Recently in Embroidery Category

Blog of the Month: Anna Maria Horner

April 4, 2014

I have long been a fan this this month's blog, Anna Maria Horner, for several reasons. The first is she just does so stinking much in a day, I honestly can't work out the math. Of course, she has a few extra hands around the house to help out: her seven children. She also shares my love of bright colors and creatively employing those colors all across her life. Her house is filled with love and tons of fabric, yarn and thread. I have watched Anna Maria on Martha Stewart, recreated her free projects/tutorials and eagerly bought her fabric. Her blog is like looking through a window in her house but without all the weirdo, creepy vibes and you are welcome to pull up a brightly colored chair with a hand worked needlepoint cushion and enjoy a cup of coffee (though she strikes me as more of a tea gal).

If you are a fan of Anna Maria's fabric collections with Free Spirit you will definitely love her blog which is full of her fabric worked into colorful and creative projects. It will get the ideas rolling through your head. You can also get a sneak peek at her upcoming projects, cute kid pictures (like shooting fish in a barrel) and many how-tos on manipulating fabric. Look for her category cloud on the left sidebar for more specific searches. I love her tutorials because they are well done but also they are just fun. Her tutorials are heavily weighted towards quilting but since I am gaining interest in quilting and most of our customers are interested in quilting than this should be right up you alley.

I also really love Anna Maria's fashion posts. The mixed media that Anna Maria includes plus her color combos and embellishments really make my fingers itch. Her home posts are another favorite. It is like a beautiful family reunion, filled with cookies, song and nice smells (sans fighting and not enough bathrooms). I love the glimpses of kid crafts, hundreds of quilts and cozy blankets, and lots of smiles.


Embroidery Secrets

March 28, 2014


I'm a big fan of embroidery but I haven't always been. I've always enjoyed the relaxing technique, the color choices and the small, quiet, repetitive sounds from needle puncturing fabric but the pattern choices always turned me off. There are only so many mice scampering across 20 yr. old computer screen housing cute witticisms that I can work on before my brain just says "NO, no more!" Even with patterns that I love you can only use them so many times. What if I want to embroidery that flamenco dancer more than nine times? What's a girl to do?

So today I want to share my secrets for creating my own embroidery patterns that you can use easily to break out of the standard pattern rut. These secrets can be adapted for existing embroidery patterns or to make your own. All you need is some muslin/light colored fabric (dark colored or patterned fabric secrets are coming in May), a light box/ sunny window, and a water soluble marker.

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I love to use coloring pages as embroidery patterns because the designs are not overly detailed and look great once worked in embroidery floss. Coloring pages are abundant and easily accessible. You can find any design you want for any project, just type it into the search box of your search engine. Here's an example: if you are looking for a giraffe silhouette just type in giraffe silhouette coloring page into your search engine and select from hundreds or thousands of images.


Print out your coloring page and edit the size on a copy machine, copy center or using photo editing software. Tape your image to your light source. You can use a sunny window or a light box. Lay your fabric over your image (I used muslin). Then using your water soluble marker trace your design. The design should be visible through your fabric. However, if it is a cloudy/rainy day and you simply cannot wait, then use this tutorial to whip up an overhead projector (you already have plenty of boxes around). Once your design is traced you can stitch over your marker and then spray it away when you are done. Simple.IMG_5501.JPG

You needn't be limited to just coloring pages or your old patterns either. I downloaded a picture of a free Sashiko pattern and blew it up 200% to create my 16'' x 20'' design that I plan to hang over my bed. You can use this technique for your children's drawings, handwritten letters or family photos. Just be sure you have plenty of muslin because this is addicting. Don't forget you can easily dye you muslin if you want another color.   


You can find my Family Tree Coloring page here

Explore my other coloring sheet projects

Reusable Sandwich Sack

August 14, 2013


(Updated with snack sizes) I try to be as eco-friendly as I can be and that means I really strive to use less plastic. I grew up with those tri-fold, very thin sandwich baggies for my daily peanut butter and jelly and they are very nostalgic for me. I found myself picking up a box a few weeks ago at my local grocery store just because: I was getting ready for school, that's what I grew up with and it's just a little bit of plastic right. Well, I'll save the lecture but the gist is I took a second look and realized that each box was alot of plastic and I doubted it would be recycled by my 4 yr old. I decided right there that I would find a more practical, washable, cute reusable bag that would last the year and would check that eco-friendly box. 



