to receive a $25 gift certificate to use on the DIME website. Thank you for sharing your stories with us in our Has This Ever Happened to You series.

Gift-Card

And the winner is…Marjorie P. “I found out how “strong” my machine was when I embroidered completely a flower head pin. I had to sit and look at it for a while I was so amazed, then I just picked the stitches out backed up the design and continued on. Project saved, pin a complete loss.”

7 Steps to Improve Your Embroidery

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

1. Print a template(s) of your embroidery design so you can plan the embroidery layout. Place it on the item (garment, home décor, craft or quilt) and critique its placement and size.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

2. Build a test stash. Keep a test polo shirt, stretchy t-shirt, terrycloth towel and common items that you embroider on all the time in your test stash. Use this resource when testing a design for a final project. Fill every available inch with test designs then toss it when there’s no more room for additional tests.If you’re stitching on plain fabric, always buy more than you’ll need so you have material to use for a test stitch-out. So many problems can be avoided by stitching a test of the design with the fabric, stabilizer and thread combo that you’ll be using for the final project.

3. Press the fabric – use starch and steam to get the fabric to behave. Press the stabilizer if it’s wrinkled so it will lay flat behind the fabric.

4. Hoop on a flat, sturdy surface, not your lap. Ironing boards work in a pinch but best results are achieved when hooping on a solid surface, such as a cutting table and mat. Use the lines on the mat to square the fabric in the hoop.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

5. Select the right hoop for the job. The best hold is achieved with the smallest hoop for the design. For instance, a 4” x 4” hoop is the best choice for a 2 ½” x 3” design.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

6. Insert a fresh needle when starting a new embroidery project.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

 7. Learn how to use simple embroidery editing software. You probably don’t need a full-blown digitizing system but a simple sizing and editing program can do 75% of daily embroidery tasks. Rotating, merging, mirror imaging and sizing designs are the top four chores I do to almost every design I stitch.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

 

Here’s your assignment this week:

Summer is almost here! Leave us a comment about your plans for summer vacation and tell us if they involve embroidery. One comment will be chosen to receive a copy of Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons written by Eileen Roche! Eileen demystifies embroidery machines and tools, designs, placement, hooping, stitching and finishing in easy to understand segments. It’s a great book for beginners or seasoned embroiderers alike. Good luck and thank you for reading!

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Leave us your ideas for items that would be perfect to put in totes for women in chemotherapy treatment. Two readers 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.

Thank you to everyone for sharing your thoughtful suggestions and touching stories. This week our two lucky readers are:

Mary Ann – “Maybe a box of note paper and stamps. For one who likes to write, a journal can be therapeutic. Also, light weight gloves for cold hands. Thanks for all the great ideas!”

Nell S. – “My mom has to take dialysis three times a week and she likes word puzzle books, a light weight lap blanket and ear plugs!”

What’s on Your Bucket List?

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

What’s on Your Bucket List?

What’s on your embroidery bucket list?  Want to get the whole embroidery experience?  Then write an embroidery bucket list.  You’ll find if you write it down, you’re apt to tackle some of those easy-to-put-off complicated embroidery projects. And once you do, you’ll probably discover that they were way easier than you imagined.

I’ve compiled three embroidery bucket lists – one for newbie, intermediate and advanced skill levels.  This post will feature the bucket list for newbies.  Look for the bucket lists for Intermediate and Advanced skill levels in upcoming issues of Designs in Machine Embroidery!

Newbies

  1. Select a built-in a design from your machine and stitch it on a knit fabric, cotton quilting fabric and a piece of denim. Experiment with different stabilizers until you’re satisfied with the results. You’ll see how changing the fabric can really change the design – and you’ll learn what stabilizer works best on each fabric.  Write the name and type of the stabilizer on these samples and keep them for future reference.
  2. Play with color by selecting your favorite go-to thread color and stitching the same design on several different colored fabrics.  You might be surprised at the results.  That pink that you always thought was so bright might actually be a bit dull on blue fabric. Look at the difference between these two shades of pink.Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogEileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  3. Get comfortable with the editing features on your machine.  Experiment with rotating, duplicating and mirror imaging. Then move the design(s) all over the sewing field, filling the hoop. Use the jog keys to move the design. See how many designs you can squeeze into the frame.  I did this when I created an e-reader cover.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  4. Practice perfect placement. Draw a horizontal line on a piece of fabric. Hoop the fabric keeping the line within the sewing field but not dead center. Create a simple word like PEACE and position it on the line. Someday you’ll have to place a monogram above a pocket and this will teach you how to approach that task.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  5. Make it a habit to use the basting file with every design you stitch. The basting file is similar to auto insurance, you don’t have to be insured to drive a car but you should have at least basic coverage. If something happens during the embroidery process, the basting file can be used to realign. See point 6.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  6. Learn to rehoop in the middle of a design. If your machine has it, select the basting icon and add a basting outline to a design.  Stitch the outline, then begin stitching the design. Interrupt the machine and yep – take the hoop off of the machine and the fabric out of the hoop.  Make a note of the stitch number. Now rehoop as best you can. Here’s a tip – use the hoop marks as a starting guide. Reattach the hoop to the machine and see where the needle is positioned. Most likely, it won’t be centered exactly over the last stitch.  Use the stitch advance key to go back to the basting file.  Travel over the outline, stitch by stitch. The needle should be positioned over the stitched outline – travel around at least one corner to verify the fabric is square. You may need to move or rotate the design to align the design.  This is good practice because someday you’ll have to do this on a real embroidery project.  Once you’re satisfied the needle is aligned with the basting outline, advance to the stitch number where you interrupted the design and complete the design.  Pat yourself on the back!
  7. Create a traditional 3-letter monogram with the large last name letter flanked by two smaller letters (first and middle initials).  This task will teach you the basics of monogramming, spacing and sizing of letters.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  8. Quilt with the embroidery machine. Work in manageable sections such as blocks or strips and hoop the quilt sandwich (backing, batting and quilt top fabric). Select a quilting design and press go!  You’ve mastered embroidering on multiple layers.
  9. Lace. Who doesn’t love lace? Experiment with a variety of water soluble stabilizer – heavy, regular weight, mesh-like and film-type.  Follow the manufacturer’s directions for dissolving the stabilizer.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  10. Embroider a Tote Bag. Sometimes the easiest way to embroider a bag is to turn it inside out, hoop the design area and then ‘open’ the bag to reveal the design area. This keeps the bulk of the bag on top of the hoop and you can keep an eye on the straps to avoid stitching on one.  I actually placed this large tote bag over the machine head to keep everything away from the needle except for the design area. Magna-Hoop was a big help for this task.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

