Posts Tagged ‘sewing with nancy’

Will the person with the initials SFN please step forward?

Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogWill the person with the initials SFN please step forward?  We have a free towel to give you!

Here’s an unusual problem you have probably never encountered:   we end up with some unusual embroidered samples in our offices!  No, we didn’t randomly pick SFN.  This towel has an exciting history.  It was used on the set of Sewing with Nancy!

I was tapped to demonstrate one of my favorite sewing tips in a brief 5-minute segment on Sewing with Nancy. I selected the initials because well, frankly, they’re beautiful! After all, how many ERs and NZs can one embroider? The filming went off without a hitch and now the towel sits in my sample room begging for a more elegant resting spot. And now that it’s served its purpose, we’d love to see it go to a better home.  So if your name is:

  • Sarah Francesca Norris
  • Sally Florence Nicholas
  • Samuel Filipe Nunez
  • Steven Frank Nelson

Or any other wonderful name with the initials SFN, we want to hear from you!  We will ship anywhere in the continental US.  One random person with the correct initials will be selected as the lucky recipient of the towel.  Now you might be asking, how will we verify if you have the right initials?  This will be the honor system.  Besides, how many of us want a towel with someone else’s initials hanging from our towel rack?  Looks a bit suspicious to me! Although it’s not uncommon to collect and display vintage linens adorned with a variety of initials.

If it has been awhile since you’ve reviewed monogramming etiquette and you’re wondering about the proper order for initials—here’s a quick review.

If the embroidered initials are the same size, arrange them:  first name initial, middle name initial, last name initial.

If the middle initial is larger, then it is the last name and should be placed in the center.  first name initial, last name initial, middle name initial.

While these are the standard recommendations, you are welcome to exercise creative license!  Just always be sure to make sure the initials don’t spell something unexpected that won’t be appreciated.

Here are some additional blog posts on Monograms:

Monograms for Men

Lowercase Monograms

Monograms for Today’s Marriages


Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine


I never thought I’d write a book on crazy quilting but last spring I was inspired to explore the combination of piecing in the hoop and decorative stitches. It didn’t take much to leap into crazy quilting. After all, what’s not to love? It’s a time-honored technique coupled with today’s technology. Its ‘crazy’ moniker comes from the use of scraps and often includes whimsical embellishments.  Crazy quilting has something for everyone. It appeals to quilters – the piecing part; embroiderers – the use of luscious designs in colorful threads; the thrifty – great way to use up scraps of all fiber types; and the splurger: new charms, buttons, ribbons and other tidbits are just waiting to be included in a crazy quilt block.

Technique-wise, the ‘crazier’ the block, the more tasks involved in completing the block. So in Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine you’ll find three levels of difficulty: Level 1 is piecing in the hoop with colorful fabrics; Level 2 includes the addition of accent designs to the patches and Level 3 is where the crazy kicks in with buttons, yarns, ribbons, charms and more.  It’s hard to know when to stop once you reach Level 3.

Level 1

Level 1


Level 2

Level 2



Level 3

If quilt blocks aren’t your thing, then you’ll enjoy three in-the-hoop projects: a wristlet, eyeglass case and small clutch. All small canvases to display your crazy stitches.  The wristlet was just the right size project for teaching on TV with my dear friend Nancy Zieman.


We taped the Today’s Crazy Quilting series on Sewing with Nancy in September and it’s live now. You can watch online here if you don’t have it on your local channel.

When you watch, look for Nancy’s crazy quilt stitched by her great grandmother, Alice Lea Larson in 1920.  Nancy shares her story of this wonderful family heirloom that has been lovingly restored by Nancy.

Although it’s a fun day with Nancy at Wisconsin Public Television, my favorite part of the week is the prep at her office the day before taping.  That’s when we get all of our ducks in a row.  Nancy is a visionary and literally ‘sees’ the taping once she understands the technique that we’re teaching.  She works out the schedule and timing of the telecast while I work on the samples.  Once we have a firm outline, all hands pitch in to finish the samples.  And when 5:00 rolls around, everything is done and ready for tomorrow’s early wake-up call.  CQBlog1

To document my visit to the studio, I had a staff member take some photographs with my camera. When I reviewed the images on the plane ride home, I realized I didn’t have one ‘serious’ shot. Oh no, I had images of smiling faces both on camera and behind the camera! The true spirit of crazy quilting.

Nancy and I cracking up on set.

Nancy and I cracking up on set.

Cassie Kienert on camera and Leslie Fitzsimmons in her true form.

Cassie Kienert on camera and Leslie Fitzsimmons in her true form.

It was well, crazy! Hope you enjoy the Sewing with Nancy series, Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine. You can watch here.

Don’t just take my word for it, read Nancy’s take on the series on her blog:

Here’s your assignment this week:
Tell us your favorite stitch you use when crazy quilting. Once random comment will be chosen to get their very own autographed copy of Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine by Eileen Roche! Thanks for reading and good luck!CrazyQuilting
The winner of last week’s assignment:
If you had a day all to yourself to spend on a project, what would it be?  Leave a comment and one lucky winner will receive an autographed copy of my latest book, Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine (to be released January 2, 2015).

And the winner is the Pam C. – “If I had an entire day to myself I would get lost in finding inspiration for my craft. I work full time and even though my kids are grown I still don’t get much alone time. So, to have a day to get lost in thought without any interruption would be a dream. Congratulations Pam!