The design is so simple that you will easily be able to whip up a dozen or more for your family from just 1 yd of PUL fabric. I designed this bag to fit the extra large, healthy loaves that I tend to gravitate towards (you know whole, 12 grain kinds) so the bag is a generous 7''x 6'' with a flip top. I embroidered a hand drawn slice of bread on my linen exterior but you could opt for prints. Try using a different print for each kid or choosing special colors. You can easily scale down the bags for snack sizes (7''x4'') or increase it for larger sub sandwiches or hoagies. 


To make your own you will need (to make at least 6 or more):

1 yd PUL fabric

1 yd exterior fabric(cotton prints or linen)

Cut 1 each from exterior and PUL 7" wide by 16" long for snadwich size or 7'' by 12'' for snack size. 

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Embroider your exterior or add any decoration (the front is 2" down from the top and 7" long for sandwich or 2'' down and 4'' long for snack size). Next, with wrongsides together serge the 2 short ends of your bag (with regular machine use a straight stitch 1/4'' seam) then with the lining face up, fold down the top 2" and finger press the fold. Fold up the bottom to meet the fold at the top, finger press the fold (if you need to hold the folds in place use a document clip) and serge or stitch the sides. Flip right side out and you are done. SO easy!! Don't you just want to keep making more. I thought of making some about 20" square and filling them with homemade scones for stocking stuffers, hostess gifts or just because. You can also use them as gift wrap or as wet bags. I love PUL!


Fall Felt Wreath

September 15, 2012

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For everywhere but Georgia it seems that fall is in the air. The leaves are turning and there is a bite in the air. I can feel it in my bones even if I can't feel it in the temperature outside. I yearn to choose jewel tones, leaf motifs and drink apple cider. So, of course, I made a wreath to channel my inner thoughts. At least my door can look as festive as I feel even if my family is still in tank tops and shorts.

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To make a Fall Felt Wreath like mine you will need to visit a few tutorials. The first is a free bird pattern that is designed to use as a mobile, and I did use it to create one for my first born and plan to make a second for my soon-to-be little one, but this time I crafted just one bird from felt. When you make yours be patient when turning it since the felt is thicker than the quilting cotton this pattern was designed for so it will be stubborn. Once you triumph you can use a small whip stitch to close the tail after your firmly stuff. The second tutorial is the felt rose bud by Creative Jewish.

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The supplies you will need are  one straw wreath form that can be had from your local grocery store, hardware store or big box store, some scrap yarn, about 100 yds of 2 colors. I choose two tonal colors in a cotton blend and a wool blend for pom-poms and to wrap the wreath. You will also need several pieces of felt in fall colors for roses and the bird. Lastly you will need your glue gun.

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First, wrap your wreath with both yarn colors. I wrapped mine last because once I had my pom-poms, roses and the bird my wreath needed something more. If you wrap yours first you can ensure it has complete coverage and it will make it even more beautiful. Tie it off in the back and add a little extra at the top for hanging. Next, make your pom-poms, about 5-8 will do. You can either tie them on or glue them in place. Attach them in a cluster towards the bottom so your bird will have a nest. Next, make your bird and carefully glue him in place. Be sure you lean your wreath up against a flat wall before you do this so you can make sure your bird doesn't lean toward the back too much as this will interfere with hanging. If your bird doesn't push your wreath away from the wall then he is sitting just fine. If he does, reposition him more toward the front of your wreath. I positioned my bird's back to the front of the wreath so it would appear he was building his fall nest. Then I clustered some roses right below him, about 4-6 should be good unless you love them and want more, more, more. You can cluster more at the top or cover the remaining wreath. Try topping them off with faux berries, pearls or beads for some added glitz. Glue your roses in place.

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You can embellish your wreath further by embroidering your bird's back, draping a long piece of knitted icord around your wreath or cutting out felt leaves and gluing them in clusters around your roses. I hope you will share your own creations on our Facebook page

Dirty Laundry Travel Bag

September 3, 2012


If you are a traveler than you know that more often than not when packing you plan for everything (socks, toothpaste, curling iron, face wash, etc) except dirty laundry. I like to think of myself as a pretty smart packer; I don't pack a lot of extras and try to cover all the essentials but I always forget about where to stow my dirty laundry on worn. I usually end up using a plastic bag from a local store but that is:

1)      Ugly

2)      Not great for moisture and odors (hello, husband socks)  

3)      Often get mixed up with my purchases.

