Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Part 1

How to Embroider on Delicate Fabric

          Few gifts are treasured more than those made of fine fabrics like linen or cotton.  They become even more precious when  personalized with your machine embroidery  for a noteworthy event or a special individual.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting segments on how to successfully embroider on delicate and light weight fabric like the beautiful handkerchiefs from This part Part 1 installment will help you choose the right tools for this type of an embroidery project.

First, always begin with quality  cotton or linen handkerchiefs.  Best results are obtained when embroidering on an item made from natural fiber if it has been pre-washed  to allow for any shrinkage that might occur prior to embroidering.  It is also a good idea to press the item while it is still slightly damp applying a light layer of starch to give body to delicate fabrics.  The fine linens from Embroider This! , including our handkerchiefs, are pre-washed and ironed with starch during the manufacturing process so they come to you ready for embroidery when you take them out of the package! After embroidery,  Embroider This! recommends a gentle cold water hand wash and air dry for the care of their fine handkerchiefs.

You will also need a few other tools for your embroidery project. The use of  a new machine embroidery needle in size 75/11 is a necessity to prevent any pulls or snags when embroidering on delicate fabrics. Embroider This! offers Organ Titanium Machine Embroidery Needles that are considered the best in the industry. These machine embroidery needles are the choice of embroidery professionals and stay sharp much longer than other brands.  Since both sides of the final product will be seen, a sheer stabilizer like Sulky’s Soft ‘n Sheer is the stabilizer of choice. A temporary fabric adhesive like 505 Spray offered by Embroider This! may be used to temporarily secure the item in the hoop or you may prefer a fine straight pins like size 22-ulta-fine.  Part 2 will Detail  the hooping process for handkerchiefs.

The final element to the success of  embroidering delicate fabrics like handkerchiefs  is your choice of embroidery design.  Choose one that is light and airy like the fabric and be sure the stitches are not too dense in any part of the design. Avoid designs that include heavy underlying stitches or one in which several colors are embroidered on top of each other.

Heavy or dense designs do not look pleasing on the delicate fabric of handkerchiefs and may put stress on the fabric.  To help you choose an appropriate designs, it is recommended that you take the time to stitch out a test sample of the design. Although this test stitch step seems time consuming, it will ultimately save you time, money and heartache later on by helping you make the best choice of design for your delicate handkerchief before you start to stitch and prevent you from making a frustrating, expensive and time consuming mistake! If you decide to stitch out a sample, use inexpensive lightweight muslin or batiste fabric which has been pre-washed and dried so it mimics the handkerchief fabric you will be stitching on later.  If you have more experience with designs and different fabric types, you may be able to  view the design in a software editing program and evaluate it’s density in relation to the delicate fabric. If you have design editing software,  you can view the amount of stitches that are stacked on top of one another and evaluate the denseness of the design. Some programs also allow you to reduce the density of the design.

The following diagram illustrates what a dense design and a light, airy design look like in your embroidery editing program to help you learn how to choose the best designs for your handkerchief project.


Embroider This! offers over 300 Free Embroidery Designs and several free designs that have been digitized specifically for the fabric weight of handkerchiefs.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting more installments on “How To Embroider on Delicate Fabrics”.  The next post will teach you the best way to hoop delicate fabrics and this will be followed by tips and tricks for how to use a printed template,  design placement tips and tricks, thread choices, and using organza fabric to stabilize delicate fabrics. I will be adding  new free designs you can download from to go along with these projects.

I’m traveling all of next week so look for the next installment of these posts at the end of April.

I hope you enjoy this series on “How to Embroider on Delicate Fabrics” and I hope it increases your creativity and confidence with machine embroidery.   Please leave me a comment to let me know your feedback!


With the introduction of our new Accent Stripe Kitchen Towel and Honeycomb Towel with Flat Band, we have had a number of questions about washing, and about shrinkage as a result of washing. When we washed these towels, shrinkage was about normal for 100% cotton towels. For the Accent Stripe Kitchen Towel, the shrinkage was about 7% in both dimensions, and the towel held up very well to washing. Here is a photo comparison, with the washed version straight from the dryer:

05-KT4 Before and after washing with annotation

The Honeycomb Towel with Flat Band was also washed and run through the dryer, using normal settings for a cotton towel. This towel had slightly more shrinkage, about 12% in both dimensions, likely due to the honeycomb-style waffle. The waffle held up well, retaining its distinctive pattern without the excessive waffling that distort the shape of the towel. Here is the before and after photo, with the after version pictured exactly as it emerged from the dryer:

05-WWBE Before and after washing with annotation

In both cases, these towels proved to be able to stand up to washing, making them a great item for your embroidery.

The following are a few techniques to make hooping our Small and Large Cosmetic bags easier.

