Posts Tagged ‘embroider’

What do jeans, bathing suits and handbags have in common?

It’s almost impossible to find one that fits you! And the shopping experience is truly miserable. Let’s start with jeans. You have to bring at least six different pairs into the dressing room – a full range of sizes, cuts and lengths. Then there’s the joy of getting out of your clothes and trying each one on. The lighting is terrible, you need two mirrors so you can get a true view of the back of the jeans, none of them fit, so it’s back into your clothes, return the jeans to the sales floor and get another slew to try on. That is – if – there are more styles in that store. Probably not, most likely you have to head to another store. Of course, I didn’t address the pricing issue – that’s another whole scenario. And how come the only ones that fit really well have holes in them? I am not paying extra for holes. I refuse.

Bathing suits. This experience is so degrading I know many women who simply do not wear bathing suits. I don’t blame them. But sometimes, they’re necessary and I do love the water so I wear them. I am very comfortable in a suit with complete strangers. Any other condition is an entirely different story.

Back to the search for a suit. Again, a full arm of suits in a variety of cuts and sizes goes into the dressing room. Now, we have to strip down to our skivvies and stand in the fluorescent glare and look in the mirror. Oh for heavens sake, dim the lights, use the Crazy House mirrors that make us look skinny, paint the walls a soft, rosy pink – anything to make the naked, aging skin look youthful again! And I’m not even in the suit yet! Today the suits come with slimming linings so your tummy is flat, you’re having difficulty breathing and your thighs look like stuffed sausages. Oh a little skirt might do the trick! Every time I pick up a skirted suit, I remember the last time my mother wore a bathing suit. I was about 8 (she would have been my age now) and said, “Oh Mom, I love that swim dress!” Never again did she don a suit and join us in the water. And we lived at the beach. Sorry, Mom. It is a family rule – never describe a skirted bathing suit as a swim dress.

The best part of bathing suit shopping is buying the cover-up. I love the cover-ups! They can be glamorous, plain, tropical, beachy, you name it… they’re beautiful and comfortable! So if you have to actually purchase a suit always treat yourself to a new cover-up. And add embroidery – up near the face so everyone stops looking at your thighs!

Handbags. Shopping for handbags is even worse because this you have to do in public – on the sales floor. I always feel like I’m about to commit a crime because my behavior is so suspicious. I pick up the bag, examine it and open every pocket and zipper. Put it over my shoulder. Look for a mirror (they don’t exist in most handbag departments, they do in the shoe department but not the bag department, which is funny because you can see the shoes when they’re on your feet!) Then I travel over to the ladies clothing department in search of a mirror. Now I’m moving through the store with THEIR handbag on my shoulder (in addition to mine). I think that’s very suspicious behavior. What I would really like to do is, dump all the contents from my bag into the new bag and see if everything fits. But I think I would be approached by a badge-wearing security person with a very stern look on his/her face.

So? What’s a machine embroiderer to do? I can only help you on the handbags here. There is no rescue to the bathing suit-jeans scenarios (mail order might help but still it’s such a trial-and-error process). At least we can make our own bags! Thank heavens! And today we can make them soft-sided, stiff, small, large, shoulder or clutch. The list goes on and on. Right now I’m designing a collection of bags – and having a lot of fun doing it. But I am still behaving quite suspiciously in the handbag department. Now I’m actually measuring the bags on the sales floor! You know, ever-so-discreetly. Just how wide is that bottom, and how long is that strap, ooh look at that zipper placement!

Tell me about your shopping experiences. Do you bring a tape measure into the store and measure clothing or accessories? Do you find it helpful to examine the innards of bags? And feel free to tell us that last time you purchased a swimsuit!  Leave a comment for a chance to win this weeks bundle which includes Boatload of Bags and Contemporary Machine Embroidered Accessories!

Last week we asked what you would do if you had Loralie Designs and markers!  The winner is…Sorcha girl!  You’ve won the autographed drawing and Loralie’s Fast Women Light design collection.

“I’m a fan of Loralie and her characters.  Having her  autographed “art” in my sewing room would be delightful.  I missed Sewing Expo this year.  The first project I’d use with the Art Stamp “crayons” would be to add one of the  embroidered designs to a plain beige canvas tote and then, fill in with the markers.

Love to read the creative ideas your blog introduces.”

Congratulations!



The Final Steps for Professional Embroidery Results

We talk so much about planning embroidery and hooping fabric but we rarely discuss what to do with a project when we take it out of the hoop. Just like a golf swing, follow-through is important in embroidery.

