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

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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.

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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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Identical thread but the shades don’t match…what’s up with that, Mettler?

Last week some ladies at work asked if I would be willing to monogram a set of towels for another coworker (Linda) who is getting married in the next few weeks. I was more than happy to contribute to this gift because I’m very happy for her.  You see – a few years ago Linda lost her first husband to cancer, so it is wonderful to see her in love again.

Barbara, another coworker, picked up a set of towels and gave them to me at work. We then conferred on thread color for the monogram, clarified the lettering and finally I took them home with me. Naturally, I left the project until the last minute so I had to get up super early the morning I needed to have them at the office.  It was all going well – I cranked out three out of the four towels. But when the fourth towel was being stitched, I heard by embroidery machine stop. It took a second for me to notice what the problem was: I ran out of embroidery thread.

OMG. How many times am I going to make a stupid mistake? I had a full spool of thread when I started the project, so I thought I would have enough to do all four towels.  Clearly I was wrong. I had to give Linda the gift with only three of the towels complete with a promise to deliver the fourth one once I was able to buy some thread that matched.

On Saturday I headed over to Make it Sew in St. Louis with the empty school of Mettler cotton embroidery thread with the mission to match to buy another spool of the exact same thread. The good news was that they had the same color thread, but the bad news was that the thread looked very different from what I recalled stitching. When I got it home my suspicions proved correct. This thread, although it was the same brand and number, it was a totally different shade. What’s up with that???? Thread companies just arbitrarily change the color of a thread even while keeping the number the same?  Has this happened to anyone else?

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Exact same thread – totally different shade.

I ended up bringing my hooped towel back to the fabric store to match the thread with a different brand.  I was concerned about mismatch within the monogram so I ended up ripping out the incomplete monogram on the fourth towel and restitching it with the new thread, and you really couldn’t notice a difference with thread color among all four towels.

Linda loved the towels and was touched that we had all gone through all the effort.  And she certainly didn’t notice the difference in thread.  But after this ordeal – I have a new policy.  No monogramming a set of towels unless I have two spools of the same color thread on hand.

Completed monogrammed towel
Completed monogrammed towel
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Monogrammed linen hand towels… a great gift for everyone apparently!


So three days before Christmas my husband keeps approaching me with more gifts he needs embroidered for people at work. I find this to be a bit ironic.  Because, for as much as he complains about the amount of time I spend in my sewing room, he sure isn’t complaining today.

Back in November I purchased a pack of linen hand towels (via Amazon – gotta love Amazon Prime) with the intention of monogramming a pair or two for us and a set as a gift for our friends. I thought I would have the rest of the pack laying around for a while. But because my husband kept coming up with people he wanted to give gifts to – the other day I monogrammed my way through the entire pack of linen hand towels – six different sets.

The design I stitched out on the towels I made about six months ago. I think it is modern and elegant and looks great on linen. I will eventually add it to my Etsy store bit I have to finish setting up all the letters. So I would love to hear your thoughts on the design.

I am hoping my recipients find these hand towels to be both beautiful and useful. After stitching out 12 of them I am ready to not see them anymore!

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Santa hat “believe” machine embroidery design

Santa Hat - "believe" embroidery design
Santa Hat – “believe” embroidery design

If you are anything like me, preparing for Christmas never seems to be done. I almost always think of one more gift I want to make, all the way up to Christmas Eve. If you follow this blog, you have probably noticed that I have been posting a lot of Christmas-themed designs in my free design offerings. I think these would all look cute on some hand towels, placemats or napkins, and make a great last-minute hostess (or even regular) Christmas gifts.

Well since there are only two more Free Embroidery Design Mondays prior to Christmas, and I have a lot more embroidery design ideas, I am making some new Christmas themed designs and posting them on my Etsy store for $1 between now and Christmas.

And I am ready to debut the first one. It’s a simple Santa hat filled embroidery design with the word “believe” underneath. I think the inspiration for this came from my visit to that awesome little gifty store in Laguna Beach. I love how this turned out – so sweet and whimsical and a perfect design for towels, napkins or placemats. Or- what about an apron or even on a Christmas stocking?  Have I made you a believer!

Check out the Christmas designs on the Machine Embroidery Geek Etsy store. 

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It’s inspiration Sunday and I am inspired by our Christmas tree, or more specifically, it’s skirt!

Make a Christmas tree skirt for a newly engaged couple
Make a Christmas tree skirt for a newly engaged couple

This past weekend we put up our Christmas tree. I am sure many of you did as well. While we were decorating the tree I caught myself admiring our Christmas tree skirt. I mean it’s nothing that special, but I do recall going out to buy it the first Christmas I was married and had a real Christmas tree, and it brought back some great memories.

This made me realize that most likely, the vast majority of Christmas tree skirts have to be bought by Newlyweds. I mean who goes out and buys a new Christmas tree skirt, year after year? Unless, of course, it somehow got lost in storage.

Recognizing this phenomenon gave me a great idea for a Christmas gift.  Since every engaged couple who celebrates Christmas is going to need a Christmas tree skirt – why not make them one for Christmas – or at least embroider their last name on an already made one? Have you been to Marshalls or TJ Maxx recently? They have tons.

