Author Archives: Designs by Marje

About Designs by Marje

Marje is an avid sewing and machine embroidery enthusiast. She started sewing as a teenager and has continued sewing through the years. About 15 years ago she purchased her first embroidery machine and software. She was hooked! Marje previously worked in the information technology field for 35 years which has given her a solid background in computer technology and software. She has been teaching sewing machine guide classes and embroidery software classes for more than 12 years. Her resume includes teaching at a number of local sewing machine shops and at the Husqvarna Viking Annual Dealer Convention where she taught classes on Embroidery software to dealers and their associates. By attending her sewing, machine embroidery and embroidery software classes you will expand your knowledge in sewing, embroidery, software, and computer technology.

The Best Embroidery Software Workshop…. FTC-U Workshop with Trevor Conquergood.

For those of you who know me, I am a software junkie. After a career in technology, I retired to be a stay at home grandma, providing day care for my grandchildren. During that time, I purchased my first embroidery machine and embroidery software. In a couple of years, I started teaching others how to use embroidery software at a few sewing machine dealers. Over the years, I used Brother PE Design, Babylock Palette, Husqvarna Viking Embroidery Professional, Autodigitzing, Artistic Sewing Suite, Janome Digitizer, Bernina Designer Plus, Designers Gallery Masterworks, and Floriani Total Control-U. So now, you know why I consider myself a software junkie.

I’ve read many books on digitizing, taken many classes, and watched many tutorials. Recently, I bought the FTC-U Workshop with Trevor Conquergood. I wanted to see what Trevor offered in his workshops. The initial video training in on DVD. In those videos, Trevor explains the basics of FTC-U. He explains every tool, and when, why, and how to use the tool. He provides short cuts tips during the videos. Once, you have the basics, sign up for the 12 month workshop program. Trevor will send you the link to download each of the monthly workshops from the webinars. Each and every video is worth watching over and over until you are comfortable.

In this month’s webinar, Trevor spent time answering questions sent to him at the beginning of the webinar. He took the time to explain his answers. But, please be prepared to spend extra time on the webinar. This month the webinar was two hours long. It was worth every minute. I am impressed with Trevor’s teaching style and his willingness to help. He truly wants everyone who takes the workshop to learn how to use the software. The workshop is not just for those who want to digitize. It is for those who want to learn how to get the most out of their software.

I am impressed with the FTC-U Workshop and strongly suggest that anyone who owns FTC-U purchase the Workshop. Then, dedicate some time to really learn how to use the software. Of all, the software that I own, my go to software is FTC-U.

Stay tuned to the blog if you are an FTC-U user, I will be posting some tips and techniques in the future.

In the meantime, Happy Embroidering!


Introducing the NEW Janome Skyline S7

Introducing the Newest Skyline Machine

The Skyline S7

Janome Skyline S7

Janome Skyline S7

The Skyline S7 sewing machine comes with 240 built-in stitches, including 11 one-step buttonholes and 7 alphabets. You can now enjoy the AcuFeed Flex™ Layered Fabric Feeding System and the Automatic Presser Foot Lift. The 11 buttonholes can be customized for stitch width, stitch density and buttonhole opening. Along with that, the 7 alphabets also go up to a 9mm width with a revised letter size and shape for increased realism and balance. Navigation through all of these features has become easier with the Skyline S7’s new LCD color touchscreen.

One of the amazing things you can do with the Skyline S7 is create your own stitches from scratch with the Stitch Composer Stitch Creation Program. Using your PC, this software will allow sewists to quickly transfer their own stitches to their Skyline S7 machine. Once they are in the machine, you can select and sew with them just like you would with the built-in stitches.

The Skyline S7 is the perfect machine to start your next sewing project. It will be available only at starting on Saturday, September 5th. This Skyline S7 joins the Skyline S5 in the Janome line-up. To learn more about this new Janome machine click here.

Adventure in Quilting Event

sunflowerA few seats are still available. Register online.

Dates: Friday, Sept 11 or  Saturday, Sept 12
Time:  9:30 – 4:30 PM
Fee $10  (Includes “lite lunch”)
Instructor: Babylock Educator

During this event, you will experience Free Motion Quilting on the Babylock Tiara II and using the Destiny to Quilt with Embroidery.