Once the design is complete, remove the hoop from the machine. If you used a basting outline, remove it now from the wrong side. Also look for any thread tails that will interfere with stabilizer removal and trim them from the back.

If you’re using a standard hoop with a non-adhesive stabilizer, loosen the screw and release the inner ring, freeing the project from the hoop.

Hold cut-away stabilizer away from the fabric and trim the stabilizer about ¼” beyond the embroidery.

Examine the embroidery from the front. If there are puckers between solid areas of a design, or between two designs, slit the cut-away between the solid areas. This will relax the fabric in that area and most, if not all, puckers will iron away.

Use caution when ripping tear-away stabilizer to avoid distorting the fabric or the design. Hold the fabric while placing your thumbnail at the edge of the embroidery and gently tear the stabilizer at that point. If you used multiple layers of tear-away, remove them one layer at a time. The strength provided by the multiple layers during the stitching also gives added resistance in the tearing process.

Water soluble stabilizers should be removed exactly as stated on the packaging. With that being said, always, always, place the packaging inside the tube of stabilizer for future reference. When using water-soluble stabilizer, allow for the time it takes to wet and dry the fabric.

If your fabric is adhered to a tear-away adhesive stabilizer, place the entire hoop on a flat surface, right side up. Lift the fabric away from the adhesive outside of the embroidered area working your way around the entire design.

Flip the hoop over and gently puncture the stabilizer (with your thumbnail) along the edge of the embroidery. Any stabilizer remaining within the design will stay on the fabric.

Finally, it’s out of the hoop and the stabilizer is removed. Take a good look at the embroidery from the right side. Trim any thread remnants and pull away any topper that was applied. If any bobbin thread is showing on the right side, consider hiding it with a permanent fabric marker.

Press the embroidery from the wrong side on a fluffy towel to keep the stitches from flattening. Now, you’re really finished!

The Designs team recently attended the Sewing Expo in Puyallup, WA and brought home tons of information (have you seen what’s been happening on our Facebook page?) and a basket of goodies, including two of my favorite new tools – Lighted Tweezers & Magnifier and a Lighted Seam Ripper & Magnifier from our friends at Dalco Home Sew. Each tool features a LED light (never has to be replaced!) with a magnifying glass. Makes close-up work a breeze.

Tell me what your favorite embroidery tool/notion is and you could be a winner.

 

Last week we asked what your favorite embroidery blank is.  The winners of the towel blanks from http://www.allaboutblanks.com are…Mary Haggenmaker and Paule-Marie!

Mary said, “My favorite embroidery work is done on kitchen towels. I have digitized several designs that have proven to be popular at the craft fairs I go to. I also digitized one for me. It is Grandma hanging out of a tree and she is definitely upset with the reindeer.”

Paule-Marie said, “I like towels and napkins. (yes there is an ulterior motive for them – I don’t have to worry about putting them in an embarrassing place!) I also like to use outlines and quilting designs to quilt my quilts.”

Congratulations, Mary and Paule-Marie!

I Missed It…again…

Last year, I sullenly sat at my desk during the first week of March wishing I was somewhere else. Not because I don’t like my job. Oh no, I love what I do I just wanted to do it in Puyallup, WA that week. You see, the first week of March heralds in Sewing & Stitchery Expo, the largest sewing and quilting expo in the USA. I was a regular vendor, speaker and just plain Expo junkie for a number of years but financial sense caught up with me and I opted to drop Expo from my travel schedule. Sounded like a wise decision in a meeting months prior to the event. But during that week – I was sad! Really sad that I was missing all the fun. I followed along as best I could on Rita Farro’s blog but she was too busy to post continuously throughout the show. Rita is in charge of public relations for Sewing & Stitchery Expo. So I survived.

Months followed, my teaching calendar got quite full and lo and behold, I scheduled a Stitching Sisters event for the first weekend in March, in California. Ugh – here we go again! I figured if that show meant so much to me, it probably meant just as much to others who weren’t able to attend. So instead of going myself, I sent two very able-bodied members of the Designs team, Amanda Griffin and Denise Holguin and asked them to bring the show to us.

And now, we have two more Expo junkies! See? It works, just give them a taste and they can’t wait to go back for more. But look what they brought us – photos, videos and the best of all – prizes from the Expo vendors! Of course, they’re not just any vendors, they’re also Designs in Machine Embroidery advertisers.

Be sure to visit our Facebook page to check out the videos and photos! 

