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Embroidery Tips & Techniques

Let’s Get to the Point

The lowly needle gets very little attention. In fact, it’s often considered the enemy – you know, it’s the first thing you attack when something goes wrong with an embroidery design. Everyone tells you “change the needle first.” It’s like the youngest kid in the house, when mom finds something broken, the toddler gets blamed.

In my sewing room, I store my new needles in marked containers. They’re easy to find and hopefully, there’s an ample supply. But the needles that I take out of my machine after a minimum amount of use get tossed on the sewing table. For instance, if I embroider a quilt block and then hoop a t-shirt, I’ll switch my needle from a sharp to a ballpoint. The trouble is, the sharp needle is still good – and has a few hours of stitch time remaining. But once it’s placed on the sewing table, I immediately forget what type of needle it is, let alone the size.

Apparently, I’m not the only sewist with this problem because Schmetz has addressed this problem with clarity and style. Are you ready? Coming soon to a dealership near you, are color-coded Schmetz needles! Hip, hip, hooray!

On the left side of the chart, you’ll find the color of the needle type while the right side is color coded by size. After awhile each color will become recognizable for its intended task or job. I like things like that – it simplifies decisions and eliminates guesswork.

Of course, when I buy my needles, I’ll still depend on the handy information on the packaging. But later, when the needle is separated from its nifty packaging, I’ll know exactly what type and size I am holding in my hand!

The humble needle has been elevated to new status – and a colorful one at that!

Here’s your assignment this week:

It’s time to take a look at your design collection!  Tell us what embroidery design theme you seem to collect the most. Do you favor flowers, birds, quilt blocks, redwork, fruits, vegetables, dogs, cats, monograms, lettering, fish, Christmas, lace, borders, frames, etc.  Post your comment for a chance to win a $25 shopping spree on the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.

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

What type of projects do you like to embroider?  Quilts, adult clothing, children’s clothing, in-the-hoop, home decor, crafts… something else?  Let us know and you’ll have a chance to win an embroiderable stocking!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The winner is Beth, with her comment:  “I like to do all kinds of embroidery but I am really drawn to the in the hoop things.  I have made all kinds of purses and stuff in the hoop.”




  • Cathy Van Daalwyk

    Quilt designs and in the hoop projects are what I have the most of.

  • Carol Tessman

    I have a lot of in the hoop projects, whimsical designs and quilting designs.

  • Ann

    I have a huge collection of floral designs. They
    seem to be able to be used on many things.
    So glad Schmetz is doing this to their needles.

  • Jean Kocik

    At this moment, I have a huge collection of Christmas designs and I love to do them. Next, I think, comes the…. Gosh, it’s a toss up between flowers, birds, bugs, baby, fleur de lis, Autumn, quilt block’s and trains ( my husband is a model train fanatic). I guess I live them all.

  • Michelle Wagner

    I have a vast collections of designs! But my favorite is any holiday design. When any holiday is approaching, I am assured that I can find a holdiday design to my liking. This doesn’t mean that I don’t ‘go shopping” to add to my collection though!

  • Cheryl

    I love in the hoop and quilt designs collections. These are the ones I use the most. Also anything for the holidays.

  • Charlotte Silber

    Gosh I feel like an embroidery design hog. LOL I have designs that I like in whimsical for grdchildren, flowers for my daughters and men designs for their shirts, etc.

  • Barbara McKenzie

    I have many favorite themes, but I love applique. It allows me to add a lot of color and interest to a project without overwhelming it with stitches.

  • Beth

    I would have to say most of my designs are in the hoop. I guess I need the quick results you get with the in the hoop. I don’t really have an over abundance of any particular designs.

  • Sue

    With the 1st grand baby, baby & children designs.

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    I do a lot of towels for craft shows so I end up with a lot of cute or funny sayings. I also like to do the free standing lace both as ornaments and Easter baskets. I have done a few things for two of my daughters who are home schooling their children. With a large family there is always somebody that would like to have something special so of course….. In the meantime I will be so so happy to see the new needles.

