ANNOUNCEMENT - Now a Designer for Fairfield™ Processing Corporation

This blog post is sponsored by Fairfield™ Processing Corporation. Not because they asked me to write it or that I am getting paid by them, or even though I have received generous boxes of products from them, but because I am now on their Design Team; however, all the opinions are mine.  I assure you that they have had no influence on me.

So many exciting things have been happening around here. I am so happy to announce that I am now officially on the Design Team for Fairfield™ Processing Corporation.  You may have guessed something was up when I blogged about visiting Fairfield in May.

When I first started this blog, I had deliberated on whether I would accept any products or money from sponsors.  Originally, I was going just blog and not accept anything after reading several other bloggers who were purists and felt that sponsorship was not the way to go. To be perfectly honest, I loved Fairfield products way before I ever became a designer so it was an easy decision for me. 

They have so many products and I was amazed to see all of them when I visited. They are a company that is behind the scenes of crafters and sewers.  They make gorgeous batting for quilts, volumes of different pillow forms, interfacings, foam, and many different specialty products.  Basically - Fillers. Their logo is "at the heart of your project." That just captures it! Three products that I was not aware of before I joined, I have come to adore - Shield, Aluminor, and Solarize.  

Shield Liner Fabric is the coolest fabric ever.  I know that if this had been around when my children were young, I would have purchased a bolt of it. Well, with nine children, I am sure it would have been more than one. You can plan on me using this in my designs even though I do not have young children. It is for adults too and besides, I am starting a grandma's hope chest, but do not tell my children. You could just use this product straight with no other fabrics and it would be fabulous for protection.

Fairfield's Shield Fabric Liner

Fairfield's Shield Fabric Liner

The awesome part is that it truly was designed for use everywhere as it is food safe and microwavable. Let Fairfield tell you in their words exactly what it is...

Shield, a moisture & allergen barrier fabric, is a PUL fabric that creates moisture and allergen barrier for improved health and comfort. Sew a layer to the top or inside of your project to create a shield against moisture, grease, pollens, dustmites and dander.

Aluminor is the one that caught my eye. It is a gold or silver quilted thermal fabric that can keep things cold or warm, basically maintaining temperature. This has so many potentials in the kitchen and on the body. The most obvious project would be a fashionable tote to carry food.  Of course, Fairfield  already thought of that.  Here is a link to their project:

Fairfield Project using Aluminor for a Tote Bag

Fairfield Project using Aluminor for a Tote Bag

The next product is very similar but yet very different, It is Solarize. It is used like an interfacing and has the same thermal principles as Aluminor, but is used on the inside. Of course, this product is perfect around food and it is food safe. This product would also be wonderful as a liner in children's boots, and clothing in the winter harsh cold months when they go out to play. Put it in a pair of mittens with a liner of Shield and those children will be making snowmen and snowballs all afternoon. 

Fairfield has a resource center of projects using their products. They have recently started a back-to-school theme of which I have had the privilege to contribute three projects.  You will see those on the blog soon. I am in love with their new indigo dying technique for home decor. All the projects are just gorgeous and their dying technique is so clever. Personally, my favorite is the alpaca tuffet. I had the opportunity to see it in person and I know first hand that the pictures do not do it justice. It is the cutest thing ever.  

Fairfield Project for a Alpaca Tuffet

Fairfield Project for a Alpaca Tuffet

Their website has so many projects to keep you going for a long time. It is link that you will want to bookmark for a resource for projects. By the way, the website is not just for sewers.  There are many projects that do not require sewing.

Many of my readers are beginning sewers, so I know you will be able to use many of the upcoming projects that I have planned. The best part for me is that I have the freedom to even use machine embroidery on the projects I design. So if you have a project in mind that you would love to see come to fruition, send me an email. I would love to hear your ideas.

Happy sewing!



 Amazing Designs  is a very versatile machine embroidery resource. They are owned by Tacony Coporation, the mother company of Baby Lock, Madeira, and Koala Studios, so you know their name is reputable. Their high-quality designs are worthy of the family name. Their meta tag touts of having 11,000 embroidery designs.  That is a lot of designs from which to choose.

Amazing Design's Bazooples Collection and Baby Lock's built in font

Amazing Design's Bazooples Collection and Baby Lock's built in font

Amazing Designs has an artistic flair with their anthropomorphism that I just love.  

