Introducing Crash Course Cathy...

Hello Hello fellow  AnntheGran Embroiderers & New Orlando Circle of Friends!!!! :):):), Who Am I?  For those of you who attended the VERY SPECIAL 1st annual AnntheGran's convention in Orlando in April, you may remember was pretty hard to miss my loud scream and waving arm... [More]

But first, a word from our sponsor . . .

Okay, that would be me, but now that I've got your attention I want to first address a couple of questions that were posted in the comments from last week's post. I thought I'd answer them here, rather than there, because the answers might be of interest to many of you. For LolliConn, w... [More]

You Ruined My Brand New Silk Blouse!

Every now and then I'll receive an angry email that goes something like this: "I used one of the free designs from your site and it sewed out terribly and ruined my brand new silk blouse. Don't you sew out those free designs before you put them on your site?"Well the truth is that ... [More]

Sometimes the Third Time is the Charm...

Challenges & Lessons: So, I looked at the Laughing Cow box for a week. I picked it up. I measured it. I didn't want to do something with the box just for the sake of doing something with it. Now, this box is fairly flimsy. And shallow. Then I looked around for something that would fit in the... [More]

A Magic Bookshelf Game - What Are Tags and How Do I Use Them?

Let's Play Tags - I'm It!  My kids still play Tag, even though the oldest one becomes a teenager this month (), so I'm going to assume that, like me, you are not too old to play a variation of this age-old game. The game I want to play with you is called Tags, with an 's&#... [More]

AnnTheGran's Spring Cleaning Challenges

I've read all the forum posts from folks saying how much they enjoyed our (first annual??) Community Circle. Thank you so much for posting. I want to add, though, that no one had a better time than I did. I arrived home invigorated and ready to get back up to my elbows in embroidery.  Tote... [More]

Community Circle Thanks and Video Demonstrations

Hi, everyone!  Well, I think I've recovered from our fabulous Community Circle! I want to thank everyone who attended as well as Diane and Pardeep for keeping things running smoothly and, of course, Greg, for overseeing everything. Thanks also to Eileen Roche for her terrific classes,... [More]

Brotherly Love, Online Scrapbooking & Ideas from Down Under

Greetings, friends! Once again, I have been truly humbled by the sheer numbers of you who took time to consider and respond to my last post. I received hundreds of e-mails from well-wishers as far away as South Africa, Korea and Australia, all with essentially the same message: we wish we could joi... [More]

Ruffled Crib Quilt from Down Under

Every grandmother counts it a blessing when another child comes into her life.  Each set of tiny hands and feet hold a special place in her heart forever.  When the newest addition made his appearance to the Jenkins family it was just what Leanne needed to inspire her to expand her embroid... [More]

The Digital Scrapbook - Memories in the Magic Bookshelf

(If the text is cut off on the right side of the screen, please click on the post title above to view a corrected version)  Where's Your Shoebox? Whoever you are, wherever you are, the chances are pretty good that, at some point in your life, you've taken some pictures, and there... [More]

Easter Break to Prepare for Community Circle

Hi, everyone, The gang here is taking a little break for Easter and using the time to polish off some final preparations for my Community Circle event in Orlando, so I thought I'd just put together a brief note to let you know that I'm still alive and kicking -- well, moving my le... [More]

On Feeling Young, New Friends & Lunch in Orlando

Thanks for your Feedback I'm really pleased that all of you really took to heart my request in my last letter to get involved with commenting on the new site. We had the most comments and participation we've had since I started blogging. Your feedback really does encourage me and my guests ... [More]

Putting Knowledge in The Magic Bookshelf - What is a Wiki?

Who do You Trust for Information?  Where do you go when you need to know whether something is true or not? Is there a person you ask, or a place you go? Think about it -- everyone needs to have somewhere, something, or someone to help establish what is fact and what is fict... [More]


Who’s Deegee, you may ask?  Well, for those of you who don't know me, please permit me to introduce myself. I live in Southern Texas, I’m married, mom to 4 wonderful adult children and “Nanee” to 3 beautiful granddaughters and 1 very special little grandson.  And I’m like so many... [More]

Blouse Border Design using Shoes

I created this blouse border design by lining up various different shoes from my Fancy Footwork collection. To make the shoes fit together as a cohesive group it was necessary to reverse and rotate most of the designs until they created the right flow. Click here for a larger view of the screenshot ... [More]

