Posts Tagged ‘hoop’

I can’t wait to meet you!

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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.

Upscale Bed Linens – Tips for stitching gorgeous machine embroidery designs on sheets

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I love embroidered bed linens. They are such a treat to slide between as you end a long day. Here are some tips for stitching gorgeous machine embroidery designs on sheets.

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Tips for Success

• Take the time to prepare the design and the sheets. It’s well worth the effort.

• Purchase an extra pillowcase to test the design before stitching on the sheets.

• Open the band before embroidering to hide the wrong side of the embroidery.

• My stabilizer of choice for sheets is fusible polymesh cut-away stabilizer with a layer of tear-away floating under the hoop. Fine linens are a tight weave and benefit from a strong foundation for the embroidery.

• Insert a new, sharp needle.

• Consider adding a single-letter monogram to the center of the band. Then stitch from the center to the edge on each side.

• Allow some space at each end of the border for some breathing room (aka – room for error).

Here’s a case for prewashing the sheets. Normally, I don’t prewash blanks but sheets really benefit from this prep step. It eliminates the unwanted puckers that often appear after laundering embroidered linens.

Measure the band – from folded edge to stitch line and from selvedge to selvedge. If the band measures 4” (a common size), select a design that is 3” in height so that there will be ½” open space on each side of the design. Once you select a machine embroidery design that is 3” tall, make a note of its length. My design is 3” x 5” and my queen top sheet measures 90” from selvedge to selvedge. I’ll divide 90” by 5”. I’ll need 18 repeats to fill the band.

Hmm…90” is perfectly divided by 5 into 18 repeats. Frankly, that scares me because I’ll have to be absolutely perfect on placement for each of the 18 designs. So I’ll take a little artistic license here and set myself up for success by planning on stitching only 17 repeats. Not only will this relieve some stress, it will probably look more pleasing because the center of a design will be dead center on the band and not the join of two designs. Definitely more desirable in my opinion.

Not that I know how many repeats I’ll need, I will take a seam ripper to the band and release the hem. I know, reverse sewing but it’s so worth it. Next, it’s time to carefully press the band but I will leave the crease of the fold in place because it’s a built-in guideline for squaring the band (sheet) in the hoop.

Cut the fusible polymesh stabilizer into 4” strips and press it to the wrong side of the band.

Fold the sheet in half, selvedge to selvedge to find the center and place a target sticker to mark the center.

Print two templates of the design. Place one template on the target sticker. Make sure the template’s crosshair is aligned with the target sticker’s crosshair. Use a ruler to verify the design is flanked by ½” on each side (from fold crease to hemline).

Select a hoop that will accommodate the design – one or two repeats. Hoop the band with tear-away stabilizer. Center the needle over the target sticker and embroider the design. Place the template on the band, connecting the image to the stitched design. Move the needle to the template’s crosshair. Remove the template and embroider the design.

When it’s time to rehoop, use the template and folded crease to square the sheet in the hoop and continue to fill the band with embroidery.

Next week, we’ll look at some tips at the machine to ensure a beautiful continuous line of embroidery.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

This week’s giveaway is sponsored by Urban Threads!  They are generously giving away a $100.00 gift certificate to!  What is your favorite home decor blank to stitch on?  Do you prefer towels, bed linens, table linens…?  Share with us your favorite by leaving a comment and you’ll be entered to win!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Last week we wanted to know what type of fabric you have a hard time stitching on.  The winner of Machine Embroidery on Difficult Materials is…Katrina H!  She said…

“I always have issues with different weights of cotton. Each one has a different hand. But I’ve had more success using an iron-on tearaway to help stabilize the stitches.”

Congrats, Katrina!

That Eileen! She gets me every time…

Guest post by Katherine Artines –

There I was on the first morning of International Quilt Market in Houston last Fall, excited about being there, ready to go on the floor the next day to gather up inspiration like someone spilled M&M’s in front of me, sitting in her schoolhouse daydreaming, when WHAM!

Eileen showed the group a wonderfully colorful quilt made from her newest Stipple! design pack—Stipple! All Seasons Borders.  Whereas everyone present “ooooooo’ed” and “ahhhhhhhhhhhh’ed” as the quilt so rightly deserved, in my mind’s eye, the quilt sprouted sleeves, trimmed itself to a V-neckline, and shaped into a striped jacket.

That Eileen! She gets me every time.

