Posts Tagged ‘stabilizer’

Fusible Web

I have a love-hate relationship with fusible web. I like to add it to the wrong side of applique fabrics, even those that will be finished with a satin edge. I love the insurance fusible web provides through the life of the garment because the applique will not work itself away from the base fabric. That’s the love part.

The hate part? The application. I always seem to struggle with fusible web. I apply the heat, let it cool (well, almost let it cool) then disaster strikes. It doesn’t release properly – oh no, part of the paper peels off with a good bit of the adhesive still stuck on it. In fact, it now looks like a hot mess – adhesive is no longer a smooth sheet – nah, it’s a jumbled mess. I hate this! I curse the manufacturer of the fusible web, (how can they put their name on this product!). I blame the store where I bought it (surely they’ve had this bolt in inventory for a century).

I stalk out of the sewing room and hit the chocolate stash. After a few moments, I realize I’m still in love with the fabrics. I still need to finish my project. I still have to get this figured out NOW!

So I walk back into the sewing room and assess the damage. Hmm. Maybe it wasn’t the fusible web. Maybe it was the iron. Oh yes…hmmm….I was supposed to apply DRY heat. Not steam. And let it cool – completely cool – before removing the protective paper.

But my iron is full of water. And when I switch it to no steam, steam still escapes, apparently too much for this task! Then it dawns on me, I need two irons in my sewing room!

I can hear you laughing as you read this, “Really? It took you 20+ years to figure this out?” I now have two irons on my board. Yep, one full of water set for steam and the other one – DRY – forever!

Embarrassingly, I actually had two irons in the sewing room. The second one was deposited by one of my college students who didn’t need it any longer. And it just sat on a shelf. Not anymore – it’s hobnobbing with its steamy partner on the ironing board – a lasting marriage. And they are both labeled. This leaves no doubt if a family member pops into the sewing room to use the iron.

Irons

Here’s what I learned from this sticky situation: read and follow the manufacturer’s directions. They really do know best.

Investing in duplicate tools makes sense – it saves you time and sanity!

Finally, label your tools – it keeps everyone in the house on the same page.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Look around your sewing room and tell us what your most unorganized area is. Don’t be shy! One lucky comment will be chosen to win the latest Stipple! Sassy Cats by Katherine Artines.

DME Blog-Ad

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

What a fascinating woman! Tell us what your favorite pastime is besides embroidery and 2 winners will be selected to win a $25 gift certificate to the Kreations by Kara website. Good luck!

DME Blog-Ad

And the winners are…Debbie P and Cindy M. Congratulations!

Upscale Bed Linens

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.

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.

 

Here’s your assignment this week:

Can you find the hidden hearts in this image? Tell us how many hidden hearts you see and one lucky winner will be chosen randomly to receive $25 off at the DIME website. Happy heart hunting!

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Take a look around at the new website and let us know what you think. Leave your comments below and one random comment will be selected to receive a $25 gift certficate to spend on the new DIME website!

And the winner is…Carolyn H. “Very nice! It looks quite modern.”

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.

[egg id="0"]

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 urbanthreads.com!  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!

Everyone needs a vacation

Yikes! Gloria from http://www.cruise-consultants.com 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.

Stabilizer

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.

Fonts

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!

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!

Why I love the basting feature

I am a new fan of the basting feature. What’s to love? Two things, it firmly attaches the item to the stabilizer and is a fabulous alignment tool when mishaps occur.

If you’re hooping stabilizer and fabric, then attaching the fabric to the stabilizer with a basting stitch is probably not necessary. If you’re using adhesives or a magnetic hoop inserts such as Magna Hoop, then the basting feature is added security.

Regardless of what hoop you’re using there is always the possibility of trouble ahead. Trouble? What trouble? Well, let’s see, bird nesting, empty bobbin (I know the machine is supposed to tell you before that happens), fabric pops out of the hoop, thread gets tangles around the foot or stitched over the foot (oh yes, I have seen it all!). Regardless of what caused the trouble, often the next step is to remove the hoop from the machine before completing the design. And possibly, removing the fabric from the hoop. AAAAAAHHHH! Many times, when this happens, you scrap the project and start over.

But if a basting file was stitched first, you have a very good chance of getting everything aligned in the hoop.

First, make a note of the stitch number when the snafu occurred. Write it down. Also write down the location and rotation of the design.

Fix the problem. Reattach the hoop to the machine. If the needle is centered over the last stitch, you might be in good shape. Travel back through the design a few stitches and see if the needle is centered over the stitches. If so, advance to the last stitch and complete the design.

If not, go to the first stitch of the design – the basting stitches. Travel through the basting stitches and watch where the foot is located in reference to the stitched outline.

Rehoop the fabric to align the foot with the stitched outline or rotate the design and continue the process. The real proof is when you travel around the corner of the basting line. The basting file is a square or rectangle and as long as the needle is centered over one horizontal and one vertical line, your design will be aligned.