Their first stop was at AllAboutBlanks. After waiting several minutes to get into the crammed both and say hello to owner Susan Mars, Denise and Amanda learned that AllAboutBlanks’ hot seller at the show was their luscious linen towels. Why? Well, those kitchen towels embroider like a dream and make the absolute best gifts – for anyone on an embroiderer’s gift list – including her own kitchen! This year they come in a ton of colors, different weaves and patterns.

Of course, it wasn’t all towels, there were children’s items, cosmetic bags, pillows, bags of lavender for filling sachets, luggage tags, oh the list goes on and on. Visit their website to view all of their offerings, http://www.allaboutblanks.com.

Tell us what is your favorite blank to embroider on and you’ll be entered to win a set of towels from AllAboutBlanks.com.  We have two sets so that means we’ll have two winners! 

Last week we asked what you thought about the large scale prints.  The winner of the Embroidery Tool Kit is….Annette Haney!

“I love the large prints if they don’t have too many colors in them. If they do they are too busy. I love the print and “almost” solid you used for the tunic. And the design was just right!”

Congrats, Annette!

Didn’t win the Embroidery Tool Kit?  No worries…everyone is a winner this week thanks to AllAboutBlanks.com!

AllAboutBlanks has a great offer for Eileen’s Blog and Facebook readers!  They’re offering free shipping on US orders for purchases made at allaboutblanks.com until March 31, 2011.  Simply enter the coupon code, Designs, upon checkout to take advantage of this great offer!  Thanks, AllAboutBlanks!  

Be sure to  mark your calendars for next year’s Sewing & Stitchery Expo, March 1-4, 2012. See you there!

Working with Prints – It’s all about Color and Scale


Combining embroidery with patterned fabric is challenging but here are a few tips for a successful outcome.

• Add a plain fabric as the base for the embroidery.
• Take your color cues from the printed fabric.
• Differentiate the scale of the embroidery

In this tunic, I selected a base fabric (manufacturer unknown) that matches one of the colors in Valorie Wells Free Spirit Jenaveve Linen print. Notice it contrasts in color and value from the background of the print and defines the embroidered area.

Use the colors in the fabric as your guide for selecting threads. I selected a dark, very dark, brown thread that pops off of the medium value plain fabric. That same dark brown thread is also the same shade as the background of the print creating a unified schematic.

Rarely is it a good idea to introduce another color scheme when balancing embroidery with a large scale print. Of course, you want the embroidery to be visible so select threads the same color as the print but of a different value. It’s the contrast between the base fabric and the thread that makes the embroidery visible.

Now select the embroidery design. Make sure its one that coordinates in style with the large print yet contrasts in scale. If the main fabric in the garment is a large print, then stitch a simple, medium-sized, repeating design. Large prints draw the eye across the fabric while the embroidery here frames the face and adds a touch of texture on an otherwise flat surface. Audition different sizes of designs – too small and the embroidery will be completely overpowered by the large scale print. Too large and the embroidery will battle with the large scale print for center stage.

But what about small scale prints? Apply the same principals keeping the focus on the embroidery, not the print. I made this jacket (Indygo Junction Midtown Trench) with Ty Pennington’s Impressions sateen fabric, Kimono, in taupe.

Way too busy of a print to splash embroidery across, I opted for a black collar washed with open, airy embroidery designs.

I selected black for the collar because black is the smallest element in the Kimono print. Next, I used taupe and silver thread to stitch the embroidery. The threads coordinate with the fabric and most certainly separate from the black base letting me achieve my ever present number one goal – let the embroidery be seen! The large designs, built-in on the Brother Quattro, do not fight with the Kimono print, rather they complement it very well.

I enjoyed making both of these garments and learned quite a bit about working with luscious, printed fabrics – both large and small! It’s always good to stretch your creativity and get out of your comfort zone.

So tell me, have you noticed all of the large scale prints in the quilt shops now? Do you love them, or do you prefer more subdued fabrics? Leave a comment and you’ll have a chance to win an Embroidery Tool Kit – my favorite set of tools! Can’t stitch without the Angle Finder and new target rulers! You’ll love it too.



The winner of Stipple Butterflies is…Mary Kvam!

“I just bought a Babylock Embroidery Professional which is totally new to me. My goal is to learn how to use it and to make a small picture to start with to show off to my husband for bragging rights! I just love colorful butterflies and was planning experimenting with different designs.”

Congratulations, Mary!

There’s Something about Nancy

Many of us think we know Nancy Zieman. We see her in our living room (teaching us sewing via PBS) and we see her smiling at us from her many of her nifty notions she’s created over the years. In fact, every time I press a hem, I see her name on my seam gauge, over and over and over again! She is a dear friend of mine, but seeing her so regularly really makes me think I know everything about her.

Until I read her latest blog about how she created the projects in our Designer Necklines. For heavens sake, we worked on those projects together but I never thought to ask, “How did you come up with the idea?”

Apparently, if you want a good idea from Nancy, just add water! She gets her best ideas when she’s swimming, taking a shower or washing dishes! Who knew Nancy was such a fish? Frankly, I’ve always thought of her as more a turf girl. I mean, she grew up on a farm (I’m sure there was some digging in the dirt as a youngster), she makes the most beautiful landscape quilts (with the emphasis on land), her favorite sport is football (all the time, not just this year with the national champion Green Bay Packers) and she loves to garden (more digging in the dirt.)

Now we know how she keeps those hands looking so camera-ready every two weeks. Obviously, she soaks in Palmolive! And when she does, she comes up with some great ideas – ideas that make the lives of sewers and embroiderers simpler. She’s a master at breaking down a difficult task into manageable sections so that anyone can achieve success.

Tell me what your favorite “Nancy technique” is and you could win a copy of Designer Necklines. Is there a technique that had you stumped and with a little help from Nancy, now you can breeze right through that roadblock? I know Nancy has taught me many, many sewing tasks but the one that stands out in my mind is binding a quilt. I refer to her Landscape Quilting book over and over again when I need a quick review on binding. How about you?

Last week we asked what you were stitching.  The winner of the Snap-Hoop is…Kathy Schmidt!

Kathy said… “What am I working on now……way too many things at the same time….nothing new for me lol. The 3 top things I am working on are some funky patches for my friend, embroidery on a jacket for me, and custom designed/fitted pants for my wonderful husband.”

Congratulations, Kathy!

Speaking of Designer Necklines, we received a wonderful email with pictures from Cynthia Wheeler.

“Lorraine,
Here are photos of the results of our first attempt at decorating t-shirt necklines. As you can see all were very successful. There is always the machine malfunction that sets some back but with help they recover nicely. Some of our members have very high level machines that thread themselves and others who have basic machines with limited designs. With some creative thinking we were able to use the technique taught in the video and apply it to other designs.
We are a group of about 12 persons that have embroidery machines that were growing moldy. Most of us work full time. We wanted to use our machines and gathering together every other month gives us a chance to create and learn more about the operation of the machines .
I am always looking for projects that can be completed in a 3 hour time span. As you can tell from the smiles on their faces the completion of the project is important. Because we all know that it is not going to be completed when we get home.
Hope you enjoy the photos.”
-Cynthia Wheeler, Fairfield Machine Embroidery Group, Meeting location is at the Cornerstone Quilt Shoppe in Fairfield, CA

To see the rest of the photos, visit our Facebook page.  Thanks for the wonderful photos from your event, Ladies!  It looks like you had a great time!



It’s National Embroidery Month!

Really, it is, I didn’t make it up! And if I did, I would have never settled on just one month because it’s always National Embroidery Month here at Designs.

So why just one month? One month is for sissies; one month is for people who dabble in embroidery. The rest of us – well, every year is National Embroidery Year, this year might be the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit, but I vote for the Year of the Needle. And that’s a machine needle – thank you very much!

Oh I know, hand (that annoying four-letter word that seems to creep in everyone’s vocabulary) embroidery is making a comeback. But hand embroidery is really just the training wheels of embroidery. Once you’re hooked on that flying feeling, you’ll want to soar with a machine! Why? Once you’re hooked there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the embroidery projects you want to tackle by hand. Once you’re hooked, you want your work to look professional and last forever. Once you’re hooked, you’re absolutely blown away at what the digital world, your artistic skills and an embroidery machine can produce!

In order to get hooked, you have to give yourself permission to buy the right products (the proper tools really do make all the difference), make some mistakes, ask a lot of questions and experiment.

Let’s start with the right products. You need a decent embroidery machine that comes with education. So shop for a dealer that you enjoy visiting and buy your machine there. Get one at the top of your price range (every dollar brings more luscious features) with at least a 5” x 7” embroidery hoop, ability to rotate in 1 degree increments, on-screen editing, USB capability, baste feature and the trace feature. Test drive it, inquire about lessons at the dealer (machine intro lessons should come with your purchase) and then take it home and out of the box.

