Embroidered BBQ Apron, Towel, and Weekend Projects

Hubs spent last weekend at the coast with his buds so I was left from Thursday through Sunday without adult supervision.  Y’all it was BLISS!  I lived in my sweats and only left the house to get the mail.  The dogs and I weathered a storm that dumped so much rain I called hubs asking for an ark and prepped for sandbags.  This deck for my hot tub is 14″ off the ground.  During the storm I didn’t have any of my machines on at all because I learned that lesson once several years ago.  $235 later my first embroidery machine was back in business after a power surge during a storm blew out the internal power supply.  So during this storm, I ironed applique pieces to fabric for my grandson’s dinosaur quilt.  Anyhoo…

Before the storm, I made hubs a new BBQ apron with an embroidery design from Urban Threads.  I think it turned out great!  Their designs always stitch out truly top-notch.



And a friend of mine has the most amazing garden and she cans like nobody’s business all summer long.  I couldn’t resist making this for her.


We are leaving for the coast this coming Thursday for our 16th wedding anniversary weekend.  We got married on July 3rd so we’d always have a 2-day holiday and there’d be free fireworks.  Smart huh?  🙂   We won’t be back until Tuesday the 4th so I’ve already prepped a UFO, a WIP, and 2 new projects to keep me busy.

The UFO (Unfinished Object).  The very first quilt I ever made in 2010 is off the longarm.  It’s a hot mess but it’s mine and I can’t wait to hang it over the deck at the coast to show off our patriotism.  Hopefully, from a distance at the street, the tipped stars will be overlooked.  ha ha   I need to add a navy blue binding and it will be finished.  Finally…7 years later.  It was the first full quilt I ever put on my new longarm too so yes it has issues but I truly don’t care.  On the whole, it’s beautiful with a few flaws I can live with.


I found some really cute fabric at my local quilt store yesterday that just screamed “MAKE ME INTO A NEW BAG!”


Goodbye Valentino has inspired me to give a try to some bucket hats from Oliver+S.  The free pattern is here.  Now that Cars 3 has been released, I thought I’d make up two for my grandsons and I found some long lost fat quarters in my stash for one for my granddaughter.


And last but not least, the WIP (Work in Progress).  I’ll put some time into the Dinosaur QAYG project from that I’m hoping to have ready for the grandboys for Christmas.


I think that’s enough to keep me busy during the quiet hours this weekend (if there are any).  What do you have in the works?  Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

DIY Embroidery Target Stickers, Dexter the Dragon, and a Machine Embroidered Apron

Those who know me know that I make no bones about being thrifty in my pursuit of my hobbies.  While I’ll spend money where quality is required, I’ll also DIY where I can to save a buck… or two…or twenty…or ten thousand as in the case of my longarm.

Let’s take Machine Embroidery Target Stickers.  Nice, but not necessary.  Most professionals just chalk a 90 degree crisscross and call it good.  But if you’re using a fabric that doesn’t take chalk well like a towel, or you don’t want to have to remove chalk lines like on a satin, or you can’t find said chalk, then a sticker works great.  It stays put and provides a great pinpoint to see where you want to start.   There are pre-printed stickers out there you can buy where you get 250 stickers for (sales pitchman voice here…) “An amazing low price of just $19.99!” ($24.99 on Amazon Prime)  Or…you can buy 525 Avery removable dot stickers # 6736 and draw your own 90 degree angle on them, for just … wait for it… $10.58.   More than twice the number of stickers for half the price.  And here’s a cool little tidbit – it doesn’t matter where the crisscross is on the sticker just so long as the lines are at a 90 degree angle.  Easy peasy.  I just penciled in a page of them here.


Dexter the Dragon’s baby sister Darla.  Y’all remember my last post about the failure on the blue dragon from Shiny Happy World?  I gave it another shot with fleece instead of Minky and success!  Here she is!  I bought some blue fleece for her big brother and will finish him this weekend.  Don’t you love her rosy tummy?