    • Mary Haggenmaker

      Just happened to remember about the time my husband got a mustard stain on a favorite shirt. He loved hunting and target shooting and I had just downloaded some gun designs..covered that mustard stain right up!

      • Denise Holguin

        That’s a great way to save the shirt!


  • Cathy Black

    I tend to do more Holiday embroidery. I embroider holiday designs on satin or linen and frame and give as gifts. Another thing is monograms for family and friends. I do this on fantastic fabric to frame and on household items like towels, pillowcases,etc.

  • kbo

    I’m currently favoring sewing related designs.

  • Lisha Falk

    I have quite a collection of designs, but primarily stitch out baby designs on bibs. Also love ITH designs, kitchen designs and appliqué of all types. Too hard to decide on only one!

  • Heidi

    I seem to collect kid stuff the most or in the hoop…now to just get at it all….

  • Linda Machado

    I collect Christmas designs most of all year round. I can’t seem to get enough even though I don’t use them all. There is just something about the magic of Christmas that still thrills me and I’m just over 60! What can I say? I’m still a kid at heart!

  • Shanon D

    Seems like I have a lot of applique designs. I embroider for my great nieces and these sew up quickly.

  • Melody G

    I have a HUGE collection of fonts and frames ,I also have lots of Coffee related designs as well. There are four thumb drives full of designs, so really I LOVE the all.

  • Susan Novak

    Lately I seem to be hung up on Christmas ornaments – FSL and not.
    My stash of ITH projects seems to be growing too.

  • Charlee Turner

    I’m a newbie, so will collect anything that appeals right now. I do tend to lean toward florals, and in the hoop designs tho.

  • Maey Newhart

    I seem to have more Christmas Applique Designs than any other theme or category. I love how you can change the look of the designs with different fabrics. Applique designs are quick and fun to do. I love them.

  • Anne Marie Reilly

    I have more floral designs than other types. Great idea Schmetz has for their needles!

  • Frances Powell

    Anything for kids is what I gravitate to. I also seem to do a lot of monogramming.

  • Greta Kanegae

    Baby and children’s designs make up about half followed by animals as a distant 2nd

  • Vonee

    I have all type of designs. I favor appliqué’ and nature. Looking forward to seeing the new color coded needles become available.

  • Terry Brinkley

    I have a lot of in-the-hoop designs. Some for quilting and some for garments. I also have lots of simple designs for doing yarn embroidery (couching) for baby and children’s quilts. It’s so much fun!!

  • Shirley Clark

    Let’s just face it! I’m sure we all have hundreds of designs we will never use. I have to admit I am a Fontaholic! I love fonts and monograms in any size, shape, and or color.
    I can’t help it! They just appeal to me. I even spend hours hunting TTFs for Font Engine.

  • Nancy kohl

    I mostly collect little boy appliqués/monograms. We have 5 grandsons from 41/2 years to 4 months and there is not a week that goes by that my daughter or daughter in law doesn’t come up with a t-shirt design that all “5” boys must have. I love it, and wouldn’t have it any other way!!

  • Jamee Phillips

    Most of my collection consists of children and baby designs. Of course each design has to be monogrammed so I have many fonts and monograms. Seems you never have just the right one when needed.

  • Bonnie Gray

    I have a lot of in the hoop designs,florals, lace and swirls.

  • Sue Winnie

    Oh my, between anita goodesigns ame embriodery library, I have soo many designs. I love in the hoop and christmas one the best

  • Donna N.

    Flowers, animals and baby stuff.

  • Ruth Peterson

    I have a large collection of Christmas and kid designs, but use my quilting motifs the most I think. Although with Christmas coming soon, that is what I have loaded ready to go right now. (LOVE in-the-hoop designs also.)

