½-inch button equals ½-inch stay
¾-inch button equals ¾-inch stay
1 ¼-inch button equals a ONE inch stay
¼-inch button equals a ONE HALF inch stay
One hundred sewing and embroidery tips and tricks - #11
Have you ever wanted to change button sizes on a pattern but you were unsure about repositioning your coordinating button holes? Changing a button size means changing spacing. Spacing from the edge is called the "stay." Take a look at the guide below and you"ll get details for how to measure and mark according to button size.
Stay is the amount of space between the edge of the garment and where the buttonhole is placed. The stay usually equals the size of the button. However, you never go under ½- inch or over 1-inch.
½-inch button equals ½-inch stay
¾-inch button equals ¾-inch stay
1 ¼-inch button equals a ONE inch stay
¼-inch button equals a ONE HALF inch stay
Feel free to change button sizes and alter your button hole spacing to make both buttons and buttonholes coordinate beautifully.
One hundred sewing and embroidery tips and tricks - #10
Whether you're cutting patchwork pieces for quilts, constructing garments, turning out designer home decor, or crafting some other sort of masterpiece, it's likely you are measuring many times throughout the process.
Today's tip is to always use the same measuring device throughout your project when ever the ultimate in accuracy is important. If you look closely at the cutting mat, quilting ruler, tape measures, and seam gauge you'll notice slight differences between each of them.
When compared side by side the quilt ruler and the seam gauge would be virtually identical and a pretty close match to the cutting mat. However, if you were to switch between all four of these while trying to cut same size pieces you would get some minor discrepancies. While it may not show up with short measurements the compound effect would surely be noticeable on larger pieces. Tuck this tip in your back pocket and remember it next time you reach for multiple measuring devices.
Measure twice cut once, but do it all with consistent measuring tools for happier sewing and more polished projects!
One hundred sewing and embroidery tips and tricks - #9
When is the last time you sat down to play with decorative stitches on your machine? Many decorative stitches are far prettier stitched in thread as opposed to an image in your machine machine manual or on the screen of your machine. Thread your machine and see watch as little flowers bloom and a myriad of decorative stitches come to life! I hope this little sampler will encourage you.
Here are some tips:
One hundred sewing and embroidery tips and tricks - #8
You may choose a pattern for many different reasons. Perhaps you like the style, fit, or packaging of a particular brand. Commercial pattern companies differ in more ways than one. Understanding major differences will help you make intelligent decisions about which ones to purchase.
Consider the following when choosing from the major pattern companies:
In summary, it's wise to study patterns carefully. Experiment with different brands by making test garments from bargain fabrics. If you find a brand that seems to suit you it's wise to stick with that brand.
For many years I've been a fan of New Look patterns and I've found them to run very true to size. This means I need to be very honest with my measurements when compared to the pattern envelope. However, it also means I can be pretty sure of a good fit when I pick a size that's closest to my personal measurements. How about you? Do you have a favorite among the major pattern companies? Please share your own experiences in the comments below.
One hundred sewing and embroidery tips and tricks - #7
Ever get confused while cutting numerous strips of different widths? I seem to lose the line on my ruler and end up with a mixed bag of skewed sizes and strips that slipped. Now I make a point to place sticky notes along the line I'm using for my specific measurement. It's easy to move the paper and stick it along different lines on the ruler for goof proof strip cutting.
I have a couple favorite rullers that have all black lines that are hard to see, especially on darker fabrics. Here is a close up view of sticky notes coming to my rescue!
By the way, it helps to have no slip grips on the bottom side of rotary cutting rulers. These TrueGrips from the Grace Company fit their own specialty rulers and all others too. These little circles are clear and very flat. They increase safety and make all your cutting more accurate.
I hope these little tips have been helpful. Soon I'll have all my strips cut and ready to sew so I can share them with you in a future post!
One hundred sewing and embroidery tips and tricks - #6
This short video shows how easy it is to stitch a blind hem on knit fabrics. Watch as the stitch forms with zigzag traveling stitches and one big zigzag stitch that bites into the hem.
The first step for a blind hem is to fold up the hem and press.
Next, fold the hem again so the outside of the hem allowance touches the outside of the garment. You need an extension on the right hand side that is about 1/4-inch in width.
When the number for width is increased for a higher number to the left, (<---) more of the garment fabric gets grabbed. When the setting is set for a higher number to the right, (--->) less fabric is grabbed for the hem. Changing the length simply means there are more traveling stitches between "bites." If you look at the selected stitch below you'll see the exact setting I used for the grey knit sample.
The blind hem foot, foot "R" is made to perfectly coordinate with the standard blind hem stitch or the stretch version. This foot has a blade down the center that is meant to rid along the fold of the hem so you stitches stay consistent. This foot is not adjustable. In this case the stitch is adjusted to "bite" more or less of the hem.
Some machines have an adjustable blind hem foot and the foot is adjusted so the stitch bites more or less of the hem. Watch the video again and you'll see how the finished blind hem stretches along with the fabric.
Ideally you want the stitches to barely show or not show at all on the outside of the finished garment. Thicker or more spongy fabric hides stitches better than thinner, flat fabric. This example shows the blind hem stitched with contrast thread for better visibility. Choose a thread color that matches as close as possible so the stitches hide in the fabric and are barely noticeable.
Have you ever used the blind hem stitch for stretch fabrics? Do you have any questions about sewing blind hems? If so I would love to know . . . please leave your comments and questions so I can help.
One hundred sewing and embroidery tips and tricks - #5
Do you struggle with standard, ready to wear T-shirts that are too long? Or, do you like to make your own knit tops from soft jersey or interlock knits? In either case you may have found that thinner knits in particular are tough to tame when it comes to top stitching hems. Here is a tip for stitching a nice, neat, twin needle hem. Begin by gathering your supplies:
Plan for a 1-inch hem on the garment and cut a 1-inch wide strip of tricot to fit hem circumference, making sure to cut length of tricot on the crosswise grain to maintain a bit of stretch.
Fuse tricot to wrong side of hem, having tricot even with cut edge.
Tip:The rough side is the fusible, "glue side" of the tricot.
Important! Before inserting the twin needle turn on machine and make sure you have selected a center needle straight stitch. Increase length and decrease upper tension slightly.
Thread machine for twin needle sewing. CLICK HERE to read my previous post with tips for threading.
Press up hem and mark raw edge with a pin.
Flip to right side and see where you need to position folded edge so both needles catch raw edge on the wrong side. Remove pin. See red arrows below.
Stitch slowly, keeping folded edge even with your guideline. See below for finished hem on right side. Note that sample is stitched with contrast thread for better visibility.
See below for finished hem on wrong side. Note that the bobbin thread zig zags between the two stitches formed by the needle. This provides the stretch factor. You'll find that the tricot beefs up the hem so the stitch forms more smoothly, the hem lays flat, and the stitches don't "pop" when stretched. This method does inhibit the stretch factor slightly so it's best used when you don't need a hem with an intensive stretch factor.
Have you ever tried this method? If not, do you think you will try it now that you have a little tutorial? Let me know in the comments below.
One hundred days and one hundred ways - Day 4
This post deals specifically with the topic of quilting with decorative stitches and the walking foot. Let's start with a brief description of the Walking Foot, also known as the Even Feed foot.
