Posts Tagged ‘Eileen Roche’

Keep Your Hand Out of the Hoop

Well it’s taken me 20+ years but I finally did it. I stitched on my finger. If you’ve been to any of my classes, I always caution students to keep their fingers out of the hoop. I encourage them to use the eraser end of a pencil, a chopstick, a dowel, anything other than their fingers.

And I usually take my own advice except when I’m in a hurry. And that’s when I don’t take my own advice. Recently, I was stitching a t-shirt when I noticed a portion of the garment was about to flop into the design area. And without thinking, I quickly reached into the hoop to retrieve the fabric. I must have I blinked at the same time. Then I yelped! And yanked my hand back. It hurt really bad, so bad that I was afraid to look at it.  My husband ran into the room (he was outside at the grill when it happened and heard me yelp) and we stared at each other. I told him I stitched on my finger. He asked if the needle was still in there. I didn’t have the nerve to look so he did. And it wasn’t in sight. We went back to the machine and were greeted with this safety message: Finger2BL

By then I was okay, it still hurt and was bleeding but everything was under control.  Upon closer inspection of the machine, I saw the needle was still in one piece in the machine but bent.  Really bent.   Look at the image below.Finger1BL

Wow – did I yank my finger away or what?  I was lucky the machine stopped and didn’t stitch my finger to the stabilizer, garment or foot.   Here’s my souvenir:FingerBL

Many thoughts ran through my head. I could hear myself telling my students to get their hand out of the hoop. I thought of my sister, Marie, who suffered a similar injury years ago that had to be treated surgically. And I was so thankful for the folks who designed my Brother Entrepreneur 10-needle and put that safety feature into the machine. Without that safety feature, my injury would have been so much worse.   Thank you Brother for looking out for all of us embroiderers!

Here’s your assignment this week:

So come on, tell me, have you ever stitched on your finger? You don’t need to share the gory details; just a yes or no and you’ll be entered to win a $20 gift card to !

The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

Now that Halloween is over, we’re just about in full swing of the next holiday – Thanksgiving.  I’d love to know if you’re hosting the meal or if you’re being treated to a year off – and celebrating in someone else’s home.  Tell us your plans and a random winner will receive a 13” x 54” ruffled-edge burlap table runner.  Perfect for a holiday table!

The winner is:  

Joan Shriver: “For years we have traveled to my husband’s sister. We always have a huge group of relatives to enjoy again, see the new babies, catch up. My sister-in-law is my best friend!”

A Little Help Goes a Long Way

This may seem like an odd request coming me, editor of Designs in Machine Embroidery but I want to ask you to make a donation to Ellen March’s Go Fund Me campaign.  Who is Ellen March? Ellen is the editor of Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery magazines.   She does for CME what I do here for Designs in Machine Embroidery.  Now she’s battling breast cancer. I don’t know Ellen personally – we politely say hello at industry press events but really, we’re competitors. We lead the industry’s only machine embroidery magazines. And I’m probably breaking every rule in the ‘good old boys corporate handbook’ by asking you to help my competitor but I don’t care. I really feel for her and her young family.

When I heard of her diagnosis, I was horrified – she is the mother of young – very young – children: a toddler son and infant twin girls. I know how I hard I work – I can’t even imagine how hard she works with two mags, a television show and babies at home!  And now, to battle breast cancer on top of it all? Unthinkable.

So if you can spare a few dollars (really, every little bit helps and that’s what crowd funding is all about) give to her Go Fund Me campaign. Her family’s medical bills are piling up. And say a prayer for her speedy recovery.  She’s got a lot of living left to do.


Here’s a link to her fund:


Collar Design Placement

On October 15, Barbara Grant asked, “I want to embroider little flowers or a vine on a collar for a toddler’s dress, the heirloom kind that I used to sew by hand. How can I set up placement so the machine embroidery will stitch precisely where I want it?”

That’s a great question, Barbara, because placement is crucial to embroidery success and little bit of planning will make your embroidery look professional. You’ll need embroidery software* so that you can print templates of your collar design.  Open your design in your software program and print a template of the design on vellum or paper.  This step is most often accomplished by going to File, Print.  If you have the option, make sure you have included a crosshair. Print one template for each side of the collar (right and left) by mirror imaging the design before you print the second design.

