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Embroidery Tips & Techniques

5 More Great Time-Saving Tips!

1. Keep all materials for the project in a ziplock plastic bag or see-through container.  This eliminates wasting time looking for misplaced items. ZipBags

2. Use pre-wound bobbins or once your bobbin stash has dwindled to four, devote a 20 minutes to winding embroidery bobbins to build up your cache.

3. Line up your thread by the machine in the order you’ll be using them.  If a certain thread has to be used twice, in a different position, designate the position with a penny or other small item. 

5 More Great Time-Saving Tips!

4. Keep a note pad by your machine and use it to document the position of the design in the sewing field.  If disaster strikes, you’ll be able to resume embroidering quickly.

5. Make use of Post-it notes to remember to mirror image a design, rotate or duplicate it.  I stick the note right to the machine so I know to apply this feature when I stitch the next design. ES_6


Here’s your assignment this week:

After reviewing last week’s comments on stitching during the summer months, it seems that most of you definitely find time to embroider in the warmer months. I live in Texas where the thermometer likes to hover above 90, so I find myself looking for indoor activities during June, July and August. This summer, I have plenty to do as I’m working on my daughter’s wedding dress! I’d love to know if you have made a wedding dress – for yourself, your daughter or other family member. Post your comments and one lucky winner will receive a package of Print & Stick Target Template paper. I think I’ll get a lot of use out of Print & Stick Target Templates this summer because they don’t leave a mark on those delicate white fabrics!

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

Now that summer is here, do you find time to stitch? Or do you trade your stitching time for an outdoor activity? Post your comments and one lucky winner will receive a $25 gift card good for the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.

The winner is:  Alice Cornelson:  “I find myself sewing mostly and drifting outside to enjoy the beautiful weather or to help hubby when he needs me. I take my time sewing and embroidering which is all enjoyment and relaxation. Thanks, Eileen, for sharing your tips, ideas, and thoughts in the blog and an opportunity to win.”




  • Kelly Wyatt

    I have made several wedding gowns for dear friends and family members. Loved doing them!

  • Jacque Lindsey

    No I have never made a wedding dress or anything like that. I am a simple sewer. If I had to make a fancy dress I would have a totally breakdown. I would love to know how but I don’t have the confidence to even try and I am such a perfectionist that I would never get it done. Maybe one day. Until then I will embroider ready made items and simple things I make for my grandkids.

    • Lynne

      I can definitely relate!

  • Peggy Benandi

    oh my, I don’t think I’d know where to begin on a wedding gown. I am envious of those who can and do this type sewing.

  • Carrie

    I’ve made a few wedding gowns. But the 1st one I made had to be done in 2 days. The bride called me to ask if I could do it that fast. Someone else was supposed to make it and when she went for her fitting, everything was still in bag ,and uncut. Needless to say, she was upset!
    I was able to finish it with just her measurements…no time for a sloper or fitting. She looked lovely on her wedding day! I’ll always remember my trial by fire enrty into making wedding gowns! 🙂

  • Mary Hawkins

    In 1975, I made a soft yellow ballgown out of yellow chiffon and satin. It was a Vogue Couture pattern. The satin was a high sweetheart yoke and for the cuffs of the full sleeves. Lots of pearl buttons down the back and cuffs. I believe it had pin tucks down the front bodice. Narrow waist with three skirts. I learned so much making this dress. Had never heard of horsehair tape for the middle skirt which I found a synthetic one to use. I had already taken clothing construction at Oregon State University. Making Vogue Patters was how I advanced my sewing with the original book “The Vogue Sewing Book”. I do still have the dress tucked away in the closet. Needless to say after 40 years I am not a 1970’s perfect size 8!

  • Lina Britton

    I haven’t made a wedding gown, but I made the wedding veil for a dear friend’s daughter. It was pure joy with love added to every stitch.


    Yes I made my own wedding gown as well as the bridesmaids dresses

  • Jeanie Wright

    The first wedding dress I made was for myself in 1970, costing all of about $25.00. I finished college exams one day, made the dress the next day, and got married on the following day. The dress was beautiful and so appropriate for me, with a lace-covered bodice and lace bell-shaped sleeves. I also later made a wedding dress for the daughter of a friend of mine. It was much more complicated, and I had to alter the pattern, but I was still pleased with the results.

  • Dottie Kirkwood

    A wedding gown? Oh my goodness! Not I. Haven’t made a pair of good fitting pants for myself yet. LOL

  • Cynthia Wentworth

    No, I have never made a wedding dress. I made a prom dress in the ’90’s for my daughter. The only reason I survived is my next door neighbor who was a home ec teacher at the High School. Bless her!

