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Behind the Scenes at My Candy Store!

I thought I’d share the evolution of the Subtle Tees shirts featured in Volume 105 July/August 2017.


When I am embroidering, I’m like a kid in a candy store.  I’m overwhelmed by all the options – from thread colors to fabric colors and even fabric type.  And before I can make a final decision, I have to try all the “flavors” and hope that I don’t get too distracted from completing the project.  Anyone else have that problem? 😉

The photo below shows example stitch-outs from the Fascinator t-shirt.  I spray painted the lace a light blue and used a variegated thread…because variegated thread has to be tried!

Then there are those moments when I go off the rails with crazy color selections.  I didn’t see a need to complete the test stitch-out….I don’t know why I chose that fabric….

Here’s a look at another test stitch-out.  I didn’t want to waste a good piece of lace so I used a piece of polymesh stabilizer as my applique fabric.  For this example, I was double checking my thread color choices.  The threads used on the bird and branch became my final colors.

You can appreciate how color choices and fabrics can transform a look.  Compare the polymesh stabilizer applique photo above with the flowery lace applique below.   The orange stippling pops while the blue stippling blends in.  

Here’s a look at the final design, shot on location.  The airy, flowery lace applique makes a statement.  The shapes can be interpreted as clouds and fits the theme for the shirt.


Fulfillment comes not only from the finished project but in the process of experimenting and improving techniques!




  • Karen James

    Eileen, love your samples. You mentioned you spray painted the lace, what kind of paint did you Use? I need to try your sample as I love how it looks on the finished t-shirt.

    Thank you for all your ideas.

    • Denise Holguin

      Hi Karen,
      Thank you for stopping by the blog! The spray paint is: Tulip ColorShot Instant Fabric Color Spray. You can find it at craft/hobby stores.

      You can purchase the cans individually or in multi-packs of assorted colors. Lots of fun to use!

      Give it a try!


  • Sara Redner

    Denise, I’m often nervous about changing colors from what the pattern designer used, but I seldom do tests. If my color changes are dramatically different, especially if the finished project is for a gift, I might do a test, or if I’m using a design from an unfamiliar digitizer. Otherwise I just “wing it” and hope for the best. BTW, I love the way your bird turned out.

    • Denise Holguin

      Hi Sara,
      Until recently I would wing everything! Seemed to be too much trouble to do a test but I’m finding the process to be a wildly fun and creative outlet. One of these days I’ll show you my test t-shirts. I have managed to squeeze all sorts of test stitch-outs on to a couple shirts. Would be an interesting fashion statement to wear them.


  • Carolyn Morgan

    Denise, I’m in love with this process! I’m anxious to try the lace with stipple and then embroidery. I “inherited” a stash of lace and doilies and they’ve just been lying in a drawer waiting for projects.

    • Denise Holguin

      Thank you! Your comment made my day.

      I think you’ll enjoy experimenting with the process. I’d love to see your finished projects. [email protected].


  • Gayle

    I live in Georgia, about 40 miles south of Atlanta. I can not find your TV show. If you still are on TV let me know, and help me find you.

  • Warner Brown

    This is an amazing blog for embroidery

  • Embroidered so well! Loved the designs.