The basic procedure is one known as the “hoopless” method. It works well for small or hard-to-hoop items. Instead of hooping the item, the stabilizer is hooped and the item stuck to it using a temporary adhesive spray. Here are the basics:

  • First, hoop a piece of mid-weight tear-away style stabilizer.
  • Next, spray the hooped stabilizer with a temporary fabric adhesive like the 505 Spray we offer at
  • Then adhere the area of the item to be embroidered directly to the sticky surface of the hooped stabilizer and you are ready to stitch!

If your embroidery machine offers a basting function, you may want to baste around the design area before you start stitching out the design for added security. If the item is extremely bulky, you may find it easier to hand baste the item to the stabilizer. For most items, the fabric adhesive spray is enough to hold the item securely without the added basting step.

To expose and flatten the design area for stitching, first turn the  item inside out! This makes it quite easy to flatten and isolate the area to be stitched. Roll any excess material out of the way and secure. You can use double sided tape, pins, and binder clips (available at office supply stores) to secure the extra material out of the way.

Hooping Cosmetic Bags for Machine Embroidery

Cosmetic bag hooped and ready. Note the duct tape holding extra material out of the way.

You can also use either duct tape or Super StickyDap® StikArounds™ adhesive dots. Both products have great temporary adhesive power and will hold the extra fabric out of the way while you stitch. The duct tape and StikArounds™ are easy to remove cleanly after stitching is complete.

Deciding which needle type to choose for a project can be daunting. We carry a great selection of sewing machine needles specifically designed to give you professional results on your embroidery machine whether you are stitching on a basic home style sewing machine with an embroidery attachment or using a multi-head commercial embroidery machine. Below you will find some handy Needle Notes to take the mystery out of choosing the best needle for the job!

Needle Notes


We carry two Classes of Needles for Machine Embroidery at

Home Machine Needles – the shaft of these needles that fits up into the sewing machine has a half round on one side and are flat on the other.

Commercial Machines – the shaft of these needles that fits up into the sewing machine is fully rounded.

Check the needle that you have been using in your machine to see if it has a flat side. If so, you will  use the home machine needles. If it is fully round, you should order the commercial machine needles.


Needles can have either a Sharp Tip or a Ball Point Tip. Sharps are used for woven fabrics (all of our cotton and linen fabrics offered at Embroider This! ). Ball Point Tips are designed to be used on Knit fabrics only (like our cotton interlock fabric).

Sharp needles pierce the fabric when they stitch. Ball Points push the fibers out of the way when they stitch so the needle slips in between the individual fibers. This prevents knit fabrics from getting a run (like in your stocking!). Our Ball Point needles have BP as part of the item#.


We offer two sizes of needles 75/11 and 90/14. The first # is the European number and the second# is the USA size designation. The tip of the needle that goes into the fabric  is thinner (smaller) on the size 75/11 than the stip  of the 90/14.

Use the 75/11 for most of our products. The 90/14 has a thicker tip and will make a bigger hole when it pierces the fabric. It is best for heavier fabrics like our blankets or throws.


We offer several options for quantity of the various types of needles. We offer a “variety pack” in the Schmetz brand 5 Pack (3 of size 75/11 and two of 90/14). We offer 5 packs, 10 packs, and 100 packs of the Organ Titanium Needles


Organ Titanium are the overwhelming needle of choice by Embroidery Professionals. Organ Needle Company’s Titanium Needles stay sharp longer, result in less thread breakage. The needles last much longer than other brands so you can save you money as well as aggravation!

Here is a handy chart outlining the Sewing Machine Needles for Machine Embroidery we carry at


Have you ever struggled with hooping an item for your machine embroidery project? Have you ever wondered if there was a better or easier way to hoop? Well wonder no more. Following is a hooping tutorial I have compiled that outlines three of my favorite hooping methods.  Follow the hooping guidelines below and you will turn out professional looking embroidery with ease.  Please leave a comment at the end of this article , I love your feedback!

Sarah Kochanowski



Hooping Fabric for Machine Embroidery

compliments of!

          Proper hooping is one of the most challenging and important machine embroidery skills.  Hooping the item correctly is critical to obtaining a professional result.  Improper hooping can cause a myriad of issues such as misalignment of the design on the garment, puckering of the fabric , thread looping  or breaking, or design registration issues (when the stitches don’t line up or “register” properly in the design, especially on outlines).  Hooping for machine embroidery is a challenge because the process requires you to handle multiple loose layers of fabric and stabilizer simultaneously and it requires you to keep those layers straight and wrinkle free while they are aligned precisely and placed under tension in the embroidery hoop so your design ends up stitching out well and where you intend on the fabric. Hooping an item for machine embroidery can at first make you feel like you have ten thumbs, but with the help of the hints below and just a little practice you will soon be hooping like a pro!

The hooping process is affected by several factors:

  • the type of stabilizer;
  • the number of layers of stabilizer needed for the type of fabric you are embroidering;
  • the size of the object you are embroidering;
  • the texture of the fabric; and
  • the size and type of the hoop required for the project.