  • Susan J

    I have loved Asian designs from the very beginning, probably because I once lived in Japan and Hong Kong. I can’t help myself, when I see another Asian collection, I just have too have it. Christmas and Quilting designs run a close second and third. I can resist them…maybe…sometimes… Brilliant idea to color code needles. Bravo, Schmetz! You will definitely make my life easier.

  • Katie Harper

    After 20 years of collecting I have quite a stash of designs.The ones I have been using most the last couple of years are those I can use for quilting.

  • Julia

    If one category seems to be growing, I just ramp up to keep the categories even. Kind of like trimming the table legs until you get a tray.

  • Rita

    Holidays, Christmas in particular.

  • Pam

    Baby designs

  • Gail Beam

    I have to admit I have a Ton of designs, but I use mostly fonts and applique designs. Applique gives me a chance to use a variety of different fabrics and fonts are great for names and words. Love the idea of color coding for needles. I have a number of used needles scotch taped to the table in front of my machine too.

  • Carolyn H

    I literally have thousands of designs. Flowers and designs suitable for jeans are my favorites.

  • Kristi D.

    I seem to collect a lot of goofy designs, as I love anything that makes me smile or better yet laugh out loud. 🙂

  • Carolyn Rollberg

    Well, if I was more organized with my design catalog, I would be able to figure out which I have more of…but, I started cataloging by topic, then by digitizer so I could tell my friends where to get which designs…so, now I have a crazy mess of lots of designs!

  • Karen Poole

    My favorite designs are florals and second favorite are in the hoop lace designs!

  • Karen

    I have been trying to go through my designs for the past year. When I started many years ago I collected everything because I didn’t know a well digitized design from a poor one. Now that I know better I am going through my designs and getting rid of the bad ones and finding good designs I forgot I had. In my early embroidery days I went for large designs with lots of stitches, lots of fall and Christmas. Now I am more interested in quilt designs and what I call “light and airy” designs that don’t have a lot of stitches and have more of a sheer look, especially pretty in florals.

  • Pam M

    Alphabets, alphabets, alphabets and then a few more alphabets on top of that. Plus associated things such as frames, borders, flourishes, and some pre-made cute sayings. But that’s not to say alphabets are all I have. I also have a very healthy collection of “regular” designs covering everything from architecture to zoology. I also have a predilection for quirky designs (think Urban Threads as one example of the type of design I mean) and geometric designs. Not a huge fan of flowers and animals (although of course I do have a lot of those too!).

  • Sharon Brockhouse

    Whimsical designs are my favorite,

  • Shirl R

    I love the florals, holiday designs and kitchen décor.

  • Wanda H Leffingwell

    I have all kinds designs In The Hoop, I love making them and also the In hoop Stuffies!

  • Casie Williams

    Love csts of all types!

  • Diane Cockman

    I like all designs. Christmas, in the hoop, birds, flowers, quilts. I love the color coding on the needles. That will help so much.

  • Nancy Grove

    My collection seems to be pretty heavy in designs for kids – my 5 year old grandson could be the reason for that,but I also have lot of floral designs. Now to find a software that helps me to easily locate them and doesn’t cost too much.

  • Betsy

    I have a little bit of everything, it seems, but holiday and quilt block designs are my favorites.

  • Jessica

    I love all the fanciful designs for lettering. I usually embroider baby gifts as presents and seeing the name in cute lettering goes a long way.

  • Terri

    Since I am fairly new at machine embroidery, I am still discovering all kinds of designs. However, I do tend to enjoy outline designs, autumn leaves, and florals that I use to embellish pashmina prayer shawls for my church’s prayer shawl ministry.

  • charlotte stafford

    I have quite a few designs, but seem to always gravitate to the animals

  • Nancy Weber

    My favorite designs to collect are freestanding lace designs, particularly Christmas designs. I just love making ornament covers, doilies, bookmarks and of course angels which I give to friends and tuck into notes. I have lots of samples of FSL hanging around my sewing room as they make me smile! Hugs.

  • Angela Bartolini

    I just love free standing lace, my all time favorite. I have to say my next favorite is in the hoop.