  • nancy drake

    I made my own wedding dress in1971 from raw silk I purchased while on an International Farm Youth Exchange program trip. It cost about $25 including the 10 cents ayard lace my mil had on hand. In 1975 I made 2 wedding dresses for 2 cousins of my husband’s. The weddings were a week apart. I sewed while pushing a baby buggy with one foot and the machine pedal with the other.

    • Barbara

      The things we do!!! Brings back memories! Ha, ha, ha!

  • beth

    I have never made a wedding dress, I usually monogram towels for my relatives or making things for my new grand nephew as a baby.

  • Casie Williams

    I haven’t made a wedding dress — yet! I’ve made a few christening gowns, however, and love working with laces and vintage designs.

  • Juanita

    I made dozens of wedding dresses and loved doing them. Cousins and one Sister-in-law’s dress. When it came time for my daughter to marry I was attending college and taking 18 credits and recently divorced and could not take on making her dress so we purchased it and then I modified it from a size 6 to a size 3. I forgot to cut off the underskirt and while the photographer was taking pictures I was underneath her skirt cutting the lining so she would be able to walk down the aisle.

  • Karen Poole

    My daughter wanted to wear my wedding dress when she got married but there was a slight problem- she was much better blessed then I was in the breast area and it wasn’t like I could let out a seam here or there plus she didn’t like the neckline, so we decided that I would just remove the entire bodice and put a new one on that was to her liking and in her size (she had a tiny waist so the rest wasn’t a problem). The problem came when I put the new lace on! Even though my dress had been well preserved, it had been 25 years and it has slightly yellowed (actually was slightly off white)! I removed the new bodice and was able to match the color of the slightly off white lace to make a new bodice however, by this time her soon to be in law extended family took her out to a huge weeding dress shopping district and bought her a beautiful dress and I found out the culture she was marrying into the grooms family takes care of everything wedding related. And the family includes uncles aunts cousins sisters – everyone plays a part!!!

  • Susan Novak

    No, never made a wedding dress. All my kids are married, so looks like I won’t have to stress out about making one! Now I’m more into embroidery and quilting than garment sewing.

  • Belinda Germain

    Haven’t made a wedding dress, but I made 3 of my daughter’s prom gowns and altered my daughter’s wedding dress. These projects were fun, stressful, but fun!

  • Rosemary A

    I have made several wedding gowns including for my 2 daughters and many bridesmaid dresses. I love that kind of sewing. I have also made 5 little grand daughter first communion dresses!

  • Maxine Mac Neill

    4 daughters and 3 wanted mom to sew their wedding dress and all brides maids as well. The last one caused me an issue as there was a part missing to the outer coat of the pattern. An experienced dress maker and the company that put the pattern out for sale had no answer what to do. So thanks for DST I finished the cowl collar on the coat. Thank goodness I have no more daughters to marry off.

  • Sherry

    I made my wedding dress for my 3rd marriage! Yep that’s right my 3rd. And it was white and to the floor! LOL . My church group ladies asked me what color dress I was getting married in since I surely couldn’t do white………I made a satin full dress with lace sleeves and bodice with beads sewn in. You should have seen their faces!. We’ll,,,,,it was the first time I was actually in love. Married once for lust, once for money, so felt like my guy was getting something no one else did- my heart! Love to sew and have been to 2 stitching sisters conferences – remember froggy! No that’s not me!!!!,! Made a laugh didn’t I !

  • Alice Cornelson

    First, thank you for choosing me as the winner of the last contest. I am awestruck.

    I haven’t made a wedding dress, but I think it would be a neat experience sewing on the fabulous materials in a wedding dress.

    I appreciate these great time saving tips, too. They will be very useful. I plan to incorporate these and your other great tips into my sewing routine and already stuck a small pack of post-its to front of my sewing machine.

    Thanks, again, for the opportunity to win and for sharing all these great tips and ideas.

    Alice Cornelson

  • Sandy Hoy

    I’ve made gowns for friends, a true ball gown for myself for a Navy Ball, and some evening gowns for my daughter while she was in high school. That was on a Viking machine that only did straight and zig zag stitches, and before the Internet. Thank goodness for the wonderful instruction pages! I replaced that machine just recently and am learning a whole new way to sew with the Internet, Craftsy and wonderful teachers like you Eileen!

