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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!

MAKE YOUR OWN MONOGRAM BLANK FROM A T-SHIRT AND A SCRAP OF FABRIC

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.

GET YOUR MONOGRAM BLANKS FROM WALMART

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.

JUST AMAZON PRIME THESE MONOGRAM BLANK DRESSES

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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An arch appliqué t-shirt for a little boy who * MIGHT * be moving to St. Louis

St. Louis LOVE Shirt
St. Louis LOVE Shirt

Hello from the Netherlands! I’m here visiting our university’s campus in Leiden before attending a conference in Spain. I know, I know… My life is rough. And how does this all relate to machine embroidery?

My colleague in Leiden has a 1-year-old son, Freddie,  who I had never met so I wanted to take him a little gift. But since I had never met the little tyke and didn’t know what he was into, I decided to use the gift giving opportunity to help convince his parents to move to (my home town ) St. Louis! It IS actually a possibility that they may move… which would be great from my point of view.

So I bought Freddie a simple t-shirt from Target –  which currently has some really cute kid clothes – but not much that is plain enough for appliqué.  But I think this blue t-shirt with subtle stripes is perfect for this design.  It’s kind of retro and reminds me of the sky. AHHHH – lovely.

Like the concept?  It’s actually a hybrid of two designs I sell on my store: the arch design plus any of the states that contain an appliqué heart.  Enjoy and happy embroidering!

U.S. State designs

St. Louis Arch Machine Embroidery and  Applique Design

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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.

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Use your old t-shirts to make groovy appliqués like this funky gecko sweatshirt!

gecko-sweatshirt

There’s nothing I like more than making a custom item of clothing for my kids and their friends. But the last thing I want to do is dress them in something dorky just because I think it’s cute.  So I’m always asking  for their opinion on what they think looks cool. Unfortunately I don’t always have the perfect materials on-hand to make exactly what they have  in mind.

Right now I have a little boy who is six (Thomas), and he’s a big fan of the t-shirts I make for him.  So he has a lot of ideas for garments he would like me to stitch for him and his friends.  But when it comes to little boys – I think it’s a bit tricky finding an age appropriate design for boys his age.  I tend to favor raw edge appliqués on garments I make for little boys.  Some of my favorite designs for little boys include my fishbone appliqué and the rodeo cowboy design. These make great T-shirts for little guys.

But for his friend, Johnny (who was celebrating his 6th birthday), Thomas had a new idea.  He informed me that we needed to make a gecko shirt for his friend. You see Johnny has a pet gecko, so Thomas thought it would be the perfect emblem for a sweatshirt.  Alright – a gecko sweatshirt is it – with a raw edge applique to make it a little more boy-appropriate.

When I make right at edge appliqués I like to use a knit fabric so that the fabric doesn’t ravel around the edges when the raw edge is exposed.  The only problem was that I didn’t have any green knit fabric to make the appliqué. But what I did have, was a green t-shirt that was waiting to go to Goodwill.

t-shirt applique
An old t-shirt can be a great source of applique fabric.

Old t-shirts make great knit fabric applique. In fact, I frequently use my husband’s old white undershirts (when I find a clean patch) and use it for an appliqué design. Unfortunately –  he only wears white T-shirts so that deprives me of other color options. I suppose you could dye parts of his white T-shirts in a rainbow of colors or simply save pieces of junkie T-shirts that you’re going to get rid of anyway in different colors?

gecko-sweatshirt-in-progress
Stitching the gecko

Anyway – back to the project.  I took this hideous green t-shirt, cut out a small piece and used it for a lizard applique on a blue sweatshirt, then I I added some initials  to personalize it a bit.  I chose a blue sweatshirt because they are “uniform acceptable”  at the Catholic school they attend. I realize that the gecko may be pushing the dress code a bit but I think sister Diane will let it slide.

Want to make it yourself?  Check out my lizard applique on Etsy and don’t forget your applique scissors so you don’t cut your finished product!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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The Walmart Christmas personalized applique dress – check out the 2014 edition

personalized dress
The 2014 Walmart dress

 

Okay so don’t hate me – but this weekend I started wrapping Christmas presents. And I am soooooo happy to have made headway on my Christmas shopping / making.  But, one of the reasons why I have been able to get so many presents wrapped is because I am basically re-creating a well received gift that I made last year.

I know from all my embroidery/applique Facebook groups that many of my embroidery sisters have discovered the adorable cotton tunics that Walmart has been selling for girls. Last year they sold a nautical striped tunic with three-quarter sleeves that was absolutely divine. Both my sister and I bought a ton of them and personalized them for all the little girls in our lives.

walmart-dressThis year the styles Walmart is selling are slightly different, but just as cute. They are still made of cotton stretch fabric in cute prints, however this year the dresses have empire or drop waists and have a seam in the middle. Of the styles they are selling, I especially liked the navy polkadot version. In fact, as soon as I saw it, I snapped up six of them for $6.49 each. And to personalize them, I came up with a new appliqué design, a single initial monogram design that is cute on kids and looks more modern than a formal monogram. It also allows for the dress to potentially be handed down.

After after personalizing all six dresses, I took them with me to the Children’s Place Outlet and picked up coordinating leggings for the dresses and, Voila! I had six gifts done. I do love this letter appliqué design so much that I plan to digitize every letter in the alphabet, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet. Stay tuned. But last year’s initial flower appliqué design which would look FAB on this this year’s Walmart dresses is available in my Etsy store.

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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

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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?