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Behind the Scenes Volume 79


Many people think working at a magazine is glamorous but I’m the first to admit that the ‘glamour’ is really in the final product, not the before.  There’s an awful lot that goes on to make the projects appealing and enticing. And that’s after they’ve been created!  The beautiful pages of a magazine start blank – just like another project. It’s our job to fill them with inspiration and education.  Since we’re embroiderers ourselves, we know it’s all about the eye candy.  So we spend ample time on planning a photo shoot and then actually shooting the projects.

Beautiful photography gets a hand from well, many hands.  Here’s a glimpse of what it takes to get just the right shot.

It starts with a ‘nursery’ built specifically for this project.

When we’re shooting at floor level, then we have to get down on the floor to set the shot.

All that crawling around pays off.

Sometimes we get really lucky with sets that have already been made for another client. It’s very expensive to build photography sets so the studio ‘piggybacks’ whenever possible.

These adorable totes were perfect in this classroom setting.

Notice how the desk is elevated on wooden boxes. That’s done so that the totes can have all of the chalkboard in the background. Without the boxes, the area behind the desk would conflict with the totes.  Our number one goal is keep the focus on the project – no matter how adorable the setting is.

But sometimes the project shares the focus with something else – like a lobster.

These in-the-hoop potholders need a real-life setting, a kitchen, food and model. Our studio has several kitchens along with a pantry, refrigerator and freezer – all labeled: Prop Food, Do Not Eat. And they aren’t kidding. The lobster in this image is 3 years old and lives in the freezer. The scene is set and lit and then out he comes. The photos are quickly shot before he has a chance to stink up the whole place! Back to the freezer when we’re done!

We have a lot of laughs during the course of a photography shoot. The combination of long hours, great company and a creative environment make for a fun day. And sometimes it’s the projects that give us a chuckle. You can imagine my amusement when my Stitching Sister and Designs in Machine Embroidery contributing writer, Marie Zinno, submitted the Under the Sea project from Volume 79 March/April 2013.  Anyone recognize something unusual about these photos?

Leave it to my sister to cleverly recycle a towel!  Here’s the finished scene we photographed for the magazine.

A lot of hard work and dedication go into producing every issue of the magazine.  It’s very much a labor of love and we have a genuine passion for presenting you, our readers, with the best inspiration and education that we can.  We are grateful for the opportunity to be part of your creative process in your sewing and embroidery studios.  And we are proud of your success as an embroiderer!

If you aren’t a subscriber or your subscription is going to expire soon, take advantage of this exclusive private-sale subscription rate!  Subscribe for only $27.97 and receive a free downloadable e-book (a $10 value.)   This is a limited time offer—so click here for more information.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Tell us a feature you’d like to see in our magazine! Are you interested in a column about stabilizers? Want to see a dedicated piece on wall decorations, lamp shades – whatever it is let us know! One lucky reader will win Volumes 80-82. Comment below to win. Thanks and good luck!

The winner of last week’s assignment is:


Letters are your friend! They can turn almost anything from drab to personalized and fab. Comment below about something you’ve been wanting to monogram and one winner will be chosen to receive their very own copy of Machine Embroidered Monograms for the Home! Good luck.

Machine Embroidered Monograms for the Home

And the winner is…“I love this look-am always on the lookout for something unusual and this is a great new idea!” – Connie J.

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  • marie zinno

    wow, thanks alot! I’m glad you enjoy my recycling projects. There is more to come!

  • Marilyn Weiss

    Threads. There are so many new and interesting threads on the market it’s hard to keep up and even harder to know how they will perform in machine embroidery. Should I increase or decrease density? Change my tension?

    Also, more “behind the scenes” articles. How is embroidery thread made? what goes into making the perfect stabilizer? Products and product features that may be coming out soon, etc.?

    Lastly, what type of machine embroidery is popular in other parts of the world. How do they use the embroidery? Do they have machine embroidery shows? Guilds?

    All of this said, I do love Designs and all of the wonderful articles, ideas and subjects that you already provide. Thanks for asking!

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    Actually Marilyn hits my nail on the head. Subjects like when it is better to use rayon instead of polyester and the differencesin tear-away stabilizers. If you pull my name throw it away because I already get the magazine which I constantly pore over.

  • Maxine Mac Neill

    I would like to see a monogram on a cosmetic bag, tote bag or cell phone holder,etc. Why only towels

  • Jan L

    I would like to see more home décor embroidery projects; besides the common towels and pillows. I have visions of embroidering ribbons to place around lampshades, picture frames and such. Heard you can even embroider on balsa wood- not that would be a very cool and helpful article.

  • Donna N.

    Have you ever monogramed a sleeve on a wool dress coat?

    I saw some lampshades at the Quilt Expo in Wisconsin. They look interesting.

  • Carolyn Goodworth-Ford

    I love machine embroidery for home décor, and which stabilizers that work with the project.
    Thanks for all the great ideas that inspire me!

  • Marcia Nation

    I really like the look of the pot holders in this issue. Where might I find the directions!

    • Colleen Gnehm

      I agree, I have searching trying to find when the article for the potholders was published. I can’t find it and would truly like to get the pattern or directions.

  • kathy

    I would love to see a column on recycling projects.> Either take something that did not go well and fix it or a thrift store find. Why not save the landfills from something.

  • Lisa Knight

    Home dec for a specific area like the bedroom, bathroom or kitchen. Do coordinated items. For a whole designer look.

  • Lisa Knight

    Love the idea of repurposing clothes for the fabric or to create something new.

  • Debby

    I need some true tested ideas for teens, both boys and girls.

  • Gail Beam

    I would like to see so some projects designed specifically for kids to help them learn how to use an embroidery machine.

