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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?

2014-01-11 14.44.47
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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Great holiday gifts to embroider that you can find at your local outlet mall

super cute simple fleeces at Oshkosh are easy to embroider
super cute simple fleeces at Oshkosh are easy to embroider

If you hadn’t picked up on this from my recent blog posts – i just returned from Florida. It’s a family tradition for the girls (my mom, sister, sister-in-law and me) to go down to Florida for the weekend prior to Thanksgiving to do a little Christmas shopping. There is a big outlet mall nearby in Bradenton and fun boutique shopping in St. Armands Circle.

Unfortunately this year two big outlet malls opened up in St. Louis which has our husbands asking – “do you really need to go to Florida to go outlet shopping?” The answer is still Y-E-S. We have a great time.

Anyway – while browsing the typical outlet mall shops I was looking for items that were great deals that could be embroidered, and came up with five gift ideas to share with you all. I am sure that many of you have an outlet mall nearby and know some of these stores I am referring to.

1) Oshkosh fleeces – You may recall a while back I embroidered a name onto a fleece as a little birthday gift for my son’s girlfriend.  The fleeces at Oshkosh are simple and cute – and at $9/each – you can stock up for birthday party gifts all winter

2) Oshkosh knit dresses – Oshkosh also has drop waist knit dresses for little girls in solid colors.  There were a bunch on the clearance rack that they were practically GIVING away.   These easy-to-wear dresses would look great with a personalized retro flower appliquéd on them.

3) Columbia fleece sweatshirts – Columbia had great, zip-up, hoodie, inexpensive fleeces for ladies  that were gathered around an empire waist.  They would look great with a single initial monogram. And the best feature – they were less than $20.

4) Carters baby stuff – lots of baby stuff.  Cheap.  Monogram a blanket, or make some year of the horse baby onesies for 2014 babes.

5) Vera Bradley totes – I, personally, am not a huge Vera Bradley, but I know A LOT of people are.  My sister picked up a few totes to embroider for the little girls she is gifting.   And I am seeing a lot of Vera Bradley monogrammed bags on my embroider Facebook boards.  This could be a great gift for ladies of all ages.

Well good luck with your holiday outlet shopping.  I’d love to see what you all are making!

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Funny face appliqué t-shirts for birthday party favors

Funny face applique t-shirt
Funny face applique t-shirt

Today is my little Thomas’ fourth birthday, and oh am I relieved that the birthday party is over. I find that hosting parties is stressful, and inevitably I probably try to do too much. I am sure other mothers are like me and go overboard in different areas… some go crazy baking, some with elaborate themes, gifts, etc… My thing is party favors.

As I have been intimating over the past few posts, I came up with the idea of doing funny face applique t-shirts for party favors. We found neon t-shirts at JoAnns fabrics on clearance for $1.97. Then I digitized 4 different funny face applique faces. Finally I went to work cranking ten of them out.

Yes – I realize I was still trying to trim off strings as the first guests arrived, but they were definitely a hit. Our two-year-old guest, Molly put hers on right away. The funny face on her shirt suits her to a T.

Once I recover I will put the designs on my Etsy store. But at the moment I am still drowning in wrapping paper and cupcake icing… so it will be a couple of days.

Look who loves her new funny face applique t-shirt....
Look who loves her new funny face applique t-shirt….
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Fantastic, inexpensive, nautical, cotton tunic dress – perfect for machine embroidery or appliqué

Dress from Walmart - perfect for machine embroidery or appliqué
Dress from Walmart – perfect for machine embroidery or appliqué

I know it’s only July, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about Christmas gifts. This week while at Walmart I spotted the cutest little nautical tunic dresses that I thought would be adorable with a bit of personalized appliqué. So I bought five! I mean for $6.49… what a deal!

My two girls likes the dressed a lot so I got two for them, two for my friend Alix’s girls and one for my niece, Sofia. My thought is that each one would present an opportunity to try out a new appliqué design that involves some form of personalization.

The way I figure it, these personalized dresses paired with some white leggings will make adorable outfits – each with a different form of personalization. And with five dresses… I need to be starting in July.

I have done absolutely nothing so far, but I’ll keep you posted on the progress and, of course, share the designs.

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I finally found a source for machine embroidery thread

I have been in need of making an embroidery thread purchase for a while but mulling over what type to buy and where to buy it from for the past couple of weeks. First – I needed to decide what kind of thread to buy. I thought I liked only the cotton machine embroidery thread, but the more I have been embroidering the less I am finding that to be a strong preference. Also – there are not that many sources for cotton machine embroidery thread.

I decided that my sewing machine handled my Isacord (polyester) thread fairly well and being that I had several cones of it already – I thought adding to my Isacord collection made the most sense.

Also – for the type of embroidery I do – i would prefer to have larger cones of colors I like. I don’t tend to stitch out designs with a lots of blends and subtle color changes.  I tend to stitch out simpler graphics that don’t require specific thread colors so I tend to use the colors I like more frequently.  So – fewer colors needed but more of the colors I like.

