Tag Archives: machine embroidery

Sewing Machine Needles – Choosing the right type of needle for your projects really does matter….

Hi all!

I’d like to begin this post with a brief anecdote about a girl, her embroidery machine, and a needle….

There once was a girl, a pretty blonde with a very giving heart.  She had recently gotten her very first embroidery machine and was generously doing some free monogramming at a local sewing meet-up before the holidays.  All was going very well, until somehow, she broke a needle.

No worries!  She had spare needles on hand and was able to quickly change it out for a fresh one.  And then disaster struck.  No matter what she tried, the machine was no longer stitching properly.  It was a mess.  The pretty blonde wisely decided that she’d call it a day and try to revive her machine in the privacy of her own home.  But, when she got it home, things didn’t get any better.

That’s when she decided to bring it to me.  The amazing Super Jenny!  In short order, we were able to get to bottom of the problem.  We figured out that when she had changed the needle the other day, she had put in a regular sewing needle instead of an embroidery needle.  So, we put in an embroidery needle, made sure it was in properly etc. and took off like lightning, stitching up a storm of fun projects that day.  Happy Ending!  Yay!

The moral of the story is:  Use the right kind of needle for your project and your machine….. it matters!


Have you ever taken a look at the wide variety of needles available on the notions wall at local fabric shops and sewing machine dealerships?  How does someone decide which ones they need?

I’m posting information here that may help steer you in the right direction the next time you need to get some needles…..

Sewing Machine Needles:
It’s a fact that some fabrics sew out better if you use a special needle to get the job done.
Below is a short list of fabric & thread types and the best needles to use with them:

  1. Cotton and poly-cotton blend fabrics do well with a size 12 to size 14 “universal needle”.  A universal needle is like your all-purpose go-to needle.  It has a very sharp point and is meant to sew well on non-stretchy fabrics.
  2. Denim or other heavyweight fabrics require a “jeans needle”.  The package will say size 16 on it.  It’s a thicker needle meant to handle the strain of sewing through layers of thick fabrics.
  3. T-shirt type fabric – jersey knit, requires a “ball point needle” the package will usually contain sizes 12 and 14.
  4. Lightweight fabrics such as chiffon or silky fabrics will do best with either a “ball point needle” or “universal needle”. If the fabric is very sheer, you will want a very thin needle size 9 or 11.  However, you can use size 12 on most silky fabrics with good results.
  5. Spandex, swim-suit type fabric requires a “stretch needle”.
  6. Leather material requires a “leather needle”.  This needle has a uniquely shaped point, kind of like a miniature double edged sword. This tip allows the needle to “slice” through leather as it sews.  (I would recommend using a slightly longer stitch length for leather projects.)
  7. When you want to use thicker threads to add decorative top stitching to a project, choose a “topstitch needle”.  It has a much larger “eye” hole to accommodate the thicker thread as it passes through.
  8. When you want to use metallic threads for decorative stitching, you will see the best results if you get “metallic needles”.  It has a large eye for the larger thread and a large groove to prevent shredding of the delicate metallic threads as you sew.  Note:  Metallic needles do not crossover well to machine embroidery.  See below for recommended machine embroidery needles.

Of course, my little post is not a comprehensive resource for all things needles.  If you’d like even more info. then….

Click Here for MORE about Needles

Embroidery Machine Needles:

Because of the high speed, high stitch count, and heat created from the friction of machine embroidery, you really should only use embroidery needles in your embroidery machine.

I have a Janome 350E embroidery machine.  And, for the most part, I buy Janome machine embroidery needles.

I have also used the Schmetz Gold Embroidery Needle 130/705 H-ET with no problems in my sewing and also my embroidery machine.  On the front of the package it says in fine print:  Titanium Nitride.  This is a special coating that keeps your thread from shredding as you sew through thick or densely woven fabrics.  And, if you ever try sewing or doing embroidery on a glamour fabric called, “confetti dot”, you’ll need this coated needle for beautiful results.  Confetti dot fabric is covered in little metallic dots of “confetti” that have been glued onto it.  Regular needles get all gummed up and your thread keeps breaking – so it’s worth it to get the coated needles.