This week’s assignment:

After reading the Bucket List for Newbies how many of the 10 items have you  accomplished?  Which of the items will you try right away?  Post your comment for a chance to win a $25 shopping spree for use on the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.

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

I’d love to know how many of you have tackled continuous embroidery designs. Just tell me if you have (or haven’t).

TWO random individuals will be selected to win a $60 gift certificate to the Applique for Kids website! What a great way to build up your library of embroidery designs!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Winner 1:  Royce Zook
“Yes I have, several times. All worked out well and I was pleased with the result.”

Winner 2:  Bev Weis
“I’ve not yet learned about or tried continuous emb designs. Hopefully I will soon, though.

It’s great to read various emb tips & advice from online sources. Thank you!”

Congratulations to both of our winners!

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.

10 Household Tools for the Machine Embroiderer Part 2

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

10 Household Tools for the Machine Embroiderer Part 2

We received such a positive response from my recent blog: 12 Household Tools for the Machine Embroiderer that I decided to revisit this subject.

  1. JoAnn Connolly of Garden of Daisies Embroidery thinks craft foam and a cardboard carton are great reusable items to keep your hoops clean when using temporary spray adhesive. To get a custom fit, use your inner hoop as a template. Trace around the inside edge and cut the foam ¼” smaller than the traced line. Leave the foam “whole” so that it will cover the entire hoop when spraying.

    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog - Garden of Daisies Embroidery
    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
    Place the hoop in the bottom of a deep carton. Place the foam over it before spraying. Pull the carton’s “flaps” in a bit, if possible when spraying, to contain the overspray. Make one for each hoop.

  2. Toilet brush – What’s a toilet brush doing in your sewing room? Scooping up threads from carpeting. When a pristine toilet brush is swept across the carpeting, the bristles easily grab all threads and even pins. Stash it under your sewing desk so a family member doesn’t use it for its original jobEileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  3. Rubber mallet –  A rubber mallet lets you apply force to grommets, snaps, rivets and the like without damaging the metal parts. Keep it handy in your sewing room.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  4. Needle nose and flat jaw welding pliers. Needle nose pliers are great for turning small items. I used them all the time when turning tabs for one of my Designer Handbags.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
    Welding pliers have a 3 ½” wide flat jaw that firmly grasps the corner of a stiffly-interfaced handbag. I don’t have to worry about damaging the fabric by stressing a small area like the needle nose pliers.
    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  5. Toothpick. A toothpick is ideal for sewing on buttons by machine. Just place the button over the toothpick to create a ‘thread shank’ when using the button foot and the zigzag stitch with no stitch length.
  6. Lisa Archer from Pickle Pie Designs loves to use Scotch tape for their In the Hoop designs. It’s great for holding fabrics to your stabilizer while your machine stitches each step of the design.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  7. Rubber mat for hooping and placing under your machine. I like to use the lines on a cutting mat as reference points when hooping but the hoop slips all over the place on the sleek mat. To avoid this, I cut a hole in a rubberized mat so I can view the cutting mat behind it.  Make one for each of your hoops – you’ll be glad you did.
  8. Nylon cord: a cone of nylon cord is handy when creating ruffles. I like to zigzag (or couch) over the cord when creating long ruffled strips. Just make sure you don’t stitch on the cord.  The nylon glides through the stitches when the cord is pulled on one end.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  9. Baker’s Cooling Rack: after stitching lace on water soluble stabilizer, I rinse the lace and place it on a baker’s cooling rack. The air circulates around the lace and speeds the drying process.

