Posts Tagged ‘Designs In Machine Embroidery’

Designs in Machine Embroidery Hoop Comparison

Last week, I wrote about fishing, I mean teaching, in Bend, OR and while I was there, I introduced my students to the new Snap-Hoop Monster. Almost all of my students asked the same questions about the magnetic hoops so I thought I’d discuss it here.

What’s the difference between Snap-hoop Monster and Snap-Hoop? Strength! Monster is four times the strength of Snap-Hoop and is easily distinguished by its elegant teal color.

Do I have to purchase a whole new hoop if I already own Snap-Hoop? No! You don’t, you only need the new top in the same size as your original Snap-hoop. The bottoms are interchangeable and since your machine can only hold one hoop, you only need one bottom.

Do I need both? Yes, Monster is great for heavy, textured fabrics while Snap-Hoop handles lighter cottons and knits.

Will the magnets hurt my machine? No. If you were told not to put a magnetic pin cushion on your machine bed back in the late 1990s, you were given proper information. You were also carrying a cellphone that was a tote bag – literally! Think how much technology has changed over the years. Our machines today are highly sophisticated – just like our cell phones. The microchips in the machines are highly insulated and the magnetic field of Snap Hoop or Snap Hoop Monster cannot penetrate the layers. The hoops were tested extensively on all makes and models with no harm to any machine.

Here’s a handy chart to demystify the difference in all of our hoops.


Snap-Hoop Monster









Magna-Hoop Jumbo


Best for: Terrycloth, bulky fleece, quilt sandwiches, faux fur, heavy textiles Quilt blocks, continuous embroidery, light to medium weight knits Small items Towels, ribbons, belts and continuous embroidery
Handles delicate embroidery projects
Holds a quilt sandwich with no additional stabilizer
Hoops small items (coasters, belts, straps, etc)
Use with lightweight fabrics including knits and sheers
Can tug on fabric and not distort fibers
Minute fabric adjustments are easy to make
Stabilizer is required to hold frames in hoop
Eliminates hoop burn
Fits in a standard hoop
Diminishes the size of the sewing field
Is recognized by the machine N/A (fits inside standard hoop) N/A (fits inside standard hoop)
Stitch all the way to the edge of the fabric
Ideal for allover embroidery


Here’s your assignment this week:

Sealed With a Stitch specializes in embroidery collections, but we want to know which one is your favorite. Come check them out and let us know which one tops your list. Six lucky winners will get a $25 gift certificate code to use at Sealed With A Stitch!

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Look closely! Tell us what you think you see in the Stitching Sisters image at the top of this post. One comment will win a mystery prize! Oh the suspense…

And the winner is…“a hot pink, beautiful, fly fishing lure” – Greta K.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Congratuations Greta. You have won a $25 gift certificate to the new and improved Designs website. Check it out here!



Help is Just a Photo Away


Recently, I installed the cutwork upgrade on my Brother Entrepreneur. This isn’t something you pop into the side of the machine, select an icon and say OK.  No, this is a bit more involved because there’s the machine upgrade, the installation of the cutwork knives (needles) and the PE-Design NEXT upgrade. The upgrade kit comes with excellent instructions so I felt confident I could pull it off. And I did, or so I thought.

Once the machine was upgraded, I placed the included spacer under the needle plate which involved taking the plate off, inserting the spacer and reattaching the needle plate.  Now I was off to digitize my design. I followed the manual’s instructions and stitched color 1, an outline of the cutwork shape. Once the trimmer was activated, a harrowing sound belched out of the machine and an error appeared on the screen: Trimming error. Uh? The machine was locked, I couldn’t do anything. So, I called my Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno. Surely, she would know what to do. She has three of these machines and runs them 5 days a week. Are you ready for this? She HAS NEVER encountered this problem. I almost hung up on her. You know how sisters are – you often think your sister’s life is way better than your own and this was just one more example of how flawlessly she lives. Oh wait, this blog isn’t about sister rivalry. Sorry – back to the upgrade – I was desperate…deadlines looming ahead, I was starting to freak out.

I Googled the problem and found a quick video explaining it’s probably just a thread wrapped around the cutter.  So I took off the needle plate, looked deep into the bobbin area, and found nothing. Clean as a whistle! Now what? Marie calls back, she still doesn’t have an answer but she does have a suggestion. She says; call our buddy Scott Goodman aka Great Scott.


I hesitated. I hate to bother busy people with technical questions. But really, I was in a jam. Scotty quickly listened to my dilemma and said to text him a photo of the needle plate area. He would in return send me a photo of a properly-working needle plate area. We did, and compared notes.  



It seems when I installed the cutwork spacer, I loosened a screw that I never should have touched. The lesson here people!

With Scott’s close-up photo on my phone (oh my, how amazing is that?), I stood at my machine and saw the cutter – the blade on the right – was out of position.  I just loosened the screw, set the blade in the right position, and tightened the screw and Voila! It worked!  Three lessons I learned:

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions verbatim.
  2. Cameras on cell phones are worth every penny.
  3. Having a problem past regular business hours in your town can be overcome if you have a friend in another time zone – like Pacific Time!  Even though I was struggling at 6:00 PM in Dallas, my friend Scotty in Los Angeles hadn’t quite finished his working day!

By the way, I learned quite a bit about cutwork which I’ll share with you in the upcoming weeks. Fashion_1-0001


Here’s your assignment this week:

Oh the stories we could tell! Leave us a comment on your oddball embroidery problem and solution if you found one. One comment will win a $25 gift certificate to the Designs in Machine Embroidery website. Thank you for visiting Eileen’s blog.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

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!

And the winner is…“For my vacation I plan to spend a long four day weekend hold up in my sewing room mastering the beginner steps of machine embroidery! I am terrified of trying a project on my own. I have tried two workshops but I felt I was out of my league and was totally lost. I had a hard time keeping up with everyone. So, I will work with myself! Good Luck me….” – Rita R.

It’s Cold in Those Chemo Centers

Bag of Hope

When you have a family member or friend diagnosed with cancer, it leaves many of us feeling helpless – what can you do to support them? Nancy Zieman and I decided to each create a bag stuffed with helpful items that we’d give to someone in treatment for cancer. The bags are a perfect way to show you care and can be used to to carry everything someone might need during their treatments which can sometimes last for hours. For our bags we used embroidery from the Embroider-a-Cure collection where all proceeds go toward the Be The Difference Foundation, an ovarian cancer research foundation founded by our friend Helen Gardner.

I decided to work with blanks and wrap a little hope and warmth around someone undergoing chemotherapy treatments with an embroidered sweatshirt, pashmina and tote bag.

I selected the Bald is Beautiful design because many patients see no need to cover their hair loss so why not make a statement and put everyone looking at you at ease? This versatile design looks great on both a sweatshirt and a pashmina.

Let’s start with the sweatshirt. Find the center front of the shirt and mark it with a pin. Print a template of the Bald is Beautiful design and place it on the center chest. It’s a large design so standard industry placement templates don’t work for a design of this size.  No worries – just place the center of the design on the shirt’s center. Leave enough room at the top of the design to hoop the shirt – about 3” below the bottom of the ribbing will do it. Make sure the template is straight and place a target sticker under the template.  Remove the template.

Bald is Beautiful in the hoop

Fuse polymesh stabilizer to the wrong side of the design area.  Place the hoop’s outer ring on the pointy end of an ironing board and ‘dress’ the ironing board until the target sticker is centered in the hoop.  Insert the inner ring.

Bald is Beautiful in the hoop

Attach the hoop to the machine. Retrieve the design and center the needle over the target sticker.  Add film-type water soluble stabilizer over the design area. Stitch the design.  Once complete, tear off as much of the soluble stabilizer as possible and spritz away the rest.  Trim the polymesh on the wrong side – ready to make a statement!

Bald is Beautiful in the hoop

Since the design is already loaded on the machine, let’s move on to the pashmina.  Fold the pashmina in half, lengthwise and measure 8” above the fringe on one end. Place a target sticker in that location.

Pashmina with Target Sticker

Place a piece of cloth-type water soluble stabilizer over the hoop’s outer ring; place the pashmina over the ring, centering the target sticker.  Insert the inner ring; tighten the screw since the pashmina is lighter than the sweatshirt – the previous hooping. No need to over tighten, just hand tight, is fine.

