Centering Embroidery for a Quilt Block

When making machine embroidered quilt blocks, I always cut my background fabric an inch or two larger than the finished block. and then once the embroidery is finished, the block is trimmed to size. There is always the dilemma of having different versions of the same shape design whether it’s snowflakes or cars or hearts exactly in the center of the quilt block so that everything looks consistent when the quilt is finished.

My solution to this dilemma is to cut the basic shape using the die and taping it to the back of the ruler. I use the Creative Grids Centering Rulers and have every size of them, but if you don’t have that kind of ruler, this method is even better because you can use any ruler so long as you place your design exactly where you want it.  You can fold your paper shape to find the exact center and use that to center it on a regular ruler without having to do lots of calculations around all the sides.

This is a photo of a car shape taped to the back of the 8-1/2″ Creative Grids Centering Ruler. I used the paper from the back of a shape cut with fusible, but you can use any kind of paper to tape to the back of the ruler.


Sometimes there are No Shortcuts

Once the table runners were finished, I moved on to digitizing embroidery for an AccuQuilt applique die that will be coming out in the next few days. I am sworn to secrecy so can’t tell you what it is, but can say that it’s really cute. What I can tell you is that sometimes there are NO SHORTCUTS! Let me explain. And keep in mind—you’ll get a kick out of this—during my career in clinical research I once had an employee who told me that I was “too process driven.” I’ll admit she was a creative soul even though she didn’t last in clinical research very long.

When doing machine embroidery applique with die cut shapes or with Silhouette machine cut shapes, I sometimes will skip the fusible step, cut the fabric shape and use a glue stick on the background fabric just inside the placement stitches and will work the shape into place and stitch it. That works sometimes with some fabrics and some shapes and looks good. However, the shape I’m working with right now has some tiny little points and little nubs around the edge and while the glue stick works, the end result looks really “homemade”. After a couple of tries, I cut the Steam A Seam Lite and fused it to the back of the fabric and using my mini-iron to secure the shape into place, created some really pretty machine embroidery applique.  This  simply reinforces that saying, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it well.”

Another tip is that if you are using the tackdown and trim method instead of cutting the shape with a machine, using a fusible on the back of the applique fabric can make the shape easier to trim and will cut down on fraying around the edges. A lot depends on the fabric that is being used.

Since I have no pictures today, I’ll share this one with you. It’s a love note that one of the 4 year old twins left at my house last week. I’m not sure what it says, but usually when one of them writes a note like this, they tell us what it says.  I believe this was from Vance, and he found the magnet and posted this on my refrigerator just at 4-year old height.


Catching Up and Some Quilt in the Hoop Tips

Little did I realize how much had been forgotten about process when offering the Christmas Tree and Star Table Runner as a freebie. At the same time I was so happy to be reminded how wonderful and welcoming the stitching community is. It is such a warm feeling to get the lovely comments from everyone.

If you haven’t downloaded the Christmas Tree and Star Table Runner and would still like to have it, click here.

My methods for getting the files to you were not good and the blog framework didn’t work well for getting your comments to me in a format that made an easy email reply. This morning I got up with new determination to renew my previous experience with the file download site so that I didn’t have to be the slow middleman in the process.  Yesterday I was not able to answer your emails and enjoy chatting with each of you. Now that there are systems in place for dealing with file downloads, I look forward to responding to each and every comment and catching up with those of you I know and getting acquainted with new correspondents.

Now let’s talk about quilting in the hoop. A big contributor to success or failure of a block quilted in the hoop is stabilizer – I like to use a fabric type water soluble stabilizer. Water soluble stabilizer is nice because it’s not at all stiff and it lets the quilt block look really “quilty” with good stitch definition. The first time the quilt is laundered, the water soluble stabilizer completely disappears.

What about the embroidery? The soft fabric type water soluble stabilizer does not provide the structure needed to hold those beautiful satin stitches of the embroidery applique.  There is a solution. Add a soft tearaway / washaway stabilizer on the back side of the hoop while stitching the embroidery to provide the structure needed for the satin and decorative embellishment stitches. Then when the embroidery is complete it is easy to tear away the stabilizer on the back from around the embroidery without disturbing the water soluble stabilizer. Once that is done, the quilt batting and backing can be added to the back of the hoop and the quilting is completed.

The tearaway / washaway stabilizer needs to be soft to the hand. I use a 1.5 oz weight stabilizer. And if I buy a different brand, I always test it to be sure that it will tear away easily and it falls apart easily in water.

I hope this helps as you are working with your quilt in the hoop projects.

Happy Stitching!


What I’ve been doing when I wasn’t quilting this past year

This is my afternoon post for December 4. I promised to tell you why I have been “dormant” on embroidery and quilting for the past year, so here it is.  And it’s a short explanation—I wore out my hands. 2018 was a year when I made quilt after quilt and did very little machine embroidery. Those quilts were very pretty, but were mostly for AccuQuilt’s free pattern library.  Most of them had seams that were pressed open and used the unusual shapes in the Companion Qubes.  That and crocheting some afghans for my children and grandchildren ended up leaving me with very painful arthritis/tendonitis in my thumbs. So with delivery of the last quilt at the end of November 2018, I have neither quilted nor done much machine embroidery.

I did try a few things—I love breadmaking and became a semi-expert on pizza dough and made some great artisan pizzas. But it’s hard to eat that much pizza. And kneading pizza dough is not great for the hands.

Another thing I did was sign up for software classes at a couple of online training sites and spent time honing my skills in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and Procreate. In addition, I have taken a number of classes in Machine Embroidery Digitizing and have learned a lot from those.

After a trip to Biltmore at the end of May and a review of the photos from the trip, it was apparent that I needed to lose some weight. So at that point, I threw myself into a daily exercise routine and cut out all the extra snacks that were so enjoyable. By the end of October, I had lost 20 pounds and that still feels so much better than where I was in May.

And that’s all there is to it—I took a year off from quilting and two years off from machine embroidery and now I’m back. Even so, it has been a very productive time for me.  My hands are much better too and knitting and sewing are easily done without constant pain. 

Holiday Stitching Time is Here – New Projects and a Freebie

Some might say that the time has past, but for those of us who don’t get into the holiday spirit until the holiday is almost here. . .it’s the perfect time to start stitching. I’ve been working on a couple of projects the past month. Since the blog and embroidery shop have been fairly dormant for the past year, I thought it would be the perfect time for a giveaway. (And I’ll tell you why I’ve been away for awhile in tomorrow’s post).

These are my projects. They are quilted in the hoop table runners. The giveaway is a Christmas Tree and Star Table Runner.

EDIT: I found a service that will allow you to download the file directly without leaving a comment  although I must say how much I love to see your comments. It also means I can spend time responding to your comments rather than creating an email with a file attachment.

Click here to download the file. It will require you to leave your email address but rest assured that will only be used to send you more information from time to time. I won’t clog up your inbox with lots of email and you can unsubscribe any time.

NOTE: I love your comments, so if you have trouble finding a way to comment, click on the title so that only this post is on the page and the comment box will appear at the bottom.  And if that fails, send me a private message on Facebook. 

This is the completed table runner and the star and tree designs shown below. I used a metallic thread to stitch the tree stars and it really makes the whole table runner sparkle. The quilting is done using an echo stitch and works beautifully on the embroidery machine. Assembling the blocks into the runner is very easy. I have tried many methods for assembling quilted in the hoop blocks and finally feel like this is the easiest thing yet. All you have to do is comment on this blog post and then have fun stitching this embroidery.


This is the snowman table runner and it definitely has more moving parts and thread changes. But it still stitches in a flash and those snowmen are just plain fun as they come to life. You can get the snowman table runner from my web store and will be priced at half price ($6.00, regular price $12.00) for the entire month of December.  



Christmas Stockings

Quick update on December. My sewing activities have consisted only of making these few stockings–actually there are three more–two for the parents and one for a friend with a newborn.

These stockings were made with the AccuQuilt stocking die (Studio). Love that die as the stockings turn out perfectly and are so quick and easy. They are unlined, except that I cut four pieces for the cuff and lined the cuffs which make them much more stable for holding the machine embroidery. The snowflakes have been in my files for many years–not sure their origin, but think it may be Embroidery Library.  The lettering was done with my Art & Stitch Plus software—that works so well to adjust lettering to get all the names in the same space.

My stitching has been so limited because of the arthritis in my hands. Thought I would do some baking, but found that worked quite well except that using a cookie scoop for portioning and especially the cookie press are not easy with these hands. Maybe machine embroidery will be my focus for awhile.

Christmas is only a week away. Are you ready? 

Let It Snow Wall Frame

This blog post was published on the AccuQuilt blog yesterday and has the machine embroidery for the lowercase alphabet die that was recently released as well as my Holiday Elements machine embroidery design set.

As always, if I made this again, I would make snowflakes that showed up just a bit more—a darker thread for the stitches around them would give that little bit of additional contrast that is needed. But I absolutely love those cute snow people as well as the lettering.

This is stretched on a 20″ x 24″ canvas frame and has batting underneath, but does not have quilting stitches through the layers.


Baby Quilt with Spring Medley Applique Machine Embroidery Tutorial

This is a quilt tutorial that I wrote for AccuQuilt for their blog. It was a lot of fun, but is very simple to do. The Spring Medley applique is cute, but this can also be made with a lot of the other different applique dies.  I used the 10″ Qube, but it will also work with the 9″ and the 12″ blocks too.


Bear’s Paw Table Runner Tutorial

AccuQuilt has another new die–they just keep releasing more and more–it’s hard to keep up with trying out each new one. This one is a Bear’s Paw die that is a Block on Board (BOB) which means one run through the cutter and you have a complete block ready to stitch. The quarter block of the Bear’s Paw looks like a maple leaf so I used that idea to make this table runner. You can go over to the AccuQuilt blog to see the full tutorial.


Crazy Quilt Star Throw Quilt

I just finished this Crazy Quilt Star Throw Quilt made with the AccuQuilt GO Crazy Quilt die. I love the Crazy Quilt dies (both Studio and GO!). They are just incredible. There are so many different layouts that one can create with it–and the blocks stitch up faster than almost any other block. I used Square in a Square (aka Economy Block) blocks alternating with Crazy Quilt blocks.  Read the full tutorial on the AccuQuilt blog.

Crazy Quilt Star
Crazy Quilt Star