Texas Hold-em T-Shirt

This t-shirt design, perfect for Friday night's poker game, was created by combining the cards and chips from my "It's A Boy's Life" collection. I then simply added the lettering "Texas Hold'em" using the Fairbanks block, which is a standard font included with Com... [More]

Paisley Stripe T-Shirt

Three designs make up this paisley stripe around the entire T-shirt when made from combining designs from my Paisley Passion collection. These surprisingly versatile designs can be combined to create an unending number of designs from tiny to all-over designs. Click here for a larger view of the scr... [More]

Embroidered Sheepdog Wallhanging Using Photos

Like many of us, Barbara Schleter has more than one passion.  Here she has combined her long time love of Shetland Sheepdogs with her more recent passion for embroidery.   Barbara has done a great job of sharing her thoughts on creating personalized gifts for those who are special to ... [More]

Welcome to the Magic Bookshelf - What is a Blog?

The Magic Bookshelf Imagine that you sit down at your machine one day to make something for someone, and you realize that there is a part of your project that you aren't sure how to complete. Imagine if you could then point your hands toward any bookshelf in your house and summon it to float th... [More]

Chanel Inspired Tee

The Chanel inspired jewelry design on this black t-shirt was created from the chains, pearls, and heart charm from my "Beads, Baubles and Bling" collection. This fun collection allows you to create necklaces, bracelets, pins and rings from a large variety of gems, charms and chains. C... [More]

Orlando Itinerary, Handsome Men & New Project

So Much To Share!  I have so much to share with you this week that I hardly know where to begin. Like many of you (but not all of you ), I love our new site, especially the way it lets people in our community talk to each other. Free designs are great, and I know that's why many of yo... [More]

Brighten Someone's Spirit with a Verse Lap Quilt

Quilts, whether large or small, can brighten the spirit and bring a bit of joy to those who need it in almost any situation.  Made with love and detailed with words of comfort, Susan Osborn shows us how a simple but heartfelt project can help make the days a little better for others.&... [More]

Western Wedding Quilt

Keeping up with traditions can be a challenge when you are as far away from your family as Debbie  Martin is.  But she obviously spends a lot of time and energy to share her love with family as shown in the wedding quilt as well as others who will appreciate the warmth of a handmade gift -... [More]

Community Circle April 3-4 in Orlando - Registration Ready at Long Last!

It's the gathering of the year and even if this is the first time you have joined me I know you'll be re-energized and ready to go after two full days with Eileen Roche and me. We'll share our best techniques and insider tips for expressing yourself through embroidery. For all the detai... [More]

Welcome to the AnnTheGran Community!

Welcome to the AnnTheGran Community! Many people know for free embroidery designs, and that's great, but now the site offers so much more. If you've just been using my site to get free designs, you've been missing out! Answers to All Your Questions If you have a questio... [More]

Embroidered Hot Cup Wraps

We had so many requests for Diane’s hot cup wraps from an earlier promotion that we decided we shoul [More]

AnnTheGran Community Circle in Orlando - A Few More Hints

OK, gals, mark your calendars today – April 3rd and 4th – less than 9 weeks away. It’s time to get together and re-energize our passion for embroidery at the first annual AnnTheGran Community Circle retreat. I love sunny Orlando and we’ll spend two whole days exploring innovative techniques, inspira... [More]

Japanese Embroidered Full Length Women's Wool Coat

First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who sent in feedback about my Community Circle event in April. It was a deluge! So many people responded that we needed to step back and re-plan the event to make it bigger. We're almost there; I'll be announcing all the details, along with r... [More]

I'm Having a Party, and You're Invited!

Let's face it, gals, it's been far too long sinced I've rubbed elbows and shared stories with most of you. So, I've resolved this year to put myself back into circulation, at least a bit and, unlike most of my New Year's resolutions, this is one I intend to keep!To celebrate the ... [More]

Framed Letters for a Personalized Nursery

For Diane Brown, embroidery started as a hobby to get away from all the stress of her job as a bank compliance officer. It didn’t take long, however, for her obsession to blossom into a new career. For a number of years she has been working behind the scenes in the development of software and embroi... [More]
Needles and Thread .. best recommendations

Needles and Thread .. best recommendations

Hello everyone.  Had some spare time in my new married life and wanted to touch base with this great community!!

I have been emailing my customer base about needles and thread and how my experience may help those that are either new, or, just have never given these two important tools much thought. So, please read and enjoy this post and let me know your thoughts.