Target Sticker on pashmina

Flip the hoop over and make sure the water soluble stabilizer extends beyond the hoop in all directions. If it doesn’t, rehoop. Attach the hoop to the machine and stitch the design. Trim as much of the WSS as possible and spritz away the remainder.

Bald is Beautiful in the hoop

For the tote bag I chose the bold Survivor design in a vibrant teal color. It looks great against the black background of the tote and teal is the color of support for ovarian cancer. The bag was stitched in a jiffy on a 10-needle machine. I used Quick-Snap to hold the tote and was done in about 15 minutes! If you’re using a single-needle machine, it would take just a bit longer because it’s necessary to open the side seam to get the bag front to lay flat in the hoop. Once embroidered, just sew the seam and you’re done!

Survivor Design


To see more on the Sew a Bag For Hope created by Nancy Zieman please visit her blog here. And, for more information on ovarian cancer and the Be The Difference Foundation please visit their website here or join them on Facebook.

Nancy Zieman Sew a Bag of Hope


Here’s your assignment this week:

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.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Leave us a comment about your favorite In the Hoop Project from the SewAZ Embroidery Designs website. Four readers will each receive a $25 gift certificate courtesty of SewAZ Embroidery Designs to the website.

And the lucky winner are…Patty, Colleen, Paule-Marie and Dana. Congratulations to you all!!

The Secret is Out!

Ever wonder how Nancy Zieman and I get our embroidery designs to land exactly where we want them? We use a simple – I mean, really simple – software program that outlines the garment so we know exactly where to place the embroidery.

Perfect Placement Software includes 30 outlines or garment sections plus over 70 beautiful embroidery designs. Since I work in this program all the time, I’ve printed templates of all the outlines and I keep them stored in a folder.


I go to the folder first whenever I’m embarking on a wearable project. I flip through the templates and find the one that is closest in shape and size to my garment. Then I audition the garment section on the template.


If it doesn’t fit perfectly, I move to the computer and open the program. In the program, I select the outline then tweak its shape and size to mimic my garment. Once that’s done, the fun begins.

I select a design, drop it in the outline and play with proportion, size, rotation, etc. I can add as many designs as I want and actually ‘see’ the layout before I take a stitch.

Nancy Zieman uses the same technique and wrote a terrific tute on how she embellished a collar. Click here to see how she did it.

But before you head over to Nancy’s blog, tell me what design you like best. A, B or C.  We’ll pick a random comment and the lucky winner will receive a copy of Perfect Placement Software – Nancy and my secret to perfect placement!

Design A

Design B

Design C

Here’s your assignment this week:

Pick your favorite design from above, A, B or C. One lucky winner will win their very copy of Perfect Placement Software. Thank you and good luck!

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Mary Mulari’s travel designs are fun and fast to stitch and just right for jazzing up some travel accessories. Of the six designs shown at the top of the page, tell us which one is your favorite and you could win a copy of Mary’s book and embroidery collection. We’ll pick a random winner on Wednesday.

So don’t forget to post your comment – let us know what your favorite design is and you could be a winner!

And the winner is…“While shampoo girl is cute, the kitty in the suitcase reminds me of our cat BooBoo who always knew something was up when we put suitcases on the bed and started packing! Of course he would jump in whenever you turned your back to get more clothes. I love Mary’s work and enjoy her on Sewing with Nancy as well as classes I have taken from her at SewExpo.” – Ruth P.

Blog Tour Finale

Wow – what a fun two weeks! We’ve given away a dozen books over the past two weeks and have received tons of comments and questions. My hat is off to all of our blog tour participants. Here’s a look at the stops:


Hoop Sisters


Think Crafts


Indygo Junction


Hope Yoder




Riley Blake


Machine Embroidery
& Digitizing


Nancy Zieman


Sealed With A Stitch

I hope you make these blogs part of your weekly web visits. I know I’m always on the lookout for inspiring ideas and fun techniques and I’m sure you’ll find them on these great bloggers.

