Sunday, December 28, 2014

Be happy in the land of stitches this 2015!

Check out free designs on Facebook
Create a jar to collect little notes you write to capture moments of happiness throughout the year.

The one pictured here is a mason jar but any type of jar would work.  I chose this style because it is done with embroidery. Or if you need a gift, put a petite notepad and pencil inside or use last year's suggestion and fill it with candy or hot chocolate mix.

Start the embroidery machine and stitch the design which is sized for the mason jar lid.

Stretch the elastic band around "something" giving you four sides and easy access as shown below to tie plum fabric strips to each of the sides.

I'm using the Serger Thread Palette Tool to stretch the elastic around.  I purchased this years ago and it gave me a big smile to use it again in a new way.

Look around the sewing room and you will some gizmo that will work or check out your kitchen drawer!

Create strips: use pinking shears for fabric strips or rip the strips and let the raw edges add a fun look.  Fill in-between the plum strips of fabric with red or pink organza strips or ribbons.  I used this same type of jar filled with hot chocolate for Christmas, hence the red and green ribbons and organza shown to the right.

Want to digitize your own design? Create a circle in your software in the size you need and get creative within the confines of the circle. If you don't know how, join me on Craftsy and save 50%!

For the lid, you can add an extra layer of felt or a batting to add additional "poof". The featured sample uses two layers of felt glued to the lid. The lid in this sample design measures 2.75 inches in diameter sized for the mason jar disc.

It's okay to cut out on the line itself as it will be tucked under the mason jar lid.  Sample was cut with pinking shears. Love Aileen's glue for flexibility, adherence to so many "bases" and strength. Use any glue that will adhere fabric to metal that is handy in your home!

Tip: if you don't have the right adhesive or glue, go quietly into your significant other's Home Depot stash!  Mine flies remote control planes so I have every glue known to man at my secret disposal. I love the supplies used in his hobby!

Tie a ribbon around the lid with a bow finish and glue it in place.  Be sure to keep the glue just on the lid edge. Here is the one I did for Christmas adding an additional Tag of Joy that I digitized last year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Part 10, Tag you are it for the holidays!

A personalized ornament or gift tag with someone you love "sketched in thread".

Supplies: Sketch portrait design, two pieced of fabric (sample uses ultra suede), red 40 wt. embroidery thread on top and in bobbin, 12 inches of ribbon, one piece of stabilizer either tear away or sticky depending on which finished look you prefer. If you use sticky paper, then the back side will be plain and if you use tear away then the backside will be the portrait in reverse.

Take your favorite photo or drawing and with  digitizing software, and duplicate it in stitches.

It is one of the easiest gifts you make. Another suggestion is to trace a photo of a friend's home  with digitizing software as a welcome blanket design and use the closing date as the "founding date".

To do this portrait tag, create the stitch portrait of your subject.  Create an oval around the portrait. Apply a fancy motif stitch to it. Create two circles as "eyelets" less than 1/4" big and apply satin stitch to each of the "eyelets".

For this tag ornament, two scraps of ultra-suede were used.  Use any fabric that won't fray including felt.  Hoop sticky paper and apply one piece of fabric to the top.  Thread the upper and lower bobbin thread with the same color of embroidery thread for the eyelets to be red on top and bottom.  Stitch out the "subject".  Slide the other piece of fabric under the hoop and stitch out the  motif oval and eyelets. Remove the sticky paper along the motif border. Trim fabric to 1/8" wide from the motif outside edge. Use an eyelet hole punch to remove the inner fabric areas from the eyelets.  Add your ribbon through the eyelets and you are finished!  The other option is to hoop tear away with the upper layer of fabric and again use matching upper and lower embroidery thread. Float backing fabric underneath the hoop.  Stitch the entire project, remove and trim away excess fabric and stabilizer and now you have the design in reverse on the other side.

Two layers of fabric are suggested for either method for stability of tag/ornament.

If you do not know how to create a portrait in stitches, check out
Artistic Digitizing; from Inspiration to Stitch on Craftsy and save with this discounted link.
See some of my student's first projects here

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Part 9, Photostitch tip to make that project easier: A thread chart of your own...

I like to revisit Photostitch and other photo features of several embroidery softwares from time to time because it makes beautiful personalized gifts.  If you have  a photo style feature in the software you own, I encourage you to try it.  Bernina, Brother, Babylock, Pfaff, Viking and Embird are just a few of the many that offer some version of this style of digitizing with photos.  As always, I would love to see your work either here or on Facebook.

I am working with PE Design for this post. Most digitizing softwares include creating special thread charts in addition to converting photos into stitched portraits.

If you want to do one in a monochrome, sepia, or gray tone embroidery  project then the default settings of Brother PE Design and Babylock Palette are amazingly easy to use and do a pretty good job without tweaking.  The steps in the manual are clearly outlined.  If you have lost your manual, both Brother and Babylock websites have them as downloads as do most of the others.  

This post is for tips that you may have missed. At the end of the transformation steps from image to stitches, in the newer versions, you get a choice of candidates to choose from. They are worth looking at. The software can see things that we might have not noticed. And the candidates vary in lightness, contrast and saturation for you to choose from.

Color photos can be slightly trickier. 

Stella Photo 1
Using a thread chart with specific colors can be very handy when digitizing a color photo using photostitch or in creating a cross stitch.  In this post I am using Photostitch feature of PE Design. Most digitizing software packages offer the ability to create your own thread chart. Check in your manual.

The steps and tips outlined here are the same in all the versions from 4 and up with difference being how you access the Photostitch feature.  Check your manual and see whether it is through Design Center or Layout and Editing.  Newer versions of software open right from the main screen.

By creating a thread chart based on the colors in the photo you are working with, you may be surprised on how much better the results are.   At the end of the process you get to choose your best candidate, in the later versions, which is a big bonus.

Here's a quick overview for creating a thread chart to work well for the intended color photo:
In Options choose "Edit User Thread Chart"
Click new chart and add the colors you need by scrolling through the bottom color chart and click the arrows to insert them.  For the Stella photo: I used the tawny, reddish and brown shades with some pinks and gray added. I save and name the chart based on the name of the project I am working on.
Stella Photo 2

Photostitch itself is very easy to use. With the Photostitch feature you select the image you are working with and choose the frame cropping tool.  (aka Mask Shape)

For Stella I chose an oval. The page size was set on a minimum of 5x7 and the image was centered in the hoop.  The Photostitch wizard does the rest. Be sure to select the thread chart you created on the next screen. For the choice of Photo or Cartoon, select Photo. After you are finished  (in later versions, have chosen the best candidate) you can always use Stitch to Block feature and remove any layers that contain just a few "unnecessary" stitches without effecting the quality of the photostitch and will save you time.  The Stitch to Block feature is in all the versions of Brother PE Design and Babylock Palette. You will need to ungroup the Photostitch embroidery pattern first to use it.

Stella Photo 3

Consider combining different elements with your photo embroidery creation. This design has a motif candlewick pattern and a wing ding font beneath it. By using a specific thread chart, and removing stray stitching with Stitch to Block feature, I have saved many minutes without compromising the quality of the finished project.

Imagine the family ornaments you can make, or little decorator pillows.  Notice I am not saying quilts because my goodness it is 11 days before Christmas and a few days before Hanukkah and time is short!

Take a look at all the cropping choices and I am sure you will find one that lends itself to a special project you are working on.

I did a test crop to see if this five sided crop would be fun for a starter patch. I'm planning a favorite pet photo for a friend but at the moment this was the photo I had to test the grays with. But you can see how easily this crop shape in the software would work for a crazy quilt starter patch. What is a Crazy Starter Quilt? See the how to video!

Another favorite crop is to move the points in a freeform crop to isolate just the person or object with no background fill.  Take the time and experiment with all the shapes, if available and most of all have fun with it.  ~Cookie

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Part 8, The Machine Embroidery Marriage of Tiny Tees and Little Feet...

The previous post outlined the steps with photos on how to machine embroider a tiny t-shirt. The video is added to keep enthusiastic fingers out of the way of flying needles when embroidering tiny tees and socks.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and take a 7 minute break. Feel free to ask questions here about the method.