Amazing Design's Tiny Tailor Collection

Amazing Design's Tiny Tailor Collection

Their little animals all dressed in the cutest clothes and doing human activities are so adorable. 

Amazing Design's Tiny Tailor Collection

Amazing Design's Tiny Tailor Collection

My absolute favorite is their Tiny Tailors Collection by Janet Wecker-Frisch. If I were not afraid of embarrassing my family, I would wear these designs on everything, but as it turns out, I only have a cleaning jumper that I embroidered them on. Even then, I get the, “Seriously, Mom!”

Amazing Design's Tiny Tailor Collection

Amazing Design's Tiny Tailor Collection

For those of us who love coloring (so glad that is such the rave these days!), you will love many of their designs, as many of their designs are outlined in black.  I am so drawn to them (pun intended). I think the outlining makes them pop, but these are the kind of designs that you really have to make sure that it is hooped tightly or the outline will shift even so slightly.

Amazing Design's Bazooples Collection

Amazing Design's Bazooples Collection

As you would expect they have pages for tips and techniques, projects and lots of other resources. There are several links, so surf around, you will find lots of treasures.

They have a page of freebies that can be downloaded monthly.  Do you have a list of websites that you can click on to download their free designs monthly? I am in the process of developing such a list that I will share publicly, and would love to add your favorite, quality developers to the list.

Amazing Design's Tiny Tailor Collection

Amazing Design's Tiny Tailor Collection

While I have fun writing about quality machine embroidery websites regularly, I must admit that I do not have much will power, and wind up finding a collection or two to purchase when I am gathering the links for this blog. This week I noticed that Amazing Designs was having a great sale under the “Specials” category on so many of the designs I had on my wish list.

So many designs, so little time! Happy stitching!

Behind the Scenes – Fairfield™ Processing Corporation

As sewists, we cannot take anything for granted.  When we sew those projects we know completely how they are constructed, but for most people, those projects are a complete unknown to them. Take a simple stuffed animal. People may know that it is filled with a poly-fil since on some occasion they have probably seen one fall apart, but they do not know all the choices that it could have been filled with and if any stiffener was used to keep its shape.  So much goes into the construction of a sewn project and these fillers truly are “at the heart of your project.”

Fairfield Processing Corporation is “at the heart of your project” as a leader in manufacturing quality fillers.  Fairfield is located in Danbury, CT, and being a resident of CT, I had the privilege to have a behind the scenes tour with them.

The company is 77 years old and began as a manufacturer of natural fillers for hats and clothing. It is no wonder that they would be located in Danbury as at one time Danbury, CT, was the “Hat City of the World,” with 56 hat shops in Danbury by 1809. [ ]

I would surmise that the company name was derived from the name of the county which they resided, Fairfield. 

One could spend a whole day just reading the captions of the historical pictures that line the halls of Fairfield™ . It looks like a museum with its pictures of hat manufacturing and hat memorabilia. What an inspiring place to work with such a rich history.

History is not the only thing that lines the halls.  Gorgeous quilts and fiber art are everywhere.  Each office is a showcase. I wanted to know about the creator and history of each one, but there was not time – business must go on, and I did not want to impose.


Down at the end of the hall, is where all the magic happens. All those wonderful fillers are magically turned into creative, fun-filled projects. The door opens to the spectacular showroom that showcases most of their products. There are completed projects everywhere and there were even a few that they allowed me a sneak-peek.  They did not say, but I think they will be revealed this week at Quilt Market. I have been searching my Instagram account for them. 

Robin Dann and Tricia Santamaria, are the driving forces behind this creative “Design Team,” which is also comprised of sewists and crafters nationwide that create using Fairfield products. [I apologize that none of my pictures came out well of these ladies.  Next time I will have to check for blinking before I leave.]

As you would imagine they have a sewing room tucked in the midst of all this. Adilia Duarte has the wonderful privilege to be the sewist for Fairfield.

She has been with them for the past 29 years.  She started out in manufacturing and knew her first day on the job that she was not meant to be in manufacturing.  She told her supervisor and husband that she was not returning, but she did return, and I know she is glad she did, because just a few months later she found her way into a lifetime career of a sewist at Fairfield. When someone has an idea, she is the person that brings it to life. She creates simple stuffed friends, as well as beautiful ball gowns. Her closet is her inspiration. She knows what it has and what it can become. This Juki sewing machine has been her life-long friend.