The following techniques will help you learn to hoop your projects accurately and with ease.  Remember that this process will be a bit cumbersome at first but practice will improve your skills and help you become proficient in a short period of time.

The Stabilizer and Fabric

Machine embroidery requires that the fabric be well stabilized. Stabilizer keeps the fabric from shifting, stretching, or puckering while under the stress of high speed machine embroidery.  At least one layer of stabilizer should be placed underneath the fabric in the hoop for every machine embroidery project.

There are many different types of commercial stabilizers, each designed to accommodate particular techniques, applications, and fabric types. Some stabilizers are designed to remain underneath the stitches or around the edges of a stitched design will continue to support the embroidery during normal wear and laundering of the fabric. Others are removed entirely after the embroidery is completed.  For example:

  • Wash-away stabilizers can be rinsed away in plain water.
  • Heat sensitive stabilizers crumble under the heat of an iron and then can be brushed away.

Because there are so many types of stabilizers, I will address in greater depth the various types of stabilizers and their uses in a separate tutorial document. In the meantime, here  are a few notes on the most common stabilizers to use with products from

  •  A mid-weight tear-away type is the stabilizer of choice for most of the linen and cotton items offered by One or two layers on the back side of the item to be embroidered is sufficient. We offer Sulky®  Tear-Away Stabilizer in various sized rolls and in pre-cut sheets.
  •  Thick or textured fabrics like waffle weave or terry cloth may benefit from an additional layer (s) of wash-away type stabilizer placed on top of the fabric during the machine embroidery process. These wash-away top stabilizers can be rinsed away with water after the machine embroidery is complete and act only as a temporary support. Any thick or loose piled fabric, like terry cloth or waffle weave, should be topped with a layer of wash-away type stabilizer to keep the stitches from burrowing too deeply down into the pile of the fabric and to keep the needle from accidentally catching on a loop of the pile during embroidery.
  • Knit and interlock fabrics are very stretchy in all directions and can easily become misshapen under the stress of hooping and high speed embroidery. A cut-away type stabilizer that offers no stretch will keep the item stable in the hoop. We offer Sulky®  Cut-Away stabilizers in rolls. Knits benefit from stabilization on the top of the fabric as well as underneath to keep the fabric from shifting, puckering, or stretching while being embroidered.

The Hoop

There are many different types and sizes of machine embroidery hoops available. Each brand of embroidery machine has hoops especially designed to fit that particular brand of machine. Most embroidery machines come with a standard 4” x 4” size hoop and many machine manufacturers also have specialty and large sized hoops available for purchase as an accessory. There are also specialty hoops like those designed for caps or hoops that hold your fabric in place with magnets. Check with your embroidery machine’s manufacturer or specialty hoop manufacturer to see if their product is designed to fit your brand and model of embroidery machine.

All hoops function basically the same. The item to be embroidered and the stabilizer(s) are sandwiched between an inner and an outer hoop ring and held in place by the pressure of the two hoop pieces. The hoop is then attached to your embroidery machine for stitching. It is important that the area of the item to be embroidered is oriented correctly in the hoop so the design will be stitched out in the proper location and in the correct alignment on the fabric.

Paper Templates

To aide in proper positioning of the design, you can use your embroidery software to print out a paper template of the design. A paper template is the same size and shape of the finished embroidery and allows you to audition placement options before actually stitching. I like to cut out this paper copy of the design and pin the paper template directly on the item, then stand back a bit to get the overall visual effect of the design placement. If you are embroidering on a garment, pin the paper design template on the garment then try the garment on. It is often difficult to evaluate the placement of a design on a garment unless the garment is on a body. Finding the most pleasing placement of the design is often easier when done by using a paper template.

Mark Vertical and Horizontal Placement Lines and Design Center

Once you have determined where you wish to place the design on the fabric, you should mark the center point of the design as well as vertical and horizontal positioning lines to help you align the design area of the fabric in the hoop properly.

Sometimes just a finger pressed crease line is enough to mark the fabric. Other times, you will want to mark the fabric using a pencil, a marker especially designed to mark fabrics, chalk, or even bits of tape. Test any marking tool on a scrap of fabric before using it on your final fabric to be certain the marks can be easily removed and that the marking method will not damage the fabric. I generally use an air erasable or water erasable marker (available in local sewing shops) to mark placement lines for my designs.

To find the center of the design and to create guidelines for horizontal and vertical alignment, fold the paper template in half top to bottom then in half again side to side creasing each fold with your finger. When you unfold the paper, the crease lines now form guidelines to mark the center of your design (where the two lines meet in the middle) as well as the central vertical and central horizontal lines of your design to mark on your fabric. Pin the creased template to the fabric exactly where you wish to embroider the design, then transfer the center mark and the central guidelines to the fabric using one of the marking methods described above.  Once the placement lines are marked, you can remove the paper template from the garment and use the marked lines only to orient the fabric in the hoop, or if you prefer, you can leave the paper template pinned to the fabric until your item is hooped and you are ready to sew.