So I made a Dirty Laundry Travel bag that is perfect for any kind of travel. My double drawstring design makes closing a cinch and easy to hang from any hook or knob. The drawstrings are knit fabric so you can pull them tight for a snug closure and don't require sewing.  When made from cotton it is breathable and lightweight but you can add a vinyl coated lining if you are using this for young children's clothing. The size is easily adjusted to suit your needs. I made mine 14 '' high by 15'' wide (Finished size) which should hold about a weekend's worth of dirty clothing. The Dirty Laundry Bag also works well for laundering delicates as well as storing toiletries in your luggage.

To make your own you will need

½ yd of cotton duck, twill or other medium weight/bottom weight fabric

Scrapes of quilting cotton for appliqués

1 yd of 3'' wide Jersey Knit fabric (cut with the stretch)

Download Dirty Laundry Travel Appliqués here

Heat n Bond




Cut 2 16'' squares. Serge or zig zag across the top of each square and down 2'' on each side. Fold over 1.5'' of each top toward the WS and press. Stitch close to the top to make draw string casing.


Trace Dirty Laundry Appliqués onto Heat n Bond and cut out. Apply Heat n Bond to WS of your quilting scraps and cut out. Remove paper backing and arrange your appliqués onto the RS of one of your Dirty Laundry body pieces. Iron in place. Zig Zag stitch around each appliqué or use a straight stitch and add some additional stitching lines for details (see my underwear).


Place body pieces RS together and stitch using ½'' seam down one side starting right below  the drawstring casing, pivoting at the bottom corner, across the bottom, pivoting at second corner and back up the third side. Finishing just below the drawstring casing, back stitch at both ends. Trim your corners and turn bag RS out.


Cut your jersey knit in half lengthwise, gaining two 18'' pieces. Pull each piece tight to cause the long sides to curl.  Use a bodkin or safety pin to thread each drawstring through a casing. Double or triple knot each drawstring at both ends.

You can add embroidery to make one for each family member or loved one. I recommend making several in different sizes for longer and shorter trips, kids and even pets (great for keeping collars and leashes in one place when visiting the in-laws). I am packing mine into my hospital bag for baby#2 in a few weeks and plan to use it for future family visits.  

You can also change the appliques and make a really great knitting/crochet project back-Christmas Gift Idea!!!!

Machine Embroidery Tips

July 30, 2012

I still consider myself new to the embroidery game even though I have had my machine for a few years. I own a sewing machine/embroidery machine which may explain why I don't log in much time on the embroidery side. But when I do remember this great feature, I use it hard. I love how fast and easy it is to add that little something special to gifts or projects. I have often used this side of my machine to whip up last minute gifts for parties, showers or thank you tokens. However, using your embroidery machine, if you are new to it or even if you have a few years under your belt (like me) can be tricky if you don't have some helpful tips to get you through the frustrating learning period. These tips really helped me when I got started.

1)      You are going to break some needles, so just know that ahead of time. My first breakage freaked me out because I had rarely broken a needle and never in that fashion. The machine goes so fast and then all of a sudden, crack, broken needle. You can break your needle for several reasons. My most common was wrong stabilizer for the fabric or wrong needle for the fabric or tension.

2)      Test your embroidery pattern first on scrap fabric. You can find the right combo of stabilizer, needle, tension and fabric without ruining your project.

3)      Once you have the right combo of fabric/stabilizer/needle/tension, write it down in case you have to embroider that fabric again you can save some testing.

4)      Buy embroidery bobbin thread. You don't use the same thread in the bobbin as you do on the upper. Embroidery machines use a certain kind of thread just for the bobbin. Purchase it and wind several bobbins for reserve. It will help prevent needle breakage and other issues that pop up in machine embroidery.

5)      Don't expect to get it right away. This is not a TV infomercial; you can't set it and forget it. There are techniques to machine embroidery that you will need to learn, just like with sewing. It is not a load-machine-push-button-you're-done process. Give yourself some time to learn and don't worry if it is not perfect at first.

6)      If the machine sounds like a hammer, turn it off. Mine would always sound like a hammer banging when I was thisclose to breaking a needle or the thread. I knew I had missed a step, loaded something incorrectly or had the wrong stabilizer and could prevent a big blow-up by listening for this sound.

7)      Purchase Machine Embroidery Essentials by Jeanine Twigg. It is a lifesaver and I would have given up on machine embroidery forever if not for this book. She will walk you through needles, tension, stabilizer and fabric. You can get a head start on some of the common combos. If you are going to try machine embroidery at all, this book is a must for your shelves!

8)      Stock up on stabilizer. You will use a lot of it and you don't want to be out when the mood strikes. Also, you can patch sticky stabilizer by cutting out a piece bigger than your hole and placing the patch on top. Don't patch it from the backside. It works better from the top. Don't patch too often. Once your sticky stabilizer is no longer taut, chuck it and hoop a new piece.

