Big embroidery ideas – small hoop.

When you like big designs, but only have a small hoop, there is a solution. This works for both free standing lace embroidery and applique designs. Just group several small designs together and treat them as applique.

Instead of stitching them on hooped fabric, stitch each design on water soluble stabilizer (WSS). Free standing lace and applique designs can be stitched in the normal way. Other lace designs may need an extra layer of either tule, organza, or a grid of cross-hatched stitched lines and defined edges so that that the design does not fall apart when the stabilizer is dissolved.

After the WSS is removed and the designs are dry arrange them on your quilt or quilt block. A bit of washable glue on the back will hold them in place. Use a regular sewing machine with monofilament thread or embroidery thread that matches the design. A straight stitch around the outside edge or a narrow zigzag stitch will do the trick and does not require hooping.

The advantage of this system is that you can fill a quilt block with embroidery and decide on the placement of the designs before they are attached. You could even make a whole wall hanging that way. Here is an example I made a couple of years ago:


Have fun everyone.




More on the Silhouette Cameo

I like to applique and sometimes combine it with my embroidery software, but there are times the shapes are just too large for my hoops and I stitch them down with a zigzag stitch on a regular sewing machine. It takes just a little bit of practice, but it is not all that hard to do and the advantage is that I don’t have to worry about hooping and placement. As much as I like and admire handwork, I just do not have the time for it anymore so I usually fuse my shapes to the background. I often layer several pieces with small details or accent pieces on top of the main shapes or I add embroidered veins on leaves or petals. It is handy to know where to place these items exactly and the Cameo can help me with this.  Here is a simple example, a little toadstool. Now image that you want the white dots in the exact same spots as in this picture. In this example placement is not critical, but for some other pictures the correct placement may be important indeed. For example when placing eyes and a mouth on a face you would probably want them to end up in the right place unless, of course, you are aiming for a Picasso knock off.

Anyway, for something similar to the toadstool below you probably received a Studio or SVG file that looks like the picture on the right:

toadstool 1            toadstool 1

Normally you would now separate the shapes so you can cut them from different colored fabric. You can move the stem now, but if you want to draw the placement lines for the white shapes, copy and paste those shapes first and move them to the side as shown below:

toadstool 2.

Now replace your fabric blade in the Silhouette with a colored sketch pen. Choose a color that will show up on the red fabric.  Then select the white shapes on the cap only by drawing a box around them or selecting them one by one while holding down the shift key. Make sure nothing else is selected. After you have prepared your fabric in the usual way and placed it on your mat you are now ready to draw the shapes on your fabric

toadstool 3

Next open the Cut Settings window and under Material Type scroll down and select Sketch Pen. Now click on Send to Silhouette and the placement lines for the white dots will be drawn on your fabric. Once that is done DO Not eject your mat. The silhouette will return to the start point. All you have to do is replace the sketch pen with the fabric blade and you can cut your shapes in the usual way. Just remember to select the shapes you want to cut and to enter your preferred cut settings.

The  same method can be used to draw placement lines on flowers and leaves that you can stitch over with your sewing machine.

It is my experience that the lines made with the sketch pens are not permanent, but disappear when they become wet, but there are some videos on YouTube showing how to use permanent markers.


Seen on The Quilt Show

Instructions for making a double oven mitt by Jennifer Bosworth of Shabby Fabrics.

Oven mitt.PNGClick on the YouTube link to watch the video:

Are you using the correct needle? Here is a link to a video by Schmetz needles to explain in all:

The tent makers of Egypt. This is fascinating. With the most primitive tools they make beautiful works of art. There are quite a few videos on YouTube. Here is one of them:


I hope you enjoy these videos.

Until next time,


Happy New Year

Just a quick note to wish you all a

New Year

I hope you have a healthy, happy year filled with creative projects.

Looking back over the past year, I am pretty pleased. No health issues, Quilters Niche, now in its 11th year, is still going strong, and this blog is slowly growing. A big thank you and welcome to all newcomers.

I just received a fun, end of year report from WordPress to show how this blog is doing. Apparently, my blog was viewed 4800 time in 2015 by people from 57 countries, while the busiest day was December 2nd and the most popular post that day was multi hooping. The report did not include the last few days and I wonder if today was perhaps even busier as there were quite a few new subscribers. I would love to see even more people sign up, so if you like what you see, please recommend it to your friends. To keep you interested, here are a few topics I plan to touch on in the near future:

Quilting on an embroidery machine
Machine embroidery on large projects without hooping
Choosing fabric and colors for a quilt
3-d and free standing embroidery

If you have suggestions, know of interesting videos, blogs, or links, please let me know.

Have a great new year.


A fun morning at Cozy Creative Center

Yesterday I spent a fun morning at my daughter’s shop, Cozy Creative Center, demoing the Silhouette Cameo while the So.Cal Quilters Run was on. WOW, was it ever busy. Good thing that the shop is really spacious. Daniela, Rick and the crew always make these special events fun and decorate for the occasions. I could kick myself, but I got so busy that I forgot to take a couple of pictures. There was a nice table displaying samples made with the help of the Silhouette and lots of people were interested. I was glad that Daniela was there too to help answer all the questions. Quite a few samples of my work were on display, various applique blocks and my Golden Treasure wall hanging which I talked about in previous blogs. What probably got the most attention were a few luminarias I made from vinyl with battery operated lights instead of a candles. Here are two of them:

ghosts luminaria
ghosts luminaria
floral tealight

They are so easy to make, no sewing or fabric involved, just some vinyl. I had so much fun making them that I made 4 different Halloween designs, bats, ghosts, witches, and spiders and I am working on some Christmas designs too. I hope to posts the floral and Halloween ones on my website tonight. I still have to write up the simple instructions and take a couple more pictures and that is better done when it is dark. The designs can also be stuck to windows. What a fun way to decorate for Halloween! Or how about making them from Heat Transfer Vinyl and applying them to some simple little fabric bags for the little ones when they go trick or treating or even regular vinyl applied to some sturdy paper gift bags. I may even write up some instructions for a bag.

Halloween bags

Have a great day!


Golden Treasure, a new applique pattern.

C-31 Golden Treasure

I  had planned on posting something a while back, but as usual time slipped past again. I have a good excuse, however.  I’ve been busy creating this new wall hanging. It is made from my daughter, Daniela’s, new line of fabric, Tonga Sunburst for Timeless Treasures. When I saw the fabric I loved it so much that I just had to do something with it and this wall hanging is the result. As you will see, it has pieced borders, but I found a technique that make them really easy. They just look complicated. The pattern is written, but before I release it, I want to have the borders tested and that is a problem at the moment. The lady who usually does that is not available for at least a month and I’d hate to wait that long so I am hoping there is a volunteer who might be willing to tackle this project. I only need the borders tested but I would send you the entire pattern. If you are interested please send me an email ( The pattern includes piecing instructions and full size drawings of the individual applique shapes, but also SVG files so that they could be cut on the Silhouette Cameo or a similar cutter. To sweeten the deal just a bit I can also send you a couple of quilting designs of your choice after I receive your comments.

Talking about quilting designs, I just posted a bunch of new digital designs for long arms on my website at If you have a computerized quilting system, please have a look to see if there is something you can use.

That is all for now. I hope all of you are doing well and keep busy creating.

Talk to you next time.


Floral Fantasy

I’ve been on a roll these last few weeks and had fun designing 5 applique patterns that can be cut on the Silhouette or just the old fashioned way, with regular scissors.

Aren’t they pretty? I am very pleased with them. Now I have to decide what to do with them. How about  this layout? With some nice borders and some pretty quilting in the empty blocks it would make a nice wall hanging or table topper.

whole quilt

The applique blocks will need a bit of quilting as well. Perhaps some small stippling?  Looking at the blocks now, I just realize that the photos changed the background color. I used the same pale yellow background fabric for all five blocks, but 4 of them are showing up as blue. Guess I am not a very good photographer. Oh well!

The appliques were designed for a class I’ll be teaching in the near future at Cozy Creative Center. They are available on my website as the downloadable set, Floral Fantasy, and include SVG files and templates for other applique methods plus instructions.They can be found under the SVG-PDF tab while the quilted designs are under the Quilting tab.

Next on my list are a series of downloadable quilting templates for the Silhouette and, as requested, also some quilting designs that can be stitched out with an embroidery machine. So stay tuned.

Until next time,