Once it’s home, hoop some fabric that you’re willing to part with and experiment. Stitch some of the built-in designs, move the design in the hoop and stitch it in a new location. Read the manual – really they’re written for a reason. Switch to a different type of fabric and stabilizer and see the difference. Make notes and refer to them later when you try to remember what worked and what didn’t.

It’s time to ask questions now that you’re familiar with your machine. So head to that intro class and ask away! Use the internet, search blogs, manufacturer’s and design company websites. There is a ton of information out there.

Keep experimenting – you’ll learn something new with every project and before you know it, you’ll be helping others enjoy this great hobby.

I think that’s what I love the most about this hobby, the participants are so sharing and kind to each other. I’m just back from leading a 2-day hands-on event in Atlanta. I can’t tell you how lovely the 84 attendees were. Each was so gracious to us (my Stitching Sister Marie Zinno and I), the staff at Discover Sewing and each of their tablemates. The attendees were blown away by the features on the Brother Quattro machine. That machine made the twelve (yep, 12) projects we created over two days absolutely flawless. Every challenge (such as funky fabrics – fur, vinyl, terrycloth and poor hooping techniques) was met with a user-friendly feature that solved any dilemma we put in front of it. Oh the fun we had in putting that machine through its hoops! Sorry – couldn’t resist!

What was the result? Eighty-four times twenty-one finished, flawless embroidery projects. That’s 252 projects! Now that’s an accomplishment. Try that with a hand needle!

So what are you stitching? You know, right now, today? I’m working on three projects – funky t-shirts, another trench coat by Indygo Junction (with that fabulous collar) and a sentimental wall hanging for my sweetie (in time for Valentine’s Day, I hope, I’m planning, I swear I’ll make the deadline).

Tell us what you’re working on and you could win a… Snap Hoop!   

Last week we asked what colors you were using in your embroidery.  The winner of Machine Embroidery with Confidence by Nancy Zieman and a set of Robison-Anton threads is…Brigitte Cowan!

She said…”I am using Sulky 561 for a redwork quilt for my mother. She loves antiques and I couldn’t think of a quilt that would be better than a redwork quilt. I love redwork, no thread changes, lol.”

Congratulations, Brigitte!

ps…Have you subscribed to the blog yet?  Be sure to subscribe on the right side of the this page to get emailed when I post.  You’ll be first to hear about giveaways, tips, tricks and what’s going on with the Stitching Sisters!

Continuous Embroidery – Simple Steps for All Embroiderers

Many embroiderers strive to master continuous embroidery that is seamless and flawless. It looks so impressive and with a little planning and the right tools, you can achieve professional results.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

You’ll need some basic tools for seamless continuous embroidery:

-Printed templates of the embroidery designs
-Target Stickers
-The right size hoop
-Embroidery machine with 1 degree rotation and the trace feature
-Angle Finder or machine auto-rotation feature

Print templates of the designs. You must see the designs in actual size on the fabric before you stitch the designs to make continuous embroidery seamless! Place vellum in your printer and print templates of each design you intend to use.

Audition the templates on the fabric, connecting the designs as desired. Don’t focus on the center of the designs; look at where one design ends and the other begins.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Once you have the designs connected or linked, slide target stickers under each template.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The target stickers designate the center of each design and allow you to remove the cumbersome paper/vellum templates. Write the design name (on the target stickers (or MI if mirror imaging of any design is required). Keep the templates handy, you’ll need them again to confirm placement.

You’ve heard the adage: select the smallest hoop available for the design. Well, that is good advice because it will give you the best tension on the hooped fabric. But you might want to ignore that good advice if you are creating multi-hooped embroidery. If your design is the same size as (or very close to) the hoop’s sewing field that means you have to hoop the fabric perfectly centered and square. There will be no room for any adjustments such as rotating and positioning. Talk about pressure!

Continuous embroidery often involves minute adjustments of the design right under the needle. If your design completely fills the hoop, then you won’t have any options for making needed adjustments. So select a hoop that leaves you some wiggle room or shrink your design a bit.

Once the first design is stitched, it’s time to rehoop the next design area.

1. Center the second target sticker in the hoop but make sure the lower portion of the first design is captured in the sewing field so that you can connect the two designs.

2. Place the template back on the target sticker. Verify the target sticker is in the correct location. If not, make final adjustments now. Remove the template.

