Contour Print Alphabet and In-the-Hoop Luggage Tags

     Individual characters (letters, numbers and punctuation marks) from my alphabets can
be found on my Stock Design Page.  My designs are also available in packs, as described in
this blog.  Those can be found here.  For designs and packs available in multiple sizes,
choose the size you want in the drop down menu box.

When I offered to make some luggage tags for my brother, Scott, he asked that I use his initials rather than his name and address.  I thought that was a very good idea, since the address broadcasts to the world just WHERE a person is not at home.

My brother also requested that the tags be very noticeable from the baggage claim conveyor.  So many bags look just the same, and it is not always easy to read the tags from afar.  At first I was going to use my Pinstripes alphabet to make the initials, but then thought that a bright fabric would be easier to spot than lettering.

I turned again to my favorite contour fill pattern and digitized his initials.  I liked the look of the contour fill in block letters, as did those who saw the tags I made.  I decided to digitize the rest of the alphabet and then created the alphabets in five sizes, 20 mm, 30 mm, 40 mm, 60 mm, and 90 mm high.  The capital letters are about 2/3 the height of these sizes (13 mm, 20 mm, 26 mm, 39 mm, and 59 mm, respectively.  The alphabets are available singly and as a complete set. Click here to see the new alphabets and here for the Guide to Contour Print.

You can download a guide to using Contour Print alphabets with more information and also a sample letter in each size on the page with my alphabet collections.

I digitized the design for my brother's luggage tags.  He was very pleased with the look and size of his luggage tags.  I have not yet heard whether they have traveled and helped him find his bags.  Here are the tags I made for my brother.

SAW luggage tags

For fun, I stitched a tag with Contour Script 60.  I learned to watch out for prints that include the color of the embroidery thread and am passing on the warning to you.  See the samples in the luggage tag instructions offered below for a print that works a lot better
with this lettering.

Carol luggage tag

My friend Mary chose the colors for the following two tags.  I love bright colors and strong contrast for myself, but like to keep my friends happy.  Now that I see how subtle these tags look, I will definitely consider similar combinations of fabric and thread.

Mary Ron

Since some embroidery machines offer only a 100 x 100 mm hoop, I decided to offer another shape of luggage tag for that size of hoop.  Here are two tags I made in my small hoop.  As you see, there is a single 90 mm letter in one square and two 30 mm letters plus one 40 mm letter in another.

B and cBa in square

For the sake of comparison, I trimmed the fabric before satin stitching on the first square.  Trimming the fabric last, as I did for the second square, is a little quicker, but trimming before satin stitching gives a more finished look.  Instructions for both methods of contruction are available hereThe oblong and square luggage tag designs can be downloaded as well.  Both are stitched entirely in the hoop.

No matter which shape or construction method you choose, you will love how quickly you can embroider these tags.  You can even use them for gift tags that will have a second life after the holidays.  For attaching your tags to belongings, you can include a cable tie (each costing about a penny), a shower curtain ring, or a small leather strap. Here is a picture of a cable tie.

cable ties

Can you think of other uses for these tags?  Key tags?  Bookmarks?  Please show us how you use these embroidery designs.

Comments (11) -

westernangel7 11/7/2009 4:47:31 PM

Where can you get the design for the luggage tags?  Will they fit into a 4 x 4 hoop?


Lyn Kirk


The square luggage tag will fit in the 100 x 100 hoop.  You can download the designs in all available formats by clicking the underlined "as well" link in the paragraph following the picture of the square tags.  The instructions are available in that same paragraph.  Click "here" for the .pdf file.


Very nice, I made gift tags one Christmas.  I didn't think of attaching with cable ties, I just used clear tape.   I used a nutcracker design for one and had the name on the back.  Another was a 'fish in a dart board' that my son had drawn back when he was in grade school.  Embroidery is so much fun!


For gift tags, fastening by tape is perfectly reasonable.  If you make tags again this year, you can provide a cable tie for LATER use as a tag for luggage.

I agree -- embroidery is a lot of fun, especially when we can make unique designs.  The fish in a dart board must have been really special for your son.


Hi Carol, your luggage tags caught my eye as I always like to tuck in a little Christmas gift to my girlfriend in her Xmas card and they are just the right size. She and her husband are going on a cruise so the time just right for this gift.....he is always complaining she gets three suitcases to his one! So as a joke I am making her three and him two!.........but I use Jeff and that was not an option for download?? and I often find that when  you use applique techniques (re trimming the tag first which is nicest) converting is not always spot on. Can you provide in Jeff format please?

Thanks for your advise on this



I did include .jef versions of the luggage tags in the download.  I used separate colors instead of a Stop command so the designs should convert without a problem.  Just follow the instructions for Method Two, since you plan to trim the tag before satin stitching.

Here is another option:

Stitch the second color in the design first.  This will hold the fabric down as a fix-baste would.

Then do the first color (the name you add to the tag).

Remove the hoop from the machine and add the fabric to the back of the stabilizer.  Stitch the third color of the design.

Remove the hoop from the machine and do your trimming.

Stitch the fourth color.

Your luggage tags will make a great gift, useful as well as funny.

Good luck, and let me know if you have trouble finding those .jef files.  I just checked and they are in the download file.  If you don't see them in the download offered in this blog, check the download offered with samples and guides to the Contour Print alphabet.


There are a few formats missing from the list.  I was not able to save either shape tag in .sew or the oblong tag in .pcs format.  Those formats do not support the sizes of hoops that would be necessary for embroidering the designs.


Carol, I stitched out one of the tags on my Brother PE-770.

The satin stitch on the edge is not wide enough.   I can easily modify this with my digitizer, but thought you'd want to know.

On my stitch-out, the edges started unraveling before I could get it off the hoop!


I have not had satin stitching unravel with either construction method, nor have I heard complaints from others who used the designs.  Did you interface the fabric for the front and reverse?  Satin stitching can sink into some soft fabrics and not appear as wide, but even that should not cause unraveling.  Have you had difficulty with other satin stitched designs?

Did you trim fabric before or after satin stitching?


susannah44 7/2/2010 6:53:58 AM

I am new to this and also am not sure I am in the correct place to ask this question, but here goes!  I have alphabet express and I would like to purchase and download the Jumbles Alphabet design.  I do not have digitising software on my computer.  Can these alphabets be used in Alphabet Express?  And How?

Hi, Susannah

My alphabets do not work with Alphabet Express or any other lettering program.  Fancy Jumbles letters are meant to be used as individual designs so that you can position and tilt each letter independently.  My alphabets are easiest to use if you have customizing software on your computer.  If your embroidery machine is advanced, you may be able to use the customizing it provides.

For those who have no software at all, my alphabets include templates for each letter.  The "How to Jumble" guide (included with purchase or in sample download) shows how you can use templates printed on parchment for arranging letters and then marking centering lines for each.

If you have further questions, please do ask.

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