I did some extra stitching on those wings at the spine because if my granddaughter is anything like me (and she looks EXACTLY like me) then those wings will be swung like a boomerang prior to launch at her brother.  This pretty girl is double stitched everywhere!

Apron Embroidery.  A co-worker, Diane, is really into competition BBQ cooking just like hubs and I are.  She is hosting her daughter’s high school graduation BBQ this coming weekend and they are smoking 23 beef briskets to serve nearly 400 folks.  One aspect of BBQ cooking is Showmanship.  Her sister bought all of them matching aprons and she asked me if I’d embroidery hers with her nickname DeeDee.  She told me how she wanted it and I let her proof 4 different fonts via text prior to stitching.  I just love it and so did she.



Her apron isn’t over the trash can ya’ll; that’s aluminum can recycle in my laundry room next to my front loader.  🙂

Have a great weekend!

10% Off #Embrilliance Embroidery Software

For my friends who are dabbling in machine embroidery and don’t have any software yet, Embroidery Designs is having a 10% off sale on all Embrilliance products through Nov 30th.  I have Embrilliance Essentials (now $125.10) and Thumbnailer (now $35.10).  I’m not receiving any fee for recommending these – no affiliate links here, just pure belief in the products.  I don’t have any of the other Embrilliance products so I can’t speak to those.

The Essentials is easy to use (think Word or PowerPoint), and allows you to import BX fonts and do basic design editing like making designs bigger or smaller, centering, flipping, duplicating, changing thread colors, managing thread density, etc.  I highly recommend this software and there are tons of videos out on YouTube to help you learn how to use it.  You do not need software that costs thousands of dollars to do machine embroidery.  I use Essentials after I download a design from the web, then scale it to size and save to a thumb drive for use in my machine.  I also use it to print the design before stitching so I can use that paper template to ensure good placement on my project and help me to remember thread colors.essentials-capture

Thumbnailer.  This is all about design management on your computer.  When you download a file, purchased or free, it usually comes with some obscure file name and you can’t tell what it is from first glance.  Thumbnailer displays the file like an icon so you can find what you’re looking for.  It’s super easy to install, requires a restart, and then viola’!  Icons!  Here’s a screenshot of the Embroidery folder on my laptop.


Once inside the folders, the detail is even better.


They have these products for both PC and Mac.  These software packages rarely go on sale so hurry and you can get stitching for Christmas!

A Trip to Nancy’s Notions

I just recently returned from a trip to Janesville, Wisconsin to visit family.  When my Aunt June and Uncle Don picked me up at the Milwaukee Airport, Aunt June announced they had planned to take me to the original Nancy’s Notions store.  I was ecstatic! Now how did she knew I’d love to do that?  🙂

Of course I had to take pictures to blog the event.  It’s in a beautiful town called Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.


Uncle Don had barely parked the car and I was racing inside.


I was in Sewing Mecca!


While Uncle Don went in search of a hamburger for lunch (he’s such a good sport), Aunt June and I hit the aisles of Nancy’s Notions.  My initial search was for the new Fussy Cutter ruler by Marti Mitchell.  I’d seen it in the catalog and if there’s a new tool, I have to have it.  I also picked up some black embroidery stabilizer I’d hadn’t been able to find locally, and another pack of Amelie Scott designs to quilt my smaller projects with my embroidery machine.


Aunt June and I both picked up some tote bag blanks.  She wants me to embroider a Shih Tzu on one for a Christmas gift for one of her friends.


Then I wandered back to the Clearance section and OMG!!  A Monster Snap Hoop that will fit my Baby Lock Ellegante 2!  Do you know how incredibly expensive these are?  It had been bought and returned and was waiting for me.