  • Kathleen Crabtree

    I haven’t made a wedding gown, but I have mp done major alterations on my daughter in laws wedding gown. I’ve also made several prom dresses. I would much rather embroider and quilt.

  • Cathy Temple

    I made 2 wedding gowns. One for my oldest who was going to loose 10 lbs to fit in the one we bought, but gained 10lbs instead, and one for 3rd daughter who loved in another state at the time of her wedding. I also made all of oldest daughters prom, homecoming and Miltary Ball gowns. A total of 10 very formal dresses. One of which was made in 2 days from buying the fabric to out the door.

  • Vicky Isliefson

    I made my prom gown as my final project in 4-H (long ago!) I made my dress for my wedding. Not a gown, but below knee length all lace, mock corset lacing and matching hair and shoe bows. Also made a matching dress for my flower girl.

  • Susan Milikas

    I am new to machine embroidery (1 year), but I am so hooked on it. It’s all I want to do, I feel so creative. I asked God to show me what my talent was ( everyone supposed to have one), and He did.,

  • Kathleen Carls

    I haven’t made a wedding dress – my mom made mine 46.5 years ago on an old Kenmore machine. No electronics then, just straight & zigzag stitches. It was white velvet with a stand-up neckline and slim skirt, long sleeves. (We got married in Dec.!) I have made Prom dresses for two of my daughters. Mom made one for my oldest out of lame` & said she would never work with that kind of fabric again! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  • Sue Winnie

    I have alternated a whole bridal party. Dresses including the brides, then I made 2 of the bride maids dresses, they were stunning. White with deep cranberry accent .

  • Dorina Green

    I once made a wedding gown for my husband’s niece. Luckily it was a simple gown but because she was rather large-chested and four months pregnant, I had to add straps to keep it up. The dress was made out of white satin with a pretty lace overlay. I thought it turned out beautiful and I was rather proud of myself. That is until I went to press it. I used a too hot iron without a press cloth and of course it scorched the lace!! What to do the night before the wedding??? After drying my tears, luckily I had enough lace left over that I gingerly cut out the scorched part and hand-sewed on a patch of lace. You couldn’t really tell where the patch was unless you looked for it. But that fiasco was the end of any wedding dress making for me!

  • Sharon R

    Wedding dress? Heavens, no, but I did make my own Senior Prom gown in a beautiful pale yellow with sweetheart neckline. I’ve done a few Disney Princess costumes with real satin and lace for my granddaughters. When the time comes, I would love to make their wedding dresses.

  • Gail Beam

    Heavens No! I am a simple sewer! The most complicated sewing I have ever done involved Halloween costumes for my children and grandchildren!

  • Bev Crabb

    I made my own wedding dress out of white velvet for a January 1974 wedding. I stitched it evenings in a hotel room while in a 6 week training course for my job. Times have changed…..

  • Lillian K

    I made my own wedding dress in 1969 while still in college. I borrowed the dormitory sewing machine. The dress was made of white crepe with a simple jacket to match; they were both lined. Since then, I have made several wedding accessories for our 2 daughters’ weddings: lace garter, ring bearer pillow, veils.

  • Shirley Clark

    I made my own wedding dress in 1971. It was a really simple, short dress made out of white dotted Swiss. My future mil took me to find the fabric. I can’t remember where I got my veil. I don’t think I made it though.

  • Pam

    Never have, I know I would PANIC!

  • Gayle

    I made my friends wedding dress as it was a “shot-gun wedding”, time was tight and I had a machine.(Seldom amongst students). With no previous experience with wedding dresses. the stress was mind blowing. After that I made my own and my 3 daughters wedding dresses and a few others. As brides gain and loose weight erratically more alterations than sewing is often the case. ( my hubby says I should replace seams with adjustable Velcro.

  • Paula Hendrickson

    I made my wedding dress after years of not sewing garments , only making the odd quilt. It took over a month and many many frantic trips to the fabric store I also spent a lot of time online and reading a lot of books on fit. But it was worth it in the end. I was very proud to walk down the isle

  • Celeste B

    I have made a wedding gown for my daughter plus the three bridesmaid’s dresses, table runners, FSL baskets for the two flower girls and purses for the bridal party. Bought my dress 🙂
    I also have made a wedding dress for one sister, altered my mom’s for another sister plus wedding dresses for my daughter’s friend and some clients.

