New to Embroidery

I am new to embroidery and finding all a bit overwelming, I am a quilter looking to embroidery desgns on a quilt. Would I be best to order Spring stipple designs or reg embroidery statin stitch designs for quilt topping that has the 3 layers hooped? I also want to start to embroidery sheets, pillowcases etc. and I don’t want to find I ordered the stipple sets and should have ordered the reg Embroidery sets. Can I still get the correct design when I quilt with the reg embroidery design? I am unsure whether to order 4×4 or 5×7? Do more people order the 4×4 because it is so versatile for rotating and mirrow-image? I have a Janome mc 9700 with 2 hoop sizes. If I order the 5×7, can I reduce the size of the design? Thanks Stephanie Greenside

Dear Stephanie,
Congratulations on your new machine! Even though it may all be a bit overwhelming, as you say, at first…you are going to have a lot of fun with embroidery! There is a ton of help available on the web for newbies so you are in good hands! 🙂 For starters, check out all the help that can be found on the Secrets site, sign up for their newsletter to learn more each month and check out their new blog. That’s a great place for beginners to pick up hints and tips from other seasoned embroidery enthusiasts! Also, check out my own “Helpful Hints” page at Feel free to print out any information that you wish to for future reference. And always, we are only an email away!
As for your quilt embroideries, keep in mind that when you are putting embroidery on layers of fabric and/or batting, the layers will have a tendency to shift during the stitching process. So keep the designs simple…those Stipple designs may be the best bet. If you want to use a regular satin and filled stitch design, embroidery the design on the top layer of material first. (See my “Helpful Hints” for more information about proper stabilizing.)
When I embroider on layers (such as stipple stitching for quilting), I try to use the smallest possible hoop. There is a little less movement of the fabric in the smaller hoop than there will be in the larger hoop, simply because there is less fabric to move. However, if you are embroidering on one layer of fabric, as long as it is properly stabilized, the larger hoop designs mean it will take less hooping to cover a large area.
Only reduce designs if your software will also reduce the stitch count. The same goes with enlarging a design…only do so if your software will increase the stitch count. Without the proper software to do so, you will be unhappy with the results.
Sheets and pillow cases embroidery well. As long as you are putting the embroidery on a single layer of material you will have excellent results with a variety of designs. Should you want to put the embroidery on the hem (which will be a double layer of fabric) and you cannot easily open the hem so that you can put the embroidery on a single layer of fabric, choose simple designs. Some ripples and puckers may appear around your finished design when you embroider through multiple layers because you will not be able to properly stabilize that top layer.
I hope this helps! Feel free to write, any time.

Missing Stitches

When my thread breaks or something else goes wrong there is missed stitches. How can you go back and fill in the lost stitches?

In order to prevent missing stitches when you have a thread break or a similar problem during embroidery, you will need to backtrack in the design past the missing portion. Most machines are equipped with a feature that will let you advance forward or backwards within a design either by color change or by stitch. Some machines have the ability to advance or retreat by as little as one stitch or as many as 100 or more. Check your machine’s manual to see if your machine has a similar feature.
When backtracking to cover an area of missing stitches, try to start again just slightly before the missing portion, so that you will be stitching over a very small portion of the design that is already stitched. Also, when you begin to stitch again, drop the needle, raise it and pull the bobbin thread to the top. Begin stitching while holding both the top and bobbin thread tails, securing a short length of them under the new stitches. This is especially important when re-stitching satin stitch columns, as it helps prevent unraveling of the thread later.
Hope this helps!

Digitizing Lettering

I just cannot do neat lettering on a badge!! The letters are 16mm and just wont stitch properly, underlay is visible every few stitches. The word is DOCEMUS and needs to be stitched in a curve. I’m using a design that was digitized by my digitizer friend, and the lettering she used is Arial black 16 mm font. We have changed the underlay, done everything possible but to no avail. The design that stitches out beautifully except for the lettering. I cannot go to a larger lettering than a 17 at the most as this word has to fit into a logo. Some stitches good, others skimpy and underlay keeps showing. I hope I have given you enough information. Thank-you so much. Regards, Evelyn

Dear Evelyn,

It sounds like your friend is using an automatic digitizing program to do the lettering for your logo. Ask her if there is a way to turn off the underlay for the lettering portion. If not, it may be necessary to manually punch the lettering. This is a very small sized font, it probably needs to be no more than two stitches wide. If I had to do a font this small, I would manually punch each stitch in place individually in straight stitch columns instead of satin stitch columns, spacing the stitch points unevenly for better coverage.

I’m not sure that is much help! Sorry! Good luck any way 🙂

Embird and The Amazing Box

I have an amazing box, can it be used with Embird?

Hi Emma,

There is no reason why you cannot use the Amazing Box in conjunction with Embird however the Amazing Box cannot be used directly from within Embird as the Ultimate Box can be. You would need to save your design from within Embird and then open the Amazing Box, navigate to the folder where you saved your design and then open the design from within the
program. Once the design is opened you will be able to send your design to your programmable card.

I hope that helps.

Kind regards

Carolyn Keber
Step by Step lessons for Embird and PE Design

Problem Downloading Freebie

Hi there, I have always been able to download freebies from my Yahoo sites one being Sew, however last few days when I click on the download and open it in Embird I get a lot of other things showing as well, as in pictures of unrelated things. Normally I would click on the emb and right click then convert to Jef, then save with explorer to my file. I don’t have this problem when getting downloads from Ann the Gran etc or when getting zip files. I have been into Iconizer and checked that, which shows no images to show. Hope you can help. Oh, I am running the latest Embird also.

Juanita Crosland

Hi Juanita, 

I have never downloaded files from the site you mention but if you’re not having this problem with all the sites then I would suggest that you download one file and save it to a special folder that has nothing else in it – any empty folder will do. Then open Windows Explorer and select the file you downloaded. Right mouse click on the file and choose Open/Open with WinZip. WinZip will open the file and you’ll be able to see if all those extra files that you’ve started seeing after downloading are actually included with the zip file or not. If they are then the problem is with the zipped files and not Embird. However if you try a number of zipped files and they don’t appear to have any extra files included then email me back and I’ll think of something else to try.Best of luck.

Kind regards

Carolyn Keber
Step by Step lessons for Embird and PE Design

Creating Lace

Can I design Lace on Embird or PE design?Many thanks,

Hi Carole,

Certainly you can create lace in both Embird Studio and PE Design. However if you are using PE Design then I would suggest that you create the lace manually using the tools in Layout and Editing rather than try and use any “auto-digitizing functions of the program. My advice would be to purchase a lace design from a digitizer who specializes in creating lace and then watch how it stitches out and you’ll get an idea of how to go about creating your own lace designs. Then you could create your own lace using either PE Design or Embird Studio. Best of luck.

Kind regards,

Carolyn Keber
Step by Step lessons for Embird and PE Design

Jump Threads

When machine embroidering, do you cut the threads in-between colors or leave them for understitching? Thankx,

Dear Arddy,
If you are talking about the bobbin threads on the underside of the design, these threads normally do not need to be clipped unless they will show. When bobbin jump threads must be trimmed, try not to clip so closely that you cut away the tie-off knots.
If you were talking about the top threads, definitely clip the jump threads from color to color. However, sometimes a design will have several portions of the same color stitched in different places resulting in lots of little jump threads. If another portion of the design will be stitched over those jump threads, it is quite okay to leave them. Just be sure that they will be completely covered, and that they are not so long the machine foot may tangle in them while passing over. Also, be sure the thread color that is stitching over them will successfully cover the jump thread color. (In other words, don’t stitch a white portion of a design over black jump threads…they will show through.)
I hope this helps!


T-Shirts and Holes

What is the best way to stabilize t-shirts so that lettering doesn’t make holes in the fabric? And, if you get a hole, what is the best way to fix it !Thank you,
Andi Woodson

Hi Andi,
T-Shirts are fun to embroider, but they do require a little extra TLC! I suspect that you have tried to stitch lettering that is tiny and stitch intensive on your t-shirt, and it probably sunk right into the bobbin case causing the machine to “eat” your shirt…am I close? Yep, I’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt to prove it too! 🙂 Here’s what I learned:
Pick a design that is suitable for knits…nothing tiny and densely stitched. Look for appliques, flat filled designs (that are NOT dense) or lettering with medium width satin stitching. (Really wide satin stitches will also give your knits grief!) Lettering that has underlay works best.
Remember that flat is better when stabilizing…pick a stabilizer that is NOT cushy or stretchy. I like to use iron-on woven regular sewing interfacing for all my knit projects…followed with a layer of iron-on regular Lose Weight Exercise tear-away. For more information on my favorite way to stabilize knits, please check out my “Helpful Hints” at
As for fixing those pesky holes…this is what I do, but please note that this works best when the entire hole and then some will be completely covered by the embroidery.
If the hole is large, find a piece of fabric that is as close as possible in type and color to your t-shirt. If the hole is very small, you can use regular woven fabric in a matching color.
Cut a piece of the patch fabric slightly larger than the hole. Place the cut patch over the back of the hole on the wrong side of the t-shirt. The right side of the patch fabric should show through the hole on the right side. Using woven iron-on interfacing, cover the entire portion of the shirt that will be hooped, right over the covered hole, on the wrong side. Add a piece of iron-on tear-away stabilizer over that, covering an area larger than the hoop. Lay a piece of water-soluble stabilizer over the right side of the shirt, covering the entire area to be hooped. Use temporary spray adhesive to hold the water-soluble stabilizer in place. (This topper will prevent the machine foot from catching on the edges of the hole during stitching.) Hoop the fabric, water-soluble topper included. If you feel you need another piece of stabilizer, slip a piece of tear-away under the hoop while it is in the machine. Now stitch your design. Remove the excess water-soluble topper and tear-away stabilizer. Gently peel up the excess woven interfacing and trim away close to the design on the back. (Warm the interfacing with an iron, if necessary, to aid in removing the excess.)
For those holes that will not be covered completely by the embroidery, I learned this little trick from my friend who does alterations…it works great with t-shirts. Pinch the torn fabric together on the wrong side and sew a straight seam across the raw edges. Make the seam as short as possible, but as long as necessary to let the fabric lay flat without denting or puckering at the ends of the seam. Do not stretch the fabric as you stitch. Sew as close as possible to the torn edges, but be sure that they are secure. Press the seam open on the wrong side firmly. Stabilize as suggested above and embroider over the closed hole. Believe it or not, that little seam really does fade into the background…it will be hardly noticeable!
Lots of luck!


Hi Evy,
I was at a dog show and there was a booth set up with what looked like I looked closer it wasn’t your normal patch.  In talking with the man that was there, all of the patches were items that were embroidered and the back was a shiny plastic surface. The application was then applied by heat press to shirts, bags, or anything that you wanted it to be heat pressed on. The man told me that the backing was actually part of the embroidery and it was not something that was painted on the back, he also said the shirt that he had on was about 4 years old and the patch type item has lasted this long thru all of the washings. Can you tell me about this application?
Thank you,
Candice / CA

Dear Candice,
We get this question pretty often, patch embroidery is popular!
In my experience, embroidering on a heat sensitive substrate for the purpose of applying a patch to a garment has never worked very well. As the bobbin threads nearly completely cover the adhesive, the bond is compromised from the start. It is impossible to embroider on any substrate without piercing the fabric. Knowing this, if there were no stitches showing on the back of the patches you saw at that dog show, that can only mean that they had a special heat sensitive adhesive applied to the back of them after the embroidery was done. If the layer of adhesive appeared to actually be part of the cloth that the embroidery was on, than it probably was a liquid adhesive application. However, I am not doubting what the gentleman said could be possible, for new things crop up all the time! Maybe there is a wonderful new product out there that we haven’t heard about yet…like a really strong heat sensitive thread made of glue such as some of the fusible threads that are now on the market.
You can research some industrial strength glues (for commercial use) at: The home embroiderer can use a product such as “UltraHold” by HeatnBond for patch purposes. This product is washable…check it out at To read about fusible thread, see the article by Charlotte Andersen at on Charlotte’s Fusible Thread.
Perhaps some of our other customers have had experience with other heat applied embroidery patches…hopefully we’ll hear some tips from them!
Thanks for writing,


Paper-piecing in the Hoop

Do you sell Paper-piecing in the Hoop designs? These consist of only outlines of each color/fabric change. Thank you, Barbara Welty

Dear Barbara,
What an interesting concept! I’ve heard of this technique, and have seen a few examples of it in the Paper & Embroidery issues of Creative Machine Embroidery magazine, but have yet to personally try it. I am not sure that anyone on the Secrets site has designs especially digitized for this method of paper embroidery, but I’m pretty sure that there are designs you could use. Simple applique shapes might work if you use just the first applique material stitching, and we have lots of applique! Also, My Fair Lady has quite a few designs especially digitized for use with paper. You might want to check out her pages.
This isn’t much help, but I’m sure some of our savvy readers can point you in the right direction. We’ll post your question on the blog and see if anyone has any ideas for you.
Happy Stitching!