Category Archives: Project Tutorials

Embroidering the Embossed Towel

FinishedTowelEmbroidered towels look great in your powder room or bathroom. They also make great gifts for showers, weddings, house warmings, birthdays, or the holidays. It is easy to embroider the towel if you follow a few easy steps.

Look at your towel. Most towels have a band on the front, and some on both front and back. Usually, there is a label on the back of the towel. Your embroidery should be on the front.

For the best results always mark where you want the embroidery to be placed. I learned that eyeballing the placement never works.  The embossed embroidery design is 4″ x 4 1/2″.  Always use the smallest hoop

1. Measure the width of your towel. My towel is 15 1/2″ wide.

measure 2. The bottom of the design is placed 1/2″ – 1″ about the band, if the towel has one. If the towel does not have a band, place the design about 3″ from the bottom of the towel. Since my design is 4 1/2″ high, the middle of the design is 2 1/4″. My design is 1/2″ above the band. Measure 2 3/4″ above the band and mark with a + or use a positioning sticker.  You can mark your placement with a water soluble pen, air erasable pen or friXion pen.  The center of the + is where the needle should penetrate the towel before starting the embroidery; the + lines show vertical and horizontal alignment. Note: Don’t use a water soluble pen, if you use heat n’ gone topping. The use of an iron will permanently set the mark.



3. Always use the smallest possible hoop for your embroidery. It saves on stabilizer but more importantly, provides better stability during embroidery.  I like to use Floriani Stitch and Wash Tearaway. Cut a piece of stabilizer about 1″ larger that you hoop. Place it in the hoop and tighten the hoop screws so that it is taught. There is no need to over tighten the screw.

InHoop4. Lightly spray the stabilizer with temporary spray adhesive. I like 505 because it does not leave a sticky residue on my needle when embroidering. Stray by putting your hoop into a box or trash can to minimize spraying all over the place.

5. Select a thread color similar to your towel. Wind a bobbin with the same thread so the back of your towel is not covered with white bobbin thread. If you embroidery machine uses a different bobbin case for embroidery change your bobbin case. Insert the bobbin and thread your machine.

6. Turn on your embroidery machine and open your design.

7. Place the towel on the hoop. Use the template that came with your embroidery machine to position your towel in the middle of the hoop. Reposition the towel if necessary.


7. Place the hoop on the embroidery machine. The design should be near the center of your hoop. Move the design around as needed. Lower the needle so that it penetrates the embroidery mark or sticker. Raise the needle.


8. Remove the position sticker if you used one. Place a water soluble topping or heat n’ gone on the embroidery area. Use a piece of Floriani Pink Embroidery Tape to hold the topping in place during embroidery. I sometimes use blue painters tape to hold the topping in place.


9. Embroider the design. Remove the towel from the hoop. Tearaway as much stabilizer from the back as possible. The remaining will wash out. Pick water soluble stabilizer from the top. Use a spray bottle to remove stubborn parts. Use an iron to remove heat n’ gone.

Enjoy your towel!

Embossed Towel

As I mentioned, I am traveling in our RV.  Maybe traveling is not the appropriate word at the moment, since we are spending the next 3 months in Clermont, Florida.  We are a few miles from Disney World which has been one of our favorite places for many years. My sister-in-law came to visit from New Jersey. She is staying for 2 weeks. She enjoys sewing as much as I do, but has not done any machine embroidery. In our travels to the local quilt shops, we satowelw a towel with an embossed letter. I told her that I could make that. So we bought hand towels to embroider. I bought one. We don’t need many in the RV. Rose bought six, 2 for each of 3 daughters.

Back at the RV, I created the “embossed design” using Florian Total Control/U. I had 4 designs to create, A, G, F, and V.

I embroidered the towel using my Janome 9900.

Below is a link for the instructions on how to create the monogram using the Floriani Total Control/U software.

Embossed Monogram

Next post: Instructions on how to embroider the towel.

Serger Tips & T-Shirt Makeovers at BabyLock Club

Each month I get to host BabyLock Club at Humble Sewing Center….

Today we had several sweet ladies who braved the storm to attend this fun and FREE monthly meeting.

We had a great time getting to know each other, sharing sewing stories, exchanging tips and ideas as well as making a little mischief….

You see, I decided to demo how to revamp an over-sized  t-shirt into something more figure flattering and also how to modify the neckline.  Everything was innocent enough except, the only available shirt in my home happened to belong to my husband and it did happen to be one of his FAVORITES.  Ooooops!

tshirtPlease look closely and notice the bleach stain at the bottom hem of this shirt…. and also the torn hole to the far right of the word Champions.  Oh yes, this shirt was officially in need of a make-over.

