Behind The Scenes: A Creative Machine Embroidery Photo Shoot

There’s an old saying in the theater — never work with animals, children or drunks. Basically, they’re hard to control and make a lot of extra work for everyone. Sometimes it’s worth it, though, like when we brought seven kittens to our photoshoot for our September/October issue.

CME1710 Sept Oct cover 500 Behind The Scenes: A Creative Machine Embroidery Photo Shoot

The pet beds we were shooting were made with the names of my cats, but we had several reasons for shooting with kittens instead. The main reason, of course, was that even though my cats are pretty cute, kittens are even cuter. Also, kittens are very adaptable and are able to roll with unusual situations in a way adult cats can’t or won’t.

I’m lucky enough to have a friend who fosters kittens (in fact, she fostered one of my cats) and had, if I recall correctly, 10 kittens in her house at the time. When I asked to borrow some, she was happy to set me up with all but a few that were too young for a field trip. So the morning of the shoot I swung by her house and picked up two travel carriers worth of kittens. Turns out that driving with that many kittens in the back seat is pretty nerve-wracking; a couple were very unhappy about being shut up and protested loudly the whole drive.

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Me with a kitten during some downtime.

At the studio, we set the kittens up in the bathroom — the only space where we could safely contain them. I gave them water, a litter box and some toys, then put a baby gate across the door, which did absolutely nothing to stop the more determined kittens. After about two minutes of plucking kittens off the gate, we had to shut the door.

We were shooting a lot of projects that day, including our pants and little black dress reviews for Sew News, which meant that all the editors were in attendance and we were all being photographed. This was probably a good thing, because we were able to leave the kittens to hang out and get used to the new environment without being constantly harassed — though they had a lot of visitors!

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This sleepy little guy really liked that faux fur!

I gave the kittens some food about a half an hour before we were planning to shoot the pet bed pictures; my friend suggested that they would get sleepy after eating, making it easier to photograph them. It worked, to some extent — we set up the shot, then I went in and got the ginger and white kitten, who was sleeping. I set him down on the bed, and he snuggled in and started nursing on the faux fur. We got a couple good pictures — and then he realized something exciting was happening. He perked up and wanted to explore, and by that I mean run around the studio checking things out.

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There he goes!

In the end, it went like this; we’d take a few kittens at a time, put them on the bed, and take photos really quick before they jumped down and ran off. The whole team was chasing kittens, bringing kittens back, jumping out of the shot, then preparing to chase the kittens again. The little ginger and white guy turned out to be very slippery and ended up under the studio’s refrigerator a couple of times. Tina, our stylist, turned out to be a kitten-coaxing guru and got him out.


It was absolute chaos, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had at work.

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Kitten drive-by

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Me and our Art Director, Danielle, ready to let go and jump out of the shot. It kind of looks like we were posing, but we weren’t!










After we had managed to take a dozen or so really good shots amongst the chaos, Ellen suggested that we should do a group shot with everyone holding a kitten. That became the editor letter photograph for the issue. I got to hold my favorite kitten, an affectionate little brown tabby who tried to stick his head up my nose (out of friendliness; cats are weird).

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The editorial team, from left to right: Me, Amanda, Ellen, Jill, and Jessica

After all that, Ellen still had to take a few photos for her editor letters, but the rest of us were done, so we could start cleaning up. Usually, that meant collecting projects, garments and accessories and packing them up. I had to do that, of course, but I also had to clean all the kitten’s stuff out of the bathroom, empty the litter box, pack up the kittens, and sweep up.

Clean-up took a while, but I managed to get all the kittens (I counted three times) into their carriers and get them home safely. We (me and the kittens) were all pretty worn out from all the excitement, but it was worth it… and I’d be happy to do it all over again. I just need to think of another project that will require kitten models!

Screen Shot 2016 08 16 at 3.36.45 PM Behind The Scenes: A Creative Machine Embroidery Photo Shoot

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Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week:


ColorMatching 960x1024 Tip of the Week

When embroidering on a towel (or anything else that you want to appear nice on the back), match the bobbin thread to the towel or fabric color rather than the top thread.

Email your tips to and your tip could be featured in a future issue of Creative Machine Embroidery!

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New Issue Preview: Creative Machine Embroidery September/October

cme New Issue Preview: Creative Machine Embroidery September/October

Like it or not, fall is coming, friends! And we have a lovely issue to help you get ready…er, wrap your head around the fast-approaching cooler temps!

We love Halloween around here, so if fall has a silver lining, it’s definitely that! We’ve got fun decor, interactive games and all kinds of spooky fun – and kittens: we have kittens!! Plus learn how to:

  • CME1710 Leggings 221x300 New Issue Preview: Creative Machine Embroidery September/OctoberSew a sweet monogrammed pouf for your favorite critter.
  • Customize handmade lingerie with lace.
  • Embroider basic leggings for a high-end look.
  • Make a spooky set of travel pillows.
  • Quilt with silk.
  • Work with border designs.
  • Add texture to your creations with felting and couching in the hoop and more.
  • Stitch a set of harvest-themed ornaments for fall decorating.