She was so gracious to tell me all about her sewing adventure at Fairfield™, and as you would expect, she also provided me with tips along the way.

Here is one tip... be careful with your foam.  Do not take it out of its packaging too soon, as the oxygen turns the foam a different color.  It does not affect the integrity of the foam, but it can be an eye-sore.

Each one of the projects sitting out, she knows who made them and why they were made.  She is the Fairfield historian as well.

A sincere thank you to everyone at Fairfield who allowed me this wonderful behind the scenes tour and who have asked me to join the Fairfield “Design Team.” Followers will benefit from this relationship, as you can expect to be seeing many free sewing projects posted on this blog. A special thank you also to Abby Glassenberg at  It was the article in her newsletter that lead me to Fairfield™.

Behind the truck in front, are several eighteen wheelers that are being loaded for a store near you. 

Wednesday Website Crush - Adorable Ideas

John Deer is the driving force behind the website Adorable Ideas and technically, Ultimate Stash is the website that offers the machine embroidery designs.  Adorable Ideas is the parent company that also owns Digitizing Made Easy, for which John Deer is really known. To make it even more confusing, do not type in “John Deer machine embroidery” into google or your hits will come back with lots of tractor designs. You probably noticed this, but John Deer does not spell his name the same as the tractor company John Deere.

Ultimate Stash Design Aspm051

Ultimate Stash Design Aspm051

John Deer is a third generation embroiderer.  His family began designing Schiffli lace on looms around 1910 and has passed down that skill to John Deer. [Digitizing Made Easy by John Deer, 2007] What an incredible heritage. 

On the top bar of their website is the Learning Center that includes: Classroom, Inspiration, and Tutorials. All three of these sections will keep you busy learning for a long time.  Personally, I love seeing the exquisite gowns made with the Schiffli lace.

Close up Ultimate Stash Design Aspm051

Close up Ultimate Stash Design Aspm051

The designs on the Ultimate Stash website are a very high quality. You can tell that it comes from many years of experience, but it is most evident when you click on the lace designs. They are gorgeous.  This is really authentic Schiffli lace that is available to every home embroiderer.  Before my husband bought me my embroidery machine, I never dreamed that I would have the ability to create such beautiful, authentic lace.  It has been such a joy to me to find this site.

Close up Ultimate Stash Design Aiml015

Close up Ultimate Stash Design Aiml015

My favorite purchases are from his “Vintage Lace Project Series” hosted by Janet Carley.  These lace projects are so elegant. You learn professional methods of using the lace designs on projects. I am not sure if they are still available as I could not find them on the website any longer.  I now wish I had purchased all of them. 

The website does have many designs that are not lace oriented.  They have a free design for you to try. In addition to regular designs, they specialize in “Sparkle Designs;” and they offer kits as well to accompany the designs.

This bride and groom lace motif is just lovely and makes a wonderful wedding card or can be added to even an anniversary gift.  

Ultimate Stash Design Mesa043

Ultimate Stash Design Mesa043

Have fun machine embroidering and I hope you enjoy the Adorable Ideas website. 

Wednesday Website Crush – Sue Box Creations

Lace is incredible to make on an embroidery machine. It is so gorgeous and so easy to sew.  It uses a technique called free-standing, which basically means that the design does not need it to be embroidered onto fabric.  It is embroidered on a stabilizer that is water-soluble.  It washes away and only the threads remain.  The digitizing for free-standing lace is a different technique than for regular designs. Each thread must connect to another thread and they must build upon each in order for the threads to not separate when washed.  This technique is difficult to master and it is where you can tell a novice from a master.

"Just Lace" machine embroidery design by Sue Box Creations

"Just Lace" machine embroidery design by Sue Box Creations

Sue Box Creations is a website from Australia that specializes in beautiful laces and exquisite designs. She offers a variety of free-standing laces that can be made into doilies and hankies, as well as traditional galloons.

"Just Lace" machine embroidery design by Sue Box Creations

"Just Lace" machine embroidery design by Sue Box Creations

While galloon laces are traditionally sewn free-standing and then sewn along the edge of a garment, they can be sewn directly onto the garment.  This is especially useful when it is a child’s garment that will used for every day use or as in this case a blue jean garment that is used around the house for every day chores and gardening.  It withstands a lot of abuse and has held up over the years because the lace was sewn directly onto the front of the jumper. This way it cannot snag or get caught on anything while I am working.