Please take a moment and go to my YouTube channel and subscribe. I would appreciate that vote of confidence!


The supplies shown in the video are listed in the previous post right here on the blog.  If you would like to order an easy onesie tool for baby snap tees, visit

A special thank you to Beverly, who hears the needs of embroiderers, is a joy to work with, and her creative inventiveness is thoroughly appreciated by so many!  In our family, she is Aunt Sue the crotchet queen, and maker of all things we love.
Tee Time Design Set

It's always fun to coordinate the tee shirts with socks that match.  For embroidery on socks, we  love and sell the Sock Easy tool. There's a link on how to use it in the description of the product, scroll down once you arrive on the page.

If you think you might like to put a ruffle around a tee, embroider the tee first, and then stitch a ruffle using the right sewing feet. Learn how:

Sewing a Ruffled Onesie / Snap Tee

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Part 7, Machine Embroidery to make an " Easy Onesie" Project - Gather your supplies!

Just in time for the holidays, the easiest method for embroidery on onesies.
Onesie Supplies used in sample shown:
Plain white  Gerber onesie
Pink with white dot or plaid ribbon (optional)
Tee Time Embroidery Set
Machine Embroidery thread: Pink, yellow, dark gray, and brown
Easy Tool for onesies and snap tees
5x7 minimum size hoop
White thread in bobbin
Embroidery Machine
Pink sewing thread for ribbon (optional)

AllAboutBlanks stocks quality baby snap tees in white, black and red!

Supplies for matching socks:
Plain white socks
Pink with white dot ribbon
Tee Time Embroidery Set
Machine Embroidery thread: Pink, yellow, dark gray, brown
The Sock Easy
4x4 minimum size hoop
White thread in bobbin
Embroidery Machine
Pink sewing thread for ribbon (optional)

Preparation of the hoop is the same for both projects

Step 1: Hoop sticky stabilizer paper with waxy side up
Step 2: Score with straight pin along inside edge of embroidery hoop
Step 3: Remove waxy paper revealing sticky stabilizer
Step 3: Place onesie positioned on Easy Tool or sock positioned on Sock Easy on sticky stabilizer

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Sticky stabilizer is available at your local sewing machine dealer or order online at!

Print out  the template from the Tee Time Set

Pin to the onesie at the top for creating placement marks.
Admittedly, this is a no fuss eye-ball method. Use whatever placement mark method you prefer including hoop templates.

Fold the Tee itself to find the center of the shirt.  Do you see the gerber baby peeking out at you? I chose this inexpensive onesie as it has clear printed "guide" markings to see right side and wrong side for the purpose of this post.

Next, fold the paper template vertically and horizontally as shown to create your center placement mark. Again, use your own preferred method for placement marking. I subscribe to keep it simple ;)
Fold up & draw line Use washday pen
Repeat step vertically

Let's hoop the onesie by first turning it inside out, and have the back of the shirt facing towards you. Slip the Easy Tool in-between the two layers at the neck opening.

The back panel of the onesie with the snaps will then be wrapped around the U shaped handle of the Easy Tool in the next step. By doing this step, you will reveal the pretty side of the onesie to be embroidered with the placement markings now visible. See the next photo.

Pretty slick!  From this step you will take the frame unit and place it onto the sticky paper.  You can easily adjust the baby onesie to lie straight on the stabilizer.  Look at the knit lines of the tee and keep them relatively straight.  If you were doing this without the Easy Tool, it would take more time as you would be pinning things out of the way.

Look at the next photo and see how nicely it fits in the hoop.  You do need to have a minimum 5x7 hoop to use the Easy Onesie.

Once on the hoop with the "grain" of the fabric straight, you are able to secure the tee out of the way.  The copper covered stainless steel frame of the unit let's you adjust it, if needed.

The next two steps share one very important tip: remember to flip your embroidery design to stitch in the correct position.  You can see that in the screen capture of the machine and then as it is stitched out in the photos below.

Add optional topping to keep stitches raised

Flip the design for correct direction

Optional: Add ribbon to sleeves by sewing it with a zigzag stitch stressing the cuff area as you sew to give it a slight ruffle appearance.  Socks refresher in next post!