The walking foot is a foot with a special feeding system built right into the mechanics of the foot. With an upper set of teeth coming from the walking foot itself, and a lower set of teeth on the machine, the layers under the foot feed evenly as the teeth link together and walk the layers through the machine. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that this foot is also known as an EVEN FEED FOOT.
You can see close-up photos of the teeth on the machine and on the foot itself below:
Many machines have the option of a walking foot in two different forms, Closed Toe and Open Toe.
Closed Toe Walking Foot on the left. Open Toe Walking Foot on the right.
CLICK HERE to read my complete tip sheet on the Wonders of the Walking Foot.
Traditional quilting with the waking foot is done with a straight stitch and the walking action is ideal for keeping the fabric layers of a quilt sandwich smooth. The walking foot is engineered for FORWARD MOTION stitches such as straight and zig zag. If the feed dogs move backwards they may cause the fabric to shift, as feed dogs do not move backward as efficiently as they do forward. Think of it this way, your car will drive in reverse, but it is designed to move forward. Ever try to drive backward very far? It is much easier to drive forward and it is easiest to drive straight. It is similar with the walking foot. But what about using decorative stitches with the walking foot?
There are many options for using decorative stitches on a quilt. Proper set-up and a bit of experimentation is the key to exploring options for decorative stitching on a quilt. Read the following tips, and test stitches that are relatively open in their form and design.
Examples Of Stitch Possibilities For Quilting With A Walking Foot
(Test stitches that resemble those pictured below.)
Tips for preparing and stitching a quilt with decorative stitches:
2.) Use fusible basting spray.
3.) Pin baste with long, flat pins such as flower head pins, OR quilter's safety pins.
Each and every project is a different combination of fabric, thread, batting, speed of the machine, mood of the operator, etc., etc., etc., you get the picture! To test is best! Always test using the same combination of ingredients you will use in your quilt. Also, test with relatively long pieces. A four inch piece does not behave in the same manner as your finished quilt is likely to. When your chosen combination works . . . great! When it doesn’t, just find another way to go. There are many paths leading to a finished quilt. Each and every time there is a learning process and that is true even for a pro! Remember, when you are green you’re growing . . . when you’re ripe you rot! Keep growing and stay green!
Did you learn anything new from this post? If so, please let me know in the comments below.
One hundred days and one hundred ways - Day 3
Double your sewing pleasure. A double (or twin) needle opens a door to many creative and functional uses in your sewing repertoire. Two needles are connected to a single shaft. Double needles are available in a variety of sizes and types. The space between the two needle points is described in millimeters and it’s the first number listed on the package, followed by the needle size. The system number of the needle is also listed on the package. The system number describes the proper type of needle for modern domestic machines. Most home sewing machines use a system number of 15 x 1, equivalent to the European 130 - 705 system number. If you own a zigzag machine that threads from front to back, this needle system will fit your machine.
In its most basic form the double needle makes two rows of parallel stitching. The bobbin thread “shares” the two needle threads, forming somewhat of a zigzag stitch on the underside. When a decorative stitch is selected, it produces two rows of that particular pattern. Two contrasting colors may be used and it will look as if it took two steps to produce this effect. Many decorative stitches are suitable. Some heavy or dense stitches may need to have the stitch length adjusted. Always test the stitch first on a fabric scrap. Use a Stretch Twin needle for any fabric with stretch or elastic fibers woven into it such as a stretch woven.
When zigzag or decorative stitches are selected, you will need to calculate the maximum stitch width allowable. This formula will be figured in millimeters, as that is how double needles are sized. First, determine your machine’s maximum stitch width. This is the largest size zigzag it will produce. Subtract the double needle size between points. The resulting figure is the maximum decorative stitch width you may use without risking needle breakage. Always hand walk the needle as a precautionary measure before stitching to insure that your needle will not hit the side of the throat plate. For straight stitching, be sure to use the center needle position on your machine. When using a straight stitch, the maximum stitch width on your machine determines the maximum size double needle your machine will take.
Threading the Machine for Twin Needle Sewing
You will need two spools of thread with each one placed on its own spool pin. Bobbins can be wound and used in place of a second spool of thread. If you do use a bobbin, place a spool of thread on top of it just to keep it from “jumping” during stitching. Follow these tips for proper threading:
1) Place the first, or left, spool so that the thread reels off from behind the spool. Place the second spool with the thread unwinding from the front of the spool.
2) Both spools should be threaded in one operation, however, they will not share all the thread guides.
3) If there is just one tension disc, both threads will share the disc. If there are two, at the point of the tension discs you will separate the threads, placing one thread on each side of the center tension disc.
4) If there are two thread guides just above the needle, separate the threads there also. In the case of one thread guide, place one thread inside the guide and leave one outside the guide.
5) Separate the threads when you reach the needles, making sure threads are not twisted. Depending on the stitch desired, the top tension may be adjusted up or down. Bobbin tension will remain normal.
One hundred sewing and embroidery tips and tricks - #2
Feeling stuck when it comes to choosing a color scheme for a new project? Are you wanting to impress a friend with a gift but you're unsure of a good mix of colors? When in doubt consider designing with a classy, yet somewhat subtle tone-on-tone color scheme. If you are in making a gift, and you know your friend's all time favorite color you are good to go and ready to sew!!!
Take a look at the collection of fat quarters and trims in the photo above. They melt together with a soothing color scheme, yet they include just enough contrast due to the varying shades from one purple based color family.
When planning a machine embroidery project you may fall in love with the elements of a design yet the colors are all wrong for you personally, or for the intended project. Has this ever happened to you? For me it seems to be a common occurrence. The artistic Floral Decorative design shown above happens to be one of my all time favorites. However, the color combo just doesn't mix with anything I have.
What do I do if my fabric is blue?!? Tone on tone to the rescue! By selecting embroidery thread colors in soft shades of blue the design takes on a whole new look!
See what happens with the same concept in yellow. . .
In pink . . .
And in green . . .
Same exact design, same amount of color changes, but a whole new scheme with a mix of light, medium, and dark shades of the same color. Of course you can also minimize the amount of color changes by repeating one or more colors in the design. This is especially easy to do when you are working with shades of the same color.
It's hard to go wrong by stitching a medley of similar colors. You could examine your original design and replace lighter areas with light colors and darker areas with darker shades. If you have the option to change thread colors right on the screen of your machine you can preview and make changes before you stitch. Yet another option is to use computer software to make and preview changes.
Perhaps your machine has an option to automatically rearrange the colors or even create a different mix of colors on your behalf. Take a look at the two butterflies below. Same design, but two totally different butterflies emerge using an option called Color Shuffle™ with a specific selection for tone on tone, also known as gradient, for the new color scheme.
This quick change artistry is accomplished in a few simple steps. Note that the original design has seven color changes. Remember that you can minimize colors by repeating them, using using less colors overall.
In the first step color shuffling option is accessed from Edit mode by touching the color palette icon and then selecting the color shuffling option.
Color Palette Icon
The option for tone on tone (Gradient) and the desired number of colors becomes available. This is also where the number of colors can be minimized if you wish. I left it at seven.
After selecting a specific color spool for the color family, the machine magically provides many pages of options.
I chose the one below.
Are you ready to experiment with tone on tone for a future project, or is this already a "go to" favorite technique for you? I'd love to hear about your experiences. Please let me know in the comments below.
One hundred sewing and embroidery tips and tricks - #1
Depending on your connection and your device, this video may take a minute to fully load.
