Hello All You Happy Stitchers !

Hopefully some of you already know who I am from popping in and out of the forums and blogs. For those of you that don't, this will introduce us to each other. Many of you have asked me how I first got started, not only with ME, but sewing in general. So, here it is! You can blame my Grandmother! Of course you all realize that this will squash all of those cool rumors out there.


I first got started as a very young girl with my Grandmother. My Mom had an old treadle machine, exactly like the one pictured above, that to my knowledge, she never used. I don't think I ever even saw her as much as sew on a button. So I had to depend on Granny to learn from. Every day after school, (yes we did walk to and fro then) I stopped in for cookies (still warm from the oven, no less). Since I was making a nuisance of myself, she decided it was time for me to learn to do something constructive. I finished my first little quilt (with Granny's help) at the ripe old age of 9. She also taught me how to use Mom's sewing machine that had sat idle for so long. That was it, I was hooked! I didn't realize at the time that I would someday make my living from sewing. Since then I have worked on everything from Auto Parts to Zippers.

I went to work in the early 70's for a major auto company sewing parts for car seats, vinyl roofing, and leather interiors. This is where I learned that while they are still sewing machines, they were not only faster but unforgiving. A commercial machine is probably 2 to 3 times faster than your home sewing machine. On the up side, Wow! On the down side, you are expected to sew 2 to 3 times more product to go with it. We will touch more on that in the next few writings, when they apply to subject matter. From there I went to making baby clothing in a local factory - gee I loved that job! I worked 4 days per week, 10 hours per day. When the company left, I went to work for a company that did design and embroidery - it is a real Hoot working on a 15 needle machine! Then when that company moved to another state, I worked for an office furniture company in the veneer room, later moving into the sewing area. They made seat and back covers for office chairs, bulletin boards, and various other components of the industry. I stayed there until 2001, when I retired.(Not!)


What I hope to accomplish is to present to you a few hints, tips, tricks, and lots of shortcuts, to make the most of your time in the sewing room. Hence the name of  the blog, "Stitchin Shortcuts!". When you have upward of 1500 or more items per day to complete, you learn things to make the process go faster, smoother, and more efficiently. The most I have completed in one day is 3000. Without these shortcuts and tricks, it would have been an impossible task.

I like to work with K.I.S.S. (No not the rock band!)  It stands for "Keep It Simple Suzy!" The simpler we keep something, the faster,easier,and more efficient it becomes. I am the person who is always looking for a simpler, faster way to do things, with the least amount of stress to the body. Without compromising quality, of course. It also means I will be including different tools that I use to make my life easier. You will be hearing more about K.I.S.S. in the future, so stay tuned! I would also like to have some fun along the way - those of you that know me know that, for me, life is about having fun!

I would like to include within these postings, some of the things that our Group is working on. As I am sure many of you know, we got together for a lunch/meeting to inaugurate a first on AnnTheGran, the Central Florida Machine Embroiderers Group ! Wow! Is that a mouthful or what?! Now I see why we abbreviate it to CFMEG! This was a very informal, relaxed meeting, plus we helped Ann celebrate her birthday.


Photos courtesy of T.Alcumbrack & E&B Sherrard

Each person was asked to bring something that they had made, either sewing, embroidery, or both. Or something they were just darn proud of! (they should be!). The items I saw from this simple request, I must say brought tears to my eyes. You could just see and feel the love in that room. It was such a wonderful heart-warming experience. This group, made up from a great group of folks from all over  Central Florida, started from somene asking a simple question in a forum and it exploded into what we have today. Now the AnnTheGran site has a new section atop their Home Page called "Groups", thanks to all the great people in this forum! They even have their own logo, digitized by a couple of  the group's members! I hope to, in the coming weeks and months, bring you, as a feature some, if not all of the items that were presented that day. This has got to be one of the most incredible things I have had the pleasure of witnessing in a very long time. I strongly urge everyone to do this in your own areas. Just pop a new post in one of the forums, and ask one question,"how many in my area?" and wait for someone to answer. Have patience, as it may take some time for folks to see it, but it can turn into something wonderful for you, not to mention all the new friends you will end up with, sharing a common interest. If you get the chance, go check out the photos in the Media area.