Handbags You Can Knockoff

Handbags 2

Nancy Zieman and I have seen so many versions of Designer Handbags (our first handbag embroidery collection and book), we decided to create a second series, Designer Knockoffs, Handbags 2.  This collection focuses on trendy grommets, beautiful and functional pockets plus in-the-hoop techniques. I have to admit, I love these new bags!  Let me show you my favorite details.

The grommets are highlighted by subtle embroidered details while precisely stitched cut lines are hidden underneath the grommets. This combo of function and beauty guarantees success for all embroiderers and produces extremely professional results.

I think many of you would agree that the best part of making your own bag is customizing it to your needs. Nancy shares her coveted technique for making interior pockets and I love how my personal items – cellphone, nail file, pen and more – each have a special storage spot, nestled under a monogrammed label! Love that! Interior Pocket

If you’re a fan of exterior pockets, then you’ll enjoy a roomy exterior pocket like the Scallop lace pocket – created in the hoop.  It looks complicated but I’ve added some key elements to make the continuous embroidery easy to duplicate. I share two continuous embroidery techniques in the book – applicable to any embroidery machine. Scalloped Pocket

In addition to the book, Nancy invited me to teach the whole process on Sewing with Nancy. You can watch online here. Of course, what you see on television doesn’t reveal all of the prep that goes into taping or writing or book. And it always seems to start with my suitcase practically imploding in Nancy’s office. Truth be told, there’s nothing glamorous about this career. Even the airline employees shake their head when see how many bags I check for such short journeys!  Packed suitcase

But once it’s all sorted out in the conference room, we make a list and then divide and conquer. Sorting

Nancy handles the script and tricky sewing details and I man the embroidery machine.Embroidery machine

After a bit, okay – HOURS of stitching, we’re ready to pack the van to head to the studio. Van

And before you know it, we’re sitting on the set of Sewing with Nancy. Sewing with Nancy

And now Designer Knockoffs, Handbags 2, is available for you to watch and make your own bags. I can’t wait to see the fabrics and grommets you select.  Before you get started, tell me what your favorite bag is: the red diamond bag, teal scallop pocket purse, the green starburst bag or the small clutch.  Two lucky winners will get an autographed copy of Designer Knockoffs, Handbags 2.  Bags-1

Here’s your assignment this week:

Tell me which of the bags above is your favorite; the red diamond, teal scallop pocket purse, green starburst or the small clutch. Two lucky winners will get an autographed copy of Designer Knockoffs, Handbags 2! Good luck.

The winner of last week’s assignment:

Thanks for the help with my holiday linen update! Leave a question below that you’d like me to answer. I’ll answer one random question and award an open flat stocking you can personalize this holiday season. Good luck!

The winner is Gail M.

Q: When will “Sewing with Nancy” broadcast the Handbags 2 Designer Knockoffs? It was advertised in the latest issue of your magazine that it was to be broadcast on November 24th. It was not on her show last Saturday up here in Michigan.

A: Gail you can watch the show now online, just click here. And congratulations on winning the flat stocking!

Six Easy Steps

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

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

Here’s what you’ll find inside:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s your assignment this week:

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


The winner of last week’s assignment is:

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

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

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


No need to limit yourself to cotton!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Part two of the Designer Handbags series on Sewing with Nancy is on the website. Watch how easy it is to finish the bag after the embroidery is complete.

As you watch, you’ll notice we used cotton quilting fabrics for the bags. But you’re not limited to those fabrics. In fact, almost any fabric will work since it’s the interfacing that gives the bag body.

Recently I raided the home décor aisle in my local fabric store and scored two awesome fabrics. I selected an animal print canvas along with a brick-patterned polyester. The results are two totally different looks. The animal print is great for everyday use; I used headliner fabric for the interfacing and really enjoy the soft feel of this bag. I didn’t bother making a tab closure but opted to add a ribbon-embellished zipper. You’ll see the how-to steps for this bag in the January/February 2012 issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery (shipping now).

The more formal brick-patterned polyester fabric called for a more serious approach. So I used Peltex craft interfacing and ultra-suede scraps for the tab, corner trims and strap connectors. The result? A proper bag appropriate for business meetings and ventures into the city. I’ve been stopped twice by strangers asking where I bought this bag. Wow! What a compliment!

I am having so much fun making handbags. I love the professional finish of each one and yet they are all so different. I love how just a bit of fabric is needed for each project and I get to use scraps for some of the elements. I love how the bags can be any size I need and any style that I envision. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with these ideas.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Tell me what Nancy Zieman uses to press the seams on her Designer Handbag and you could win a copy of Designer Handbags. Does she use a clapper, a seam roll, a wooden dowel or a pressing ham? Leave your comment and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Designer Handbags.

Designer Handbags by Nancy Zieman and Eileen Roche

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

If you’ve been browsing the pages of Designs Nov/Dec. 2011 issue, you’re probably wondering what happened to Platinum Embroidery’s ad on page 81. It wasn’t a typo, Platinum Embroidery wanted their ad displayed in that manner. Tell me what was different about their ad and you could win a $35.00 gift certificate to Designs’ website. Hope you win!

And the winner is… Rachel D.  

“The ad is upside down. It’s an awesome way to grab your attention!” – Rachel D.

Congratulations Rachel!

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.

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!