Category Archives: Machine Embroidery FYI

Machine Embroidery Hooping Tips

Christmas Stockings! Designed by:Jenny Gabriel Sewn Out by: Liz Taylor

Sometimes achieving perfect placement for machine embroidery can be tricky.  So, here’s a few tips that may help you with your next project:

Placement is usually easiest if you can decide exactly where on your fabric that you want the design.  The green fabric shown is going to become an embroidered Christmas stocking cuff that says, “Daddy”.  Placement is key for a nice project.

We made a stocking cuff pattern piece/embroidery placement template to make sure we get this right.  Our pattern piece has an embroidery design placement cross hairs marked on it to help us see where the “Daddy” will end up.

Hooping & Placement Tips:

Step One:  Use a design template whenever possible

Step Two: Place the template on your fabric

Step Three:  Place your plastic hoop grid (that came with your machine) on your template and align the center cross hairs of the hoop grid with the template’s cross hairs.  We do this just to make sure we’ve got enough of a fabric border around the hoop grid (at least 1/2″) to be able to hoop the fabric.  (see picture above)

Step Four:  Place embroidery stabilizer under the fabric.  (Make sure the stabilizer is beneath the area that will be embroidered.)

Fabric Marking

Step Five:  Use a placement sticker or use a fabric marking tool to mark the design’s cross hairs onto your fabric.  We folded the paper back along the cross hair vertically and marked the vertical line.  Then we folded the paper back along the cross hair horizontally and marked the horizontal line.

Embroidery Placement Mark

Step 6:  Once your fabric is marked, place your plastic hoop grid in your inner hoop.  Lay the inner hoop on top of your marked fabric aligning the hoop grid cross hairs with your marked cross hairs.

Step 7:   Now, everything is perfectly aligned and if you can just snap it into your outer hoop without the fabric shifting, you’ll have everything aligned as needed.  To prevent shifting, we like to wrap the stabilizer and fabric around the edge of the inner hoop and grasp firmly as we position it and lay it into the outer hoop.

Step 8:  Next, tighten the hoop screw.

Step 9:  If the fabric is loose or kind of ripply in the hoop, you can gently tug it (be careful not to tug harder on one side than the other) to help it spread out evenly and tightly in your hoop.  (Be careful how you tug the fabric or you’ll pop it right out of the hoop and/or possibly mis-shape it).

Step 10:  Snap your hoop onto your machine.  Remove the plastic hoop grid.  Align the needle with your marked cross hairs and embroider your design.

Step 11:  Once your design is stitched out, remove your fabric from the hoop and press if desired.

Step 12:  The neat thing about using templates is that they also help you know where to place your pattern piece to cut out your fabric.  After we embroidered, we then laid our cuff pattern piece onto our fabric again and used the template cross hairs to make sure we had “Daddy” in the right place before we pinned the pattern to fabric and cut out the cuff.    After that, we assembled our stocking according to the pattern instructions.

I hope you found this useful.   These are my “go to” steps for successful embroidery placement in projects.

Thanks for reading!

By the way, I have created the pattern and typed up illustrated sewing instructions for these stockings.  The first 3 people to request a free copy of this project can have it!  Just post your comment here and I’ll leave it for you at Humble Sewing Center.

1. Tina Tran

2. Evonne Cobb


Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

Quick Gifts: Fleece Pocket Blanket Tutorial

Brrr!  All that snow is making me want to snuggle up on the couch with a big fleece blanket and some cocoa!  And, that’s what this post is all about.  Welcome to a quick tutorial on a fleece pocket blanket.  Enjoy!

Instead of a tree, we like to put up a snow village and a manger scene.

One of these days we're going to add a train set!

Fleece Pocket Blanket Tutorial  ( 58″x50″ blanket):

One of these pillows is also a blanket!


1 & 3/8 yard of fleece, 1/2 yard fleece for contrast pocket, 1 spool of coordinating thread, 1/2 yard of water soluble stabilizer


Trim away the selvages from the bigger fleece and set aside.