I want to mention the Charity idea we are working on within the CFMEG. We are in the process of picking one, if not more, charities to make items for, and donate to. I encourage other groups that form to adopt this idea. It not only makes your heart feel good, it does so much and really makes a difference in someone's life. I believe that Charity begins with each of us, one person can do a little, together we can do a lot!


I welcome any questions,comments, or ideas you may have, either that you wish to share or would like me to cover in this blog. I am usually lurking about in many of the forums, and now in the newly formed "Groups" section. Join one of those discussions, or start a new discussion if you would like to. I also hope many others will join in and share with us their experiences, ideas, comments, and questions, as well as their project photos. I will do my best to share with you all, my knowledge (However limited).

Suzy's Tip Of The Week!      It is a good idea to take a tiny bit of either hair clipper oil, or sewing machine oil, and place it on your scissors, trying to get some into the mechanism area. Work the handles of the scissor, so it can work itself into that area really well. Take a soft cloth, being careful not to cut yourself, and wipe away the oil from them, making sure to get most if not all of the oil off them. Using a piece of scrap fabric, cut through it several times to remove any leftover oil. This aids in keeping them well lubricated, as well as keeping anything from building up on them, such as rust or gunk from daily use. Sometimes there are tiny gouges in the blades that cannot be seen, so rust can and will form in these areas even though they are stainless. Once the factory coating is compromised it can happen. Sewing machine and clipper oil is a very light weight oil that can easily be removed, but keeps your scissors working great!

Signing off until next time.............................................."Happy Stitchin'!"        Remember to K.I.S.S. someone close to you every day!


Judy ( Yes I get to be Suzy too!)



Comments (26) -


It's was remarkable watching the CFMEG grow! You've got a great group of people and I'm a tad jealous, sitting here in the Midwest & not able to join you. I think the charity idea is wonderful. I wish the group a HUGE success!

Looking forward to learning a lot of tips & tricks from you. I'm a newbie & can use all the help I can get! lol  Any shortcuts or tips are greatly appreciated.

Great intro to your new blog. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to reading more!


jalcumbrack 8/1/2008 4:44:36 AM

Thankyou so much Rosie. They certainly are a wonderful group of people that is for sure! How about we make you an honerary member!

I will do my best to toss in a lot of great tips and shortcuts for you. The next pages are in process and I think you will like them a lot! It will contain quite a bit of information for you all.

I am glad you like the blog and I am looking forward to seeing you again! I hope I can provide information that you all can use and pass along to others .

Again, Thank You ! If you get down this way ,stop in and see us,I love the company,and always enjoy talking about ME, and sewing!

marciaelaine 8/1/2008 2:02:14 PM

Hey, Judy that was a great blog and really good tip about the scissors.  Looking forward to more shortcuts and tips.  Elaine SHarrard

alssweetheart 8/1/2008 2:15:35 PM

Hi Judy! I wish that I was in central FL too!! Maybe when my husband retires. You are quite accomplished in sewing and embroidery!!! I am looking forward to your blogs to learn all that I can. You have an awesome outlook on life and everything it includes. I'm a lemonade maker myself : )

Keep up the awesome blogging, we all have lots to learn from you!!!

Happy embroidering, sewing and quilting to everyone!!!

Carol in VA

jalcumbrack 8/1/2008 2:15:45 PM

Hi Elaine! Thanks, that is a trick I learned when sewing at the car factory,simple but it works to keep them moving freely and working great. If there is anything anyone would like me to talk about, or questions I can answer, let me know!

hey Judy aka suzy,

Great Column..

jalcumbrack 8/1/2008 2:35:18 PM

Thanks Carol! I miss you! Isn't the lemonade just wonderful! we will have the gates open for you and hubby here in Florida any time you can come down.(We do have a spare room,called a "guest" room!) You are welcome any time!Happy sewing,embroidering,and quilting to you too!

Again Thanks! Looking forward to writing more in the coming weeks and months!

Take Care!


Gonna read this when I get a minute, but I can already see a really terrific blog in progress here!

Love that tip!!  Take care of your equipment (and backup  your files).


jalcumbrack 8/1/2008 3:47:33 PM

Thanks Lynn and Pat! You all make me feel so welcome!

travelbug1237 8/1/2008 6:26:27 PM

HH Judy and WELCOME to the 'blog family'!!!