When I went looking for the base fabrics, I knew I wanted to wear the jacket in the warmer weather (June, for those of us who live in Erie, PA!), and I loved the bright look of Eileen’s color choices.  All the border designs were going to have lots of colors in all those appliqués, and I found just the thing to anchor them all together with the “tooty-fruity” irregular stripes and a white background with lime green metallic dots from my stash.

I was off and running…. Well, off and embroidering!

You can read about the construction of the jacket with the various stipple borders in the Volume 68 May/June issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery. If you’re an embroidery software geek like I am, you’ll want to check out the detailed article on how I created the triangle edge treatment with an in-the-hoop solution (*/*/9065   Click on “Download the Software Technique” on the right column).

I love using embroidery software. When I have a “what if” moment, it is usually followed with a “how can I” moment. I wanted to make a border of triangles for the entire perimeter of the jacket, but, UGH! That’s a lot of triangles that have to be exactly the same size. Yes, there are a number of tools out there that quilters use to do half-square triangles; instead, I put my software and my hoops to work to do the repetitive, utility part of this job.

I’m not a quilter—don’t really want to spend my time making my points match—but I do love the patterns. That’s why I’m such a Stipple! fan. The blocks are easy to embroider and are a great size for wearables. If you’ve seen some of my previous articles in Designs, you know that I used them to make entire jackets or just a few to enhance a project.  

At a conference last August, Eileen gave me a “sneak peek” of her upcoming book featuring new Stipple! designs that were FAB –U-LOUS and set my mind whirling. I can’t wait to add to my wardrobe!

That Eileen! She gives me cool things to play with.

– Katherine A.

Royal Monograms

I’m not really a news junkie but you’d have to be living in a cave to miss the hype on the Royal Wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton. In case you don’t know, the nuptials will occur on April 29th. So it seems the perfect time to address monograms – royal monograms.

I did a bit of research and learned that royal tradition puts the groom’s first name initial, first, followed by the bride’s first name initial which, in this case, would be WC, the abbreviation for Water Closet. Because of that unseemly reference, the young couple has bucked tradition and is using CW for horizontal monograms and a stacked monogram (C above the W) on vertical monograms.

Of course where there is hype, you will usually find commemorative items. The Royal Palace is no different. The Royal Collection has launched an official range of china to mark the forthcoming wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton. The English fine bone china set displays a delicate C centered vertically between a W and a crown.

I’ve also spotted some ‘unofficial’ souvenirs such as this gorgeous decorative plate.

And a pill box by Wedgewood which is sticking with tradition and ignoring any unintentional reference.

Since monogramming is a subject dear to embroiderers’ hearts, I decided to go to our industry’s leader in historic lettering, Richards Jarden, owner of EmbroideryArts, for his view on the couple’s monogram. EmbroideryArts’ website states, “The Gold standard for monograms in the embroidery industry.” If you need a machine embroidery font that stitches brilliantly, they are your go-to source.

I was interested in Richards’ approach to the royal monogram because of his expertise in lettering and his personal style. He is a contemplative person and approaches tasks with curiosity. And he usually knows where to go for the answers. In this case, he had an email exchange with Helen Faulkner – wife of David Beevers, the Keeper of the Royal Pavillion, Brighton and learned that there has been no official announcement on the bucking of tradition for the couple’s monogram.

Richards stated, “The intertwined monogram on the Royal Wedding commemorative items for sale is fine – stately, traditional, serious.

No one asked me to design one for them, but if I did it would be interesting to try to incorporate some aspects of the couple themselves:

* She: a regular person, college graduate, has worked as an accessories buyer in the clothing industry. Fashion conscious, fashion icon. 5’10” tall.

* He: a member of the British Royal Family, Kings and Queens for the past 1140 years.
College graduate. President of the Football Association, the governing body of English professional soccer. 6’3″ tall.

Overall, a vertical monogram seems appropriate. The initial C comes from our Arabesque Monogram Set 7 – symmetrical, graceful, with a stylish but not too feminine quality.  The W comes from our Diamond Monogram Set 6 – balanced, traditional with a modern, tall stature.  The crown is from another source.”

As embroiderers we are often asked to create monograms for engaged couples. It is our duty to help the couple select their style and critique any improper message the newly-combined initials may portray. Every couple’s monogram is important and will be reflective of their style for many years to come, so take some time to create a beautiful stamp.