"Just Lace" machine embroidery design by Sue Box Creations

"Just Lace" machine embroidery design by Sue Box Creations

In my mind, there is nothing like her 3-D swan. It is so awesome and so impressive to give as a gift. People will not believe that it is all thread. We have made several of these swans that take many hours and lots of thread to complete, but they are worth every bit.  The picture below is from their website as we did not keep any for ourselves and did not take a picture before we gave them away.  Of course, I will have to fix that soon. As you can tell, they are just as much fun to give-away as they are to keep.

"3D Lace Swan" machine embroidery design and image by Sue Box Creations

"3D Lace Swan" machine embroidery design and image by Sue Box Creations

As with great machine embroidery digitizers, she has free downloads. There are currently thirteen free designs that show off her talents and one template. I personally just love the detail of the dragonfly.

If you love 3-D lace or are just curious on how it works, she has a free lace motif that when sewn together creates a lovely 3-D bowl. It takes 6 of the triangles to make one bowl.  You sew them together by hand or with the sewing machine. She has instructions with the download.

Free "Lace Gift" machine embroidery design by Sue Box Creations

Free "Lace Gift" machine embroidery design by Sue Box Creations

Make sure that you sign up for their newsletter as they offer complete CD’s with free shipping for half off, free designs, $1 and $2 designs, and many other wonderful offers. Hope you enjoy these designs as much as I do. 

Wednesday Website Crush – Martha Pullen Company

Martha Pullen Company is known for many wonderful things in the sewing world.  I think heirloom sewing and Martha Pullen's former magazine, Sew Beautiful, would be first in most people’s minds, but they are equally known for their exquisite machine embroidery designs. 

They have two ways to purchase machine embroidery designs.  The first is the standard way of searching for a design on their website and downloading it or having it sent to you in the mail, but they also have an incredible embroidery club. 

The embroidery club has an abundance of gorgeous designs for a set price. At $69 a year, it is a wonderful deal.  In the years past, you received at least two alphabets, a total of nine sets of designs to start the membership, and then at least two designs each month.  The design sets have included exquisite christening gown designs, smocking in-the-hoop, Christmas ornaments, baby booties with matching bonnets, and so many other designs. 

In addition to their designs, Martha Pullen Company offers videos and classes on how to machine embroider.

My all time favorite design from Martha Pullen Company is their free-standing lace nativity ornaments.  They are just beautiful and stitch out so precisely. I just love making and giving them every year as gifts. In case you are looking for them, they are still available in their 2013 collection.

While you are at it, if you are not familiar with heirloom techniques, you may want to add them to your repertoire. Martha Pullen is the originator of French hand sewing techniques on the sewing machine. 

Wednesday Website Crush - Urban Threads

There are some companies who just seem to know what is trendy and can set the pace before everyone else.  Urban Threads is definitely one of those companies in the machine embroidery industry. If you want to know the latest and impress your friends and family with your “in-the-know,” spend some time perusing their website


At first glance you might judge them to be all skulls and tattoo type designs, but look a little further and you will find something for everyone.  While they may have a very hip culture, they also are very diverse.  They range from a typewriter letter font to a gorgeous lace envelope to heraldic lions to French Napoleon bees. They even have unique wedding designs. These designs just do not get any better from a style as well as a quality perspective.


In addition to offering high quality and versatile designs, they provide a great “Lookbook” gallery and tutorials.   One year my teen boys loved the non-traditional placement of designs on their T-shirts that had been featured on the Urban Threads website. This website keeps me up to date with the latest trends that really surprise my children.


Signing up for their newsletter insures that you will be able to take advantage of those wonderful sales and keep informed on all the latest addition of designs.  However, it will not keep you up on the freebies.  You will have to check periodically for those. Have fun surfing through this great website and do not forget to try one their designs for free or on sale.

Wednesday Website Crush - Zundt Designs

Machine embroiders have the unique ability to create one of a kind projects, but they also have to ability to have access to quality embroidery designs that are only available to the elite of the fashion industry. Zundt Designs is one of those high-end embroidery designers, which also has a long legacy with the historic embroideries of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Zundt Designs is known for their exquisite lace. They have every kind of lace your can think of such as motifs, corners, jewelry, ornaments, 3-dimensional, and of course, the traditional galloon.

