Great Embroidery Mysteries - The Case of the Messy Alphabet


Digitizing Mystery 

I began digitizing alphabets eight or nine years ago. I like doing it and I take a lot of pride in my work. You can imagine how distressed I was when I began receiving a few messages telling me that the capital and lower case letter "A' was appearing as a big mess in their various software programs. Because it wasn't happening to me in Catalog Xpress, I was at a loss for both an explanation and a solution. I did suggest several solutions and always at least one of them would work. And still I didn't know what caused the trouble or what the solution could be.

Case Closed

Finally I did get an explanation from someone who sounded very confident in her answer. I don't really understand it, but apparently when some software programs see the letter "A" they look for the rest of the alphabet, and if those files use the same naming convention then the program does us a big favor and piles all the letters on top of each other in the letter "A" design. Of course, this is NOT a favor that we want. Even though I don't quite understand it, this explanation led me to the simple solution: Change the name of the letter "A" files. You can see the process below:


If this happens to you, find the file in Windows Explorer, right click on it, select "rename" and type in the new name. This will work 100% of the time! (BTW, if you want the cross stitch Sherlock above, you'll find him in the Cross Stitch Category in the Free Designs section.)

Gadget Gabbery
I admit it, I'm a gal who lurves her gadgets. I'm also a gal who doesn't like to carry a large, or any for that matter, purse. I'd been lusting after a new cell phone for a long time. I was eligible for an upgrade and knew just which one I wanted. Finally the last straw came when I wanted to put an appointment in my PDA and it was dead as a doornail. I'd had the PDA for a long time and it didn't have a replaceable battery. I guess it had had its last recharge. So, I bit the bullet and got the phone I wanted. Now I can keep my cell phone, my PDA and my brag book in my back pocket. I could have put my music on there, too, but I didn't want to run down the battery listening to music when my iPod is so tiny and will play for hours and hours before needing a re-charge. It will also fit in my other back pocket.

Make A Soldier's Day
Which brings me to the next topic. We've got a box full of old cell phones. Often when I receive a package from there's a plastic envelope in it as a way to send unused cell phones to soldiers so they can call home and talk to their families. Postage is free and it's a good feeling when you drop the envelope in the mail. If you don't shop at, or haven't received one of these envelopes, click on the picture on the right to find and print a postage paid mailing label.

Reality Bytes
Last night something really special happened on America's Next Top Model (no comments from the peanut gallery, please). A normal (read size 10) young woman took the title and will appear in a 6 page spread in July's Seventeen magazine. Kudos to both the program and the magazine for showing our daughters and grand daughters that they don't have to be twigs to be beautiful. You can bet I'm getting a subscription for my 15 year old practically perfect grand daughter and will send a copy of the spread to my two practically perfect soon to be 12 year old grand daughters. I don't think they're ready for a subscription yet, do you? Oh, I hope not . . .

Wrapping up
Welcome to the blogosphere, Cathy and Pat. I see you're both already getting lots of response on your blogs. It's nice to have some company in here!

Can't think of anything else, so TTFN,


Comments (24) -

Interesting information!!

I never heard about the "A" alphabet issue, and I would wonder how a programmer would have, or why, done this...

I understand about the purse.   I try not to carry one myself and it makes me feel liberated.  I try to have pockets in my clothes and keep somethings in my car.  I remember 'burning bras' in the 60's, maybe it is time to burn the purse.    LOL


jalcumbrack 5/16/2008 1:01:43 PM

Thanks Ann,for the information about the letter A. I am glad to know this !

Thanks too, for the No purse thing .I HATE CARRYING ONE! But have yet, so far to have enough pockets for all that I have to carry with me.I  have however,downsized it a lot and got one that I can carry some where other than my shoulder.A lot of times though, I leave it when we go out to eat as I am hoping hubby will pay ,LOL.

Great Stuff Cathy and Pat , I am looking forward to the next blog from you,Pat. I read Cathy's today.

Have fun all,and ..........keep on ...keeping on! Happy Stitching!!

Thanks for the info in the "letter A".  I still carry a purse, because I don't have enough pockets to carry all my junk around.

Thanks for taking the time and sharing so much with the embroidery community.  As a novice sewist and embroiderer, I greatly appreciate all the tips I have found.


Hi everyone!  I have bought the magna-hoop for my Futura 200. I am so afraid of the magnets harming my machine. A Singer repair man told me it wasn't worth the risk. Has anyone got any ideas?

                                       Thanks Terri

Does anyone have a good list on what stabilizer's to use on each type of fabric?  I have been told when doing towels, to place washaway on both top and bottom.  What about t-shirts, sweat shirts, knit material, etc.

Thanks bunches,


smaureenkay 5/17/2008 5:13:05 PM


I had to comment on the models. I started modeling at 2 1/2, that would have been about the math, I'm 61! Anyway I modeled until I was about 19. The ideal size at the time was a size 10!!! I was the "sample model" for Sonni of California at the time, all clothes looked good on me as far as fit went or they didn't get in the line. The advent of Twiggy (not her fault) and the  continuing  emaciated look that has been shown to the world since has done us all a dis-service. Hooray that 17 is going back to real girls and real sizes. It is a start.