Once the template is printed, audition it on the collar.Collar2BL

I suggest taking a photograph of the placement and then moving the template a bit and reshooting.Collar3BL

Do this a couple of times and then review the images on the camera. You’ll quickly know which one is the most pleasing.  Tape the template to the collar. Spray the wrong side of the collar with temporary adhesive.

Hoop stabilizer (tear-away, cut-away or wash away depending on your fabric and design).  To achieve perfect placement, use PAL, the Perfect Alignment Laser. Place the hoop on a flat surface and turn on PAL. Align the beams with the horizontal and vertical markings on the hoop.Collar5BL

Slip the collar over the stabilizer aligning the template’s crosshair with the beams.  Finger press the collar to the stabilizer. For added security, you can always add tape to the edges.Collar6BL

Carefully transport and attach the hoop to the machine, retrieve the design and verify the needle is perfectly aligned with the template’s crosshair.  Remove the template and embroider the design.

Next week, I’ll show you how to achieve perfect placement on Brother’s DREAM machine.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Now that Halloween is over, we’re just about in full swing of the next holiday – Thanksgiving.  I’d love to know if you’re hosting the meal or if you’re being treated to a year off – and celebrating in someone else’s home.  Tell us your plans and a random winner will receive a 13” x 54” ruffled-edge burlap table runner.  Perfect for a holiday table!


The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

As I mentioned above velvet can be a challenging textile. What other fabrics do you find challenging yet alluring to use? Your comment will enter you in next Wednesday’s random drawing for a $20 gift card to !

The winner is:  

Gail: “Satin, silk, and fur are the hardest to embroider on for me. Satin and silky type fabrics tend to have wrinkles around the design and fur tends to leave little bits of fur outside of the outlines.”

*You can make your own templates by stitching embroidery designs on stabilizer and drawing a crosshair in the center but if you’re serious about embroidery, then you need a robust embroidery editing and digitizing software program. It pays for itself in eliminating frustration and opening possibilities. If you don’t have software, investigate different programs at your local sewing machine retailer since you’ll want to purchase software where you can get education.

Embroidering on Velvet

A few weeks ago, many of you responded to my request for future blog topics. I’ve found your suggestions helpful and sometimes I’m at a loss for what to blog about.  I’ll be working through your requests as time permits. Kathy E. asked about embroidering on velvet and since velvet is a holiday favorite, I thought I’d tackle that first.

Kathy E. “A few years ago, I bought an expensive piece of plush black velvet. I had hopes (and still do) to embroider a large, fancy “E” on it, and then make it into a pillow. I’ve never taken on the project because I don’t know what stabilizer and needle to use. I’m thinking it would be best to use a topper too. If you could give me any tips, I’d be so thankful, then I could get this project going!”


Velvet shimmers when viewed from one angle, and becomes a deep, matte surface when tilted away from a light source. It’s an alluring textile and not one that we use very often.  Let’s discuss its challenges for an embroiderer.

  1. Velvet’s nap crushes when pressure is applied. A standard embroidery hoop will damage velvet’s delicate surface so don’t hoop it! Instead, hoop cut-away stabilizer and spray the cut-away with temporary adhesive. Finger press the velvet to the sticky surface centering the design area in the hoop.
  2. Embroidery design. Designs with complete filled areas work best on velvet. Running stitches and narrow satin columns will sink into the velvet’s pile.  Keep in mind velvet is a delicate fabric with a luxurious drape so avoid heavy dense designs.
  3. 75/11 sharp needle will do the job.
  4. It’s tempting to use a topper but you should proceed with caution here because removable is crucial. Options for toppers are no topper (most pile is very short), a lightweight water soluble film-type (think Sulky’s Solvy regular weight) or tulle.  You will not actually apply water to the velvet to remove the Solvy but you’ll tear it away since regular weight Solvy perforates at the stitch line very easily.  Tulle also tears easily and if you select a tulle that matches the velvet, any remaining bits will not be visible as they’ll blend in with the background.
  5. Once the design is complete, carefully remove the hoop from the machine and release the stabilizer from the hoop. Pink the edges of the stabilizer around the design – leaving at least ¼” of stabilizer.

