Category Archives: machine embroidery projects

Skeleton (Day of the Dead) Embroidery Design / Best Gift Ever

I love embroidering gifts for my friend Alix, because she likes just about anything I make. (See lotus flower dress from last year.) Or maybe that’s just what she tells me. Anyway – when her birthday came around this year, I felt a lot of pressure to top some of the gifts I had embroidered in years past.. but was – JUST –  NOT –  FEELING –  IT.

But – fortunately – things changed for me while taking a trip to Puerto Rico this winter. While dining in old San Juan, I noticed a skeleton face icon painted on a wall across from where I was eating. And the thought occurred to me that this would be a great design to digitize.  I had wanted to digitize a “day of the dead” skeleton face – but had not found a great design. But once I spotted this sign – I knew I had found a winner. 2016-04-06 18.08.31

I ended up finding a black longsleeved T-shirt with a slight swing in the hem on the Old Navy clearance rack that would be the perfect back drop for my design.  I had considered stitching it out all in one color but opted to get a little crazy with the color combo and I think I made the right call.

2016-04-14 06.55.16
I couldn’t be any more in love with this design.  I especially love seeing my best bud in this ensemble.  (The necklace is from Puerto Rico as well!)

13076916_10153643887855897_8841211561457802340_n

Want to make this shirt too?  Check out the day of the dead design on my Etsy store.

Confused about machine applique? Check out this “how-to” video and learn the basics of machine appliqué how to make a $6 tunic look cute and custom.

I never anticipated that after I started making embroidery designs, people would start asking me how to use them. It all seems so simple to me now. But I remember when getting started – I, too, was perplexed about certain processes. The big mystery for me? appliqué designs.

Now I do tons of appliqué on my embroidery machine. In fact, a personalized, appliqué t-shirt or sweatshirt is usually my go-to gift for kid birthday gifts. (And either they all are lying to me but the kids LOVE them).  One of my favorite items that I’ve ever made are these personalized tunics that I bought at Walmart.

In the following video you will see how I personalized a similar tunic. It’s cheap, it’s easy to do and kids will love it.  I hope this helps + let me know what you think!

Note: the single initial flower design is available on my Etsy store.

Mother daughter Machine Embroidery Geek fashion shoot!

There is nothing better than seeing your friends and family wear the embroidered and appliqued items you have made, right? These pictures, from my friend, Alix, totally made my day…. mother and daughter having fun making silly pics with PhotoBooth and both wearing the shirts I made them.  Pretty silly. Enjoy!

flower applique design flower applique design flower applique design

Like the designs? Check them out on my Etsy store.
8 leaf flower applique design
Single initial groovy flower design

Not all glow-in-the-dark machine embroidery threads are created equal.

Party favor t-shirts with glow-in-the-dark thread.

Party favor t-shirts with glow-in-the-dark thread.

Why is it that I feel compelled to create ridiculous, personalized, embroidered party favors for my kids parties?  As if I don’t have enough projects.  Fortunately with this last one, I can at least say that I learned a valuable lesson – albeit the hard way: not all glow-in-the dark embroidery threads are created equal.

I had been intrigued by the notion of embroidering with glow-in-the dark thread for a while so when my daughter decided to have her birthday party at the glow-in-the-dark golf course – how could I resist NOT stitching something for the attendees in glow-in-the dark thread?

My plan was to keep in simple.  I created a straight-foward 1-color personalized design for the t-shirts that I purchased for next to nothing at JoAnns, Then I started cranking out the shirts.  Everything was going fine… until – I RAN OUT OF THREAD!   Normally this is not such a big deal – but it was the Sunday morning of the party and the fabric store where I bought the original glow-in-the-dark thread was closed.  UGH.   So I ran to JoAnns as soon as it opened and was surprised/thrilled that they carried it.  When I got back home – I carried on stitching the t-shirt that I had left in process on my machine.  Finally – I finished all the shirts.

Fortunately – the girls loved their t-shirts and immediately put them on over the clothes to wear to the glow-in-the dark golf course.  But when we got to the venue I was surprised/horrified to see that some of the shirts glowed and some of them didn’t.  And the shirt that was stitched half with the original glow-in-the-dark thread and half with the JoAnns brand half-glowed.  Interesting.

I have learned my lesson when it comes to embroidery with glow-in-the-dark thread and won’t be buying the JoAnns brand anymore.  Fortunately eight-year-old girls are not tough critics and really couldn’t have cared less.

Cobbling and monogramming for babies

Monogrammed baby booties

For some strange reason, I have been absolutely OBSESSED with the idea of shoemaking. I have even tried my hand at making shoes for myself and developed my own pattern for some ballet flats. And for my birthday this year, my mom actually gave me a class at the Chicago School of Shoemaking, which I am SO excited to attend.

So naturally when I was racking my brain for Christmas gift ideas for some little people on my list, I  thought about making shoes. I got the idea while browsing the patterns at Joann’s recently, when I discovered an adorable Green Pepper pattern (#557) for some sporty looking kid slippers… perfect  for the three babies I have on my Christmas list.