  • Anne west

    Never made a wedding dress ,my sons christening outfi, pants shirt and jacket.It was satin, very hard to sew . Did hav help from MIL. Now I mostly do In the hoop projects

  • Bernadette Webre

    I just finished making a “not your usual” wedding ensemble for my daughter’s beach wedding earlier this month. There were a lot of challenges – working with slippery knit fabric, finding a flattering look and enlarging and adapting the pattern which was a lined wrap top with flutter sleeve, and a long skirt. I also desgned and made a lace sash for a more bridal feel. She was thrilled with the look that was all her.

  • susan james

    i have never made a wedding gown, but i did make my own mother of the bride dresses and three bridemaids dresses and a flower girl dress. i enjoyed every minute making these items.

  • Pat Fritze

    I made my own wedding dress in 1962 and then 5 years ago made my Daughter- in- laws dress. Not something I really enjoyed, but both turned out nice. Also have made a couple of veils. and lots of ring pillows.

  • Glenda Marsh

    I too love being inside during our TX heat. I’ve never made a wedding gown. In my mind it seems ‘way too complicated’ for me!! But time will tell. Great organization tips!

  • Ann H

    I made my own wedding dress before the time of home embroidery machines.
    Just used purchased lace.

    Ann H.

  • Sharon LaMontagne

    I haven’t made a wedding dress yet, but many bridesmaids dresses. I have a good friend that sews & alters many wedding dresses, and I am her go-to person for machine embroidered accents for some of those dresses.

  • Marcia Stewart

    I have not made a wedding gown but I have made my granddaughter the Barbecue Dress shown in Gone with The Wind show. We worked on it together and she wore it to her Junior Prom. I love to sew, embroidery and quilt with granddaughters and keep the tradition going.

  • Susan

    Making my daughters wedding gown was a joy and a learning experience. I was always able to make clothing from patterns but there was no pattern for the gown she wanted and I had no idea how to make my own pattern. So, I “married” several different patterns to get the look she wanted. I used a beautiful silk accented with lace. It came out beautiful.

  • Valerie

    I haven’t made a wedding dress but did make my younger sister a prom dress.

  • Debi

    I am the mother of six (4daughters, 2 sons)children, my “baby” girl graduated from college last month. I sewed a lot of dresses for my girls including their first Communion dress. I also made my children their baptism gown which has now been worn by my granddaughters. As for sewing a wedding gown, I don’t think I could handle the pressure…

  • Marie Scharf

    I have not really made a wedding gown from scratch but did many bridesmaids. I was asked by my sister when she got married in 1976 if she could use may dress from 1958. I was 5’5″ and she was 5″9″. The dress was typical “Gone with the wind style” Big book and movie at that time. So I said yes, dummy me, I would alter it. The length was easy as it had a big hoop, which she was not going to use and she did not care if it was ankle length, but she had a larger bust and I was smaller and it had a sweetheart neckline. It had about 7 or 8 ruffled tiers and when the hoop was out I used one ruffle to enlarge the bodice. I took the bodice off and altered it and but it back on, it had a dropped waist which worked out. It all worked out well and she wore it and I made the bridesmaids dresses from a Vogue pattern, more ruffles, chiffon, in rainbow colors. NEVER AGAIN.

  • Sheila Murphy

    I have not made a Wedding gown as of yet but I have however made 4 Bridesmaids Gowns for a friend of mine. I will however be making a Wedding gown in a year or 2 for My Oldest Granddaughter, and if I know her as well as I think I do it will also be the Bridesmaids Gowns too! OH my, now I am panicking…….

  • Bonnie Gray

    I made my wedding dress, but that was 39 years ago! It was a very simple Vogue pattern. I know that if I had had an embroidery machine then, it would have been alot more fancy!!!

  • Patty

    Yes, I made my own wedding gown and designed it 3 years ago for my second marriage. I got tons of compliments and even had one lady ask me to make hers when the time came. I have also made all of my formal dresses, my daughter’s formal dresses, 2 very intricate and detailed first Communion dresses including the veils, and two Christening gowns. I always love the challenge of making unique dresses that you can’t buy anywhere.

  • Saundra Romanus

    I have never made a wedding dress, but my Sister and I made a Clara Dress for the Nutcracker. My Granddaughter in a Children’s Ballet Company and they do the Nutcracker every Christmas. The old dress was pretty beat up so we made a new one the year my Granddaughter got picked to be Clara. It took us about 6 weeks, but turned out beautiful! We beaded the bodice with appliqued flowers!

