Even If I can't Hoop it, I can Embroider it!

Hi, folks, 

Had another great question in last week's post from gpleasant, who asked how to hoop towels, under and over. I can tell you how I hoop towels. Bath towels are as liable to be viewed from the back as from the front, so I want both to look good. That means two things. First, I don't want any stabilizer showing on the back. Second, I want the thread on the back to match the thread on the front.

  • Prepare the machine
    So, the first thing I do is to wind a bobbin with the thread I'm using to embroider the design. If it's a monogram, that's as far as it goes. If it's a picture there are a couple of choices, either wind several bobbins with the threads you'll be using and change the bobbin when you change the top thread of choose a color that closely matches the color of the towel. I'm prone to do the latter unless it's a really special project for a really special occasion. Then, of course, thread the machine.
  • Prepare the towel
    Terry towels have nap. The loops on one side lay one  way and the lops on the other side lay the other way. I moisten the area on which I'm going to stitch with fabric stabilizer. Spray starch or spray sizing will do if you haven't any special fabric stabilizer. Then I press with lots of steam on both sides, smoothing the loops in the correct direction on both sides. I wait for the towel to dry before proceeding.
  • Prepare the hoop
    Hoop one or two layers of wash away stabilizer and spray with temporary embroidery adhesive.
  • "Hoop" the towel
    Place the towel on top of the hoop, centering as if you were actually putting the towel IN the hoop. Press down firmly all around. Next, cut a piece of wash away topping and spray that with temporary embroidery adhesive. Place that on top, making a towel sandwich and press down all around. I roll it with a little rolling pin that came in a Pla-Doh®  set. A soup can or some such would do the job, but golly if that little rolling pin isn't cute!
  • Stitch!
    Put the hoop on the embroidery arm, turn on the machine and stitch the design.
  • Finishing touch
    First, take the towel over to the sink and run warm water on the deisn=gn, gently rubbing to loosen and soften the stabilizer. Then, i the towel is for me or a friend of one of the grands I toss it in the washer for the final rinse cycle while I'm doing a load of similar color and then toss it in the dryer. If the towel is a special gift for a special occasion, like a wedding, I hang the towel to dry after smoothing the nap on both sdes and pulling out the embroidery design if it has puckered in the wash. When the towel is try I toss it in the dryer on air only for a little while to soften it up.

If that seems like too much trouble, then get the Perfect Towel Kit from Designs Magazine, which not only helps you center your design and create perfectly matched sets, but also has video instruction on stabilizing, hooping and stitching perfect towels as well as a couple of alphabets and some other goodies. Not everyone is as obsessive as I am, and that's a good thing!

Community Circle, Some loose ends
Everyone in my family, all my friends and my beamish boy all know that I need constant nagging to get anything done. I either forget about it or time slips through my fingers while I'm doing something else. They all know that, not only do I not mind, but I encourage them to nag me. You all are much too polite. I promised that I'd give you my class notes for lettering and applique, so here they are for download:

I'm sorry it took me so long. Please, in the future, feel free to nag.

Leaving on a jet plane . . .
but I know when I'll be back again! One of the nicest things that's happened over my AnnTheGran years is that I've made so many wonderful and close friends. One of the dearest is Loes van der Heijden, the sharp cookie who created Pre-Design, the wonderful software for creating clean graphics for importing into embroidery digitizing programs and now, also, for creating designs for long arm quilting machines. Loes, and her husband Theo, live in The Netherlands and Bill and I met them when they were in the States to promote Loes' software at several embroidery events. Several years ago I got a new computer and was installing Pre-Design. I had mis-placed the registration key and contacted Loes. While we were email chatting and catching up I asked when Loes and Theo were coming back to the states. Loes said that they had no current plans, but why didn't Bill and I come over there. I said, "Okay!" I have no idea where that came from! I had't even discussed it with Bill. Well, we did fly over to Holland and stayed for a while with Loes and Theo while they showed us their beautiful country. While there I visited a local Brother dealer and attended an annual embroidery event.Then the four of us drove to Normandy and traced Bill's WWII journey from Utah Beach to the Ardennes Forest, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. It was a wonderful and unexpected treat. We found that we were such good travel buddies (and good travel buddies aren't easy to come by) that we traveled together again the followning year. This year Loes and Theo came over to the States for Loes to teach Pre-Design at some long arm quilting events. I asked where they would like to visit so that Bill and I could meet them and we'd travel together once again, but on this side of the ocean. Loes and Theo decided on Toronto and Niagara Falls, so Bill and I are flying up to meet them in Toronto to spend a tourist-y week together. All this by way of telling you that I don't know whether I'll be blogging next week or not. Maybe just a short travelogue.

Before signing off
I want to tell you how much I enjoy reading your comments on my blogs. It's so gratifying to find that we are all so much alike. Chatty Cathy, you crack me up! Wink You just found out that I've contributed to the Free Designs on the site. How did you think AnnTheGran.com started in the first place? It was a simple little site that I set up to share our original designs. I guess that even I sometimes forget that, so much water has passed under the bridge. I see you're really coming along with your new machine. Glad you found out about pre-washing fabric before suffering any of the consequences of not doing so! I've found that it's also a useful tool for getting new fabric into the house without Bill noticing. Not that he'd be angry about it, but he'd definitely have something to say. My washer and dryer are in the garage. When I come home with new fabric I take it directly from the car to the washing machine. When I bring it inside it's just another pile of folded laundry and Bill doesn't even notice. P. S. I use the hottest water and the hottest dryer that the fabric can take. That way there are no surprises. Pat, I so enjoy your contributions to my blog posts. It's nice to see you poking your head in now and then.

I'm all packed, just did my nails and I'm off to bed. Tomorrow, Air Canada, here I come. I've got a pocket full of loonies and toonies and I'm ready to roll! TTYL


Comments (29) -

Have a great time in Toronto.  I expect some great photos and stories!  I got my 2nd blog and it will be posted shortly.  

I love sharing with others.  I think that sharing is an underlying philosophy here at Annthegran.  


travelbug1237 5/24/2008 10:47:14 AM

Have FUN Ann!!!....How great it is to share travels with international friends!!!

  Thanks too for the WONDERFUL clear instructions on how to

embroider on towels!  (I'm not ready to do that yet, but when I am

this blog post will be right by my side.)

  As far as 'cracking you up'...well I'm sure can  (& will) happen again.

I don't really KNOW what I thought about how you got started.  ?????

I THINK I thought you loved embroidery and wanted to have a site to

help fellow embroiders share ideas and be supportive or one another.

 (I am not to 'digitizing yet' ....so NOT there yet )...but once I do get to that point in a future life,

I think I will REALLY be even more impressed than I already am about what you have done!!! In the meantime, just know that a NEWBIE is so impressed with your designs.....

        I just LOVE your designs!!!!

( I haven't downloaded anything yet!!!) I'm not there yet.

I am taking this new hobby of

machine embroidery one step at a time.

  Have fun!!!


Chatty Cathy who is going to spend part of this Memorial weekend

writing blog #3 for Greg to edit and do his magic....that and I am going to break down and clean house...which I have IGNORED.....

P.S.  Clever  idea with the washer & dryer in the garage with the

'clean laundry' just coming in! Smile

  Actually, I made up my mind 1st thing that I didn't want to get 'overrun' by

stashes of material like my quilting/sewing friends have done....They have so many 'projects' to do in the future...which is exciting I am sure...but for me,

I just have to get a handle on some basics 1st. So I found a store that had a bolt of black Kona cotton...took it to the beach house and let it soak etc there.

E helped me and I came back into town and put it in a large dedicated clear plastic roller bin.  I DO have to iron it and am deciding which iron to get for the job. ( I have 2 projects for beginners that don't require fabric that I will write about in the next couple of blogs.)

( I think it is pretty easy for me to just 'buy 1" bolt of material because I am not a sewer or a quilter.) .....but if we are talking THREAD, gadgets ( or shoes!!!!)

It's a completely different story! Smile I am pretty sure that I am somehow related to Imelda Marcos!

Ann...We learned in our embroidery class, that we never drain washaway stabilizer down any drain. I had learned about it a little too late. My husband had to attach the sink snake to his drill to get the drain open!How are you getting away without blocking your drain?Helen

I just wish I knew where in Toronto you'd be.  I  Live in the suburbs - Unionville - and I'd love to meet you, but  I'm planning a few days with my niece in Western New York the middle of the week -  we'll be doing machine embroidery .  My niece is quite new to embroidery, and I'm helping her out  - it's like the blind teaching the blind.  Eileen has just purchased a Janome, and we will probably be going to the Janome store where she can get lessons.  I have the Brother machine, and I love it,  but have still a lot  to learn.

I hope they treat you well in Toronto.  

Best wishes.


Ann, I love your site and thank you for all the FYI. Without you I could not domy embroidery. I too learned to love sewing when I was very young, my grandmother taught us to make doll clothes and my mother is a self taught seamtress. I get the sewing and embroidery from bothof them and we are teaching our grandchildren now. They love it. Thanks for a great site. Irene

Ann, I thank you for this sight.  It helped me so much when I first started.  If you have the time while in Niagra try to go to the wardobe at the Statford Theatre. You may need to book.  The materials and hand embroidary are just so beautiful.  Diana

nmoore1965@msn.com 5/24/2008 9:34:51 PM


When I read your site I feel like I'm chatting with friends. Thanks for all the years of designs and now all the hints and ideas. Hey, how about a community get together in the Midwest? There are a lot of us out here who would love to get together and talk about sewing.


thandk Ann, I love your help, you are the best! and thank you Butoryak for your question, I didnt know you couldnt send washaway down the sink! What a kind thing of you to let us know that.

jalcumbrack 5/25/2008 5:02:38 AM

Great blog on towels Ann ! I wish I would have read it before doing my first towel!LOL. It was a bath towel that became a hand towel(long and boring story). Cathy ,you have so much energy ! I wish I had a tenth of what you have,girl ! I knew there was a reason I liked you! I thought I was Imelda's second cousin , twice removed !( and so does my hubby)

Have a great weekend Ann,Cathy,Greg, and Pat ! I wish I was with you all.

ritamayrent 5/25/2008 7:22:41 AM

I have never embroidered on duck cloth, tried it and it wasn't a pretty sight.  Should I be using a special needle ? Thank you for your time and have a nice day.  Rita

Thanks so much for the post and files on lettering.  What great tips!  I've been around nearly since the beginning of AnntheGran's site and have seen it grow into the current web with such a wealth of knowledge offered to the embroidery community. I do believe I pick up something new everytime I visit.

I have been embroidering towels since the beginning.  I started out hooping everything, but soon learned not to fight that battle.  Smile  The tip about ironing the naps is a great idea.



I've found using a piece of clear wash away stabilizer on the top works great!

BUTORYAK , I'd never heard that about washing wash-away stabilizer down the sink. I've never had a problem. I don't use have to rinse out a lot. I tear away everything except what doesn't come out of the nooks and crannies, if there are any and I rinse most of it out in my washing machine. I guess I've just been lucky.

Diana, we're going to try to get to Stratford. From your description it sound like something we shouldn't miss.

Rita, try a jeans needle on the duckcloth. You'll find them inn with the regular sewing needles. The points are very sharp, but the make a large hole so the thread has enough room. If   a jeans needle doesn't work, I don't know what else to suggest.

So far we've had a city tour, visited Casa Loma, had a boat tour on the harbor, had dinner with Greg and his lovely family, visited China Town, gone up the CN Tower and went to the Distillery district where there was a really fantastic. artisan sidewalk show. Tomorrow we're having lunch with another embroidery friend, Monica Anderton, whom I met for the first time at the very first Brother machine embroiderer's get together ever in Paducah, Kentucky in 1997.

Every day I have to marvel at how much this hobby has enriched my life. I'm glad y'all feel at home and among friends here on the site. It's what I'm aiming for.


I am wondering if I am the only person who has been addicted and I think that is a true description..additcted to free designs.....Help! I cannot seem to tear myself away from free every ten minutes, free every twelve minutes, free every day, free every hour. and let me say that some of these designs really are great! but I cannot stop ...has anyone else had this sickness and if so what did you do for it??? Please I need to come down..................................Criket

carolinagurl 5/27/2008 10:57:00 PM

Thanks for the info on towels. I have been afraid to try.  I am a newbie, had my Brother for 3 years, and now I am eager to try towels. Seems so simple. I am going to the Dollar Store for cheap towels to try on.

jalcumbrack 5/28/2008 7:50:53 AM

Carolinagurl, you will be sorry using cheap dollar store towels even to try on.I have done it and they come out really bad. I think it is because they are so thin and not made well. I always,always always buy one towel like the kind I plan to use(actually I have some old bath towels that I in some way or another messed up on that I use) and that is what I do my test sew on . If I mess it up then I always have more towel to try on or I end up with a pretty new towel for my linen closet.You will not be happy with the cheap ones at all. I then use my test sew outs for different projects that I am working on or use them as an applique on something else.They never go to waste.

Just thought you should know before you are dissapointed with the outcome of them.

jalcumbrack 5/28/2008 7:51:53 AM

Oh forgot to mention I use the perfect placement towel kit as well. It works really well for all towels.

Cricket - Your addiction is safe here!  We all understand and you will not be subjected to an intervention because  - - well there is no cure for ME Addiction. This is a keepsake joy that your great grandchildren will see and say "Who was this lady?" and "Gee, Mom handed this down to me!!!"

Welcome again, and be sure to stop at my Blog called The Avid Embroiderer Presents . . . This month it is stabilizers.  

You will love it here, the people are helpful and very nice.


jalcumbrack 5/30/2008 8:19:01 AM

Pat's right Cricket17..........we are all addicted or we wouldn't be here ,LOL

Ann site is the best!  The designs are great to sew out and all the tips,  well I can't sew without them.  Thanks for the tips on stablizers and sewing on towels.  I have done several towels but the more you learn the better the outcome. I have three beach towels waiting on me now to do.

I can't remember who gave the info on doing applique but who ever...thank you ... thank you... thank you..  I have read direction after direction and couldn't understand a thing until "you".. Bless you.  I am trying to make patches for my boss and having a problem with the satin stitch covering the edge of the design.  Can't wait to try it your way.  I wish I knew enough to give some tips but since I am fairly new I just will reap others sowing!  I have a Brother 600 II.  I love it but haven't really been able to get down and dirty in learning all I can do with it and my PE Design.  Some day!  That's my wish.

Have a great time Ann!  I love the tips on the fonts, making other designs with the lettering.  I am going to try it.

God Bless


I am new to the site so I missed your trip to Monteal, but welcome home. I know by reading your blog you had a great time. I don't walk so well any more so I love to read where others are out and about and having a great time. I kind of travel with them.

I am new to embroidery and quilting. I retired a couple of years ago and bought myself a nice sewing machine and lots of fabric.

I cannot ask questions yet, as I don't know what to ask. I am going to try to make lace, sounds fun.

Thanks for being there.

janmckinstry 6/19/2008 4:42:52 PM

Hi Anne I live in Australia so please tell me what is a pocket of loonies and toonies Really enjoy all the help I receive from you . Have a great day


mattersoftheheart 6/30/2008 10:56:55 PM

I have tried a few towels with the washout stabalizer. I just can't get them soft afterwards. Whats the trick? The same thing happens when I do hankies. Am I using the wrong stabalizer?  I am using a viking platinum 955

What a way to spend a couple hours of the afternoon,reading this blog. I've actually had your sight open all day, thoroughly enjoying it. Also have been sewing dresses for my two grandaughters; embroidering a design on the tops to match the patterned fabric of the skirt. I'm fairly new to the internet and very interested. It just takes so long to understand thing such as downloading, blogs, etc. This site is fab. Since I'm from Canada though I wonder about paying duty on shipments and can you send to a PO box number?

beamishboy 1/6/2009 1:54:07 PM

scrapbitty: Thanks so much for your comment. Sorry we missed this question - Ann has been away on a cruise, and she is the one who receives notifications of new comments. For shipped items, it is a bit tricky for Canadians (I know, because I am one!). We don't send to PO Box numbers, as we use UPS for shipments. Also, for larger ticket items, Canada Customs does occasionally randomly flag a shipment and assess duties, and unfortunately there isn't really anything we can do about it. Our online store has lots of great stuff for download though...

What brand of thread is used on the free designs?

I really enjoyed the article on hooping towels thank you.  One problem I recently had (in fact today) was embroidering a design (Harley Davidson logo) for my Son.  The towel is red and the design black & white.  The red towel showed through the black design.  I have had similar problems before, is there a solution?  I would really like to do this design as a present.



sabrinaalso 9/10/2011 5:20:35 PM


I am a newbie!!! Smile So fo course I have no idea what I am doing. But I wanted to ask a question concerning knowing what design disks will work on my machine? I have no idea which ones to buy and I would hate to buy the wrong ones since they are so expensive. My husband bought me a Singer Futura Ce-100 in '05 I believe it was and I have just pulled it out of its box. (I had been taking care of sickly parents, so I wasn't able to devote my time to learning something new.) So, I would greatly appreciate any help any of you can send my way. Thank You So Much!!!


Sabrina Roberts

Vancleave, Ms

Nice article Ann! It's a really good idea to embroider our towels rather using those plain ones. I have got some bamboo towels from Market Royale (http://www.marketroyale.co.uk/">http://www.marketroyale.co.uk/) on which am gonna do beautiful designs.Children are going to love this.

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