I can't live without my purse.  I carry everything in it including some of my husbands stuff.  It does get in my way and sometimes it is bothersome but I don't think there is enough pockets on anything to hold all the stuff in my purse, lol.

Thanks for all your interesting tips and other stuff.  I especially love to know that since I am a beginner machine embroiderer that other people make mistakes, the difference is knowing how to fix them or overcoming doing the smae thing next time.  That's me, I have to redo the mistake a few times before I learn the right way!!

Speaking of digitizing......   You've started a blog for beginning embroiderers and one for advanced.  How about a blog blog devoted exclusively to PE Design digitizing?

p.s.   Love the new format and all the wonderful information!!

Hi, on the towels, my question is if you use wash-a-way stabilizer what happens if you make them for a gift, you really don't want to wash the towels before you give them, otherwise they seem like they were used first. What should you do? Thanks

have so enjoyed using all your free designs, keep up  the good designs.

Diane Clayton South Africa

thanks for info about A mess   NO I can't give up purse but I have had to down size  I get light weight bags for every day and small bags to take to dinner  I LOVE purses more than shoes Lets make fabric bags and put lots of  embroidery designs on them

Terri, I've been hearing that magnet warning since I got my first electronic machine in 1994. I've heard dealers tell sewists to not use magnetic pin holders. I use a magnetic pin holder. I also use a Magna-Hoop with my Brother Innovis 4000D. I have never experienced a problem with this. To be clear, I'm NOT telling you to ignore your dealer's advice, just saying that I, personally, Ann Cobb, not AnnTheGran, think the magnet hype is just that, a lot of hype.

Maureen, I'm a couple of years older than you and I remember when the 5,7,9 Shops began. At that time size 5 was the smallest size available. Over time there has been a lot of vanity size adjustment. The size 12 that I wore in high school is now a size 8. Pattern companies haven't changed as much as ready-to-wear, I don't think. Still, you're right that teen models used to be of normal proportions, except, perhaps, for the tiny waists. I hate hearing my 11 year old nearly scrawny grand daughters worry about being fat. It's frightening.

Iself1, we really try to stay away from devoting digitizing tips to any particular brand. However, any tips or advice that you get from me are likely to be answered using PE-Design as a model because that's what I, personally, use.

yoya, If I'm giving towels as a gift i either remove the wash away stabilizer using warm water in a spray bottle to get out most of it and include a note saying that the rest will disappear during the first washing or I rinse in the machine, hang the towels to dry, smoothing the nap on both sides and pulling out the design if it has puckered and then, when they're completely dry, give them a toss in the dryer on air only to soften them up.

    Ann, concerning the embroidered towels, please explain just how to hoop them-under & on top.  I have been putting the tear away in my hoop, stick the towel onto that, and then put wash away on the top of the towel and underneath the hoop.  Is this what you are talking about?   Thanks...

designerlady 5/20/2008 3:46:43 PM

Hi, I also have been embroidering since 1994. I started with the Viking #1 plus and it is still going strong. I did use a magnet with that machine for the perfect 5/8 inch seam allowance. I never had a problem with it. I also own a Viking Designer 1 and lhave never or will ever put a magnet near it. I am so afraid of harming the computer inside it. I have been told by one viking dealer that it was ok and another said NEVER. So just to be safe, I don't use it on my D1.

When I embroider on towels, I use 2 sheets of lightweight easy tear on the bottom and rinse away on top. I have found this the best method for me. When tearing away the easy tear 1 layer at a time, you have a much less chance of distorting the stitches. I remove as much rinse away as possible and spritz the rest.

travelbug1237 5/20/2008 10:19:56 PM

HH Ann,

  I am SO impressed with you, Pat and the many others who are contributing

to your web site!!!!  You all know SO much!!!

  I just saw today Ann, where you have

contributed designs that YOU'VE done yourself!!! (digitized them I think is the term...(still learning here). They are just DARLING!!!!  I LOVE them & can hardly wait to do some! I haven't ever heard you toot your own horn so to speak so I had no idea. I am sure it is so much more complicated and

impressive than I understand right now....but for the time being...all I can say is they are wonderful!!!

  Switching gears here, & on a serious note... I did want to make one comment though in regards to your concerns about size & image in the minds of your g - kids. I so agree. It seems to be affecting kids at a younger and younger age.  

   On a personal note, without going into great details here...I once was in good shape (with hair I could sit on!!!!)  & ....I was in the right place at the right time.....I was asked to model for a magazine layout and fashion show for the House of Korea in Seoul...which I did do.

   (But the sad flip side to that is that at that same time, I had close relatives telling me I needed to lose weight...(that went on for years) at home in the States and in Europe.) If  those same realtives were alive now, they actually WOULD  have something valid  to say now ...but how harmful it can be when it is not the case at the time...and how rude! Dont cha think?

    One of the great things about having taught school is one could help

build children's self esteem. It was SO sad to see them so defeated...even by 2nd grade....well that didn't fly in my classroom and by the end of the year

they KNEW they could learn anything and do anything they put their mind to.

I miss the kids! I miss the bright shining people they really were and that were shining bright by the end of the year.

You taught school too so I am sure you remember the looks in your student's  eyes, the sunk shoulders etc etc.

   Well enough of a walk on memory lane there that had nothing to do with machine embroidery....but when you wrote about it, those thoughts came back to me.

    Thanks ANN too for giving me a such a wonderful opportunity to blog on your site and to have so many people give such positive feedback!


Chatty Cathy back from the beach.


I feel like I want to share some information.  On a talk show this week, women were asked to rate themselves on the 1 to 10 scale and so many rated themselves 3, 4 or 5.  They rated their mates as 8, 9 and 10.  

Their heads were hung low and shoulders were drooping.

If we are going to change this terrible trend, it starts with me - and you.  

Today, remind someone that they are beautiful regardless of the disgraceful models on television and music videos.  

Enjoy all beauty around you.  

Be sure to treasure the people and things that are important to you. Make sure that your legacy tells all who come after us that they are treasured.  

I love embroidery for so many reasons, the topmost reason is their keepsake value for your children, grandchildren and generations to come.


lindagraham 5/26/2008 4:13:22 PM

I'm new to ME what happens if I should use tear away stabelizer on the bottom of a T shirt, my granddaughter said the perment itches to much. Also what about basting spray it makes my hoops sticky, how should I clean it off.

lindagraham, ALWAYS us cut away stabilizer with knit fabric. Tear away may eventually leave little holes around the edges of the embroidered design. For t-shirts I use a very soft sheer cutaway and trim very close to the edge.

I don't bother cleaning sticky hoops very often; some of mine look dreadful. There's a product called Goo-Gone which will do the trick. Leave it on for a while so it can loosen the sticky stuff and then wash in hot soapy water. To prevent sticky hoops you can cut a template from a piece of heavy paper or light cardboard. This will let you spray the stabilizer while protecting the hoop.

jalcumbrack 5/28/2008 8:21:24 AM

Oh my, I thought I was the only one with sticky hoops,Lol !Thanks for the tip,I have been using rubbing alcohol but it takes forever to do.Good idea with the template!

Pat I so do agree with you on that one. I have a 14 year old grand daughter that is constantly putting herself down for being fat and ugly.Her brother teases her all the time about being stupid,so when she was here with me for a month last year ,I kept telling her how pretty she was and how smart she was.By the time she left here she was feeling pretty good about herslf. I was teaching her on the embroidery machine and she loved it. the time I spent with her one on one was so wonderful.

I have used ATG soft stabilizer for a baby quilt I am doing and it is wonderful and soft as a lamb.

Cathy----you adorable creature you! I know how you feel,every day of my life as a child my mother would tell me  I was fat and needed to lose weight.Well now I am but because mostly of meds I take make it very difficult to lose weight and side effects of weight gain(only a male doctor could have done that one),But when I was in my 20's and 30's I never ate anything and was annorexic. So all the comments for all the years took their toll.It is destructive to show our children all this type of stuff . Kids are dying because of it. I am so glad when I see a magazine or movie or show on tv that shows real girls not stick thin ones.

thanks Ladies for all of your wonderful tips,tricks and showing that we are all human !And we do think about more than just embroidery !(sometimes)

Simple WD 40 works to get sticky stuff off also.  It does not take much and you should wash your hoops afterward, but it works like magic. Really quickly and thoroughly.  Spray just a bit and rub it with your fingers to get in the tiny places.  Wipe clean with a paper towel and then wash.  It also works on sticky price tags as well as squeaks on just about everything!

eileengeorge 6/6/2008 1:52:53 PM

I do not understand but your stuff went into my spam file. What does this mean?  Before it was deleted automatically I am filling this comment in.  Please remember me from time to time.  Hope you get this

to Judy, Pat, Cathy, Ann, and Maureen...thank you, thank you.  I know this is an embroidery site, but this thing about size is something that's haunted me all my life.  I've been bulemic most of it.  It's only been in the last few years that I've overcome that awful thing.   Same goes for wrinkles, odd noses, frizzy hair, straight hair, too tall, too short...we have so many people telling us what we ought to look like (and most of them don't look so hot themselves).  My granddaughter hates her freckles...and they are adorable.  I just put my Mom in a nursing home.  She has alzheimer's and doesn't even know who that is when she looks in a mirror.  I've taken care of her for the last ten years and watched her die a little every day.  She too was always criticizing my looks, now none of it matters to her.There are so many things so much more important than size and looks.  I wish everyone could be more like the people on this site; willing to share and encourage and lift others up.  Maybe we should adopt a motto--beautiful people who make beautiful things!!!!  Thanks again.


p.s. I'm not fat, I'm just fluffy around the edges.

I love this idea, Linda, and I know that Ann considers this much more than an embroidery site. I have just changed the header that appears on all the Community pages to the one you suggested. I agree with you that it describes this community perfectly.

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