Introducing Crash Course Cathy...

Cathy with Ann and EileenHello Hello fellow  AnntheGran Embroiderers & New Orlando Circle of Friends!!!! :):):),

Who Am I? 

For those of you who attended the VERY SPECIAL 1st annual AnntheGran's convention in Orlando in April, you may remember was pretty hard to miss my loud scream and waving arms when I won the grand prize of the Brother PE 700 embroidery machine!!!!  I'm Cathy from Oregon who went to Community Circle to see if I indeed wanted to get into 'machine embroidery' as a hobby. As far as I know, I was the only one there who did not have a machine....most of you have MORE than 1!!!!!! Yikes.

What Have I Gotten Myself Into? 

I KNEW it was beautiful, but I had also heard it was VERY addictive and very expensive... SO before I invested in buying a machine I googled the topic and found AnnTheGran right off the bat....along with several other sites that had 'designs'..oh my goodness..the designs!!!!! I fell completely in love with the BEAUTIFUL and also beyond CUTE designs that are 'out there'. I seriously wanted to 'try' it...but didn't know which machine, etc etc buy. ( I had a couple of 'tries' which I will share later...)

Magic Moments 

When I saw the upcoming event in Orlando and talked to my husband Ethan about it, we decided to make a vacation out of it...and the rest is history as they say. When I found out at Community Circle that the Brother PE 700 was going to be given out as a prize...I thought, WOW, wouldn't THAT be nice to win, and lo and behold, I DID win it!!! I want to personally thank those of you who had the presence of mind ( mine was long gone ) to take some photos of that drawing......the outstretched arms with the wide wide smile says it all. Thanks for sharing those. I will have that magic moment captured forever. THANKS!!!! I just can't put into words what it was like winning that machine and THEN to have SO many of you SINCERELY happy that I won (.....and not you.)  You are an AMAZING group of women ( and gents ) and I can hardly wait to get to know you better through this site....and at next year's Community Circle...(hint hint, Ann).

Scary Stuff 

Since I am BRAND new to machine embroidery and literally am starting from scratch, and I think because I am not very shy, Ann's Beamish Boy contacted me after I got home to see if I would be willing to write a blog to share my "new adventures" in this "new passion" with the 'group'!!!! I was very flattered but to do a  'blog was as intimidating as trying to ME (machine embroider) for the 1st time...but his rationale was that if I can learn to do it, anyone can. I am not a sewer either and I did not have space dedicated to the hobby...but I'm Cathy's Cornerworking on it.

Temporary Home for my Machine 

Before Orlando, my husband was about 80% done building me a new art studio out in the country. It was a dream to have a dedicated space to 'play' since I took early retirement. (from teaching after 28 years). I didn't want to take my new machine and materials into  a space that needed to be sheet-rocked and painted etc., and the building is now about 90% done, but after winning the machine I made a 'new design' for the upstairs' poor husband...but it IS going to work and I will actually end up with a  dedicated room just for machine embroidery. I can HARDLY wait...but in the meantime, I am using my office. Have a look at the photo to the right.

My First Project! 

I actually DID my very 1st project yesterday and it brought tears to my eyes. (tears of joy). I was just THRILLED ....I used the Brother machine, Madeira magenta thread on black material that I had pre-washed and ironed. Thank goodness I found a willing teacher who worked me in for a private lesson yesterday. She's worth her weight in gold. I made my share of mistakes (broken needle, got side-tracked and the initials messed up), but it was under the watchful eye of Wendy my teacher and it turned out to be good that it happened at her store rather than here at home.

Join Me on My Journey 

So, a LOT has happened since a month ago in Orlando....& I will write as long as you like. I hope you'll join me on my journey of learning through this new world, and help me along the way when I need it.

Comments (39) -

I'm so excited about this blog!! I just purchased my Brother PE-700 a week and a half ago. I'm BRAND new to machine embroidery and sometimes find myself lost in the maze of stabilizer, spray, and goodness knows what else. I've just kind of ducked my head and got going. We'll see what happens!

I enjoyed your "trip".

WOW, Cathy, I love your title for your Blog.  I remember my first project and had the very same feelings.  I will be watching this exciting Blog for newbie information as well as your ideas and thoughts.  

After 7 years of embroidering, I still get a thrill out of a beautiful design that sews out to perfection.


I am soooo glad to see Cathy start this journey! I bought my Brother machine at least a year ago, but with work & school, had little time to be very adventurous. I'll be finished with school soon and am ready to learn from Cathy's adventures.

Have fun Cathy! I'll be following you every step of the way!

