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Applique Embroidery Tips & Techniques Holiday Lettering & Monograms

Monogram of the Month: A Reason to Celebrate!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I was very excited when Eileen gave me the opportunity to write this month’s Monogram of the Month feature.  I’ve had my eye on the banner designs from JoAnn Connolly’s book, Sweet Stitchesand decided instead of monograms today I’d do a fun banner.   I’m quite fond of quick and easy projects that require minimal effort but create lots of joy while I stitch.  And these designs fit my requirements to the letter!  (Pun intended!)

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I wanted to make something special for my friend, Jean, who will be celebrating her 95th birthday.  Friends and family are gathering this 4th of July weekend to celebrate her day.  I decided to make a festive banner to mark the occasion—plus it would make a great backdrop to take photos of her with her family.  Great memories everyone can cherish!


Like most of our readers, I like fabric and I eagerly sign up for any excuse to buy more, more, more!  But this time, I decided I’d challenge myself—really test my nouveau designer skills and gasp… use what I already have!

I rummaged through my containers of fabric – I was certain I had nothing!  Nothing!  But wait… that polka dot fabric is kinda cute.  Actually, it’s very cute.  So cute, I haven’t used it because I wanted to use it for something special.  It was a small remnant I purchased over a decade ago from Hancock Fabrics.  It’s perfect.  Once I found the main fabric it was easy to add other coordinating fabrics.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog


My next challenge was figuring out what combination of letters to use.  “Happy Birthday” is an obvious choice.  But I decided to go with something more universal—and that can work all year long—“Celebrate”.  After all, life should be a celebration—especially when you have lived 95 years!

Sweet Stitches comes with an accompanying CD.  I transferred the letters to spell “Celebrate” to a USB stick for my embroidery machine.  Then I stitched the designs.

Denise Tips:

  • Be sure to keep the book handy!  The photos and step-by-step instructions will guide you along the way.  Initially I thought I didn’t need to read the steps—I like a challenge.  But after stitching a few samples I decided I’d go ahead and read the steps.  Surprise, surprise!  Following the steps made the process much simpler.
  • JoAnn has a reason for suggesting you use Temporary Spray Adhesive when working with applique fabrics.  If you don’t… you might end up with puckers!  Oops!A Reason to Celebrate!
  • Applique scissors are especially useful when trimming.
    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
  • If you place white on top of a busy fabric, be aware of the possibility of fabric show-through.  My first ‘careless’ attempt to solve this problem was to place a second layer of white fabric.  But the fabric I was using was very heavy—so when it came time to trim the two layers of white fabric, it wasn’t an easy or flawless task.  Argh!
    Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog
    My second attempt was much better.  I used a layer of stabilizer underneath the white fabric.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

  • Mix & Mingle… and have fun!  Don’t feel like every letter has to be the same color.  Mix and match.  That’s what makes the process fun.  Plus this gives you a chance to use small fabric scraps.


Here’s a look at the finished banner!  I look forward to decorating for Jean’s birthday and creating fun memories! Imagine the banners you can make for someone special!  Give it a try.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog



Here’s your assignment this week:What decorations have you made over the years to celebrate someone’s special day?  Post a comment for a chance to win a $25 shopping spree to the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.Gift-Card
The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question:

Do you have a versatile design you use over and over on different types of projects? Post your comment for a chance to win a copy of Calligraphy Project Designer.




And the winner is… Alicia Key 
“I have several designs I enjoy but after a few kitchen towels of them I’m ready to try a new design. I’ve just recently joined your email list & I’m looking forward to more of your ideas for creativity! I like the Embroidery Library design that Colleen Bell mentioned above & while checking that out, I found some more that I like. I also like Andrea Henke’s suggestion of the glow-in-the-dark eyes on pillow cases! I’ll have to find some of that thread! I would LOVE a chance to win the Calligraphy files.”

Congratulations, Alicia.  Sounds like you’ll be very busy with all sorts of projects!




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  • Frances Powell

    I don’t think you would consider this convention decorations, but I always make birthday for my grandchildren. I decorate the shirts in the theme of the party, so I guess my grandchildren are walking decorations. Ha, Ha.

    • Denise Holguin

      Walking decorations… I love it!

      Thanks for sharing, Frances.


  • Linda W

    Samplers–for weddings and the birth of a child. More than a decoration, they’re also keepsakes.

  • Linda Snow

    I just finished a 4th of July wall hanging for a daughter’s July 6th birthday. The appliqued work is called Hearts and Stars by Lunch Box Quilts.
    Thank you so much for the pictures showing mistakes and how to avoid them!!
    I would love to have Sweet Stitches by JoAnn Connally!

