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Choosing the right embroidery machine for you.

embroidery machineWhether you are new to the world of embroidery or you’ve been embroidering for years, buying a new embroidery machine can be overwhelming. There are so many brands and models to choose from. How do you pick the right one? The answer is: Test Drive, Test Drive, Test Drive.

Every chance you can sit down and sew/embroider on the different brands/models of machines. If you live by a dealer, visit the dealer and sit in front of the machine yourself. Ask to press the buttons and thread the machine. Ask if you can change the bobbin and load a design. All things you want to be sure that are user friendly enough that you can do them at home when the dealer is no longer standing right next to you. (Most dealers offer free classes if you purchase the machine from them.) Quilt shows are a great place for test drives, as the top manufacturer’s are usually at most shows. You’ll be able to sit down and sew on many different brands and models all in one day.

Ask a lot of questions, and decide what features are important to you. Perhaps you don’t need a thread cutter, but really want an auto threader. How many feet come with the machine? What is the average price of new feet? What file format of embroidery design does the machine take (this is mostly important if you already have a machine, as you don’t want to find out your entire library of designs is incompatible with the new machine.) Does it have a color screen or b/w? What hoop sizes come with the machine? How many built in designs does it come with? Does the machine have the ability to edit designs (making them larger or smaller, rotating them,. combining two designs etc.)

If you are at a quilt show that provides the machines for classes, then be sure to take some of those classes. Not only will you be able to sew/embroider on that particular machine for an hour or more, but most shows have special deals on the machines that are used in the classroom as they don’t want to pack them all back up and ship them home.

One of the great things about sewing and embroidery machines is that much like cars, if/when you are ready to upgrade to a newer model, you can trade in your old machine towards the new one!

And much like cars, machine manufactures come out with new models of machines almost every year. There are always new features to discover.

Bottom line, test drive as many machines as you can, ask lots of questions and you’ll be sure to find the perfect machine for you and your budget.

Happy Shopping!

– Kat

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Embroider on Wood

Today’s tutorial is how to embroider on wood. Yes, wood. It’s unexpected and makes a fabulous gift. People will be amazed that you stitched on wood. The trick to this is Balsa wood.

noun: balsa wood

  1. a very lightweight wood used in particular for making models and rafts.

  2. the fast-growing tropical American tree from which this wood is obtained.

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to make monogrammed jewelry box. Here’s what you’ll need.


Balsa Wood  -1/16th thickness

Needle – 75/11 universal

Stabilizer – adhesive stabilizer

Thread – embroidery thread

Emb. Design (I used the built in font from my machine)

Unfinished wooden jewelry box


Xacto knife

Paint & brushes


I purchased the unfinished jewelry box and the Balsa wood from my local craft store.

embroider on wood

Balsa wood comes in different thickness, you want to purchase the 1/16th thickness. Be sure to buy a piece that’s wide enough to cover the top of the jewelry box.

Trace the shape of the box onto the Balsa wood. Use the Xacto knife to gently cut the shape out. Balsa wood cracks easily…take your time and be gentle.

embroider on wood

Paint the jewelry box and the Balsa wood in the same color. Let them dry. I used a fun acrylic glitter paint (also found at my local craft store).

embroider on wood

Hoop a piece of adhesive stabilizer. I used Perfect Stick by Floriani. Place the Balsa wood on the stabilizer…center the design. I used a built in font from my machine to create the initial. (note – if you don’t have adhesive stabilizer you can use a piece of tear-a-away and then use a spray adhesive. Hoop the cut-away stabilizer and spray the back of the Balsa wood with the spray adhesive. Place the wood onto the center of the hooped stabilizer)..

Use a 75/11 universal needle. Use your favorite embroidery thread. Stitch out the design.

embroider on wood

Once done carefully un-hoop the stabilizer and using scissors carefully cut the stabilizer away from the Balsa wood. Do not tear it away as you might crack the wood. Start by cutting around the wood leaving a 1/2 inch or so of stabilizer around the wood.

embroider on wood

Then turn the wood over, and using an knife carefully cut away the rest of the stabilizer.

Since I used adhesive stabilizer I left some stabilizer on the back, to help keep the wood from breaking. Be sure to trim it away from the edges of the Balsa wood, exposing about 1/4 inch of the wood.

embroider on wood

Glue the Blasa wood to the top of the jewelry box.  Gently brush away any glue that comes through the needle holes with a wet paper towel. Let it dry.

embroider on wood

Viola! Embroidery wood jewelry box!

embroider on wood

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How to choose embroidery thread

Recently, a customer asked me what I thought about a particular brand of embroidery thread. That’s such a great question, so I thought I’d share my answer here with all of you.Embroidery Thread

In my opinion, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ brand of embroidery thread. Just like there are lots of different sewing machine makes and models, there are many different brands of thread and you just have to find the brand that works for you. Not all brands will run smoothly in your machine.

When buying a brand of embroidery thread that you haven’t used before, I recommend buying only a few spools of it and actually running it on your machine before buying a lot of that brand. In fact, it’s great if you can buy a few spools of a multitude of brands. Use the different brands of threads and stitch out the same embroidery design with each brand.

Then you can step back and evaluate each brand of thread. How did your machine like that thread?  Each brand of thread will run differently on your machine. Not all machines ‘like’ all brands of thread. 

After you stitch out the design, ask yourself these questions:

            *Did the thread break a lot?

            *Was there a lot of lint in your bobbin casing when the design was finished?

            *Did the thread get tangled a lot?

            *Do you like the quality/look of the stitch out?

Ask yourself this after using each new brand of thread. And if you are using the same embroidery design it will be easy to lay them all out and compare the quality. Then you can buy what ever brand you and your machine are the happiest with. There’s no judgement based on what brand thread you buy…all of the brands are good, you just need to find the one that works best for you and your machine.

Quick story, when I lived back in Milwaukee, an embroidery club member and I had the same exact sewing machine, same exact model and everything. I loved using a particular brand of thread, but every time she used that brand it gave her nothing but trouble. It constantly broke on her, she got tangles and thread nests. She tried the brand multiple times (just in case she had gotten a bad spool). But in the end it only gave her grief, so she stopped buying and using that brand of thread. I still use that brand to this day and I’ve never had the problems that she had with it. So that just goes to show you, that each machine has a ‘mind’ of it’s own. And like a lot of things in life, you’ll learn by trial and error.

Good luck with your thread search..and most of all have fun with it! I love looking at all the colors of thread. Soo pretty! The hardest part is choosing which colors to buy.

Happy Stitching everyone!

– Kat  🙂