  • Linda Seemann-Korte

    Hi! I would love to see a comparison of all the new embroidery machines that have just flodded the market. It is rather overwhelming and just how do you decide which one to spen a fortune on!


    I am always on the lookout for things to make for my grandsons.

  • Donna Klug

    Love your magazine! I would like to see unique ways to use embroidery such as the bag in the last issue. inspiration!

  • Becky

    How about monograms on some sort of jewelry??

  • Pamm

    Love the home decor idea, but also would like some help on hooping and aligning difficult items, such as above a shirt pocket!!!!!

  • annette Rady

    When I think of embroidery, my mind’s eye almost always pictures a monogram… Even before I had my first little Deco machine, I just love things with lettering/monograms on them to create that super interest feature. There’s so much that can be done on tees and sweats and of course, polos. Love the alpha.

  • Clem

    I would love to see more embroidery for men. My husband looks at some of the new things and asks, “what about us?”

  • Clem

    oops, did not mean to hit enter…. How about some ideas on what to embroider. Some men do not wear dress shirts so the cuff idea would not work. Pockets would work, but what designs? Just a start here. Thanks.

  • Susan

    Hi…love your blog, and clearly all the behind-the-scenes prep is well worth it! I’ve been trying to find some embroidered wine charms…preferably that we could monogram…may be a prime target for an in-the-hoop design???

  • Barbara

    My favorites are in the hoop projects and bags, but I get inspired by the unusual — embellishing shoes, creating a unique home décor items, whatever clever idea one of your contributing artists likes to share.
    I also love generic techniques and the occasional behind-the-scenes article.

    I love your magazine!

  • Betsy

    I agree with the first 2 posts…from Marilyn and Mary. I’m a novice and need articles to help me better understand this addicting hobby of mine. Tell me WHAT to do and I can do it. If you tell me WHY then I can grow and improve.

  • Rosalyn Schultze

    I would love to make the in-the-hoop potholders shown in the “kitchen scene”. Where might I find the directions and/or software. I think they would make great gifts for my knitting and bobbin lace making friends.

  • Kathy Fox

    I want to make a table topper complete with borders, corners, centerpiece and filler designs. 36″ square would be fine. I am overwhelmed with the amount of time this would take but its what I ambition to make. I am interested in how to plan the filler designs.

    • Kathy Fox

      I want to finish my post about table linens. i would buy a book on how to make fine table linens. i am interested in where to get good fabrics and how to finish the edges as well as how to stabilize for layering designs and embellishment.

  • Patty Sack

    I would like to have more in the hoop projects. I also like the home dec idea of doing a whole room at a time.

  • Becky

    I would love to see an article on placement. Particularly linking designs or repeating designs to make one larger design. Would love to make larger designs using the small hoops that come with home machines.

  • C.J.

    Love articles that are a bit more advanced. I’ve had an embroidery machine since the 90’s. Converting ready-to-wear and home dec projects are especially appreciated.

  • Denice Weys

    Working with different threads is allways inspirational and I would like to see more about purses bags and totes, not just the designs but delving into construction details, fabrics etch.

  • Enis

    How about some articles interviewing embroidery design digitizers? Would like to hear how they got started, what types of software they use, where do they get their inspiration, what are they most proud of, what project or design did they feel was a flub, what is their favorite thread, stabilizer, machine, what are their best tips and tricks? You get the idea

  • Beth R

    I would love an article on where things are made – where threads are made, where stabilizers are made, where some of our other tools are manufactured.

  • Nancy Weber

    I would like more info on combining designs/placement to make them pleasing to the eye on different items of clothing. I have lots of beautiful designs, just can’t seem to put them together to make one large image.

  • Jean Kocik

    I would love to know more about lace embroidery. I saw the gorgeous purple lace, I believe jacket, when you came to Louisville, KY last month. I am intrigued.

  • CathyE.

    Would love to learn how to build an in the hoop applique design from step 1 ! I have the software and the the machine…need to learn how to make my own design with multiple stacked elements!

  • Linda Evans

    I would like to see more home deco and children how to and tips.

  • Sue

    It would absolutely amazing to do a window valance treatment in machine embroidery. What a centre and talk piece that would be. I like colour…and it would be a sure fire way to draw attention to your artistic side and embellish a room not just a piece of fabric or etc.

  • Pati Wilson

    I’d love to see how In The Hoop designs are created from concept to finish. I am always looking for new ITH projects but would like to try to design some of my own.

  • Pati Wilson

    Oh, I’d also like more information on building a small home business for boutique like items as well as business clients. Pricing and marketing and website info would be great!

  • Yvonne

    I would like to see articles on how to hoop hard to hoop items, and the latest on stabilizers and how they do what they do. I would like to then take this information and apply it to embroidering unique gift items. I saw somewhere a long time ago, an article on embroidering umbrellas, soaps, candles and how to make a scarf using strings and pieces of thread and stabilizer, but I don’t remember what kind, and just how that went. I’m racking my brain trying to remember where I read/saw this at, BECAUSE I want to do this. So I would like to see articles suggesting ways to be unique with our embroideries– articles that inspire creativity outside the box. Articles that will help us to be even more successful on our websites, at tent shows, and gift making endeavors. I want to be able to use this information to make stunning, elegant, breath-taking embroideries.

  • Marcia Below

    I would love to see a series on how to use the different feet that came with my Baby Lock embroidery machine and any other additional feet or accessories I can purchase to use with my machine. I love learning new techniques and ideas!

  • Carol Seavitt

    Would love to see a spreadsheet on software programs (ie Embird, etc) and what each does along with cost. Software comparison for fonts would be great too.

  • Embroidery Digitizing

    Love to see them……

  • Hyo Marsee

    There’s noticeably a bundle to learn about this. I assume you made sure nice points in options also.