Let me back up a bit…  When my aunt and I were entering the store, the basket she used had a coupon in it for 10% off your entire purchase the week of your birthday.  So I went to find a sales rep and asked if I could get the birthday discount to buy this hoop since my birthday was in two weeks and I live on the other side of the country.  She said probably not because they never forward that discount so I asked her to go find the store manager.  The store manager said probably not but she’d ask her manager back in the warehouse.  I was bound and determined to get a discount on that hoop.  It was marked down to $104 and I didn’t want to pay that even though it’s a good price.   As I waited for an answer, I got a picture with Nancy.  ha ha


When I got to the counter to check out, the store manager said she couldn’t believe it but they would honor the 10% off birthday discount!  YIPPEE!!  She asked her manager why she agreed to do it and the manager replied, “It’s a nice day in October!”  🙂   Somedays, the shopping angels are with you.


I had a wonderful visit and can’t wait to go back.  Here’s the herd.  My brother Eric, Uncle Don, Aunt June, niece Grace, me, cousin Kirk, cousin Sara, nephew Noah, Dogs Sam and Cole.  Love this group!



Easy Clips for Machine Embroidery

Need to keep fabric out of the way while in the hoop?  I bet you’ve got something in the house that will work perfectly!  Try clam clips for hair, black office binder clips, or Wonder Clips for quilting if you have them.  I prefer the clam clips because they are easy to maneuver on-the-fly if needed and can fit around a wad of fabric to keep it from slipping under the hoop.  These are especially helpful for smaller items like tiny Onesies that have to be almost flipped completely inside out to stitch.


I keep my clips, and other small sewing room items, in repurposed clear glass candle jars.  Why throw that beauty away when the candle is gone?  A half hour in the freezer easily removes all the old wax and after a run through the dishwasher, it’s ready for re-use.  I like jars with wide open tops I can get my hands in.  These are designated for my embroidery.  No gummy hair spray residue please!


Here’s the finished tee for my granddaughter.  She adores her bunny!  The design is from




June is for Babies!

Oh goodness, where to begin?  June seems to be the month of babies!!  One of my besties had a grandbaby boy so “Aunt Becky” knocked out some new bibs on the embroidery machine.

Look at this First 4th of July applique!  Isn’t it just darling?

Then my next door neighbor’s youngest had a baby girl earlier this month.  Truthfully, the 0-3 month Onsie is WAY too big for her, but hey, she’ll grow into it.  Disclaimer, the “House White” design is from a Craftsy class , Embroidering With Knits with Deborah Jones.  Also, for a good starter class, choose Craftsy’s Big Embroidery in a Small Hoop with Lisa Shaw.  She’s very good about explaining all kinds of basics.

And what else…OH!  My beautiful DIL is expecting grandbaby #3 in October…a BOY!  Once they found out the sex, she created the most beautiful virtual nursery set at and my son asked if I would make it for them.  Are you kidding me?  A project!  YAY!  I’m going to see them in August so hopefully I can have it finished in time to check it vs. ship it.  The new addition won’t be here until October but it’s way too cold in Oct where they live for this Grammy to visit.  I’ll see the newbie next summer.  Y’all, I don’t go north of Dallas after Labor Day.  Ever.  CarouselDesigns

Have you guys heard of Carousel Designs at  They allow you to create your own nurseries out of the most beautiful fabrics.  And either they will make them for you based on your fabric choices for an outrageous amount of money ($125 for bumpers?  Seriously?) Or, if you have a very cool MIL, like my DIL does, said MIL (moi’) will make the nursery for you at no charge!   I’m glad she emailed me about it when she did because they were having a Father’s Day sale at 20% off with free shipping.  Total fabric cost for the entire nursery was only $84.  SCORE!  My DIL has such great taste.  Isn’t this gorgeous?   I use Vogue 7245 as a pattern that I bought for my first nephew’s nursery…and he’s almost 21!  Lawd, the time!  And you no-bumpers-in-the-crib people can stow it.  Of course cribs need bumpers!