  • Chris

    I have a lot of designs but I am really draw to seasonal, floral and ITH designs.

  • Nancy Godwin

    I have a lot of heirloom type designs. I love embroidering dainty designs on baby items. Next I have many tiny designs to embroider on my granddaughter’s socks, they are so cute. I also like to embroider the freestanding ornaments to tie to napkin holders during the holidays.

  • Vici Fallin

    Monograms===I use those probably the most, but have used a lot of Christmas, especially lately because I am working on a ‘crazy quilt tree skirt worked on six gores. I have been able to try a lot of fun things on that.
    It is all fun and I am surprised I have not gotten tired of trying something new. Our fabric shop offers an
    Embroidery club which just opens up more and more ides.Thanks for adding all the help to a great hobby, note ably your extra strong Magnetic snap hoop.

  • Donna F

    It looks like florals wins! Although Christmas is a close second. I love the new color coding on the needles I have been putting a dot of nail polish on the top of mine to try and do a coding system. But it wears off and the waiting for it to dry was annoying.

  • Kendra M

    Unfortunately my designs are mostly business logos. I have a lovely collection of holiday stuff that is growing though and maybe someday I will only do “fun” designs!

  • Corky

    First off, I loved your post title, because the name of my business is To the Point! My largest design collection is Babies/Children. I embroider baby blankets , burp clothes & onesies for new born’s, have 4 grandchildren & many friends with children/grandchildren so have many requests to decorate with ‘children designs.’ When I have an order for a new born baby blanket with the birth stats I add an embroidered burp cloth. I find, on their next order, the client will request a baby blanket plus a burp cloth. You sow (sew), you reap! Your business grows, everyone is happy.

  • Judy Williamson

    Although my daughter is grown and I have no little ones to embroidery for, I love to do children’s designs.

  • le floch

    I really like the ‘quick stitch’ , any theme really. When Xmas comes, there’s only time for quickstitch designs.

  • Rosalee

    I really like nature designs–flowers, animals–all of it!

  • Lorel Maple

    Although pretty new to the embroidery game, I gravitate toward maple leaves (see my last name) and other leaves, pinecones, trees. I make a lot of bar towels to accompany our favorite Wisconsin wines for hostess gifts, so I’m always collecting grapes and funny quotes.

  • Brenda Melahn

    I am a fairly new embroiderer (about a year and a half) I find myself drawn to personalization — either monogrammed items or full names. Just beginning applique — oh my — this is soooo much fun!!

  • Beth

    It says I was the winner of last week’s assignment. How do I claim my prize? I can’t wait to get these new needles.

  • Katrice Faulkner

    In the hoop designs for quilts and snap clips are what I have the most.

  • Patty Sack

    I like lace, borders, heirloom and monograms the most.

  • Odette

    Birds are my favorite, then I can not resist Christmas designs!

  • doree shandera

    I have a large variety of designs, but I do get the most excited over the holiday (any) ones and then the in the hoop projects. Great news about the needles also. I have thrown out many needles because I couldn’t figure out which ones they were!!! Happy Thanksgiving to all…….

  • Chris

    I probably have more quilting designs than anything else right now. I also love the vintage looking DOW designs as well.

  • Cathy

    I have allot of different designs, but I probably have mostly children’s applique, and Christmas. Can never resist the new Christmas desigs.

  • Barbara

    I’m pretty eclectic (a fancy way to say I buy too much of everything!), but I think my largest collection is in-the-hoop followed by florals and quilting. Then there’s the lace and the “too cute to pass up” — see what I mean?

    The needles are AWESOME!! Now I can get more use out of them before I put them to use as picture hangers!

  • Leora B

    I have a variety for now since I am just starting out..Although I really like the hoop projects …

    and Barbara… how do you use your needles as picture hangers.. unique ideal…

  • Connie W

    I favor applique, redwork and holiday designs. The color coding of the needles is a great idea because I have to use a magnifying glass to try to read the print on them.