I loved learning what embroidery tasks you find the most challenging. It seems placement and stabilizers top the list of troublesome duties. And I’ve struggled in those areas too. In fact, that’s why we invented the Perfect Placement Kit because 10 years ago, I didn’t have a clue on where to place an embroidery design on a garment! Under the guidance of Deborah Jones, we selected 15 items that embroiderers commonly decorate – shirts, linens and home accessories.

Perfect Placement Kit

Then we made templates of the items – a clear plastic template of a napkin corner for instance. The napkin corner template is universal and will work on ANY napkin! I just place the template on the napkin according to the guidelines printed on the template, then insert a Target Sticker into the hole. To be honest, it still amazes me how perfect every set of napkins comes out because I remember it like yesterday when my ‘yuck’ pile was higher than my good-to-go pile!

Perfect Placement Template

As far as stabilizer, there are so many products and brands available, it is confusing! I still get confused and I wish you could buy stabilizer like you can buy fabric using the touch and feel test. I shared this with one of Hope Yoder’s blog readers:

Always approach an embroidery project with common sense. Knit fabrics are unstable – they stretch! So control them with a cut-away which is a sturdy, strong and permanent material. Woven fabrics are more stable and tear-away stabilizer is sufficient. Tear-away comes in different weights and some rip cleanly while others leave a ‘fibery’ edge.

Sheer fabrics require stabilizer that can be permanently removed by water or heat, fiber content will tell you what direction to take.

Big, bulky impossible to hoop items need a stabilizer that will hold them under the needle – think adhesives here. You can turn any stabilizer into an adhesive by using temporary spray adhesive. Don’t be overwhelmed, use common sense and know that there are no stabilizer police. If it worked for you, then it’s fine.

I’ll share more information on placement and stabilizers in upcoming posts but for now – I have a mountain of sewing to tackle! Tell me what was your favorite project in 2012 that you created and you could win the final giveaway of Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Steps.

I have a Valentine’s Day gift from my friends at Craftsy. Click here to receive special pricing on all Craftsy classes.

Here is your assignment for this week:

Tell me what was your favorite project you created in 2012 and you could win an autographed copy of Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Steps and the Sew with Nancy DVD.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Tell us what Valentine’s Day projects you have in the works. One lucky winner will win a $25.00 shopping spree to!

And the winner is… “I’ve been making ITH Valentine heart coin bags for my grandchildren.” – Merron Kay S.

Congratulations Merron Kay. I’m sure they will love them!

We’ve Been Busy!

Placing embroidery on a shirt has got to be the most challenging task an embroiderer can face. Oh, there are many solutions to the fairly easy job of left chest placement but when you want to really decorate a neckline, cuff or yoke, things can get tricky.  Nancy Zieman and I first addressed this problem in our Designer Necklines DVD. Designer Necklines has been a continuous best seller and what we’ve learned from customers is they love the technique but wish it was more flexible.  So Nancy and I have taken their concerns to heart and developed a very handy software program that has all the flexibility they need and more.  It’s called Perfect Placement. We included 30 placement guides (collars, necklines, pockets, cuffs and …) and 72 scalable fashion embroidery designs.  The software is so simple to use:


Select a placement guide.


Merge the design(s), resize and position until you’re satisfied then send it to the machine.


Stitch the first color, the placement guide onto hooped adhesive stabilizer.


Place the garment edge on the placement guide and smooth the garment onto the sticky stabilizer.  Stitch the embroidery designs.


Everything stitches exactly as planned!

Of course Perfect Placement Software is also a powerful editing program. You can size (it recalculates the stitches), copy, paste, mirror, delete sections, recolor, group and ungroup, select a grid and/or hoop and print templates. It’s everything you need to edit embroidery designs without learning how to digitize.

I’ve been having a blast using the designs in Perfect Placement Software – in fact, I’ve stitched more garments in the last three months than I have in a year. Here are just a few examples featuring Perfect Placement Software.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had a few embroidery ‘fashion disasters’ in the past. You know what I mean. You plan the embroidery as best you can, hoop the garment, stitch the designs and then slip the garment over your head. Yikes! When you look in the mirror you’re greeted with embroidery sitting in the underarm area or right at the bust point or just off center enough to be annoying.  I’ve had this happen too many times – so now I rely on Perfect Placement Software to help me, well, prefect my placement!