  • Shirley Clark

    I’ve embroidered tags to put on gift sacks which turned out really cute. One I made was a crown, and I glued some boa feathers to the top of the bag. It was adorable

  • Kristal

    My daughter chose ‘Lego Friends’ (Legos designed specifically for girls) for her last birthday party.
    Since this series just came out, I had to do all the decorating ‘from scratch’. It really challenged my creativity.
    I customized her a T-shirt for her special day also.
    I also like to monogram tote bags, with the birthday person’s name on them, instead of presenting them a gift in a throw away gift bag!! It’s like having two gifts in one!!

    • Denise Holguin

      I love Legos – what a great idea!

      I need to remember to try the monogrammed gift bag idea. I’m always scrambling for bags.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Mary S

    I’ve not made any decorations since the children were little. Guess it’s time to try something for the grandchildren. Maybe “a before school starts” would be a great idea for us to do. Thanks for the idea.

  • Belinda Germain

    My husband is a Christmas baby and rarely actually celebrated his birthday with so much else going on at Christmas. So my idea was to make him a special Christmas stocking that says “Happy Birthday” on it!
    I love the letter banners, they would be great for any occasion!

  • Carolyn Havens

    I love to surprise my husband with a new embroidered t-shirt for his birthday every year. He is a cat lover so I always try to find a funny or you might say silly cat design. I’m always surprised how much attention he gets at the dinner when he wears one of his shirts.

  • Gail Beam

    I embroider baby blankets for friends with new babies, beach towels for my grandchildren, and tablecloths and napkins for my sisters .

  • penny kitzmiller

    I am so glad to see that I’m not the only one who has boo boos when sewing. I get so discouraged when that happens but seeing it happens to the pros too, well that makes me feel better.I try to always embroider something for my family at Christmas. I love to take those hair towels and personalize them. That is a lot of fun but not when it turns out up side down lolol only one tho.,…

  • Joanne Banko

    Very cute project Denise! I love the fabrics you used. Your polka dots remind me of bubbles. It would be fun to take a photo of your party with everyone blowing bubbles in celebration of Jean’s 95th!!!

    I like to make an embroidered greeting card for any and all special occasions. BTW, The Snap hoop comes in really handy for holding card stock in place.

  • Barbara Ann

    For a bridal shower, I’ve made cocktail napkins with wedding theme designs.

  • Maga

    I used to make party bags for my childrens’ parties. My daughters would choose the fabrics and I tried to decorate them to either fit the child they were given to or the theme of the party. I was surprised when I met one of the girls years later when she was at university and she said that she still had all the party bags she received and these days used them for jewelry and make-up. Never thought they would be around except in my own girls’ box of keep-sakes
    I love the idea of this banner and will have to get the book. Thanks for sharing your idea

    • Denise Holguin

      That’s a really sweet story!


  • Joanie

    Hi, my go to designs are banners too! Just last month I made a banner for my daughter’s wedding. I have made Happy Birthday with the birthday age and the person’s name. I like the celebrate, that’s really cute. I’ll have to try that one next time! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  • Celeste B

    I made a banner for the baby shower of our first grandchild. It said ‘welcome baby Olsen’ It is hanging in his room still.

  • Miriam Slater

    I’ve only been using an embroidery machine for a short while. A few years ago I made a wall hanging using fabric like a scrapbook design, 6 feet long, 1 1/2 feet in height for my grandson’s upshernish, a jewish boy turning three years old and getting his first haircut. It’s been used over and over by friends. I now plan on making one for my other grandson using embroidery designs, his name (removable so others can borrow it), number 3, yarmulka and tzitzis (a jewish boy’s uniform), a charity box so he should know that giving is important in a person’s life. I have many more designs planned. It will be a labor of love and I am anxious to get started.

  • Donna G.

    I made two banners for my daughter’s wedding in May. It was a lot of fun to do!

  • Ellen perry

    Love the book
    Lettering is my thing

  • Cathy

    I have made baby quilts to celebrate new babies, and hooded bath towels for the various children in my life. Really like the banner idea. May have to do one for our family picnic coming up. Would look great in family pictures.

  • Laurene Shewan

    For a wedding gift, I took a pre-printed panel (Corinthians – Bible Verse) and added several borders, including a patchwork one. Quilted it and then embroidered their names and wedding date. Finally, I added hanging tabs and slipped it onto a fancy curtain rod for hanging.

  • Idalia

    I have made pillow covers as wedding gifts with the new married couple’s initials. I applique it and frame it with fabric that matches their favorite colors so they can go anywhere in their house.I love working with letters more than anything.

  • Clarice

    My grandson’s 2nd birthday is coming up, this is a fantastic idea! Thank you! Clarice

  • Elizabeth P

    Every quarter, the store I work at has an Open House. Normally, we just print out a large sign and post it on the window. Making a banner with embroidered letters with frames would most definitely improve the marketing of the Open House not to mention a drastic improvement to the front window!

  • Judi Cushing

    I love the celebrate banner there are sew many reasons to use it. I always use vinyl “cover up” when I am using white on top of a busy fabric, it is really easy to tear away. My very favorite decoration I made was for Christmas: a lace sleigh & reindeer by OESD. I can change the look by simpply changing the rbbon & t is the 1st decoration I put out every year.

  • Ann Wright

    Love your fabric! Love the decorations. Thank you for the ideas!

  • Donna F.

    I’m never organized enough to make decorations for parties ahead of time. Although I do have a cute banner that I pull out at Christmas. I think this celebrate banner would work for lots of different events. I would love to make one and have it on hand.

  • Shelly Christensen

    I love making my grandchildren t-shirts for the holidays also.. I made all 16 of them 4th of July shirts.. I would have loved it more if they could have all been in the same place at the same time.. Would love to see all my walking decorations.. LOL I made my first banner a couple of months ago and I am hooked now!! I love your banner and the clothes pins.. I am going to use your idea next time I make a banner.. thank you for sharing

  • Nancy Weber

    Each year I make the grandkids a T-shirt with their birthday number on it. They love them and it tells the world that it’s their birthday. I have never made a banner, now I just might give it a try!

    • Denise Holguin

      I have a godson I made a t-shirt for with his birthday number. I got as far as 1 year. Oh my! Glad to hear you are keeping up year after year. 🙂


  • Jane Scott

    When my three children were younger, I made them huge matching Christmas Stockings, loved the fact they all matched when displayed on the wall.

  • Paula Watson

    I make wreaths from cloth diapers for all my grandbabies. Each wreath takes between 10 and 12 cloth diapers. I monogram, applique, and add ribbons and rick-rack to each diaper. Each diaper has either the child’s name or monogram. Each diaper is different and the finished product is adorable.

  • Tina

    I embroidered a tablecloth with multi-colored gift boxes. It’s now our family tradition to use the “birthday” tablecloth for each child’s birthday. Before embroidering, I set the table with plates and napkins and marked open spots available for embroidery on the tablecloth with a water soluble pen so that embroidery wouldn’t be covered with place settings when used.

  • Carolyn

    My youngest granddaughter, age 2, has 6 older siblings & is the “princess.” so I made her a set of 7 t-shirts with different princess embroidery patterns and tutu skirts and an embroidered crown to go with them. She was delighted and tells everyone “My HoneyGram made me a Princess.”

  • Patty Fiske

    Matching table runners for my sister’s wedding from scraps of all the dresses and togas

  • Ann S

    When nieces and nephews as well as my children get married, I make the ” Money Bag”
    It collects all the cards at the reception. I use satin organza, lace etc to match the brides dress
    I embroider the bride and groom name and wedding date on the bag. I hand embroider ribbon flowers to match
    The bouquets and decorate with extra ribbon bows and beads in the bridal colors. Finally
    A braided cord with tassels is added as a draw string.

  • Vicky Isliefson

    I haven’t embroidered decorations but I once painted a fabric banner for a wedding.

  • Pat Cook

    I belong to “Threads of Love”, the project right now is making Incubator covers for the sick and premi babies in the local Hospitals! We were given a stash of reams and already cut fat quarters of beautiful cotton fabric. It is up to us to make these incubator covers about 42-45×60 inches, two sided. After washing the cotton fabric we figure out quilting patterns to use with fabrics that go together, to get the right demensions. When making these covers I have used several Embroidery Appliqae and sweet embroideries for the covers. It is not only a challenge but so rewarding to know that these covers will be welcomed by the babies mothers, dad’s and families. I would send pictures but I really don’t know how to do that. I look forward to your blog and get many ideas from you. You give inspiration to me, (a sewer for 65 years) when I think I have done everything there is to be done in the field of sewing. Ha Ha! Keep up the good work, we all gain from your blog! Pat

    • Denise Holguin

      What a rewarding project! I definitely want to see your work. Please send an email to my attention: [email protected]

      Thank you,
      Denise Holguin

  • Mary Connelly

    Every year I embroider Christmas ornaments to put on individual gifts. As my grand kids grow, they collect ornaments of their own so when they leave home they will have some memories to take with them.
    I also embroider banners, placemats,tee shirts, three dimensional eggs and boxes, jewelry, headbands, and wall hangings for their birthdays and holidays.

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  • Kim

    Help. I am trying to learn how to outline, with a thin single or double layer of thread not a satin stitch around font. Anyone know how? I have the 6 D embroidery basic computer system.

  • Kyle saskatchewan

    do construction paper chains count?

  • Michael Richardson

    You designed that in a very simple and organised manner. I really like your idea and approach.

    Well I also designed these things in my organization and I would like to share your approach with my colleagues. So that, they get an idea from your blog and give more better results.