Hoop Size Workspace and Stabilizer Size

Now that you have marked the placement of your design on the item to be embroidered, it’s time to get it in the hoop! I recommended that you always use the smallest hoop that the size of the design allows. The smallest size hoop will offer the best support of the fabric around the design area giving you the most professional looking results.  Smaller hoops are also easier to use and require smaller pieces of stabilizer. Rotating the orientation of the design (turning the design) in the hoop may allow you to use a smaller sized hoop.

When hooping, it is important to work on a hard flat surface.  This will give you the best leverage so you can position the item in the hoop properly.  Make sure the stabilizer is cut about an inch larger all around than the hoop being used.  The stabilizer should extend beyond the hoop edges at about an inch in all directions. So, for example, a 5” x 7” hoop should use a piece of stabilizer cut to about 7” x 9”.

Hooping Methods

There are many different methods to place the fabric and stabilizer in the hoop. Below, I will describe three of my favorites. Like any new skill you will find that practice will improve your technique so try practicing each method before you decide which one you prefer. You may find it beneficial to try hooping the same item using these three different methods to see which one is most comfortable and gives you the best results.

Adjusting Hoop Tension

Most hoops are made up of two pieces: the outer hoop and the inner hoop. The outer hoop frame usually has the embroidery machine attachment point and a thumbscrew mechanism to adjust the hoop pressure. The thumbscrew mechanism allows you to adjust the size of the outer hoop so you can accommodate a variety of fabric thicknesses.  The inner hoop (top hoop) fits inside the outer hoop and works to supply pressure on the fabric to keep it taut during embroidery.  The tension between the two hoops is adjusted using the thumbscrew mechanism.  The goal is to get all the layers settled snugly in between these two frames, while keeping the layers aligned properly and wrinkle free. The fabric should be snug in the hoop, but not stretched out of shape or under pressure. The proper tension is a “neutral” tension where the fabric is not stretched but is not allowed to move out of shape.

The hoop tension should be set before you hoop the actual item to be embroidered. So, before beginning to hoop the actual project, perform a hooping practice run with fabric and stabilizer of the same type you plan to embroider to set the proper tension of the two hoop pieces. Place a piece of the fabric and stabilizer in the hoop and adjust the tension of the two hoop pieces. The hoop tension should be firm enough to hold the fabric taut and wrinkle free, but not place undue stress on the fabric or stretch it out of shape. Remember, you are aiming for “neutral tension”, not stretched and not sagging! Too much pressure on the fabric can cause permanent marks on the fabric or cause stretching of the fabric and puckering of the design. Too little tension will cause your design to sag or pucker and can cause the design stitches to be misaligned. The inner hoop should seat into the outer hoop with a bit of pressure. It should not drop into place easily nor should you have to jump on the hoop to get it seated.

Determining the correct tension using this practice piece of fabric and stabilizer allows you to set the tension of the hoop to its proper place without concern of design alignment. You can then be assured that the tension will be correct when you hoop the actual item you plan to embroider and will not need further tension adjustments. Adjusting the tension screw while an item is in the hoop can cause uneven tension distribution on the fabric. The tension around the screw actually ends up being looser and other areas can be pulled a bit out of shape. Presetting the tension takes one variable out of the hooping process and ensures that when you hoop the item it will have the proper tension and there will be an even distribution of this tension on the fabric in the hoop.

Hooping Technique 1 “The Line-up”

This method uses the center marking arrows on your hoop to help you line up the fabric while placing it in the hoop. First, place the outer hoop (the one with the tension adjustor and the arm that attaches to your embroidery machine) on a flat surface and orient the hoop so the top of the hoop faces away from you and the bottom of the hoop faces you. Locate the center markings on this hoop.  There should be small arrows indicating the center of the hoop on all four sides. If your hoop does not have these marks, measure and determine the center point of the hoop sides and mark it with a small piece of tape or a permanent marker. Mark the center of the 4 sides of your inner hoop as well.

Mark the placement lines for the design as described above. Layer the fabric to be embroidered on top of the stabilizer.  Fold the fabric and stabilizer in half from top to bottom directly through the center of the design area and crease the fabric with your fingers to mark the horizontal center for your design. Fold again, this time side to side, directly through the design area and finger press to mark the vertical center of the design area to be embroidered. Keeping the fabric/stabilizer folded, lay it on the outer hoop, lining up both of the folded edges with the center marks on the hoop. Using one hand to keep the folds lined up with the center marks on the hoop gently unfold the item keeping the creased lines on the fabric line up with the vertical and horizontal marks on the outer hoop.  Next, lay the inner hoop on top of the fabric and outer hoop. Again use the center marks on the inner hoop to check the alignment of the fabric in the hoop. Adjust the fabric so it is lined up with the center marks and smooth out any wrinkles or folds.