Here’s your assignment this week:

Share with us a fashion disaster that happened in your sewing room and you could win a copy of Perfect Placement Software. Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered into the drawing.


The winner of last week’s assignment is:

John Deer’s Adorable Ideas is giving away FIVE $20 Design Points! To win simply leave us a comment below and tell us what you’re working on and how these Designs Points could help you. Good Luck!

And the winners are… Vicky I., Shannon C., Donna G., Barbara, and JoAnne F. Thank you to everyone that shared your projects with us. Keep reading for more giveaways and great tips and insight from Eileen.

I can’t wait to meet you!

Stitching Sisters Header

Have you been itching to ramp up your machine embroidery skills? A two-day Stitching Sisters event may be just the thing you need to breathe new life into your hobby.  My Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno, and I travel the country to teach team embroidery classes which feature hands-on projects that cover tons of techniques – everything from terrycloth to continuous machine embroidery.  Take a look at what you can expect.


We kickoff the event with a behind the scenes look at Designs followed by our Hooping Clinic. Marie and I hoop over 30 items in standard machine embroidery hoops, Magna-Hoops, Snap-Hoop and border hoops. We discuss why you select each hoop and what to do when you don’t have the ideal hoop. Attendees find this information priceless. One recent attendee in Puyallup, WA said, “I could walk out of here after this lecture and feel I got every penny worth of admission.” Here’s what some other attendees have had to say:



Eileen and Marie,
Thanks so much for coming to KC! LOVED the event and all your stories/energy. WOW! It was awesome to have 2 days to get to study under you and learn so much. LOVE the Stipple products and techniques. Looking forward to seeing you again! – Judy Brennan
Eileen and Marie, we had so much fun in Atlanta. The information you gave and taught us was immeasurable. You two are definitely gifted in your talent and love for the embroidery industry.
Best blessings in everything you do.  Signed had fun in Atlanta – Jackie Wallace
Hey Everyone! I’d highly recommend going to the Sewing Sisters Event if you get the chance. I live in Oregon and I went to PuyallupWA with my friend from LongviewWA. We had a great time! I personally never won anything but I did receive a wealth of knowledge and inspiration not to mention all the fun ladies I met and new friendships made. The projects we did were great and we got the CD-rom to go home to make more. I’m really looking forward to the next event! Thanks Eileen and Marie!! It was great meeting you! – Jane



Marie and I cover tons of embroidery challenges during our two-day, hands-on, team-sewing events: what to do when your fabric pops out of the hoop, stitching on terrycloth, vinyl, sheers, quilting with an embroidery machine, stitching multiples (and getting them to match!) are just a few of the 50 techniques we cover.  You’ll use all of Designs in Machine Embroidery products – everything from Magna-Hoop Jumbo to Snap-Hoop to placement kits. You’ll have access to several hooping stations so you can test different methods of hooping.  Once at the machine, you’ll navigate in the hoop like a pro.


You’ll learn three ways to do continuous hooping and find out what methods works best for your machine and your project.  You’ll meet PAL and PAL2– and see how these helpful little tools can make hooping square a breeze. Treat yourself to two-days of embroidery fun and education – you’ll go home with a smile on your face and some new-found knowledge that you’ll be inspired to put into immediate action.

New-found friends in Santa Rosa, CA

New-found friends in Santa Rosa, CA


Why don’t you join us?  We’ll be hitting the road and landing in a town near you!  February 8-9th finds us in beautiful San Marcos, CA at There’s still room – click here for more information.


We are so excited to head to Timeless Treasures in Crofton, MD on April 12-13.  This will be the first Stitching Sisters event in Maryland, so if you’re Mid-Atlantic region, this event is for you. Click here to visit their website or call 410-451-0400.


After Maryland, we head back to the West Coast and teach two events for Moore’s Sewing. April 30-May 1 finds us in Pomona, CA and May 3-4 is in Huntington Beach. You just won’t believe how much fun you can have at a sewing event until you’ve been to one at Moore’s.  Join us in Pomona or Huntington Beach.  Visit Moore’s website here.


Marie and I hope to see you at a Stitching Sister event this year. Don’t wait any longer; come with a friend or by yourself.  Everyone is a sister at a Stitching Sisters event. Click here for summer and fall events in 2013. And, check out our new Stitching Sisters photo gallery!

