Keepin It Straight

I’ve been working on a few designs for embroidery that will be adorable to use on collars, yokes or hem lines of heirloom dresses.  When I showed the designs to my friend Regina, she immediately planned a beautiful dress and asked me to create 2 yards for the hem  and 18 inches to use in the yoke.  We decided to apply the embroidery to a blank entredeux insertion that is approximately 1.5 inches wide.  It comes in various widths and is great for creating your own bands with decorative stitches from the machine or in this case designs created for the embroidery machine and embroidery unit.Immediately the problem with this product is hooping.   The hoop is too wide to be able to secure the piece on all sides.  There are stabilizers that have a sticky surface that you can load in the hoop and then place the item directly on the sticky surface.  They work very well on many items but, in this case, that type of stabilizer is not a good choice.    The designs I digitize for heirloom sewing are very delicate and are sewn with light weight thread.   Sticky stabilizers could be problematic.

I prefer using a crisp tear away stabilizer, that will tear away from the embroidery smoothly and easily much like a piece of notebook paper.   This stabilizer will make it very easy to remove from our tiny stitches without damaging or breaking the threads.  When removing the stabilizer, I tear from the sides in toward the embroidery and then while supporting the embroidery with my hand, I tear away the remaining amounts of the stabilizer very carefully and gently.  The products I primarily use come from OESD.

One of the things I always do to my embroidery hoops, is mark some centering lines on the top and sides of the hoop.  Place the template in the hoop, and with a permanent marker,  place a mark to represent the vertical center, and the horizontal center.

Load the stabilizer in the hoop keeping it as flat and taught as possible.   Tighten the hoop to prevent shifting during the stitching process.

Place the hoop on a cutting mat and line up the marks placed on your hoop with the lines of the cutting mat.

Now that we’ve lined our hoop up with the straight lines on the mat, we can draw a line down the center of the stabilizer following the line on the mat. The line will definitely be straight and not at an angle.  I use a water-soluble fabric marker instead of pencils or pens to prevent leaving a residue in the embroidery.

Along the area where the insertion will be placed, lightly spray with a temporary adhesive spray.   Don’t over spray and make the surface too sticky and gummy.  My favorite spray is 505 Spray and Fix.

Draw a line down the center of the insertion with a water-soluble marker.

Place the insertion on the hooped stabilizer lining up the lines.

I can now be sure that the design will stitch evenly down the center of the insertion.  Just a few checks at the machine and we’ll be ready to sew.

I like to use a few clamps to hold the excess amount of insertion.

Lets check to be sure the machine will place our design over our center line.  Most machines have the ability to show you where they will place the center of your design.  Use whatever means that is available on your brand of machine.  I have a Bernina 830, so the pictures I am going to show you will be from my personal machine.

After attaching the hoop, I select the icon on my machine that will show the center of the design placement.  It does this by moving the hoop till the machines default center position is below the sewing needle of the machine.

As you can see,  the machine wants to place the center of my design slightly to the left of where I prefer the center to be placed.

I will re-align the machine to place the center where I need it rather than the default centering position of the machine.  I first select the Move Icon on the machine and using my stitch width dial, I turn the dial until my needle is above my drawn center mark.

Now, I am ready to stitch.  Even though we sprayed the stabilizer with 505, it may not be enough to hold the insertion firmly once the embroidery begins.  My embroidery machine has a basting feature which is wonderful for this type of situation.  I’ll choose the basting style that will stitch a boundary box slightly larger than the embroidery.

Now for the embroidery.

I believe we were successful.

And now, the finished product.  Two yards of beautiful machine embroidered insertion.  Just think of the beautiful things you could make with this.  I have a few things in mind myself, but that’s another post.

To see more of my designs, visit my website at


“MY” Room

People often ask to come and visit me so they can see  my sewing room and how I have everything set up. I know, I know,  I’m supposed to call it a studio, but old habits are hard to break.  I shall from this point on refer to it as “MY” Room.  After all,  the things that give me pleasure can usually be found there.

“MY”  room is nothing fancy, but it serves me well and I really enjoy the time I spend there.   I have floor length windows on the east side of the room and the room is flooded with lots of natural light.  I installed a lot of light fixtures on the ceiling and use full spectrum day light bulbs for those rainy days.  When we were building the home and the guys were installing the light fixtures, the joke was that they could always come back and get a tan at any time in “MY” room.

Space and storage is always an issue.  When you own two longarm machines it can really be a challenge. Add to that a sewing machine, cabinet, and cutting and pressing area  and you have to get a little creative to get it all in.

I have certainly tried every configuration possible to get the most out of the floor space.  Longarms take up a great deal of room and the floor space underneath is really wasted but is a great place for some storage.  Storing all my thread in a way that was easily accessible baffled me.  I finally purchased stackable wood drawers for closet organizing and labeled the drawers with the names of all my threads.  Placing the drawers under my longarms made use of otherwise wasted floor space and saved my wall space for other things. Having them close to the machine saves steps and is convenient.   Having the thread inside the drawers keeps the thread clean and safe from direct light.  With the drawers labeled,  I never have to search for what I need.

I use the same system for a lot of my fabrics.  I can fit two rows of the drawers back to back under my tables with out it interfering with the operation of the machine or getting in my way.

I recently purchased a new sewing cabinet and of course re-arranging the room was in order.  I’m glad though, because the flow in the room feels much  better to me.

I love my new Koala cabinet and am really glad that I added the shelving option on the back.  It is perfect for storing the large embroidery unit for my Bernina 830 and I also plan on covering some boxes with my favorite fabrics for keeping other necessities.

I like my machine to sit in the center of a cabinet with space on both sides and the Koala Quilt Pro IV was perfect for me.  The side extensions are adjustable and can be positioned in any configuration.  As you can see by the photo, my computer is sitting on one of the extensions.

My cabinet is six inches higher than the average cabinet.  Sitting up high, I am able to keep a watchful eye on my computerized longarm system and make sure she is behaving.

I have a couple of design walls and hope to add a third.  I bought insulation board and covered the board  with batting.  The hold on the fabric is better with the batting.

The thread that I use on a regular daily basis for my embroidery is close by the machine for ease in grabbing.  This is just a peg board with wooden  dowels glued in the holes and spray painted.   I use a lot of thread so they aren’t exposed to the elements for long and this works so well for me.

I use a lot of drawer organizers in different sizes and shapes and love the selection at Target.  Here are some of the ways I use them in my sewing cabinet.

I also added some removable hooks on the inside of the cabinet to hang my larger embroidery hoops.

Back to the longarm section of the room.  I have to have my tools close to the machine.  I hate walking from one machine to the other to find where I used the tool last.    If that means buying two of everything it is worth it.

One of the things I have really enjoyed is a thrown together gizmo that sits on my longarm and holds all my tools.  I used two curtain rods and placed them  over the rollers of my longarm. Drawer organizers were attached to the curtain rods with double sided mounting tape.  Then fill them up with all your tools.    I can’t tell you how many steps I have saved.  I have one on each of my machines and even when the rollers are moving the container stays in place.

In an earlier post, I talked about the Red Snappers that I purchased from Renee Haddadin for loading my quilts on my longarms.  They are a little difficult to find a place to keep them, so I decided to pull out my grandmother’s old milk churn and it works perfectly.   We quilters are creative with what we have.

My cutting and pressing area is in a small nook extension of the room.  I used kitchen floor cabinets to create a base, and cut wood board to the size I needed to fit on top.  I covered one side with batting and muslin for pressing and the other side is for cutting with my matts.   Removable hooks hold my rulers.  Again, I have lots of storage in the cabinets and label the drawers according to what I have stored in them.  A few shelves on the wall for additional easy to reach items and a book case for, yep you guessed it, my collection.

When I have time, I plan on changing it a little.  I will space the cabinets apart from each other and cut a larger top.  I then will cut a 30 inch square out of the top and place plexi-glass in the opening.  Mount a light underneath and you have a light table.  I have done this before on another table I had and it was wonderful.  Moving the cabinets apart will give me a space for my legs when I am sitting and tracing quilting designs and the large surface will support the quilt top and prevent sliding.

On the left, is the closet where I keep my quilts in waiting.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into “MY” Room.  Now, I must go spend some time there and get some work done.   It’s a cloudy day today and we are expecting snow flurries.  A warm cup of coffee with some yummy cream and I’m all set.

Have a great day everyone and thank you so much for following my blog.