Next, check that the fabric is oriented in the hoop properly. Look at the design in relation to how the hoop will fit on your machine and be sure the top of your design is facing the correct way. I have been known to stitch designs upside down or sideways if I don’t check this step carefully! Once you are sure of the placement, gently press the inner hoop into place. It is helpful to first push  one side of the hoop down while holding the other side lightly in place, then reverse and steady the side you have already done  while applying pressure to the other side of the hoop to pop it fully in place. After the inner hoop is seated, check to be sure the crease lines in the fabric are still lining up with the center marks on the hoop and the fabric is oriented correctly. There should be no puckers or sags and the inner hoop should be even and flush all the way around in relation to the outer hoop. If you detect any issues, un-hoop and try again. It is much less of a problem to re-hoop at this point then to try to recover from a bad hooping later on!

Technique 2 “The Flip”

Mark the design center and the horizontal and vertical placement lines on the item to be embroidered as described above. Next, place all the layers in the proper order for stitching: stabilizer (face up) topped with fabric followed by a top (wash-away) stabilizer if needed. Smooth out any folds or wrinkles.  Place the inner (the hoop piece that fits inside the outer frame) on top of the fabric/stabilizer layers. Line up the centering marks of the hoop with the centering marks of your fabric as accurately as possible.

The next step involves picking up all the layers including the top frame keeping center marks lined up. After a nice deep calming breath, lift the complete unit, frame/fabric/stabilizer, up with both hands scrunching the excess fabric up on either side as you hold the frame down on the fabric with your thumbs. Line the top frame with the inside edges of the “holding” or outer bottom frame.

Unfold the gathered fabric from the sides. Fan out your fingers on your left hand and gently hold the top frame in place using mild pressure.  With your right hand pull the stabilizer/fabric taut in all directions.          While still applying downward pressure to the frame, switch hands and again straighten layers pulling them taut and smooth in all directions. Push the top hoop down securely into the bottom hoop. Keep fabric and stabilizer as smooth and taut as possible.  Check the placement and seating of the item in the hoop as above.


Technique 3 “The Non-Hooped Hooping Method”

This method is particularly helpful when stitching on an odd shaped, irregular shaped, or small items that do not easily fit into a standard hoop. In this method, rather than hooping the actual item to be embroidered, only the stabilizer is secured in the hoop, then the item to be embroidered is pressed directly on to the adhesive surface of the hooped stabilizer to hold it in place during the stitching process.

For this method you can use a commercial adhesive tear-away type stabilizer like Sulky® Sticky or a traditional tear-away stabilizer that has been sprayed with a temporary fabric adhesive like the 505 Spray and Fix that we offer on to make the surface of the stabilizer “sticky”.  Sticky Stabilizer from Sulky® is a tear away type stabilizer that has a light adhesive on one side. The adhesive is covered with paper to protect it until you are ready to use. offers this product in various sized rolls as well as in pre-cut sheets.

Cut a piece of Sticky Stabilizer approximately 2” larger than your hoop. With the paper side facing up, hoop the stabilizer. Using an old needle, score the paper in an area larger than your design. Then peel the protective paper away from the surface exposing the “sticky stuff”.  If you are using a traditional “non-sticky” tear-away stabilizer, you can make it sticky by lightly spray the surface of the stabilizer with a temporary fabric adhesive like 505 Spray offered at

Mark the center of the design area and vertical and horizontal center lines on the item to be embroidered as described above. Use the horizontal and vertical hoop marks to center the item in the hoop for embroidery. If the item is not flat, try turning it inside out to better expose the area to be embroidered. Fold the item along the vertical and horizontal placement lines as described in “The Line-Up” method above and align these placement lines with the center marks on the hoop.

Stick the item (wrong side facing down ) to the exposed adhesive paper.   Press the item firmly to the sticky surface of the stabilizer to hold it in place. Smooth any extra material out of the way. I use pins or tape to help hold extra fabric out of the design area if needed. If your embroidery machine has a basting function, use this basting stitch to further secure the item to the stabilizer. If not, simply begin embroidering and the item is held in place by the sticky surface.

Hoop Away!

Mastering the skill of proper hooping will make stitching easier and produce a more professional looking result. I hope the above information provides you with the tools you need to develop your hooping skills and increase your stitching confidence!

Let’s stitch a year filled with Personalized Machine Embroidered Gifts!

The beginning of a new year never fails to excite and inspire me!  I find myself  filled with a satisfied feeling of closure for all that came the year before, and a renewed interest and excitement for the potential of the year ahead. It is a time for me to reflect on what worked in the past year and to organize and plan my Machine Embroidery projects for the coming year.  This year, rather than creating a New Year’s Resolution list, I made a New Year’s Embroidery Project List!

This January, you will find me in my sewing room sorting, labeling, and reorganizing projects and supplies. I am one of those creative folks who always has at least 10 different projects in process at once, so it is easy for my sewing time and my workspace to get a bit out of hand!