Click the arrow to watch.
I know my readers have a wide variety of machine models with either manual or computerized buttonholes built in. Click on the super short video above and you'll see a computerized "one step" buttonhole in action on a Brother machine. I'll talk more about buttonhole set-up in a minute but first let me describe what you are seeing when you watch the video.
At the starting point the buttonhole sews backwards with a straight stitch, tracing the exact length of the buttonhole as determined by the button inserted at the back of the foot. Next, the same straight stitch is sewn forward, followed by the left "leg" of the buttonhole which consists of narrow zigzag stitches forming from front to back. The machine straight stitches forward, a bar tack forms at the front end of the buttonhole and then the machine stitches backward to form the right leg of the buttonhole with narrow zig zag stitches, and finally finishes with the bar tack at the back end.
What's important to note is that the zigzag stitching for both the right and left leg of the buttonhole form in the same direction, stitching from front to back. This prevents shifting that occurs when a buttonhole stitches out in a "box" formation, moving in different directions for each side.
Notice how the button sits snugly in a slot at the back of the buttonhole foot. The spacing created between the white and the silver protrusions coordinate with the buttonhole lever mechanism on the machine, sensing the length. The buttonhole lever (identified with the red arrow below) comes in contact with these two parts and that makes the magic happen.
Now, how about a few more tips for building better buttonholes?
I think the sheen of the embroidery thread has a smooth look and mimics the old time silk buttonhole twist used for hand worked buttonholes in days gone by. In addition, embroidery thread is smoother than ordinary sewing thread.
Take a look at the example below and you'll see ordinary sewing thread on top and embroidery thread on the bottom buttonhole next to the button. On the actual fabric sample the regular thread looks dull and the embroidery thread looks smooth and a little glossy. You decide what you prefer.
I hope you found these tips helpful! If you have buttonhole questions or comments feel free to leave them below :-)
Have you noticed? Vintage is very much en vogue, tres chic, and making waves in the modern world of sewing! Particularly prominent lately are images, patterns, and books making headlines and taking us back in time with fashions and accessories from bygone eras. In this post I'd like to fill you in on a few blasts from the past that caught my attention recently.
Let's start with the 90th anniversary of Simplicity Pattern Company. If you visit the Simplicity site you'll see that they've been promoting a line of nostalgic images on everything from calendars, to tins, to notebooks, and more. It's fun to see these photos but it's even more fun to see some of the patterns reproduced into new patterns with modern measurements and pattern tissue complete with all the familiar markings for notches and other important information.
I picked up a few intriguing options on a recent shopping trip. Take a look at the image above and you'll see three of my favorites. First there's is a set of sleeves from the 1930's, pattern 8506. I thought it would be fun to play around with these by adding them to a simple shell style blouse.
Then a "folds flat" blouse for wovens from the 1940's caught my eye. View D of pattern 8593 looks fresh and pretty with a yoke at the waist and a ruffle at the bottom. I think I have a piece of floral rayon waiting in the wings and perfectly sized for the yardage requirements.
Yet another blouse that goes from flat to fabulous is the 1950's pattern number 8452.
This knit blouse takes less than a yard of fabric, has an interesting tutorial for putting it on, and looks like a real winner for travel and packability. Both of the blouses look like only an afternoon's worth of sewing time. Perfect timing on all three spring sewing and a wardrobe refresh!!!
While browsing the pattern book I came across one more "have to have it" pattern. Labeled as an authentic 1960's pattern, I first have to dispute the decade displayed on the envelope. You see, I remember buying this exact pattern and sewing the big shoulder bag from the tapestry fabric you see in the photo below. The year was 1977. Ahhh yes, I remember it well!
It's quite a kick to see a favorite pattern make its way back into the pattern book. Talk about a trip down memory lane! I actually look but I didn't have the original pattern in my stash. Yes, I do still have some of my first patterns from the seventies carefully stored :-) The original pattern is not to be found but I did have that small remnant of the tapestry you see next to my new Simplicity 9553. This time around I want to make everything on the envelope, including the spats. Can you imagine the possibilities for adorning these with machine embroidery?
So how about you . . . do the nostalgic patterns hold any interest for you? Can you see yourself making any of these? I'd love to hear about your own favorite vintage patterns. Share your stories in the comments below!
Great News! It's Sew Easy TV series 1400 starts this week on PBS stations in the USA!!!
Find local listings at itsseweasytv.com.
Great projects, Great ideas, and Great fun for sewing enthusiasts of all levels!!!
I had the privilege of demonstrating several exciting techniques in this new series.
Here's a sneak peek!
Series 1400 celebrates changes in fashion, technology, and lifestyles!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Step ahead of the trends with It’s Sew Easy series 1400. This season you'll see today’s leading designers and sewing experts share ideas for creating and recreating versatile, stylish new fashions. Give your wardrobe, accessories and home décor new energy by up cycling altering, embellishing and adding new twists. Learn how to combine old and new to create your own trends!
Purchase the entire series on DVD and watch series 1400 on your own time schedule.
Find tips and techniques that are sure to fill your days with Happy Sewing!
CLICK HERE to download Free instructions and tips for the items I presented in show 1403, 1405, 1406,1407, 1409, 1411, and 1412.
Need some tips for sewing faux suede?
CLICK HERE to download a Free letsgosew.com tip sheet to help you sew the coat from show 1405 and belt from show 1409.
Coat was made from Shannon Fabrics Cuddle® Suede. This faux suede is easy to sew, easy to care for, and wonderful to wear!
I'd love to hear your comments about the projects from this new series and I'm happy to answer any questions you may have as well ;-)
I have lots of thoughts and ideas to share on this subject so today will be Part One of Creating with Color.
*Opinion by Brother Expert Consultant
Are you inspired by the colors in creation? This big blue sky sprinkled with fall colored leaves is a color mix tailor made to mimic with machine embroidery threads! Inspired by this photo, I just finished a simple fall project that will debut for you on the blog.brothersews.com site early in October. I can only give you a hint for today. I must withhold the nitty gritty details until the projects are officially released.
It involves two coordinating quick projects you can use to dress up your table for fall. Now that is a pretty big hint I know! These are quick projects partly because the featured design is a little mini motif. It seems that mini motifs are harder to find than great big embroidery designs. Aside from being quick to stitch, little minis prove to be very versatile. You can copy and paste them to create a larger motif, use them as add-ons to other designs, or use them on their own as the perfect accent for small pieces. Stay tuned, I promise to let you know the minute these projects go live so you can get a head start on decorating for fall festivities. Indeed, Autumn is awesome for color inspiration!
Below you see another color combo with a mix of colors common in earthy, natural surroundings.
This is the Chic Suede Wrap from Wrapped in Embroidery. The color of the designs on the front borders and the back yoke all started with inspiration from the silky scarf.
Selecting just three colors from the print; a deep apricot, pale olive, and deep olive, I then found an off white suede that would stand out on the olive wrap fabric. By the way, both of these fabrics are dress weight suede with a luxurious look and soft drape. Faux suede is truly one of my favorite fabrics to use as a base for embroidery.
This is an example of a method I employ often. Choose a base fabric color, and then find an accessory or coordinating wardrobe accent and build from there. In this case I knew I wanted olive but had no plans for other colors until the silky scarf came into play.
Lets talk more about creating with color. In some ways I consider myself more or less "color challenged." Whether it's combining fabrics for a quilt or choosing a totally new color palette for an embroidery design, I have struggled with choosing color combinations outside of my wardrobe basics. As a long time a dedicated garment enthusiast I am used to matching to the point of extreme perfectionism. Thread, zippers, button, trims, etc., all have prominent attention on a garment so unless you are attempting to create contrast they must match and match well. My make sure it matches habit sometimes stifles me. There is a time and place for tone on tone embroidery or subtle stitches (that's coming in part two), but many times embroidery is a stand out feature whether it is on a garment, quilt, craft time or object for home decor. Colors that pop out and have vibrancy are attention getters when it comes to embroidery but choosing "outside the box" color palettes is harder for me than matching.
This example is from a previous post on blog.brothersews.com. Click on the image below to view the original embroidered towel project.
The original colors of the design are quite different from the final outcome.
Again, I looked to the fabric for color cues. Fabric prints are designed by artists trained in the science of color or at least individuals who have a sense of color beauty far beyond my own. I found the towels first, and then hunted for complimentary printed fabrics. The resulting combination made for a matched set with lots of eye-catching style!
Next time we'll talk more about tone-on-tone combinations and going with colors that speak to you, either subtly or by shouting :-) I promise you that all of this is very unscientific and non-artsy as I have no background in science or arts a profession, just many days of playing in my sewing spaced making the most of what the modern world of sewing and machine embroidery have to offer!
Are you inspired by the outdoors or possibly by browsing the aisles at your favorite fabric store? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Volume 106 of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine is in print and also available online for current "hard copy" subscribers.
In this issue my friend Reen Wilcoxson has an article (and a FREE embroiderygarden.com Design download) for her ever-popular In-The-Hoop cord wraps. Speaking of friends, Marie Zinno wrote detailed steps in her Hemline to Hipline article so you could embroider your own designer jeans. In her continuing T-Shirt saga Denise Holguin has done it again . . . taken a plain T-shirt and added a Bright Idea to turn a top into work of art!
I'm happy to call three of these ladies friends. I know firsthand that they each love sharing their ideas and instructions so you can put them into practice and make pretty things with your own personal embroidery machine!
Personally, I consider it an honor to write for this magazine! Each issue features innovative ideas and includes something for everyone who is interested in embellishing with machine embroidery. The September/October issue is so full of beautiful pieces and fun projects that I'm tempted to write a review of the entire magazine! However, time and space are short so today I'll just hit some highlights and give you a few tips to complement the dress article I contributed for V106.
I'll start by saying that I always have far more information I'd like to add to each article but I am of course only allowed so many words and pages. However, thanks to the never-ending pages here on letsgosew.com I can provide extra goodies and supply you with added tips and techniques that would be too lengthy to fit in the confines of a magazine article. Lets start with the pattern featured for my Connection Perfection dress. Pretty enough for a princess and flattering for ALL figure types, you simply can't go wrong with a princess seamed pattern! Multiple seams mean opportunities for taking in or letting out as necessary.
I used View D and raised the neckline about an inch for a little less scoop. Now for the good news/bad news - M9026 has apparently hit the "out of print" list. The good news is the fact that princess seam patterns, both in knits and woven styles, are always available from one of the major pattern companies.
Sure, you could embellish the front area of a full front dress by blocking off a center section but by picking a princess seam pattern you can work with a smaller section of fabric.
This makes the whole hooping process easier as you are not struggling with a large expanse of fabric.
Here you can see the markings for the neckline area. I started with an oversized piece of knit jersey stabilized with fusible tricot interfacing. Then I outlined the entire center section. In the article you'll see how I used a high tech built-in feature on the Brother Dream Machine.
If you have this particular feature and you have never used it I hope this article will give you the confidence to give it a try. I'm well aware that there are many machine owners reading this that have other models of embroidery machines. There are in fact many ways to stitch continuous connected embroidery designs. To help you explore other options for perfect "connected" placement I have a Free tutorial/tip sheet for you. CLICK HERE to download a Free resource sheet.
When the embroidery was complete I placed my traced pattern on top of the embroidered panel with the centers aligned, and then cut out the embellished dress panel.
To match the embroidery I cut strips of bright pink thin knit and inserted them into the adjoining seams, sandwiching the strip between the layers of the seam like you would if you were adding piping. Voila! The color scheme ties together nicely and the dress gets an upgrade with trim that matches perfectly. Ahhh yes, embroidering by machine and then sewing from scratch provides endless opportunities for customizing and creating a unique finished garment! I hope you'll be inspired to create something special yourself.
Feel free to leave comments and questions. I'd love to know if you have embroidered continuous connected designs with your embroidery machine! Was your placement perfect or do you still need help with this technique?
Conversations with Industry Experts and fellow Sewing and Embroidery Enthusiasts just like YOU!
Don holds many titles and designations! A retired United States Navy man and former Blue Angels#7 Crew Chief/Maintenance man, he’s a Helpful Husband, Doting Grandfather, and a Devoted Dad. Added to that mix he’s a Machine Embroidery Enthusiast who can drive a Harley and put the pedal to the metal on a Featherweight sewing machine too!
By way of introduction, I met Don last fall at a very special Tidewater Sew-Vac weekend event in Virginia Beach. Tidewater's educational director, Mary Beth Dodd wanted to make made sure I had support from an expert. She commissioned Don to be one of my capable and ever helpful classroom assistants as I taught In-The-Hoop embroidery classes on the Brother PRS100 machine. Owning this machine himself, he enthusiastically showed students the ins and outs of threading and pushing buttons on the screen, helping them master the machine, have fun stitching, and make the most of the time spent in class.
Don and his wonderful wife Debbie became fast friends of mine during that enjoyable weekend of classes and sewing camaraderie.
I thought you’d like to hear how this aviation mechanic started stitching and soon found himself helping others make the most of their machines.
Hello Don! Thanks for sharing some details about yourself today and giving us a glimpse into your life in stitches as well.
Hi Joanne! I'm glad to talk to you and all your online friends. Debbie and I happily include ourselves in the group of regular readers here :-)
Right now, everyone can see you on your (conspicuously BLUE) Harley at the top of the page. I bet they are asking this question . . . How in the world did this guy get interested in Sewing?!?
Did you have any family members or friends that had sewing or embroidery machines? Please tell us the whole story as to how you got started.
Well, I have to start by saying that my wife Debbie is a super sewing enthusiast! With her encouragement I originally got started while recovering from a second round of shoulder surgery. At first I thought it would just be a good way to pass the time while I recovered. Then the whole thing turned into an interesting hobby. Eventually I started training others on how to use personal embroidery machines like my Brother PRS100, and also the Brother multi needle machines. I've been certified to service them as well, which is a natural direction for me to go since my "day job" involves working on high tech aircraft.
As far as family goes, I can remember my talented and wonderful mom used to sew by hand.
Interesting! Perhaps the gift of sewing is somewhat inherited but also greatly influenced by the caring and supportive people in our lives.
Gift making and gift giving plays a big part in many of the special items you make. Would you care to share a few examples?
It's funny because my very first embroidery projects ended up being gifts. I embroidered a towel with my name on it and took it to work. My co-workers wanted one for themselves so I made them their own personalized towels!
Ha! I'm picturing that and smiling!!! That must have made quite an impression! From a few of our past conversations I think we could do a whole story on your special gift giving! You have quite a reputation for embroidering gifts for others.