The typical machine embroidery design is always realistic and highly detailed. They range from animals to children designs, but their precision flourishes in their vast flower collection.

Zundt has a unique project section entitled “Adorations.” It showcases their gorgeous designs in projects. Each project has designs and design workbooks that fully explain the projects and demonstrate how to use lace like the professionals. These projects encompass a vast breadth of areas from garments and quilts to window treatments and tablecloths.

As to be expected, the alphabets designed by Zundt are impeccable and follow the lines of elaborate historical fonts. Any one of them would make a monogram that would impress even the hardest to please.

To allow machine embroiders to test their superb designs, they currently offer three designs for free – a beautiful rose bud, a lace bow, and a free-standing lace ornament.  All three are just wonderful and are a delicious taste of their other elegant designs.  Hope you have fun trying them. 

Wednesday Website Crush – Embroidery Library

What is the one thing you would want on a deserted island?

Ask ten people that question and you will get ten answers. 

"Desert Island" Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

"Desert Island" Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Honestly, how can you ever answer that question. Just thinking about it can boggle your mind.

Well, in my fantasy world, my deserted island has running water, electricity, and of course, an embroidery machine under a palm tree. (Did you see it all in the photo?) What more could I ask for? Unlimited blanks and designs!

Embroidery Library, Inc. would be one design supplier that would be able to keep me happy on my deserted island. With over 100,000 quality embroidery designs, how could I ever run out? Can you imagine how many designs that is! In a hundred year period, I would have to embroider over 2 designs a day just to use them all.  Now granted, not all of those are unique designs.  Some are just size differences, but even if you take that margin off, it still leaves you with a lot of designs.

These designs seem to fill most of my needs when I am thinking of a project.  They seem to have every style imaginable: filled, watercolor, red work, black work, sashiko, trapunto, embossed, free-standing lace, applique, in-the-hoop, etc. Personally, I cannot think of a category in which they do not have an embroidery design.

While their designs are of the highest quality and they offer so many, you would think that would be the end of it. However, they far exceed our expectations as they are also an educational website.  Do you need to know how to embroider on velvet, paper, or that ever so popular toilet paper? They have it all explained in their “Projects” section. 

The “Projects” section has a wealth of information.  Think of a project and it is there with a complete description of how to complete the project with the appropriate types of fabric that work well with the specific designs, the best stabilizer, threads and needles.

The “Fabric 101” section is my favorite.  I have never needed to buy expensive embroidery books or take classes because this website was right at my fingertips.  It is books and classes on machine embroidery all wrapped up in one nice spot.

As to be expected of their professionalism, they have a weekly newsletter that highlights their latest additions to the library and includes the wonderful weekly sales.

The best part is that every month they offer free designs, which is from their normal library of designs.  They are not simple or watered-down designs, but actual designs that are normally for sale.

Now the question almost as hard as the deserted island question, “What is your favorite design from Embroidery Library, Inc.?”

Wednesday Website Crush

Welcome to Website Crush Wednesday – a new series for machine embroiderers.  This week is just an introduction to the future series because the first website is a biggie.  It has such a wealth of information that it will take a very long blog post to cover.

Each week (hopefully) a new machine embroidery website will be featured. There are so many great websites out there and so many that need to be discovered.  Probably in the beginning you will be quite familiar with the websites, but for those of you who are new, maybe not.

To be honest, I will only review a website that I have personally tested one of their designs. This is to make sure that the designs themselves are high quality, which is a topic for another blog post. The website must have a good reputation and sell original designs.  Initially, I will focus on freestanding shops that produce their own designs in house.

Is there a website that you go to regularly or on special occasions, please let me know about it. I would love your recommendations. Maybe you are a shop owner and would like to be featured.  I am open to your recommendations also, but I will make a disclaimer that I was contacted for review.

All the commentary will be my own and there is no compensation involved. I would love to know your comments as well.  

The best part is that eventually I will publish a list of all the websites reviewed and you can use it to click on or to remind yourself when you are looking for a particular design.

So until next week, happy embroidering!


How to Sew a Pillowcase Dress

The best sewing projects are when they are done together with a friend. A friend of mine texted me, and asked if I would help her reestablish her sewing skills by making pillowcase dresses for her daughters. Oh, I loved the idea – fellowship and sewing – it does not get any better than that.

Pillowcase dress on the sweetest girl with a matching purse and rosettes made by her mom.