We're tickled your a 'blogger' person now too.

From my perspective  you sure do deserve a special place on Ann's site because you always took time to answer any beginner's questions!!! That is so greatly appreciated!!!

You did a GREAT job Judy.....and.... WHAT an extensive embroidery background you have!!!! Holy Cow!!! (on cars too!!!???) Talk about 'a professional' and varied background.....from  babies to automobiles MEing with lots of everything in between! WOW!!!

It will be quite  wonderful learning from you!!!  &

It's so great that we have another person on Ann's site who is an expert!!!


CinO...just back from the beach..(.so I didn't read Ann's site for a few days.)

Judy, what a background!  I can't wait to hear all of Suzy's shortcuts.  And organizational tips if she has any too.  I think we'll have to get a group going here in the "show me state" and experience the fun since we can't all get to the sunshine state.

Take care


jalcumbrack 8/2/2008 7:08:49 AM

Hello Cathy,

Gled to see you made it to the beach,even if for only a couple of days.Sounds like you got some rest,and you are back in full swing again!Thank you so much for the wonderful comments,you make me blush! Yes,if you ever want to know how to make a car seat,I'm, your girl! LOL. Glad you are back,so we will be seeing on the site a lot again, I can always tell when you are gone,it is so quiet in here,LOL. you lite things up with your excitement of this wonderful craft! Again many Thanks for your support and welcome!

DB1921, Thank You so much!  I have lots of tips about organization! Thanks for asking and I will do something in the blogs about it as well,some times we forget everything that really does go into sewing and ME. I guess after so many years I just take that part of it for granted!

As far as getting a group going out there,just post it and they will come! I hope you can find and get a group going ,it is so much fun, and it is great to find folks with the same interests, and get together with them. I believe ,one can never have too many friends! Thanks for the lovely comments,and look forward to reading more of yours as well!

Again, You all make me feel so very welcomed to the blogging world!! Thankyou so very much!

marciaelaine 8/2/2008 10:55:39 AM

Judy/Suzy, I think it would be great to give us some tips on organizing our materials and things.  I can't wait until we can get down to see you in a few weeks. We just seem to have stuff all over the place.  WE play where is it, several times while getting ready to do a project.  We are going to make the den a den/sewing room and I know that will probably help a lot.  Bye, Bye, futon hello machine and stuff.  later,

jalcumbrack 8/2/2008 12:13:30 PM

Thanks Elaine,

I am already jealous of the space you will have for your ME things! I will help you move the futon out ! Seriously ,this craft does take a bit of space,but it is definatly worth it! I can't wait to see you too! Oh my, I so love all the new friends here,that I can talk ME with!! Let me know for sure when you are coming,I will make sure to get the dust bunnies moved out !

Thanks Elaine for your support, just knowing you are reading the blog and the forums means a lot to me! I hope everyone does,that is why they have them here, I believe in the idea that we all have something to offer to the wonderful, crazy world of ME and sewing! What a great way to learn all the "new things" coming into this ME world! Technology is just exploding! I can hardly wait to see all the new ME machines coming out this year! Not that I can get a new one right now,but it definatly gives me something to look forward to!

Again, Thanks to all who have read all the blogs on the ATG site! It is quite a learning experience for us all! If I don't learn at least one new thing every day,I feel I've missed something!



What a wonder, helpful tip about putting oil on

the scissors.

You certainly have a wealth of knowledge and

the work embroidary that I have seen on your

projects is wonderful.

Looking forward for more wonderful, helpful tips

from you.


jalcumbrack 8/2/2008 5:39:56 PM

Thanks Oppo,

I am glad you liked the blog and the tip about the scissors!Stop in often to see more tips,hints and Shortcuts,and of course to see what Suzy is up to!  I am happy you liked the projects as well,the wonderful world of ME is just so amazing,there is something new to learn every day!