If you want to use metallic thread for machine embroidery, get a metallic embroidery needle that has a larger eye hole and that also says it’s got a special teflon coating.  Using metallic threads for machine embroidery can be a real booger, so click this link for more tips on that: using metallic thread

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading!

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

The Reason I Sew…

My Grandma aka: GiGi

Over the years, I find that I sew for a number of reasons.  Sometimes it’s for hire but mostly it’s for love.

I sew because I love my Grandma, my mom, my husband, my kids, in short, my family and my friends.  I sew because I like to give my loved ones something that is one of a kind, that only I can give.  I sew because I enjoy the process of making the gift almost as much as the moment of giving the gift and seeing the look on their face when they open it.  (See my GiGi’s face?  Her smile makes my day!)

When someone takes the time to hand make a gift, whether it’s sewn, painted, or glued & taped, it’s like giving away a part of themselves.  The gift is sort of a token that says, “I love you.  I stopped everything else I was doing to take time to focus only on you and create this for you.”

I don’t know about you but, sometimes, when I make a gift instead of buying one, I’m not sure if what I have given is adequate.  In the end, I shouldn’t worry.

It’s always adequate to tell someone that you love them.  Whether it’s through sewing, baking, sending a card, a phone call, a visit, a hug…. taking the time to say, “I love you” is always a precious gift.

Well, that’s all for now.  Thanks for reading!

Why don’t you take a minute to let me know your reason/reasons for sewing.  I’d love to know.  Or better yet, take a minute to tell someone how much you love them.  It’s a gift that only you can give!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

In the Hoop Wallet & Nifty Gift Wrap Idea

Janome 350E Stitching Out In-the-Hoop Wallet

As I mentioned in an earlier post, in my family, December is a time for back-to-back birthdays.  I have an uncle who’s birthday I just missed, so I stitched out this quick project for his belated gift.  This is the in-the-hoop wallet design collection that we just held a prize drawing for a few days ago.  You can get your own copy of this collection at Humble Sewing Center.

In the Hoop Wallet Close-Up

The wallet collection comes with a blank wallet and also wallets with the alphabet featuring the Curlz font from A-Z.  As you may have noticed, the G I’m using is not the Curlz font.  Since this wallet is for a man, I decided to use the blank wallet and imported a font from my Digitizer Jr software.  Note:  This project requires a 5×7 hoop.

Once, I had his wallet all stitched out, I removed it from the hoop, trimmed and rinsed away the remaining wash-away stabilizer.

Then, I decided to package it up for his gift….

I used a can opener to open the bottom end of a pop-top can of soup. After I ate the soup (LUNCH!), I washed the can and lid. I peeled off the original paper and re-wrapped the can with gift wrap.

I inserted the wallet into the can....

What a nice fit!

I put the bottom of the can back. (You can use a hot glue gun for this.)

All done! It's fun to see the person's reaction when they open the pop-top and your special creation is inside. "How did you get it in the can?" That's for me to know & you to find out!

Thanks for reading!

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

Super G Apron & Serger Shortcuts

December isn’t just for Christmas.  In my family, it’s also a month of back-to-back birthdays…

On that note, I recently posted about some custom superhero capes that I made for a client:  Super Hero Capes & Digitizing Software

And, in that post, I mentioned that since my Grandma is a Super G, I will make her a black apron and put this leopard pink super G on it…..

Last night was her birthday party and she loved her new apron!

What a beautiful GiGi!

I was able to make this apron in record time by using my serger to finish the raw edges of the flounce, waist ties & facings instead of pressing and stitching a narrow hem.  I also used my serger to attach the flounce so I saved some steps there, too.  My serger stitched the seam, trimmed away the seam allowance, and finished the raw edge all in one pass.  Just call me Speedy!

I used my sewing machine to attach the apron’s V-neck facing so I could precisely pivot at the point of the V.   I also used my sewing machine to do the understitching for the neck facing as well as stitching in the ditch to apply the side facings.  Overall, it turned out lovely and I’m so glad that she likes it.