In the process of the make-over I used a couple of essentials to ensure pleasing results:

#1:  The T-Shirt Makeover from: Pamela’s Patterns

This pattern provides templates and easy instructions to successfully re-size those big, boxy shirts that just swallow you up. (Yes, we can order this for you and, it will cost you less at our store than it would buying online.)




#2:  Designer Necklines from: Eileen Roche & Nancy Zieman

This is a collection of embroidery designs used to change the shape of the neckline of any t-shirt into a variety of styles.  It also includes accent designs to embellish a shirt with beautiful embroidery. (Yes, we can get this for you, too.)



I chose the Peek a boo neckline – which you will see in just a moment.

I used the embroidery machine and sewing machine for the neckline changes and I used the Makeover pattern with a serger/cover stitch machine to re-size, re-shape, and hem the shirt.  It was EASY!  I could have used the sewing machine for the entire project but, the serger made it so much easier to get the results I wanted.


At the end of our meeting, I was a little nervous about telling my husband what I had done and a couple of the ladies suggested I show him what I did to his favorite shirt in a way that would appeal to him.

I hope he likes what I did cuz’ it’s MY favorite t-shirt now!

Thanks for reading!

Jenny Gabriel alter ego: StitchinJenny


Easy Quilted Place Mats

FREE monthly sew club for kids will resume classes at Humble Sewing Center on Saturday, September 27th from 6pm-8pm.  Contact instructor, Jenny Gabriel via email if you would like to attend!


Hi!  One of the things I love to do at our monthly Free Girl’s Sew Club is to KEEP IT SIMPLE!

So, we offer a variety of easy projects that can usually be completed in one 2 hour sewing session.

Often times, the project will use fabric strips from a Jelly Roll or fabric squares from a stack of Fat Quarters.  This is a convenient way to select a number of fabrics that all look like they go together pretty well and we can save time by not having to cut the fabric ourselves.  (Click these links if you have no clue what a jelly roll or a fat quarter is.)

Take a look at these easy quilted Place Mats that were made during our April & May 2014 Sew Clubs:


The diagonal stripes were made from a stack of jelly roll strips that the girls organized in a pleasing manner and then sewed together using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  We made sure they had enough strips sewn together to have a pieced fabric that measured a little over 19″x13″.

Then, we made a “quilt sandwich”.  Basically, a piece of fabric for the place mat’s back was laid with it’s wrong side up, then a layer of quilt batting was laid on top of that, and lastly the pieced fabric was laid on top of the batting with its ride side facing up.

Each girl then chose a series of decorative stitches from her sewing machine and sewed either down the center of certain strips or she would sew right in the seam of two different strips.

After all the stitching was done (actually, this is called the quilting part) the quilt sandwich was cut into a place mat sized rectangle about 19″x13″.

The last step was to add the binding.  They were eager to try their skills on a larger quilt soon so I showed them how to make mitered corners.  See what a great job she did:


If you have no clue how to make mitered corners, click on this link to a great tutorial by Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt company.


Some of the kids kept it really simple and just did horizontal stripes and used the “pillow case” method to finish their place mats.

That means:

  • After the strips were all sewn together, we cut the pieced fabric, batting, and place mat backing fabric down to the right size before we continued.  
  • Then we laid the batting down first, next we laid the pieced fabric with its right side face up on top of that, and last we laid the backing fabric face down (wrong side up) on top of the pieced fabric.  
  • We sewed around all four sides and left an opening for turning the place mat right side out.  
  • Then we sewed the opening shut and added some decorative stitches on some of the stripes to quilt the place mat.  
  • The process is essentially making a flat pillow that has a layer of batting inside so that’s why it’s called the “pillow case” method.  

april4This Mother/Daughter team opted to make a Crazy Patch version of the quilted place mat.  Here they are laying out their plans for the next pieces.

april7She’s stitching the next piece of the crazy patch.

april6Look at how well it’s all coming together!

The crazy patch method turned out to be most time intensive of all since it required more pressing and she had decided to have a 6 sided piece in the center of her crazy patch.  Usually, and likely due to ease of construction, most crazy patch quilts have a 5 sided piece in the center of each crazy patch block.

Her project did look beautiful though!

Thanks so much for reading!  I hope you enjoyed and visit again soon!

Jenny Gabriel alter ego:  StitchinJenny

Meet Jenny Doan at Humble Sewing Center!!!!

Jenny Doan

WHO is Jenny Doan???

She’s a Sewing Sensation on YouTube, a new Sewlebrity Spokesperson for BabyLock and she’s COMING HERE SOON!!!

