Friday, July 4, 2014

Machine Embroidered Applique Basics

You just love all of the bright and fun applique designs available, but you've never tried them. Well here's a breakdown of machine embroidered applique at its most basic. Once you know the steps and what to look for, you'll be up and stitching in no time!

There are a number of ways that digitizer/designers (those who create the computer files that your machine will "read" to stitch your design) approach an applique design, but most will be like this one, or fairly close with some minor differences.

The digitizer/designer will program the file you run to tell your machine to stop at various points during the stitching process so that you can do a number of necessary things: change thread to a different color, place your applique fabric in position, trim your applique fabric, etc. This "stop" might be referred to with different terminology: Color change, color stop, change stop, etc. It just means that your machine will stop so you can do what needs doing. I will use "color change" in this post. The design will (should) come with documentation that explains color changes, etc..

Step 1: Most simple applique designs will start with a "placement line" or "placement stitching". This will usually be a straight-stitch outline of the portion of the design that will be appliqued first.

Once the placement line is stitched onto your project fabric, you will place the applique fabric over the placement stitching, making sure that all of the stitching is covered. A variation you might find at this point is that the digitizer will have you print a template of the design to use as a pattern to cut the applique shape prior to placing it on your project fabric. You can use temporary spray adhesive on the back of the applique fabric to hold it in place. Paper-backed, fusible web can be applied to the back of the appliqué fabric before placing it on the project fabric. Fusing the applique fabric to the project will help stabilize the fabric and assure durability. 

Step 2: Once the applique fabric is in place, stitch the second color change. This will "tack down" the applique fabric onto the project fabric. It is the exact shape of the placement stitching and is usually a straight stitch. A variation you might come across is that the digitizer has used a narrow zigzag stitch as the "tack down" stitching.

Step 3: Once the applique fabric has been tacked down, carefully remove the hoop from your machine, but do not remove the project from the hoop. Using sharp embroidery scissors, trim the applique fabric around the tack down stitching. Trim close to the stitches but not so close as to cut the stitches themselves.

Step 4: Return the hoop to the machine. Do this carefully so that the embroidery arm of the machine doesn't move or subsequent stitching lines will not line up properly. Stitch the next color change. This will stitch the "finish" stitching of the applique. In this example, it is a satin stitch. Variations you might find for finish stitching are blanket stitching or other decorative stitching. "Raw edged" applique is popular right now, so the digitizer might have you leave the applique with only the tack down stitching. This stitching might be made "bolder" with a double run of the tack down stitching or a triple stitch.

This example is a basic, single-fabric applique. Designs may include other applique pieces or added embroidery. Check the documentation that comes with your design for correct stitching order. And always, feel free to be in touch with any embroidery questions you might have. I've "been there, done that" for any embroidery situation you can throw at me!

Happy stitching!
Jo  :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Friendship Pillows and Little Friends

Today I was able to spend my time doing one of my most favorite sewing activities -- teaching kids to sew. My oldest daughter is an elementary school teacher. She asked me if I could come in and share my love of sewing with her kids. Well, of course I could! We did it last year and it was a hit. We worked in two groups and the kids just amazed me. Each and every one of them was interested, respectful and polite. We made "friendship pillows" -- a baseball theme for the boys and pink hearts for the girls. I embroidered felt patches with the kids' names on them and had them hand-stitch the patches in place in the center of the pillow tops. I took the pillow tops to the machine and quickly stitched the back on. Back to the kids to stuff and then back to me to close them up. My daughter and I chose to make the pillow backs out of white cotton so that the kids could autograph each others' creations.

The kids had a ball, I had a blast and it was just THE best way to spend a sunny Spring day!! Can't wait to do it again next year!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back in the Blogging Saddle

About a year ago, I wrote a post about how I hadn't written a post in almost a year. has happened again. I guess I'm not as good at the blogging thing as I hoped I would be! I look around the web and see amazingly beautiful blogs full of gorgeous photography and want to have a blog like that, but I now realize that that's beyond my capabilities. My strength lies in my stitching and I just love sharing my passion for machine embroidery and sewing with other like-minded creative souls. So I will stick to what I know best and I will not make a promise I can't keep. I will, instead, do my best to keep up with this and share informative and hopefully inspiring posts to stay connected to my dear, fellow stitchers.

