Marking Pieces for In-the-Hoop Projects

How do you keep things straight with multi-pieced projects? Mark them with numbers that correspond with the design instructions.

If you have ever stitched a quilt block, mug rug, or other in-the-hoop project, you know it can get pretty confusing. And it doesn’t matter how much experience you have.

I made a mistake while stitching the Summer Mug Rug project (see how I fixed it here) by using the wrong piece of fabric well into the embroidery sequence.

It is easy enough to do, especially when you have many precut pieces that go into a project.

Organizing Project Pieces

Mistakes can be prevented by marking each piece of the project. Go through the project directions and mark the corresponding color stop or sequence number on each of the pieces as you cut them out.

Pin a piece of paper to each piece of fabric or use removable stickers, sticky notes, or painter’s tape. Just be sure to use a pencil or permanent marker so that ink does not rub off onto other fabric pieces.

When stitching the design, it is so much easier to follow along when your fabrics are marked to match the assembly steps. It takes such a small amount of time, but can make such a difference.

How do you keep all of the pieces of your projects organized?


One Wrong Cut – Fixing a Mid-Project Mistake

Some say mistakes are actually lessons. Well, I learned a valuable lesson while stitching the Summer Mug Rug 2 by Oma’s Place project and I will show you how I fixed it!

The Problem

What you didn’t see in the tutorial was that I used the wrong size fabric piece for the beach sand. It was too short. Of course, that was after the project was more than half finished.

This was what you saw.

This was what actually happened. Now what? I certainly did not want to start over. And to tear out the seam, I would also have to tear out the quilting stitches in the water section. Besides, the fabrics were already fused to the batting.

Fixing the Blunder

Fusible tape to the rescue! The overlapped back pieces of this project included a piece of fusible seam tape so that you could turn the project inside out and fuse the seam together without hand stitching it closed.

I cut another piece of sand fabric about a half-inch taller than I needed. I added a strip of  Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 along the top edge on the wrong side of the fabric. Then, I pressed the fused strip to the back side of the fabric producing a folded edge.

I added another strip of adhesive along the back of the folded fabric edge and fused it on top of the existing beach sand fabric, butting the folded edge right up to the seam previously created when the sand and water fabric were stitched together. I fused it down, and it looked just as if the fabric had been pieced as intended. An in-the-hoop catastrophe was averted!

What is the biggest project rescue that you ever made and how did you do it?


Pre-Shrinking Mesh Cutaway Stabilizer

Have you ever used a mesh cutaway stabilizer and the embroidery looks great when you take it out of the hoop but wrinkles and puckers after ironing or laundering? Why? Some stabilizers shrink.

I agree that it doesn’t make any sense. Cutaway stabilizers are supposed to support stitches, especially on fabrics, like knits, that can stretch.

Without a stressor like heat, everything looks fine. Add heat and/or steam, whether it be by ironing or drying in the dryer, and the stitching can look like a funhouse mirror.

These two mesh cutaway stabilizers started out the same size. After ironing with a steam iron, you can see just how much the top piece shrunk.

Stabilizers are the foundation of great embroidery. Imagine if the foundation of your house suddenly got smaller, even a little bit. It would create real structural problems. The same is true for stabilizers.

When the base of your embroidery shrinks, fabric and stitches pucker and pull out of alignment.

Just as we often pre-shrink fabrics before sewing or embroidering, the same can be done with stabilizers. It takes very little time. Actually, it is as easy as a couple of quick passes with a steam iron before you hoop it. That goes for most any stabilizer, except for wash-away or heat-away.

So if you have had past embroidery fails of this kind, try pre-shrinking the stabilizer and stitch it again!




Summer Mug Rug

Novelty fabrics make unique projects. Add some variety to a mug rug by substituting some embroidery with fabric.

The Summer Mug Rug 2 by Oma’s Place is so cute. I had some novelty beach fabric in my stash and decided to have a little fun.

The project is done entirely in the hoop, starting with fusible fleece.