A lot of embroidery enthusiasts like to make repeats of a favorite project or design. How about you, do you like to make multiples of the same basic items, or would you rather mix it up and try something new all the time?
I do mix in new stuff all the time, along with repeats of favorites such as bibs for my granddaughter and lots of hats. I also have friends pay me to do things for them. Since I can do hats with the cap frame on my machine that's a popular item I get requests for.
Speaking of repeats, I seem to remember you making dozens of in-the-hoop embroidered lace doilies for Debbie's Mother's day tea party at church. She sent me a photo of you with your apron, tie, and tuxedo shirt after serving all those ladies.
Yeah, we had over fifty ladies coming for Mother's Day tea and we wanted to make it a really special day for them.
I'm sure there were many happy faces at the tea party! Speaking of happy faces, that is yet another one of your special gift items - stuffed happy faces. I'm inserting a photo of the happy face emoji you personalized for me!
I've made lots of those smiling faces, personalized towels, hats, etc., etc., etc.!!!
Wall hangings and shirts are yet another big interest for me. I've made large embroidered wall hangings using the 8-inch hoop on my machine. And here is a photo of a panel style wallhanging I've been working on.
I remember you telling me you do more in the way of machine embroidery than sewing. Do you have some favorite embroidery collections?
Yes! I really like the Floriani Under the Sea collection and I have a lot of the Anita Goodesign CD's.
You have a dedicated sewing space and it's pretty unique at that! Can you tell everyone a bit about it?
Debbie and I share our sewing room/shed. It was going to be my tool shed till Debbie said she wanted it for the sewing room. It's just a few steps from the house, near the Koi ponds we enjoy. With heat and air conditioning inside, it's quite comfortable and we can keep everything all in one place.
Along with the Persona for embroidery, my '59 Featherweight is part of the machinery I use to tackle a project.
Debbie has her own favorite machine but I've been known to sneak in some sewing time on that machine too ;-)
You are a valued member of the educational staff at Tidewater Sew-Vac. Having you as an assistant I appreciated not only your enthusiasm but you were utterly patient with everyone in class! What do you like most about teaching and do you have any special tips you'd like to pass along?
I love helping other people learn about their new machines so that they can enjoy sewing as much as I do.
I remember the learning curve myself and I also know that you have to be comfortable pushing the buttons in order to master the machine and make full use out of it.
I tell everyone to just relax and enjoy the machine. I make a point to tell them the machine is "color blind" and you can do whatever you want with thread colors! I also teach them how to hoop the right way so they won't have "hoop pop". Thank you Joanne for that phrase :-) As you know it happens when the fabric isn't snug and all the way down in the hoop where it should be. One little thread tug in the wrong place and POP goes the hoop!!!
On the free arm style machines I like showing them how easy it is to hoop a hat with the cap frame. Caps are really a popular item for embroidery and they're easy to do. I've embroidered lots and lots of hats!
You are certainly an expert hat stitcher Don!
I haven't done many hats myself. You not only gave me some good hat hooping tips last fall, you stitched a monogrammed hat souvenir for me in no time flat. It's here in my sewing room along with my stuffed smiley face!
You and your family have a busy life full of good things. What are some of your other favorite hobbies or creative endeavors when you are not working or stitching?
I'm retired from the Navy but my work today is in the same field. Family is a priority and fills our days with many different things. For relaxation I enjoy my 3 koi ponds and riding my motorcycle, either alone or with a group.
We've covered a lot of sewing ground today! It's been fun re-living some of the happy memories we have from the retreat. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk and share your stories with us! Happy sewing Don!
Thank you Joanne for all that you have taught me and most of all for being such a great friend.
Conversations with Industry Experts and fellow Sewing and Embroidery Enthusiasts just like YOU!
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Today I'm happy to bring you snippets of a very enjoyable conversation I had with my friend Molly Madison, designer of the Artisan Apron pattern featured in DiME Volume 104.
It was so much fun making this apron! I thought you would enjoy meeting the designer, peeking into her creative world, and learning a bit more about the pattern.
Molly and I met last year during a series of In-The-Hoop Machine Embroidery events with mutual friend Reen Wilcoxson, owner of Embroidery Garden. Reen was the star instructor and Angela Wolf and I were privileged to play a part in these hands-on embroidery extravaganzas. Molly was on stage too, assisting Reen and quietly demonstrating steps for Brother multi-needle machines as participants stitched an array of beautiful projects.
These events were presented by Allbrands.com and held in various cities such as sunny San Antonio. Allbrands CEO, Blaine Austin brought us together as a group and almost instantly we all felt like we had known each other for years! An exciting adventure for each of us, we found time to mix work with play. Here we are enjoying the chance to have a photo op at the Alamo before heading to a group dinner.
Artisan Apron sightings were common in San Antonio and other events. Would you believe these two lovely ladies had never met before this event in Baton Rouge? They came from different parts of the country and both wore aprons from the same fabric!!!
Molly's apron was new to me but not to Caroline and Carrie! They already knew that Molly's wonderful apron pattern was fun to make, fun to wear, and the perfect "fashion item" for creative individuals.
Won't you all join me as we talk to Molly and take a peek into her creative and artistic world?
Hi Molly! I’m glad we could spend a little time chatting today. It’s always fun to talk to a fellow sewing friend! I'm quite sure there are MollyMade fans reading this right now!
I'm curious, when and how did you learn to sew?
I was 9 years old and took a sewing class in 4H. A neighbor had several girls over to her house and taught us how to sew. I thoroughly enjoyed that! The next opportunity to sew was in junior high home Ec class. I made a top that I never did wear, but I didn’t give up. I kept sewing and in high school I even made senior garters to sell. Made a couple of my own prom dresses too! When my first son was born I made many comfy baby items using mostly knits. I have sewn for others as well, making a couple (not too elaborate) wedding dresses and a prom dress for a niece. I learned mostly by trial and error and by reading instructions.
How about now, what are some of your favorite ways to learn new skills?
I like taking classes. There is so much to be learned from others. I recently took a class with Angela Wolf to learn more about sewing with knits. When I help Reen at her classes, I always learn new things from the attendees.
Sewing enthusiasts are so willing to share their success stories and their mistakes with others, aren't they?!? I know we saw and heard a lot of inspiring stories at our events together.
So, what is the most challenging thing you have ever sewn?
Let me think a second. Well, years ago, I made a prom dress for my niece. It was fitted and had a custom drape in the front.
This dress was super challenging, but it did turn out beautiful.
Ha! I have to say that job helped me determine that couture sewing for others is not how I want to spend my sewing time.
The dress is a work of art Molly! True, many of us learn what we do like by learning what we don't like!
I know machine embroidery is one of your current specialties, when were you first "bitten" by the embroidery bug?
In 2008, I bought my first embroidery machine. I was excited to learn all I could about this new machine and signed up for an embroidery convention immediately. I met Reen Wilcoxson at this event. When I think back, it may have been her first event setting up a booth. I still remember standing at the booth and just not wanting to leave. I was simply mesmerized by all the things she was doing with machine embroidery! That was the beginning of a close friendship with Reen.
When and how did your passion for sewing/embroidery turn into a business?