Cut a 15″x28″ rectangle from the contrast fleece.  Fold in half and mark center.  The folded edge will be the top edge of the pocket.  Unfold the fleece and embroider with your preferred design.

Close-up of embroidered pocket

I used a design from Dakota Collectibles’  Embossed Embroidery Variety Collection.

Tip:  Usually, when embroidering on fleece,  I use a water soluble topper to prevent the stitches from sinking in.  But, if you are using an embossed design, the stitches are supposed to sink in so, I didn’t use a topper in this instance.


Fold the pocket in half with embroidery showing.

Center the pocket along the bottom edge of the blanket.   Align the raw edges and pin in place.

Stitch the sides of the pocket and the bottom edge of the pocket.

Close-up of blanket stitch and stabilizer.

Cut your water soluble stabilizer into strips that are about an 1 1/2″ wide and as long as possible.

Select a blanket stitch or other decorative stitch on your sewing machine.  Lay a strip of stabilizer under one long edge of the blanket and stitch along the edge.

Pivot at the corner.

Lay another long strip under the next edge of your blanket and repeat steps for all 4 edges.

Trim and rinse away the stabilizer to remove.

Enjoy your blanket!

Pocket Pillow/Blanket Folding Instructions:

1)Fold the blanket into thirds, the same width as the pocket.

2)Flip the blanket with pocket side down and Fold the blanket once....

3)Fold the blanket twice....

4)Fold the blanket until it's down to the size of the pocket.

5)Turn the pocket inside out. This will tuck the blanket inside of the pocket.

6)TaDa! You can embroider the pocket on both sides so it always shows, but I decided to just embroider one side.

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

Machine Embroidery Tips for Perfect Applique

Sew Crafty Ladies!

The Sew Crafty Houston Ladies! Photo By: Laura Burlton

Ok!  I know I posted this picture just a few weeks ago, but I have a good reason!

#1 I’m really missing my time with these gals.

#2 Don’t we look great?

#3 I promised to talk about how I made this applique banner in a future post.

Remember?  Well,  we are presently in the FUTURE!

So, here is a “General” Tutorial for how I did this and also some great tips for making machine embroidered appliques!

Machine Embroidered Banners 101

  • Decide how wide your finished banner will be.
  • Decide how large your letters will need to be.
  • Select the appropriate font and size from your favorite embroidery designs collection.  (I purchased an applique font online and chose the 5×7 hoop sized letters for this project)
  • Using your embroidery software, print out a template of each letter in your banner.
  • Using see through tracing paper, make a triangle template that nicely frames your letters.  Mark center on this template.
  • Using Embroidery Machine:  Hoop a 10″x10″ or larger piece of background fabric and applique a letter to it.    (see applique tips) Make sure you place the letter carefully so that you’ll have enough room to cut out your triangle!
  • Un-hoop the fabric.  Press if desired.  Lay your triangle template on top of your fabric, centering the appliqued letter within the triangle.  Pin the template to the fabric and cut out the triangle using pinking shears.  (If you don’t have pinking shears, you could just use regular scissors and hem your triangle to prevent unraveling.)
  • Repeat for all the letters in your banner.
  • Sew your appliqued triangles to a ribbon (I used 1″ wide grossgrain) and make sure you leave long tails at each end so you can hang your banner.
  • Enjoy!

A blurry closeup of one of my letters!

Machine Embroidery Applique Tips:

Recommended Stabilizers:  Floriani Appli-Kay Wonder or SewVac Outlet’s Fuse ‘n Stick

These stabilizers are fusible on one side and sticky on the other.  This allows you to hold applique pieces in place while you stitch.  I love it because it prevents shifting and bubbling in my applique and my needle doesn’t get gummy!  An alternative to the stabilizers would be a temporary spray adhesive that you use to spritz the back of your applique before you place it on the fabric.  This works, but I find that the stabilizer gives me more consistent results.

Seven Steps to Perfect Appliques:

Step One:  Hoop the fabric that you will use for your applique letter.  You don’t need a stabilizer beneath it – unless you’re using stretchy fabric.