Placement lines show just where all fabrics are placed and stitched. Pressing fabrics open after stitching and fuse to the fleece.

Fussy cutting the sky fabric meant I did not have to stitch out the seagulls.

Accent quilting adds interest. By offsetting the birds, there was room to embroider the sun in the upper right corner. I opted to not stitch the sand castle and bucket so that I could move the text down and keep the sky area open.

And with an ingenious method of assembling the back, there is literally no hand stitching. One edge of a back piece is pressed down and a strip of fusible Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 is added so that when the piece is turned right side out, you can fuse the seam closed.

The back edges are overlapped and stitched to the mug rug at the end.

The finished product is so darn cute, you will probably make several, because everyone will want one!

Rules for Three-Letter Monograms

Whether you are creating Monogramed Wedding Candles or stitching monogrammed towels, it helps to know the traditional (and not so traditional) rules.

These suggestions are simply a guideline. You can create a monogram however it pleases you or the recipient.

We already covered single-letter monogram rules. Three-letter monograms are very popular for singles, married couples, and partners.  Traditionally, the  surname (last name) initial is in the middle and larger than the other two. The other initials consist of the first names of the couple (usually the bride’s first name initial comes first), or the first name initial and middle initial of a single person.

As single people, Carlie Marie Jones and Bryan Thomas Woods would use the first initials of their first, middle, and last names. Carlie’s monogram would be CMJ and Bryan’s would be BTW, all the same size.

If Carlie  marries Bryan, their monogram would be CWB and the W would be larger than the C and the B.

Bryan’s individual monogram as a married person would be BWT, with a larger W.

Carlie’s individual monogram as a married person could be CWM or she could use the first initial of her maiden name where the middle initial goes, as in CWJ, with a larger W.

If both are keeping their last names, the first initial of the last names can both be used, and larger than the rest, as in CJWB (the J and W would be larger than the C and B). The same concept would apply to married partners.

Check back and we will discuss tricky monogram issues like hyphenated names or surnames with a prefix.

Why Baste Inside a Baste Box?

Basting Embroidery

Do you really need to baste around basting boxes? It is a good idea if you are combining several individual designs in the same hoop, especially when embroidering on challenging fabrics.

Basting designs in the hoop helps keep stitches aligned properly and keeps layers from shifting. That is really important if you are floating fabrics in the hoop, creating in the hoop projects, and  embroidering on delicate fabri ccs that slide around easily.

Ideally, we should use the smallest hoop on hand for the design we are embroidering. That keeps stabilizer and fabric snug and gives crisp stitching results.

When creating the Monogramed Wedding Candles, I stitched the lacy letters on two layers of organza that were floated in the hoop. Basting was essential to keep the organza in place.

I also included three letters in one hooping instead of stitching each letter by itself. I added a separate basting stitch for each of the letters, then basted the group of all three as well. Overkill? Not if you want to hoop once and stitch once.

Stitch registration is important in lace designs and stitching on two layers of organza has it’s own challenges. Double basting insured that each letter stitched out properly without any wrinkles caused by the organza.

Each of the letters was going to be cut out and glued on LED candles so adding basting boxes did not hurt the overall design.

You can add basting boxes to designs using design editing/digitizing software such as Hatch and Embird. Some embroidery machines can also baste designs in the hoop. If your machine does not baste for you, you can take advantage of these free basting designs.


Trimming Jump Stitches

Do you trim your jump stitches as they appear? If not, you could be setting yourself up for much more work when the design is finished stitching.

Trimming thread with each color change should be routine and it is pretty easy to do since the machine stops for each separate color. Often, designs that contain large areas of the same thread color have jump stitches. So do designs that are stitched in one color, like the monogrammed candle project.

I like to trim jump stitches as they happen. Otherwise, as the thread stretches from one position to the next, it can be stitched over by other parts of the design. That makes for much more trimming and increases the chance of cutting good stitches.

In some cases, it is nearly impossible to trim threads that are buried under other embroidery.