Check out our Machine Embroidery section here


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Beyond the Onesie!

July 11, 2012

A baby comes standard with a pack (or 3 dozen) Onesies. If you are lucky some of those rompers will be decorated in a style that you like, with a cute appliqué or design. However, most will not be lucky because the thing about baby presents is that not everyone has the same style. Luckily, revamping your onesie collection is pretty easy and fun. You can use these techniques and tips for your little one's wardrobe or as a great gift for another special babe in your life; you can even use them on older children's clothing as well.

Here's what your might need:

Heat transfer paper

Circle cutter

Embroidery supplies


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First up are the plain white Onesies. These are great because you can purchase them in packs of 5-8 and really go to town which is what I did on a pack I was recently gifted. I was jonesing for some embroidery so I had an idea for a reverse appliqué with "Love" embroidered in the center. To make this reverse appliqué I used my Circle cutter to cut a 5'' circle from my heat transfer paper and then cut another 4'' hole from the center of the first to make a ring of heat transfer paper. Then I placed the ring on the RS of my quilting cotton (I made sure to get some dogs inside the ring to show up) and ironed it in place. Next cut out your circle and place it on the WS of the front of your onesie and iron in place. Stitch the ring in place with coordinating thread and turn your onesie RS out. Cut out the center of your circle from just the onesie, using your stitch line as a guide. Finally, hoop your onesie and embroider your special saying. I wrote "Love" with a water soluble marker.



Next, I found a great apple that I wanted to turn into an appliqué so I used the same technique as for my deer head appliqué and stitched around the apple with a straight stitch. For the letters, I didn't want to machine stitch for fear of sloppiness so I choose to just use a running stitch and go over the letters with embroidery floss to hold them in place and give some definition.



My third onesie I wanted to add some more texture so I decided on a gentle ruffle that was more texture than ruffle so it wouldn't bug the baby. To do this I cut a 4'' strip twice as long as the front of the onesie and with RS together I folded the strip in half lengthwise and stitched ½'' from the edge. I pressed the seam open and turned the tube RS out and pressed again with the seam down the center (this becomes the WS of the ruffle). Next I ran a gathering stitch down each side of the strip ¼'' from the edge. Pull the threads to gather the strip as much as you like and knot the thread when finished. Pin strip in place and stitch to your onesie over the gather stitches, folding under the short raw edges to prevent fraying. Done!



My last romper was a bit of a departure because this one is a hand-me down from my first little girl. It was packed away but when I pulled it out I discovered some staining that nothing could defeat. So again, I leaned on my trusty circle cutter and cut out several circles from some red micro dot, linen and a little heart from a Heather Bailey Nicey Jane Print. I ironed on freezer paper to cut the circles and then used heat transfer paper to adhere them to the romper. Then I stitched in zig zag around all with a contrasting thread. You can't even tell there was ever a stain and the giant polka dots make the romper look better than ever.

You can use all these tips and techniques to add some wow to your rompers or your own wardrobe. Pairing short cuts, like heat transfer paper, with embroidery can make your projects not only time savers but also unbelievably cute. These ideas can be used on any age to brighten up any top or to cover just about any Oops that comes your way.

Check out my circle cutter series here: Part 1 & Part 2

Simple Summer Book Bag

July 2, 2012



Summer is hitting full swing and you need a simple but chic book bag to keep up with you. My canvas embroidered book bag features a small gusset and one shoulder strap that makes it as easy to grab as it is to carry. The gussets allow for maximum carrying capacity while the clever one strap design means you can grab this bag with one hand and not have to worry about the one strap sliding off your shoulder while the other stays in place. The one strap also allows for you to easily reach in the bag while wearing for a quick snack attack, to return a book or snatch those car keys. The Simple Summer Book Bag can fit several books or you can use it for a trip to the pool, as a grocery tote or knitting bag (like we need another!). Here how to make your own:



1 yd of cotton canvas

Embroidery floss and you favorite Sublime Stitching Pattern


Cut out two 18x18 in. squares and one 4x25 in. strap from canvas. Set strap and one square aside.

Apply embroidery pattern as instructed and embroider up your pattern in your favorite colors. I just adored my love birds. Press to regain shape of your square once embroidery is finished.


With RS facing, pin and stitch around 3 sides (bottom and 2 sides) using a ½ in. seam allowance. Pin corners so seams line up and draw a 2 in. line for stitching your gussets (see photo below).