Step Two:  Stitch the outline of the design.  Un-hoop the fabric and press if needed.

Step Three:  Lay your fabric with the design outline wrong side up so that you are looking at the back of your design.  Lay a piece of the Fuse n’ Stick or Appli-Kay Wonder on the fabric with the fusible side touching the back of your design.  (The fusible side is the shiny side.)

Step Four:  Fuse the stabilizer piece to the wrong side of the decorative fabric using a medium to high temperature setting on your iron.  (No Steam).  Start at a med. temperature and slowly increase until you get a good fuse.  Hold the iron in place for at least 3 seconds and then flip the piece over and press again on the fabric side.

Step Five:  Once cooled, cut out the appliqué design using the trace lines/ stitched lines.

Step Six:  Peel back the protective sheet to expose the sticky surface. **It is very important to let the applique cool before removing the paper.

Step Seven:  Hoop your backround fabric (use a cutaway or tearaway stabilizer behind it!)  and stitch the design outline one more time.  Now, position the sticky appliqué piece over the design outline and finger press in to place. *Press on the appliqué side and the fabric side for maximum bonding. Finish by stitching out the rest of your embroidery design, changing thread colors as needed.

Gift Give-Away Contest Update:

We only need 2 more winners!!!  Click the link to enter to win and find out what you get!  Contest Link

Let’s Get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

One Step T-Shirt Makeovers

Designer Necklines

Today’s post is one of True Confessions.  True confessions about things I buy and then take forever to get around to using.

I bought this design package at the BabyLock event that Humble Sewing Center hosted last April.  What a fun event!  Nancy Zieman came to town and this was one of the items she showcased during her presentation.  Well, I just had to have it!

So, my confession is that it is now the end of November and today is the first time I even opened the package.  But, I am happy to say that not only did I open it, I actually used it, too!

This design package is loaded with all the needed designs, step by step instructions and a 30min video tutorial.  (If you’d like your own copy, Humble Sewing Center can order this item for you.)

I’m posting a short video demo here, but before that I have just a few pictures to share!

My Shirt Before

My Shirt After!

Close-Up of Shirt Using the Placket Option

This project was so fun and VERY easy!  I plan to make more of these and use the other design options.

Here’s a short video demo from our favorite seamster:  Nancy Zieman!

ATTENTION:   The contest for the freebies is almost over.  Click here to get in on some goodies!  Gift Give-Away

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

What does Hockey have to do with Sewing? Not much, but…..

What does Hockey have to do with Sewing?  Not much, but….  I just found some cool Hockey fabric today.  This occurred when I went to High Fashion on a Fabric Field Trip with friend, student, and blogger – Stacie, of

Look!  This is a close-up of the fabric I found! I plan to use it in one of those embroidered mugs as a gift for my husband.

My husband plays goalie....

What else does Hockey have to do with Sewing?  Well, I used my Janome Digitizer Jr., a purchased applique font, and my Janome Giga Hoop to embroider his player number on the back of his jersey.  See?

Can you guess what his favorite number is?

And, if you really want to know the truth of why I feel compelled to talk about hockey on a sewing blog,  Sunday night was the play-off game for his Hockey league.  Guess who won the Championship?

(Team Name: Bad Company) My husband is the one wearing blue gloves. He's 6'6" and almost as tall as me when he's on his knees. Photo By: Cameron Hagen

This victory is a big deal.  He’s been competing and shooting for a championship for a few years now.  Way to go, Gabe!!!

And, now for an update about our on-going Gift-Away:

We still haven’t reached 25 winners!   Hurry up and follow the “steps to win” so you can be in the 1st 25!!!

Steps to Win:

  • If you’re not already following, register to follow this blog by clicking on the link in our side-bar.
  • Then, contact me through making a comment on this blog post
  •  Let me know which item you want to claim – the key fob or the koozie
  • Let me know what name or letter you’d like me to custom embroider on your item
  • -Or- let me know if you want to receive it as a blank.  (A blank is an item that is ready for you to embroider yourself. )

I bet you want to see what you get, right?

Well, I decided to give you a choice between the two items pictured here.

As we add to our list of winners, I'll get these stitched out and make an announcement when they are ready for pick-up at HSC.

Click the Contest Link to see the updated list of Winners!  

Let’s Get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

SUPER Fun Embroidery & Digitizing Software

Custom Super G Capes

Custom Projects are Fun!

Yes, my last name is Gabriel but, no, these aren’t my capes.  I recently custom made them for a client.

Once they were done, I proudly showed them to my teen daughters who both put in special requests for their own Super G capes.  I think they plan to wear them out and about on random shopping errands.  Like I’ve said before, I am enjoying raising these girls and I find their teenage ways very entertaining.  I really can’t point fingers at them, considering some of the crazy things I wore in public when I was their age.  We won’t go there!

Digitizing Software is Cool!

Anyway, it was so much fun to create these specialty appliques with the help of my Janome Digitizer Jr, that I decided to post about it here.

And before I go on to share a few creation details, I just wanted to mention that if you have an embroidery machine, you may want to consider purchasing some Digitizing Software.  I’ve personally found it very useful in a number of ways:

  • View & edit designs on my laptop before transferring them to my embroidery machine
  • Delete unwanted portions of designs & combine designs during the editing process
  • Print out actual size design templates with cloth setter marking (this comes in handy when deciding where to place designs on a project and helps with accurate hooping)
  • Create your own custom designs by scanning in images and converting them to stitches (very cool)

There’s an ocean worth of different software on the market and shopping can be overwhelming.  I feel most comfortable buying embroidery software from my local sewing machine dealership, Humble Sewing Center.  They are always willing to answer my questions, steer me in the right direction, and help me find out what I need to make an informed decision.

Creation Details:

First I searched for a free SuperMan logo and downloaded it.  Then I printed it out to use as a template and to give me a size reference for my letter G.

Then I used my digitizing software to customize & resize an applique G that I had purchased and downloaded from the internet.

Janome Digitizer Jr

Template w/ Cloth setter marking

Next, I printed out a template of my customized letter G with the cloth setter marking for help with design placement.

Template & Test Sew Super G

I over-laid the G on top of my SuperMan template and used this to help me hoop my fabric and stitch out a pink, leopard print, experimental “Super G” with my embroidery machine.

I think I’ll put it on a black apron for my Grandma!  SHE is a super G!

Once I had a successful test, I proceeded to sew these out for each cape in their respective colors.  I then made the capes using McCalls pattern 2853 as my guide.

These capes are fully lined, so before I attached the lining, I fused and appliqued the super G diamonds to each cape, using a 7mm wide satin stitch with a .3mm stitch length and matching embroidery thread to outline the diamond.

That’s all for now!
Let’s get sewing!
Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

Tutorial: Personalized Mug w/ Embroidery

Personalized Mugs Make a great gift!

One of the very first things I learned to do with my embroidery machine was this quick and easy project when I attended an embroidery class at Humble Sewing Center with Instructor:  Marje Agostini.

FYI:  She’s pretty much an embroidery guru, so if you ever get the chance to attend one of her monthly Inspiration classes – you’ll have a good time, get more comfortable using your machine, and learn some neat tips & tricks for machine embroidery.

Ok, back to the mugs!  In the picture, the mug on the right was done using Marje’s instructions, except I decided to use fabric instead of kiwi paper.  If you decide to make one with fabric, just be sure to use a medium to heavy weight, fusible, cut-away permanent stabilizer.  Fuse it to the wrong side of your fabric before stitching and your fabric will behave just like the kiwi paper.

With permission, I’m posting Marje’s class instructions and a supply list for your review:

Supplies:  one 16oz. mug (available at Humble Sewing Center), one sheet of Kiwi Paper (at HSC), Peel ‘n Stick Stabilizer, Use a 4×4 or larger embroidery hoop,  16oz. Mug Template (attached to this blog post in a  link)

16oz.mug template

Note:  If you enjoyed this project and you want to order mugs in bulk, visit this link.  There is a $50 minimum order required.

Let’s Get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny