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Holiday Hooping

Keep It Simple Snowman

My Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno, is so busy right now. Every time we talk (and that’s every morning), she’s got all three of her machines cranking out holiday orders.  Marie is a commercial embroiderer based in Canton, OH and one very pleasant person. She never grumbles even in the midst of holiday stitching chaos. And if you’ve ever dabbled in machine embroidery for business, then you know what holiday chaos is like. It all starts out innocent enough; you get just the right amount of orders to keep your machines humming about 6-8 hours a day.  Your delivery dates are manageable (because you finally got a handle on estimating how much time to allot for each order); your prices are set and your inventory landed when promised. It’s all up to you now to get the jobs completed as promised.

But Marie is the first to admit things don’t always go as planned. Oh she definitely has survived holiday emergencies in previous years of power outages, machines malfunctioning and family illnesses and she handled each with panache. But this year, it’s been a bit different. It seems when a customer arrives to pick up an order they see some of the items that she’s been making for other customers and promptly order four or six or 24!

So what’s so hot in Canton this year? Snowman towels, onesies and t-shirts. When Marie’s customers spot them on display they promptly order a set of towels for their own home. And then they remember their niece who had a new baby this spring and order a onesie for that angel. Then they remember the baby has an older sister or brother, and well you get the picture.  She charges between $15 and $20 for each item and because she has an inventory of blank items, it’s just a matter of hooping and stitching.


As embroiderers we tend to overcomplicate things – take personalization to whole new levels. But really, many people are just as touched with a simple holiday design. Something that’s unique, something you don’t find in the local store.  So if you’re scrambling to finish your holiday stitching, maybe you should simplify. And think snowman!


The snowman design is from Embroidery Garden.


Here’s your assignment this week:

So how is your holiday stitching coming along? Are you stressed? Are you going to make your deadlines?  Let us know how it’s going and we’ll pick a random winner to receive a fold flat stocking, perfect for personalization.

The winner of last week’s assignment:

Tell me which of the bags above is your favorite; the red diamond, teal scallop pocket purse, green starburst or the small clutch. Two lucky winners will get an autographed copy of Designer Knockoffs, Handbags 2! Good luck.

And the lucky winners are: Desiree K. and Patty S. Congratulations!

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  • Joanne Gilliam

    You are so right! I’m in power sewing mode and I think people really love a handmade gift..You don’t have to add their name to each item for them to appreciate the thought that went into it.

  • Erma

    I love the simplicity of that snowman design. That blog has made me rethink some of the gifts I was planning to stitch. I am starting to get stressed with all that I have left to stitich before Christmas. …

  • Merron Kay Skramstad

    I think I’ve met the deadline and have the boxes mailed to an APO address. With the earlier deadline it really puts helps with getting all items done in a timely manner!

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    Everything done! Got it all done whenI was working on craft fair items. I usualky make sure that I have enough nice leftovers to take care of the family too.

  • Karin

    I have finally (I hope!) caught up on all my paid orders – the ones for the grandkids? not so much! I have the fabric, just waiting to be sewn up into jammies, and my neighbors? well, hopefully, they’ll understand and be happy with a bottle of wine!

    Those snowmen are adorable!!

  • Judy Slape

    Oh my- I took on too much again this year! And I thought I was going to simplify! Maybe next year>>>>>

  • Kristin

    This is my first Christmas in this business so right now I’m just treading water but very thankful I have the opportunity to try.

  • Marilyn Weiss

    Are you reading my mind??? I took stock last night of available stitching time vs. amount to be done and made the decision to simplify–less items will now be stitched and have been put aside. The good news is I have a great head start for ideas for birthdays and anniversaries for the upcoming year!

  • Kim Robinson

    So far, right on time! I love the simplicity of the snowman design! I am adding that to my stitching list!

  • Marlakay

    I am all caught up on my paid orders. Just sent one item to Germany! Now I have to work on making items for my family and friends. I love snowmen! I need to make something with an embroidered snoman…

  • Donna Mroczkowski

    Super busy, but loving all the fun ideas that people come up for their loved ones. It brings me much happiness when people pick up their orders and their eyes light up because they are so pleased with what they see! While some days I wonder if I will get caught up, because the phone keeps ringing and emails keep coming, I just keep plugging away and things always get done. My house may not be the cleanest, I also am a lunch lady and work monday through friday, so I sew on my nights and weekends! One more week next week and then winter break, TIME for ME!! Merry Christmas and and Happy New Year to you all!! 🙂

  • Michelle Martin

    My stockings are not hung, the tree is not up and decorated, the gifts are not wrapped and only 14 more days until Christmas. I think I need a Christmas intervention!