Use these tips for your holiday stitching and you’ll be pleased with the results. Always remember to approach each embroidery project with common sense. Think about the care instructions for a fabric and use them as a guideline for selecting stabilizers (water, heat, etc). You can handle this!


Here’s your assignment this week:

As I mentioned above velvet can be a challenging textile. What other fabrics do you find challenging yet alluring to use? Your comment will enter you in next Wednesday’s random drawing for a $20 gift card to !

The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

So why not hop over there and come back here to tell us what Bunnycup design collection is your favorite?  Your comment will enter you in next Wednesday’s random drawing for 3 $50 vouchers to Bunnycup Embroidery.

The winners are:  

Kati: “I love all the wonderful designs from them. My favorite set is the woodland animals…they are sooo cute!”

Diane: “I really love the “Christmas Village” Set. There are too many to pick from, I really love them all.”

Deanna: “I love the Pretty Ponies designs. Cute designs, I had not checked out this website before. Love it.”



Software Saturday – The Backdrop Tool in My Quilt Embellisher

One of the helpful features of Inspiration’s My Quilt Embellisher is the backdrop tool. The backdrop tool allows you to bring an image on to the screen and audition embroidery in actual time. It’s a surefire way to design beautiful blocks.
First, take a photograph or scan an image of your quilt into your computer. Take note of where you stored the photo on your hard drive.
Open a new file in My Quilt Embellisher. Go to File, Load Backdrop. Locate the image of your quilt block and click OK.MQE_b1
The image appears behind the grid on your screen. Chances are the image is not perfectly square on the screen. That’s ok; it’s an easy fix in My Quilt Embellisher. Hover the cursor over the backdrop tool on the left toolbar.MQE_b2
Click on the small arrow under the icon to access the Backdrop tools. Select Define horizon. MQE_b3
Place the cursor on one corner of the block and with the left mouse button depressed, drag the cursor across the block to the opposite corner. Release the mouse. The image will straighten on the screen.MQE_b4
In the properties box, notice the size of the image – it’s quite large.MQE_b5
That measurement is the size of the image, not the block. So let’s tell the software exactly what size our block should be.
Select Define Scale from the Backdrop tool menu.MQE_b6
Place the cursor on one corner of the block and with the left mouse button depressed, drag the cursor across the block to the opposite corner. Release the mouse. A window appears. Type in the correct measurement. My actual block measures 7” so I type in 7”.MQE_b9
The image shrinks and in the properties box, the size of the image changes too.MQE_b10
The properties box measurement is larger than 7” because it’s illustrating the size of the image – all the white/gray space that’s actually part of the image.
Now that you are viewing the block in actual size, it’s time to audition embroidery designs in the patches. This block was created for a sweet couple, Liz and Mike Tucker. The monogram font is August, the heart is Block Frill Heart (found in Embellishments) and the bird is #57488 in My Quilt Embellisher Free Designs.MQE_b12

October is Full of Surprises!

Who needs Pinterest when you can find embroidery inspiration on design website. For instance, this month’s blog sponsor, Bunnycup Embroidery, has over 93 – yes 93 pages of customer’s projects!  It’s so fun to see how embroiderers use Bunnycup’s designs.  You’ll find a variety of styles, tons of colors, delightful fabrics and cool blanks.

I love how customer Cindy used one design on one shoe and an entirely different one on the other shoe.BC3BL

And if I was good sister, I would make this pillow for each of my five sisters. That’s the trouble with having five sisters; it’s a lot of work to make a personalized gift for each one! But this avid Bunnycup customer sure did a beautiful job, I wonder how many sisters she has.BC4BL

Speaking of gifts, embroidered hand towels are the perfect present for many on your list this year. After all, everyone cooks (well, almost everyone!).  When using designs like Bunnycup’s My Kitchen Sentiments, just select colors that match the kitchen or go neutral for a ‘one size fits all’ gift!BC5BL

If you’re looking for new designs to add to your collection, this is a good time to stock up, Bunnycup is having a buy one, get one sale!BC1B

Here’s your assignment this week:

So why not hop over there and come back here to tell us what Bunnycup design collection is your favorite?  Your comment will enter you in next Wednesday’s random drawing for 3 $50 vouchers to Bunnycup Embroidery.