What an amazing story. You were obviously destined to create embroideries on your machine. I too am reasonably new to ME having bought an ex demo Husqvarna Des 1 machine which I love. I also find it a maze to get to grips with the stabilisers and sprays etc but am persevering. The designs inspire you don't they?

Good luck! Have fun!

Congratulations Cathy on not only winning the machine, but for writing such an interesting blog.  I think this is a wonderful idea and I know that I will learn a lot right along with you even though I have been doing ME for a number of years. I was very happy to see someone to win the machine that had no clue about this wonderful art.  Keep up the good sewing and blogging.  I too will be following your blog.

I too love the title of your blog.  I have been doing ME just a little over 2 years and still very much confused over lots of things but am having the time of my life. Its fun and exciting to create something and then see the faces when you give it as a gift.  Have had my ups and downs just like everybody else and several projects in the trash but I keep hanging.  Am exciting about taking this "crash course" with you.

chickasharpe 5/10/2008 7:03:12 PM

i got my machine with an unexpected super payout when i retired bought galaxie 2100 in dubbo 120 k away no lessons because of distance worked it out and then lo and behold a seminar from anne the gran in sydney off i went with hubby in toe i picked up the basics and learned not to be afraid to try things always test on same fabric enjoy i have 16 grandkids 3 kids and 1 great they all get things from nan

What a great story. I am  a newy to machine embroidery. I have a Janome 350e and having a girlfriend coming over to help me in a few days time.  I am soooooo excited, but have been scatching my head to know  about patterns from the net and getting to unzip etc. But with my friend I am sure by the end of day I will be shouting with excitement and making all sorts of things for presents.

travelbug1237 5/10/2008 8:42:43 PM

THANK YOU to each & every one of you who took the time to write me!!!!

I just opened up this page and am THRILLED to see so many responses already!!!! If I knew how to make individual thank you and comments, I would...

but I am new on my Apple computer too!

THANKS SO MUCH!!! It is such a NEAT surprise!!!

Cathy aka TravelBug/Crash Course Cathy

Enjoyed your blog and so happy for you. I have the janome 11000 but also still catching onto the new machine. Keep up the good work

I will be reading your blog also. My hubby and I went out for dinner tonight (early Mother's Day meal) and after three months of keeping it a secret I accidently left the receipt laying out for my new Husqvarna. OOPS. His face looked a little greenish white when he said he couldn't believe that I spent that much on a machine. Oh well, I might as well enjoy it now that I dove in!! Keep up the good work. Looking forward to your adventures!

Cathy,  This blog is great.  Now I can go along with your ME journey.  I'm one of the crowd that have more than one machine and was so happy that you won.  I too loved the photo of you with your arms outstretched and the look of joy on your face.  Good luck and keep blogging. Joyce

Hello Cathy.  So glad you will be doing a Blog for the embroidery community.  I think everyone at the Community Circle was THRILLED that a newcomer had won a machine!!  I too retired early (but, after 40 years of corporate) and immediately searched out my second machine; which ended up to be a Brother Innov-is 4000D.  In love!!   However, cannot give up my original Brother PE-400D.  It's a sickness.  Enjoy your new hobby, learning the computer and most of all your retirement.  Will look forward to seeing your projects as they evolve.  Oh and could you send your husband to do a studio for me as well???!!!!  Good Luck.


I'm new to ME as well, I've just purchased a Brother PR600 and I'm now trying to get to grips with the PE Design software!!!  Trouble is I want to do complicated things rather than start with something easy.

I got my machine about 2 weeks ago.  So true, it is addicting, expensive and overwhelming. I look forward to learning with you.

I too enjoyed your blog.  I'm a newbie to ME too - about 2 months, with a Brother Innovis 4500D.  I've had fun and a few frustrations so far, like you, getting boggled by what thread, what stabilizer to use when, broken needles etc.  I was excited to see that you will be doing a beginner's blog that will help me and lots of others who are new!!   (Hector, I can identify.  I've tried to start with things a bit too complicated for a newbie too.)

I too am new at machine embroidery.  I bought a Bernina 630 about 6 months ago and I am having fun.  I am still learning the softwear and all the things that can be done.  I am sure I am going to love you blog. It think it might help with many questions that I have.

I just love all your comments and am very happy to be a part of all of this.  I would still like to see a very "easy" way to bind a quilt if anyone has any ideas.  I put so much time into making the quilt but, when I get to the binding I just simply freak out....I am not really a stupid person just not very experienced.  Thank you and all have a Happy Mothers day....Jo

I've had a Janome for 15 years and am still learning!  I'm on my third Janome, the 10001.   There is simply no end to what can be done on these wonderful machines!  

Cathy - You are rocking the ME world with this blog!