Here’s your assignment this week:

Great things come in pairs. Shoes, diamond earrings, Stitching Sisters! Comment below on why you’d like to attend a Stitching Sisters event or if you have, what you liked most about it. We’ll award one lucky winner with two $20.13 gift certificates, one for you and one for your own stitching sister to spend on the Designs in Machine Embroidery website. Good luck!

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Tell us your embroidery resolution for 2013. One lucky winner will win a $25 gift certificate to spend on the Designs in Machine Embroidery website!

And the winner is… “2013 I plan to create my own embroidery designs, organize my sewing/embroidery room, organize and catalog ALL my embroidery designs, and last but not least open up a shop on Etsy” – Angie G.

Machine Features Everybody Needs

Eileen Roche Machine Embroidery BlogLast week, I shared an overview of Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons. You can watch the two-part Sewing with Nancy series online here or check your local PBS listings.

When Nancy and I were creating the series, I delved into the basics of machine embroidery and found that the better the tools, the easier the process. So let’s start with our biggest tool – the machine. That doesn’t mean you have to buy the top-of-the-line machine to enjoy machine embroidery but you should arm yourself with basic machine features. When you’re looking for a new embroidery machine make sure it has an adequate sewing field, simple design transfer, trace, rotation, mirror image, baste and stitch advance features.

1. A 5” x 7” Sewing Field. I know, I know, I hear you. A 5” x 7” sewing field costs so much more than an entry level 4” x 4” machine!  You’re right; it is definitely a step up in price but worth every penny.  Ninety percent of embroiderers outgrow their 4” x 4” hoop about six months after they purchase the machine. Now they’re stuck with a machine that’s not easy to trade-in or sell online and that can be frustrating. So, go ahead, splurge a bit and treat yourself to a larger sewing field.

2. Design Transfer. Hmmm, I know a few popular machines allow design transfer via a computer link only. I don’t know about you, but my sewing room is pretty crowded.  I really don’t have an extra square foot of space for a laptop or desktop computer on the same table as my embroidery machine.  So I really love the flexibility of writing to a simple medium – such as a USB stick – from my laptop (which may be parked in another room!). To me, this just simplifies the task.

USB Design Transfer

3. The Trace Feature. Remember how your mom used to cringe when you jumped into a pool or lake without checking the water below you. Well, that’s the feeling I’m trying to avoid when I use the trace feature. The trace feature allows you to position the needle in 10 different locations within the sewing field. This is very helpful when attempting to achieve specific placement on an item. For instance, it you are positioning a monogram above a pocket, select the bottom center point to make sure the design will not actually stitch on the pocket. Selecting the right and left bottom points verifies the design will sit squarely above the pocket. After all, your mother was right – always check the water below before jumping in.

For continuous embroidery, the trace feature is priceless. When you’re connecting a second design to a previously stitched design at the top of the sewing field, for instance, selecting the top three trace positions will show you the designs will (or will not) connect. You can make positioning adjustments before stitching the designs.

4. Rotation. Do not go home with a machine that does not have the ability to rotate a design in one degree increments. Really, do not buy that machine because a machine that doesn’t rotate in one degree increments expects you to hoop PERFECTLY SQUARE every single time. For heavens’ sake, are you kidding me? That’s a beginner’s machine?  I don’t think so, do yourself a favor, save some gray hairs and premature wrinkles and get a machine that spins the designs in one degree.

5. Mirror Image. The mirror image feature is often overlooked because we take it for granted. But without it, many embroidery layouts look very unprofessional. Make sure your new machine has this feature.

Mirror Image Feature Example

6. Baste or Fix Feature. We’ve all been told to hoop everything, in an actual hoop. During the courting stage of your relationship with your machine, you will hoop everything. You’ll place a piece of fabric with stabilizer between the inner and outer rings of your standard embroidery hoop. Then you’ll get confident and you’ll want to embroider something that won’t actually fit in a hoop. So you’ll get creative and use spray adhesive, sticky stabilizer or a magnetic hoop insert. And you’ll press start on the machine, turn around to answer the phone and POP goes the fabric. You didn’t think it would ever happen to you but it did and it will happen again. So use the baste feature, it’s a stitched box around the design that holds your fabric to the hooped stabilizer. It’s like insurance, once you need it, you’re so glad you have it.

