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The CUTEST bargain wholesale monogram blank dresses to personalize for Christmas… even if you don’t have a wholesale account.

As you may recall – in years past – I have been yapping about the personalized dresses that I’ve made for all the little girls in my family. This has been a great gift for several years, but now that my girls have become tweens and teens who only sport ATH-leisure, I’m not making as many as I used to.  However, I still think it’s a great gift for a little girl and now that I’ve discovered a new source for some super-cute monogram blank dresses, I may be at it again.

If your are interested in making some personalized little dresses for Christmas, there are a lot of ways to go about it.  Here are some resources from past blog posts + some new cute dresses that you can easily personalize with your embroidery machine!


Seriously – you can make this from a $3 t-shirt from Walmart and a scrap of fabric!  Check out my tutorial on how to make this cute little dress.

I used my appliqué triple stitch letter design for the single letter.


Walmart usually has a few different tunics available for about $7 that are suitable for embroidery.  You can see what I’ve done with them in the past, then scope out your local Walmart to see this year’s styles.


This weekend my sister-in-law let me in on a secret…. The darling dresses her little girls were wearing which LOOKED like Boden dresses were actually from Amazon and they were a fraction of the price… like $15.  SAY WHATTTT????

But you know what would make them a bit cuter? if they were monogrammed or appliquéd!

Check out these darling dresses on Amazon:  horses, birds and dinos.

Enjoy and happy embroidering!

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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.

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Need that monogrammed? What I now ask my house guests.

monogrammed purse
monogrammed purse

Have you ever had a friendship where you discover the more you get to know this friend – the more you have in common… and maybe that’s why you got along so well all this time? This is exactly what happened to me when our friends from Boston came to visit last week.

Roz and I  have a lot in common I have discovered.  We both teach at a college, we both have two girls (aged 8 and 10), and we both have the exact same Target bedspread. We also both have embroidery machines – although she has not learned how to use hers yet. Lucky for me I got to give her some demos, and she was actually interested.

Another thing we have in common is our TJ Maxx purses. The only difference besides color is that my purse is monogrammed. “Hey,” I asked her, “you need that monogrammed?”

She had never given it a thought. Clearly, we St. Louisans care much more about monograms than they do in New England. This became even more apparent when Roz had to actually THINK about what her monogram should be!!!

But Roz obliged and I quickly stitched out a monogram on her purse, and she was thrilled with the results. Her husband thought it was a little weird though and asked if I monogram everyone’s clothes and accessories when they come into my house, which is actually not a bad idea. Anyway – maybe this little bit of monogramming will get Roz psyched to do learn how to use her embroidery machine and we will have even more in common.

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Personalized embroidered chair is the perfect gift for my fishing and camping coworker

Embroider an outdoor chair for a man that loves the outdoors
Embroider an outdoor chair for a man that loves the outdoors

Let me start this by saying I cannot believe how well this turned out. I can also do not believe how much my coworker Jake, liked this gift.  I’m already getting ahead of myself…

Jake’s birthday was last week and I wanted to do something nice for him. But, the afternoon prior to his birthday I had no idea what this would be. Embroidering gifts for male coworkers is a bit tricky, because you don’t want to do anything too personal. And, let’s face it, guys don’t usually get that excited about monograms.

Last year, though, I did hit a homerun embroidering St. Louis Cardinal dish towels for my other coworker, Bryan. But Jake doesn’t have the same passion for the Cardinals that Bryan does.Jake likes to fish, camp, canoe and basically spend a lot of time outdoors.

Inspiration struck as I was slogging my way through Walmart with three kids in tow when we discovered outdoor camping chairs on sale for $12. They came in great bright colors and looked like they were good enough quality that they wouldn’t fall apart in their first year of use. But how in the hell was I going to get them on my embroidery machine.

I decided to give it a go – stitching Jake’s name on the back of the chair. This made me extremely nervous since I only have a single needle machine, however I was able to rest the chair on my sewing table while sticking the back headrest onto sticky back stabilizer and stitching it out just like that. I sort of tried to hold it in place as the stitching was going on and keep the chair from folding back up during the stitching.

And… I can’t believe this actually worked. The stitching looks great; it was straight and I had no problems whatsoever. But the best part was that Jake absolutely loved the chair. He was texting pictures to his wife and brother shortly after I gave it to him. Who knew a $12 gift from Walmart could make someone so happy?