ME is a rapidly growing craft and the response to your blog shows it quite clearly.  

Check out my Blog, here at Annthegran, "Avid Embroiderer."  You will find items for newbies as well as the more seasoned embroiderer.  

Actually, "more seasoned" means we have made more mistakes than a newbie!!!!  LOL


laurgassman 5/11/2008 3:38:30 PM

Great to have someone share the newby experiences.  My dear friend and I both purchased Brothers 4000D recently.  We are sharing our learning and now we have someone else to share and learn with.  Thanks for your efforts and your happy enthusiasm.  It's good to be at the point in life where we can "play"

with such nifty toys.  I have myJanome serger, my Janome 4900 and the Brother 4000D all set up in my sewing room.  I sometimes find myself using all three on a little project.  Is this living or what??!!

Great start, Cathy! I knew when I got that first multi-page e-mail from you that we were going to have a hit on our hands if we introduced you to the embroidery world! Can't wait for everyone else to hear some of the great stories I've already heard from you, and some more that I haven't.

serenemachine2 5/11/2008 6:04:24 PM

What a great blog.  Congratulation on your win!!   I have been ME'ing for only a few months, taking my time, but yes it is an interesting, expensive and addicting hobby!!!!  lol.  Thanks for taking the time to share your newbie expereinces, I'm sure I wIll learn from you.


Cathy, I hope you made your new room with a large storage closet for you fabric stash.  It is pretty bad when the ladies at the fabric shop all know you like you are family and your husband cringes everytime he sees a Hancock's sack.  He wants to know just where I think I can put just one more piece of fabric.

An embroiderer can never have too much fabric in her stash.  Enjoy your new machine.

so enjoyed your thoughts as I am also a retired teacher and trying something very new to me... lots of ups and downs so far in the last 2 months... will be anxious to follow your adventures...

Way to go Cathy.  You are an inspiration to all.  I look forward to your adventures.  Keep up the good work



Cathy - It seems like lots of us here are previous teachers.  How strangely interesting.  Maybe it is tied to our love of seeing growth, discovery and beautiful beginnings.


jalcumbrack 5/13/2008 1:28:48 PM

Way to go Cathy!! Congrats again on the win of the machine.It just had your name on it from the start ! the blog is wonderful and am envious of you to have found so much help to get you off to a great start.Most of my ME education was trail and error,more error than trial at the beginning.Thank Goodness for ATG as she and others on the site got me thru some pretty rough times,not to mention tossing the machine out the back door!

Anyway,congrats on the new blog,it is great,am looking forward to reading more about your experiences.

How cool that you, a newbie, won the machine.  Like everyone says it grows on you.  I've been MEing for several years and have been very fortunate to have a local dealership that has tons of classes.   I still go to some of the beginner ones because there is always some new way of doing things that is easier, faster, cheaper.....Well, not too often cheaper, but I can pretend.

Enjoy your new machine and I look forward to revisiting this blog.  What a great idea.  Oh,, I have a Brother 4000D and absolutely love it.  We won't talk about how many other machines, thread and fabric there is that is now growing into a 2nd room.  

I'm not branching out and trying my hand at digitizing.  Guess all those hours watching patterns sew out will come in handy.  Any PE Designers out there who can share good links?

janethockenberry 5/13/2008 2:10:52 PM

I too attended the first Community Circle in Orlando and  watching you receive your prize of the sewing machine made my heart leap for joy for you.   I too love the ME  and all that goes with it.  I am fairly new to ordering on online, and all that goes with ME.  Learn all you can with the buddy system and it gets easier.

Jandeet Hockenberry

alssweetheart 5/13/2008 9:15:27 PM

Congratulations Cathy!!  You must be destined for ME.  For the only person in the room without a machine to win the grand prize was just wonderful!!

I will be following your progress, it's a wonderful journey!!


Congratulations!  ME is new to me also but I enjoy every minute of it - Frustrating but I just keep trying.  I would like HELP with BuzzTools!!!!

hammockhanger 5/14/2008 11:57:52 AM

I have the Brother PE700 as well.  I have had it for over a year and am self taught.  I managed to do some great things last Christmas.  I look forward to reading your blogs and progress with you through the wonderful world of ME.  Sue

Congrats, Cathy!  and welcome to the world of embroidery.  Does your poor husband know that he will see even less of you now and HE will have to learn how to cook (if he doesn't already know) Smile))  I've been embroiderying for almost a year now & still learning all the stabilizers, etc.  Can't wait to here more of your adventures.  Wished I was retired so I had more time!!


Hi..How are you..I am 'old hat' to embroidery..I have been doing machine embroidery since 1991...I worked at a professional embroidery shop in the beginning..after the store closed...I bought a Bernina 600..Then a few years ago, I bought a BROTHER INNOVIS 4000-D  ..It is an amazing machine that does sewing and embroidery...It is the best machine that I have ever owned..Machine embroidery is very addictive....I suggest that you get a large notebook binder..also buy a package of clear plastic sleeves..or clear pockets..I do my samples on felt and put them into sleeves and add them to the may also add a package of dividers so you can develop catagories for your samples ..You can attach the sample to a sheet of paper.Include on the paper the thread colors and weight and brand..Also include the needle size and brand..also include information where is the design,and if on computer, where is the file..ENJOY..Diane-Ruston, LA

I have been enjoying your blog, Cathy, and also the comments...the last comment on May 17 is very helpful to me, personally!

I just got an embroidery machine for Christmas this year and have been doing a little experiementing.  It is a slow process, since I work full time.

Do any of you have any experience with the Singer-Futura 250?  My husband purchased it for me as a gift completely "out of the blue"!  I didn't even know the world of ME existed!!  It is facinating and I'm looking forward to trying several things.....Like you, Cathy, I thought making lace would be the most difficult....I am anxious to try it, now!!

travelbug1237 8/9/2008 1:58:06 PM

Today is Saturday, August 8th, & I apologize sincerely for JUST getting back to some of you now. I appreciate each and everyone of you who the took the time to write me & root me on my new endeavors. I hope that each of you have been having LOTS of success embroidering since you last wrote this...clear back as far as May 10th!!!! Some of you did go ahead and write comments in my more recent blogs and thanks for not 'giving up on me."

   I really really do hope that all of you are stitching up a storm and I really would like to hear WHAT you've tried, what projects you've completed and how things are going for you. Are you having fun, are you frustrated, is all well or do you need one of the experts to help you out. I am BEGINNING to feel a bit more comfortable MEing and have tried a few different types now and will continue to do so. Some of you have the BrotherPE700 machine. How is that working for you???? I have done SO few on that machine....but hopefully will do more.

     Oh...I also need to let you know ( if you even get back to 1st blog ever) I DID try to write to you by highlighting your name and it did not work for me....So I did NOT purposely ignore any of you. When I DID finally THINK I was connecting with you through AtG I was actually sending my responses to

a general area that I was NOT suppose to be now I just make comments following the blog....or if by some way you have written me at my personal e-mail address I have answered you there. So any others that I have left out....please no that it was not intentional...

SO better late than never....I will write each of you a note right now, if I have not done so earlier.

Mnewman - Thanks for the compliment.....Did you ever try lace????

Nope, I have not ever used the Singer 250...I bought the 350 but never got it home from the store because I didn't want to take it until I got lessons. The lady never got the training and so the mgr took back the machine and gave me a full refund in April. ( It was still in the box in their store since Christmas.)

Tell me more and give me any updates you'd care to share!!! I've love to hear what you've been up to.!!! Smile

p38flygirl- Wow you've been MEing since '91.....Lucky Girl!!! Diane...

Thanks so much for the you mean just REGULAR the squares you can buy in a craft/fabric store??? I LOVE the idea of the binder with clear sheets. Yes, I was told it was very addictive....well I haven't done much of the actual 'embroidering'...I've spent an arm and a leg though

getting ready to!!!! ( I can attest to the addictive part of BUYING designs though!!!!) I'm not sure that in a million years I can get all of them stitched out.

SOOOOOOO you have the Innovis 4000-D machine....It IS lovely!!!!

One of the gals I've connected with in my area recently has one...loves it,

and I've been to her house to watch her do a project. Just curious how you keep all your designs straight. You sound VERY organized!!!! Smile Thanks!!!

Rae....Thanks for the welcome and thank goodness my husband already knows how to cook....Smile I've had a few more 'adventures' not sure if you have had a chance to read them....You'll need a weekend retreat to get through them all now! ")") I'm slowly but surely getting a FEW techniques atleast experiemented with....not an expert on anything yet....except discomblooberating my formerly organized office/guest room!

hammockhanger-   I haven't seen your photo anymore on any of my other blogs! How are you!!!! You have the PE700 also. HOW is it working for you and what projects have you done. PLEASE share!!!!! Any tips to help me would be greatly appreciated!!!! tips...well there is a NEW section (blog ) that has been added and they could help you more than me. If you don't get an answer right away....ask me on my newest post and I will forward it to an expert. ( I don't know what a buzz tool is unless it's the little shaver that was discussed and on sale on Ann's site a couple of weeks or so ago.) IS that what you are talking about???

alssweetheart....thanks for not giving up on me and commenting on some of my other blogs!!!!