3. Use the Angle Finder to rotate the design so the rotation on the screen duplicates the rotation on the target sticker. You’ll get the full rotation of a design in the center of the hoop so always rotate first, then position the needle over the target sticker.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

4. Position the needle over the target sticker.

5. If you’re still unsure of the placement of the second design, trace the new design. Watch the needle as it travels the perimeter of the design. The foot should graze the first design if you are connecting or linking designs. If it doesn’t, place the template back in the hoop and reposition the needle. Repeat this step until you’re confident the designs are aligned. Still not confident? Travel through the design to the stitch that will connect with the first design.

6. Remove the template/target sticker and stitch!

Many embroiderers are leery of attempting continuous embroidery but the truth is, placement mistakes are much more obvious on single design embroidery than multi-design embroidery. If a single design is off just a couple of degrees, it’s glaring. Think of a monogram on a towel. The monogram must be perfectly centered and parallel with the border or bottom edge of the towel, if it’s off just 5 degrees, it’s noticeable. Multi-design embroidery is much more forgiving because the intended result is not always obvious to the viewer. So go ahead and give it try – you’ll be glad you did.

It was so interesting to read last week’s comments on learning to embroider. It seems many of you have been blessed with family members who shared their skills or encouraged you to jump into a new hobby. And how about those husbands who surprised many of you with a new machine? You are lucky ladies.

It’s not always the case for many ‘stitchaholics.’ I remember hearing tales of woe about ladies who had to hide new sewing purchases from their spouses. One lady, who will remain anonymous, used to hide fabric purchases in empty cereal boxes. She saved the boxes in the trunk of her car months before her local annual quilt show. And low and behold, stuffed them with fat quarters! Apparently, her significant other never knew.

How about some of those crazy purchases we’ve made over the years? I remember driving seven hours to attend an American Sewing Guild convention when I first learned to sew. All those hours in the car – it was a big deal for me to be away from my small children overnight. But I was on a mission to go to that show. When I returned, my husband wanted to see what I had purchased. I pulled out two dozen 3” squares of sequined fabric. That’s it. That was my only purchase. I have no idea why I bought them, I wasn’t wearing sequins on regular basis. The only thing I can possibly imagine using them for is applique. Fish, maybe. Who knows?

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

How about you? Do you have a funny story to share about purchases you’ve made? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win one of two $50.00 shopping sprees to SewAZ Embroidery Designs!   So that means we’ll have two lucky winners to announce next week!

Thank you, SewAZ for sponsoring this weeks giveaway!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Last week we asked how you learned to embroider.  The winner of the subscription to Designs in Machine Embroidery is….Grace Chapa!

“I am a self-taught machine embroiderer. For years I watched Aleene’s Craft Shows that featured the Janome Sewing Machines and when I came into a little money I bought an MC-10000. I do craft projects for gifts and keep up with techniques & supply info via various Yahoo groups and newsletters. YouTube is a great source of info and I subcribe to different newsletters and magazines. I just love this hobby!!”

Congratulations, Grace!  We’ll be contacting you to get your info.

On the Road Again…

Atlanta was crippled last week under several inches of snow and ice. Mild winters are the norm there so it’s no wonder it took days to clear up the mess. I am just so thankful it happened last week because my Stitching Sister Marie and I are headed there on January 28. It’s our first visit to Georgia and we are so excited to connect with our southern embroiderers! Discover Sewing is host of this 2-day event and I understand the event is just about sold out so if you want to join us, please call them now, 877-497-2973! Click here for more information.  Click on newsletter to download more info.

You’ll learn over 50 techniques for making your embroidery look fabulous. And you don’t have to bring a thing! Brother is supplying the top-of-the-line embroidery machines so you’ll be stitching in pure luxury. Marie and I handle all of the supplies – so your success is guaranteed. The event is being held at the lovely Sheraton Perimeter North. I hope you’ll join us!

Two weeks after the Atlanta event, we’re heading back East to Langhorne, PA. Stony brook Sew & Vac is the host and they are a New Jersey dealer! So the Stitching Sisters – born and bred Jersey Girls – are going home! We won’t be alone – we’ll have three generations with us, our 82 year young Mom (I am her clone so if you want to know what I’ll look like when I’m 80+, come meet Betty!), a few other sisters (there are six of us – yes, all girls) and my daughter, Janelle. This event has only a couple of slots left, so call 609-372-4018 if you’d like to join us.

Marie and I are anxious to get back on the road and meet you. Last year, we did over 13 events and enjoyed every single one of them. We’ve met the most fabulous ladies – each one brings her own flair to every project and we love seeing all the different results. We’ve watched many students blossom and gain confidence in their embroidery skills after just the first day!

