Posts Tagged ‘stitching’

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 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 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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations, Beth!

Stitching on Fur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download the designs in a zip file by clicking here!

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

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

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

Sulky Solvy – Water Soluble Stabilizer

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

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

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

Congrats, Carol!

Stitching on Knits

A few weeks ago, we received many comments requesting information on stitching on knits. Well, knits is a pretty large category! So I’ll give you some general guidelines on stabilizing t-shirt knits.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogEliminate the Stretch

The number one goal of hooping and stabilizing knits is to eliminate the stretch during the embroidery process. My favorite stabilizer for knits is a permanent cut-away, polymesh stabilizer. Polymesh is strong, translucent and comfortable next to the skin. Since it’s a cut-away, its permanent properties will provide stability to the embroidery throughout the life of the knit fabric. This is an important feature since knit fabrics are not as durable as wovens.

I prefer to adhere the polymesh to the knit by using a temporary spray adhesive or selecting a fusible polymesh. Cut the stabilizer large enough to extend beyond the hoop’s dimensions. Hoop the knit with the stabilizer firmly fused or adhered to the design area. When you run your finger along the knit fabric, it should not separate from the polymesh. If it does, take the time to fuse it properly.

Toppers help keep the edges of an embroidery design crisp. Use a lightweight water soluble stabilizer that will be easy to remove.

Design Selection

Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogHeavy, dense embroidery designs will appear to be ‘bullet proof’ on most knit fabrics. Test your embroidery design on a similar knit fabric and give it this test. Roll the embroidered knit fabric onto itself, jellyroll style. If the embroidery appears stiff and boxy, the design is too dense. Reduce the density in embroidery software.

Proper underlay is key to beautiful embroidery on knit fabrics. Inadequate underlay will not provide the foundation required for the stretchy knit fibers. Don’t skimp on underlay to reduce the stitch count. Instead, adjust the density of the fill stitches to space the stitches further apart resulting in less stitches.

Delicate running stitch outlines can sink into knits so avoid these fragile stitches if possible.


When stitching on knits, I like to use caution and set up as many safety nets as possible. Hoop the entire knit fabric in a standard hoop, Magna-Hoop or Snap-Hoop. Use the machine’s basting feature and add a topper. Stitch the design in polyester thread (as most knits launder easily, polyester thread is colorfast and very durable).

After the embroidery is complete, remove the basting stitches from the back. The stabilizer will protect the knit from the seam ripper. If you used a fusible polymesh, press the fabric from the wrong side to reactive the adhesive. Gently release and trim the excess polymesh from the fabric. Leave at least ½” stabilizer around the embroidery. Press the stabilizer from the back to adhere it again to the fabric. Let cool.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogWe love embroidering on blanks! There’s always the last minute gifts needed for baby showers, house warming gifts, hostess gifts or birthdays. Nothing is easier or more heartfelt than stitching a blank for someone special. Let’s be honest– no one needs to know it didn’t take you hours to stitch! We want to know what your favorite embroidery blanks are. How do you jazz them up and make them extra special?

Leave a comment on the above topic and you’ll be entered into our drawing to win Contemporary Machine-Embroidered Fashions!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Last week we asked…Who do you know in your life that would do cartwheels to have a machine? What would they make? The winner of the $25.00 coupon on is…Danyl!

“My daughters would love to have a machine so that they could make anything they wanted. Right now they have to share mine and are only allowed to use it with my supervision.”

Congratulations, Danyl!

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