That ought to keep you busy for a while…at least until our upcoming Christmas holiday issue!

CME1710 Yoke Dress 221x300 New Issue Preview: Creative Machine Embroidery September/October  CME1710 Lingerie 221x300 New Issue Preview: Creative Machine Embroidery September/October


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What’s Your Favorite Type Of Embroidery?

Do you have a favorite type of embroidery? I love the slow nature of hand embroidery, but the more I do of machine embroidery I find that to be a lot of fun too! I have been working on my first (successful) quilt and I’m finding that quilting and machine embroidery is a whole new ballgame for me. I love putting personal touches on my quilt using my embroidery machine. Really didn’t think I would take to embroidery like I have.

hero SD 0720 Whats Your Favorite Type Of Embroidery?If hard pressed to pick one I would have to pick machine embroidery on garments as my favorite. I love adding those unexpected touches. I’m a bit new on getting the placement just right, but live and learn. Currently, I’m embroidering on fabric that isn’t too difficult. No tricky fabrics for me. Yet. I do love to sew with silks and silkies, and rayons, so I’m going to be needing to get there eventually. What’s the trickiest fabric you’ve had to machine embroidery?

Hand embroidery is my next favorite. I have been hand embroidering for a long time. I learned in Brownies. I earned my sewing and embroidery badge in Girl Scouts too.

girl scout day Whats Your Favorite Type Of Embroidery?I like that I can take hand embroidery anywhere (most anywhere). It’s a lot like knitting for me, where I can grab a project, get in the car and have something to do. Creating is something I do all the time it seems. One thing that I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years (yes, I’m that far behind!) is this bag from Artfully Embroidered by Naoko Shimoda.

Glitzy Granny Bag Whats Your Favorite Type Of Embroidery? I love its simplicity, it’s roominess. I’ve actually enlarged the pattern for a bit more room. All I need to do is find fabric! Another technique I’d love to learn is how to transfer embroidery designs and paper piecing. Did I say there aren’t enough hours in the day?

Last but surely not least is machine embroidery and quilting. This is my first attempt at using machine embroidery and quilting. I have a lot to learn. I do plan on using free-motion stitching for the quilt top. It will be interesting for sure. Below is a detail from my quilt. It’s a simple patchwork, but I’m really happy with the results so far. Now, I need to quilt it.

quilt detail  Whats Your Favorite Type Of Embroidery?I would also like to do Red  Work, Sashiko and Trapunto. But, first things first. What’s your favorite type of embroidery to do? What would you like to restart or experiment with?

Leave me a comment below!

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How To Build Up Your Embroidery Collection – Easily!

What Is The Internet Embroidery Club?

Thank you all for being a part of this family who loves the wonderful, creative things that your remarkable embroidery machines can do. We’re striving to increase your enjoyment of this 21st century implementation of a centuries-old technique for adding an “artist’s” touch to the beautiful things you make. The Internet Embroidery Club is THE place for unique and original machine embroidery designs.  You may not know, but Creative Machine Embroidery magazine is not our only machine embroidery publication. We have the Martha Pullen Company under our umbrella too. So, please be sure to check them out as well.

sewing machine outside How To Build Up Your Embroidery Collection   Easily!

IEC Membership Benefits

The Internet Embroidery Club (IEC) is a calendar year membership (January through December) providing embroidery designs of the highest quality for members to download to their own computers. When you join you will be able to download all the designs (January through December) of the calendar year for which you join.

Members of the current IEC year will receive email notifications as each new design is released.

DPIEC2017PL How To Build Up Your Embroidery Collection   Easily!

You may purchase any of the past IEC years at anytime, and access to those designs does not expire after the year is over. Browse all of the designs from 2001-2017, then visit our online store to purchase any of those years.

Stay tuned to more designs as they come out. You can shop the entire collection here. We’ll also be dropping designs on the site.

Please check out the site and let us know if you like these designs. What designs would you like to see more of?

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Sew A Softie

Sew A Softie today and reconnect, slow down and share your love of sewing soft cute things with the next generation of sewists.

CME Sew A Softie Sew A Softie

Join us in July to Sew a Softie! The event was founded by Trixi Symonds, a designer, sewing teacher and author of Sew Together Grow Together, a book of simple sewing projects for parents and children that aims to bring children and parents together over a common love of hand sewing, unplugging and, of course, super-cute softies.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the latest Creative Machine Embroidery magazine and read all about Trixi and learn what Sew A Softie day means to her, how it got started and why it’s important to teach kids to sew.

