You Ruined My Brand New Silk Blouse!

Jacobean designEvery now and then I'll receive an angry email that goes something like this: "I used one of the free designs from your site and it sewed out terribly and ruined my brand new silk blouse. Don't you sew out those free designs before you put them on your site?"

Well the truth is that at one time I did sew out all of the free designs that were submitted. But eventually the design submissions and my time became at serious odds with each other and I stopped sewing them all out. Of course, all of the ones offered for sale are tested and re-tested before they can be posted, but that isn't necessarily the case with the free designs. Why not? Well, in truth, in the early years, when those of us who were digitizing designs were just starting out and climbing slowly up the learning curve, some of the designs didn't stitch out perfectly. But they all stitched out acceptably. So how can you prevent me from ruining your life? Always, always, always stitch out a sample of any design you're planning to use, whether it's a downloaded freebie of an expensive custom design. Stitch it with the thread and stabilizer you're going to use on the finished product and stitch it on the same or similar type of fabric. Every design will not sew out well with every kind of thread, every kind of stabilizer and on every type of fabric. The free designs on my site were contributed by generous digitizers from all over the world, some rank amateurs and some seasoned professionals. Stitching a sample first will save you from a lot of unhappy results.

Which brings me to two other points. First, a story about an unhappy result of my own. I had enlarged a design and was stitching it on a t-shirt for my grandson. About a quarter of the way through I could see that the design hadn't resized very well and was stitching out very badly. So, I removed the shirt from the hoop and used my Peggy's Stitch Eraser to remove every last stitch without bruising the t-shirt in any way. It wasn't until after I had finished, very pleased with myself, that I realized that I had just spent 2 hours removing stitches from a t-shirt for which I had paid all of $1.62. I hadn't worked for 80¢ an hour since my high school babysitting days (Actually, that was 50¢ an hour, but who's counting?) and had to laugh at myself for my foolish frugality. Now I'm more discriminating about when to fix something and when to just toss it out.

The second thing being that I received my Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine this week and there's a terrific article by my friend Deborah Jones about embroidering on t-shirts.  Speaking of Designs magazine, one of the things I really like, besides all the great projects, is that the models are shaped like normal women. Oh, and my picture inside the back cover this issue! How cool was that? I need to frame that and hang it on the wall. Okay, maybe not . . . Something else I noticed in the latest issue is that Eileen says she doesn't like reality television. Now I'm really embarrassed that I told her that something y'all would be surprised to find out about me is that I watch reality TV. So I'm taking this opportunity to change my answer. Something you would be surprised to learn about me is that I have a James Dean doll leaning on my monitor. It's a long story . . .

Chatting and journaling and posting, oh my! After Greg (Beamish Boy) read my last blog post he sent me an IM questioning my use of the Internet acronym "IMHO." He thought I should include an explanation and I thought you all knew what that stood for. You did, didn't you? In My Humble Opinion. I sometimes forget that all of you haven't been online for years and years, and even those of you who have haven't necessarily been visiting online chat rooms, posting in forums or exchanging IMs. (Those would be Instant Messages.) I won't even go into text messaging on cell phones, because I'm not good enough at that to do it very much. In order to speed things up and not wear out our fingers, those of us who do those things use Internet acronyms, like DD for Dear Daughter, DH for Dear Husband and, in the same vein, DS, DDIL, DGS, DGD, etc. You can figure those out for yourselves. There are some that I use a lot, like BRB (Be Right Back) and TTYL (Talk To You Later). There's even one, NAYY (No Affiliation, Yadda Yadda) that was invented by and is used by machine embroiderers. We use it when we recommend a product we love, but have no financial interest in. Sometimes I'll use it in a different venue and no one has any idea what I'm talking about! And there's one that I use, IAG (It's All Good), and I don't think anyone else does. Those of you who are interested in more information about Internet acronyms (including why they're not acronyms at all) can click here, and for a list of the more common ones, click here.

That's all I've got right now. TTYL, KWIM?



