Posts Tagged ‘stitching’

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. :-)


An Indispensable Tool

I can’t believe how indispensable this tool is. Recently, I was stitching 24 onesies, a daunting task even when it’s not crammed into a heavy travel, teaching schedule. I think the only thing that kept me sane during the process was thinking of the new parents of twins who would eventually receive the onesies.  I know they haven’t slept more than 2 hours at a time in over three weeks so my task paled in comparison.


Back to the embroidery – the placement for center chest embroidery on onesies was simplified with the Center Chest templates from the Children’s Perfect Placement Kit.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog


Instead of using a round target sticker, I used the rectangular version and placed it lengthwise on the target area.  This gave me a clear visual guide when hooping the tiny garments.


I hooped Floriani Wet ‘n Gone Tacky  water soluble adhesive stabilizer in a 5” x 7” hoop for my single needle machine. Then I scored the protective paper and remove it to expose the sticky surface.  I placed the hoop under PAL2, aligning the beam with the hoop’s centering marks.


I turned the onesie inside out and lifted the back of the shirt away from the front to expose the target sticker. Then I carefully placed the center of the target sticker under the beam.


Once aligned, I smoothed the shirt to the sticky stabilizer, working above the target and then below.


When it comes to quilting, PAL2 can multitask. I use it to find the center of a block.


And to make sure my seams are square.


I’ve been know to use it to trim blocks and cut fabric strips – all without using a ruler!  I just align the beam with a line on the cutting mat, place the fabric edge on another straight line and then slice on the beam of light. Makes large cutting jobs fly by!

Do you want to win a PAL2? Leave a comment over at SewMamaSew and you’ll be entered in their Handmade Holiday giveaway.


The winner of last week’s assignment:

Have you stopped by the Embroider This! website lately? They have a selection of linens, blanks and baby items that are ideal for machine embroidery! Stop by their website and tell us what item you like best.

Post your comment and one lucky winner will be randomly selected to win a $100 shopping spree on the Embroider This! website! Embroider This is the name you can trust for Unique Gifts, Fine Linens, and Blanks for Machine Embroidery! Over 200 Free Designs for immediate download!

Embroider This!

The winner is… Lori W.! “I love all the hankies and the boxes to give them in are a wonderful gift. All the new guest towels in all the colorful bands would make a great gift and also would be fun to keep! I seem to give most everything I make away!”

Congratulations Lori and keep something for yourself this time!

Every once in a while a new mousetrap is invented

Photo by Smartneedle Thread

We are spoiled. Just down right spoiled when it comes to choices in thread. There are reputable brands, manageable put-ups (the amount of thread on a spool or cone), reasonable prices, colors galore, fiber varieties, shimmering metallics, solar-changing hues, boxed sets, individual spools, you name it, we can have it.

But there’s one company that plays to my lazy old heart. They have managed to design a spool that includes a pre-wound matching bobbin. Oh my heavens. They really do know how lazy I am. They know I should be winding a bobbin of matching thread every time I make lace, quilt fabrics, or create free-standing appliqués. They probably also know I don’t. They know I don’t make time for that pesky task. They know I hate to waste an empty bobbin on a thread that I’ll probably only use once in a blue moon. So I imagine (and really this is my imagination – no input from them), they’ve taken it upon themselves to clean up the world of embroidery. I’ll bet they wanted to make everyone’s embroidery looks more professional. And this is one step in the right direction.

And oh, speaking of lazy – I’m on vacation this week. Sorry for the short post but I’ll be back from the Stitching Sisters cruise next week – relaxed, a year older (I’m having a birthday at sea), probably a few pounds heavier but anxious to share photos of our ‘cruise creations’ with all of you. Look for them on Facebook.

This week’s blog sponsor is Smartneedle!  Tell us what your thread fiber of choice is (rayon, polyester, cotton, blends, etc.) and you could win $100.00 worth of Smartneedle polyester thread (and bobbins)!   Just leave us a comment below!

Smartneedle Thread is ideal for any embroidery application. This superior polyester thread wounds on a functional designed spool that carries a color matching bobbin at its base. Great for self standing and In the hoop projects.”

Last week we asked what questions you had for Deborah Jones and Scotty Goodman.  We had so many excellent questions!  The winner of the Designs In Machine Embroidery subscription is…Nancy Sumner!

“I have a top of line Bernina and am intimidated to do much with the embroidery aspect. My dealer says tell me what you want to know and I’ll teach you, but I really don’t know where to start, as I’ve never had an embroidery machine before. Any suggestions?”

For answers to Nancy’s question, be sure to read over the comments in last weeks blog post.

Congratulations, Nancy!

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!

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!

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!

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!

On the Road Again…

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

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

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

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

Here’s what some recent attendees had to say:

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

Eileen and Marie,
Thanks so much for coming to KC! LOVED the event and all your stories/energy. WOW! It was awesome to have a brief two days to get to study under you and learn so much. LOVE the Stipple products and techniques. Looking forward to seeing you again!  Judy Brennan

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

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

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

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

Congratulations, Donna!

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

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