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Thoughts to Ponder

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EMB 101: Stabilizers

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Easy Way to Display

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A New Bag – Finale

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We are excited to have Eileen Roche, Editor of Designs in Machine Embroidery share this content with you, which was originally posted on Eileen’s Machine Embroidery Blog.  By Sherry McCary Even though I have thousands of embroidery designs, there are several that are so vers... [More]

Follow Your Heart

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Monogram of the Month: A Reason to Celebrate!

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Glitter Vinyl: Red, White and Sparkling

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It doesn’t have to take a village…

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Of Stitch Erasers, Outlines & Free Design Addiction

Of Stitch Erasers, Outlines & Free Design Addiction

Having trouble thinking of what to write about this week. I know, those of you who have attended any of my classes won't believe that. It's true, when I'm in a crowd of you I have lots and lots to say. But, alone, in front of my computer, not so much. So, I'm just going to address some of the forum comments that I've read recently.

Trimming Stitches and Mustaches 

There's been a lot of chatter about Peggy's Stitch Eraser and the Wahl mustache trimmer. They do look similar, although the mustache trimmer appears much less sturdy. And the trimmer costs a lot less. You hold both upside down to use them. So, what's the difference, other than appearance and price? The blades are what's different. They're sharpened at different angles. Peggy's has been designed specifically to tear (not cut) threads on an angle. The trimmer has been designed to cut hair straight on. Most of the time you wouldn't notice the difference when trying to remove stitches, but when push comes to shove and I really want to do a good, neat job of removing stitches without damaging the fabric underneath, Peggy's is my impliment of choice.

Outline Tips 

There has been some chatter about outlines. Outlines are really the bugaboo of machine embroidery. If the outline is off by just a little bit, you can fill in the area with fabric pens that are specifically made for that purpose. I use Pigma brush pens, which can be found at most office supply stores. If the outline is really, really off, well, unless you can pick out the stitches, you're pretty much out of luck. But there's a little trick I use to help guarantee that the outline will sew as close to the design as possible. Before stitching the outline I back out of the design and turn off my machine. Then I turn it on again, go back to the same design and skip ahead to the outline. I've gotten into the habit of doing this so much that I don't really know if it helps anymore. But, it can't hurt.  Another thing about outlines. I don't like to see the outline before the design, or have the outline overpower he design. For this reason I use charcoal gray, rather than black, thread for outlining, and use a 50 or 60 weight (thinner) thread. Madeira carries 60 weight thread and Mettler carries 50 weight cotton thread. 

For those addicted to free designs: Well, you'll eventually get over it, trust me. I've found that those who "collect" designs both download the freebies and buy all the ones that catch their attention. Then, after a while your computer fills up with embroidery designs and you can't find anything (until you install Catalog XPress, that is). So you get to a place where you don't download or buy anything unless you have a specific purpose for it. So enjoy your downloading. There is a quote that I became famous (or perhaps infamous) for a few years ago: "The one with who dies with the most designs is still dead. Turn off your computer and sew something!" The quote is included in my Say It again design pack and I've embroidered it on a couple of t-shirts, as well.

How did that quote originate, you ask? Well, for a long time when I added designs to the free embroidery designs section they were on number archive pages. When there got to be so many designs I also put them into categories. That got to be a lot of work and I finally decided that having the designs in categories was sufficient. But, there were those die-hards who had downloaded every single design from the beginning and were quite dismayed over the exit of the archives. So I posted that quote on the former archive directory page. I THINK everyone took it in the way it was intended and had a laugh, but I did get one email from someone who was quite offended. When I told her that I was just joking Stick out tongue she understood and had a laugh at both herself and the quote.

Reality Bytes: What's Cooking?
Top Chef: I'm sorry to see Antonia go and don't know if I can bear another week of Lisa, but if either Stephanie or Richard win I'll be happy. But I'm rooting for Stephanie.
Hell's Kitchen: I don't think any of them will be able to run a restaurant for Gordon Ramsey, but I'm glad Matt is finally gone and I'm slightly favoring Corey.
The Next Food Network Star: Just one episode so far this season, so I  can't really comment. My favorite, Amy Finley, won last year but I managed to find her show (The Gourmet Next Door) only one time. Now I read that she and her family have moved to Burgundy, France. I really liked the one show I did watch.

Okay, I don't cook. That doesn't mean I don't like watching other people cook especially when they're competing on a reality TV show.

That's it for me, this time, I think. TTYL!


Comments (25) -

jalcumbrack 6/8/2008 12:08:18 PM

Great information Ann,as always.I am glad to know that I am not the only one out there that uses the Pigma Brush Pens.I am going to try your other technique as well,of backing out of the design ,then doing the outline.that is a great time saving tip,Thanks!!!

For me ,I like to cook,but hate the clean-up! Next, when will Peggy's Stitch Eraser be available again?Any way of knowing?

Thanks Ann !

Ann,  I thought it was,,  the one who dies with the most designs,,  wins..   I first heard that from Rick.

I've been using 'off' black for about 10 yrs now.

What is the purpose of turning off the machine.

Now the new machines return exactly to where you left off,,  the dreaded power failure, etc.   If you moved the des,, and didn't write down the co ordinates,, well,, you're outta luck..  

I've never had an outline problem.   I don't own an eraser.  I wouldn't still be doing this if I had half the problems most folks do.   And remember,  we talked on the phone about this..  I LOVE doing towels.

I did over 1,500 golf towels last summer..  ;>) Also 22 of my specialty Hole In One golf towel


I forgot to mention.

I too use fabric pens but for a different application.

Just regular inexpensive pens from AC Moore,  type store.

Sometimes,,  it is better not to snip threads..  Altho my machine does that automatically,  sometimes a very small jump doesn't cut..   BUT,  take an American Flag for instance..  the machine will not clip between stars.

I use a 'royal'  pen and paint the little white threads between the stars..  The same with many of the golf towels I embroider.  The jump thread will get lost in the velour,, and I just pen them.  Most of the towels are black, navy, red or hunter.  It's the best way


Enjoyed all the help as usual -the Pigma pens mentioned are they water proof?? and do they come in lots of colours??  Thanks Doreen

jalcumbrack 6/8/2008 1:40:44 PM

I have always used a dark grey or off black for the outlines,they just look so much better. You are right Kim,that is what I thought too,whoever dies with the most wins,lol.

Pening the jump threads is a great time saver too Kim ! I love the person who invented them !

I don't have an out line that is off very often but once in a while it happens,so I just fill it in.

serenemachine2 6/8/2008 1:44:00 PM

I love all these tips and I save them in a file!!  Thank you to those that have gone before me and know all this great stuff!!!

Since I just finished removing 5,883 stitches by hand, I think I will be working with Peggy's Stitch Eraser in the near future.  I think she has a new one coming out soon, so I am looking forward to that.

One interesting comment here was using color pens to repair small spots.  I used a "Sharpie" on a towel recently and it spread like melted butter in just a second.  That was worse than the original bad spot.

I will be looking for different pens!  


For London and Ann,,    the fabric pens are water proof

They are special ink for fabric and will not run either

Sometimes on certain childrens designs,,  I'll even go a bit lighter than a dark grey.  Or, pick another color from the design.  When I digitized a lot of my flowers for instance,,  I did the design so the stem could be outlined in a darker green,  the flower petals in a deeper matching shade,, and so on.  I've done the Calla and daffodils on my Fancy Flowers page like that


My last comment was for Judy and London,,  sorry about that.    Judy is Alcumbrack

You signed off,, thanks Ann   and I picked up the Ann

Yes Pat,,  Sharpies don't do well on fabric.  


Oh my gosh! Thank you for the info on the pens! My husband is notorious for using a sharpie for everything. I think I'd kill him if he ruined a project by "helping."

The information on Peggy's stitch eraser is very helpful. I was wondering how it worked. I would be interested to hear what you think about the Hoop Mate system. It's an expensive purchase and I'd appreciate any feedback on it before I jump in on this one!


Good information, Ann.  I especially like two things you do....1.  You remember that newbies like me don't even know how to voice the questions so you address the simple things that most long time ME'rs don't even think about anymore and 2.  You answer those questions in a way that never says (without saying it) you dumb head!  (laughed out loud at that myself.)  Thanks so much for patiently sharing your wealth of knowledge with dunderheads like me.


I am a new reader.  I purchased my Innovis 4000D last year and am trying to get the hang of it.  All of sudden everone wants me to do "stuff" for them. I have been sewing clothing for children and not grandchildren for  35 years.  These are wonderful tips.  I am looking forward to all the new ones.   Thanks Karen

zeespanicek 6/9/2008 1:12:43 PM

Please add the PRICE of the items you talk about in your BLOGS-  PLEASE.  It is so difficult to know where to order these items you talk about.  Does a person have to be a Club Member to pruchase these items from your shop?  I just don't understand....Please email me with an answer so I know the what's and where's.....

Thank you.



rita - No dummies allowed, only uneducated ME people!  We all have to learn one way or the other.  If we are smart, we select one (or many) mentors and learn all we can.  If we are really, really smart, we learn from all who surround us and sometimes - what not to do.