Here’s what some recent attendees had to say:

I attended your 2-day class in San Antonio last weekend. First, I would like to say, WOW, that was probably the most worthwhile class I have attended in a very long time. Thank you for your time, your great class and your great products.  Marcella Lagleder, Rio Medina, TX

Eileen and Marie,
Thanks so much for coming to KC! LOVED the event and all your stories/energy. WOW! It was awesome to have a brief two 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

Have you seen the new video showing projects found in Volume 66 Jan/Feb?  If you haven’t be sure to take a look on YouTube.  We know you don’t want to miss out so this week we’re giving away a one year subscription to Designs in Machine Embroidery! 

To be entered into the drawing post a comment under this posting telling us how you learned to embroider.  Did you learn from a family member, a video, a book?  Or maybe you just jumped in head first on the machine!  Post a comment by Jan 20th and you’ll be entered to win a one year subscription!   

Last week we wanted to know what your New Years resolution was.  The winner of the stitchable note cards is…Donna G.!

I make one resolution every year: Not to make resolutions! Actually, I set goals each year for various parts of my life so I have something to aim for. I don’t reach all of them, but at the end of year I can see what I have accomplished.”

Congratulations, Donna!

We recieved our first set of Project Gratitude cards this week!  Thank you Susan Walker for stitching out these adorable gifts for our troops.  We’ll start an album over on Facebook and post pics as they come in. 

2011 Project Gratitude

Our web czar, Amanda Griffin, sent an email request last week to everyone in the office asking for donations to send to a troop of soldiers as part of the http://www.anysoldier.com drive. The request was simple, small treats and snacks, to carry in their pockets, laundry detergent, magazines, etc.

The employees here at Designs got together and put together a great haul to send over.  You can see more pics in our Facebook album.  You can visit http://www.anysoldier.com to find out how to send your own package. 

As I read the email, I wished there was something I could embroider for every one of the platoon members. That’s a tall order – 102. If it were shirts or caps, well, I don’t think I would ever reach that number in a timely fashion. But I remembered Quilting Arts’ artist trading cards drive a few years back and thought maybe that’s the right canvas for a message to our soldiers. I thought, “Gee, such a tiny canvas, surely I can get 125 of them done in a week” (ok, maybe two). And if I were stationed overseas, I think I would take great pleasure in holding something beautiful in my hand, something colorful, soft, but firm and alive with texture. I imagine their life is one of gritty fabrics, hard metal (cold or searing hot) and unforgiving rock. Their world is monochromatic: shades of sand, like the camo uniforms they live in.

As I write this, I feel very inadequate to talk about their service and assume what they would enjoy. My father served in Korea and rarely spoke about his experience and I have other family members who served in World War II. I am just a few years too young to have any classmates who served in Vietman but I remember the toll that war took on our nation and I’m living through this one. I am humbled by their service, their commitment and continued support. Many of you have family members over there right now. Know that these gratitude cards are just a tiny expression of gratitude for what our soldiers do for our country and our freedom. They are not political statements, they are meant to bring a moment of joy to a lonely soldier in a far away land. Join me in the drive. Here’s how:

Dowload the gratitude card designs (there are 10). Fuse fabric to a stiff stabilizer.

Embroider the quilting stitches, message and decorative motif.

Stitch the running outline. Place a second piece of fabric (stiffened or not), wrong side to the back of the hooped fabric, under the hoop.

Stitch the tackdown and final satin outline.

 Remove from hoop and trim as close to the satin stitched edge as possible.

You may want to stitch more than one card in the hoop since they are small: 2 ½” x 3 ¼”. It’s my hope that the soldiers would slip them into their wallet as a reminder of our gratitude.

You can of course, transform these tiny canvases into works of art. The 10 designs that I created are just a stepping stone for your creativity. Add anything you’d like to them, fabrics, small trims, journaling, paint, glitter and the like. But think of the recipient – mostly male with limited storage areas. I’m keeping my gratitude cards flat with the hope they’ll fit in a wallet.

Can’t wait to see if you’ll join us in this drive. Just ship to Project Gratitude, Designs in Machine Embroidery, 2517 Manana Dr., Dallas, TX 75220. We’ll handle the shipping to our servicemen and women.  If you have any questions, email us at troops@dzgns.com

The holiday wrapping paper is put away, and the last remnants of the holiday cookies are but crumbs…New Years has come and gone. Gym memberships sky rocket this time of year as many make their New Year resolutions. Have you made yours? Are you sticking with it? Let us know by posting a comment and you’ll be entered to win a set of Black and White Dots Stitchable Notecards.