Pillowcase dress on the sweetest girl with a matching purse and rosettes made by her mom.

Simplicity has a pattern designed just for pillowcase dresses. Pattern 2391 sounded like it was just perfect for her first project in several years.  We started out by perusing the pillowcases, the pattern, and finally finding dresses that were a good fit and length for the girls, so we could use them as a guide, since the girls were in school and we could not measure them.

After scanning the pattern and the instructions, I decided that view A and C were best, as they did not have the bottom band and I cut it out the front piece quickly. We measured the front piece with the girls’ dresses and then with the pillowcases to make sure that it all fit. The pattern uniquely has two instructions – one for fabric dresses – one for true pillowcase dresses. We opted for the dress made from a pillowcase.  My friend had purchased them so inexpensively and that was her goal with a pillowcase dress - inexpensive repurposed dress.

My big mistake, which turned out to be a good modification to the pattern, was that I did not see where it called for bias binding on the envelope.  It is usually in the “Notions” section, but it only said, “Thread. Look for Simplicity notions and Wrights trims.” That did not help as the pattern instructions clearly set out steps for using bias tape.  I did not know how wide or how much. That was fine with me, I love making my own bias, so I did not look any further on the pattern envelope and just proceeded to instruct my friend on making her own. So here are our instructions on how to make a pillowcase dress. (By the way, the pattern envelope does tell how much and how wide, but it is in the middle of the envelope after the fabric yardage for each view.)

How to Sew a Pillowcase Dress

(with bias made from the pillowcase)

STEP 1 - Gather supplies

Pillowcase (do not cut any seams)

Coordinating thread

2 3/8 yard of ribbon

Measurements or one garment such as a dress that can be used for measurements

A pattern or a garment that can be used for drafting an arm opening (aka armscye)

STEP 2 – Fold the pillowcase lengthwise. Layout the dress on the pillowcase to determine the placement, width and length of the dress. Mark or otherwise indicate the top of the dress. 

STEP 3 – Place the armscye )sleeve opening) pattern or dress on the seams of the pillowcase, lining up the top with that of the top line that you measured in Step 2.

STEP 4 – Cut the armscye and the top of the pillowcase straight to the edge of the fold.

Notice that we had extra width compared to the pattern, but that was good and could be taken in when gathered by the ribbon.

Notice that we had extra width compared to the pattern, but that was good and could be taken in when gathered by the ribbon.

STEP 5 – With the leftover pillowcase fabric cut four 2 inch strips that are the width of the pillowcase (not the diameter – you can cut the seams so there are two widths when you cut).  Two will be used for the bias binding on the sleeve openings (armscye). Two will be used for the casing on the neck for the ribbon.

STEP 6 – Press two bias strips in half lengthwise.

STEP 7 – Press the other two bias strips with a fold ¼” from the bottom.

STEP 8 – Pin the bias strip that has been pressed in half to the sleeve opening on the right side. 

2016-04-15 11.10.24.jpg

Cut any extra bias fabric at the end to match with the armscye. Do it for both armscyes.

STEP 9 – Sew the bias strip to each armscyce using a ½” seam allowance.

STEP 10 – Press the bias strip flat.

STEP 11 – Trim the seam allowance to 3/8”.

STEP 12 – Fold the bias strip down and sew it close to the edge. 

STEP 13 – Press the armscyes.

STEP 14 – To make the ribbon casing, pin the other bias strip with the ¼” fold to the neckline and fold the ends in about ½” from the end. Cut any extra bias fabric at the end to match with the neckline. Do it for the front and back.

STEP 15 – Press the bias strip flat – being careful not to loose the ¼” fold.

STEP 16 - Fold the bias strip down and sew it close to the edge of the ¼” fold.

STEP 17 – Press the neckline.

STEP 18 – Cut the ribbon in half and thread each through the casing made at the neckline. Do this for the front and the back, then tie the ribbons together at the shoulders to finish the dress.

My friend and I had a fun and productive morning together, but it was too short, so we decided that we needed to do it again soon. She would love to continue repurposing. What sewing projects have you sewn that are repurposed?






How to Prep Fabric for Neckline Embroidery

Machine embroidering a garment is so much fun.  You get the pleasure of both embroidering it and wearing it.  Many of us just embroider to enhance premade garments, but on those special garments, we even break down and create the whole garment. We do not get to do as much embroidering, but for some of us, garment construction is as much fun (well…almost).