  • Tina Williams

    I do mostly in the hoop designs for craft shows right now, but, I love so many different things, it’s hard to pick!

  • Karen McDonner

    Loving the color-coded needles! Answer to my which needle is this one! My favorite designs or flowers and holiday designs. The holidays are when most of my embroidery happens.

  • Barb

    I’m very new to ME. And I like EVERYTHING I see! LOL. I’ve bought a few fall collections for placemats, table runners, etc. I love Christmas designs. I’m thinking Christmas designs for lots of pillows for gifts. And Alphabets to put the DGK’s names on items. I loved the color- coded needles! When I have a needle I can get more use out of I put it back in the Schmetz case backwards. Then I know it’s not new. Now that I sew more, (just retired)
    I will save empty cases and mark it used for these needles. I’m kind of anal about being organized.
    Thanks for the chance!

  • Vicky Isliefson

    I have a variety of designs, but botanicals and butterflies are most prevalent.

  • Rosemary O'Koren

    Lately I have been buying Angels to make into ornaments. I have just figures out how to make them.

  • Jill T.

    I love shoe designs, especially Stilettos and then Flip Flops for summer. I’m just a shoe nut.

  • Christi Brooks

    I purchased an embroidery machine a couple of months a ago and have purchased a variety of designs. I have also digitalized a couple of designs. I like to make garments, hats, dolls/animals and now handbags. I am currently working on your Designer Handbags. It would be great to have new designs for the Designer Handbags. Maybe a deeper corner so there is more room in the bag. I know there are limits due to hoop size. My largest hoop is 12 x 7 or 8 inches.

  • Doris

    I love doing the tile scenes from Anita Good Designs. Seeing the finished product is so exhilarating. Yea for color coded needles. Should have happened a long time ago.

  • Kathy Schmidt

    For the most part anything to do with horses is what I have the most of…..and about 150,000 other designs….ok so I’m addicted to embroidery and hope to use at least most of what I’ve downloaded in this lifetime.

  • nancy

    I got interested in machine embroidery when my bf wanted a small cowboy hat embroidered on a shirt. We country dance so I’m always looking for that theme.

  • Erin

    Mostly Baby & Christmas embroidery. Lots of Disney designs. Love it all.

  • Carolyn

    Since my husband & I have a small craft business, I often look at patterns that I feel will sell. I also like to buy patterns that I can put on clothing for my 14 grandchildren and for gifts.

  • Georgieann

    Both my daughter and I love Vintage designs and anything jacobean and floral and Christmas and Holiday and anything else that illicits an “ooh” or “ah” response, pretty much leaving little we don’t like! Hving time to embroider everything we like is the problem….

  • Susan Burns

    Lace. It’s what gets the best response when it is given as a gift!

  • colleen

    I mostly have Christmas designs.

  • Deb

    FSL designs have to be my largest (ornaments, bookmarks, doilies etc) as they make nice gifts & easy to send; then flower designs & chickadees.

  • Judy Hawkins

    I seem to gravitate to floral and Jacobean designs. Then, there’s FSL, in the hoop projects, crazy quilt designs and I guess I pretty much love em all. Recently, I have been doing Anita Gooddesign quilt designs. Recently, I have been doing lap sized quilts for my grandchildren for Christmas with embroidery blocks. I’ve done a couple purses and they are really fun to do. I’ve got tons of designs for table runners so maybe after the Holidays, that will be my next project.

  • Sandy

    I have dolphins, fish and wild life and kid designs then quilting designs (first to last)

  • Kim M Harrington

    I have a little bit of everything, but I think that my collections of heirloom style designs takes the top ranking. I have thousands of them 🙂

  • Gayle

    This is my last resort. In May I subscribed to DIME magazine (including online access). To date, I have received no issues and do not have online access. My credit card has been charged. I have sent 2 emails with no response and the telephone is not answered. I have been a customer for a number of years and am extremely disappointed with customer service at this time. I apologize for using this venue to discuss this, but I have done so as a last resort and hope that this issue can be resolved.