The New Year is a wonderful time for me to refocus on those UFO’s (Un Finished Objects!) in my stash and make a plan for the new projects I want to complete in the coming months. I recently purchased a white board for my sewing room and found it to be a great way to keep me organized and on task.  I use it to keep my “Sewing To Do” list visible which helps me plan, organize, and prioritize my projects.

I start by listing all my current “in-process” projects. Beside each, I list the next step needed for each of these projects and my target date to complete that step.  Since I have so many projects going on at once, this keeps me focused and on task with my projects, and prevents me wasting valuable time trying to remember where I left off and what to do next with each.  The target date is a gently nudge to keep each project moving ahead a little at a time and it’s so satisfying to see the dates march forward.

Zip closing bags are not just for snacks to keep you going while you sew, I find them to be an invaluable sewing tool! I keep each set of project materials together in a clear zip closing plastic bag so I don’t have to hunt for pieces or supplies when I have a few minutes to work on one. I love kits for their economy and convenience, so for each project I make up a “kit”. Before starting a project, I gather all the materials and tools needed to complete the project and store them together in clear zip bag.  At the beginning of each machine embroidery project,  I gather the blank item for embroidery, all the thread in the colors needed for the design, the printed color stop sheet and template for the design I plan to use, and a piece of the appropriate stabilizer cut to size for the project.   Then I find that 20 or 30 minutes to sew on my embroidery machine, and the project is lined up and waiting for me to start! It’s a great time saver and eliminates the inevitable frustration of finding out I don’t have a key component to work on a project when I finally find time to sew!

Also on my white board, I list the main events or activities for which I want to create new projects. Upcoming weddings, birthdays, and parties go on this list as well as holidays. I love to use my embroidery machine to create personalized gifts and planning ahead keeps me on track. I hate getting overwhelmed and cramming at the last minute to get them done or worse yet, getting off track completely so I am unable to complete the gift items I intended for each special day.  This year I have lined up a set of personalized guest and kitchen towels for the newlyweds, a personalized golf towel for Uncle Joe’s birthday, and a personalized wine bottle cover for the hostess of the upcoming wine and cheese party. Beside each I have listed the desired target completion date.  I will continue to add more items as I complete those already on my UFO list!

My large family is scattered so when we get together, I try to have something special to commemorate the day. Personalized cocktail napkins or gift bags are a great option.  I find our linen and cotton bags are the perfect packaging presentation for almost any gift since they are available in so many different styles and sizes.  Adding that special personalized machine embroidered touch allows them to double as a beautiful wrapping for a gift and the recipient is thrilled with the bag as much as the gift! My sister says it’s like getting a “gift within a gift”! I love to personalize these bags with names and initials but also find it fun to add a special or funny motif that reflects the personality of the recipient.

I hope you found some of these suggestions useful and are inspired to enjoy a productive new year of machine embroidery!   Have fun stitchin’

Just a little Christmas Cheer for you to enjoy as you finish those last minute gifts!


An Embroidered Christmas

‘Twas just before Christmas
When all through the town
No embroidery machine was quiet
Not one was shut down.

The threads were all hung
On their racks with such care
In hopes beautiful designs
Would soon come to bear.

When from the computer
There rose such a clatter,
I sprang from my machine
To see what was the matter.

My e-mail had chimed
Alerting me to
Free designs from
They were ready to view!

I dashed to the website
And what did I see?
Over 300 Free Designs
Just waiting for me!

On Kitchen Towels, On Bibs,
On Mugs they go,
On Handkerchiefs, On Bloomers,
On Guest Towels we sew,
On Linens, On Blankets, On Pillows Ho Ho,
Now Stitch Away, Stitch Away, Stitch Away, and Sew!

Then I heard them exclaim
As they opened their gifts
We love them, we love them, we love them so much!
And the best present of all was Your Personal Touch!

Sarah Kochanowski

Downloading Embroider This! Free Designs

Embroider This! offers over 200 free designs that you can download anytime and stitch out on your own embroidery machine. We offer our free designs in up to 18 different file formats to accommodate the many different sewing and embroidery machines available on the market today. Read on to learn what the format means, how to download, unzip, and use these great free embroidery designs brought to you by y0ur friends at

What’s in a File Format Name?

The machine embroidery design files are “formatted” so they can be read and used by embroidery machines from different manufacturers. Different brands of embroidery machines “read”  different file formats in the same way a MS Excel program can read a .xls file and a MS Word program can ”read” a .doc file but not vice versa! 

Before you download the free designs, you need to know which format your particular embroidery machine needs.  This information can be found in your embroidery machine owner’s manual, on the website of your embroidery machine’s manufacturer, or from your local embroidery machine dealer. If you already have some designs for your embroidery machine, you can find the format by looking at the name of the file for the design. The format is expressed as a three letter extension at the end of the design name after the “dot” (.) like:  flower.pes  (pes is the file format) or (sew is the format).  

Following is a list of common file formats and the embroidery machines associated with each:

Format Embroidery Machine Manufacturer
ART Bernina Artista, OESD
ASD Melco
CND Melco Condensed
CSD POEM, Singer Eu, Viking Huskygram
DST Tajima
EMB Wilcom V6
EMD Elna Expressive
EXP Melco Dos Expanded
GNC Great Notions Condensed
HUS Viking Husqvarna
JEF Janome / New Home
PCD Pfaff
PCS Pfaff
PCM Pfaff
PES and PEC Baby Lock, Bernina Deco, Brother, Simplicity
SEW Elna, Janome / New Home, Kenmore
SHV Viking Husqvarna
VIP  Pfaff
VP3 Pfaff
XXX  Singer XL, Compucon

 Once you know your embroidery machine’s file format you will be able to select the correct free design file to use on your embroidery system. Some of our early free machine embroidery designs have the option of downloading a zip file containing only the specific file format you need for your machine. As the number of formats we could offer expanded, we began to offer our more recent free design files in a zipped package that contains all of the different formatted files in just one zipped file.  When you unzip the file with your zip software you can extract (save) just the file format  you need for your embroidery machine. You will find the details on downloading, unzipping, and saving the files below.

Downloading the Free Design Files

Downloading is actually pretty easy. In essence, when you are downloading, you are simply saving a file from our website to your computer. The file you are downloading and saving is a ZIP file.  The designs are provided in a zip file to make the download process faster and to protect the integrity of the files during the download process. Due to the file size, if it were downloaded without being in a zip file, the embroidery files may become damaged and unusable (corrupt).   Zip files are explained in greater detail later in this document.

To download a free design, first go to the page of the design that you wish to download. Scroll down the page until you find the place indicated for you to “click for download”.  As described above, some of the older designs will have a table of individual file format links for you to click and download a zip file containing only the format used on your embroidery machine.  The more recent free designs will have only one place to click and download all the file formats together in one zip file. In either case, when you click the download link, a standard computer “dialog box” appears with an option for you to either ”Open”,  “Save” , or “Cancel” the file. You always want to choose SAVE.

When you click on the SAVE option, a “Save As” dialog box will appear allowing you to navigate to the place (folder) where you want to save this file. This a is very important step because you must remember later where you saved this file so you can find it!   Most computers will default to the place where you last saved a document for this “Save In” dialog box but this may not be someplace you would think to look for the file later, so be sure to navigate to where you want the file to be saved before saving this embroidery design file.  I recommend creating a folder called “My Embroidery Designs” in your My Documents directory and always using this folder to save your designs. Use the little down arrow next to the “Save In” box to see where the current folder is located. Use the up folder arrow to move up a folder level, click on a folder in the window, or create a new folder in which to keep this design. Make note of where the  folder is located so you will be able  to find it later.  Another option would be to  save the downloaded file initially to your desktop then you will find it easily because the desktop view. You can always move it later if you wish to a file folder somewhere else on your computer.


The free designs are provided in a zip file to protect them during download and facilitate faster transfer over the internet.  This zip file must be first saved to your computer, then unzipped to remove the files you wish to use (sometimes called “extracting”). The file you need for your embroidery machine should be first saveed outside of the “zip” file to your computer.  Think of a zip file like a big plastic bag into which other  files have been placed. The air is then squeezed out of the bag (compressing the individual files) to make the overall zip file  smaller and easier to transfer over the internet. The “plastic bag” or zip file also helps protect the files inside during transfer over the internet.  After downloading a zip file, you open the bag (unzip the file), and extract (take out) the files you need, and the files go back to their original shape and size!  Each zip program works a bit differently so follow the instructions for your program. Winzip ( is a good zip program and I have also had success with PKZip. I am sure there are many other zip programs available to do the job as well. It doesn’t matter which zip program you use to get the design files out of the zip file.  Along with the sewing machine formatted files in the zip file, you will also find a  picture of what the design looks like (usually a .jpg file), and a text file (.txt), that gives you the color stop info and what color thread to use at each stop. 

Notes on the Appearance of Colors for the Embroidery Design after Download:  When you open or display the free design after download you may see it colorized with some pretty odd colors!  When the files are reformatted for each of the 18 different machine formats, the thread color selection information often does not translate at all and the design may appear in your format with very odd colors displayed at each of the color stops when you view it in your embroidery software.   It simply takes too much time for me to reassign all the color choices for each of the 18 file formats, so I leave that task for you to do if you wish. The free designs from Embroider This! come with a text document that  lists the color stops and suggested thread colors to use at each of these stops.   You can use your embroidery software program to reassign the colors displayed at each stop to see a better visual of the design.  The Buzz Tools ( company offers excellent affordable design editing sofware as does the Amazing Designs company (  .  The Amazing Designs company also offers free software called Edit Express Lite that allows you to view and change the colors for a design as well as perform other simple editing functions. This free software is available at this link:

Remember, you can thread your machine with any color you wish at each color stop regardless of what the picture of the design looks like on your computer or embroidery machine display screen!