Join Trixi’s Sew A Softie Facebook Group and connect with all sorts of people. This group will have schedules, line ups of blog tours, great tips and tricks and other important and fun information. We hope you join along and sew a softie or two this July.

If you sew one use the #sewasoftie and we can see all the cuteness!

Don’t forget you can get two softie designs for free now and through August 31 Find the cutie little piggy softie and a monkey softie and join in the fun!


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Basic Training: Needles

In the past, needle choice was limited to different needle sizes, but the current market offers so many choices, making it overwhelming. Learn the basic needle options to narrow down the choices and make needle selection easier.

tomatoe  682x1024 Basic Training: NeedlesSystem
•    The needle system is denoted on the package by a series of numbers/letters (A). There are many needle systems for commercial machines, but most home machines use the 130/705H system. Check your machine manual for the needle system that your machine uses. The needle system number is listed on all needle packages, regardless of the needle type or use. The needle system number may be followed by a dash and another letter. That letter refers to the needle type, such as 130/705H-J for Jeans or 130/705H-E
for Embroidery.

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(A) Examples of needle numbering.

•    The needle shaft size is denoted by a set of two numbers, such
as 80/12, on the package. The
first number is the European metric number, and the second number is its American equivalent. The larger the number, the larger the needle shaft. Needle sizes range from 60/8 to 120/19. The needle size is also stamped on the rounded side of the shank, along with the needle brand. Use a large magnifying glass to view the size.
•    Choose the needle size according to the project fabric. Heavier fabric requires a larger needle in order to penetrate the heavy fibers. Lightweight fabric requires a smaller needle to avoid leaving large holes in the fabric. The most commonly used sizes are 75/11 or 80/12 for general sewing.
•    Also consider the thread type and size when choosing a needle size. Smaller needles have smaller eyes and are suitable for lightweight thread. Similarly, larger needles have larger eyes and are suitable for heavier, thicker thread.

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Anatomy of a needle.

Needle Tip
•    There are a variety of needle
tip options appropriate for different fabrics. The three most common types are sharp, ballpoint and universal.
•    Sharps have the sharpest point and are used when stitching fabric that’s difficult to penetrate. Ballpoint needles have a slightly rounded tip. Use this needle type when stitching knits, as the point nestles between the fabric yarns instead of cutting them and causing a hole in the fabric. Universal needles are a cross between the two. These all-purpose needles can be used on a variety of fabrics, including woven fabrics and some knits.

•    Different needle types are
manufactured to accommodate different thread, fabric or for different applications. The groove and the eye are altered depending on the intended use. There are special needle types for
many different kinds of sewing and thread.
•    The long needle groove cradles and protects the thread as it travels down to the needle eye. The groove must be large and deep enough to accommodate the
chosen thread, or thread breakage may occur.
•    The needle eye must also be large enough to accommodate the thread. The shape may be elongated or enlarged depending on the specific use and thread it’s designed for. Reference your machine manual for specific needle suggestions.

Embroidery Needles
•    Always use a high-quality needle. This is especially important for machine embroidery because of the high speed of the machine.
•    Use needles designed specifically for machine embroidery. Embroidery needles have a slightly rounded point and a larger eye to accommodate the thread as it moves rapidly back and forth through the eye. This helps prevent thread shredding and breakage.
•    Embroidery needles are available in sizes ranging from 65/9 to 90/14. As with sewing, use a smaller needle for lightweight fabrics and a larger needle for heavier fabrics. The most commonly used sizes are 80/12 and 75/11.
•    Purchase ballpoint embroidery needles when embroidering knit fabrics. The rounded tip slides between the knit yarns instead of cutting them as a universal embroidery needle could. This is especially important when embroidering on a lower-quality knit fabric. You might not notice the difference during embroidery, but when the garment is washed and worn, small holes or runs may appear around the design perimeter.
•    Some embroidery needles, such as Organ Titanium Coated Embroidery Needles, have a special
coating that helps keep the needle tips intact. They’re more expensive than a standard embroidery needle, but last considerably longer. These needles work well when embroidering with adhesive-backed stabilizers, as the coating prevents the adhesive from adhering to the needle. However, continue to check periodically (at least during each thread change) to see if a ball of adhesive has formed on the needle blade/shaft. Clean the adhesive from the needle using a cotton swab slightly moistened with alcohol or water.

Good To Know

Consider the following guidelines when deciding how often to change a needle.

•    In general, change the needle for every four to six hours of embroidery time. Change needles more often if embroidering heavyweight
•    Change the needle any time the threads in the design appear less than desirable.
•    Change the needle before embroidering on lightweight or sheer fabric. A burred needle could damage the delicate fabric.
•    If you experience thread breakage or fraying, first try
rethreading the needle. If the thread breaks again, change the needle.
•    If thread loops appear on the fabric right side, change the needle.
•    Change the needle immediately if you hear any unusual or popping sounds.