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A custom pillow with machine embroidered child handprints and names

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Pillow embroidered with my kids handprints

My friend, Lisa, was in charge of the auction to raise money for our little Catholic school where my son goes to preschool. When she found out that I have an embroidery machine, she encouraged (read: begged) me to come up with a an item that could be auctioned off using my embroidery machine.

So I gave it some thought and concluded that people would be most inclined to spend their money if the item were personalized, and I quickly realized that this was the perfect opportunity to make an embroidered handprint pillow – something I had been wanting to do for a long time. I got the idea for this project by seeing pictures on Pinterest of kids’ handprints that were hand embroidered and framed.  I loved the concept – what a beautiful way to capture the essence of your child at this moment in time – but why not digitize their handprints and stitch them out with an embroidery machine?

I decided to use my three little nut cases (kids) as guinea pigs, and I began by tracing their hands on a piece of paper and then had them write their names on the paper as well.  I scanned in the pages and digitized both the handprints and the names. Next, I stitched out all the handprints and the names on a piece of linen fabric I cut out for a 20″ x 20″ pillow front. And finally I sewed together the whole pillow.

2014-02-21 16.25.06-smallI made a couple mistakes when making this pillow. First of all, I should not have cut out the pillow front to size prior to stitching. I didn’t plan very well the placements of the hands and names on the pillow and the overall design was a little bit lopsided. If I had waited to cut out the front until I was done stitching, I could have centered the stitching much better. Secondly the linen fabric background with the wine colored stitching was frankly a little boring. I should have designed the pillow to have some kind of pattern border that would’ve incorporated the wine color and tied it all together.

For the auction my plan was to show the pillow that I had made as a prototype, but make another one for the top bidder using their children’s handprints and writing. But lucky for me the top bidder was my mom, and she wanted the original, after all it already incorporated her grandchildren’s handprints. And I am perfectly happy with that outcome. The pillow is done, and I can move onto the next project or maybe make a better one for my house.

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Make a personalized spa tote with your embroidery machine for the perfect tween party favor. Am I THAT mom?

A spa tote with a personalized wash cloths made on your embroidery machine makes a great gift.

My daughter’s slumber party to celebrate her 10th birthday was a couple Friday nights ago. And as of 3:00 PM that day, I had NO idea what we would do for her party favor.  I mean, since she only had five friends coming, I wanted to put together something that was a bit classier than pencils, stickers, candy and other random throw away crap.

Inspiration struck when I found some Pinterest boards on party favors for pre-teen girls. One cute idea I saw was a mason jar filled with cotton balls, nail polish and nail polish remover. But I immediately nixed this because, come on… who wants 5 10-year-old girls using nail polish in their house?? Plus there was nothing to embroider or personalize with this project.

Along the same line as the nail polish kits were some little spa totes which I decided were just the ticket. So we made a quick dash to the one dollar island at Target for some soaps and lotions, then grabbed a few white washcloths. About an hour after we got home, I had all five wash cloths personalized while my daughter busily assembled all the totes with their spa components.

I’ll admit it might’ve been a little bit over-the-top for a party favor, but at least we felt good about  what we were giving away, and it was something that could actually be used.  So, I guess, yes I am THAT mom… and proud of it!

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Time to stock up on easy gifts to embroider in 2014

A personalized fleece makes a great gift for a kid.
A personalized fleece makes a great gift for a kid.

I don’t know about you, but at this time of year I’m pretty shopped out. Between all the shopping I did and all the gifts I received, I’m pretty saturated with stuff. Because most of the general public is of this mindset, stores are doing everything they can to lure you back in. So if you can stomach going back to a store – why not take advantage of the situation and stock up on items to be embroidered at bargain basement prices? Having a stockpile of stuff on hand will make your life easier every time a birthday party rolls around.

One of my easy go-to gifts that kids seem to love are personalized fleece jackets and vests.  As I mentioned before, the OshKosh outlet had a ton of cute ones that they were selling for $9 prior to Christmas. On-line they are marked down to $7.99 but they are probably even less expensive in the outlet store.  Old Navy has some really cute fleeces – especially for babies that are marked down to $6 each.  The Children’s place has fleece hoodies for girls on sale for $6.99.

Fleeces jackets and vests aren’t the only easy gift for kids.  I have embroidered hats and gloves, fleece blankets, t-shirts, lunch boxes and tote bags.  I’m sure that the clearance racks are packed with these goodies.

Getting psyched about going shopping now?  If your New Years Resolution is to be more prepared and spend less money in 2014 – this could be your solution.