Baste Feature

7. Stitch Advance. Stitch advance gives you freedom – freedom to sail through a design and skip colors, freedom to go back and restitch some stitches (don’t ask why, you’ll learn soon enough) Oh okay, here’s why. The thread broke; the sensor didn’t catch it and either did you. But you notice the cute little kitty cat you just stitched is missing an eye. Hmmm…as long as it’s still in the hoop, you can go back and restitch that segment.  Now your kitty is perfect!

Stitch Advance Feature

In Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons, you’ll find a handful of exercises that focus on these basic features. You’ll learn how each feature simplifies the embroidery process, helps in hooping technique and results in gorgeous embroidery.  Back to basics has never been more fun!


Here’s your assignment this week:

Tell us your embroidery resolution for 2013. One lucky winner will win a $25 gift certificate to spend on the Designs in Machine Embroidery website!

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Get back to basics! Check out the special featuring Eileen and Nancy and let us know how the 6 step process has helped you – or what extra step do you add in your process? One lucky winner will receive a copy of Eileen’s new book Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons.

And the winner is… “I am getting married in June 2013 and I plan on doing several machine embroidery projects for my wedding. The projects will include the vintage inspired dress I plan on making and the linen napkins that I will use as part of my reception decorations. The new series and accompanying book by Eileen and Nancy will be perfect for me as I am a complete novice at machine embroidery, but not sewing. The placement ruler looks awesome! Something I will defintely try!” – Terry

Congratulations Terry on your upcoming wedding and being chosen as our winner! We hope you’ll share some photos of your beautiful wedding projects.

Six Easy Steps

When planning a two-part series for the Sewing with Nancy television show, Nancy Zieman realized we hadn’t addressed embroidery basics in ages.  Since the hobby has welcomed so many new embroiderers, she felt it was time to address that subject. I wholeheartedly agreed. After carefully studying the embroidery process (hard to do when you stitch all the time and take many steps for granted), I realized it all boiled down to six easy steps.  You can watch the two-part series on Sewing with Nancy online or on your local PBS station.

I thought if I really wanted to get embroiderers off on the right path, they should be armed with the correct information and a few handy tools to get the job done right. So I packed some helpful tools, a 12” centering ruler, 6” target ruler, a sheet of target stickers and the patented Angle Finder, into Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons, a 64-page full color book. It’s everything an embroiderer needs to stitch beautiful embroidery.

Here’s what you’ll find inside:

Step 1. The Embroidery Machine. Learn why seven key features, (sewing field, design transfer, trace, rotation, mirror image, baste and stitch advance) are all you need.

Step 2. Embroidery Designs. Identify underlay, run, fill and satin stitches in lettering, stock designs, quilting designs, lace and appliqué and you’ll understand what makes one design stitch better than others.

Step 3. Placement. What’s the point of beautiful embroidery if it’s placed incorrectly? Discover the industry standards along with helpful positioning aids and tools to achieve perfect placement.

Step 4. Hooping. Standard embroidery hoops will handle 75% of your embroidery projects. Tackle the other 25% with specialty stabilizers, novelty hoops and ingenuous technique. After some practice, you’ll be able to hoop almost anything.

Step 5. Stitching. Reward yourself with beautiful embroidery by embracing professional habits for every design you stitch. Fine tune placement, add insurance to the hooping method, verify the design and orientation before pressing start!

Step 6. Finishing.  Time for the big reveal. Critique the design, remove the basting file and press it like a pro!

Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons is a helpful primer for all embroiderers. Seasoned embroiderers will pick up helpful tips on continuous embroidery, hooping stations, hoop comparisons, pre-cutting appliqué pieces, the embroiderer’s 12-point checklist plus my favorite 10 time-saving habits. Beginners will get a jump start on mastering this fun hobby in no time!

Here’s your assignment this week:

Get back to basics! Check out the special featuring Eileen and Nancy and let us know how the 6 step process has helped you – or what extra step do you add in your process? One lucky winner will receive a copy of Eileen’s new book Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons.