The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

We are going to turn the table and ask you to post an embroidery related question for us in the comments below this week! Denise and Eileen will do their very best to get you an expert answer and one lucky commenter will be chosen to win Eileen and Marie Zinno’s new, yet to be released Hoop It Up book!

The winner is:  

Joanna: “Do i have to unstitch a baby onesie if i want to make a cute pattern on it? how? How??”


Numbered Patches in My Block Piecer

Welcome Software Saturday readers!  Recently, I was creating a Flying Geese border in My Block Piecer. I stitched 16 repeats and after the third or fourth one, I knew the patch sequence by heart. Since I’m always on a mission to find time-saving steps, I figured if I omitted stitching the actual numbers in each patch, I would save some precious time. Here’s how to do it.

Open a new file in My Block Piecer. Click on the Block Libraby icon and enter Flying Geese #7 in the box. Click the green down arrow to jump to Flying Geese #7.  Click OK.N1BL

Select the block, right mouse click and select Ungroup.  Delete both side panels. N2BL

Select the remaining patches and click on the Workflow icon and Autobuild. Click Preview.  There are 12 patches in this unit.  Click Save and close. N3BL

Copy and paste the unit to stitch two in one hooping.N5BL

Select all and Ungroup. Now click on each individual letter and delete it.N6BL

You’ll be left with everything but the numbers.N7BL

But don’t worry, when you saved the design earlier, a PDF was created with a visual guide to the block. The first image includes the numbers on each patch.N8BL

The second shows an image of the design with the numbers.N9BL

And finally, there’s an instruction sheet which guides you through each patch.N10BL

Save this edited design with a new name and use it to stitch the block. Don’t you just love this software? It gives you so much freedom when creating blocks to piece in the hoop!


Split Long Text Messages for Embroidering on Ribbon

If you have a message that’s longer than your largest hoop, you have two choices, shrink or split the text. Since you don’t always have the option of shrinking text (you might have to fill a certain size space), you might as well learn how to split it. And it’s really quite simple. Here’s how.

Open Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro (you can also follow these steps in Word Art in Stitches). Select the Text tool and type the message in the Properties Box.  Do not hit the return key on the keyboard as you’ll want a long continuous line of text for a ribbon.  Select the font, the sample is Athletic Script. WebRib1BL

The text appears on the screen and if you check the top of the screen, you’ll find the length. The sample was 27 ½” wide. WebRib2BL

Before doing anything else, zoom into the lettering and check the spacing (kerning). WebRib5BL

This is too wide for my taste so I reselect the text (with the Text tool) and change the settings in the property box.  Decrease the height to .65” and reduce the spacing to -4. Click Apply. WebRib6BL

Now the letters almost touch – perfect for stitching on organza. WebRib7BL

But the overall width of the design is still way too big for one hooping.  Let’s breakup the text. Right now, the color sequence box shows the text is all one color and one unit. WebRib7ABL

Select the text and right mouse click. Select Break Up Text from the drop down menu. WebRib8BL

Now the color sequence shows each individual element (underlay, satins, and runs) of the design.  Don’t fret. WebRib8ABL

Click on the Hoop tool and select the hoop you plan on using. WebRib9

Move the text so that the beginning of the message is at the edge of the hoop. Select a logical group of letters. Copy, open a new file and paste.  Save that design as Hoop1. WebRib10BL

Go back to the original file and select the next group. Use natural breaks (between words) to your advantage. WebRib11BL

Save each hooping as a new file and then print templates of each one to help with placement.  See how easy that was?

