Fun in the Magic Bookshelf - What's Your Idea?

Fun BookshelfRecent Brainwave


Believe it or not, it only occurred to me very recently that, with all the wonderful things available on our new site, we had never actually asked our loyal users where they want us to go next. I’ve told you on my blog here what we’ve planned, but I haven’t asked you what you think we should be planning. We do think we’re doing pretty well, and you seem to agree, but we want to get better, and to do that, I think we need to hear from you.

Credit Where Credit is Due

I have to give credit for this to Cathy, who hit on to something really critical in her blog, which was to ask about you – specifically where you’re from. Among a flood of responses from all over the world came the push-pin idea, which was fantastic. I used to run an ESL school, and the map in our lobby with the push pins showing which countries all the students were from was always a huge hit with visitors, but I’d never have thought of it for our site. Great ideas like this reflect the power of an engaged community. Then we had my challenge to you, to post in our Reviews, Testimonials and Critiques forum, and from that came not only some great product reviews, but that great idea about the e-directory, which I’ve already started working on. And Pat, wow, what can I say. She is our toughest critic (I probably get five e-mails a day from her telling me how the site could be better) and biggest supporter all rolled into one. Pat, I know you’re reading this, because you read everything! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Our community is truly lucky to have you.

Something to Bear in Mind


As you the AnnTheGran Community is formulating what will certainly be a bunch of great ideas, I have only one thing I would ask you to keep in mind, and that is that we are working with limited resources. Everyone knows AnnTheGran for free designs -- indeed, we still hear regularly that, wherever embroidery machines are sold, whatever the brand of machine, the first thing a new machine embroiderer is told is to go to AnnTheGran and stock up on free designs. Ann is very proud of that, and she should be, but of course, we all know that all this stuff isn’t really free. It takes a lot of time and money, more than you might realize. So we do need to sell stuff. When people ask me what exactly my job is, I usually make a joke about being responsible for Ann’s retirement, but the fact of the matter is that, as a company, we are responsible for a lot more than Ann not having to start selling family members to make ends meet. Like any company, we have staff with families to feed. Ann would have loved to be able to provide everything free for all time, and unlimited support on everything, but that isn’t the way the world works. So, we sell things, so that we can continue to do what we love and we can help you continue to do what you love. Please keep that in mind as you open up the brainwaves.


Shout It Out!

Just For the Fun of It


So, I ask you now how we can do a better job of what we do. Up until now, we’ve been deciding what the Magic Bookshelf looks like. Now it’s your turn. Use the Comments field below to give us your ideas (if any of our competition is reading this, please stop reading hereWink). Tell us what we can do to make ourselves look nicer, be easier to use, have better information, become a better store, and, most importantly, be more fun. Because whether the beautiful things you make are for yourself, for your family and friends, or for a customer, I hope I’m not too far off the mark to assume that you’re in it at least partly to have fun.


Simply put then, tell us how we can help you have more fun!


Comments (19) -

jalcumbrack 5/30/2008 1:31:48 PM

Hi BB,

I have seen a lot of folks ask if there is any way to see what is included in a design pack. Most of us want to know what we are getting ,other than the one shown. I know there are some you can ,and some cannot.

I think the site looks great! I also think everyone there at the ATG family does their part to make sure everyone is attended to .The support staff is wonderful,and patient I might add for all of us that are not computer experts.LOL(Who Me?)And prefer to stay somewhat in the last century,at least a little bit.

I also know that I have seen a lot of folks that would like more information on some of the products available.We really don't think that much about how much it weighs, compaired to what can it do for me?Maybe along with the ATG stabilizers add,"this weight" is good for cotton,or light fabric's,.And so on.People want to know what they are getting before they spend their money

What about competitive pricing?such as ;if you see it on another site for $120.00 and on ATG it is $140.00 would you be willing to give a break on it?

Things like that BB !For us Poor Folk!LOL

I did offer to send Cathy an oxygen bottle though to help her with all that Chatty,chatty.! She is sooo Fun!

I know things take time but right now especially,with times so tough it is gettting increasingly more difficult for some folks to afford their habit  and addiction.

I still have that idea that I asked you about BB,I think it would sell??!

Any way great blog and Thanks for letting us all put our two cents worth in.

I'm so glad you asked. I do agree with jalcumbrack on all of her points. I thought if ATG offered a project maybe 4 times a year, suggesting what we needed to BUY for it and suggesting a cute design that we all just must have, with complete instructions on how to make the project as a community I think this would be fun. Maybe a kit type??  Of course this would be exclusive to club members. Maybe a terrific Chirstmas gift type project, fall or Thanksgiving, etc....just a few thoughts on what I'd like to see available.Maybe....maybe....just a few thoughts. Hope this helps. Thanks so much for asking!

jalcumbrack 5/31/2008 8:02:51 AM

Wow! that is a wonderful idea Sewwhat2 ! The "kit" idea is great ! I love kits !

I thought of something else too BB,more computer related things as well.While looking through some of the forums and blogs comments,I noticed that we have a lot of relatively new ME'ers out there that really need help with the how to's area on most things,like downloads,formats ,conversion,ect.Also some of the rest of us(not me,lol) who would rather be sewing than computering,I guess what I am trying to say is make it easy for everyone to understand.Some times too technical tends to make people shy away.(me).

Also a lot of people are saying that on Cathy and Pat's blogs,a lot of the time they want to print it out and some are lost on how to do that. Let's face it BB,we are not all computer nerds, we just want it simplified.

Also maybe some classes here on the site,like say a simple and quickie two or three week thing on digitizing,or how to remove stitches from a design after resizing it. Make it affordable ,also exclusive for members. Food for thought!

Your site is absolutely the best, it is the first place I visit when I need a particular design.  However I find the new way of downloading harder than it was on the old site, and after downloading a design it takes you back to the beginning and you have to scroll thru them all again to get back to where you were.  I recently did a very large panel of a geisha (applique) and used it as a centre piece for a quilt, it worked wonderfully, any chance of having printed themed panels, not kits just the panel.  Thanks

BB-Gee, I do read a lot...  The site needs two of you!  One to do the work and one to discuss ideas with and that should do it.

I do like what Judy had to say.  We are all money conscious and not just these days, all the time.  

I really like the quality available here at ATG.  That really matters to me even more than pricing.  I see ATG and the leader and innovator in the ME Internet Community.

Keep up the good work, Pat  (BB - you owe me the $5 you promised me for a good review) LOL

When it comes to improvements to the site, the only thing I can suggest is that a payment option of paying with PayPal should be listed.

travelbug1237 5/31/2008 10:18:22 PM


 I REALLY don't know how you do it!!!???

HOW did you get my lengthy blog, edited and published before I even had my computer plugged in  at home after my Apple 1 on 1 today????

Thanks for all that you are doing!

  I LOVE the idea of "kits'  

It would be great to "FEATURE" a project using  items from Ann's store.

( A PHOTO always helps me too.)

So for example....... "LACE kit for Beginners" $_________


 Kit includes:

   1 roll of Sulky Ultra Solvy

   2  regular sized spools of Madeira threads (white + red)

   1  each of AnntheGran's  HEART and  _________snowflake design

I'll try to show you my 'kits' I am doing to keep myself straight. It sure helps me.

I have been organizing EACH of of the DIFFERENT styles of embroidery in SEPARATE clear bags.  ( E special ordered the larger size for me & it is thick freezer grade.

   I then have used a Brother labeler and attached  the project TITLE

INSIDE. I then type out a LIST of WHAT SUPPLIES I need...I keep them all there...I don't do any switching or borrowing from the bag. ( For now, it is costing me more, but this is the best way for me to keep sane trying to learn different stabilizers, needles, threads etc etc and techniques.

Then I  type up a "lesson plan" so to speak  and put THAT sheet inside that I can clearly read....SOOOOOO IF I ever wanted to write a blog  and HOPE to

heaven I can REMEMBER what I did since my life is a bit crazy...

I have EVERYTHING in ONE clear packet and I can refer to it.

I have all NEW things IN the if nothing has ever been done...

I use a duplicate set of whatever to practice with.

  Hope this helps....It really could work I think for you guys on a large scale.

I'd also sell a 'goodies bag' for beginners that would have basics in it.

Now, for this is JUST me and my 20th century orientation....

I can't readily SEE what is available in Ann's store.

When I click on it the side of my computer crunches up...don't know if it's me or if it is because I am using an Apple.

FOR me...if you had a little EMPTY open box  available RIGHT THERE when you open up the SHOPPING part so I could type in...

Lace designs, iron, or whatever ....that would help me.

RIght now I have to click on Passion or ......whatever....Then go and click

on Designs...etc

  I personally had a bit of trouble finding the iron Ann had for sale.

I just ordered it and it's on its way and I am excited..but I needed some extra help. My bolt of black Kona cotton WILL get ironed!!! Yeah!!

   I have more ideas...but this is at least a start.

( I'm off to the beach for a week, but will answer any of your questions Greg when I get back!!!) Oh and thanks Ann for showing us a picture of Greg's office!!! I LOVED your matching socks w/ shirt Greg!!!! That really takes some effort!!! SmileSmile

jalcumbrack 5/31/2008 10:33:56 PM

Hey BB just had another brain storm! Is there any way a set up for Im'ing just on the ATG site from member to member?That would be awesome too.

Cathy the teacher is coming out in you,but that is a great way to get started at the beginning. There is  a lot to learn,but it is fun learning!!

I agree I think the kits are a wonderful concept !

Also maybe just once in a while offer grab bags as well with some goodies in them,for a reasonable price as well.

I know what Cathy means about finding certain things,sometimes it can be a challenge,and if you are new to the site it may be a bit frustrating.

Ok enough out of me!

Being new to ME, I think jalcumbrack had a good idea when she wrote "Also maybe some classes here on the site,like say a simple and quickie two or three week thing on digitizing,or how to remove stitches from a design after resizing it.." I also agree with this part that she wrote: "new ME'ers out there that really need help with the how to's area on most things,like downloads,formats ,conversion,ect" Pick something that sounds SO basic you'd think everyone already knows it. I guarantee that a LOT of us could use the instructions!

When shopping, I also like to see a bigger picture of the item. Small pictures & old eyes are NOT a good combination. Keep the pictures sized as they are, but enlarge if you click on them. (I have no idea if this is easy to do or if your time would even allow for such an undertaking) Just a thought.

You could also have instructions for simple projects that can be embelished with ME. For example, my local shop has a wine gift bag made from a tea towel. After receiving the gift of wine, the bag can be dismantled to use as a towel. It seems like it would be an very simple project, but some of us type A personalities need a set of instructions!

Above all, keep up the good work !

jalcumbrack 6/1/2008 7:00:16 AM

Wow !! RNH the wine bag is a wonderful gift ! i can think of all kinds of things to put on it.You all have such great ideas!!

rosarypark 6/1/2008 7:09:20 AM

I love the site & have been using for a coupl of years but one thing Ann doesn't have is a comprehensive list of stabilisers & there uses. as a person in a marginal reception area it is easier to download a list & then go straight to Anns wonderful range knowing what I want , than getting frustrated because I drop out all the time & sometimes give up & buy inferior product .

jalcumbrack 6/1/2008 6:24:25 PM


You should check out Pats blog on here last week all about stabilizers and their uses.Some of the folks have printed it out to put by their machines,but I do understand what you mean,It would be easy for someone to hop in and download it off the site,maybe a pdf format. Plus maybe links to the ATG stabilizer's list ,even right to the one you would need.

Wow another Great idea !!

Wow, fantastic ideas. I hardly know where to start! As Pat mentioned, I wish I had an alter-ego to implement all these great ideas. Let me address what I can now:

Judy: We're working hard on the design pack issue, so within about 4-6 weeks, we should have most of the designs and design packs in the format they are in on the following page:">

You can see that there is a nice blow-up image of the design, as well as the ability to view each design individually with info like stitch count and size.

That's a great idea about the downloadable pdf for stabilizers. We will put that together. We're also trying to give more information by linking it to what the community is saying. So, for example, if you go to any ATG stabilizer page (">, you'll see a link that shows what other users are saying, including Pat's great blog post about stabilizers. We are also working on improving the images we have of the products. There is a tab at the bottom of some product pages called 'Images' where you can see a blow-up image of the product, but we are working on getting this for more products here on the new site.

The competitive pricing idea is great - I know one of our competitors has it and it's a neat feature. I will look into how we can get it on our site.

The IM is a great idea which I would love (Facebook and MySpace have it, why not us?) I will check into whether that can be enabled, but to my knowledge it is not currently available in the software that we use to run the community.

Finally, Judy, I'm having a brain cramp - can you refresh my memory about your other great idea that you mentioned?

Sewwhat2: The kit idea definitely has appeal. The one issue is that sometimes we ship things from different locations to keep our prices down, so it's tough to bundle some things, but I'm sure we can figure out a way to make some kits that will correspond to what you are suggesting.

Riverlakes: We are constantly working on the free design downloading engine to make it easier to use, but this is a tough one. We're at the stage now where it's working well for most people but there are still some incompatibilities with certain systems. The getting back to where you were after downloading is a good point -- I'll look into why that is happening.

KHarriman - We do accept PayPal on all purchases.

Cathy: There are some issue with Mac's operating system on our site, but you should at least be able to see the search box in the upper right hand corner of all the pages. Is that not showing up for you?

rnh: We have looked into classes and are trying to figure out a way to do it. Of course, if any of our community feels that they are up to the task of teaching something a specific, we've got lots of blog space...

See my comments to Judy about image size. I totally agree with you and this is a high-priority item on our development list.

As for the projects, we don't always have the human resource capability to do this, which is why we are encouraging those of you in our community to help out, by doing exactly what you are suggesting, posting project pictures with simple ideas that people can search for and get inspired by!

rosarypark: See my comment above about the stabilizers. This is a great idea and we will definitely put it up. Check back in a week or so and by then we should have a stabilizer pdf posted as a download with the ATG stabilizers.

BB  Another thing that may be helpful after we are all done scrolling down the pages reading all the posts is a "back to the top" option instead of scrolling all the way back up.  Keep up the good work.  I don't think I've spent so much time on any other sit4.


The blow-up images on the ME patterns are awesome! I was looking at the products in "Necessities" which don't enlarge. It would be nice to see those larger also.

When you click on the forums, there's a spot where you can see the date of the last post.  It would be nice if that were available on the Blogs.  As it is everytime we check the site (which for me is often...I LOVE this site) we have to click the blog and scroll to the bottom to see if anything new has been added.  That's not so bad now, but what about when we have 25 or more blogs to check?  Just a thought; I don't even know if it's possible.  I'm barely computer literate (as well as being a little dotty....)

Thanks, Linda. I'm not sure exactly what you mean. When you click 'Blogs' in the top menu from anywhere in the site, you should go to a page where all the blog posts are displayed with the most recent ones at the top. If they are not showing for you like this, what you can do is click on 'Edit Profile' in the top right corner of the page, click on the 'Site Options' tab, and make sure that the first field called 'Sort Posts' says 'Descending'. What this means is that any forum thread or blogs that you view in our Community section will always show the most recent content at the top.

Also, on our home page, the section that says 'Community Creations' lists all the most recent blog posts, with the most recent at the top.

Does this help?

I would like to see free projects for quick and easy gifts either from atg, or other customers.

maryhecker: For projects with gift ideas, you can actually use the tags on Blog pages and click on the 'Gift Idea' tag. You'll get the following results page:">

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