Monograms 3/20/09

The origins of monograms were very regal. The letters were generally used as a signature and on coins. The artists of the Middle Ages used them to sign their work.  Eventually, a monogram became a symbol of one’s place in society.

At one time, rules for monogramming were narrow, and followed the configuration as “ACB” with the center letter being the last name.  Today, the more casual use of monogramming has fewer rules and certainly not limited to fabric or coins.  To me, nothing is more elegant than a well placed letter on stationery, cuffs, a candle or anything that is not nailed down.

Classic, chic and without an equal, monograms have stood the test of time.  Even Laverne could not make a monogram tacky; she wore hers when she was dressed up!

At the risk of being plummeted with non-monogrammed shoes (yes, shoes), I am going to list a few of the ‘rules’ I try to follow:
Rule #1 – there are no rules. . . .
Rule #2 – when the client says they want them upside down, refer to Rule #1.

The Avid Embroiderer’s Rules of Monogramming:

  • For Life Partners, I encourage the use of just 2 initials, last names only and the order is their choice.  Charles Adams and Sam Brown:


  • For those combining both names, I do recommend a hyphen, I personally like them.  Charles Adams and Diane Brown:

  • For both people with hyphenated last names, I recommend the second letters with a hyphen in the center, and both first names.  I think these are falling out of favor. Charles Smith-Adams and Diane Johns-Brown:

  • For names with apostrophes, I recommend using just the first initial, i.e., O’Connor would be “O.”
  • For names with ‘De’ or ‘La,’ I recommend using ‘D’ or ‘L.’
  • For someone wanting something a little different, I recommend a “stack” style where the first and middle are stacked one over the other and the last name a large letter matching the size of the two stacked ones.   Adam Bob Carter.

  • I personally prefer a single letter.  You already knew that!

  • I also find two letters, first and last to be a nice combo as well.  Anne Adams

  • For a really unusual monogram, I would place one letter directly over another. I don’t encourage that because of density issues.  Alena Spalding.

  • Ken Parson’s Composition has a number of shapes for monograms as well.  The fonts include 105 ‘special characters’ such as Õ and Á with some available for monograms.


  • The AlphabetXpress has a surprise coming . . .  (Whispering:  Watch for some new Fonts coming real soon!!! – but keep quiet, it is a secret. . . )
  • Whatever the client wants, that is what I will create!

Well, I was anxious to start doing some projects and I had a sheet of ‘foam’ left over from a different project.  This foam is similar to the mouse pad that you are using right now.  I have washed that mouse pad, so I felt the foam would be suitable for embroidery too.

The piece of foam is a 2 mm weight and I am going to use a thread color to match it.

I started off by using a font that had a wide satin stitch.  I felt that would be an easy stitch to work with.  I created a standard monogram and then I placed the same design atop the foam that was just set on the fabric.  I was delighted with the results.  I also tried a letter with both satin and running stitches.  I left the inside foam but could just as easily have removed it.  There is less impact with removing the foam because the monogram "P" only has a small portion with the satin stitch.   The more narrow sections is still a satin stitch but too slim to have an effect.

Tip:  The foam fell away from the satin stitches, but at the bottom of the letters, you must be careful when you clip the leftover foam.  If you clip the threads, you will want to use some “Fray Check” to keep the stitches from coming off.

Tip:  If you decide to keep the foam with the design, you may want to have some adhesive to keep it in place.  It came right out of the inside of the P and A, so for the Script P, I would have used some glue.

Since these were test sewouts, I was not concerned about perfection.

I played with some other available fonts and outline designs I had and I really like the results.  I might even try this on the card paper from Kiwi. .  or metallic thread?  or under appliqué?  or on a towel? or . . . .

I am off to do some more testing, and if you do these, show us the results.  Don’t forget, you can upload your photos to "Galleries" for us all to enjoy.  I also recommend that you put a little message in the Forum letting us know that it is available.


Comments (21) -

very good ideas. i plan to try several of them.

thank you for this presentation.

very good ideas.  appreciate your help.

will try them soon.

Try using the tip of your iron when the foam is difficult to remove. Use rayon thread only as polyester will burn or melt.


interesting ideas -- thank you so much!  i wonder what size needle you used with the foam monogramming?