But why spend the time making fuzzy baby slippers yourself, when you can just buy them off the shelf? Because when you make them yourself, you have the opportunity to monogram them. And doesn’t every baby need to have a monogram pair of slippers? I think so, which is why I decided to make three pairs for all the babies on my list.

For the outer fabric I chose a quilted cotton/poly fabric, and for the inside, a white fuzzy fleece. To complement the white lining material I monogrammed the booties with white thread. For the soles of the booties I used a no-slip dotted rubber fabric.  Even though these babies are not on their feet yet, it’s only a matter of time…

The booties turned out SO cute. I think they will be a total hit at Christmastime.  If you are looking for a unique baby gift around the holidays – I highly recommend this project.  Just be sure to double check for any pins left in the booties before you wrap them up!

In-the-hoop wine tag for awkward Thanksgiving meals.

In-the-hoop wine tag for those awkward Thanksgiving meals.

In-the-hoop wine tag for those awkward Thanksgiving meals.

A friend of mine is totally and completely dreading her Thanksgiving dinner.  Let’s just say she has a bit of strained relationship with her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law.  Nevertheless – the matriarch has insisted that they all dine together for Thanksgiving.  AWK-WARD!!

We have had several discussions about coping strategies – agreeing that consuming the perfect amount of alcohol to “take the edge off” a bit is probably wise.  You see – we are both loving drunks – so even people we are not so crazy about become more tolerable after a glass or two of fine.

So to put her in the right spirit I will be delivering a bottle of pinot grigio with the pictured tag attached that I designed and made in-the-hoop on my embroidery machine.   And I CAN NOT wait to bring it over.

Perhaps you are in a similar situation?  You gotta laugh (and have a drink).

In-the-hoop Thanksgiving wine tag is now available on the Machine Embroidery Geek Etsy store.

Addendum to yesterday’s post about the Walmart 2014 Christmas dress…

Personalized applique dress

Personalized applique dress

A quick follow up from yesterday’s post. I have to share one more picture.  This is the same design that I showed yesterday on a new dress.  I cranked this out for a birthday gift… (party’s tonight).  Once again the $6.49 Walmart dress scores.  Hope she likes it!

A new monogram design + 1 Christmas gift done = thank you, Iowa

2014-10-19 11.21.05-small

This summer we took a trip to the Iowa state fair (my husband’s idea), where we mingled with the locals and ate every meal (and dessert) on a stick.  While I can’t deny that milking a cow wasn’t a thrill, my favorite part of the trip was stopping off at Amana Colonies, Iowa on the way home.

Amana Colonies is a German colony in Eastern Iowa that has remained relatively preserved. The town is quaint and charming, attracting tourists from all over to sample their restaurants and purchase handcrafted goods.  After eating our body weights in spaetzle, we headed over to the Amana Woolen Mill where we purchased copious blankets for Christmas gifts that were made at the facility.  (Yep – we started our Christmas shopping in August.)

Of course – I didn’t want to just give the throw as a Christmas gift without something personalized and embroidered.  So I ordered a pillow sham in a coordinated color and designed a new single initial monogram design.  I am pretty happy with how it turned out – but even more thrilled with the fact that I’m making my way through my Christmas list.

Like the design and want to copy my Christmas gift idea? It’s cool – you can steal my idea.  The new monogram design is available on my Etsy store, and the pillow shams are available on Amazon Prime.

A set of baby month applique onesises for my friends at FORAI

baby-monthsOver the past couple of years, I’ve gotten to know an amazing woman who lives here in St. Louis, named Jen Owens. Jen founded and runs a non-profit called FORAI whose tagline is “bringing together beauty and opportunity.” The way they do this is by mentoring “refugee and immigrant women as they begin home-based microbusinesses to supplement their incomes through the production of high quality, marketable handicrafts.”

Until last week, FORAI was selling these products at local craft fairs throughout the year. Now – FORAI products are available on-line! To celebrate this huge milestone, they hosted a silent auction and launch party at a popular micro brewery in town, Schlafely Bottleworks.

When Jen told me about this exciting event, I knew that I wanted to contribute in some way, so I offered to donate an embroidered item to the silent auction. The problem? I had no idea what it would be… I thought about embroidering some baby items, but without knowing who would purchase the products, there was no way to personalize them.

Fortunately, a few days before the event I got inspired. I came up with the idea to appliqué a set of baby onesies – one for each month for the first year of a baby’s life. I had seen pictures of friends’ babies on-line wearing these types of onesies but had been told they were just wearing blanks with stickers… Applique would be so much nicer. I had the perfect idea – I was stoked!

After a lot of digitizing and a lot of stitching – I made a set of 6 baby onesies – one for each significant month in the first year: 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 1 year. I stitched them out in pastel, gender-neutral seersucker fabric, and O-M-G C-U-T-E.

Because inspiration had struck so late – I was literally running in my donation to the auction, and, of course, Jen was super appreciative. And the event was fantastic as well. It was truly inspiring to meet some of the women who are involved with FORAI.

So what’s next for me and FORAI? Jen mentioned that someone had donated an embroidery machine a few years ago and it was just sitting at her house!! She asked if I could possibly teach them how to use it. Um… yes!

Like the baby month applique design set?  It’s available now on the Machine Embroidery Geek Etsy store and SWAK Embroidery