If you would like to catch up on past emails that I send to my 1800+ registered users of our digitizing service, you can follow me on Twitter ( as Rick Macali (

Needle size

Todays high-speed embroidery machines are asked to do quite a few different tasks than they were just 15 years ago.  As a digitizing firm, In House Digitizing sees its fair share of our customers creativity.  Having the luxury of working with one of the top retailers in the country, and now they have expanded to Europe, they have made us change the way we look at things .. we have turned the uncommon into common.  The majority of our customers are contract and retail embroiderers.  Their shop ranges are from one head to over 200 heads.  These customers usually look for the common embroidery techniques  used  to  create  stunning  corporate logos and decorative embroidery.

Proper thread usage

After the needle email that went out last week, I had more than 20 replies asking about the best thread to use.  I will let everyone know that we use Madeira Classic Rayon 40, but, that doesn't mean that is the best choice for everyone; it is the best choice for us.  As a digitizer, and a long time machine-operator, the thread that is used can make or break your design, and sometimes your day.

Generally, I'm sure that all 'good' sewing threads have a good sewability and have aesthetic appeal.  I'm not going to detail a z-twist versus an s-twist thread, you can research that yourself, but, commercial and home embroidery machines use Z-TWIST threads.  I hear many stories about production  facilities that get great deals on thread from overseas factories, get it in and it won't sew for anything .. the thread is usually old, or more common s-twist thread.

The two common embroidery thread types are RAYON and POLYESTER, and they usually come in weights of 30#, 40# and 60#.  The higher number, the finer the thread.

What to watch for in your thread choice

Elongation:  All thread has a stretch to it before it breaks; polyester will stretch more than rayon, which has little stretch to it.  The longer a thread stretches, the more chance you have looping on your embroidery.

Reliability:  Some threads are made better than others.  Some threads can be thinner in spots making the thread weaker in that area.  Also, depending on the brand you use, it can have an abnormal amount of knots in the cone that can hinder productivity.  It's not just that the knot can't make it's way through the needle's eye, but, thread coming off the cone can catch on the knot still in the cone.

Strength:   Its breakability can be measured in your embroidery production.  Continuous filament thread like polyester and rayon have a greater tenacity, or strength.

Proper twist:  There is a definitive twist to the 2-ply embroidery thread.  A thread with too much or too little twists can cause many problems with your embroidery.  Commercial embroidery machines, by their nature, will ADD twists to thread during sewing.  This will add twists to a z-twist thread and actually untwist an s-twist thread.

Common Thread Type Comparison

Brilliant color
More colors
Runs smooth

Colorfast - harsh washing
Less expensive

Z-twist versus S-twist

Thread breaks
Wrong thread for job
Wrong or damaged needle
Thread defects
Bruised cones (dropped)
Excessive elongation
Too much tension
Worn machine parts
  - thread path disks
  - take up lever
  - all guides
  - burr on hook
  - needle plate

Needle parts


Notice the NEEDLE POINT starts at the top of the needle's eye.  A light weight ball point is the best needle to use for knits.  Stay away from sharp points on knits as you can cut the knit your are embroidering.  Also, if you find you are cutting alot of knit material while you are embroidering, start by replacing your needle(s).  Probably the MOST common cause of this is a burr somewhere on the needles point; many times, undetectable by sight or even touch.

Best regards,

Rick Macali
In House Digitizing

Comments (3) -

Thanks for the great info.  I'm fairly new to emb. & brand new to Ann the Gran.  I'm recently out of work & seriously considering how my machine & I could generate a little income.  

At this point the income is still in my head & may have to stay there is I can't come up with some great ideas for marketing my plan.

HIM Lady

Marketing your hobby is a great way to generate some income.  Here's a tried-and-true idea:  go to a screen printer and ask if you can do just the names that they need embroidered.  THEN, make friends with a larger embroiderer.  When you start doing the screen printers names, they are going to ask that you do their embroidery too !!  Having that embroiderer in your back pocket for large orders is a handy tool ..

GOOD LUCK, and let me know if I can help you.



I am also new to this web site and blogging. I am so glad I found you!  You have answered several questions I have had about needles and types of thread. I have one small sampler pack of Madiera thread and find it the most wonderful for embroidering on my Pfaff 2170. It seems that the others fray and break much too easily. Madeira always sews wonderfully.

Thanks for the information.  Jean

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