She also asked if I’d make her a nursing cover.  When I asked about fabric choice, she said she liked grays & blues and the colors of the one in the link she sent, but to surprise her.  So I hopped over to and chose the Monarch (Graphite) #8938 in the Atrium line by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit Fabrics.  I love buying fabric from them.  Their website is awesome and the service is great.  I’ve received shipping notices from all the companies so this week my front porch should look like Christmas.

My grandson turned 5 this month.  He wanted a Cat in the Hat themed birthday.  Okie dokie!  I found this applique and embroidery pattern on Etsy.

And I whipped out a 4th of July tee for my granddaughter.  But now it’s too late to send to her.  I hate it when I do that.  I didn’t send it because I had to make one for her big brother too and that never made it into the queue.  Oh well, I’ll find a willing recipient I’m sure.


So that’s it!  Happy US Independence Day everyone!  Be safe!


Computerized Machine Updates

This is just a short post to remind sewers with computerized machines to be sure your machine has the most recent firmware or software updates.  If you have a machine made in the last 10 years (or more), it’s probably got a computer inside of it.  How do you know if it has a computer?  Well, if you screw up, it beeps at you!  HA  I would venture to guess that many of you just pulled the machine out of the box, read the set-up guide (if that) and got to it.  You should do this even if you bought your machine second or third-hand.  There’s no penalty from the manufacturer to re-register a machine you might have bought from a previously registered owner.

As a computer security geek by day, this is near and dear to my heart.  You should do this in case you haven’t been to the manufacturer’s website in awhile too just to make sure you have the most recent update to your machine or designer software that came with your machine.  Your sewing machine really is a computer and it requires the latest updates just like a laptop or your phone.  NOTE:  If you take your machine in for service regularly, your certified technician will make sure your machine has the most recent version of required software.  An off-brand machine repair technician may not.

If you haven’t registered your machine at the manufacturer’s website, you should.  They will make sure you receive important newsletters and firmware updates.  If you get a new laptop or upgrade your home computer’s operating system (Windows 7 to Windows 8 for example) you need to make sure that your sewing machine is ready to work with these files.  If anything, if you are robbed, your machine’s serial number will be logged with the manufacturer and you can go there to get the number and reclaim it from the local pawn shop.  Yes, I think like that…

What’s my inspiration for this post?  Hint:  There’s a reason I recently needed to access a manufacturer’s website for firmware updates.  🙂  Hmmm, whatever reason could that be???  A follow up post to let you know soon!

So dig out your owner’s manual, see how to do this, and be a good to your sewing machine!



Check Meowout! A bag for mom on Mother’s Day

This ain’t your Grandma’s embroidery.  I found a new site called UrbanThreads [IG @urbanthreadsemb] and oh my goodness!  They have the most awesome stuff.  When I saw this cool guy, I just couldn’t pass him up.

NOTE:  A shout out to Urban Threads on their customer service.  I originally bought the wrong size of this cat for my embroidery machine.  I emailed them about my mistake and within a couple of hours, they switched it out.  Awesome!

I made this bag for my mom for Mother’s Day and this design is on both sides of the bag.  She’s down to just 4 cats now so I’m not sure if that’s still considered Crazy Cat Lady status or not.  I used the “Riviera” Pink Sands Beach Designs bag pattern and whipped this cutie up in an afternoon.  I’ll admit I had trouble with this pattern.  I’m sure all the problems were user error but I ended up not being able to have the outside pockets because the inner lining was too short.  So I just stitched them shut across the top – no biggie.  It seemed weird anyway to have the outer pocket opening only between the handles in the center yet the entire front was the whole pocket.  Seems you’d be digging around from side to side without much room to see what got down into the far corners.  The image below is not blurry…it’s your eyes.  😉

The thread on the sunglasses is a Mederia Poly Neon variegated and I chose the orange/yellow because of the other fabric I found in my stash.  Seriously, I did not buy the “floral” abstract print, solid orange, or gray all at the same time or from the same collection.  It literally was Fabric Carma that they all came together perfectly.