Now – where to buy Isacord machine embroidery thread?  I considered buying embroidery thread through eBay, but upon more thorough inspection – I didn’t see any great buys.   Then I discovered which I thought had great prices and just about every imaginable color of Isacord thread… so I went for it.

Once the thread arrives in a few days – I will report back on my purchase.

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Favorite thread types for machine embroidery

Ok – remember a few posts back when I was trying to figure out what thread to buy? Well – I still haven’t made a decision. I have been looking at different on-line retailers, trying to educate myself, but still haven’t bought any much needed thread.

When it comes to thread, machine embroidery enthusiasts have a STRONG opinion…. I posted a question to my machine embroidery Facebook groups about preferred thread brands and if buying thread off of eBay was a bad idea. The gist of what they said was that – if it’s a name brand you like – go for it.

Other sources recommended for buying machine embroidery thread online were and

Favorite brands of machine embroidery thread included Madeira, Isacord, Floriani, Janome, Marathon

Least favorite brands of machine embroidery thread are Coats and Clark, Sulky, Guterman

I was warned that sometimes brands of thread advertised as name brands aren’t always what they seem.

[i bought thread from an eBay retailer] and I now have a whole load of thread that I can’t use. It was a recognized brand, but what wasn’t made clear is that it from a subsidiary company in India. Having said that, I have also bought Brother thread, which was fine. A rule of thumb is if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Many people warned that buying cheap machine embroidery thread would lead me straight to “snap city.”

Don’t buy the cheap ones!! I have 300+ reels sat in a box completely unusable grrrrr

Mine are in a dump somewhere!

Only one person had good luck with “cheap” machine embroidery thread.

I must be the odd one out lol I’ve bought the “cheap” ones & got on fine with them x

Ok- I really MUST buy some thread now!

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What is the best source for purchasing sticky-back stabilizer for machine embroidery and appliqué?

I have become convinced that my favorite type of stabilizer for machine embroidery is the sticky-back variety. I am tired of gumming up my machine with spray adhesive then having sticky hoops, needles and fingers so I am completely convinced that I only want to work with sticky-back. The problem? It’s a bit pricey.

However, there have to be some wholesale suppliers that sell it at a reasonable price if I were willing to buy a whole bunch of it. I thought it might be useful to not only me – but all my readers – to do a price comparison of a few on-line retailers for sticky-back adhesive in an effort to find the best price. (And place an order!)

Jo Ann’s fabric and crafts.
12″ wide x 6 yards
With Joanns there are always coupons so maybe pricing could be better.
12″ x 6 yards
Does not carry 12″ wide rolls, but 9.5″ rolls (which would better suit my large hoop size) is 10 yards for $20.63
19.5″ wide roll – 25 yards

Clearly has the best pricing but is the least known quantity.  For the benefit of everyone who reads this blog – I am giving them a try and ordering my sticky-back stabilizer from this supplier.


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Etsy digitizee: Meringue Designs – Great Modern Embroidery Designs

Until a few months ago, I had never purchased any machine embroidery designs on Etsy.  That all changed when we were remodeling our vacation property in Vermont.  The remodel involved a complete gut-rehab of our living room.  We installed new cabinetry, laid down new carpet and changed the paint color to an earthy-blue grey, green pallette.

The existing throw pillows were orange and brown which worked with the old look of the room but looked pretty hideous with the new colors.  So, I decided to recover them. I got some tan burlap/linen type fabric and created a cover for the pillows. Before stitching the front and the back together, I stitched out this great design from Meringue Designs on Etsy.

I love the look of just about everything for sale on the Meringue Designs Etsy
store.  Her designs are modern and whimsical and completely defy the stereotypical granny-line designs on many of the more well-known sites that sell machine embroidery designs. Many of the designs are geared towards home decor projects but there are some for clothing, especially for kids.

What is interesting about this specific design is that the forget-me-nots look like they are stitched out in various shades of blue, however due to the stitch angle, they all look slightly different.

The owner of Meringue Designs responded to my emails very promptly and delivered the design in less that 24 hours. I am a huge fan.

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Dharma Trading Company: A Great Source for Clothing and Acessories to Embroider

Are you looking for simple textiles and acessories that are begging to be embroidered?  Look no further.  Dharma Trading Company is a supplier of white and solid-colored items specifically for fabric-art project. This Northern California-based company has been in business for approximately 40 years, with it’s origin as a supplier of white t-shirts to the enthusiastic tie-dye-ers of the 1960s.

There are quite a few items on their web site that I believe would be great items to embroider.

How cute is this dress for a little girl?  A simple graphic below the neckline could add a personalized touch to this piece, and at less than $10 – it’s a bargain.

What about personalized text book covers for a teen?

Aprons for a cook?

A sun hat for a young child?

A tote bag for a shopper?

Combining textile dying with embroidery is sure to produce some interesting results.