Personally, I get extra enjoyment when I am embroidering for my family. My college daughter asked me to embroider her a Mexican flower peasant blouse, but after purchasing several patterns and fabrics, we settled on a tunic design.

She chose Simplicity 4149 with the cap sleeves from Simplicity 1461.  The fabric is a handkerchief weight cotton from Spechler-Vogel. Choosing the embroidery design was the easiest part.  I just loved Embroidery Online's Flores de Mexico. It looks and sounds so authentic. Their color combination that they chose to stitch out is just beautiful with a rich turquoise. My daughter chose a bright and neon combination from Floriani that just pops and screams, "Young."

It took me a little while before I had to courage to tackle this project as my daughter is a great machine embroider and I knew she would not be happy if the placement was not just right, but I also knew that if anyone would appreciate it, it would be her. 

The best strategy that I decided was to prep the fabric with all the necessary markings. When I purchased the fabric I did not have the foresight to buy extra since I knew it did not have a nap or a design. Next time I would definitely buy an extra half yard so I could put it in the hoop comfortably. Since I was right up to the edge on everything, I decided that I did not have any room for mistakes and would embroider with that mind set.

All the other pieces were cut out and I left the front of the pattern uncut. I traced the front pattern with a blue chalk onto the fabric. I knew that after multiple hoping that the chalk lines would not remain and I was not sure if they would be visible to the sewing machine's camera, so I decided to baste the chalk lines with a red cotton thread.

The seam allowance on the neckline was very important, as well as, the center front line and the placement for the front placket.  

In hindsight I needed the sleeve seam allowance also, so I wound up drawing them in when I was at that point.

For me the biggest decision was what stabilizer to use.  My daughter kept insisting that she wanted a wash away, but my I did not feel comfortable doing that with such a lightweight fabric combined with a heavy design.  That was not a good mix in the first place. I practiced with a wash away and was not happy with it. She loves the convenience of the tear away, but I went against all her wishes and used the "No Show Mesh Nylon Cutaway Fusible Stabilizer" by Floriani. Of course, I was a smart mom and did not tell her what I used until she said she loved it. 

The stabilizer was applied to cover the entire area that was going to be embroidered, including the area where it would need to be hooped, but the fabric would not be in the hoop. Here is where I would have loved to have had those extra inches of fabric, but since the fabric was so thin, it would hoop so evenly and tightly that it would not even make a difference.

My daughter loved the placement of the Embroidery Online tunic, so I tried to duplicate it as much as possible. After close examination, we determined that the main bottom center design was actually two designs stitched on top of each other. 

The camera and snowman feature of my Babylock Ellisimo Gold were lifesavers. Even in the placement of the first design I used the snowman first, then the camera, to make sure the placement was exactly matched up with all my stitching lines.  Thankfully, it was right where I wanted it. I stitched the first design and then used the camera to find the placement of the second design. Presto! Right on the mark again. I cannot imagine having embroidered this project without that scanning feature. 

Most everything fit exactly as I had imagined it, with the exception of the sleeve area.  The very end of the scroll goes into the seam allowance, but that was adjusted when I sewed by taking it just right to the edge of the scroll and right there is the best part about constructing your own garments instead of purchasing them to embellish. 

Which do you prefer to embroider on - ready-made garments or constructing your own garments?





Machine Embroidery Thread Organization with Dixie Cups

Machine embroidery is so much fun and part of the fun is playing with all those threads. Recently, I made my college daughter a Mexican flower peasant blouse that had 53,877 stitches using thirteen different bright and neon colors. I had so much fun organizing all those threads.

Many machine embroiders use these wooden or plastic spindle type racks to display their vast assortment of threads, aka, their stash. I also use this method and have several to keep them all sorted by color, but I also have one wooden "June Tailor" rack that is collapsible.  I can conveniently fold it away when I am not using it. 

It holds thirty-four different spools, allowing me to sort that many thread jumps. Personally, I have never had a design loaded into the machine that was more than that, as I have always had to re-hoop to get that much onto my surface.

Most embroidery machines today have the capability to show the sequence order of the thread jumps.  This is such a wonderful feature and allows you to keep everything organized by referring to the sequence number on the machine compared with that on the design sheet and then keeping the threads in the same order on the rack. Checking and rechecking all three constantly makes for a perfect stitch-out.