I started doing local craft shows over 20 years ago. Craft shows were a hobby at first and then became a small business. With the addition of embroidery machines, I am able to do so much more and now I've added customized items for sale. However, my free time is limited and sporadic. Currently, I'm using my experience and creative energy to focus on creating sewing patterns and digitizing embroidery designs for other enthusiasts to enjoy. I have an Etsy shop for all of my items and the apron pattern is also sold there.
You have some really unique items in your shop Molly! I visited recently and saw your digital cutting files, beautiful cut cork fabric panels, lots of custom key tags, and many more beautiful things!
Here are few photos:
I'm sure we have some creative sewing entrepreneurs listening in. What are some of the best ways you have found to get your custom items noticed?
People like to see options. Samples are the best way to get an item noticed. My apron pattern is so versatile and a great way to convey that is to make many samples. I have made the apron for craft show vendors, teachers, basket weavers, and cooks. When I work with Reen at a show we have patterns available and samples to show.
Let's talk more about the apron! Tell us how came you up with this practical and pretty pattern.
My apron pattern was actually a request from a fellow craft show vendor. She told me what she wanted to see in an apron for wearing to the craft shows. I searched everywhere and couldn’t find what I wanted, so I designed my own.
I know you have two different options for purchasing this in your Etsy shop, either a digital download or a complete pattern package with all the necessary hardware included. Sewing shops can carry the pattern as well and I know some stores have made great classes using your pattern. Below is a photo from the pattern package and a close up of the pockets.
I had so much fun making your Artisan apron and I know many others who feel the same way. It is such a unique pattern!
I’m wondering if you made many different variations before you brought it to market. In other words, was there much trial and error in getting the pattern set for printing and selling?
Yes, there was trial and error in getting it just right. Very much so! I made a list of all the attributes the apron would include. I drew pictures of the apron so as to visualize what it might look like in the end. Then, I cut fabric to approximate sizes and did the sewing. Then there was measuring and pattern piece making. I had to make it so that other people could re-create what I had done, with detailed instructions and photos. There were many versions that didn’t make the cut :)
If someone is making your apron for the first time what would you say are the most important things to think about before starting.
Read through the instructions. ONE step at a time! Start at the beginning and just concentrate on the task at hand. Join the Facebook Group and ask questions if you need to. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MollyMadeApronSewAlong/
Your apron is so cute with the mix of fabrics. Can you give us some tips for selecting fabrics?
I suggest you have three or four coordinating fabrics at your disposal. Before I cut out an apron, I lay the fabric out to see what it might look like. I always start with the main apron pattern piece and cut that fabric first. Lay it out on the cutting table and before cutting other pieces, try them on in the area where they will eventually be sewn.
That's exactly what I did when I made mine. I knew I wanted lots of embroidery so I used a large area of solid fabric. With all of your separate pieces there is a lot of opportunity for pattern play with mix and match fabrics.
I'd like to mention that there's a really cute half apron version too! Here's a montage of apron photos showing how other sewing enthusiasts used different fabric options.
These aprons are perfect for gifts too! Many of our fellow machine embroidery enthusiasts love making gifts for others. Do you have any favorite projects that you use over and over again for gift giving?
I do love "gifting" personalized items! I feel that giving an item with a person’s name on it portrays the sentiment I am after. I want them to know I took the time to make them something really special. Ever since I learned about the cutwork feature on my PR1000e, I have been digitizing and gifting name key fobs. These are useful, personalized, and perfectly cut out with the special needles on this machine.
Tell us about your personal sewing time and space. Do you have a room or a particular place that is dedicated to sewing? What are some of your favorite "sewing for fun" projects?
I live for fun sewing! I like to sew with knit fabric on the serger, but have so much to learn. I like to sew items that will be useful, like bags, totes, zipper cases for organizing, & key fobs.
I actually have a huge room dedicated to sewing. It is still a work in progress, but I love spending time in there. The room was originally a garage, made into a master bedroom, now transformed into a sewing room. The ceiling is very high and there are windows. Always room for improvement, I need more lighting, and the walls could maybe be painted a happier color. The good part is that all my supplies and equipment are contained in one room and I can close the door when I’m done! The photo shows one wall decoration and by the way the scissors are real . . . I got them at a garage sale :)
What are some of your favorite hobbies or creative endeavors when you're not stitching?
Ahhh, I always have my fingers into something!!! Other hobbies include chalk painting furniture and wood items; cutting signs, vinyl, fabric, cork fabric, etc., with my digital cutting machine.
I also like weaving baskets, chair caning, and oh yes . . . raising chickens for their eggs. You asked for some photos so here goes!
Of course family means the world to me! My husband and the rest of my family are very supportive of my creative endeavors :)
Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us Molly!
Do you have any parting words or a special sewing motto you'd like to share?
Make time for sewing. It’s time well spent!
Well said! It's been great fun talking to you!
Below is the address for Molly's Etsy shop where you'll find the Artisan Apron pattern and more of her custom crafted items for sale. www.etsy.com/shop/MollyMadeEmb
Note: Sewing shops can contact Molly for wholesale apron pattern information here:
As seen in Volume 104
of Designs in Machine Embroidery
Got scraps??? Don't we all!! This SCRAP HAPPY JACKET is all about putting your scraps together for a chic patchwork jacket!
Hot off the press, you'll find this stash busting jacket project in the May /June issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine.
The article itself is packed with timely tips for embroidering on leftover chunks of denim fabric with ideas for putting the pieces together for a patchwork jacket with lots of wearability. But there's only so much space in allotted in every issue, so I'd like to share a few more tips and tricks that didn't make it into the magazine.
Let me start by telling you more about the pattern I used. Truly, every great garment starts with a great pattern and there is a little history behind this jem of jacket pattern.
Call it Serendipity (pun intended), I met Kay Whitt, designer of the featured jacket pattern during taping for the It's Sew Easy TV show a while back.
Warm, friendly, and a wonderful sewing instructor, Kay and I found a lot in common. In particular we admitted we are both sticklers for detailed instructions. If you are a fan of independent pattern companies you may agree that they are not all as good at instruction writing as they are at designing. Kay and I found a commonality in our passion for providing step-by-step instructions that guide the sewing enthusiast from start to finish without frustration from sketchy instructions.
When I had the idea in mind for a princess seamed jacket to use as the basis for this article I hopped on over to her website, sewserendipity.com. Now you see the meaning of the pun :-). In a matter of minutes I downloaded her Dakota Duster PDF Pattern.
Dakota Duster Jacket in 2 lengths and 8 variations
Available in a traditional printed pattern form as well.
The pattern includes great ideas you can use to jumpstart your own jacket adventure but from the start I knew I wanted to mix denim scraps together with some beautiful blue fabric I had stored in my stash.
Together with bits and pieces of blue scraps, and I do mean scraps, I had just enough to make patchwork for a jacket that would go with any shade of denim already in my closet. Using decorative stitches from the embroidery menu along with a feature I like to call the "build a border" function, I was able to dress up the denim pieces used for the front panel and create a new look for plain fabric.
Not wanting to stitch buttonholes through the embroidery I opted for loops made from strips of light weight denim cut on the bias. Then I used an idea crafted during construction of my Warm and Wearable Fleece Wrap garment. The idea is simple, loops can be wrapped around the button to wear jacket open.
Or you can insert one loop inside the other and then wrap around the button to close.
Custom covered buttons are another detail that ties together the denim theme. CLICK HERE for a free Letsgosew tip sheet showing how to make neat, nice, fabric covered buttons.
Facing the front with the same pattern piece used for the patchwork piece makes a nice no-bulky finish for the front. Combine the extra tips here with all the info in the jacket article and you are on your way to a work of art you'll wear happily ever after! If you're not a regular subscriber to the magazine visit your local sewing dealer for a copy or order from www.dzgns.com.
I'd love to hear about your personal adventures with denim! Feel free to leave your comments!
Conversations with Industry Experts and fellow Sewing and Embroidery Enthusiasts just like YOU!
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I'd like you to meet my friend Denise Holguin, Managing Editor of Designs in Machine Embroidery Magazine . . . also known as Blue Hair Girl!
Hello Denise! Thanks for taking time to give us a glimpse into a day in the life of Denise!
We met exactly eight years ago when I wrote my very first article for issue #55. That was the beginning of a cherished relationship! I'm sure readers are already curious about Blue Hair Girl and have lots of questions about you and the work you do to make a magazine come to life. Let's get started . . .
First and foremost, can you fill us in on your own personal stitching story?
Shortly before being hired at DIME, my mom taught me how to sew log cabin quilts. I loved making them so much, I sewed 20+ quilt tops. The colors, the variations in laying out the blocks and the structure all spoke to my interests. I felt productive, creative, and inspired to do more!
Wow! Twenty plus is a lot of quilt tops! Fast forward to now, do you have a favorite style of sewing or machine embroidery or are you like many of us in that you like to dabble in a variety of different categories?
I toy with ideas intermittently but I usually catch the creative bug and then focus on one category. When I do sewing related projects, they are limited to rectangular or square shapes and quilts fit that category perfectly! Admittedly, I’m not an experienced seamstress. Fortunately, ready-wear gives me the chance to embellish with embroidery without having to sew clothing from scratch.
Many machine embroidery enthusiasts love making gifts for others. Do you have any "go to" gifts that you use over and over again for gift giving?
I've made small lap quilts, keepsake pillows, baby bibs, and on occasion a onesie or two. Like many others, I have a difficult time making the gift and giving it in a timely fashion (before the baby has grown out of the onesie, for instance!)
Here's an example of a favorite little onesie I made awhile back.
My go-to gift that is the least “risky” is framing a meaningful embroidery design, like this “I survived Quicksand Mountain” framed art.
I'm sure there is a very interesting story behind that gift! Can you tell us how you made the design?
Oh yes, there's a story behind every stitch! This particular piece is a one-of-a-kind gift with specific meaning to the recipient. I put the design together with software using a mix of font styles to make it interesting. Stitching a memory with meaningful words is something I love to do!
Here is yet another favorite piece, stitched with lots love. Both of these "works of art" prove that gifts can be simple. After all, it's the thought that counts, right? For me, that's what’s so fun about machine embroidery. You can make something very personalized, and make memories that last a long time!
I'm eager to find out about your new nickname of Blue Hair Girl and what that's all about! Please . . . do tell!
HA! I like to describe it as a fresh and quirky approach to embroidery.
Blue Hair Girl is brand new. It has but one goal, to present unconventional products that are fun and ignite creativity in machine embroidery enthusiasts. My initial collection called Patch Celebration commemorates 15 years of working with Eileen Roche at Designs in Machine Embroidery. Each patch or badge of honor, celebrates machine embroidery obstacles, triumphs, and general mess making!
Embroidery enthusiasts are always looking for new things aren't we :-) Speaking of new, you have the opportunity to get an up-close look at projects submitted from many different designers who contribute to the magazine. Seeing so many different projects on a regular basis must be a lot of fun. Do you find yourself wanting to try out these new techniques in your own sewing space?
Yes! It’s like Christmas morning every time projects come to my office. Imagine getting to open boxes with projects that our writers have carefully and expertly made. Looking at the projects is a reflection of how the writer thinks and expresses their creativity. While I am not as talented or skilled as our writers, I do like to adapt the ideas to my own skill level. I think it’s important to remember that projects can be easily adapted. They serve as a springboard to your own creation and interpretation.
Outside of the magazine, where do you find inspiration for new projects and ideas?
Inspiration is everywhere. I enjoy going to museums, talking with friends to see what interests them, observing nature, window shopping and of course looking at what’s trending online.
Every weekend I'm at a state or national park. To disconnect from work I like to soak in the wonders of nature. I’m usually hauling tons of camera equipment and a case of miniatures to photograph. On one hand I'm far away from work but in the back of my mind I'm thinking about it and gathering new inspiration from my surroundings.
Beyond that, product packaging, and even television commercials have inspired me with new ideas. If you can find that "switch" in your head to soak everything in as inspiration you’d be amazed at what you can do!
Great advice! I bet you have a few stories about projects that didn't go quite the way you planned them.What’s the most challenging item you have ever sewn or embroidered?
HA! We could all list a few challenges, that's for sure. This one is fresh in my mind, it's from Volume 103 March/April 2017. I started it 4 years ago and planned on making a quilt but then the quilt blocks morphed into placemats. Then, I decided the placemats needed a coordinating quilt. The quilted wall hanging you see here features dozens of 3D flowers.
I didn’t have a pattern or a solid plan when I jumped into making the quilt. Instead, I let the ideas evolve. On top of that, when I started the project I didn’t have all the skills necessary to complete it. But over time I developed them because it became important that I finish what I started. I hadn’t ever done binding (for the placemats or quilt) but I surprised myself by learning. There were many bumps along the way and the quilt is far from perfect but I'm happy to say it’s complete and I have it proudly on display at work.
It's beautiful Denise! I’m guessing that being the Managing Editor at DIME (short for Designs in Machine Embroidery), means you wear many different hats. Would you care to describe a few of them?
We are a small but mighty team at DIME! As Managing Editor, I’m responsible for much of the content in the bi-monthly publication. This includes assigning projects and articles to our writers, receiving projects, planning photo shoots and editing articles too! To add to that, I’ve recently started a couple regular magazine features including Subtle Tees and A Closer Look. It’s a hefty responsibility but it’s very much a team task and it brings me much joy.
Whew! It sounds like you keep quite busy! Do you have a favorite task in
that long list of responsibilities?
Hmmm, That's a bit hard to answer! I like the structure of planning and organizing content for the magazine. I sleep better at night knowing I have plenty of content assigned to our writers to fill our pages! (My worst nightmare is having blank pages in the magazine!) I also enjoy the process of creating and experimenting with my own projects. I think it’s important to roll up my sleeves and use the equipment and tools our readers use. It keeps the ideas fresh and helps me relate to our readers.
T-shirts are such a popular item for embroidery and I love the way you present such a mix in your Subtle Tees column. Can you tell us more about how you got started with this?
With 100 issues in our history, we have certainly seen changes and improvements. The early days of machine embroidery were marked with teddy bears and cartoonish animals on t-shirts. There’s nothing wrong with these themes but we’ve come a long way since those days! Technology changes. Fashion and styles have changed. Social media influences us more than ever. Even though the overall concept is the same – I’m embroidering on a T-shirt – I think there are many opportunities to explore and ways to appeal to more youthful tastes. My goal for Subtle Tees is to make a T-shirt that my friends (various age groups, male and female) would want to wear. In short, to present interesting and fun ways to stitch a T-shirt.
Here are a few examples of fun and funny Tees :-)
I look forward to reading your articles, especially because you always show some great tips and tricks. Can you share a few of your favorite T-shirt tips with us?
Sure! Today there are so many readily available tools that make embroidering on a t-shirt, (and other items for that matter) easier ever! Success is much easier now, for me and everyone else!
Tip #1: I like to use basic blue tape to clearly mark the center of my shirt. Then I make use of a placement guide to help with positioning the design.
Tip #2: Templates are an embroiderer's best friend and I use them a lot! On this shirt I aligned the template using the center mark as a guide. Special "sticky" paper keeps the template in place and makes placement in the exact center virtually foolproof.
Tip #2: A target sticker helps me pinpoint the placement when I get the shirt hooped and take it to the machine. Make sure the needle position points to the center of the Target Sticker and your design will stitch where you planned it.
Make an effort to learn to use the tools for your particular machine to find this center point. While I have access to the top-of-the-line machines that can scan for the Snowman, I usually use more basic machine models, or I purposely skip the fancy features when I use top-of-the-line machines. I do this because not everyone has access to the machines with all the bells and whistles.
You included a few photos from your feature article called A Closer Look. The little quilt and the miniature man below are too cute!!! When my magazine arrives I usually flip to this page first because it always makes me smile!
I know photography is another creative outlet for you. Can you tell us more about the miniatures?
A Closer Look lands on the last page of the magazine. It also makes an appearance on Eileen’s Machine Embroidery Blog, Instagram, Facebook and the Designs Plus Newsletter.
It combines two of my favorite personal hobbies with work. I have always loved miniatures and photography but never dreamed I would merge them with machine embroidery! The miniatures are H-O scale and N Scale – the type of miniatures used for model trains. They are very tiny, not easy to handle, easy to lose and are my prized treasures!
Quite frankly, photos like the bobbin man below give me a chance to be a little silly and portray the creative life in miniature form. It is not without it's own set of challenges, like getting all my "models" to hold steady as I photograph them!
The little guy trying to untangle the bobbin makes me laugh but also reminds me that mistakes can and do happen to all of us. Can you name a few of your favorite tips or tools for mistake proof machine embroidery?
The Snap Hoop Monster is one of my all time favorite tools. Truly, until DIME invented this, I wasn’t overly motivated to embroider in a big way. For me, hooping with a traditional hoop was sometimes unpleasant and unforgiving. But the Snap Hoop Monster made it so easy and pleasant that I couldn’t resist.
I was always taught that you shouldn't tug on the hooped fabric because you’ll get puckered embroidery. But with Snap Hoop Monster, the frame is flat and magnetic. You can tug and rearrange the fabric all you want without compromising the outcome of your project. This example shows a large hoop but the Snap Hoop comes in smaller sizes to accommodate a variety of machine brands and models.
You are a wealth of knowledge and inspiration Denise! Every question I ask makes me think of three more! We may have to do a sequel one day :-)
Before we say goodbye, what advice would you give to those who are really new to machine embroidery and are afraid of making mistakes?
I find that I have a critical voice in my head but I have learned to ignore it or at least muffle the sound! Some of my best mistakes have turned in to opportunities.
I also learned late in life that people that appear to have everything together aren’t necessarily perfect when you look a little deeper! Someone else's approach to a project shouldn't stop you from achieving success using your own methods. The creative process is a never-ending learning process. Start out with small accomplishments and focus on the overall goal, building your skills. To sum it up I would say embrace your own style and don't waste time by not trying or by worrying what others will think!
Your message of encouragement rings true for all of us! Thank you for taking time from your incredibly busy schedule to tell us more about yourself and give us a behind the scenes glimpse at DIME. More than ever, I appreciate the effort it takes to produce each issue of the magazine! Keep up the good work Denise!
Thank you, Joanne for this opportunity. You have been a very valuable part of our team of writers and I’m grateful to know you!
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Resources: CLICK HERE for more information on products and tools mentioned above. I suggest visiting your local sewing machine dealer for ordering these specialty items.
By now, I've had the privilege of making multiple trips to the Northeast Ohio based It's Sew Easy TV studio. From the parking lot you would never imagine the hustle and bustle inside, all in an effort to bring you quality sewing education and inspiration. KS Productions is owned and operated by Katherine Stull. She is an extraordinary woman, producing a wide variety of award winning do it yourself shows broadcast online, and via PBS stations across the country. Katherine is also the beautiful voice over you hear on each show.
Make up makes a world of difference!
Susan (pictured here) and Karen, (a regular at the studio but off on this particular day) are both master make-up artists. Each of these talented ladies has a unique background specializing in production for movies and videos. They can quickly conceal dark circles left behind from long nights of sewing in preparation for the scheduled week of taping!
Lights, Camera, Action!
Mike orchestrates all the action from the master control room. It's evident that he is happy in his work and loves the entire fast paced process. In his role as Director he focuses on getting everything "just right" each and every time.
Expert camera operators such as Brett are part of what makes every show you see is bright and beautiful when production is all finished.
Lights and cameras are moved from place to place in preparation for each new segment. Tom always disappears into the dark background once taping begins. Then, he skillfully operates cameras that come from above and behind without me ever knowing where they are hovering and zooming in. One camera is so large (I call it Tyrannosaurus Rex), I couldn't even get back far enough to get a good photo!
My countdown camera man Keith snuck out before I could snap his photo. Each segment begins with a 5-4-3-2-1 ACTION! Keith always puts me at ease with his bright smile as my mind races with last minute thoughts of "I hope I remember what I want to say."
Brian makes certain the sound you hear is clear and crisp so you don't miss out on any important instructions. I never notice the microphone he so strategically puts in place.
I only notice how cold the equipment feels when you are taping first thing in the morning!
Team effort ensures a smooth
and seamless show!
From left to right, Segment Producer Lynn, and Production Coordinator Katherine, look calm and collected as they sit at their desks. This photo shows a rare moment of sit down time as they are both usually hopping around helping instructors with everything from ironing samples, setting up machines, feeding hungry participants, and coaching instructors with a run through of their show time demonstrations.
Patsy is parked in the green room where every guest prepares and organizes their samples and such. A monitor on the wall shows in real time what's happening live on the set. Patsy's official title is Production Assistant, meaning she does a million different things, including snapping on-set photos from every angle imaginable.
Kimberli MacKay is there for the duration, encouraging and educating all who arrive ready to demonstrate and sew on the broad line of machines Brother provides on set. Kimberli is a Brother product specialist and an experienced educator herself, but for me she is a much-needed cheerleader as countdown begins for each new segment.
The photo collection you see here by no means shows the whole team. Assistant Director Kara and Video Editor Sherry are invaluable and important team members. It's hard to catch them for a photo op because they are always hard at work making the end result of each show something you will enjoy watching.
I can't neglect to mention Production Manager Tim Stull, able and affable spouse of Katherine. He literally had a hand in building the studio and could easily wear a hat emblazoned with the title "Master of things that need to be done."
Just like most busy sewing spaces, it's not all neat, pretty, and perfect! A menagerie of miscellaneous machines and accessories are tucked away, ready to be moved into place for sewing, embroidery, and quilting scenes demanding the right tool for each instructor to use. It's a whirlwind of activity from beginning to end, one jam packed week for a season's worth of quality "how to" shows.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into the It's Sew Easy TV studio! It all comes together so you can relax and learn from the comfort of your own home, computer, or favorite mobile device. Happy Sewing!
© Copyright 2018 by Joanne Banko. All rights Reserved