  10. Starch – the original stabilizer. Don’t overlook the power of starch when preparing fabrics for embroidery. Soft, supple cottons and linens benefit from a generous spray of starch before adding additional stabilizers for hooping.

This week’s assignment:

We love monograms because you can immediately transform the look of a plain, ordinary blank with embroidered initials, cute words or phrases.  Just like fabric (and chocolate!) you can never have too many monogram designs in your stash to fit the occasion and the type of blank you want to embroider.  That’s why we are thrilled to offer this week’s contest.

Stop by the Embroidery Arts website, peruse the exquisite designs and tell us which monogram style is your favorite and what you would stitch using the designs.  THREE random winners will be drawn among all the comments posted on the blog to win a Coupon Code valued at $39.95.  You’ll be able to buy a complete monogram set!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog - Embroidery Arts Promo

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

We’ve all heard the phrase, “it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread!”  What is your favorite feature on your embroidery machine and why?”

One random winner will be chosen to win a 1 year subscription to Designs in Machine Embroidery!

The winner is… Barbara!
“Wow!  It’s hard to say — my Brother Duetta does so many things to make embroidery fun, but the memory features (returning to the design after shutoff and stitch count) are the ones that help me most often.  Then there are the placement tools, the jump stitch cutter, the bobbin thread alert system — gosh, looks like I really CAN’T limit myself to one!”

Mark your calendar!
Episode 109 of It’s Sew Easy will begin airing on May 25 at noon. Eileen Roche begins the show with a flower design featuring embroidery for an exclusive fashion statement. Then, Tricia Waddell and Katrina Loving demonstrate a reverse appliqué technique as an apparel detail. Lastly, Linda Augsburg shows how to make over a favorite t-shirt into a bag, tote, or messenger.


Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

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.

12 Household Tools for the Machine Embroiderer

12 Household Tools for the Machine Embroiderer

  1. Digital Camera– best design tool in the house (besides pencil and paper). I use a digital camera to record my progress when designing an embroidery layout, auditioning fabrics or setting blocks in a quilt. Any task that takes several attempts to get a certain look can be confirmed by documenting the different versions. I usually step away from the task and return to view the images after a brief hiatus. This break in time and space gives me a fresh eye to select the winning design.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  2. Pet brush– for picking up embroidery threads. Look for it in the pet aisle in your local discount store.Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogEileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

  3. Skewer, chopstick or unsharpened pencil– for protecting fingers under the needle.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  4. ¼” chisel– found in hardware stores, the ¼” chisel provides the exact opening needed to insert the prongs of magnetic snaps or purse feet into fabric/interfacing/lining sandwiches.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  5. Plastic zip lock bags– These handy storage bags come in a variety of sizes. I use three sizes: snack size for buttons and beads; quart size for spools of threads and appliqué pieces; and jumbo for keeping all the pieces of a project in one place. Just remember to close the zip lock top!Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  6. Wooden dowel– Achieve crisp seams by centering a sewn seam over a wooden dowel and pressing.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  7. Glad Press ‘n Seal– When I have to store a project in progress, I place a sheet of Press ‘n Seal over the fabric/appliqué/ buttons/beads to keep everything in place. A quick smooth by hand and everything stays put – even if I roll it up into a tube for quick storage.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  8. Binder clips– for holding hooped garments out of the needle area.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  9. Pony tail holders– come in a vast array of colors and sizes. Walk down the hair accessories aisle in your local drugstore and see how many you’ll have to choose from. Use the pony tail holders in lieu of a length of narrow elastic. They make a quick closure over a button and add a bit of color whenever you need a mini bungee cord.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  10. Zip ties– add shape to the top of a purse. Zip ties can be found in the electric supply aisle of a home improvement center. They are also known as cable ties.
    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

    Zip tie is connected for photography purposes

     

    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

  11. Painter’s Tape– a wonderful visual reference when hooping long strips of fabric. Place the tape on the fabric strip and align the edge of the tape with the edge of the hoop. As you rehoop and continue to align with the tape, it will keep the fabric square for each hooping.
    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  12. Ironing board– besides the obvious use of a pressing surface, an ironing board doubles as a hooping aid. Place your embroidery hoop on the narrow end and slip the shirt over the board. This ‘dressing the board’ method helps you square the shirt over the outer hoop without getting the back of the shirt caught in the hoop. Just slip the inner ring in place and then nest the shirt around the hoop before attaching to the embroidery machine.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

This week’s assignment:

What type of flooring do you have in your sewing room? Tile, wood, carpet, linoleum, stained concrete or perhaps some other material? Answer the question for a chance to win a $25 shopping spree to the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

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

I need your help! Tell me what color combination of the images shown is your favorite. Keep in mind that you’re not looking at actual fabric swatches, these are just thumbnails of colors. Your answers will help me when I’m shopping for fabrics and will place your name in a random drawing for a $25.00 gift certificate to Designs website. I can’t wait to see what you choose.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The winner is… Barbara Rowlan Wong

“Group A really attracts me.  Perhaps because those are the colors I’ve been using a lot lately.   A happy combination that really pops!”  ~barbara

Congratulation Barbara!

Thank you everyone for your input.  This was really fun!

 

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.