Inevitably, the threads will be used more than once.  There is the dilemma - what to do with that open space.  You could just leave it open, but then you run the risk of loosing track of your placement, or if you are like me and have accidentally purchased the same color twice, you could use the duplicate. However, it never seems to work out that that is the color that is duplicated and you are still left with that gapping hole. Dixie cups to the rescue! 

Those Dixie cups are the best! You turn them upside down and write on the number of the thread color on the bottoms that should be next in order. Voila! An inexpensive placement marker and you will not loose your place again. 

The best part of those cups...they can be filled with your sweet pick-me-up when not in use. 

What is the most unusual thing you use in your sewing room?

Machine Embroidered Flower Headband

One of my college daughters asked me to make her friend a flower headband. Since my daughter also machine embroiders, it was so much fun to be facetiming while looking at machine embroidery designs at the same time. This truly is a wonderful technological age! Who would have guessed that you could see your daughter who lives over 800 miles away and still go shopping all at the same time – let alone, be planning for an embroidery design that will be stitched by a machine! Sometimes it just boggles my mind!

Free Standing Sunflower Beads by Sonia Showalter

Free Standing Sunflower Beads by Sonia Showalter

We settled on a free standing flower design by Sonia Showalter, entitled “Sunflower Beads.”  It is a very versatile design and can be stitched in any color combination. My daughter chose white with a single grey center.  It was designed with a three-color combination – one for the petals and two for the center design – with two parts to the flower.  There is an upper and a lower part of the flower.  The bottom flower has a loop on each side where a ribbon can be threaded through, which is the main reason why we picked this design.  It was cute, the right size and could be simply made into a band by looping them together.  Perfect!

The instructions state, “When completely dry, the flower pieces need to be glued together before stringing.” Ugh! This is machine embroidery! Surely we can do all this in the hoop and skip the gluing phase. There was my challenge!

So here it is.  Here are my instructions for machine embroidering the two flower parts together without gluing them.

For this project, I used Floriani’s water soluble stabilizer, “Wet N Gone.” This product is not the plastic type of stabilizer, but has more body like a true stabilizer.  I used two sheets in the hoop initially and then I added one more sheet in step 8. 

Floriani Wet N Gone Water Soluble Stabilizer

Floriani Wet N Gone Water Soluble Stabilizer



Follow Sonia’s instructions to machine embroider all the “bottom” flowers first.  Trim the threads at this time. Wash them and set them aside to dry overnight.


Follow Sonia’s instructions to machine embroider the “top” flowers next. However, stitch colors 1 and 2. STOP before stitching color 3.  If you are stitching several flowers in one hoop, you will have to carefully watch your stitch out and advance your machine manually from color 2 in one flower, back to color 1 in the next flower.


Trim all the threads from the top flowers at this time.


When all the flowers are stitched for colors 1 and 2, advance your machine back to the starting point and then advance it again so it begins at color 3 of the first flower.


Take your hoop out of the machine.


Carefully turn your hoop upside down on something that is approximately the width of the inside of your hoop. [For me, it was a Body for Life for Women book that was sitting on my cutting table just dying to be opened.]


Individually spray the front of each “bottom” flower lightly with Sulky KK 2000, but completely. [I tried using a fabric glue stick, but it was not strong enough to stick the two flowers together.]

Do not use Fabric Glue

Do not use Fabric Glue

TIP: I have a tall, but medium sized cardboard box that I use for spraying with Sulky KK 2000. I put the item in the bottom of the box to spray it and then all the sticky mist does not get onto everything.  I keep the box folded up against a wall so it does not take up any space and it is readily available when I need it.

Sulkiy KK 2000 Spray

Sulkiy KK 2000 Spray


Cut another piece of water soluble stabilizer larger than the size of your hoop and lightly spray it with the Sulky KK 2000. Place it sticky side down on top of the flower sandwich that was just created. This will keep those bottom flowers from getting caught in the feed dogs or any other openings. Finger press this down very securely.


Carefully, put the hoop back into the machine. 


Double check to make sure your first stitch will be color 3 the center of the first flower. (See step 3)


Stitch ONLY color 3 for each flower by advancing the stitch order manually on your machine.


You are now done with the special instructions. You can remove the hoop, trim the threads and wash the away the stabilizer.

The flowers were threaded all together with fold-over elastic and tied with a simple knot to keep it together.

This headband is such a fun spring project.  What will you be making to celebrate spring?