Ann's site is a terrific sharing place for all to grow and have fun as well.  

The pens, as suggested by others in the forum are Pigma Micron Pens.  I found them on the Net at:  http://www.dickblick.com/">http://www.dickblick.com/   Their price seemed to be the best I could find.  Some of the sets I saw were up to $15.00 for 5 pens.  

kschlu155 - Enjoy your new found craft, you can  share and sell.  I do have a forum document on what to charge for selling items.  Naturally, cost is dependant on the attitude of the buyer - LOL


beamishboy 6/9/2008 2:52:41 PM

zeespanicek: What we try to do on the blogs is to provide a clickable link to any products that are discussed in the post. If the product name is underlined, and you click on it, a new tab or new window will open where you will see the product. We do it in a new window so that you keep your place in the original post and you can just close the new window when you're finished looking at it.

The only reason that the Peggy's Stitch Eraser reference above doesn't go right to the product page in our store is that a newer, better version of the stitch eraser is currently being made and so isn't yet available for purchase. You can bet we'll have it in our store as soon as it hits the market.

To answer your question about Ann's Club - you do not need to be a member to order any product from us. One of the advantages of being a member is that you get discounted pricing on items in our store, but there is no obligation whatsover to join. You can still use all the great features of our site and download free designs without being a member.


You crack me up! There were soooo many times that I wanted to up the price of a stained glass item because of the attitude of the buyer! I guess some things never change!


Rosie, I have the Hoop Mate & I am not pleased with it.  I will be purchasing the "HoopMaster" as soon as I can.  If you are interested in comparing the two go to: PR600-EmbPro_Machines · PR600 & Embroidery Professional Machine Lovers (a Yahoo group).  All this weekend and most of today they have been discussing them.  Mine came with my machine (BMP6) as part of the package.  I would not buy it now, if I had known about HoopMaster.  I hope this helps.

Sincerely, Lollie in Oregon  

Thanks Lolli,

I'll check it out! It looks like I better be working on a LOT of shirts to justify this purchase. The Hoop Master is $200 more than the Hoop Mate! This requires research. . . and lots of it!

gegeanderson 6/11/2008 10:53:10 AM

I've been sewing for probably 50 years, but machine embroidery is my new compulsion.  I've been embroidering everything that's available.  My children (and grandchildren and great nieces and nephew) are beginning to look a little wild-eyed when I present them with my latest "creation".  Will this compulsion last forever?  Yesterday  I presented my grandsons with Mickey Mouse washcloths with the boys' names embroidered under the design. Have I gone over the edge?

Is there hope?


Owing to GeGe's comments, perhaps some enterprising person should start up an embroidery rehab program for lost embroidery souls. If nothing else, we'd know whether it's a curable affliction. Then again, perhaps an embroidery site isn't the best place to make any progress toward curing the affliction...great place to do some recruiting though...

gegeanderson 6/12/2008 2:33:19 PM

In defense of all of us Obsessive-Compulsives, I've discovered that I can quilt while my embroidery designs are "doing their thing".  Now, if I also play a book on tape, I'm accomplishing three of my most beloved hobbies.  That's multi-tasking that brings a smile to my face.

As far as rehab goes, I think this embroidery is my rehab as I break away from my lifetime of Corporate America.    Retirement and Embroidery Rock!

Thanks, Beamish boy for your understanding!

Yes, GeGe, I agree....i have been retired for a whole 2 weeks now and wondered how I got anything done and worked too....

Retiremet & Embroidery do Rock!!!

I've never posted here, but just enjoyed reading all the tips given. I especially liked the outline tips shared. I do have trouble with them not being in the right place. Really frustrates me after spending so much time on the design. I'm just starting to use my Brother PC8500 again after several years of it 'just sitting' in it's case. So yes, I'm one of those download junkies...but the last week or so, have become more selective. LOL  While on the subject, when and where are the weekly free designs?

Thanks for a nice informative newsletter!

Oh, my, maryann66, you have been away for a long time, haven't you? We haven't had weekly new design updates for several years. New designs go directly into the appropriate categories.  Isn't the 8500 a sweet machine?  Mine is currently on loan to my daughter, and she loves it.

Does Peggy's stitch trimmer work in the U.K. or is it obtainable? I love all the tips. I also use colours other than black to outline. Most of my making is to raise funds for local hospice. Also made 60 bandanas for trekkers who raised £10,000 for hospice.So I am grateful to free designs I do cherry pick freebies and don't down load everything. Nice to talk to other embroiderers maldonmum

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