So where have I been? Well, I was in Denver this past fall to film my very first online machine embroidery class for "Machine Embroidered Applique" is the title and the subject matter. I was given the opportunity to design five fun projects and share them as "lessons" in my own "homeroom" on Crafty's wonderfully robust learning platform. Take a peek and see what you can stitch with me. :)

I continue on as a columnist at Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine. I LOVE sharing my work through their publication! My column is called "4" x 4" and Fabulous!" and each month, my goal is to offer a project, that while stitched in a small hoop, provides big impact and a real "Wow!" factor. One of my favorite projects was my "Linked In To Style" purse. The "links" that make up the front embellishment are stitched in a 4" x 4" hoop. I was SO excited when I saw that it had made the cover of that issue!
Designs In Machine Embroidery September/October 2013
I'll be posting embroidery tips, tricks, projects, giveaways and fun, so please check back. :)
Happy stitching!!
Jo  :)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Dear Friend Angus

I have a dear, little friend named Angus.  He is one of those "good people" who makes you feel happy just being with him. He is very smart and has many interests like Dr. Who and fish. I was lucky to spend some time yesterday with him and his mum, Jen, who is one of my favorite sewing buddies. When I got to their workshop yesterday, Angus surprised me with this marvelous, "mechanical" card that he had created just for me!! You can see in the first picture that there are two small areas in the upper corners that say "Pull". Well, what a surprise is waiting for you when you do that!! A SECOND picture drops out right into your lap!! So at first, you think you are getting this really great card with a spectacular picture ON it, but then you soon realize that you got TWO pictures because another one is IN it!! How lucky am I to have a special friend like Angus? Very lucky, indeed!!

Thank you, Angus!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fit For A Queen!

Last Spring, when I was working on my new book -- "Sweet Stitches" -- I was working on the Regally Radiant Birthday Crown project and had to run to the craft store for some supplies. Keep in mind I was working on a crown (see below).

While I was walking from my car to the front door of the store, I saw something pink on the ground a little way ahead. When I bent down to get a closer look, I was so pleasantly surprised to see that it was, of all things, a CROWN! Granted, it is WAY smaller than the one I was working on -- Barbie-sized, maybe?? -- but I took it as a sign that the Universe and I were on the same page. I keep it on my desk near my computer and it always makes me smile. I consider it my good luck charm for my new book's success.
Happy stitching!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

I've Been Freshly Launched!!

I stumbled upon a call for submissions to "LaunchHER" a while back and submitted information about Garden of Daisies Embroidery. I was THRILLED to receive an email the other day that I had been chosen to be "Freshly Launched".  The idea behind this is to give a boost to women in business as detailed in their mission statement:
LaunchHER provides the boost that women owned brands need by featuring new and fresh companies as well as providing social media consulting, branding, business development and legal services to start-ups.

Kara Jensen Zitnick, president of LaunchHER, is an attorney with an appreciation for womens' creative entrepreneurial spirit.
Kara lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and 2 young sons. Her love of crafting and handmade began at the tender age of 4 when her grandmother taught her the fine art of crochet. After being forced to participate in 4-H, she begrudgingly learned how to sew from her other grandmother and immediately began designing her younger sister a new wardrobe. Kara has moved on from creating garments using scraps of fabric from her mom’s fabric stash, but her love of design is stronger than ever.

After nearly 10 years of litigation in both state and federal court, Kara decided to follow her passion of assisting women entrepreneurs. As a practicing attorney, she recognizes the importance of starting any business venture off on the right foot from a legal perspective, which means protecting the creative work that flows from a business’s name, logo, brand and tagline are of the utmost importance from the start. A seasoned business-owner in the handmade sector, Kara acknowledges that legal costs can be a barrier to launching a business. As such, her firm provides flat-fee legal representation and business coaching to those starting their own small businesses. Flat-fee services include business formation, trademark and copyright.

In her free moments, you will find Kara in the kitchen baking confectionery treats for her friends and family, on a family bike ride around the many area-lakes, or conducting science experiments with her husband and boys.

Thank you, Kara, for all you do!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Flower From Favorite Family Members

When I'm down in my basement sewing room, it's hard to hear the doorbell upstairs but when Emmie, my dog, barks like a maniac, I know it rang. A few days ago, she did just that so I ran up, peeked through the peep hole (had a hard time seeing who was there because my Christmas wreath is still up...oops) and saw a gentleman holding a beautiful basket of flowers. They were from my sweet sister-in-law, Corinne and her charming husband, Ken, in honor of me publishing my first book. Beautiful daisies -- so fitting for my business!! Thank you, guys!! You made my day!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

It's A Book!!!

I have been waiting nearly a year to be able to say these words: "It's a book!!" It's been a creative journey unlike any other and it's been a blast!
To see my book ready and available online is like no other feeling I've had before...except maybe when I had my kids! I know...a little weird. :) My passion is sewing and machine embroidery. For me, sharing that passion is as much fun as doing it. Being able to share it through a published book is amazing!!
Over the past few years, I've been a frequent contributor to Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine. Editor & publisher Eileen Roche, managing editor Denise Holguin, and acquisitions editor Christine Doyle saw enough value in my work to contract with me to be one of the first authors of their new series of creative machine embroidery books.
So... here it is:

From their website:
"Little girls have a unique affection for all things pretty, especially when that something pretty is made just for her. And the little girl in your life will giggle with delight when she sees what you've made for her from Sweet Stitches.
Inside this book by JoAnn Connolly, you'll learn to make eight oh-so pretty projects including a name banner for her room, a monogrammed pillow fit for a princess, and an embellished birthday crown for her special day. Watch her eyes light up when you give her the delightful flower headband, and see her jump up and down at the sight of her stylish new pajamas. Each project includes complete step-by-step instructions with photographs and all the embroidery design files you need—including one appliqué alphabet and one stitched alphabet!"
Happy stitching!!
Jo  :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Backtracking A Bit

I had an article in the previous (Dec/Nov 2012) issue of Designs in Machine Magazine -- "Chic Chandeliers". The project was for glitzy, glimmery felt holiday decorations that look like-- you guessed it -- chandeliers. I hadn't seen my copy yet when I received an email congratulating me for having made the cover of the magazine. I was thrilled beyond belief and couldn't wait to see it myself.

Then...a few days later, I received a large, flat cardboard package and couldn't remember ordering anything big and flat. When I opened it, it was a "my" cover, blown up and mounted on art board, suitable for framing. My managing editor, Denise Holguin thought to do this and it was just the most fun, unexpected, amazing gift ever!
We've just started house hunting and my basement sewing room (2x4 studs and a cement floor) won't do it justice, so it is being "saved", to be the first decorating piece to go in my new studio. I can't wait to hang it up!!

Back To Blogging!

It's been nearly a year since I last posted. In that year, I've learned that I'm not great (good...but not great) at multi-tasking, so posting had to take a back seat to other endeavors. I do, however, have a few wonderful reasons for being away from the blog. For about 7 years now, I've been a contributing writer to
Starting with their current issue -- January/February 2013,
I actually have my own "column"  with them --
"4" x 4" & Fabulous!"!! In each issue, I'll present a project that will offer BIG results from one of your smallest hoops -- the 4" x 4" hoop. Just because your machine may not include the industry's biggest hoops doesn't mean you can't get a LOT of bang for your small-hoop buck!!
"Happy Hearts Pillow" is this month's project and you can get the embroidery files
**FREE** on the Designs web site.
"Happy Hearts Pillow"
4" x 4" & Fabulous!

In addition, for a good part of the year, I was working on my first book (!). Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine has just begun their sewing/craft book division and contracted with me to be one of their first authors. My book is due out later this month and I couldn't be more excited!! It's a project-based machine embroidery book for stitchers who love to create boutique-style items for little girls. Here are a few hints at what's included:

 When I have more info about my book's launch, I'll post it here. I promise to try to be a good, consistent and informative blogger -- I just LOVE sharing my passion for sewing and embroidery!! So stay tuned!!
Happy Stitching!!
Jo  :)