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Personalized ski bags, color coded for each family

Well I finally did it. With Christmas just around the corner I finally had to jump right in and make the Christmas ski bags I had been planning on creating for my kids and my nieces and nephews. The whole idea for the ski bags were to a) help keep the kids’ ski accessories organized and b) provide a spot to stitch on patches from all the ski resorts the kids have visited.

The project was a bit daunting because it involved dying the tote bags first. I purchase the bags from Dharma trading company but they were a boring generic tan color. I wanted to make my kids’ bags a different color from their cousins so that they could easily be differentiated. So I ordered some dye with my bags from Dharma.

The dye packets presented two different methods: the stove top method and the washing machine method. I chose the stove top method because the instructions stated that this method would yield a more intense color. I was also a bit concerned about staining my washing machine with the dye.

The problem with the stovetop method was that packing three totes into a soup pot made it hard to ensure even dispersal of color on the bags. They were coming out a bit splotchy. After seeing this I decided to opt for the washing machine method which did help in evening out the color on the totes.  The dye did, in fact, stain my washer, but after I ran a load of bleach water, it cleaned it right up.

For the design on the bag – I used my skier embroidery design with customizable initials.  I originally made this as an appliqué design but I also created a small, filled embroidered version which fits in a 4″ x 4″ hoop and it stitched out quite nicely on the tote.

The totes have already been put to use as both families have already skied since Christmas. We stopped at Wintergreen resort in Virginia and it was great to have all the kids’ ski stuff organized in the new totes.  My sister’s family took theirs out to Keystone, Colorado.

While we were at Wintergreen, in an effort to start decorating the bags, I popped into the gift shop to buy Wintergreen ski resort patches.  Here’s the kicker – they don’t have any!!!! It looks like I will be making my own… the subject for a future blog post I’m sure.2013-12-30 07.49.59

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Monogramming ties with a single initial for Christmas gifts

Monogrammed ties
Monogrammed ties for my friend and my brother-in-law

A few months ago I was SUPER intimidated by the idea of monogramming a tie. Before I even tried I asked all my Facebook embroidery friends for advice – then bought the cheapest tie possible for my test – and then I gave it a go – making a monogrammed tie for my father-in-law for his birthday.

On the tie that I made for my father-in-law, I embroidered his initials along the angle of the tie point. I was swayed to do the full monogram by my father who commented that a full monogram was more custom. (Really – should I be taking sewing and embroidery advice from my father?) I actually like the look of a single initial of the wearer’s last name embroidered on the bottom, center of the tie instead of the three letter monogram.

So I went for it – embroidering two ties with a single initial for my brother-in-law who is a Southerner – so the light blue linen looking tie with a script initial seems to fit him – and the other for my friend’s husband (too personal??) who is an architect so the black and white with the bold initial seemed more appropriate for him.  I think they both turned out pretty well and they only took a minute or two to embroider.

Here’s my advice.  You can get ties for a great price (< $10) at stores like Marshalls or TJ Maxx – but if you want to go really original – consider the plain white silk dies from Dharma Trading Company.  You can dye them any color you want and then do the monogramming… This could be the perfect groomsmen gift or an inexpensive Christmas gift for all the men (or the ladies who like to wear ties) in your family.

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Rose appliqué shirt for my friend, Maggie + the best birthday treat ever (pedicure + beer + Cardinals)

Rose t-shirt with my design
Rose t-shirt with my design

Yesterday was my friend Maggie’s birthday. It seems like all husbands really suck when it comes to birthdays, and Maggie’s husband is no exception. When I spoke with her yesterday morning and asked what she was doing for her birthday she said that Zak (the husband) hadn’t planned anything, because he had to go to a happy hour event for work. Seriously?  Maggie was planning on staying home with her 3 kids (4, 3 and 8 weeks).

So I took it upon myself to show Maggie a good time for her birthday tonight. I picked her up with a beer in a travel coffee mug and took her to the nail salon for a pedicure.  It was perfect – we drank a beer, watched the Cardinals game and had our feet tended to. Then we went over to another friend’s house for the rest of the game.  It was a super fun night.

So now you are probably wondering how this all relates to this blog and embroidery.  I made Maggie a very cool t-shirt that I whipped up in my sewing room yesterday afternoon. A couple of weeks ago I bought this long sleeved, slightly shaped and dressy black t-shirt.  I then stitched out three iterations of the smaller size of my rose appliqué design rotated slightly differently.

Maggie loved the shirt, and I do as well.  In fact – I had a bit of a hard time parting with it.   But I think it was just the icing on the cake for a fantastic birthday evening.