For instance, a young conservative English couple, Kevin and Olivia, may need some guidance when selecting their machine embroidery monogram. As OK is probably not a combo they want to see splashed on every towel, plate and glass in their home. A little creative machine embroidery layout is required here to come up with an appropriate monogram for them. Here’s a few suggestions:

I always take into consideration the 6 F’s of monogramming: Fabric, Fit, Feel, Format, Font and Finish. Not every font will work on every fabric, fit in every space, portray the right mood and send the right message. Take your time and use exceptional lettering – it’s worth it!

Have you had to create challenging machine embroidery monogram? Share your dilemma with us.

Last week we asked why you needed a vacation.  The winner of the tote bag full of spa essential items from Discount Embroidery Blanks is…Margaret Grice!

“I NEED a vacation beacuse I am a fifth grade teacher and anyone who has had a fifth grader knows the trial and troubles of the end of the fifth grade year. Hormones are running rampant and they are ready for the end of the year. Only good thing is I get end of year too and I will have more time to sew and embroidery. Help!”

Congratulations, Margaret!

Everyone needs a vacation

Yikes! Gloria from sent me a frantic email yesterday telling me the ship is going to sell out for the July 10, 2011 sailing. She said if you know anyone who wants to sail with us, they need to book soon. It’s been a long, hard winter for most of the US and I’ll bet most of you are ready for some fun.

My Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno and I can’t wait to hit the high seas and stitch with an ocean view. I know Marie really needs a vacation because her commercial embroidery business, Sew Creative, has been swamped with Spring sports orders. Last week, she stitched 90 hats on Monday, 133 team shirts on Tuesday, 60 umpire shirts on Wednesday, then had her usual orders of baby and wedding shower gifts, followed by 34 coaches’ left chest and sleeve embroidery. And her son is the second baseman for their high school team and her daughter plays lacrosse – both teams in full swing right now. She is in desperate need of a vacation. Does this sound like you?

I, on the other hand, just love the ocean. I love moving across the surface of the ocean whether that movement is powered by arms, legs, jets skis, water skis, an Evenrude outboard, a canvas sail or a large ship. I want to smell the salt air. I want to feel the ocean breeze. I want to enjoy the sun.

Oh wait, I don’t do the suntan thing anymore (so bad for you). So my next favorite thing to do besides play in the water is play in the sewing room! I couldn’t think of a better way to combine my two loves (water and sewing) without any danger.

And since we are only allowing a small number of students into the workshop, it will be a week of stitching heaven. Very personalized attention, we have over seven projects planned for the cruise. Attendees will use top-of-line Baby Lock machines – one student per machine. Students will be pampered with personal attention from our first mate, Gilligan (ok, he has a real name – Scott Goodman – but we’re going to make him wear that white hat and blue-white rugby shirt), a Baby Lock educator and Marie and I.

We’ll machine embroider on pashminas, terry cloth, waffle weave cotton, make a quilted purse, master continuous embroidery, stitch a lace t-shirt, create a charming pin cushion (bet you can’t just make one!) and more. So if you’ve been hankering for a vacation, join us! It will be delightful. Click here for more information or call Gloria at 888-719-7698. You can reach Gilligan, er, Scott at 866-429-3432.

If you want to join us and plan on bringing an embroidered terry cloth cover-up, here’s a few tips on stitching on that troublesome fabric.

Magnetic Hoops

Luscious towels are often impossible to hoop in standard tools with tear-away stabilizer. I opt for Magna-Hoop Jumbo. The industrial-strength magnets hold any towel with a strong grip – perfect for robes, hand or bath towels. Just hoop the towel with tear-away and machine embroider.

Standard Hoops

Perfect towels are achieved by using a trio of stabilizers when hooping in a standard hoop. The combination of an adhesive tear-away; a low-tack, iron-on tear-away and a water soluble film-type stabilizer tames the bulky nature of terry cloth and protects the easily damaged fibers.


Use the adhesive to avoid hooping the bulky towel and the low-tack, iron-on tear-away to protect the terry cloth’s loops from touching the sticky adhesive. The terry’s loops are often distorted when pulled away from the adhesive stabilizer so iron the low-tack stabilizer onto the back of the design area and finger press that to the sticky surface. Lastly, film-type water soluble stabilizer helps keep the embroidery thread from sinking into the lush fibers of the terry cloth.


Properly digitized machine embroidery fonts are critical to embroidering the perfect towel. You need a font that has been designed to hold down the nap of the terry cloth throughout the life of the towel to ensure luxurious results after repeated washings.