  • Lisa Krupa

    I work a full-time and a part-time job and have 4 kids. I also embroider part-time. Paid orders are not all shipped yet. I have a swap partner eagerly waiting on my gift. Not many presents bought, tree not up, nothing wrapped and I want to make sure my son (who is going to college on the other side of the country) gets his presents on time. Ugh, I am very behind and very stressed this year!

  • Cynthia S

    I’m in Canton too! :o) Homeschooling takes up most of my day, but I usually do orders after school! I still have to put up the tree! Need to have you both do a class in Canton!

  • Jane Anderson

    I am giving quilts that are in a stack. There is no reason to keep them and just look at them. I have a couple more gifts that need to be made and four greatgrand’s gifts. So I guess I am running right on time.

  • How is my holiday stitching coming along? I am so busy that I don’t have time to answer!

  • Dora

    I am totally in a rut right now. I haven’t dug out the tree, no decorations. Short on cash this year. I wanted to make our Christmas gifts this year as we have an embroidery machine, but my brain has gone on vacation. I can’t really think of anything to make for members of the family. My SIL sews also, she’s made purses & small quilts. My MIL also sews, she makes quilts. So trying to figure out something simple to make as I’m running out of time.

    • Kitty Kontak

      Dora, and the rest of you tearing out your hair, relax and enjoy the time you have with loved ones. The work will get done (Unless of course you are procastinating! Dora, how about some towels. They can be quick and easy and come in a variety of sizes and purposes. I remember one year I was babysitting 3 grandkids and wanted to make something for them. I bought 3 inexpensive bath towels and some kid-print fabric, cut out designs and stitched them to the towels. I then free-hand stitched their names on. Mom wouldn’t let them use them, they were for decoration but they were loved. Back before the days of embroidery machines!

  • Ruth Peterson

    I always seem to think I can get more finished than actually gets done! I started early this year…. or so I thought!!! Oh well, there is always next year!
    I, too, love the snowman embroidery! I will add it to my purchases this year. I always appreciate your ideas & suggestions. Merry Christmas!

  • Kathleen

    I have started too many projects. Between school, doctor visits and surgery, and caring for an older couple, I am not sure if I will make the deadline. My mother always said, “If your Christmas sewing is not completed before Thanksgiving, it may not get done. She would still be trying to finish on Christmas Eve every year. She is gone now, but the tradition continues. You can never miss with a snowman design….because one can use it all winter.

  • Maxine Mac Neill

    Well my embroidery machine is in for service more then it is at home. I am hoping to get it back at the beginning of the week and those snowmen are a definite item to help me to accomplish getting gifts to very special friends and family. Thanks for the idea. My heart goes out to your sister as Christmas is getting closer.

  • Frances Powell

    The past week has been utter chaos, but I have all but two big orders finished for the holidays. This is great so I can start on the projects for my granddaughters and have them ready for Christmas.

  • Beverly Vance

    Going well

  • Carol Seavitt

    A little stressed — making mug rugs for the Nurses at the cancer center here in town and when I asked for the list — I got 35 names. Then I decided to go to the local pottery store here in town the first Saturday of the month because they have deals. Bought 45 mugs (got them for $30.00 bucks). Now instead of just wrapping the mug rugs — it is a mug, mug rug, cellophane and of course a gift tag. UGH. They are just so cute (Loralie nurse) — but man what did I do!

  • Helen Bowie

    I was too busy and had unusual working schedule to get much done for this Holiday season but one of my New Year Resolutions is to start after Christmas making things for next Christmas. Never too early to start.

  • Shirley Clark

    I love those simple snowman designs, and I’m all about simple when it gets hectic this time of year.
    I am somewhat behind because we took a little trip to Branson during Thanksgiving. That cut down on my sewing and decorating time, but it was so much fun!
    Today I almost finished another outfit for my little granddaughter. I usually have these done in early November. 🙁
    I still have shirts to embroider for gifts, and a couple of mug rugs for teachers. This is my hobby, not my job, but I still get stressed!

  • Jo of So TX

    Love the snowmen and was thinking about something that simple for GD’s to wear New Years. any suggestions?

  • Sue Winnie

    I’m done sewing. I’m knitting a stocking for soon to be dil

  • Linda Seemann-Korte

    I am busy stitching curtains, chair pads, bedding, etc to furnish the doll house my husband built for his children and is refurbishing for his granddaughters! I am planning to personalize the bedding – pillow cases and sheets with embroidery!
    I may even make a few doilies for the dressers and tables! Such fun!

  • Vicky Isliefson

    I set myself a fairly small goal of eight personalized pillow cases. Four of them were kits from a quilt shop and I did the embroidery back in March! I stitched them together in October. Then I decided I needed four more, so I went to a different quilt shop and picked the coordinating fabrics for each one myself. I finished those on the weekend, since I have exams to grade this week and then surgery on my foot on Friday. No more sewing before Christmas!

  • Jacque Curtis

    I have just been doing what I can and will continue to do so. It is like that every year. You work with what you have and let the good and bad land where it will. I enjoy the season and I like to wear the neat things that I have made this year and in the years past that we can really only wear in this holiday season. It is so much fun. Ha,Ha,Ha and HO,HO,HO. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.

  • Karen Poole

    No I’m not stressing this year, I actually AM making snowmen for Christmas! And also Santa towels that come from the same company, I am making them as a set, a snowman towel and a Santo Towel, I have also made a Mrs Santa towel that is equally as cute!

  • Donna Schell

    I love this idea. I am going to my stash of designs and dig out some simple ones to finish the season.

  • Pam

    Gifts done, stockings in process.

  • Sherrie

    I have some tea towels to do that I haven’t started yet 🙁 They are washed but not pressed. I know what design I plan to use but again I haven’t started yet. Hopefully this weekend.

  • Casie Williams

    Packages are ready for the Post Office in the morning — but I keep seeing things that I just have to make for the house. 😀

  • Kathy Booth

    Wow. I was just discussing with my hubby how many projects I have to embroider before christmas…all gifts for family! A copy are personalized, but the rest are not. I just had Christmas with my husband’s family this past weekend, so I had to get those homemade embroidered/sewn items done early! Whew…I pulled it off but I was buring the midnight oil to do it! There is so much I want to do, and so little time! So many cute ideas out there just waiting to be stitched!

  • Julie

    I have had some real crazy years – especially in the beginning. I tend to think there is more time between Thanksgiving and Christmas than there is! One especially crazy year I barely had time to put up our own tree and although I had presents all bought, I had not wrapped a single thing. My sister & her family arrived from 2 states away and she had to clean the guest bathroom for me! I vowed to get it under control the following year and set a Dec. 1st deadline for Christmas orders. It has been much better ever since!

  • Beth R

    Moderately stressed this year, since the time between Thanksgiving is shorter than usual, and because there is never enough time anyway!

  • Sue R

    I’m always sewing/embroidering this time of year with orders but also I prefer to make my own gifts when I can. Working at our business full time and being on call 24/7 leaves only evenings and sometimes weekends. I just try to not work tooo many late nights 🙂 I’m usually embroidering right up til Christmas eve, and I love it!!

  • Ronda Halvorsen-Ferns

    Thanks for the great story and inspiration! I have a pile of berber fleece 6 foot high that I thought I would make hats vests and mittens for all the nieces, nephews, hubs & son….. Think I will finish the hats with a SIMPLE snowflake or holiday design.
    Ronda in Bend
    PS As I wrote to Nancy you two ought to make more episodes, you almost finish each others sentences your “Sew Seamless” together!!!!

  • Valerie Brown

    Thankfully, I’m on track with my holiday stitching and just need to ship a quilt. Those snowman towels are adorable. Seeing the creativity of others often leaves me wondering…Now why didn’t I think of that?

  • Adeline Brill

    My holiday stitching has diminished tremendously since my nieces and nephews are all adults now. I usually select one grandiose project each year to work on during the holidays ( for a spiritual lift!) This year I am making the quilt on the current Designs in Machine Embroidery.

  • maria elena

    I just used the snowman design on a little white jumper for grandchild, it is adorable and it was a fast little dress, love it!! I think I will make towels for my girls and a t shirt for another grandchild, thanks for your ideas!!!! Maris Elena

  • Darlene Gerber

    There is not enough hours in the day!! I only have about 3 hours after work to run the machine. So I’m working on smaller projects that don’t take as much time to stitch. Need to get a top done by Saturday that needs some piecing and will be running the embroidery machine at the same time!!

  • Elisa Thames

    So much to do, so little time & so many more ideas. It will get done – Yes, Yes & Yes! As long as I stay focused on “The Reason for The Season, all is well. Merry Christmas everyone.

  • Brenda Melahn

    My holiday stitching is behind and I don’t even do it for a business! Trying to get PJ’s, festive outfits, and a fleece jacket and embroidering purse, coasters, and key fob I made, plus a scarf I purchased (oh I almost forgot, applique for pj tops). Stressed? Of course — I haven’t even put up the tree and decorations yet. But I love Christmas and somehow, it all gets done. Would love this stocking for my newest granddaughter — she’s now 18 months, but her stocking says “My First Christmas” – guess I forgot about that 😉

  • Patty Schrock

    I always plan more than I possibly can finish so I at least quit getting disappointed. I usually do something for each of the grandkids first that way they all are even!! Adults always come last at Christmas!!

  • Joyce

    I sure hope I finish everything on time! I’m almost finished with my out of town family’s “stuff” and ready to start on the in-town family “stuff” and do a couple of orders that popped up yesterday!

  • Nancy Harris

    some time back y’all had teddy bears that you embroidery on and then stuff. Do you still have them? How much? and do you have someone that can do the embroidery on them and get to me before Christmas?

  • Cathy

    I am finished with the gifts that have to be done. There are a few more items if I have time, after baking and orders that keep coming in. Just when I think I am finished I have someone else asking if I can make they something for a Christmas present. It is fun, so all is well.

  • Ann Santistevan

    I’m so far behind. i’m actually 350 miles away from my embroidery machine…..I really miss my machine!

  • Patty Sack

    My holiday stitching was going great until last night. Now my daughter wants me to stitch hats for all of her people (she’s a property manager for an apartment complex). And oh yeah, she asks me “How much would you charge to embroider a robe for someone from work who needs it as a Christmas present! Never mind that I have to take a test for a new job this weekend and I need to study for it all weekend! I know it will get done, but really?!

  • Nancy

    13 days till Christmas….Yep, getting a little stressed here! I’ve been busy stitching embroidered Christmas cards lately plus just finished the bread basket liner. It will all get done, somehow. 🙂

  • Barb Miller

    I’m not really stressed because I am recovering from surgery. 9 day ago. My husband and I are not decorating because I have been unable to and we are just going to relax and enjoy the season without decorations. This surgery has a long recovery period and is new to us, so we didn’t know what to expect. We will be celebration with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter sometime after the new year.

    • Karen W

      Barb, Good luck on your recovery. We are also taking a break from the holiday stress this year. Hubby had cancer surgery a w/o ago, but should be discharged today. We’re SO looking forward to traveling home Monday. It’s been a long 6 months! Normally my project list would be in some stage of “partial completion”, but getting my freshly-serviced machine back from the shop, tuned & ready to roll will be a thrill in itself! I’ve got some Christmas tree wall hangers to applique & embelish with Sarah Vedeler’s embroidery. That will serve as practice to embellish a Granddaughter’s memory quilt. N

  • Marilyn Koestler

    I have ben embroidering finger tip towels and making mug rugs – all for gifts. Whew – fun!!

  • Julia Moore

    I have NO stress. I am working on next years gifts. I gave up on this year. 🙂

  • Sandra

    I told my adult children that my homemade gifts probably will arrive after Christmas, because I am running late.

  • Emma

    This is the first year I have actually finished my holiday sewing
    for the season; that is, for friends and family. Now with the extra
    sewing time I am sewing for charity, comfort quilts for children of
    deployed military personnel, totes for the children’s ward at Rady’s
    hospital and totes for the women’s shelters around town. Stress free

  • Ethel Roberts

    Usually embroider my Christmas cards but ran out of time this year and horror of horrors everyone is getting a card from the store. Finishing off a quilt that was started in 2001 took more time than I anticipated.

  • Carolyn Cohen

    Not even close to being finished. Stressed? I take it 1 project at a time.

  • Debe

    I’m behind!!! What am I doing on the internet, haha.

  • Brnd

    Working a full time job and monogramming at night. Just can not say no when ask to make something so I’m a little stressed about getting all finished. School will be out Friday (Dec 20) so I’ll be able to get caught up. Love the snowmen and the open stocking (clever).

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  • Anita Bloom

    Love the snowman towels. Did you use a particular brand of towel??

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