The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Do you doodle? Do you dream? Tell us how you get your inspiration from your head to a finished product and you could win a copy of Bobbi Bullard’s new book, Artful Machine Embroidery. Good luck!

And the winner is… “I dream up my projects while I am doing areobic tapes every morning in my sewing room. While I’m marching, kicking, and lifting weights, I hang a piece of fabric or picture on my design wall and concentrate on how I want it to look. It makes the excercise go faster and I usually come up with a new idea or two!”- Paula

Congratulations Paula! Wow, way to multi-task. Enjoy your book and thank for sharing. 🙂


Artful Machine Embroidery

This week we welcome guest blogger Bobbi Bullard. She is the author of Artful Machine Embroidery which you can win this week by commenting below!

 – Thanks, Eileen

I have never been mistaken for Michaelangelo as when I take pencil to paper my drawings rival the scribbling of a five year old. Despite my limitations, my house is littered with notebooks, each filled with pages and pages of almost non-recognizable fashion drawings.  Why do I do it? Why do I feel compelled to add volume after volume of doodles to my collection?

Even stranger, why do I preach to my students that they, as burgeoning fiber artists, should scratch and scribble as I do, no matter what their levels of artistic ability? I contend that these drawings do not have to be true-to-life, or even close to accurate as representations of the human figure for them to be a) art and b) useful in the journey of a fiber artist.

One technique I find particularly useful for enhancing creativity is to draw 3, 4 or 5 copies of a line drawing of a potential project.  Once I have completed the line drawings, I start doodling on them.  The drawings below are of Vogue 1330 which is in my queue for an upcoming project.

This was a fairly easy project for embellishment as the large sleeve is a semi-sheer rectangle. The biggest challenge for placement on that is to make sure that the embroidery will show at those times when you’re not actually holding your arm straight out to the side.

Here is an example of doodles that have made it to a completed project. The pattern is the Saf-T-Pockets pattern, To The Point.  I started this project with the idea of using the designs included in my book, Artful Machine Embroidery.  I was determined to make something (anything) that included the square free-standing lace design.

My first thought was a row of the squares down the back of the jacket.

I wasn’t kidding about my drawing ability not being exactly high-end. But the drawing did its job.  I could tell that I wouldn’t be happy with a lonely line of lace down the back of a jacket.

Next, I added more embroidery, little motifs also from the design set that goes with the book.

As I had no bookings for clown jobs, this version didn’t appeal to me. The next idea was to put less of the lace in the jacket.  I tried it as an insert on the front.

Ahh….  Much better.

I still had to deal with the back, so I returned to my line drawing and sprinkled the little motifs around.

Houston, we had lift-off. This was the answer. I did make the jacket.  I added a cut-edge design to the front lapel and more motifs sprinkled around under the lace (all designs that come with the book). And it all started with a poorly executed drawing.

Now I’ve gone public, “Hi, my name is Bobbi and I’m a doodle-holic”.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Do you doodle? Do you dream? Tell us how you get your inspiration from your head to a finished product and you could win a copy of Bobbi Bullard’s new book, Artful Machine Embroidery. Good luck!


The winner of last week’s assignment is:

The designers at the Sulky Embroidery Club want you to win a FREE Gold Membership. Just leave a comment below about why you’d like a membership in the Sulky Embroidery Club. To find out more about the Club and this $150 retail value, just click the ad. If you win, we’ll create an account for you, already loaded with 500 points, so you can begin shopping immediately. Choose from Joyce Drexler’s latest creations, called “Spoolies”, Carol Ingram’s new designs – just in time for the holidays, or the freshest embroidery designs from Team ES. There are hundreds of extraordinarily high-quality designs and projects to choose from, including fill, appliqué, outline, and 3-dimensional. New designs are added each month, so good luck!

Sulky Embroidery Club

And the winner is… “I was just now looking at the fabulous designs on the Sulky Embroidery Club website. They are stunning! The projects are so Cute. I would love to try them all. The tissue holders are just what I need for delightful gifts for my friends. I love all Sulky products too so I know that the designs will sew out perfectly first time” – Martie

Congratulations Martie! Enjoy your membership to Sulky and we hope your tissue holders turn out grand. 🙂

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