Klassé carries sewing machine needles:
Organ Needle Co. carries sewing machine needles:
Schmetz provided the jeans, jersey, embroidery
& metallic needles:

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15 Patterns + 2 Embroidery Design Collections + Free Class!

It’s all in the details this summer! The best on-trend detail you can add to your 2017 garments is embroidery. This kit includes 15 digital sewing patterns and 2 collections of machine embroidery designs that you can load onto your machine. Check out a few of the patterns and the full embroidery design collections below. You’ll find all the details and patterns here!

And, wait there’s more! You will receive access to a free class on machine embroidery. This is such a great opportunity for those that love to sew and fans of machine embroidery and all for $29.99.

Screen Shot 2017 05 09 at 11.23.15 AM 15 Patterns + 2 Embroidery Design Collections + Free Class!









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Learn More Machine Embroidery Tricks & Tips!

Last year we released the Absolute Beginner Machine Embroidery with Sara Gallegos as the host. That first season was one of our most popular video series. In series one Sara covered

Embroidery machine 700 Learn More Machine Embroidery Tricks & Tips!Now in season two Sara covers even more must know machine embroidery tips, tricks and secrets. In season two you’ll learn:

  • How to Embroider on a Shirt Lapel
  • Creating Your Own Embroidery Designs with Auto-Digitizing
  • Quilt as You Go with Embroidery
  •  Embroidery and Thread Colors
  • Creating Special Occasion Napkins
  • Fixing a Hole or Stain with an Embroidery
  • Decorative Embroidered Buttonholes
  •  Adding Embroideries to Hemlines
  •  Embroider an Inspired Phrases Wall Hanging
  • Embroidering on Shirt Sleeves
  • Intro to Hand-Look Embroideries
  • Multiple In-the-Hoop projects
  • Utilizing Test-Stitch and Random Embroideries
  •  Monogramming with Frames
  •  Embroidering with Ribbons
  • Embroidering on a Pant Legs
  • Multiple Hoop Placements
  • Plus, five individual projects

Whew! That’s a lot to learn, but as usual Sara delivers it all in bite sized pieces, easy to watch and learn. Sara G ABME 2 Learn More Machine Embroidery Tricks & Tips!

This is a 26 episode series and you have two ways of getting it. One is in one easy to download video for 24.99. The other option is to go to QNN TV and subscribe and purchase only the classes you want. All start at 5.99.

ABME 2In the Hoop Quilt As You Go Zippered Pouch Learn More Machine Embroidery Tricks & Tips!

One of many projects you’ll complete!


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Ready For Endless Machine Embroidery Projects?

Do you love your embroidery machine, of course you do! Have you ever wondered what else that talented piece of equipment can do? Then this course is for you! We’ll explore how easily your embroidery machine can become your best sewing room helper, tackling those sometimes aggravating and stressful tasks like zippers, buttonholes and pockets, paper piecing and stippling.

Embroidery machine 700 Ready For Endless Machine Embroidery Projects?

  • Help with functional everyday sewing; classic quilting techniques and fantastic in and out-of-the-hoop projects.
  • Discover just how easily your embroidery machine can be a sewing room helper, artistic enabler and time saver.

Simple sewing tasks can sometimes be daunting but they don’t need to be because you have an embroidery machine just waiting to help you! Let me show you how to create simple designs with basic digitizing software to make buttonholes, pockets and zipper placements. We will also explore some onboard tools your machine may have that will allow you to create the same techniques on your machine, no software involved!

Using your embroidery machine for quilt projects

Who doesn’t love a nice quilt, especially a beautifully pieced and stippled quilt. Did you know your machine can aid you in creating one? I’ll show you how to digitize a quick paper-pieced block with basic digitizing software to get you started. Then we will explore how to add stippling – even character stippling – to be added right in the hoop.

Next we’ll check out how easy it is to create all-over stipple patterns either with digitizing software or with onboard tools your machine may have. I’ll show you my favorite tools, supplies and lots of tips and tricks to create beautiful quilted projects. It’s so easy and so fast!

Machine embroidery on ‘un-hoopable’ items

If you’ve ever wanted to put embroidery on things you can’t possibly get in the hoop but were not sure how to go about that, join me as I show you how much fun I have doing that! We’ll explore substrates, glues and fabrics, stitching techniques and tools. What about 3D embroidery even if you don’t have 3D designs? Let me show you how to see your design stash in a whole new light while we check out embellishments that pop up off the fabric and also projects that pop right out of the hoop!

Your embroidery machine will not only save you buckets of time and reduce your stress level; it will also make sewing fun again. This class includes designs so that you can follow along right there in your own sewing room, making pretties with me as we explore the wonderful possibilities of the embroidery machine!

unique creative endless embroidery 600x600 Ready For Endless Machine Embroidery Projects?

See you soon!

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