FREE Easter Egg Embroidery Design

Spring and Easter designs are some of the cutest of the year! Who doesn’t love bunnies and charming eggs and floral designs? We sure do. With Easter right around the corner (Sunday April 21) we’re giving away a free design for you to use however you see fit.

GettyImages 876394166 FREE Easter Egg Embroidery DesignPlease download this egg embroidery design, just in time for Easter and spring time festivities. Continue reading

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How To Use Stenciling + Machine Embroidery

Add stenciling to your embroidery for bold effects and added detail. Learn the basics of stenciling below, then discover ways to combine stenciling and embroidery in part 2.

Lead 1 682x1024 How To Use Stenciling + Machine Embroidery

Getting Started

Stenciling really requires only two tools: a stencil and a coloring media. There are many possibilities for each tool, ensuring a combination that’ll work for any project.


  • Stencils range from simple openings cut in paper to metal plates with detailed cutout motifs. The design size and the number of times the stencil will be used help determine which stencil is best for a particular project.
  • Paper stencils are the least durable, but they’re easy to cut and utilize a material that’s always at hand. Use heavy card stock to give the stencil more body so it won’t come apart when moist paint is applied or brush strokes are applied across its edge.
  • Freezer paper is another good stencil material. It can be ironed to the background fabric for stenciling, which is a great benefit if the stencil includes small areas that can easily shift as the color is applied. Two or more layers of freezer paper can be fused together with an iron for a sturdier stencil.
  • Many purchased stencils are cut from plastic sheets. Plastic stencils, being waterproof and resistant to tears, are more durable than paper. Find precut plastic stencils at craft or discount stores, or cut your own from blanks. Suitable plastic sheets can be found next to precut stencils, or use template plastic from the quilting department. Draw or trace the stencil design onto the plastic with a pencil or a pen. The plastic sheets can be cut with scissors, but a craft knife or stencil burning tool is useful for cutting narrow areas and fine details.
  • Metal stencils are durable and can be reused indefinitely without losing any design detail. They’re also more expensive; metal stencils tend to be smaller than precut plastic stencils. They’re also inflexible; metal stencils should only be used on flat surfaces. Metal stencils are often found with embossing and card-making supplies, but they can be used for traditional stenciling as well.
  • Designs for stencils must not have any islands or areas that float freely within larger areas that are cut away. This requirement results in the familiar appearance of stenciled letters, where the letter “O” becomes two semicircles that don’t quite meet at the top and bottom. When making original stencil designs, plan ahead to minimize the number of bridges needed, making them as small and unobtrusive as possible.

Color Selection

  • Coloring media for stencils range from pen and ink to paint and dye. The choice affects the finished appearance of the motif, depending on the material being stenciled, the finished project use and the desired appearance of the stenciling. Some media are opaque enough to use even on dark fabrics.
  • Acrylic paint is an easy option for stenciling on paper or fabric. The paints are available already compounded for use on fabric. A textile medium can be added to regular acrylic paints to adapt them for fabric use. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for application and care. Many paints must be heat set before they are permanent on fabric.
  • Paint is applied to a stencil with a brush. Special stenciling brushes are cylindrical in shape, with all their bristles the same length. This shape facilitates a tapping motion called “pouncing” or “stippling” for applying color. Dip the brush in the paint and tap it on scrap paper until almost all of the paint is removed. Pounce the brush up and down over the cutout in the stencil, tapping the color onto the fabric or paper underneath. This dry brush technique applies a little paint at a time, and allows a buildup of color for shading or blending two colors for subtle variations. The technique also drives the paint into the fabric for a more supple texture and shorter drying times.
  • figure 300x225 How To Use Stenciling + Machine Embroidery Another method for applying paint to stencils results in darker edges and pale central areas. Place a heavy line or spot of paint on the stencil near the cutout area, rather than on the fabric or paper within the stencil cutout. Stroke a brush through the paint and into the cutout, dragging the paint onto the fabric beneath.
  • Acrylic paints are easy to clean up with soap and water. Be sure to clean and dry the brush and stencil between colors, or have separate tools to use with each paint color.
  • Inks can also be used for coloring stenciled designs. Choose permanent inks on the fabric. Stamp pads are a convenient distribution method for ink used in stenciling. Tap the brush on the inkpad to apply the ink to the bristles; use the stippling technique outlined above.
  • Fabric markers can be used with stencils in a variety of ways. Use a brush marker to stroke ink inward from the design edges, beginning on the stencil itself, as previously outlined. Fine tip markers can be used to outline designs by simply tracing the stencil onto underlying fabric, or to add details within a stenciled motif. They can also be used to add squiggles or crosshatches for shading on top of flat color applied with another method.
  • Oil crayons and paintsticks are wonderful for applying a layer of smooth color to a stencil. Unlike acrylics, oils dry slowly and must be cleaned up with turpentine or paint thinner. Plan ahead, and have the necessary cleaning tools available before stenciling. Drying takes 48 to 72 hours, so allow plenty of time between stenciling the motifs and adding embroidery to the project.