If you’re using a flat magnetic hoop it’s so simple to realign the fabric. Just lift the top frame and slide the fabric into the proper position.

Once you’ve confirmed the needle is aligned with the basting line, advance to the last stitch and complete the design.

Basting outlines are like auto insurance, you can drive without it but if you have an accident you’re really in trouble.

What’s your favorite machine feature?

 Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a $100.00 shopping spree to Embroidery Library! Thank you, Embroidery Library for sponsoring this weeks giveaway!

Last week we asked you what your favorite “Nancy technique” was.  The winner of the Designer Necklines is…Susan Cira!

“Hard to pick my favorite “Nancy’s Hint” but I’ll pick how to pivot & slide a pants pattern to make them longer. I’m taller than average & the main reason I originally learned to sew was to have slacks that were long enough. I was doing it wrong until Nancy showed the easy way.”

Congratulations, Susan!

Want to see more of these techniques in action? Join me on the West Coast for a Stitching Sister event at AAA Sewing & Vacuum Ctr. in Torrance, CA. My sister, Marie, and I tackle 55 techniques over two days. Call 310-791-1190 or click here for more information http://aaasewingandvacuum.com/



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!

25 Little Steps Lead to Perfection

Sometimes I rush through an embroidery project and don’t take the time to think through each step of the process. Often, this is how mistakes are made. Print this checklist and keep it by your machine as a reminder of the 25 little steps you should take to ensure your embroidery comes out beautifully.

1. Change your needle

2. Use a full sheet of stabilizer not a pieced, taped, glued piece.

3. Clean your bobbin case.

4. Insert a new bobbin.

5. Check your hoop and remove any sticky residue.

6. Select the design and hoop.

7. Print template(s) of the design(s).

8. Place the templates on the garment/item and slide target stickers under the crosshairs.

9. Shoot a digital image of the templates in place in case they become separated from the fabric during the embroidery process.

10. Lay the selected threads on the fabric and view the combination.

11. Stitch a sample of the design on similar (weight, fiber and color) fabric.

12. Listen to the machine. Trouble often lurks around the corner but you can hear it coming your way before disaster strikes. By now, you should be familiar with the machine’s cyclical hum so if you hear something out of the ordinary, stop the machine and investigate.

13. Take a hard look at the test sample and determine if any changes are needed. The fabric should lay flat, outlines should match up, fabric should not bleed through the design (unless specifically digitized for that look) and the colors should be pleasing.

14. Hoop the fabric with stabilizer (if possible). Run your finger across the hooped fabric and make sure it doesn’t snowplow (form ridges in front of your finger). If it does, rehoop and get the fabric taut.

15. Review the template on the hooped fabric and make sure all portions of the design are within the sewing field.

16. Firmly hold the hoop at the attachment and right side of the hoop and slide the hoop onto the machine.

17. Select the design verifying the selection with the template.

18. Place the thread in sequential order on a thread stand or on the machine table.

19. Rotate the design if necessary and position the needle over the template/target sticker’s crosshair.

20. Check the area behind the machine and move any item that could obstruct the movement of the hoop.

21. Remove the template/target sticker and add a topper if required.

22. If your machine has a baste (or fix) feature, use it now.

23. Stitch the design, rethreading as needed.

24. Remove the hoop from the machine, turn the hoop over and clip the basting thread from the wrong side (this protects the fabric).

25. Release the fabric from the hoop, remove any hoop marks by pressing and trim the excess stabilizer.

In Step 13, I mentioned ‘the colors should look pleasing.’ Such an objective statement! As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so tell me what color combinations you find ‘pleasing’?

Do you have certain colors you always seem to be using or does your taste change with the seasons and trends? If so, what are you current top picks? Share your comment with us and you’ll entered to win Machine Embroidery with Confidence by Nancy Zieman and a set of Robison-Anton threads in the colors Mandarin YLW, Coral and Van Gogh Bl.

Last week we asked if you had a  funny story to share about purchases you’ve made.  We have two lucky winners to announce this week as SewAZ Embroidery Designs graciously donated two $50 shopping sprees.  The winners are…Marsha Nelson and Melissa.

marsha nelson said…
“I bought a thingamajig to turn spaghetti straps. Dumb!  I don’t wear spaghetti straps. That would be scary. No one I know wears spaghetti straps. It must have been on sale. You know how we all are about sales. Thanks for all the great give-aways and all the creative tips.”

Melissa said…
“My biggest downfall to this day is when patterns are on sale for a buck each at Joann Fabric. I can not let that sale pass by. Can I tell you how many dupes I’ve bought? And I don’t even like to sew clothes in the first place!!!”

Congratulations Marsha and Melissa.  SewAZ will contact you next week with your coupon codes!

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!



1 2