The Final Touch on the Wedding Dress: Embroidered Ribbon

If you have an embroidery machine and you’re making a wedding dress, you have to – I would say it’s mandatory   – embroider a ribbon and sew it into the dress with the bride and groom’s names, date and location. Just imagine years down the road when the next generation is looking at the dress, they’ll know the history of the garment.  Wouldn’t you have loved looking at that information on your mother’s dress? I know I would have.  So here’s how to do it.

Create the text in an embroidery lettering program such as Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro and split it into several hoopings.  (Check back here on Saturday for the how-do). Print templates of each hooping. Cut the ribbon the length of the combined text and add about five extra inches to the ribbon length to make hooping easier.  Place the hoop’s outer ring on a cutting mat aligning the hoop’s straight edges with the mat’s grid. Lay a piece of water soluble stabilizer over the ring. Place the ribbon in the hoop laying the end over the ring and centering the ribbon within the hoop’s sewing field. Use the mat’s grid to place the ribbon straight.  Insert the inner ring. Forgive me, these photos do not show a cutting mat but trust me, they should! Rib6AABL

Center the first template on the ribbon. Use a centering ruler to find the center of the ribbon and align the template’s crosshair with the ruler’s center.  The edges of the ribbon should hit the ruler at equal increments.Rib1BL

Remove the template and embroider the first design.  Remove the hoop from the machine and the ribbon from the hoop. Tape the second template on the ribbon, checking the spacing between the hoopings.  Ascenders and descenders, such as lower case j’s and p’s and all upper case letters, can throw off the centering. If a line of text has both ascenders and descenders, the center of the design will probably be on the text baseline. If it has one or none, the center of the design will not be on the baseline, it will be the center of the actual text.  Keep the text aligned on the same baseline from hooping to hooping.  Use a centering ruler to help with placement.Rib2BL

If you use a soft blue thread, you’ll have the ‘something blue’ covered and most likely the delicate color will not bleed through the dress. Rib3BL

I sewed the ribbon to the outside of the lining at the center back. Her dress was mermaid style and the back hem had quite a curve. In retrospect, if I had to do it again, I would sew it to a straighter portion of the lining hem or even up a seam from the lining towards the waist. Rib4BLRib5BL


Here’s your assignment this week:

Thank you all for allowing me to share this occasion with you. I hope you’ve learned some tips and maybe even thought of using an idea or two for a special bride in the future. What tip or idea from this wedding do you think you are most likely to use?

The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

Tell us if you (or someone you love) carried a family heirloom on your wedding day.  A random winner will be selected to win a $20 Designs in Machine Embroidery gift card!

The winner is:  

Carrie: “My daughters carried or wore their paternal great-grandmother’s gold locket.
It was very special to us that the locket was passed to my daughter’s”

Organizing Fabrics

Although, I spent a good part of my summer working on the wedding dress, I also have been working on a My Block Piecer quilt. I’ll share the quilt with you in a few weeks – it’s almost done.  I learned so much during this process and I’ll share some of it with you here but your Inspiration dealers will be getting all of the instructions within the next month.  Early on in this project, I learned I would have to keep my fabrics, templates and patches organized if I was going to flip between sewing a wedding dress and a quilt!   Here’s how I managed keeping over 4,000,000 patches organized!*

When working with multiple fabric patches for blocks created in My Block Piecer, it’s easy to mix up the fabrics.  I keep my templates and fabrics organized with a simple method – tape, marker and a pin.Org1BL

First, I used the Cutter tool in My Block Piecer to create paper templates sized perfectly for my block.  Once I cut the templates apart, I taped a scrap of the fabric to the template and wrote the number of the patch on the template.  Then after all fabrics were cut, I pinned them together – paper with all corresponding patches.  Then the whole batch gets stored in a zip lock baggie.  I placed a label in the baggie, in this instance, Block 12. I know at a glance what block I’m working on and how many patches are in the block. Org2BL

When you’re working on multiple projects, take a few extra steps to stay organized! You’ll be glad you did when the bride shows up in all white instead of white with a patch of bright blue!

*4,000,000 patches – I made up that number. It wasn’t anywhere near 4 million but sometimes, it felt like it! But maybe I’ll count them for a future blog.


1 2 3 12