Having all the Pellon products for this project is the result of buying the bolt vs. just the amount needed at the time.  I’ve had the DecorBond and Peltex 70 for some time now and it’s always so nice to have what you need when you need it.  On the inside I added an embroidered monogram for mom from @TheItch2Stitch in the Natural Circle Sketch Monogram.  Due to the monogram, I had to alter the pockets on that side of the bag to be different from the pattern.  I made them a bit deeper to hold pens or reading glasses.

Zipper installation was easy by the instructions.  However I chose a sport zipper vs. just the regular one called for in the pattern.  I thought it would look cooler – like the cat. 😉
I really tried for a pattern match…believe me.  But the print was so wonky on the fabric, I’m grateful being “on-grain” wasn’t required.  Hey, good enough for government work, right?

Well, needless to say, SHE LOVED IT!!  She’s traveling from Tennessee to Wisconsin this coming weekend for a family wedding reception and she said she’s going to take it with her.  She was always good at hanging my school projects on the refrigerator and now she’s taking my bag to show off at a family event.  🙂   What a great mom!

Have you made any bags lately?  Link to them please!




Super Hero Cape!

What 5 year old doesn’t want to be a super hero with a cape?  Remember tying a towel around your neck and flying across the living room furniture or jumping high on your bed until your Mom yelled at you?  I sure do!  But really, bath towels are so yesterday.  Enter, the Super Hero Cape!  This is for my grandson, Super Calvin.

I followed this tutorial to make it. .  However, this power-tooling grammy must customize of course.  I ended up making it 13.5″ across the bottom vs. just 11″ and the length was 33.5″ vs. 31.

I found the emblem at Planet Applique and the fabric was a stretch twill with a beautiful drape I got at Hancock Fabrics. I like to do a preliminary stitch out just on a piece of stabilizer to see the size and shape.  Note the shape outline of the hoop?  It is stitching horizontally vs. vertically.  When hooped, the bottom point of the emblem is pointing toward where the hoop attaches to the machine arm – away from the machine body.
20160424_131436 20160424_131747

Up front, I could not hoop properly until recently.  The words torqued, wonky, and AARRRRGH! come to mind when I attempted to hoop.  Hair pulling ensued and I’d give up on the project.  Then one day, I got an email from Eileen Roche from Designs in Machine Embroidery and it had an advertisement for the PAL. The Perfect Alignment Laser.  OMG.  Hooping Nirvana.  This bad boy provides a perfect 90 degree crosshair laser light on your hooping surface.  Slick!  I love technology.

You mark the design center of the garment with a crosshair.  I’m not going to tell you how to do this because it’s totally subjective depending on the item, but folding in half, and then quarters, and then ironing a cross-crease began the process for this project.  Because this is a lightweight fabric, I’m using a heavy duty regular stabilizer (it feels like sturdy interfacing) and Sulky Sticky+  for two layers of stabilizer.  I’ve found that when you have lightweight fabrics, using two layers of stabilizer prevents the puckers.  Puckers suck.  I’m certain there’s a better or more professional/efficient way of doing this but I don’t know what it is.

I use a pin to score the paper and pull off the top center of the sticky backing is up.  Then I mark on the stabilizer using the plastic guide thingy that came with my machine to mark the center, sides, top and bottom.


Then I mark a crosshair with a pencil using the dots I made.
Now PAL comes into play.  Press the button to turn it on and TA-DAA!  A laser crisscross!  I align it exactly over the pencil marks.  Seriously, how stinking cool is this?!

Then it’s just a matter of aligning the fabric in the hoop so that my ironed creases match up with the laser light.

That center dot is a placement sticker from Designs in Machine Embroidery.  Hubs gave me the Perfect Placement Kit for Christmas (because I asked for it and he’s a good Santa) and these markers are included as part of it.  You can buy these stickers separately for $20 but honestly, you can get the same result with those sticky dots from the dollar store and mark a 90 degree crosshair in the center.