Other notions

  • Freezer paper ironed to the wrong side of the stenciling fabric stabilizes the fabric during the application of paint or ink. It also serves as a barrier, preventing bleedthrough onto other fabric layers (as when stenciling on a T-shirt) or the work surface. An iron-on stabilizer can be used instead and left in place during embroidery.
  • Masking tape or blue painter’s tape is perfect for temporarily holding a stencil in place. The tape prevents the stencil’s shifting between applications of different colors, or when working with a large, complex design.
  • Apply temporary spray adhesive, stencil adhesive or basting glue stick to the stencil’s wrong side to keep it flat against the decorated surface. Unlike masking tape, adhesive will attach all of the stenciled parts to the surface without interfering with the coloring process.
  • Chalk or temporary marking tools are needed for making registration marks when a stencil must be moved and realigned–like when creating a continuous border.


With the variety of media available for coloring stenciled designs, stenciling is adaptable for virtually any fabric. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Prewash fabric for stenciling to remove finishes that can interfere with color absorption.
  • Smooth fabric with a fine weave works best for finely detailed stencils.
  • Rough textured and napped fabrics are less satisfactory candidates for stenciling. Stenciled designs on textured surfaces may appear jagged or broken. Test first, and then select a different embellishment technique if the result is unsatisfactory.
  • Ink and dye penetrate into the fabric’s fibers, so they have little effect on the fabric’s hand (the way it feels and drapes). Choose penetrating color for lightweight or sheer fabrics.
  • Paints tend to sit on the surface of the material. If applied heavily over a large area, surface paints seriously affect the drape of the underlying fabric. Because they’re widely available in opaque formulations, paints may be the best choice for stenciling on dark colors.

Now that you know all about stenciling, check back on April 25, 2019 for Part 2, all about combining stenciling and embroidery!

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New Issue of Creative Machine Embroidery!

The Spring/Summer issue of Creative Machine Embroidery is finally here! I really love this issue, and I’m so excited that we finally get to share it with you.

00 CME1904 Cover 500px New Issue of Creative Machine Embroidery! Continue reading

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Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3

Welcome to our third and final installment on our series about combining embroidery and foiling!

Metal foiling is a technique that once you get the hang of it produces stunning results. Working with metallic threads can be a bit tricky. Today we are concluding our three part series on metal foiling, be sure to read part one and two (links below) for best results when using metal foiling and your embroidery machine.

Foiled jacket 766x1024 Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3


  • Foil is applied in the same manner, no matter which method is used to apply the adhesive.
  • Use a medium-hot (wool setting) dry iron to apply the foil and test-press a sample before beginning the project. If the iron is too hot, the foil will melt. Use a non-stick press cloth if needed to prevent damage to fabric.
  • Lay the foil sheet color side up over the adhesive so that the metallic film totally covers the adhesive area. Using the edge and/or tip of the iron, burnish the foil in place. As you press, you should be able to see a light impression of the design on the foil surface. Pay particular attention to the design edges to avoid exposed adhesive when finished.
  • When the foil is completely cooled, gently peel it off. Trying to remove it before the adhesive is completely cooled will result in the foil not completely adhering to the design area.
  • If the foil isn’t completely covering the adhesive, re-foil as needed, using the same or another color. Colors can be layered as long as there is tackiness to the adhesive and the foil can be re-used until no color remains on the sheet.

