Tag Archives: machine embroidery

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.

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.

Polkadot dress with embroidered name in cool script typeface + favorite unusual color combinations

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Embroidery project number 2 for the cousin gift exchange is for my cousin’s daughter, Harper. This project represented my other motivation for going back to the Oshkosh outlet when I returned to St. Louis after my weekend jaunt down to the Florida outlet malls.

When I was in Florida, I purchased two of these darling polkadot dresses for my girls.  But, after bringing them home and thinking about it a bit, I realized that this specific dress would be a great gift for my cousin’s daughter whose name I drew in the family gift exchange.

The twist with this project was that my cousin is actually a very active machine embroiderer. In fact she’s WAAAAYYY better than me. So when I decided to stitch out her daughter’s name on the dress, I was really nervous, because a) I had my doubts as to whether she would appreciate the gift since she could do it herself, and b) I knew she would be able to detect every single flaw.

Oh well –  I decided to go for it anyway.

The other question was the color to use for the name.  The dress has a very high-contrast color combination so I was unsure of what color would stand out. My sister (who better have my embroidery machine back in place and in good condition when I return home from my trip tomorrow) gave me the idea for the lime green.

When my sister came over to pick up my embroidery machine to use while I was gone this past week – I showed her my Oshkosh look and we got to discussing some of our favorite unusual color combinations.  Maybe these will give you some fresh ideas for the holiday gifts you have left to make.

1) navy and lime green – her idea
2) pink an orange – always a favorite for me.  I love it especially with this retro flower design.
3) red and turquoise – see the skirt that I just made for my daughter in these colors.

Ok – I promise – I am almost done yapping about the Oshkosh outlet and the clothes I embroidered from there… I have just one more project to share next week.  (And Oshkosh is not even paying me – ha!)

For my dog lovin’ readers: a free small paw print embroidery design

Free paw print embroidery file

Free paw print embroidery file

Let me start by saying that I am not a dog person. It’s not that I don’t like dogs. It’s just that I don’t like them enough to have one come into my house and chew up my shoes and make more of a mess for me to clean up. And speaking of messes –  I’m not a fan of having to walk around the neighborhood with a plastic bag picking up its poop.

Nevertheless –  I understand that for many people this is a small price to pay for having a dog in your life. So for my dear readers who happened to be dog lovers, I’ve digitized a small paw print that I thought might be of use for you all. It’s fairly small – less than 2″ in the horizontal and vertical directions.  Enjoy!

Download the free paw print embroidery design

Making a heart patch with my embroidery machine. This may change everything…

Heart patch on jeans. Super easy and quick to make.

Heart patch on jeans. Super easy and quick to make.

My daughter, Ilse, never wears pants. I mean NEVER. All winter she wears some combination of leggings and a dress or a long sleeve t-shirt. And that’s about it. Ironically she has about two dresser drawers full of jeans and corduroys passed down from her older sister and her cousin. I’m not even sure why I keep them in the house though.

I really don’t care that much what my kids wear – as long as they are not in pajamas when we are walking out the door to go to school. I know other mothers who fuss over what their kids wear as if it is a direct reflection on their own good taste. Me – not so much. Nevertheless, when we go through Ilse’s drawers I have her try on everything, not only to see what she has grown out of, but also with the hope that maybe she might broaden her clothing horizons a bit. (Again – not because I care so much about what she wears – it’s just hard to keep her favorite three outfits clean.)

Trying on clothes is the only time I see my daughter in a pair of jeans – which is a bit of a shame because she looks ADORABLE in them. In our last round of cleaning out the drawers we discovered a pair of jeans in the hand-me-down pile that fit Ilse perfectly but had a little hole in the knee. I had just been looking at the Boden Kids catalog which featured the most adorable kids pants with corduroy patches on the knees so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try to copy the look. I also had just figured out how to make a patch on my embroidery machine. So… it was on.

I decided to make a heart shaped patch out of a lavender corduroy that had a bit of sparkle in it.  I have had the fabric laying around forever.  Of course, Ilse loved the patch and the new and improved jeans. Will this change her sense of fashion? I don’t but this patch could be the gateway to whole new variety of looks this fall.

Making my first patch on my embroidery machine

backpack-with-patch

I recently received an inquiry through my Etsy store asking if I could do something that I had never attempted: make a patch with my embroidery machine. The customer (and her daughter) loved my modern dahlia embroidery design, but did not have an embroidery machine to stitch it out. She wondered if I would be willing to make a patch based on the smaller sized dahlia in shades of purple so she could put it on her daughter’s backpack.

What a fantastic opportunity to try something new! And, I mean how hard could making a patch be? There are many tutorials on-line. Some scared me a bit – telling me that you needed some type of tool to burn off the excess material around the edge of the patch. Nevertheless, after reading a few I was ready to give it a try.

For the patch background, I used a piece off-white twill. To make it a bit more rigid, I ironed it onto a piece of heavy-weight interfacing. I then stuck the resulting piece onto hooped adhesive-baced stabilizer and began stitching out the design.

I did have to make a minor modification to the design before I could turn it into a patch. I added an appliqué outline around the dahlia. When digitizing, I used the “trim in place” setting to incorporate a tack down stitch, allowing me to secure the twill + interfacing layer to the stabilizer and then trim around it prior to completing the satin stitch outline. Therefore, when the satin stitch outline was being stitched, it was actually stitching onto the patch’s fabric background and stabilizer.

After completing the patch, I emailed a picture to my customer and her daughter who were super excited. I dropped in in the mail this week – just in time to get it on her daughter’s backpack for the first day of school next week.

How to prevent unraveling of your machine embroidery or appliqué project.

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Why is my embroidery unraveling?

I have had two instances recently when I completed an embroidery project and the last part I stitched started raveling and coming out… UGH! This experience made me think that maybe I was doing something wrong when I was digitizing my designs, so I posed my questions to the experts to see if I was missing something. Did I need to manually put in a locking stitch at the conclusion of digitizing each object to prevent it from unraveling?

Here’s what I asked the group.

Hi friends / digitizers (I’m thinking Sue L. might have thoughts on this…) I know that software varies, but when you digitize a design do you do any type of “locking” stitch at the end of shape to help prevent raveling or does the software take care of it? thoughts?

Here are the responses I got from two of the expert digitizers in the group.

Most software will auto lock at the end of shape/letter by its default settings. You normally have to switch it OFF rather an ON.

And another confirmation.

The software usually does it automatically. In PE Design it is there, you can’t switch on or off, but you can add or delete the stitches manually if need be.

So I looked at my software to try to find such a setting and for the life of me I couldn’t find it, which leads me to believe that my software is doing the lock stitch automatically.

And then something interesting happened. I put a simple name on a t-shirt using the built-in typeface in my embroidery machine and after I took it off the hoop it started unraveling! Something that I had not digitized had started unraveling as well! Maybe the unraveling has less to do with the digitizing and more to do with how you take projects off the hoop and how closely you cut the connector strings.

Again – after asking around a bit I learned that some embroiderers put a bit of fray check over the end points of their embroidered objects to keep them from unraveling. Until I learn more about why this might be happening I think this might be a good preventative measure.

Five questions and answers about bobbin thread for machine embroidery

bobbin

When I first started doing machine embroidery – I was never sure of what type of bobbin thread to use. Eventually I learned that there was bobbin thread designed exclusively for machine embroidery but, still, I wondered why it was necessary to use this special bobbin thread. After doing a little research and a lot of embroidery and appliqué – I think I have found the answers to my questions and hopefully some of yours.

1) What makes embroidery bobbin thread different from regular thread? It is a lot thinner. Typically machine embroidery bobbin thread is 60 weight, whereas embroidery thread is typically 40 weight.

2) Why is bobbin thread thinner than regular thread?  The thinness of the bobbin thread allows you to stitch out a design without having it bulk up. Why add extra weight to the design?

3) Won’t the uneven weights of the bobbin thread vs. the embroidery thread screw up the tension in the machine? Actually – the uneven weights of the thread work in your favor when embroidering.  The imbalance in weight causes more of the embroidery thread to be pulled to the wrong side of the stitched design, ensuring that you will not see the bobbin thread on the front side of the design.

4) Is it necessary to match the color of the bobbin thread to the embroidery design? No.  The light bobbin thread weight helps to prevent the bobbin thread from showing up within the stitched design.

5) Why does my bobbin thread seem to last a really long time?  Because the bobbin thread is so thin – you can wind a lot of bobbin thread on a bobbin – much more so than with regular thread which is why it lasts much longer than you might expect.  This is also the reason why it seems to take so dang long to wind an embroidery bobbin… it’s a lot of thread!

Happy embroidering, everyone!

 

How to monogram a sweater with your embroidery machine.

Monogrammed initial sweater for my mom (Laverne style!)

Monogrammed initial sweater for my mom (Laverne style!)

Today is my mom’s birthday which always presents a HUGE challenge because she is so difficult to shop for. I already gave her my favorite gift for mothers day which is the monogrammed straw hat. And prior to about 24 hours ago, I did not have much up my sleeve.

When I was in Texas last week, (sorry I mentioned Texas … just after I promised to stop talking about it), I had some time to shop. The only stores around were big box stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, which was fine with me because these stores can be great sources for inexpensive items to embroider and appliqué.

In TJMaxx I found a bright pink lightweight sweater that I thought would be perfect for an initial monogram. It also presented a bit of a challenge as I have never actually embroidered on a sweater. But there is a first for everything.

Actually when embroidering on this sweater I didn’t really do anything different than I normally would when embroidering on a t-shirt. And guess what? It turned out super fantastic.

Here’s a little how-to on how I did it.

How to embroider on a sweater.

How to embroider on a sweater.

 

How to embroider dishtowels for a hostess gift (who refers to you as a goddess)

As you may recall from a few posts back, we were completely smitten with our Geneva based host, Caroline, who stole us away from our retreat and brought us to her home in Geneva.

During our stay she referred to us as her three American goddesses which which – of course – we found hilarious. So I thought it fitting to embroider her something as a thank you gift with the word “goddess” on it. However, in researching ways in which the word “goddess” might be rendered out, I discovered the Celtic symbol for goddess and digitized it.  Perfect!

I initially thought about embroidering the goddess symbol on some bath towels then reconsidered.  I didn’t want to impose on their decor or ship something so big and bulky overseas. I decided that dishtowels might work better, as the ones I made for myself turned out so nicely. 

I am super pleased with the results and can’t wait to send them off to Caroline.

Want to make some of these groovy little dishtowels and new to embroidering on towels?  Well here’s how you do it.

 

How to embroider on dishtowels

How to embroider on dishtowels

This design is now available on the Machine Embroidery Geek Store