Now you can’t see it in the image above but I almost TOTALLY screwed this up!  I originally aligned the cape with the neckline at the top of the hoop.  No, no.  Remember on the sample stitch out it was horizontal?  Thankfully, I remembered that just in time.  Total disaster averted.  Whew!  I also like to put a few pins to help the fabric stay in place on the sticky.

The next images are the machine doing its thing.  In machine applique, the first stitch is called a placement stitch and it outlines the amount of space your fabric needs to cover.

Then place the first fabric over that stitch line and the machine will tack it down over the first stitching line.  The only solid yellow I had was a little transparent so I used two layers.

When that’s done, remove the hoop and cut away the excess fabric around the design. I use those curved scissors so I don’t cut the under fabric or stitching line.

Then the machine will do a couple more rounds to tack it down real good and then do a satin stitch around the first fabric.  No worries about extra threads.  It gets a good haircut at the end.

Change thread colors and repeat with the other fabric.  I always cut jump threads (those long crossing threads) whenever I can in between the stitching cycles to prevent them from being anchored down where they don’t belong.

Then I stitched the top of the cape to the back RST (right sides together), turned, pressed, top stitched and added Velcro to the neck closure.  🙂

Yeah, I know, the cape clashes with Dolly’s skirt.  lol  Here’s the neck closure.  All done!  Yeah…Who’s the super hero now?  🙂  BANG!  POW!!  BOOM!!


Spa Towel Robes for Bride and Groom

This post involves machine embroidery, but these spa robes can be made without it.IMG_3413

When a guy coworker announced he was marrying his long-time girlfriend, I thought that Bride/Groom spa robes would be pretty cool gifts. I got the color choice from his mom’s suggestion and I chose a very “renaissance” style of embroidery pattern because he and she costume-up every year for the Texas Renaissance Festival. He’s a big gamer too with one of those fantasy wizard games in that time period (don’t ask me, I have no idea which one).

I chose towels in a medium weight and followed this YouTube video for how-to. These are not difficult to make, however it’s in the details of whether it’s a successful project or not. Like making sure when it’s worn that the towel’s enclosed end-seams or manufacturer’s tag are to the inside, the Velcro is placed correctly (I had a Fail here on my first attempt of the groom’s) and the right/left closures for his vs. hers are proper.

I used 12” of ¾” non-roll elastic inside a 2” casing. I made sure that the manufacturer’s tag was either inside the casing or cut off in the case of the groom’s.   From center, measure out 10 inches in each direction and pin. IMG_3378Then fold down a 2 inch casing to the inside of the towel, and sew a casing between the pins and insert the elastic. IMG_3379I used a stretch-stitch (lightning bolt looking stitch on today’s machines) to sew each end of the elastic. It may not have been truly needed for stretch purposes, but the stitch is super strong and that is needed.IMG_3368

Then stitch down the remainder of the casing from the ends of the elastic out to the ends of the towel and pivot stitch up to the top of the towel to enclose the ends. I cut his to 25” prior to creating the casing to wear around the waist.

Here’s where details come in to get this right. On hers, the front fold is right-over-left. His is left-over-right. If you’re not sure, take a look at RTW shirts and note the button placement on the front bands. I used 12” of sew-in Velcro and placed it ½” in from the end of the towel.  I used white Velcro for hers and black for his.IMG_3408For the Velcro, the trick is:  Hers: Velcro goes on the right inside upper and left outside lower of each end. His: Velcro goes on the left outside upper and right inside lower of each end.

When I cut the groom’s towel shorter, I did serge the long cut edge because of fraying. IMG_3377And the left-over towel became batting for a Halloween wall hanging and extra little hand towels for me!IMG_3410IMG_3411

And that’s it! Really, they are that simple. And then embroider any pattern to customize.IMG_3369