Stitch over gusset line, back stitching at both ends. Double turn top of bag ½ in. and topstitch.

Fold strap in half lengthwise and press. Open and fold raw ends towards the center line and press. Fold in half again with raw ends inside and press a final time. Pin strap closed and topstitch open edge.


On the inside of the top hem, mark 2 &3 in. from the side seam on right front side. Flip bag over and repeat on the back. Line up strap between these 2 marks and pin in place. Stitch strap in place using 2 lines of stitching, 1/8 in. from top edge and ½ in. from top edge. Done!

Fill you book bag with your favorite books for a day at the park, bookstore or indulgent goodies at the farmer's market. Try to remember to bring a notebook so you can write down names and numbers of all your friends who will ask you to make a Simple Summer Book bag for them as well.



Kid Safe Sparkler

June 22, 2012


For the 4th celebration I have revamped my Felt Play: Wand with Magic Streamers in mighty red, white and blue. This is a fun alternative for younger kids how want to join in the fun without all the pyrotechnics. The variegated yarn streamers swish through the air with all the splendor of sparklers with no danger for little hands. The new design features the honored stars and stripes in fun felt that will last all the days leading up to the 4th of July and for many weeks after while the euphoria lasts even after the banners come down. My little one, who is on the cusp of preschool age but still a toddler in our book loves swinging her wand around, delights over the streamers and the occasional whacking o' the dogs goes unnoticed by the victims. I stuffed my wand extra this time because a year after my original creation made its debut, I noticed it is slumping a bit. I almost doubled the stuffing and the wand is stiff and much easier to swing and twirl.


Here's how to make your own Kid Safe Sparkler with magic steamers:

2 sheets of 9x 12 in. felt in Crystal Blue, Red and White

1 skein or leftovers of skeins in many colors or variegated colors. I used cotton for durability.

Poly stuffing

Embroidery Floss


Download and cut out the wand pattern from my downloadable Felt Wand with Magic Streamers post. Cut out the wand and wand end from the blue and then cut out various small stars from the white and small ¼- ½ in. wide stripes from the short ends of the red and white felt.



Line up the red and white stripes on a diagonal starting with the narrow end of the wand piece and using a running stitch and some embroidery floss, secure each stripe on the wand piece. You can use your own judgment on the placement. I used several stripes and 3 stars. I also used a small running stitch to outline and secure each star. Once the wand was decorated, use whip stitch up the side of the wand until you have 2 in. remaining before the narrow end of the wand.  Wrap your yarn from your hand to your elbow about 10-12 times and trim the end. Place on end of the streamer in the narrow end of the wand and continue your whip stitch to the end and then add several more stitches around the end to secure the yarn and close up the narrow end. Cut the end of the streamers so they will swirl nicely and are not big loops. Firmly stuff your wand and then whip stitch the end in place. Place in the hand of nearest child and watch the glee that erupts. 


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Summer Embroidery

May 28, 2012

If school is out or will be shortly for you and your family, you are probably already mourning the loss of quality time with your sewing machine. Now is the time to start planning your summertime sewing projects. If you aren't a knitter or a crocheter, you are probably wondering what in the world you can fit into your purse to whip out at soccer practice, work on while waiting to pick up from camp or while listening to story time at the library- certainly not your sewing machine. Consider whipping out your embroidery hoop and getting ahead start on some hostess gifts, Christmas stockings or a little something for you. I love the soft puncture sound of the needle poking through the fabric, the wonderful choice of embroidery floss colors and being able to see the image softly impressed on the fabric coming to life with each strand. All are perfectly delightful accompaniments to the squeals of running kids, picnics in the park or lazy Sundays on the porch. 


Embroidery projects can easily fit inside your purse or beach bag, the materials are small and limited and it is easy to pick up right where you left off without having to find your place in the pattern (unlike knitting and crochet). Embroidery can keep your brain pleasantly occupied without really occupying it, making it the perfect vacation activity. I recently spent an idle morning embroidering the Georgia State Bird (a brown thrasher for those interested) onto a pillow cover. I used Anchor Six Strand Embroidery Floss in Topaz on a natural linen background and it turned out gorgeous.

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For Christmas I received an adorable tea towel from my mom which she worked on the previous summer. You can tell from her choice of pattern: Hot Fudge Sundae. The colors are so bright and delicious, perfect for summer time relaxation. If you are so inclined let me nudge you in the direction of our Sublime Stitching embroidery patterns, seen above. They are so whimsical and entertaining (pirates, robots and Rock n' Roll)

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