We are excited to have her with us for an exclusive Sewing/Quilting Lecture and autograph session.  Each attendee will receive an issue of Fons&Porter’s Quilting Quickly Magazine featuring 19 Easy Projects by Jenny Doan.

Bling, Bling, and more Bling!

Do you like crystal designs on t-shirts, totes, or on pants? It seems that bling is everywhere. Some crystals can make a plan t-shirt look like a designer t-shirt. And, it is EASY… You can put the crystal wand in the closet; you won’t need it anyone with the Artistic Crystal Software and Cameo Silhouette cutter. Create a crystal design from a clipart, add crystals to an embroidery design, or use your fonts to create designs with team names, bridal party accessories, birthday t-shirts. You are limited only by your imagination.

The Artistic Crystal System is on display at Humble Sewing Center. Stop by the store to see a demo and some samples that we have created.  Check out the shirts that I did this weekend.

To create the crystal cross template:

  1. Draw a cross on paper and scan it.
  2. Open the Artistic Crystal software with the image as a backdrop
  3. Using your mouse, place the crystals around the cross in the desired pattern.
  4. Save the design.
  5. Turn on the Cameo Silhouette and load the template material.
  6. Export it to the Cameo Silhouette and cut.
  7. When the cutting is complete, unload the template material and pull it off the mat.
  8. Place the template on the backing board.
  9. Place the template in a tray and pour crystals on top of it.
  10. Using a trim and touch up pad from the starter kit, move the crystals on the template in a back and forth motion. The crystals will fall into the holes.
  11. Turn any upside down crystals over with the silhouette tools included with the cutter.
  12. Cut a piece of transfer tape to the size of the template. Separate the sticky top from the bottom.
  13. Place the clear tape on top of the template. Press it with your fingers so the crystal stick to the transfer tape.
  14. Pull the transfer tape off of the template and place the bottom on it.
  15. When ready to iron on the transfer, pull the bottom off of the transfer tape.
  16. Place the crystals on the t-shirt in the proper position.
  17. Place a pressing cloth on top of the transfer tape, hold a hot, dry iron on top. Hold in place for 30-40 seconds. Remove iron and pressing cloth. Lift transfer tape carefully. It will be hot. If crystals do not stay on the shirt, replace pressing cloth and iron. Hold in place a little longer.
  18. Lift transfer tape. Crystals should remain on shirt. Place the pressing cloth on top again and hold the iron for 10-15 seconds for one last shot of heat to secure the crystals.

You are finished. Save the template. You can use it whenever you want to use that design. You reuse the transfer tape as long as it remains sticky.

E-Reader Cover Tutorial

I finally did it. After reading using the Kindle app on my iPhone for over a year, and my Droid before that, I broke down and bought a Kindle. Amazon was offering a great deal on refurbished Kindle Fires. So, not only did I buy a Kindle, I bought THE Kindle. Of course it needed a case!


Here is my case containing the Kindle Fire.


I started by measuring my Kindle and it was just under 5 inches wide and 7.5 inches long.


I added an inch to the sides (but in the future I would add 2 inches) to make both the lining and outer fabric 6 inches wide (make it 7 for a less tight fit) and 20 inches long (7.5 +7.5 for the length + 5 for the flap). I also used home decor fabric for the outside and 100% cotton flannel for the lining to prevent scratching.


I used a quarter inch seam allowance and sewed the lining and outer fabric right sides together leaving one of the short ends open.


I clipped the two corners that had been sewn and turned the fabric right side out.


Press the lining and outer fabric, turning the fabric in, and edge stitch.


Next, with my lining fabric facing out I placed my Kindle inside and decided how high I wanted my pouch to reach. I know I will probably throw my Kindle in my purse a lot, so I don’t want it to get scratched. I chose to have my edge go all the way to the top of my Kindle. I placed my edge stitched end at the top of my Kindle.


I edge stitched up both sides to the top of the pouch and reversed a couple of stitches at both ends. Turn it right sides out and try the fit!


Here is my Kindle inside the pouch. You could also use a button or Velcro closure if you would prefer. I just left mind loose.


Here is the back. It is a quick and cheap Kindle cover made out of a few scraps.

Thanks for reading, and see more of my work at my blog.

Adding pockets to pajama pants

A lot of blogs I read participated in the Pyjama Party online yesterday. I showed up a day late and made an old standby – McCalls 5248 pajama pants out of seer sucker. I wear my flannel pants all the time, but it is getting hot, and flannel is no longer practical. One thing I always wish my pants had was pockets, so this time around I added some.


Sorry for the grainy photo. I just couldn’t bother anyone to take pictures of me in pajamas today.


I started with the pattern for the pocket from a dress I really like. I cut the pockets out of quilting cotton because seer sucker pockets would get bulky. Cut 4 – two for each side.


Next I laid my fabric pieces out right next to each other and lined up the tops straight across.


I measured down four inches from the top and made a mark on my pattern on the outsides of both legs.


I lined up the top marking of the pocket with my 4″ line and also marked the bottom mark of the pocket on my pattern.


Next I marked both marks on all four pieces of fabric. This pattern has you sew the inside leg seam firt, so I did that. But I added a couple steps before I sewed the outside seam.


My pattern called for a 5/8″ seam allowance, so I sewed the pockets right sides together with the fabric using the same on both front and back pieces.


I zigzagged along the edge of the raw edges of the pockets and fabric. I pressed both the pocket and seam allowance toward the outside.


You should now have two pieces that look like this. Next my pattern directs mt to sew outside leg seams together.


I like to pin the seam allowances together as well as a pin in the center of the pocket to keep everything in place.

ImageNow sew down the leg seam from top to bottom with right sides together going around the perimeter of the pocket instead of going straight down the leg.


I serged around the edges to finish the seam, but as you can see the pocket is not perfect. It is trying to serge curves like that. I’m OK with it.


I like to stick my hand in the pocket at this point for a finger check. That means do my fingers find any holes that I may have left in the pocket. All clear! Now continue sewing as directed!

I will be giving a new McCalls 5248 pattern away on my blog, so be sure to visit there.

Easy Custom Tea Towel

I love having a towel hanging over my stove handle for spills or a quick hand dry. I made a quick and easy one to go with my home makeover using some scraps left over from the bolster pillow.


So cute! The towel took me about 20 minutes to make, and if I had an assembly line going I bet I could do it even faster.


I bought a 4 pack of ‘barmop’ towels from Target for a little over $4. I found them on the aisle with the kitchen linens. As a side note I love how they come wrapped up. It would be fun to make a set of these for a house warming gift or newlyweds and rewrap them in the original ribbon to give as a present. You could even embroider them!


I cut a 5 inch wide strip of fabric that hungover both sides of the towel by half an inch.


At this point you could press in a half in an inch around all the sides and just stitch around the edges, but my fabric wouldn’t press well. So what I did was pin the edges of the towel and the fabric right sides together.


I used about three pins and overlapped about a half an inch as you can see through the chevron fabric. I stitched right along the edge of the towel being sure to catch it under my needle.


Flip it up and make sure you caught it all.


Next I turned under my fabric a half an inch on the remaining three raw edges, finger pressed and pinned in place. I used extra pins at the corners to be sure they would turn out neat.


Here are my edges all pinned into place. Next I edge stitched around all four sides of the fabric.


Be sure to pivot at the corners for a sharp looking corner. Also, when you are going across the top of the fabric take your time and straighten out your towel as you go.


Your fabric should be edge stitched around all four sides. This would also be a fun place to try some decorative top stitching. And you’re done!


Here is a shot of the kitchen with the tea towel hanging over my stove handle. It is a great accessory that matches my valance.

You can see more of me (and my four legged assistant) at Stacie Thinks She Can.

Bolster Pillow Tutorial

I just made a new cover for an old bolster pillow that had been sitting in the closet for years. It was a fast and easy project!


Believe it or not this was the best shot I could get because my assistant there is blocking out the extreme  light coming through the window. I am loving the black out curtain linings!


Here are the two pillows I had before. The purple one had a zippered cover and the red one was a cheapy just filled with Poly-fil. I pulled the bolster shaped filler out of the purple one to work with.


I found a saucer that was a little bit larger than the round end of my pillow.


I used my plate to make a circle for both ends of the bolster by tracing a line around the outside of it.


Next I cut a piece of fabric just a bit longer than my bolster. After I measured around my plate I found my fabric needed to be 24 inches long plus one inch for adding the zipper.


Sew your zipper right sides together with your fabric .


Flip your fabric out and top stitch it down to your zipper tape.


Repeat the steps to attache the other side of your zipper. Sew it right sides together with the other end of your piece of fabric.


You will have to open your zipper up to top stitch along this side.


Your zipper tube should look like the one above.


Now place a circle piece right sides together with your zipper tube. Pin them together and go slow. It is a bit tricky sewing this circle on, but you can do it.


I turned mine right sides out to check I had gotten it all sewn together. Before sewing your next circle on, open your zipper up some, so you don’t sew your cover shut.


Sew your other circle to the open side of the bolster case. Again pin and go slow. As you can see mine is not perfect, but you can’t tell once it is turned right sides out. Once it is sewn turn it right side out and stuff it with your pillow form.


And enjoy!

You can see more of me (and my four legged assistant) at Stacie Thinks She Can.