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Embroidery Tips & Techniques

Embossing…with an Embroidery Machine

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

There’s a hot technique you might want to try, it’s embossing with an embroidery machine. It takes tone-on-tone embroidery to a whole new level. In fact, 90% of the thread is invisible. But it’s the remaining 10% that really makes or breaks the design.

Here are my favorite tips for stitching machine embroidered embossed designs successfully.

  1. Choose a highly textured fabric like terrycloth, Minkee or a nubby fleece.
    Hoop the fabric with tear-away stabilizer. I like to use Magna-Hoop Jumbo for lofty fabrics because it holds the bulky fabric firmly in the hoop and doesn’t leave hoop burn.
  2. Use same color thread as the fabric for the portion of the design that covers the fabric, the fill stitches.
  3. Select a slightly contrasting thread for the outline of the open areas, the word clean in my sample, and the frame. I think a slightly contrasting thread adds extra ‘pop’ to the plain area.
  4. Skip the topper. The heavy fill stitches will hold down the textured fabric plus it saves time after the embroidery process. No need to wet the fabric to remove any water soluble stabilizer.
  5. Remove the fabric from the hoop and tear-away the excess stabilizer. Gently brush your fingers over the open areas of the design to fluff the textured fabric.

You’ll find tons of embossed designs on the web. Here are a few sites that I found in a quick search:


A Christmas Towel Text Design Pack Md from Embroidery Library

Click here to view the complete collection

I taught this technique this past weekend in Denver , CO with my Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno. We had a wonderful time with 95 passionate embroiderers. Our host, Above and Beyond Sewing, did just that – they went above and beyond everyone’s expectations.

I told all of the students that it’s not too late to enter into a highly-rewarding contest, Everyone Smiles. It’s so easy to enter, just snap a photo of yourself with a cover of Designs magazine and post it on our Facebook page. Tag it and add a caption and you’re good to go. Enter now because the prizes are huge! Click here to see all of the prizes.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Please leave a comment this week telling me what was the last embroidery/sewing/quilting class you attended. Online classes count too (I’m enrolled in one right now!). One lucky participant will win a $25.00 gift certificate to Designs in Machine Embroidery.

The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question:

Tell me what new designs you would like to see in the Stipple Collection and you could be the lucky winner of a Magna-Hoop Jumbo.  If you’re curious to know what Stipple Collections are available now, just click here to view them.

Congratulations to Jackie for posting her comment:
“I’d love to see one with a variety of sizes and shapes of snowmen.”

Be sure to visit the Designs in Machine Embroidery Facebook page to participate in our Reader Survey!

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  • Barbara

    The last embroidery class I attended was a demo of the new Brother Quattro 6700. Of course the machine was amazing and the instructor fabulous — but the best part was the group of new friends I made. We sewed, laughed and learned together — and isn’t that the point of going to class1?!

    I can’t wait to see a Stitching Sisters event here in Houston!

  • Susan

    I attended a Friday Night Mystery quilting class, you are given fabric requirements and the only clue is the size of the quilt. It’s basically a stress free girl’s night out, lots of food, drinks, and much laughter. New friends are made, everyone, borrows supplies, and helps their neighbor unsew. At midnight everyone goes home relaxed, full, and with a partial quilt. We come back the next month with a finished or not so finished quilt and start again.

  • Barbara Cummings

    I attended the Floriani stabilizer class last summer. I learned so many tricks to successful embroidery. If you get a chance to attend one of these workshops…GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sherrie Lilly

    The last structured class I attended was last year Stitching Sisters in San Marcos, CA.
    I meet once a month with a group and each person will lead a project one month a year. We have fun and learn new techniques.
    I’m also scheduled to attend a Hoopsisters class in January at Road 2 California. I love to learn new sewing and machine embroidery techniques and do new projects that take me out of my comfort zone.

    • Eileen Roche

      Sherrie – San Marcos was great fun! Thanks for joining us there. You will definitely learn a lot in your upcoming Hoopsisters class. Enjoy!

  • Gail Beam

    The last class I attended was a quilt in a day class. It was many years ago, and I have never finished it. lol

  • Yvonne

    The last class I attended was in March of this year. Was a Floriani digitizing class in Tucson Az. What a pleasure to meet what I consider a man of great knowledge and history in machine embroidery! Such a gentleman.

  • Jacque Lindsey

    I have never been to a quilting class. I just quizz my mother-on-law on how to piece a quilt and take if from there. I have never done anything big. I would love to take a quilting class but when you work it is hard to find one in the evenings and especially for beginners.

  • Birdie Cade

    The last embroidery class I attended was just this past Friday & Saturday at the Denver Merchandise Mart and you and your sister, Marie, were our instructors. Everyone had a great time learning new techniques and meeting new people! We hope you will teach again in our area. Hope you had a safe trip home.

    • Eileen Roche

      Hi Birdie! It was great having you and your table mates in the front row. Marie & I both made it home – safe and sound.

  • StitchingBahma

    I’m enrolled in two Craftsy Quilting Classes by the Missouri Star Quilt Company. They are both GREAT!

  • Terri L

    Right now, I’m taking machine embroidery classes at a local quilt shop. I’ve learned so much in the class that I wish I had more time at my machine to practice all of it.

  • Jeanette Wade

    The best sewing class I attended was a making a jacket with 12 fat quarters, so easy and so classy,reversible, and unique to each person. But the best part was the laughter we had and all the friendship which continues today.

  • Sue R

    Actually I am in two embroidery classes. Goosetracks in-the-hoop quilt and I’m doing Floral Frenzy at my embroidery class. I learn so much going to the classes from all the experienced quilters/ sewists and embroidery gals. I am addicted to embroidery!!

  • sheila

    I have never attended a class,but I really like the Embroidery Designs Digest 12 Months of Christmas that I joined,also I do the monthly classes, Vivian Gibson/Rose Cottage Designs gives digitizing classes online,and that helped me to get to know my software.I am a newbie,but I really enjoy the embroidery machines,and sewing. Sheila

  • Wanda

    My last class was with the Anita Good Designs. It was a fun class. I loved the Babylock Ellismo I worked on. Loved the new camera feature. I can’t wait to use it to line up some designs.

  • Kari

    I was at your class in Denver last weekend, which was awesome!

  • Anne Marie Reilly

    The last class I attended was yesterday. It was an explanation of various aspects of Viking’s 5D embroidery software and a demo of their new 5D Card Shop.

  • karin

    I’ve only attended a few actual sewing classes outside of jr high (soooo many years ago), so pretty much all my learning is done online and from blogs like this! But, last year, after having my new serger almost a year & being totally frustrated with it, I got the chance to spend an hour with a lady who knew what she was talking about. The BEST thing about that hour, aside from it only costing $20 (crazy, I know!), I came away knowing how to thread the serger and how to use it!! Best money I’d spent in years!!

  • Mary Anne

    My last class was a French Fuse Quilting Class sponsored by my Quilt Guild last year. It was a dynamite class with an excellent teacher. If you like the applique process, this is a whole new technique. Great fun and much faster than many applique techniques.

  • Denice

    The last sewing classes I attended were at the Abbotsford sewing and craft fair here in British Columbia Canada. One class was about freemotion stitching, and one was about creating pictures with various layering of fabrics, threads and stitches.

  • Lesley Charlton

    My last embroidery class was last Saturday where we made luggage tags with material and clear plastic, and as always on the first Saturday of every month we had software classes to.

  • Donna G.

    The last class I attended was at our local sewing store, where the owner brought in a well-known machine embroidery designer. We had a chance to try out new in-the-hoop projects as well as other new techinques. Attending classes with fellow sewing and embroidery enthusiasts is a blast!

  • Cy Swendsen

    My last class was a Quilt Retreat in East Texas. Mystery quilt was quite fun and a little frustrating. Made some great new friends and had lots of laughs. Ladies came not only from TX but from AL, VA, LA, and FL (me).

  • Shirley R

    My last class was your Stitchin Sisters event here in Salem, OR with Rich’s as the host. Bought a whole bunch of your products at that event and really busted my budget for the month – ha!

  • Cathy

    A quilting course on the web a few weeks ago

  • Brenda

    The last class I attended was September 24th. In the morning we had software class (5D) and the afternoon was a block of the month quilt lesson. We are learning how to use the different decorative stitches on our embroidery machines that we seldom use otherwise. The quilt we are making is Stitcher’s Garden which is fun to do and very interesting.

  • Doreen Holtry

    I’m one of the lucky ones that attended the Stitching Sisters seminar last weekend in Denver. It was a totally awesome time, hope your feeling wonderful now! I’ve attended this seminar before, and I learned so many neat little tricks. I’m so anxious to spend some quality time with my machine and try out these tips. BTW, I’m a huge fan of the Snap Hoop! I’d like to see a stipple package that would envision something for little boys and also one for men or an outdoors man theme. Thanks again for your insight to this field!!

    • Eileen Roche

      Thank you for your kind words, Doreen. Marie and I enjoyed our time in Denver – such great ladies and Above & Beyond is an exceptional dealer. Hope to work with them again!

  • Peggy

    My dealer hasn’t had embroidery club in quite a while. I missed seeing what other people are doing. I do try to keep up with what’s online.

  • Betsy

    I attended a quilting class last week. We’re working on the Drunkard’s Path pattern. Yikes, soooo many curves!

  • Carol Seavitt

    Haven’t really attended a structured embroidery class — just how to learn my machine. But mom and I are attending one this coming weekend in Mesa: It’s the Sewing Sisters class! Can’t wait to meet you and also learn a thing or two:)

    • Eileen Roche

      I’m looking forward to meeting you and your mom Carol! See you on Friday.

  • Peggy Schroeder

    Hi Eileen,

    The last class I took was the one you and Marie did out here in Santa Rosa, Ca. Wish you had another one scheduled close by, I’m likely to sign up for it. Even tho I had already attended one you did in Sacramento, I still managed to learn enough new things to make it worthwhile to do it again. Who knows, maybe the third one would be a charm!

    • Eileen Roche

      Hi Peggy! Good to hear from you – hope all is well.

  • Karen

    While not exactly the last class I attended, about 6 months ago I enrolled in a “Romantic Cutwork” machine embroidery class at my local Viking/Pfaff shop. We created 6 different sampler blocks for a wallhanging that I’m now incorporating into the center of a blue & white “Hidden Stars” quilt top, which is about 3/4 done. My quilting group is anxious to work on it. It was so exciting to learn a new technique & see how everyone chose different colors & fabrics to put a unique twist to each of their projects. That’s what I love about ME! I’d LOVE to see the Sisters in action one day!

  • Judy Totth

    I did a class on Bernina web sight

  • obimom

    A class that taught how to use digitizing software to create seasonal letters. Basic idea–choose a font, type a word, say Halloween and add a small design to each letter that goes with the holiday, season, whatever you want. Pretty cool concept that you could use for anything, not just holidays.

  • Nancy

    The last quilting class I took was a class given after a lecture by Elsa Cambell at our guild last year and [table runner]I just finished it

  • Loy Holt

    The last embrodiery class that I took was at Nancy’s Calico Patch in Newport News, VA. It was “Hearts” door knocker from Sarah Vedeler Designs. It was great fun and most everyone got done with their’s that day. No UFO’s + I love stars!

  • Terri

    I attended your Stitching Sisters in Denver last week, and it was so much fun. The new stipple designs and the ladybug really got my creative juices flowing. So cute and so different from anything else I’ve ever seen. I’ve been showing off my samples and all my friends are sorry they missed your seminar.

    • Eileen Roche

      Hi Terri! Glad you could join us. Marie and I always enjoy working with Above and Beyond! Hope to see you – and your friends- at our next visit.

  • Barbara

    Hi Eileen,

    The last class I took was garment sewing. We used Louise Cutting’s great “By Popular Demand” top pattern and the instructor was certified to teach all the wonderful techniques. I plan to do some embroidery on the next top pattern I sew.

    Thanks for writing your fantastic “Machine Embroidered Quilting and Applique” book. I found it at my local bookstore and I love it! I don’t get to travel very often and it is just like having you here to guide me. The last embroidery I did was pieced in the hoop Christmas gifts at my local embroidery club.

    This morning I attended a webinar on the Bernina cutwork tool. I love applique in the hoop and this tool is a whiz for cutting out the shapes. We’re blessed to have so many wonderful tools in our toy box.

    Happy embroidering and sewing.

  • Maria T. Schwarz

    My last class was last saturday as we have a group of friends and we meet every month and there is always a new fascinating proyect presented This month was a Xmas quilted tree and crazy quilt handbags. As we have been meeting for years we are more than friends…family. Our name Creative Sewing and of course in spanish as we are from Puerto Rico. At the beginning all that bring proyects present them to the group and of course at the end we have a nice eat and talk time.Sewing and Embroidery makes people close and happy.From Puerto Rico a happy 81 years old and still enyoying life and hobbies….Maria T.

  • Lisa K.

    I watched 21 YouTube videos on the Bernina 830LE.

  • Jean Berryessa

    Last class I attended was “Two Sisters”. Hosted by Eddie’s Quiltiong Bee, Sunnyvale CA. Fabulous—I learned some new embroidery tips and lots of fun was had by all.

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    Wow! This can be one particular of the most useful blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Excellent. I’m also an expert in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

  • Terje

    I attend machine embroidery classes monthly, taught by an instructor who is an expert in my machine brand (Janome. She always has a new technique to share with us and offers a cute project to do that takes advantage of our newly acquired knowledge while making something we are certain to love. Getting to use the technique right away is what makes her classes so useful. I tend to remember information so much better when I use it right away.

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