Don’t forget to trim jump stitches on the back too. Every time the thread jumps on the front, the bobbin thread jumps too.

Trimming jump stitches is especially important when you can see through the embroidery, as with lace designs like the Fancy Block Font by Stitch Delight.

It may take a little extra effort, but trimming jump stitches as they happen will give you a much more polished, professional finish to your projects.


Great Gifts for Teachers

The end of the school year is near. Here are some embroidery projects that will make great gifts of appreciation for the special teachers in your life!

Teacher Gift Bag by Oma’s Place

Stitch up this adorable gift bag and fill it with school supplies or a travel mug and gift certificate to a local coffee house. It will function as a mini tote or lunch bag in the new school year.

Teacher Dangler by SewAZ

Stitch up this wall hanger and personalize it with the teacher’s name. It finishes up clean when you use  a freestanding applique technique, much like the embroidered rotary cutting case project.

Charm School by C Some Stitches

These are just a few of the freestanding lace charms you can stitch up with this embroidery design set. They can be strung on a garland, made into ornaments, or used as a gift tag.

Teacher Mug Rug by Oma’s Place

Mug Rug 2 by Oma’s Place

Mug rugs are wonderful gifts and are so easy to make. Everything is done in the hoop and some can be personalized. See how effortlessly the back finishes up (with no hand stitching) in this project. Add a pretty mug or some chocolates for a thoughtful gift.


School Days Book Mark by Kreative Kiwi  

Pressed for time? These Sunbonnet bookmarks can be made in just 10 minutes. Dig out your scraps and add pretty ribbon for a gift that will certainly be used.

What is your favorite teacher gift to embroider?

Tips for Single Letter Monograms

Monograms are a favorite design among machine embroiderers. Here are some tips for stitching single-letter monograms on your next custom project.

Love Rose Alphabet 04 by One by One Embroidery

Single letters are one of the most common monogram styles, but what are the rules? These tips are traditional, but modern-day monograms are more relaxed.

Creative Monograms 3 by Creative Design

Single letters are most often used for the first name initial (children and single women) or the initial of the last name of single men and married couples/partners.

Crystal Butterfly Monograms by Ace Points Embroidery

Because these monograms stand alone, there is more room for embellishments, like crystals, and accents, like the butterfly.

Breath of Spring Monogram by A Stitch and a Half

Decorative frames are also quite popular and elegant.

Cutwork Monograms by Creative Design

Frames set off monograms, especially on table linens.

Samantha Monogam by Oma’s Place

When using decorative frames, simple alphabets should be chosen so they do not compete with the frame and are easy to read.

FSL Monogram Box by Dainty Stitches

This freestanding lace design is actually part of a pretty lace box. By itself, it makes a very elegant monogram and would look beautiful on an LED candle.

In cases when the married couple each keeps their last name, a double-letter monogram can be used.


Monogram Wedding Candles

Wedding season is rapidly approaching. When you make the happy couple an elegant (and easy) monogrammed candle, you will take their breath away!

It starts with a classy design, the Fancy Block Font by Stitch Delight. Actually, you can do this with any applique font that has satin stitching for the edging.

The candle is battery operated and thread colors can match home décor or wedding theme.

Hoop two layers of a fabric type water soluble stabilizer.  Spray temporary adhesive between two layers of organza in a color that matches the color of the candle. Spray the back of the layered organza and finger press it onto the stabilizer.

Load the font on your machine and run a basting stitch to hold all layers in place. Be sure to use the same color of thread in the bobbin as that with which you are stitching.

When embroidery is finished, clip away excess water soluble stabilizer. Rinse the monogram to remove the rest of the stabilizer and lay it flat to dry.

When dry, trim the organza close to satin stitches. Do not worry if some of the organza stays in the design. If it matches the candle color, it will not be noticed.

Smooth tacky glue on the back of the monogram and hold it in place on the candle. When it stays flat, let it dry completely.

Add batteries, and you have a wonderful gift for weddings, anniversaries, and special occasions!