Comments (26) -

OK I figured I'd go to the common acronyms page & update myself on some of the more common ones. I know a few (you mentioned them & more) and use them constantly so what's a few more? OMG there are hundreds of them. I had no clue....... Maybe I will stick with just quilt/sew acronyms, except I do think we need more. Like for instance seam allowance could be $ you know for allowance? Just a thought. Well I am off to study. Happy Sewing! (-:

I can't believe anyone would not test sew a design before putting it on the final article.  I think you told the person, very politely, that it was her fault for not doing so.

How can they blame you for a freebie from another person anyway???

euginamorin 5/3/2008 4:25:23 PM

Love this site  - always in here looking for

designs that I might like.  Eugenia

sabrinacrawford 5/3/2008 4:58:14 PM

Love your site and your designs.  I have a time or two neglected to stitch out a new design and had less than perfect results.  The only person I blamed for that was myself.  I ALWAYS stitch out a design before I use it  especially if it's something special or valuable.

Keep up the great site!

I should think that if you are going to stitch anything on something of any value you should always test the design. Free or not.

ikhyf (iknow how you feel)  I embroidered a T shirt just yesterday (91 min long)about half way i had to change my bobbin the new one I put had too much thread on and even tho I pulled some off when I started again the thread got tangled and stopped the machine and threw my design off I finally got going again and it looks OK  but this morning I was watching a sewing show and got my answer ...she said make sure the bobbin is wound smoothly and only 3/4 on bobbin  she said bobbin thread is so fine so you have more thread than you think, wish I had seen the show before yesterday  pretty hard  to  "stitch out" a 91 min design   I really like your new  embroidery site  

Hi, I am thankful for the information, designs, and all the items on your site.  You have done a great Job.  I do have a question tho,  on your free designs, they are of the pes  format.  Can they be converted to another format?  I have a Janome and it used .jef format.

Thank you again for the great job.


Hi, Juanita! You've asked a question that is frequently asked. All the FREE designs are in PES format. It would be impossible to include all the embroidery formats so I had to choose just one. I chose the one I use, PES, because I have a Brother machine. All is not lost. You can easily convert PES to any embroidery format except ART with my Catalog XPress software. You can also organize all your designs so you can find them when you want them, as well as re-size them and re-color them. You can actually download designs from the Internet right into Catalog XPress, which will unzip them, store them and categorize them for you. Can you tell I LOVE this program? You'll find it in our shop in the embroidery software section. Try the free trial; I'll bet you'll love it as much as I do. Okay, enough with the blatant promotion!  

bjsta79, another thing that can throw your design out of alignment is nudging the embroidery arm. When that happens the design usually appears 1/4 inch horizontally and 1/4 inch vertically off. If you catch it right away you can reset the arm by  turning off your machine and beginning again, skipping  ahead to the place where the problem started. You cannot do this if you have moved the position of the design in your hoop, though, so be careful. It doesn't take a hard push on the arm, just a very gentle nudge will do it.



Absolutely LOVE your site, you help tons of people, Thank you.

I always sew out at least one time before the final sew-out, I have learned!

Your "Catalog XPress software", can it convert to a .BLF file?  I just started using (today), the Designers Gallery  Masterworks 2 software, and it seems as if this is the easiest type of file to make changes to a design before I convert it to a PES for the machine.  I have the BMP6 Babylock machine which is like the Brother PR600, if that helps with my question.  Thanking you in advance for ANY help on this.

Sincerely, Lollie in Oregon!

Thank you a lot for your help and information!!!

I'm absolutely captivated by your advice and suggestions.

Unfortunately, just now I'm extremely busy preparing my students for the national exam in English, and as I've just started machine embroidery and have already succeeded in it, I haven't got any time to read through your messages carefully. I'm sorry but I'll come back in some weeks.

Thank you once again.