Hey, Pat,

Great job!  What about a name like mine with two capital letters and a last name?  LRJ   Also, how would you combine it with my spouse , RJ.  I've really wondered about this combination, but never knew who to ask.

Stitches to you,



I forgot something.  I've never used foam.  Is it a specific kind, or the stuff W-mart sell?


I am glad that the photo shows some of the 'outstanding' stitching, but in person, it is even better!!

LaRue, You can do anything you like, it is your design.  As a general rule, I usually use just the L, because if I give my clients too many choices, it just confuses them.   I might even play with something like:

L  R  J

and place a 2 on the upper right corner of the R (like R squared).  You might have to play with that, but it might be very uniqu and interesting!!

This is the WalMart or any craft store foam, it is 42 cents per sheet and goes along way.

Look out Florida, here we come!!


Great job, Pat! I'm a single monogram person, too. It makes me feel like an individual.....not defined by my HUSBAND'S last name. Here's another example of what initials to use for the monogram.... as you said, there are no rules!  Although I use my first, middle & married surname for my "legal" signature (RMH), my 3 letter monogram does not match that. I use my first name, maiden name & married surname (RNH). Again, it's just MY way of holding on to who I am.

Remember, the customer's always right! LOL



What a NEAT idea.  the LJR and the 2, I mean, I'll have to tinker with it a bit.



Rosie-I have known you are your own person from the first time I read a forum or response in the blogs from you.  That wonderful flower is one way to show who you really are!

LaRue-I thought the "2 square" was a fun idea.  Those who know you will see it right away.  I think the universe is entirely too structued and needs to be shaken up.  


See you soon!!


I work for an optometrist and sometimes our glasses come wrapped in a very thin foam that works absolutely great for giving just a little body  to the monogram without the added bulk like with the "foamie"....and it 's  FREE.  It's great for towels because it is almost clear and washable.  

loved the info about monograms...yes, the customer is always right (but we're "writer").  


Pat...about the foam....I had heard you should only use the foam made for embroidery...will this WalMart foam or craft store foam hurt my machines??


There is a digitiser here in Australia who has a bullion roses machine embroidery CD using puffy foam, anyone interested, I will give the website here, if that's OK.


Nice, I'd forgotten about foam... it adds some lift to otherwise plain designs.

Thanks for the comments.

It is so easy to forget about a technique or idea, I have dozens of blog topics and when I look through them, I am always surprised when I find one or two that I have forgotten.

That is why I need input from all of you as to what you want to read!!

What is that 'puffy foam' stuff?  Tell us about it Vada.

I did not see any issue with using the light weight foam with my machine.  The needle did not get messed up and the foam is really flexible.


I would like to have access to the monogram program that you used to make the P.  It is beautiful.  Hope someone can help me. Doris

I get all my supplies from my sewing machine dealer who has a club which meets once a month, there is usually over 100 people there, so I really can't suggest where to purchase it I can only tell you it is a Sulky product. The website I mentioned is there is a tutorial on the CD. Our $ exchange rate is way down at the moment, so it's a good time to buy. Re the bullions, because of the puffy foam making them quite large they are not really good for heirloom, they are more suilted to towels or scuff type slippers. Hope this is of some help to you all. I am off to a stitches $ craft show this morning.


yordnof-that monogram is in the "Balmoral" font but I don't remember where I got it.  Try Googling "Balmoral embroidery font" and you should be able to find it.

I love it too!

Vada-Thanks for the info.  I will check into it.

I am just back from the most fun Community Circle ever!!  More to come, and more to learn!!!!!


Pat, LOTS of great info here!  I get lots of strange requests, too.  One friend has a B&B & asked for the Inn's name to be on the underside of the hem of the top sheet - upside down (so when the sheet is turned back, it's right side up from the bottom of the bed).  I happily did what she asked - opening up the hem, so no one would see the backside.  Comment for LaRue: You might play w/ your monogram as in: "La R", w/ the a positioned up high.  Will have to ask my optometrist about the foam.  Lots of fun! ~ Karen

Thanks ekwms!  When I go to do monograms in unusual places, I use my pens that 'air' dry showing where it needs to be and which direction it needs to be sewn.

It can be a little difficult to visualize!


enricodondi 7/13/2010 7:41:44 AM

thanks for yr experience and grateful to all the support you give us.


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