Do you need a resolution you can stick to? Join our campaign—Project Gratitude! We are asking everyone to stitch a Gratitude Card for the troops. We talked about cleaning out our sewing space last week. I bet everyone has a stash of scraps perfect for this project.

Last week we asked you about getting ready for the new year.  The winner of the Embroidery Headquarters Hoop Stand is…Beth!

“I get a renewed sense of energy in my sewing room every time I complete a project!  It makes me feel great to see a final product, and gives me energy to tackle another one (perhaps even one more difficult than what I just finished). 

I also get a feeling of renewal with each change of the season – when Christmas is over, I know I won’t finish that project to display this time, so I can put it away and pull out the Valentine’s project.  Same thing in mid-February – time to work on Easter projects!”

Congratulations, Beth!



Stitching on Fur

It’s that time of year….surely someone has asked you to personalize a Christmas stocking. Did you agree? Do you wish you hadn’t? Afraid to tackle the long, furry fibers of faux fur? There’s still time to do the job correctly. Let’s take a look at the biggest challenge when stitching on fur. The fibers are long and tend to creep over the embroidery. So as a defense, there are a few things you can do.

Select a simple font – the less curly cues the better. The nap of the fur has a tendency to obscure small scroll letters with tiny openings so go for a bold look – easily achieved in plain block letters with wide satin columns. I have two designs for you, JOY in upper case block letters. Just hoop and stitch – you’ll have no trouble with long fibers of the fur.

If you must use a script font, tame the fur. You can do that by sculpting the fur after the embroidery is complete or stitching a fill shape before adding the beautiful lettering.

You can see how this message of peace is not coming across very clearly.

To sculpt the fur, use scissors or Peggy’s Stitch Eraser. Trim the fur along the embroidery – make sure you don’t snip the embroidery threads. Lift the fur away from the embroidery with the blades and slice the excess. Basically, you want to give it a bad haircut because a too-defined cut will be very visible.

Here you’ll notice I’ve trimmed the c and e but the fur is still covering the beginning of the word. 

Now, the entire word has been trimmed and looks pretty good!

If trimming the fur makes you a little nervous (I know – all that time invested in the project then yikes – one bad slice might ruin the whole thing!), then stitch the fill shape first.

The Peace design has some small openings (in the P, e and a) that will be obscured by the fur once the stitching is complete. I added a low-density fill area that is the same shape of the design. When stitched first in the same color thread as the fur, the stitches fade into the fur and become invisible BUT they hold down the nap and let the letters take center stage. Cool, eh? I learned that trick from our Ask the Expert columnist, Deborah Jones.

Here’s an image of the fill design stitched in pale gold (so you can see it). Of course, you’ll stitch it in the same color as the fur because you want it to blend with the background. Then just stitch the letters.

Hoop and Stitch
Hoop adhesive tear-away stabilizer. Finger press the cuff to the sticky surface. Keep the straight edge of the cuff parallel to the inside of the hoop. This will ensure your cuff is square in the hoop. Place a piece of regular weight, film-type, water soluble stabilizer over the design area if stitching JOY. This stabilizer adds lift to the embroidery design helping to raise it above the nap of the fur. It also tames the fur during the embroidery process and keeps the fibers straight. No need to add this step when stitching Peace. The low density fill background handles that job. Stitch the design.

Remove the cuff from the sticky stabilizer and gently tear away the excess water soluble stabilizer. No need to rinse it away (in fact, that may damage the faux fur), just tear.

Download the designs in a zip file by clicking here!

So tell us –how many handmade gifts are you creating this holiday season. And what are you creating? Are you pulling your hair out or enjoying the process of creating for someone special?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a great stabilizer pack which includes 10 8″ x 10″ sheets of each:

Sulky Totally Stable – Iron-On, Tear-Away Stabilizer

Sulky Solvy – Water Soluble Stabilizer

and Sulky Sticky + – Self-Adhesive, Tear-Away Stabilizer

Last giveaway blog post (2 weeks ago!) we asked what you wanted for Christmas.  The winner of the The Denim Fashion Guide is…Carol Seavitt!  She said…

Thread….I LOVE THREAD….and if Santa would be so kind to give me a complete set of embroidery thread….what a blessing this would be.”

Congrats, Carol!

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