Congratulations, Judy, on getting your first "Stitchin' Shortcuts" under your belt. Great job! I am anxious to hear more - I need all the help I can get!


serenemachine2 8/3/2008 1:32:20 AM

Judy, thanks for the tips and the career saga information!  You have run the gammat girl!!!  One charity I would like you to consider is Walter Reed Military Hospital.  Our men and women coming home with an array of handicaps need things the military dosn't supply.  Like, totes that fit on the front of walkers to carry their things, a nice quilt to wrap up in sitting beside a windo, or a lap quilt to keep them warm sitting in the wheelchairs.  You can't mail things directly to them, but you can set something up for your projects to be accepted.   Just a thought.

jalcumbrack 8/3/2008 5:36:17 AM

Hi Rueffinit,

Thanks a million! I have so been trying to contact you! I am in high hopes that the next one will be better and not so boring! Ha! I have to watch Suzy as she likes to let her mind wander at times!

Serenemachine2, Hello and Welcome! Yes I think I have sewn about everything there is to be sewn(and a few that probably should not have been!)

The Walter Reed Hospital is a wonderful charity for sure.My brother served during Viet Nam,so I fully understand how important this is.While it is a very worthwhile charity,for right now we are going to stick to something a bit more local for us,as it will be much easier for some of the CFMEG to do right at the moment.This is not to say that further down the road that won't happen and I will certainly keep it on the list for a future charity for us. All of us are working to "get this off the ground" right now and so much is still so new to us as far as the group,and focusing on these new things for us. Once we have done one or two charities,then we will know how much we can take on.How this will work,who do we get the things to and so on. I feel everyone should get their groups going and take one on,there are so very many out there that need our help and support,right now! I have a 2 page list of them that are indeed needy,it is a tough decision to make who to start with,but on the other side of this,we do have a list so we can continue to work towards getting to all who so deserve it.Thank you so much for adding them to our list,it is so easy to forget those that are fighting for "our" freedom!

A Gazillion Thanks to all who have responded with a charity that is near and dear to your hearts! Another Gazillion Thanks to everyone who has commented here on the blog as well! I will do my best to provide some fun,and some great tips and shortcuts you can all put to use! I am far from an "expert", just a simple lady who has found some simple things to do to aide the process of sewing and ME.


It's good you now have two names because you sure have the energy for two people.  I enjoyed your first blog very much.  You and Cathy are so inspirational to me.   I am working towards your outlooks and energy so keep up the good work.


jalcumbrack 8/3/2008 4:27:22 PM

Thankyou very much Linda,I certainly am glad to help any way I can.I am so glad you liked the blog and Cathy's as well,she is a dear isn't she. I do not know how anyone could not like her she is so full of life! Again Thanks! I will try to keep things buzzing on the blogs and if I can ever be of assistance to you or you just want to pop in and say hi,please feel free to do so! Come on to the Groups section and pop in as well.


beamishboy 8/4/2008 8:18:32 PM

Great job, Judy! I'm glad you got such a great big welcome. I love Linda's comment about your having two names! I also wonder on a fairly regular basis where you get the energy to do everything you are doing in the community. I knew from the moment I saw your first draft that you were going to be a hit!

Now that I have had a chance to read this entirely, I am exhausted just hearing about all your adventures.

I will bet I have been in one or two of those things you helped to create!  LOL!

I can't wait for more tips because who would know better than someone who created 3,000 in one day!  OMG. . . I am not sure I breath that often.


jalcumbrack 8/5/2008 7:43:21 AM

Hi BB,

Thank you! I have always had a lor of energy,I was raised with the belief that hard work never hurt anyone. Plus I was a single mom and I had to have it to keep up with everything. I still had all the responsiblity of a family,including being the soccer mom and had to be the breadwinner as well,so I come by it by osmosis,LOL. I am glad everyone likes it so far and hope I can bring more to the table for everyone ,to help them do what they love and get the most out of it.

Thanks Pat, yes well those were the days of piece work. I got paid for every piece over the limit they set for that particular job. You had 3 days to learn it and 2 weeks to meet rate. The extra pay was a must with 2 small kids.Plus I always worked more than one job,I had no choice. You would be amazed at what you can do when you have to!

jalcumbrack 8/5/2008 7:46:20 AM

P.. Yes pat I bet a lot of the ATG community has ridden in a car that I had made the seats or the roof, or some part of the interiors. Especially if you have ever owned a Chysler with leather interior! Chances are I had some part in it somewhere!

Judy/Suzy  Which Chrysler plant did you work at, my husband worked at The Warren Truck.   I love to read your tip with the scissors. Thanks

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