JanetHockenberry -- yes...a 'buddy' system is the best way for me I believe.

I can learn some by watching some demonstrations....but HANDS ON with a watchful encouraging person next to me is what helps me the most.

bpotts- WOW..You've been embroidering for years!!!??! Lucky you....

What are you working on now?....any tips to us beginners are greatly appreciated!!!

jalcumbrack ----well need I say more! Congratulations on your very OWN blog site!!!! Talk about a wealth of information folks...THIS gal can help you out...maybe even on those 'buzz tools'

Hi Linda...table buddy...THANKS!!!!

navo....HOW is it going for'd been MEing for 2 months....Feel free to share both the ups and the downs. I know I could learn from you. Thanks!

twinnana....Are you the grandma to twins???I think maybe that's what that means! Double the pleasure, yes for you!!!  Actually I have NOT overdone it in the fabric area...yet!!!...But I HAVE overdone it in 'stuff' related to MEing...and I have shown NO restraint at all when it comes to buying DESIGNS!!! Oh my goodness!!! Help me there!!!!

tadah....How long have you been MEing???

SereneMachine....Thanks for NOT giving up on me. I'm so glad we 'connected' in a more recent blog!!!!"

Greg....3 months later and progress is being made....sure do love all the wonderful people who write comments that are helpful and encouraging!!!

LaurGassman ---- Thanks...& what a great blessing to have a buddy with an identical machine..... I keep reading and hearing about the Brother 4000D machine and how wonderful it is!!! Today is the launch of the newest

Brother machine....maybe I could get a really good deal on the 4000D one....I have yet to hear 1 negative thing about the 4000D...everybody loves it!!!

What have you 2 been up to....projects wise that is??lol

spat 50....15 years you've been doing it!!! Tell me more.....What's your favorite projects to do??? Any pitfalls I should avoid.....??? Thanks

jozilla...I am still a beginner and so I'd recommend looking up questions and answers /or posting a question. One of the other 'experienced ' ladies who are blogging for AnntheGran I'm sure will be able to give you great ( and correct) advice on that binding!!! Let me know if you're still stuck.

charleeky ---- How are those projects coming. You've been MEing for about 9 or so months now if I've calculated correctly. What are you working on now??? You're welcome to send in photos too. Smile

Dawnlup --- What are you doing these days? Any tips for me??? I am TRYING to do more MEing but I get so SIDE tracked!!!!.  Do you ME nearly every day?

Are the 'frustrations' down...or up? Boy....the word frustration does describe my situation but I think it will get better!!! Smile

nanajan200-   Is it still overwhelming?....I'm looking forward to learning from you!!

hector....How's it going? Have you done some basic projects along with your more complicated ones? Do share if you read this.

Joan in can be arranged to have my hubby come and help you build!!! SmileSmileSmile...You teach me to ME and he will build shelves for you...It will be

an equitable trade...don't ya think???

Joyce....tell me any updates....& how long have you been MEing???

cookietd --- How's that machine working out for you....& did that dinner go well? SmileSmileSmile receipt and all SmileSmile

Thanks milli1940....How long have you ME'd and what projects have your completed recently? I am just curious how many projects one gets done in a month....for some of you I'm sure you get more than 1 a day...I'm sure not there yet....but would love to hear from you.

eve1...If you are reading this...please explain how you 'unzipped'....THANKS

chickasharp --- Australia!!! Oh such a wonderful place. How have you been??Share your projects with us, please.

Becky44- How are those successes vs crashes coming along??? I'd really love to hear WHICH projects went better than the ones that didn't. I'd like to have more successes too in my future!!! Smile ANY tips to help me avoid disasters I'd greatly appreciate.

Thanks cuzzins.....I appreciate your kind words!!! Do feel free to comment

on my other blogs by helping us learn from what you have been doing too!

catlover-  How are those stabilizers and sprays working out for you now.

Any tips you want to share???? This blog is so old now...I had a hard time even finding it. ( I knew I'd written it but I couldn't just tab onto it like I hope you still get this message. Smile

rhn...THANKS for not giving up on me for not having acknowledged you until a later blog!! Hey girl...aren't you graduating in about a week now!!!!

WAY TO GO!!!!!

bobbie369 - Thanks...& have you been tripping too!!??? What projects are you working on?? If you have photos we'd love to see them.

BabyShell -....HOW IS IT GOING!!!  You said you were going to duck your head and just get started!!!! Good for you!!!Please DO tell me any ups and downs etc....What have you learned in the last few months ....any tips would be greatly appreciated!!!!

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