Best wishes,


OK I have to ask, even tho you said it is a long story. James Dean doll? How do you stand it with him staring at you all the time? ;)

i have also ruined things but not with free designs these were the designs belonging to my machine. I did test it on material and it worked out well but then I did it on a towel, Oh what a mess.My big question is"What is Peggy's Stitch Eraser." I would dearly love to get one of those.---Ivy (Downunder)  

I am con a confident internet corresponder but I just had to say that I have a bag of squares of fabric in plain colours, roughly 8" square.  This is my test fabric and one day I am going to have some great quilts.  When I retire maybe?  I beats ruining my projects with designs that are not quite what I expected them to be.

beamishboy 5/4/2008 8:18:41 AM

for LollieCon: You can find a list of supported file formats on the Catalog Xpress main page at:">

for ivyyates: Peggy's Stitch Eraser is a small chargeable cordless electric tool that allows you to remove those dense embroidery stitches. Much of the embroidery world is waiting for the next version to come out (Peggy's Stitch Eraser 8). You can find some more info here:">

Gee I always think its me! I could have blamed it on you! lol!

That reminds me of the story of the woman who sued

McDonald's because the coffee was hot.

It has become the norm to blame someone when things go wrong.

I got the rudest awakening when I got married . Prior to that I had 4 brothers and sisters to blame.Then I was forced to realized all the things I did, no one else was around.

Thanks for a great site I love it.

I too have ruined things because I did not test them first. My fault nobody elses - some things have been freebies and some have been things that I have purchased and spend lots of money on.

I have also stitched a pattern on one thing and went to do it again on the same type of material and it has been off.  I try to resent my machine every time I stitch something because sometimes the arm gets out of wack by just removing your frame (or putting it on)

I love this site and will continue to return weekly and sometimes daily.

I love this site and always learn ,even though I am 60 and began sewing in seventh grade. I always make a sample of everything. Sometimes the stabilisor is the problem. For towels or nappy things I use a dissolving stabilisor in top of the design. Thanks Charlotte

I have to say I love your site.  I love your designs and have downloaded several of the freebies, which have sewn out great.   I have messed up a lot of projects because I didn't take the time to sew a sample first.  I have been embroidering for about a year on a Brother 600II.  I didn't know by just removing the hoop and putting it back on could throw your design off.  oops!!

I just tried to sew my work logo on a stretchy shirt without sewing a sample first.  The shirt was ruined, did that stop me? No!  I sewed two others the same way.  Had to go out and buy three shirts ! I ended up not sewing the logo on them.  I just put the company name.  Now that was easier.  I think my design was too dense (or I was) for the material.

Thanks for all your info and tips.

didn't know about sewing a sample first. thanks for the hint.  so far when i do a project it has turned out, except i have trouble sometime getting it straight,  looks straight when doing the hoop then when its off it off kilter. thanks again

Blame, wouldn't it be great if all of our mistakes would be someone else's fault!  Embroidery as in life just doesn't work out that way now does it!  

I have enjoyed everyone's tips on how to avoid the mistake of the embroidery not aligning.  I think turning off the machine has worked the best for me.   I have also found that if you don't use the same material in your sample, it sews out differently.  But, as my daughter tells me, Mom, life isn't perfect, get over it!

Hugs to All and to Ann!  We love your site!

simplywitchy 5/10/2008 6:44:36 PM

For those designs that you stitch out , just love and they pucker.  Some of those may be usable as a iron on patch using double sided fusing.    

I just love this site and I learn so much from all of you, Thank you.

crazyldy0022 5/27/2008 2:16:10 AM

Hi Everyone, This sight is the best I have seen on the net,thank you Ann Smile

I am a newbie to embroidery  and I have purchased a singer futura CE150,as you most likely know it doesnt take cards,so you download from the net, but for the life of me I cant figure out how to get the designs that I download into the library the machine has, if anyone can help it would be greatly appreciated. I guess I should not have waited so late in life to start sewing LOL.  

Thank you and God Bless,



I am trying to resize my design in the free trail catalog but it does not respond when i clip on resiza i have to end status and the all catalog goes away. Is ther something i have to do for  that not to happen.

plz answer

Here's a bit belated comment of "pitching" things we are not happy with after stitching.  I took a lesson on my machine/computer the other day.  The teacher suggested that you use a t-shirt that wasn't to your liking as a sample garment, or one that you can do stitch-outs of other designs.  Shucks, you could stitch-out the whole shirt. with practice stitchouts.


Please login to comment