By the way, this is Butterick pattern 4945 – in case you’re interested in making your own!

Well, that’s all for now!  I’m off to stitch up an in-the-hoop wallet for my very cool Uncle Jacob.  I found a new way to “wrap” the gift that I think will be a big surprise to him….   I’ll share some pictures in a bit!

Have a blessed Sunday!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

We have our Winner for Wallet Design Pack!

Sample Wallet Laying Flat

Inside View of Sample Wallet













AND the WINNER IS:  Helen Taylor

Congratulations Helen!!!!!

You can pick up this design package at Humble Sewing Center at your convenience or email me your mailing address and I’ll send it to you.  Click here to contact me:  StitchinJenny Contact Link

That’s all 4 now!

Let’s get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

In the Hoop Coasters

Coaster Front (Matches those Place Mats from the video tutorial…)

Coaster Back 

If some of you are new to machine embroidery and the term “In-the-Hoop” is a mystery to you, here’s a brief explanation and a photographic tutorial/demo of an “in-the-hoop” project.

“In the hoop” is a phrase that usually means the entire project is done within the embroidery hoop and does not require any sewing machine steps at all.  However, sometimes, the majority of an “in the hoop” project will be done in the hoop and just the last steps will be done with your sewing machine.  Either way, I think these types of projects are FUN!

Coaster Tutorial:


  • front & back coaster fabrics
  • embroidery thread (use matching embroidery thread in bobbin, too)
  • Fusible Stabilizer
  • Self-Adhesive Wash Away Stabilizer
  • 1 Can of Temporary Spray Adhesive

Cut a piece of fusible stabilizer to fit your hoop and fuse it to the wrong side of front coaster fabric.

Hoop the stabilized fabric. Attach hoop to embroidery machine. Stitch the coaster outline onto fabric.

Un-hoop the fabric and cut out the circle. Use this template to cut our your remaining coaster pieces – fronts & backs.

Peel off paper backing and then hoop the adhesive sew & wash stabilizer with the sticky side face up. Attach the hoop to the machine and stitch the coaster outline just as you did before.

Place your pre-cut coaster front onto the coaster outline that you just stitched. Press gently with fingertips to stick in place.

Stitch the next step of your coaster. It will be a zigzag outline around the coaster. Next it will stitch your monogram or any design you choose to insert in the coaster.

I chose to stitch out our family monogram for this one.

Spray the wrong side of your coaster backing fabric with temporary spray adhesive. Remove the hoop from the machine.

Don’t un-hoop your coaster! Turn the hoop over and lay your sprayed coaster backing onto the back of your hooped coaster.

Make sure the coaster backing is aligned with coaster’s front and gently finger press into place.

Then, you’ll put the hoop onto your machine again and finish stitching out the design.

First it will be a zig zag outline.  Last it will be a satin stitch border around the entire coaster.

Once the stitching is completed, remove coaster from the hoop. Trim away excess stabilizer. Lightly rinse the edges of the coaster to dissolve the wash away stabilizer. Let dry and enjoy!

If you would like to try this project, I have digitized the coasters with a single letter from A-Z on each.  I have uploaded the files to my StitchinJenny Yahoo group.  All you have to do to access the designs is click the link and  join the group.  Once you’ve joined the group you will be able to access and download the files.

Thanks for reading!

Let’s get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

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

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

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 http://www.staciethinksshecan.com/.

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

Gift Give-Aways Coming Soon! Sign up to follow our blog!

Hey everybody!  I hope you’re having a great weekend!

I’m gearing up to schedule several gift give-aways from now ’till Christmas.  There will be a number of opportunities for you to win custom embroidered items, one-of-a- kind StitchinJenny creations, and more!

Ways to Win:

  • Make Contest Entries
  • Sign up for Random Prize Drawings
  • Make Comments on our Blog Posts

No worries!  Each contest/drawing etc. will be fully announced and all of our followers via email will be the first to know!

Soooo, if you haven’t already, please take a second to sign up to follow us by filling out the email link on our side-bar.

Let’s Get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny