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Alignment and Placement Applique Continuous Embroidery

The Intermediate Embroiderer’s Bucket List

The Intermediate Embroiderer’s Bucket List

A few weeks ago, I posted the Embroiderer’s Bucket List for newbies. If you missed it, click here.   Many of you commented on the list – some of you have already checked off all 10 items while others promised to work through the list. Here’s a new list for those of you who are ready to move on to more challenging machine embroidery tasks.

  1. Embroider a t-shirt.  Placement is crucial when placing a design on the left chest. It should sit fairly high on the chest as you want to avoid the bull’s eye effect on the bust point. Also, embroidery that drifts close to the sleeve seam and/or armpit is very unprofessional. Use Designs’ Perfect Placement Kit left chest template for added insurance.
  2. Embroider a sweatshirt.  Bulky sweatshirts can be cumbersome when hooped so tame it by turning it inside out and resting the bulk of the garment above the hoop. Plan the embroidery placement, fuse polymesh stabilizer to the wrong side of the design area and turn the garment inside out. Hoop the design area and ‘open’ the shirt to expose the design area. Carefully attach the hoop to the machine.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  3. Edge Embroidery– try a border hoop, you’ll enjoy the simplicity of the clamp-style hoop. Plan your designs close to the fabric/garment edge and stitch away!Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  4. Appliqué.  When I teach across the country, I’m always amazed to learn how many embroiderers haven’t tried an appliqué design. Now’s the time – I’ll bet you’ll love how much impact appliqué adds with just a little effort.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  5. 3-d appliqué.  It literally pops off the fabric. It’s fun, eye-catching, and quite doable. These pretty little winged creatures adorned the first cover of Designs.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  6. Stitch a border with evenly spaced designs. Learn how to plan the whole layout, and then adjust as the stitching proceeds. Measure the length of the fabric, measure the design, divide by a manageable number (this is the number of repeats), and mark the fabric. Start stitching, then continue to check the placement after you add each design.
  7. Stitch a matching set of napkins. You would think monogramming a set of napkins would appear on the newbie bucket list. But it’s actually a fairly tricky project. First, you want all the napkins to match and you really don’t want to purchase 3 or 4 extra just to get 6 that look alike. Since the monogram is normally placed close to a corner (either on-point or straight) it can be challenging to hoop. Just ask my Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno, she created these gorgeous napkins.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  8. Embellish the back pocket of a pair of blue jeans.  You only get one chance to do this right so it’s imperative to set yourself up for success. First, measure the pocket and select a design that fills the space. Second, fuse the pocket shut so that you’ll be stitching one layer of fabric – not two. Here’s a popular Designs cover from the past.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  9. Design a layout for a skirt.  A skirt is a large (usually!) blank canvas. It’s the easiest garment to flesh your design skills on because a basic a-line skirt has straight seams, one horizontal hem, and minimal tailoring features. You’ll learn how embroidery draws the eye to the figure – sometimes that’s a good thing sometimes not!Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  10. Create buttonholes with your embroidery machine.  Let your embroidery machine do one of sewing’s most daunting tasks – buttonholes. All you have to worry about is marking the placement of the buttonholes and the digital file will take over the rest – making perfect duplicates, taming bulky layers of fabric, and providing clean, crisp stitches. I’ve shown you how to do this in a previous post – click here for details on buttonholes.Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog




  • janice thompson

    Wow, we have a lot to learn and this is so exciting!!

  • Keri Tieman

    I would like to try 3D applique, I’ve never tried it. I have a lot to learn & study!!

  • Deb Ervin

    Man my bucket list just got wayyyyyyy longer!!!!!!!

  • Diane Crane

    I love to applique, but have never tried 3-D, so that will be my next adventure!

  • Jill

    Thanks so much for the list. I would love to learn some of these techniques. I’m so intimidated to try to stitch borders, 3D applique, and edge embroidery on my own. I have not seen anyone in my area offering classes in these techniques.

  • Helen Foster

    Would luv to try new 3-D….

  • Janet

    I’m going to need more than 24 hours in my day to accomplish this list. I love a challenge.

  • Wanda White

    I would do the buttonholes. This is one thing I have never done and would like to see how they look.

  • Jean

    I want to learn how to do clothing. There are so many beautiful designs, but I always shy away from trying it. Now is the time!

  • Susanna

    Been there, done these 🙂

  • Laura Spranger

    Looking forward to using your tips. Thanks!!!!!

  • Jane Anderson

    I will try #10, embroidery buttonholes. Should be a snap!

  • Michele in IL.

    I’d want her to teach me as much as possible. Tricks of the trade! Placement, embroidery, monogramming, which stablizers for what materials, also the latest trend….in machine embroidery.

  • Maria Soledad

    Need to practice with the set of napkins. My daugther’s weeding is coming soon and she want embroidered monogrammed hankies for the reception.Thanks

  • Rita Dougherty

    Need to get into more serious clothing, buttonholes, trim etc. Kinda getting bored with the simpler things.

  • nancy Drake

    3- d embroidery and buttonholes are something I’d like to try

  • WyoDi

    my next attempt will be to work with precise placement!

  • Carol Seavitt

    Well looks like I’m ‘Intermediate’ … have a few accomplished and looks like the edge embroidery is my next project. I loved doing the napkins last year as a gift for my sister-in-law. Very fun.

  • Sue Winnie

    Mmh. What to try? Pants are in order for something new

  • Tina S.

    Well i guess I need to get with it and do #3,9 and 10. My bucket was just about empty. THanks for the ideas.

  • shirley adams

    this is a great idea, makes me want to get up and start sewing

  • shirley adams

    no. 8 i think i will emboider my jeans pockets

  • Maxine Racer

    They all sound really interesting. I have done t-shirt and sweatshirt and some applique but not 3D. That would probably be my choice for next project.

  • Clem

    I did the back pocket, but I unstitched the pocket, all but the re-enforcement stitches at each upper corner. I then just hooped the pocket with sticky stabilizer. I supported the jeans so it would not weigh down the pocket, or worse pop out. After the design was finished, it was easy to re-stitch the pocket by placing it on the darker part and the upper corners were still held in place.

    Now I have to do 3, 5-7, 9 and 10. ” Oh, is that all?” she asks herself? Haha…

  • Fay Engel

    Iwould like to design a layout for a skirt. That would be the most challenging for me

  • Sherrie

    I ready to try edge embroidery. I have done continuous borders so it can’t be too much different.

  • Karin

    One of these days, I’m gonna put a fancy border on a pair of shorts or capris…I hope! Thanks for the measuring tips!

    When you fuse the back pocket of the jeans, I get how that makes only one layer, but how’d you get it undone, so the model could slip her hand back in it??

    • eileenroche

      Oh Karin – I used the wrong photo to illustrate my point! When you fuse the pocket shut, you do loose the use of the pocket. The photo shown above is an example of removing the pocket, stitching the embroidery and reattaching the pocket. I apologize! I was going for a ‘beauty shot’ and not really thinking about technique.

  • Dee Bratcher

    I have done the napkins and the skirt – love it after I did those. I am getting ready to do another skirt.

  • Clem

    Btw…I forgot to ask…what design is on that pocket pictures?

  • Kathy

    I would like to improve on my t-shirt embroideries. It is great to take a blank canvas and make it my own, but many times I drift too far towards the armhole and it doen[st look good. Peferct palcement???

  • Baye

    You’ve encouraged me to try out the 3D designs and maybe some jean pockets, too. Thanks.

  • Carolyn H

    I haven’t tried 3D designs. Sounds like a great project.

  • Phyllis Massenburg

    I have done all the above but the border hoop with clamp hoop. I have the clamp hoops but just have not taken the time to set them up. Well now is the time.

  • Mary

    I will monogram napkins for my daughter.

  • Barbara Rowlan Wong

    I’ve monogrammed a large number of napkiin sets and absolutely nothing else on this list. I have already purchased sweat shirts so that will be my first item on this new list to attempt. Glad you showed how it should look in the hoop. I would love to be able to embroider jeans pockets but I’ve not figured how that lady was able to put her hand in the pocket. Can you be more specific? Must confess I’ve never heard of 3D applique until now. I’m thinking about it but first I should do a regular applique and have placed that idea on my to do list. Everything should like a good challenge!

  • Linda S

    I would like to design a layout for a summer skort.

  • Meg

    I will attempt a skirt and then make button holes on a shirt. Wish me luck.

  • Pam Harris

    I bought some wide twill tape ( I think thats what it is) and I would like to try to embroider it with my name to make labels for the clothes and bags I make.

  • Ruth

    My goal is to stitch a border

  • Gail Beam

    I love to do machine applique, so I need to learn how to do the 3D applique.

  • Bonnie Gray

    I will do buttonholes next!

  • Donna Weeks

    I want to try an ITH zipper bag. A little scary!

  • Rosemary O'Koren

    I want to try the edge technique, I need to string designs together to make a large design.

  • Ellen

    I have been wanting to try a border design

  • Peggy Schroeder

    i have accomplished the biggest item on my bucket list—-I just recently got a 6 needle Babylock machine. Now for some of my remaining items, I want to get really good at running it, and I want to better understand my computer software embroidery program. I have made sets of embroidered napkins, and yes, it would be nice to get through every set without even one not turning out like it is supposed to. I am a little (?) anal, I want each and every one to have the exact perfect placement. I have done bags in the hoop, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc., but the hardest thing is doing many repeats and getting everything to come out exactly the same. I will just have to keep trying!!

  • Michelle Hall

    I guess my next try would be the border design or the napkins. I have done sweatshirts and teeshirts. I worry about getting the border designs to match perfectly

  • Martine

    I’ve done it all. I still find onesies the most challenging as they are so tiny.
    As for the napkins I used to turn the design 90 degrees and hoop the napkin straight. But the last couple of years I stitch them in a larger hoop and make a lay-out in the software with a placement line (or rather 2 as I leave the point of the napkin hanging over the hoop). Works well every time.

    I’m looking forward to the expert-list.

  • Shelagh

    Have alread done all these things on the list loads of times.Althougt I have never put designs on teeshirts as stated here. I have butterflies and beetles crawling over them or flowers tumbling down and around them. Did do a large owl design on the front of a sweatshirt for granddaughter who like steampunk designs. Made loads of table mats and napkins with lace corners on the Candelmass ones.
    Designs down the sides of trousers. A jacket with embroidery all over it. Will stop now as culd go on and on.

  • Kellieann Austin

    where can I buy more TIME!!!!

  • Mary Jo Foster

    Aren’t bucket lists great! I am so ready to retire so I can work on my bucket list!

  • Judy

    I am going to try the edge embroidery on a t-shirt…you had a jacket made from a t-shirt a couple months ago in your magazine…looks great…I bought the t-shirt last week so I can try it…I am not a t-shirt person so dolling it up with embroidery will make me feel a little more dressed up….thanks

  • Jean

    I want to try 3d designs.

  • Nancy Weber

    I really want to learn to do buttonholes on the embroidery machine. I have struggled with them the traditional and hope this way will be easier. Hugs. Nan W

  • Tina Williams

    I would love to learn it all!!! lol I have done appliqué and really like it, but have not tried 3D

  • Barb Reck

    Whenever I see a pair of jeans with the pocket embroidered I want one. I always thought it was to hard to do but I think I should read how and just do it!

  • Barbara

    What great ideas! I love 3-D embroidery projects so 3-D appliqué sounds like a LOT of fun! My practical side needs to learn to do buttonholes — let’s see which embroidery angel has the louder voice!

  • karen

    i have some 3-D designs and just have to find the time to make them. it is my goal to do that this summer. after seeing it on the bucket list i am more inspired to get them done.

  • Ruby Ridgeway

    I have one book by Debra Jones. Have learned a lot but still I have the worst time trying to hoop something and get it centered. Would like to learn more on hooping.

  • Terri Vanden Bosch

    I have to get brave and try a t-shirt!!!

  • LeAnne L

    I’ve only tried a few of these. I need to get over my fear of something new and just jump in and do it.

  • Liz D

    So many different things to try but I have a few pairs of jeans with blank pockets. I think I will give it a try!

  • Kathy M.

    I have done all these on the list except the 3D applique. I think I want to try that next!

  • Tricia Kemp

    I want to do buttonholes. What an awesome technique!

  • Lynn

    I have looked at 3 designs and am wondering what they are all about…

  • Jane Scott

    I will try the jeans pocket. That looks really cool

  • Brenda Howard

    Gee, I guess I better get busy. I really want to do a t-shirt and I actually bought the right stabilizer on sale the other day so I guess I better get busy. I think I need a smaller bucket, don’t know that I will ever reach the bottom of this one.

  • Karen Roop

    I would like to try the buttonholes. I am making a dress for my daughter and I am going to try the embroidered ones for the front.


  • Marlakay

    I am going to try continuous embroidery on a skirt.

  • Patty happel

    I think I’m going to try edge embroidery next. I’ve actually done, or at least attempted, most of this weeks list

  • Bev Weis

    I’m still pretty new to the emb world, but would like to get more
    experience on monogramming blouses and linens, for both bed & table.
    Thanks for all the helpful info you provide.

  • Kris Garst

    So much to do, and so little time! I need to get to work…

  • Beth R

    I’d try the 3D applique next!

  • Anne H

    I’d love to learn 3-D Applique. It seems like the weaving of different elements into a design is the most interesting way to make it more interesting. I’d say adding borders on things that I haven’t thought of before would also be a very interesting technique to learn.

  • JodieT

    I just want to get started. I have taken my machine to dealer to be cleaned and regular service. They have had it for 5 weeks. They did the same thing to me last time. I have a Pfaff 2170 with 4D. I love the machine, but think I am going to be forced to sell it and get another machine from another dealer that is a little more reliable. I have every single hoop machine makes, plus all the magna hoops. I also have the Fabric mover for quilting. I have MANY VIP embroideries. I really can not afford to change because of all my investment.
    I will be starting on #1 as soon as I get my machine back.

    • eileenroche

      Oh Jodie – I feel for you. Hope your dealer finishes the job soon!

  • Jacquelyn Morris-Smith

    I want to make a silk quilt top that is embroidered…. but afraid, so it is on my ’embroiderers bucket list’

  • Rebecca Grace

    You know, I consider myself a “beginner” when it comes to embroidery, so I was surprised by how many of these intermediate bucket list projects I’ve already tackled successfully. Maybe there’s hope for me yet! 🙂

    The two that I would most like to try are the border embroidery and the jeans embroidery. You mention a “border hoop” — is that a 3rd party hoop, like Hoop It All, or something specific to one brand of machine? I’ve never embroidered a border before because the thought of trying to rehoop and line everything up properly makes my stomach queesy. As for the jeans embroidery — I purchased an Anita Goodesign collection a few years ago that would be perfect for jeans, but I was nervous about placement and reluctant to remove the pockets and open the side seams on a pair of expensive jeans that I really liked. You mention fusing the pocket so you only stitch through ONE layer — what do you mean by that? If you fused the pocket permanently shut, wouldn’t that be TWO layers of denim to stitch through? If you remove the pocket for embroidery, what are you fusing it to? Is that 2006 Designs issue available as a back issue or download? I’d like to try embroidering the edge of a skirt, too.

    • Mitzi

      Rather than completely removing the pocket, pick out the stitching from the bottom up and leave both of the top corners securely stitched to the jeans. Embroider on the “flap” (the partially-unstitched pocket) – hoop a layer of medium adhesive-backed stabilizer, with the adhesive side facing up. remove the backing by scoring with a pin and peeling it back. Then position your “flap” on the adhesive stabilizer. (I often use a couple of straight pins, well out of the way of the embroidery to help secure the garment to the adhesive). Put the hoop on your machine, made adjustments for placement of the design and embroider away. When done, remove the excess stabilizer by carefully cutting away about 1/8″ away from your embroidery motif. Fold the pocket back down to its proper location and re-stitch. If you are concerned about the stitching matching up, you can buy “jeans-stitch” thread that is made by YLI which closely matches ready-to-wear, or you can just use smoke colored monofilament thread. and taa-daa! you have a designer pocket.

  • eileenroche

    Rebecca – border hoops are made by each machine manufacturer and often called, endless hoops, or continuous embroidery hoops.

    As far as the denim pocket, when you embroider on a pocket still attached to pants, the pocket will shift during the embroidery process resulting in wrinkles or puckers between the embroidered stitches and the stitches that hold the pocket to the pants. when you fuse the pocket shut, it then behaves as one layer of fabric and no shifting will occur.

    If you plan on actually removing the pocket from the pants then you don’t need to fuse anything. You’ll just embroider on the pocket then reattach the pocket to the pants.

  • Mitzi

    I’ve yet to master a perfectly-joined continuous border around a hem or round tablecloth. Need to get with it as I have been wanting to create an embroidered set of linens for a holy communion table.

  • Doreen

    I’m going to try applique` next.

  • Doreen

    I think I’ll try the edge embroidery. I’ve had the hoop for years and haven’t even attempted using it.

  • Judy

    Eventhough I am a newbie,I have done more on the Intermediate list than the newbie list. How funny. I want to learn how to use my new PAL.

  • Kay Peschke

    My “bucket list” includes learning the decoupage technique and how to arrange multiple “smaller” designs so they will look as if they are one large design on a garment such as a jacket or skirt. I haven’t found a good technique for this, other than printing paper templates and “auditioning” each design place by place.


    I’m just now trying the border designs…have tried 3D, T-shirts etc. Border design using a poem is my current project.

  • Karen Poole

    I have done most of these already, I’ve done endless borders on quilts, I’ve done tshirts and sweatshirts for the grandkids, I don’t wear skirts so I haven’t done those and if I DO need a skirt I might try it, I have seen some really cute ideas. I haven’t done napkins yet, that is one I have wanted to do along with a matching table runner, so I think that is what I will try! I bought some really nice linen fabric a few years ago for this purpose!

  • Dani Beth

    I’ve got a few tasks to tackle from the list in my spare time , LOL. Want to try putting a zipper in the hoop on a small bag.

  • Janet Lumetta

    At the top of my bucket list is to attempt to do a border.

  • Margaret Brantley

    I’d like to learn how to split a design and rehoop to get everything to line up perfectly.

  • Miriam Landers

    I’ve done 9 of the 10 things on the list, so I will try making a buttonhole with my embroidery unit.

  • Karla

    I see on the bucket list is a new way to embroider on sweatshirts. I have done this, but I always feel that the designs could look better. So I will try this way and feel that perhaps it will be a sucess. With the holidays coming one, I need to get those sweatshirts out and DO IT>

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    I’ve been gathering up as much info as I can on machine quilting with embroidery. This is my next “Adventure”. Have gotten some of the stipple designs from you (Appliques and Butterflies) and once I get brave enough I will embark.

  • Gail Beam

    I need to try making machine embroidery buttonholes. I have collected a number of buttonhole designs, but have never attempted to put them on anything.

  • MarciaW

    Wow! This is challenging list. Applique would be an interesting technique for me to learn.

  • Rachel Price

    I want to do they all!!!! But the 1st one would have to be Embellish a back pocket of a pair of jeans, then I would want to do the 3-D Applique. Then I would have to do the rest of them!!! I just love these bucket List blogs!!!! Thanks Eileen – you are so wonderful to give us all these ideas. (PS – Saw the picture in the July/Aug issue p. 85)

  • Karen

    Buttonholes is the only one I have not done. My machine does such a great job and so easy ,that needing to hoop and rehoop would take longer and more work.

  • Maria

    I always thought that capris would be a great project to try embroidery on.

  • Donna

    Thanks so much for this bucket list. I want to do them all. Just reading you lists has inspired some projects for me. It think the first one I will try is the jeans pocket.

  • Kathy

    I need to learn how to applique for profit. After losing my job I decided to start a sewing/embroidery business and applique would put me on top of my game.

  • LuciS

    I am starting to dabble in cross stitch. I would like to know more about the formats.

    Luci S.

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  • K Williiams

    I think I should find some around the house clothes and try everything on your list. Before I try on something dear.

  • Lori E

    I’ve done most of these, but not buttonholes. Definitely need to try this one.

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