“thinking outside the box in Quilting”

Techniques you will learn during the event.fence

  • couching
  • using rulers
  • thread painting
  • working with yarn
  • free motion
  • applique
  • piecing
  • quilting as you go
  • IQ designer
  • circular attachment
  • twin & triple needle
  • new feetQuilt1Liontable-runner

National Serger Month

National-Serger-Month-2015-Badge-300x260Did you know that April is National Serger Month?  Sewers have National Sewing Month in September, National Embroidery Month in February, and National Quilting Month in March, and until recently there was no month dedicated to serging! Perhaps it’s because many people still believe sergers are only used for finishing edges and creating seams, or maybe people are so afraid of using their serger that they couldn’t possibly begin to celebrate for an entire month.

Baby lock has the best sergers on the market today. With easy air threading and NO tension knobs, baby lock makes using a serOvation-ExtraordinAirger fun, and not scary. No more worries about what to do when you thread breaks. You can just rethread. It is that easy.

There’s no better time than National Serger Month to bring home a serger. See all special offers available through April 30, 2015.  Learn More

Looking for serger inspiration? Baby lock put together a free e-book with 11 new projects. Check it out!

Do you need some additional help with your baby lock serger? Then check out the resources available for Serger 101 at the National Serger Month website.

If you don’t have a baby lock serger, don’t wait any longer. April is the best month to buy that new baby lock serger.

Contact the staff at Sew Vac Outlet (Humble Sewing Center) for a demo on a baby lock serger. Call 281-446-1818 or email any questions that you have to

Happy Serging!

Crafts & Embroidery

On March 28, I am doing a seminar at Humble Sewing Center (Sew Vac Outlet) on Crafts and Embroidery. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks creating samples for the seminar, using Designers Gallery Embroidery Works, Floriani TCU, and Artistic Simple Cut software. For more information about the seminar or to register, visit

MardiGrasI’ve embroidered shirts, created banners, cut and pressed glitter heat transfer on t-shirts, and added rhinestones for some added bling. All of the projects started with appliqué embroidery designs, which I purchased from Planet Appliqué or digitized myself. I even created a vinyl design for our motorhome using the same process.

About three years ago, I fell in love with adding rhinestones to t-shirts. At that time, Janome BrithdayShirtintroduced the Artistic Creative Products which includes Artistic Simple Cut (formerly known as Artistic Crystal). The Artistic SimpleCut software does exactly what it’s name suggests: makes cutting simple! When you hook up Artistic SimpleCut to your Digital Cutter, your possibilities are endless. You have the ability to create shapes, motifs and designs in the software and cut it out of virtually any material. You can cut fabric for appliqué, templates for crystal designs, vinyl to adhere to shirts, glassware, walls or mirrors, magnets for your car or fridge, paper for any scrapbooking or paper crafting projects. Be prepared to find yourself experimenting with new techniques, materials and designs in no time!  The Artistic Simple Cut software connects directly to some digital cutters, such as the Zing, Silhouette Cameo, and others.

birthdayRecently Designers Gallery Software introduced a new feature of Embroidery Works which works with most digital cutters. The appliqué part of an embroidery design can be saved in a format used by most digital cutters on the market, making it easy to use the shape of the appliqué to cut fabric for the embroidery process or to cut heat transfer material, vinyl, or card stock. Embroidery Works is one of the few embroidery software packages that is MAC compatible. I am a MAC user so this is particularly appealing to me. With Embroidery Works, appliqué embroidery designs and Silhouette Studio, I can make many different projects using my Silhouette Cameo. Em
broidery Works was used to create the spiral text on the t-shirt.Graduation 2015

In addition, Floriani TCU, now save artwork in .svg format which can be opened by the Silhouette Studio or Artistic Simple Cut.

So by now, you are probably wondering what I have created. I took some ideas from Designers Gallery and created some different projects. I purchased some appliqué embroidery designs from Planet Appliqué and created a few of my own with Mardi GraLivinTheDreams, Birthday, and Graduation themes. I made banners, shirts, masks, and goodie bags. I also created vinyl design for our RV. I used a picture of our RV and digitized an appliqué embroidery design.

Happy Embroidering and Crafting!


Embroidery Software? You know you need it, but what do you want or need?

I am often asked about embroidery software and what I would recommend.  Before I begin, let me explain that I am a software junkie, particularly embroidery software. During my career, I taught many software classes to executives and business professionals, and most recently to those who have embroidery software.

Now where do you begin when making the decision to purchase embroidery software. Answer the following questions before reading any more.

  1. Do you want to custom your embroidery design collection by adding lettering?
  2. Do you want to resize designs (make them smaller or larger)?
  3. Do you want to change the colors in the design?
  4. Do you want to remove parts of a design?
  5. Do you want to digitize your own designs, create designs from drawings, clip art, pictures?
  6. What is your budget?

Font Works

Font Works is excellent software for any type of lettering and for embellishing. You can add lettering to an embroidery design from your collection, create a lettering only design, create a monogram. By hovering your mouse of the sample lettering you can see the recommended sizes for the lettering. If you want a largsurfs_upe letter, no problem, just change the stitch type to a fill.  You can change the stitch flowersorder (always do so with caution). Duplicate a design. Mirror Image, and even distort a design. You cannot change the size of a design. There is not an automatic color sort, but you can rearrange colors manually. In the sample on the right, I added the same flower four times. I did a copy and paste, the mirror imaged one, distorted another with the swirl and distorted the other with a wave effect. The flowers have 4 colors so to stitch it, I would change threads 16 times but I would stitch one flower completely before going to the next.  If I did a color sort, I would only change 4 times, but my embroidery machine would jump from one flower to the other for each color. You can get some line up issues on large designs where you jump all over a large hoop. The movement on this design would e minimal so I don’t see a problem with color sorting. Some embroiders like to color sort others do not. It is a personal preference. If using a multi-needle machine, I would not color sort.

Another important feature is the name drop feature, where you can create a design for each member of a team or group by adding the names to a name drop list, then when you save the software saves on design for each name with all names lined up the same way. It is so much easier than copy past, add a name, line it up, etc. This software is good for a beginner and advanced. The embroidered lettering is awesome. The average person will need some help learning the software. The quick start guide and projects available at Designers Gallery Software will go a long way to guiding you through the software. The MSRP is $299. Rating *****

Embroidery Works Everyday and Advanced 

There are two versions of Embroidery Works, Everyday and Advanced. You buy everyday and then add advanced. The chart below shows the differences between the different versions. The software is great software for a beginner and advanced embroiderer. It is a little harder to use the lettering features because you enter the letters in one box, and select the font in another o

Compare EmbroideryWorks Everyday and Advanced

FEATURES BENEFITS Everyday  Advanced
Design Editing Achieve the perfect design – rotate, flip or merge designs
Sizing Maintain flawless stitch outs of resized designs with automatic stitch recalculation
The Sweeps Automatically clean up designs while removing hidden stitches on overlaps
Density Map Review and adjust density before you sew
Project Advisor Follow needle, hoop and stabilizer recommendations for specific projects – take out the guesswork
Mirror x 4 Copy designs up to four times for a unique mirror effect
Scatter Randomly arrange small designs to fill areas
Lettering 12 built-in fonts to personalize every project
Lettering Placement Options Create multi-line, circle and spiral lettering styles
AccuQuilt® Shapes Over 100 builtin shapes work seamlessly with eh AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter for precise, easy applique, Stitch options can be changed for molre variety
12 Built-in Applique Frame Beautiful embroidery frames to complement designs
File Splitting Automatically split designs to fit selected hoop size
Customized Thread Palette Choose the thread brand of your choice
Ghost Mode Selections are highlighted as you edit while other parts of the design are ghosted
Design Converter Convert designs to most home embroidery formats
Quick Start Guide Learn to use EmbroideryWorks tools with this simple guide
Instant Repeat Repeat a design in a uniform pattern by selecting number of designs across and down and the distance between each design
Carousel Automatically adjust stitches based on fabric choice
StitchPerfect Arrange designs in a circular, carousel path
Stitch Editor Move, insert or delete stitches to fine-tune designs
Lettering and Monograms 44 built-in fonts to personalize each project – includes monogram styles
Font Importer Import letter design files to utilize like a built-in font
40 Built-in Appliqué Frames Over 40 beautiful embroidery frames to complement designs
Advanced Hoop Splitting Pinpoint where design will split to fit desired hoop
Advanced Hoop Selection Create hoops of various sizes for custom projects
Precise Position Easily place designs in specified areas of workspace
Sew@Home Classes Online classes included; Each class had a $19.99 Value 1 2

If you are not interested in digitizing, this is a good option. The only negative is the number of fonts available in the software. Everyday comes with 12 fonts and Advanced comes with 44. You can purchase additional fonts. The fonts packs available for Monogram Works will also work in Embroidery Works. You can also purchase monograms or lettering embroidery designs and map the letters to your keyboard so that these already digitized designs work like fonts. How cool is that? So whether you buy designs from Anita Goodesign, Floriani, or one of the many online design vendors, you can easily use the letters with Embroidery Works Advanced (not Everyday).

There are some really cool features in Embroidery Works, such as spiral text, accuquilt shapes for appliques and other built in appliqué shapes. It makes it so easy to cut your fabric with your accquilt, then create the embroidery design to appliqué it on to your project.

And, the best part, if are a MAC user there is a version for the MAC. You won’t need to use windows in either Parallels or BootCamp.

The average person will need some additional help when first using the software. Sew@Home classes are available from your local baby lock dealer or online. There is also additional help available at  The average person will need some additional help when first using the software. I give this software a 4 star rating only because of the limited number of fonts built into the software.

MSRP Everyday $499, Advanced $499. Rating *** (sew @ home classes available, online projects, but the price is a bit high)

Digitizing Software

There are numerous software packages for Embroidery Digitizing on the market. Each Embroidery Machine manufacturer has their own brand and there are some generic brands such as Floriani Total Control U (FTC/U)  DIME Perfect Embroidery Professional. Baby lock offers Designers Gallery   Master Works and Palette, Janome offers Digitizer MBX, Husqvarna Viking and PFAFF offer 6D Professional, Brother offers PE Design. Bernina also has Designer Plus.  The cost varies as does the MSRP.  In reality you can expect to pay between $1500 – 2999 depending on specials offered.

In addition to the cost of the software, is the cost of any upgrades offered by the manufacturer. Florin FTC/U and Dime software do not charge for upgrades. The others may have an upgrade fee from $399 – $1,000 +. When you consider the cost of the original software, that is HUGE.

Over the years I have used all of the software that I listed. My favorites are Masterworks, Floriani FTC/U and DIME.  The programs are very similar, with some small differences in features. They are full digitizing programs. You can do everything listed above with the software except for the mapping of purchased embroidery lettering designs and spiral text.

There is an auto digitizing feature in each program and all produce similar results. Auto digitizing does not always give the desired results. The quality of the artwork play a big part in the outcome. Most of my digitizing is done using the digitizing tools not through auto digitizing.

Floriani has the most training tools available for their software. There are monthly projects, webinars, and video lessons online. Sew Vac Outlet (Humble Sewing Center) offers regular classes in both Masterworks and Floriani FTC/U.

My advice on digitizing software is to purchase one that provides the updates/upgrades at no additional fee.  My go to software is Floriani FTC/U. I have been using it for over 3 years and have been very happy with the available training from Floriani and the software support.

My Rating for MasterWorks **** (you have to pay for upgrades), Floriani FTC/U ***** (No upgrade fee, extensive training available) DIME **** (No upgrade fee, but less online training)

I guess when it comes right now to it. Font Works is my recommendation for a beginner. It is not a huge investment. You will always use it even it you move up to one of the do everything digitizing programs in the future. Embroidery works is nice, but the MSRP of $998 for Advanced is high. You can get a good do everything digitizing program for less than double the price and you will have software that you never outgrow.  Go to Sew Vac Outlet (Humble Sewing Center) and talk to a sales person about the software. Always ask for the best price. Take your software home, install it and start using it. You won’t learn what you don’t use.

Happy Embroidering!


Fantastic Embroidered Lettering with Font Works

FontWorksLettering is essential to every embroiderer’s library, and wouldn’t you love more fonts. I found a great lettering program that is affordable, Designer’s Gallery Font Works MSRP $299. FontWorks comes with 135 built-in fonts. It lets you choose the perfect font for every project, and your lettering options don’t stop there. With FontWorks, you can import and use TrueType Fonts as embroidery fonts, too. The possibilities are endless.

puppyArrange your text to fit your project. Easily add text to any embroidery designs in your collection. Font Works will quickly become your go-to software for everything fonts.

Your text can be horizontal, circular, monogram, vertical, on a path, or in stairs. With the built in browser, you can easily search your embroidery design collection and then, add text to design. Shown are samples of circular text, text on a path and vertical text with an embroidery design from my collection.



When you use the software save the design in the working file format as well as the stitch file format that you need for your embroidery machine such as pes, exp, jef, vp3 and more. The software can be used with any brand of embroidery machine.

In addition, there is a feature to add a list of names for a design. Adding names to jerseys or creating projects for an entire classroom? Quickly lay them out with Word Drop and save all of your font designs at once. When you save the design, one design is created for each name making the layout exactly the same for all names and saving so much time.


The software is easy to use so even a beginner can use it. And, the best part, there are projects on the Designs Gallery Software Blog that you can download. The projects are designed to help you learn the software and to give you some creative ideas.

If you don’t have any embroidery software and you are getting tired of the same limited fonts on your embroidery machine, then head to Humble Sewing Center or your local baby lock dealer to purchase Font Works. You will be happy that you did. Imagine 135 fonts to choose from instead of just a few. And designing on a computer is so much easier then editing on your embroidery machine. Plus save the working file so that you can easily change the text for another project.

Quilters will love the ability to create custom quilt labels. You can create a template and then just change the details. How easy is that?

If you liked this post, let us know. If you would like some information on another topic, comment on this post and I’ll see what I can do to address your request.

Happy Stitching!


Creating Vinyl Designs with the Artistic Sewing Suite or Artistic Simple Cut

Did you know that your Artistic Sewing Suite or Artistic Simple Cut (formerly Artistic Crystal) software can do so much more than create Crystal Templates. You can also create vinyl designs and cut them with your Cameo, Zing, or Edge Cutter.

And, don’t worry if you are not sure how to cut the vinyl, there are directions on the Artistic Creative Products website.  Click on this link, the select software, projects. Scroll down the list until you find the Vinyl Bag Makeover. It is on page 2. The directions of the project are listed on the right side of the page or just click here for a link to the instructions. Don’t limit your ideas. Have you seen the vinyl wall signs in the stores? Now you can make your own.

If you don’t have the software or a cutter, then stop by Sew Vac Outlet (Humble Sewing Center) and ask about how you can get started. Besides, crystal and vinyl, you can also use your cutter to pre-cut your appliqué material.

Vinyl Applique – Leather Bag Makeover

The Artistic software is not just limited to creating embroidery and crystal designs – it also has lots of great applications for various crafting techniques. For example, you can cut your design out of vinyl to embellish things that you wouldn’t normally be able to do embroidery or applique on. See how Artistic Educator Maddie Bushman takes this sweet leather bag and gives it a makeover with vinyl adhesives.


Anita’s Playhouse Embroidery Party



Have a blast learning new techniques in our hands-on team sewing environment.


A brand new full color catalog, an exclusive $500 value CD with 9 design collections, plus the event projects and more, with a tutorial book! All for a total value of $699 for just attending.

WHERE      Humble Sewing Center
19333 Hwy 59N, Suite 105
Humble, TX 77338

WHEN       March 6 & 7, 2015

FEE              79.99   (Early Bird Special  69.99 thru 1/31/15)

How to Sign Up
Call 281-446-1818, stop by the store to sign up or register online at

Digitizing w/Aggie Jan. 10, 2015

“Santa in a Car” 

Masterworks or Floriani FTC/U

SANTA IN CAR STITCH-OUTWhen: Saturday – January 10, 2015 – 10 pm – 1pm 

Where: Humble Sewing Center/SewVac Outlet 

Class Project: Santa in a Car (Beginner & Advanced)

Cost: $30 pre-paid at SewVac  (in store, online via PayPal, credit card via phone)

Before Class: Get latest software update, run anti-virus, bring your computer mouse! 

Santa will be on vacation in Hawaii for this class, but he is a great subject to digitize because of the techniques that you learn. This “Santa in Car” design measures 7.5” x 8.5” high.  Santa’s suit, cap and car are appliqued, his hair is wave filled and his beard and mustache are embroidered with the “Satin Path” to provide a silky, curly look.

It utilizes the following stitch types:

  • Running Stitch
  • Satin (Steil) Stitch
  • Standard Fill
  • Wave Fill
  • Column (Satin) Path
  • Jagged Column (Satin) Path

Because of the stitch types used in this design, its clipart is excellent for learning how to digitize.  However, depending on a minimum familiarity with your software, this entire design cannot be taught or digitized within a 3-hour class period, but it can be managed by separating into the following suggested parts:

  1. Face, Beard and Mustache
  2. Hair, Facial Features, Cap and Holy Wreath
  3. Body and Car

You will learn how to:

  • Digitize for Applique
  • Choose and use stitches that give the appearance of texture – such as the look of fur
  • Apply stitches that curve with the artwork
  • Determine the correct pathway through the design – the order in which parts should be stitched

You will learn how to perform the basics for digitizing the design and get you setup for completing parts on your own away from class.  In the first class you will learn how to prepare your artwork before beginning to digitize and will be given a “pathway” plan to follow that will minimize time required to stitch-out because of fewer thread cuts and thread jumps.