    • Denise Holguin

      Hi Gayle,
      Thank you for alerting us. I’ve asked my team to contact you by email.


      Denise Holguin

  • Barb Miller

    I love Jacobean designs.

    • Denise Holguin

      Those are my favorites too!


  • Darlaine Gibson

    I love doing redwork and using varigated thread. Also enjoy in the hoop projects.

  • beverly

    My favorites are flowers, butterflies and hummingbirds!!!

  • ginger

    I love the in the hoop projects… making quite a few mug rugs now for Christmas gifts.

  • Doreen

    I seem to collect a lot of FSL designs because I think they are so beautiful and amazing.

  • Becky

    I tend to favor floral designs. I’m not sure why though. I think they just make me feel good.

  • C.J.

    I go through phases in my design preferences. I’ve been doing this since the 90’s. I always go back to cross stitch for those really special occasions.
    Way to go Schmetz!!

  • judi

    Angels for holiday items, and paisley

  • Beth R

    I collect anything on sale! but I love FSL and Christmas designs.

  • Carol Seavitt

    Love all designs and sets that I can put together — florals. But then there are the fonts, the angels, bookmarks, Christmas, kids and faces — love the faces on kids stuff (like your recent magazine’s snowballs — so cute). So many designs!

  • susan

    I am drawn in by the pic & colors I see on front of the design packages. I love the victorian era.

  • Judy Black

    I LOVE appliques!! I also do a lot of monogramming.

  • Denice Weys

    Flower designs are the bulk of my collection followed by butterflies and birds. These cover specific holidays as well as general themes. I prefer full stitch designs, I find applique problematic and do not care for machine cross-stitch look. The largest theme designs I have are Christmas based, which is the time of year we all seem to be most industrious.

  • MaryLou Heller

    Flower designs top my collection of patterns. I also enjoy making the FSL designs which are used on dollies for gifts. The one projecct I’m most proud of is an machine embroidered picture of Christ holding a lamb and below the picture (over 22,000 stitches)I put my grandson’s confirmation (Bible) verse and had it matted and framed. My grandson was overwhelmed by it and so was everyone else!

  • JudiC

    Seem to have a lot of whimsical & Holiday designs.

  • Sandra Nettles

    I collect heirloom lace and designs the most. I want to learn to do “in the hoop” objects.

  • beth daniels

    I collect a lot of redwork designs, Christmas and Kitchen designs. I use the kitchen designs for doing them on kitchen towels for presents and for me.

  • Beckie

    I collect children’s designs. I love whimsical and the unexpected. Finally, needles are being color coded. Guess I could have put a splash of nail polish on the too…
    I enjoy your blog.

  • Sandy Yarbrough

    I just recently put all my embroidery designs in file folders on my computer. What a task!!!!

    So my collection is made up of mainly Christmas and monogram fonts. But baby and children designs run close behind.

    Thanks for changing the needles!!! And thanks for the contest!!

  • Jane

    I collect more children’s applique and designs than anything else. Fonts are right in there with holidays running a close third.
    Love the article on the needles – that will really help with not wasting so many!

  • Betty

    i have a lot of baby designs and free standing lace all kinds bowls ornaments table runners i just love them

  • Carol Howell

    WOW!! You forced me to look. Holidays, with Christmas leading Halloween, is what I have the most of.

  • Paule-marie

    I have lots of everything that catches my eye. (is that a category?) But I do seem to have a large amount of fruits and veggies.

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    We provide high quality embroidery digitizing on cheap rates customized to your official and personal needs.

  • Caroline

    I seem to collect quilting designs. Would probably have to embroider 24/7 to use all of them.

  • Della Carr

    Right now it is Christmas designs…hands down, but I am working on building my girly designs up. I think that they are going to far out way the Christmas ones fairly soon. I love all of them though!

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  • Brenda L. Pedersen

    I have a lot of Christmas designs, but my favorite are snowmen and snow flakes.