Water soluble toppers disappear when laundered leaving the terry’s loops to work their way through the embroidery. Double underlay on embroidery designs will permanently solve that problem. If you’re working with a design that you can not manipulate in digitizing software, use bridal tulle as a topper. Matching the tulle to the towel ensures the tulle to fade into the background but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how cleanly tulle rips away from satin stitches.

The combination of the right hoop, stabilizers and digitized fonts are the tools you need for successfully machine embroidery on terry cloth every time.

This week’s giveaway is sponsored by Discount Embroidery Blanks.  They are generously giving away a tote bag full of spa essential items just begging for your personal touch!  Leave a comment telling us why you need a vacation and you’ll be entered to win!

Last week we asked you about your favorite planning tips for machine embroidery.  The winner of the Magna Hoop is…Karin!  She said…

“I always lay out my item or garment, then audition the colors by laying the spools of thread out on top of the item in the order they’re called for. That way, I get to see if the colors all play nicely together and stand out or fade into the item.”

Congratulations, Karin!

Top 10 Tips for Machine Embroidery Fashions

1. Find a focal point. Examine the garment to determine if there’s a design detail that could serve as the starting or focal point for the embroidery. On this plain sheath, the slit is the only detail. I can choose to accent it or ignore it.

2. Sketch a few possibilities. You don’t have to be an artist. You can trace a similar garment from a pattern or catalog. You only need the basic shape and some dots, squiggles and lines to simulate the embroidery.

3. Print templates of the embroidery design(s). Never take a stitch without seeing the design in actual size on paper. Any embroidery software is capable of producing a template. Just go to File, Print. Consider using transparencies or vellum for translucent templates. Otherwise, cut the templates out paper-doll style. The template must have a center crosshair with an arrow designating the top of the embroidery design. If your templates do not have those markings, add them by drawing a crosshair with a ruler and marker. Place one arrow head at the vertical line pointing towards the top of the design.

4. Audition the templates on the garment. Tape the templates on the garment while wearing the garment or using a dress form. It’s very important to ‘see’ the embroidery on the figure. Garments laid on flat surface appear to be much larger than the actually are. Machine embroidery placement is often skewed when decided on flat garments. Take the time to plan the layout correctly.

5. Experiement with the layout by making subtle changes in placement. Take caution when placing templates around the bust line and hips. These are danger areas and can draw unwanted attention (or add girth) to the figure. Sometimes, all that is needed is a small adjustment, such as moving a flower 2” above the bust point. Use a digital camera to record your progress, review the images to decide which placement is best.

If some designs stitch on top of others, write numbers on each template to indicate the stitching sequence.

6. Play with scale. Machine embroidery designs in a variety of sizes create a more interesting layout than repeating the same size design.

7. Add contrast with color, sparkle and shine. If you match the embroidery thread to the base fabric, what’s the point of stitching all of those designs? Separate the embroidery from the fabric by selecting threads that are a different value or color from the base. Incorporate a little splash with metallic threads or crystals. Sparkle gets the eye in a subtle way, remember less is more here.

8. Don’t overlook the power of appliqué. Machine embroidery applique comes in many forms, you can always find one method that works on your fabric. It can pack a powerful punch when dealing with delicate fabrics like lightweight knits, and sheers. It’s a great alternative to high stitch count designs.

9. Include decorative stitching. Want to make your embroidery look like you had an embroidery machine with a 3 ft. sewing field? Just connect the embroidery designs with decorative stitching or satin stitching. In this cover garment, flowers were sprinkled on the bodice then down the sleeve. I satin-stitched the stems to fill the area. Simple to do and very pleasing to the eye.

10. Plan the Process. Once you’ve gone through the first 9 steps, you’ll know what to stitch first, second and third. This embroidery layout plan or schematic will guide you through the whole project. If you get interrupted before completing the project, you’ll know just what to do when you return.

Do you have any favorite tips for planning your embroidery projects? Tell us what works for you when planning a machine embroidery project and you’ll be entered to win a Magna-Hoop!

Last we asked you to tell us about your shopping experiences.  The winner of last weeks bundle which includes Boatload of Bags and Contemporary Machine Embroidered Accessories is…Bridget Cheatham!

“I LOVE purses…currently I probably have about twenty in my closet! I have all styles and colors (as I like to have something appropriate for different outfits) but only when I started designing and sewing my own bags did I get something that felt truly “me”. I use my bought handbags as inpiration and combine my favorite details from each to make something unique and useful.”

Congrats, Bridget!

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.”


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 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!

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!

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!

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