Transfer the Design File from your computer to Your Sewing Machine.

Now that you have extracted and saved the design file you need for your embroidery machine to a folder on your computer , the next step is to transfer the design file from your computer to your embroidery machine.  The free design files cannot be downloaded and transferred directly from our website to your sewing machine. The zip file must be downloaded and saved to you computer first, then the zip file  can be opened and the design file in the format used for your machine extracted (taken out of the zip file and saved to your computer). Once you have saved the design file in the format you need for your embroidery machine, you are now ready to transfer design files from your computer to your embroidery machine.

This transfer process can be accomplished in many different ways. Some embroidery machines have a floppy drive, some a cd drive, and some can use a USB memory stick. others connect to the computer with a cable. Some folks use an external converting box that allows you to write the file from your computer to a blank memory card inserted into the box that is then removed from the box and placed in your embroidery machine. Check with your embroidery machine dealer and owners manual to see what options are available for your embroidery machine system.

Once the design has been transferred to you embroidery machine using the standard method for your system, you are ready to stitch!

I hope this information helps you get those free designs downloaded and stitching soon!

The New Cotton Wine Bottle Apron with Coasters set is now available from Embroider This!

This great gift item is made from 100% pure soft cotton and includes four coasters that are cleverly held in the front pocket of the apron.  This sweet bottle apron is edged in lovely picot lace and the lace forms ties so you can secure the apron to the bottle by tying it in the back.

A  perfect  gift for the Bride and Groom, this bottle apron can also be personalized by you and used for table centerpieces at wedding receptions, anniversary dinners, or special birthdays.  This item makes a wonderful housewarming gift or to dress up a bottle for any special occasion.  Not just for wine, this bottle apronis also great  for flavored oils, sparkling cider, or other bottled drinks and condiments.

Personalize this Wine Bottle Apron from with your machine embroidery for a great personal gift or to sell for profit!  Personalized wine bottle aprons are highly sought after by such businesses as vineyards, bed and breakfasts, bistros, restaurants, and real estate agents! Stitch a digitized business  name or logo on the apron and create a wonderful promotional item that will leave a much more lasting impression than a business card!

If you are looking for someone to digitize a logo that you can stitch on our wine aprons, try Universal Digitizing. This company is recommended by We use them for all our free design digitizing! Use the link to their website from and enjoy low pricing and fast service on all your digitizing needs.


Are you wondering what that little RSS icon on the Blog is all about? Well here is the rundown on this nifty function. 

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. It is a method of delivering digital content from websites or blogs directly to you without you having to remember to go out to the website or blog to get it!   It’s sort of like having your mail delivered rather than having to go to the post office to pick it up.

RSS is great to use with content rich websites or blogs where the information (content) is updated frequently.   In the beginning, RSS feeds were  used mostly on  news websites, but now, this function is standard on a wide variety of blogs and websites.  This “set it and forget it” technology can make your life much easier while making sure you don’t miss a single thing from the Embroider This Blog!

Have you ever read a great article only to forget the name of the source the next time you want to find it?    Bookmarks can help you remember, but with today’s busy lifestyle it is sometimes difficult to stay organized and remember all the places you want to  gather information.

An RSS feed can help! When you sign up for the RSS feed of the Embroider This! Blog, our blog posts will be automatically delivered to you without you having to come and get them from the blog. You will use a “newsreader” to gather, read, store, and organize the RSS feed being sent to you.  The “feed” is simply the posts containing information that you requested from the blog or website where you signed up for the RSS feed.

You may ask What is an RSS reader and where do I get one?”   It’s easy!   All web browsers now come standard with a “newsreader” (also known as an RSS reader) so you probably already have one and just didn’t know it.   If you have a personalized page on a search engine like an iGoogle page or a  MyYahoo page, it  will also contain an RSS reader.  You can use a stand-alone RSS reader if you prefer.  There are web based readers or ones you can download and install on your computer’s desktop. Some are free and others are available for a cost. The free ones will be pretty basic where the paid versions have more functionality like the ability to read RSS feeds from several different sources in a single view, hiding the posts you have already read, and provide great ways to categorize the information contained in the feed. Just do a search on Yahoo or Google for “RSS Reader” and you will find one that is right for you.

Once you have set up your reader and chosen your preferences, click the RSS button on the top of the EmbroiderThis! Blog and subscribe to our RSS feed. You will probably be asked to name the folder where you want the feed information saved so something like EmbroiderThis! Blog would be appropriate.  You can also set the frequency with which you would like the content delivered to you. Some like it daily, others weekly or longer. The “set it and forget it” RSS reader will collect  all our new blog entries and deliver them right  to your reader, giving you more time for other pursuits like say… stitching some great gift items from Embroider This! on your embroidery machine, without missing any of the new information as it becomes available!

Happy Stitching!