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When my time in Sewing Utopia took a downward spiral…

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I was in Sewing Utopia the other evening.  You are probably familiar with that magical place where everything runs smoothly.

The Loop-de-Loop designs from Embroidery Online were stitching like a dream.  The digitizing quality is superb.  And to make things even more dreamy, I was at the height of efficiency, running not one, but two embroidery machines in my EmbroideryLand, USA.  I’m so blessed to have access to plenty of resources at the office.  At this rate, I’ll finish sooner than later!

I finished the letters and took my stitch-outs to the store to audition frames.


Shopping Tips
Plan ahead!  Go ahead and use those coupons that come in week after week from the craft stores!  It’s an obvious tip but oftentimes when you’re in the middle of a project, like I was, you don’t have time to shop around for the most affordable frames available.  Your favorite craft retailer with those nifty 40% or 50% off coupons are great for stocking up on frames.  Pick a size and style that you’ll know you can use easily—white, black or even wood grain.  Go with a standard stock so you’ll be confident they will be available time and again.  Every time you get a coupon in the mail, your inbox or through an app, pick up a frame.  Before you know it you’ll have collected enough frames to complete a project.

It was at the store that my Utopian world vanished.  (Insert dramatic sound effects here!)

Do as I say, not as I do! (the ongoing series!)
Excited with my stitched letters, I got to work by adding the rick rack and buttons on a sample before heading to the store.  It was a masterpiece!  My friend Dianna will love this!  But when I went shopping for the frames, I realized to my great disappointment that I trimmed the fabric too short.  Gasp!  I flipped through each of my embroidered samples at the store.  By my estimation, two samples were cut too short.

I returned to my not-so-sewing-utopia armed with more fabric.  This time I cut the fabric to fit the frames.  I won’t make the same mistake three times.

I’m reminded of that saying:  measure twice, cut once!

I think I’d change it to:  measure twice—then cut and stitch once!

While I didn’t have anything to measure when I first began the project, it’s important to plan ahead.  Allocate enough fabric around the embroidery so you have options.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

After stitching all the white rick rack, on my yellow samples, I reached for the green rick rack to stitch on the orange samples.  It was at that point I made the unfortunate discovery that the rick rack widths were not the same.  I didn’t have enough of a single color to use for all the samples (not that I wanted to rip out my newly stitched rick rack).  Nor did I want to make a trip to the store for rick rack.  Downtrodden, I took my samples to my trusty adviser – who also happens to be the Creative Director for the magazine – Sam Solomon.  He said the difference in widths is too minuscule for it to matter.  Besides, we can call it creative license!  (I will admit that when I photographed this shot below, the difference really is minuscule!  It’s funny how monumental it felt at the time.)

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Concluding Thoughts
When you start getting weary from making a project, remind yourself the gift is always about the recipient.  Think about the person and what they mean to you when you are making the project.  I certainly did when I was re-stitching the two letters.  I consoled myself thinking—Dianna has had some long nights and weekends working.  This project will be worth it!  I surprised her by placing the frames in her office while she was in a meeting.  I’m not sure who was happier—we were both smiling from the experience!

Also hiccups along the way, like my “rick rack” width disaster – can seem monumental when you’re in the middle of the project.  But step back to look at the matter from a different perspective.  If possible, get feedback from others – and exercise your right to be a whimsical, creative designer.  Improvise, problem solve and have fun!

Whether you have a friend, family member, coworker or someone else you want to thank—do so in an action-oriented manner.  Taking the time to make something specific for that person shows you appreciate them enough to sacrifice your time for them.



Click here if you missed Part 1 of this blog post.  Part 1 goes through the software steps for adding the decorative stitching.







  • Laurie Sieg

    Sadly, been there, done that. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Belinda Germain

    Yes, I’ve been there too, but sometimes the project turns out better in the end, you just don’t see it at the time!

  • susana M

    Not a problem,I’m sure you have ribbons & you could do a little origami & patch all the mistakos.Such an artistic person must stay always in Utopia,so we can follow.

  • helen

    I’ve had that happen with many projects! But, I just have them cut a another mat (for the same frame) that will cover my mistake(s)

  • Joanne Banko

    Great gift item Denise! I see lots of TLC behind the scenes. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your designing ways and the detours you took along the path to a finished project 🙂

    • Denise Holguin

      Thank you, Joanne! I do take quite a few detours!


  • Laurie

    Creative problem solving! Some of my best creations come from a a mistake I made, from not thinking ahead! Great article! Thanks Denise.

  • Janet

    I like the two different sized ric rac better than if they had been the same. As for the too short sides, I would have stuck something there to camouflage it. I have been sewing for over 50 years, and mishaps are a way of life. Unplanned opportunities for creativity? Inspiration waiting to happen? Love your blog.

    • Denise Holguin

      Brilliant! I wish I had thought of that idea. It would have saved an hour!


  • Carolyn

    Been there done that… more than once, and swore it was on purpose!! I think the two different sizes of rick-rack, especially in two colors, look “on purpose”!

    • Denise Holguin

      Thank you, Carolyn!

  • Karen Poole

    I agree about still using the strikeouts and using decorative element s to cover the shortage!it would have added a really unique touch to it. My quilter friends always say it’s not a mistake it a a design opportunity!