Foil samples 300x224 Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3


  • Most foil manufacturers suggest washing foiled projects wrong side out in cool water on a gentle cycle and air-drying. Hand washing is preferred. Dry cleaning is not recommended for any foiled project.
  • Putting embellished garments in a dryer or using direct heat from an iron will cause the foil to come off. Hang to dry instead.
  • Never iron directly over foil; press items only from the back side with a presscloth.

Tricks of the Trade

  • Use the foil sheets until they are totally devoid of metallic. Small bits of color can be added simply by burnishing in place with the iron tip or a rubbing tool, as long as there is an exposed adhesive surface that’s still tacky. Begin with a sheet that has the least foil on it, and progress to those with more as you blend the colors.
  • To apply foil without heat from an iron, use pressure-sensitive foiling adhesive, burnish the metallic layer in place with a teaspoon, your fingernails or a bone folder. Consistent pressure is all that’s needed for transfer.
  • foil lures 300x300 Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3To apply foiling to a T-shirt or other finished garment, layer it over a plastic covered T-shirt board, so that the adhesive doesn’t go through to the back side of the garment.
  • When foil is added to a sheer fabric, the adhesive stickiness can still be felt on the underside. To avoid this, sprinkle the wrong side with talcum powder to coat the adhesive and prevent it from sticking to the skin.
  • Using a silicone mat under the foiling surface will help reflect the iron’s heat.
  • To apply powdered adhesive in a controlled manner, cut off the end of a soda straw at an angle and use it as a scoop to position the granules.
  • Remember, foiling is an accent and it should be tastefully added in combination with embroidery.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about foiling and how it can be combined with embroidery. Are you going to try out this new technique?

Find Part 1 here; get ideas and learn how to get started.

Find Part 2 here; discover the different foil adhesive options. 

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Metal Foiling and Machine Embroidery Part 2

Today we’re continuing our series on combining foil with embroidery! For ideas and info on how to get started, check out part 1 here.

foiled jacket 766x1024 Metal Foiling and Machine Embroidery Part 2

Today we’re talking adhesive! There are two ways to apply foil to a fabric surface—adhesive and fusible web.

Foiling Adhesive

  • foil stamp 300x233 Metal Foiling and Machine Embroidery Part 2Foiling glue can be applied with a stamp, stencil, paintbrush or a narrow-tip applicator allowing for fine lines and outlines.
  • To use the glue, apply it to the fabric right side in the design shape desired and allow it to dry thoroughly. It’s important that the glue is applied smoothly and doesn’t have any air bubbles or missed spots, as those will not adhere to the foil. Pop air bubbles with a pin point.
  • Depending on the adhesive thickness, drying time can be up to 24 hours, so be patient. It’s best not to hurry the drying process; avoid the temptation to grab the hair dryer or put the item in the microwave.
  • Some adhesives change from opaque to clear as they dry, so watch for the color change to ensure dryness. The adhesive can be applied long before the foil is actually adhered to the project, and the process will still work.
  • Most foiling adhesives are flexible; they can be used on knit fabrics without fear of cracking or splitting as the fabric stretches. Read the package before purchasing to double check if you plan to use it on knits.

Powdered Adhesive

  • In addition to using liquid glue, foil can be applied using adhesive granules. This technique allows for more abstract shapes than glue or web applications, but it can also be applied using a stencil for more defined shape. Granules are great for swirls, background sprinkles, and more. For the best control, mask out the unfoiled areas to avoid adhesive overshot.
  • Apply the powder in the desired shape, cover with a non-stick press cloth, and then iron on the cotton setting for 15 seconds. Use a small roller to apply extra pressure and push the adhesive into the fabric surface. Allow the glue to cool; peel off the pressing sheet. The foil is added after the adhesive is applied and ironed into the fabric (and cooled), just as you’d foil with the liquid adhesives.

Fusible Web

Fusible web samples 1024x441 Metal Foiling and Machine Embroidery Part 2

Different types of fusible web have different results.

  • Use this versatile product as an aid in the process and for extra creativity.
  • Trace a design onto the paper side of the fusible web and cut it out with scissors. Peel one paper layer and using a medium-hot iron, press the shape web-side down on the fabric right side. Let cool; peel off the second paper layer exposing the web.
  • For fun shapes, use a  scrapbooking punch on the fusible web, and then peel and press as for the hand-cut shapes.foil butterflies 1024x490 Metal Foiling and Machine Embroidery Part 2
  • Paper-back fusible web also comes in 1⁄4″- and 1⁄2″-wide rolls for even-width foiled lines and borders. Simply press lightly in place, peel the paper covering, and then use the iron to adhere the foil in place.
  • The density and structure of the fusible web will affect how much foil adheres to the fabric surface and also the definition of the shape edges—the nature of the web may not allow for precise, well-defined edges.
  • Experiment with various brands and weights to find one that gives the coverage for the look you like. In some instances, the actual web structure may show through the foil, adding texture, but this may or may not be desirable, depending on the design.

Check back on March 20 for our final installment and learn how to apply foil and care for foiled items while discovering some useful tips and tricks!



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Metal Foiling and Machine Embroidery

Add metal foil to the embroidery mix for extra bling! In this three-part blog series, we’re talking about foil made specifically for fabric—a lightweight clear substrate with a very thin metal coating on one side. With the proper adhesive underneath, the metallic layer is transferred to the fabric for a sheen that won’t quit. Foil adds ambiance to most any embroidery design as a background, motif portion or outline.

foil fill 1009x1024 Metal Foiling and Machine Embroidery Continue reading

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All Things Thread: Machine Embroidery Thread 101

Which thread types make for great embroidery designs? The answer isn’t as easy as you may think. Read on and stock up on the thread you’ll use most so you’re prepared for whatever project comes your way.Screen Shot 2019 02 20 at 1.26.07 PM All Things Thread: Machine Embroidery Thread 101

From rayon to polyester to cotton and more, the thread you choose greatly impacts the final embroidery stitchout, and it’s best to have a plethora of thread types, as well as colors, on hand in your sewing room so you’re ready for whatever design, project and fabric type you want to sew at any time. Continue reading

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Free Embroidery Design

To celebrate Embroidery Month, we’re giving away an embroidery design every Friday! I’ve been digging into the CMEarchives to find some of my favorite designs that you may not have seen recently.

2 1 FREE FRIDAY design 300x150 Free Embroidery Design 1602TR Free Embroidery Design It’s almost spring! We’re very close now to the time when the early flowers start to bloom, and I’m dreaming about crocuses and daffodils and tulips. Our Boho Rose collection happens to have a pretty tulip design that’s just perfect for this time of year. It’s 2.95” wide x 5.89” high with 5,913 stitches and four thread colors. The free download comes as a zip file and includes the following formats: EXP, HUS, JEF, PEC, PES, SEW and VIP.

Click here to download the Tulip Rose design.

Find the rest of the Boho Rose Collection at

1602BRCOLL Free Embroidery Design

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Machine Embroidered Patches: Tips + Tricks

Whether the need is for an insignia or just for fun, patches are a quick and easy way to attach embroidery to any surface.

190222 CME FREE 500 Machine Embroidered Patches: Tips + TricksThe best and most common base fabric for patches is felt or twill, but any sturdy fabric with work when paired with a quality fusible thermal stabilizer. Commercial patches are made on specialty machines. To make patches similarly at home, a satin stitch edge finish design is needed. Continue reading

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Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine: New Changes Are Coming!

If you subscribe to Creative Machine Embroidery, you may have noticed that your March/April issue hasn’t arrived yet and you may be wondering what’s going on.

cme logo transparent Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine: New Changes Are Coming!As we reviewed our upcoming year, we decided to make some changes to the schedule that give us the chance to provide even better inspiration, techniques and fun embroidery projects. Continue reading

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