But if you are inspired to make your own, there are loads of free Christmas tree skirt patterns out there. And here’s a whole Pinterest Board of Christmas tree skirts. I can’t say that I love all these ideas… but hey – with all these examples out there – they can’t be that hard to make!

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Happy Thanksgivukah Machine Applique Design – the perfect gift for our Jewish friends.

My view as I write my daily blog entry.  Sorry if I am making you jealous... just had to share.
My view as I write my daily blog entry. Sorry if I am making you jealous… just had to share.

Hello from California! I am on the road again – attending a conference in Laguna Beach, CA. I know, I know, my life is rough. Anyway – to get to Orange County, we flew through LAX to facilitate a visit with our friends (Michele and David) who live in L.A. Since we were going to be staying with them for the night, I wanted to bring them a little gift. And guess what? I had the perfect idea.

If you read my blog post this past Sunday – you may remember me discussing the fact that this year the first night of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving fall on the exact same day. This happens VERY rarely – so it’s kind of a big deal. People have even given it a name: “Thanksgivukkah.”

Since Michele and David are Jewish and will be hosting a large number of family members for Thanksgivukkah. I thought they would be the perfect recipients for some Happy Thanksgivukkah kitchen towels of my design. So the night before we were set to depart – I stayed up very late cranking out some Happy Thanksgivukkah towels. I think they turned out pretty cute – but I plan to modify the design a bit to increase the space between the arms of the menorah so that it will be easier to trim the applique fabric. But despite the fact that I couldn’t get a very clean cut around the applique fabric – the gift was a hit.  Michele and David can’t wait to use the towels on the big day.

Know anyone who might be celebrating Thanksgivukkah this year?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Thankgivukkah applique design
Happy Thankgivukkah applique design

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“I love St. Louis” machine embroidery and appliqué design

"I Love St. Louis" applique design
“I Love St. Louis” applique design

My coworker, Bryan, recently became a new home owner, so I thought it would be nice to make him a little house warming gift. But what to give? I think guys can be tricky when it comes to embroidery gifts. But for Bryan I had the PERFECT idea! Bryan loves the Cardinals. I mean he LOVES the Cardinals.

I can’t remember where I saw a version of this design, because I didn’t take a picture of it when I first saw a t-shirt with a similar design, but clearly it made an impression of me. The idea to re-create it as an embroidery design has been stewing in my brain ever since I saw the t-shirt. I actually loved the idea so much that I told my father and sister about my idea to recreate the design. Both of their responses were, “Um…. I don’t really get it.”

But undeterred – I recreated the design using a random picture of a St. Louis Cardinal for the basis of my outline.  And it turned out great.  In fact, the picture within this post is my first attempt, and I think it turned out good enough to give as a gift.

Of course, as soon as I finished stitching out the design on the dishcloth, I had to send pictures to my dad and sister who both said…”oh! I get it now!!” And of course now they both want the towels. I am so crazy about how these turned out that I am sure I will be making quite a few… so if they want in, they better get in line!

I am sure there are very few readers out there who give 2 cents about the Cardinals – but I am wondering if a similar design could be made to show your love for other cities / teams… ideas?  I’d be happy to digitize.

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“Just Married” machine embroidery design – perfect embroidery design for newlyweds

"just married" machine embroidery design
“just married” machine embroidery design

Some of the most popular machine embroidery designs on the Machine Embroidery Geek Etsy store are the Mr. and Mrs. embroidery designs for pillowcases. I have actually created these designs in different styles – one more traditional and the other more modern. Stitching out these designs on a set of pillowcases makes a great wedding shower or wedding gift. My positive experience in creating, stitching out and selling these designs has caused me to think about what other types of designs might make a great gift for a newlywed.

Even though my preference was to remain somewhat incognito on my own honeymoon, I know that a lot of newly married couples like to broadcast the fact that they were just married. I am not judging. It is what it is. I think a lot of people might like a “Just Married” machine embroidery design.

A “Just Married” design could be stitched out on a tote bag full of treats and given to a couple for their honeymoon or to enjoy after the wedding. Or the design could be stitched out on some kitchen towels and put in a basket with some gourmet treats.  Another idea… you could stitch out the design on the back of a hoodie or on a t-shirt for the bride to wear on her honeymoon.

I am very happy with how my “Just Married” embroidery design turned, so I set it up in two different sizes so that it could be stitched out in a lot of different ways. I hope you like it.

The just married design is now available in the Machine Embroidery Geek Etsy store.

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Free machine embroidery design: “Cheers!”

Wine bags with machine embroidery
Wine bags with machine embroidery

It’s free embroidery design Monday and today I am going to share with you a file that I created over the weekend and actually used in a project. The file is the word “Cheers!” in a celebratory cursive typeface. It is the perfect size to stitched out on a gift bag, wine bag, apron, or any home decor item.

This weekend I attended a party given for my friend, Zellie, who recently completed her PhD. (I made her a really cute monogramed scarf… in case you missed it.)  For the two hostesses I gave them bottles of wine in homemade, embroidered wine bags. On one, I stitched out the word, “Cheers!” and the other, “Thank you.”

Want to use the “Cheers!” design and make a homemade wine bag?  Tomorrow I will be sharing exactly how to make these bags. But for the time being I hope you enjoy this free machine embroidery design.

Download the “Cheers!” Design