  • Carolyn

    I’ve never made a wedding gown, but I made both flower girl’s velvet gowns for my wedding and all 3 bridesmaids gowns for my cousin’s wedding. I think I’d like to make a wedding gown now that I have an embroidery machine. The closest I’ve come is that I’m making square dance dresses and embroidering on the bodice and very, very full hems.

  • Frances Powell

    I made my wedding dress. I got married in 1977 and am still married to the same great man. Back in the 70’s the pattern choices were not the greatest, but I was able to find one that I really liked. It was pretty simple in design except for all of the pin tuck pleats. The pin tucks and french seams kept me quite busy.

  • Karen

    I have made Wedding gowns. I have also made baptism gowns from Wedding gowns.Thanks for all the information you share. Have fun making that very special gown.

  • Theresa Cobb

    I made my daughters wedding dress. I actually made it 3 times. Once to combine the three patterns she chose for all the features she wanted, once to create the final fitting, which also doubled as the lining, and finally the outside satin layer. She had me create a Celtic Knot design for the train, which I did totally by hand – it would have been so much easier on an embroidery machine. The best feeling in the whole process was when she tried it on for the final fitting and said “Mom, it’s just what I wanted.” At that point, I could breath a sign of relief. Would I do it again? Absolutely!!

  • Nancy Myers

    I have not made a wedding dress for anyone. It seemed too daunting of a task for me to handle.

    • Susan Milikas

      I agree, I’d be afraid to buy all that beautiful fabric and then mess it up!

  • JudiC

    No no no never a Weddding dress to be made by my little hands, I gave up making clothing yeears ago when nothing I made eever fit right ;o( However my MOM did make the matching dresses for my maid of honor & flower girl in my wedding. They were Mother & Daughter & ohhhh so adorable <3

  • Karin C

    My first daughter to get married asked me to make her dress but since we were about 500 miles apart, I thought fittings would be too difficult, so, regretfully, I declined the honor. We found a beautiful store-bought dress together, and that was almost as good. When her twin got married, I had ordered a dress online, but it didn’t show up on time, so, at 2 days before we left for her place (still 500 miles away), I started to make my mother-of-the-bride dress. Luckily, I’d been saving a very special pattern, so all I had to do was find the fabric and sew, sew, sew. I used coordinating lace overlay over crepe-backed satin, and it turned out better than I could have imagined. It was way better than the dress I’d originally ordered, so I was really happy that the online dress never did show up!

  • Martine

    I made my own wedding dress in 1964 and even designed and draw the pattern. Then between finishing and the wedding I drew the pattern for a colleague’s dress – she was rather tall and bought patterns were not designed for 6’women at the time.
    In 1995 I made the dress for my elder daughter. Had a Brother Galaxy with a few embroidery cards at the time and embroidered a design 41 times along the edge of the trail.
    In 2000 I had a Husqvarna Designer with a 150×240 hoop (and a lot more embroidery experience). Made the dress for my younger daughter with a lot of embroidery at the front and back. Both DD’s dresses took about 120 hrs to complete, including the underskirts, bags and in one case a hat as well.
    And over the years have helped quite a few friends with their dresses.
    Nerve racking but so rewarding!

    have fun making the one for your daughter!

  • Viv Hansen

    I made my daughters wedding gown. It took combining several patterns, as she had known what she wanted since she was a young girl. We lived in two different states, so we did our muslin fitting half way between the two, in a Cracker Barrel restroom!

  • Donna Fecteau

    I have never sewn a wedding dress. The closest thing to one that I have done was my daughter’s prom dresses. That was stressful enough.

  • Peggy Schroeder

    Have not made a wedding dress,but have done the rest of the bridal
    Party, including mother of the bride, prom dresses, and christening outfits.
    I love working with the vintage lace, etc

  • Berenice

    I designed and made my wedding dress in 1987. Cathedral length hem with beading all around. Beads and sequins on bodice and very low back. My mother flipped when she came out into the living room at 3 am on the wedding day and I was adding more sparklies to the dress. She then had a blown gasket when the flower girl showed up at 10 am for me to make her dress. It was a very simple sheath done in about an hour. My poor mother! I made the 9 brides maids dresses and matching cummerbunds for the 9 men. I did my veil, ring bearer pillow and basket for flower girl. Since then I have made numerous formals and dresses. Just finished 2 dresses and 3 vests for a quinceanera for this past weekend.

  • Nancy De Pas

    I made my sister-inlaws wedding dress. Asked for a picture for payment. Still have not received it yet (wedding was in 1972). Have not made a nother wedding dress. N De Pas