Does the perfect embroidery design exist?

Working on my new heirloom collection which celebrates the birth of a son, Archie, to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, again I am reminded of the limitations of my embroidery software and the compromises I have to make! With examples from this new collection, let me explain by answering a few questions, based on queries you have asked over the years and questions I daily ask myself as I digitise.

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Creating another Grunge style collection

There are several collections at Graceful Embroidery which feature my own style of grunge embroidery. A while back I was asked to create some embroidery for a bridal gown similar to my Amore Grunge collection but with morning glory flowers. I love these type of embroidery designs as they stitch out quickly as the leaves and flowers are usually just outlines. I set to creating another collection which would include the requested designs and called it the Morning Grunge collection, adding humming birds to the designs.

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How the colours you use can change an embroidery significantly

As I have been testing out the final designs in the Rachel Kathryn collection I have been reminded again how important the choice of thread colour is, and how dramatically that choice can effect the finished embroidery.

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The designs in the Embroiderer’s Prayer collection

When creating a unique prayer appropriate for embroiderers I asked my daughter, Natalie to paraphrase 2 significant verses of scripture. Her twin sister, Jenny created the graphics for me, so this is an unparalleled collection of designs. I hope that you will embroider this prayer and be inspired as well as being challenged by the truth behind it!

This is one of my favourite designs in the collection. I just adore asymmetrical designs like this one.

You can see the detail in the roses, and I have to admit that it took a long time to get the correct combination of colours to get the depth of these flowers, so please use the threads that I recommend in my PDF. I used a variegated thread for the lace and was pleased with the result.

This is a possible wall hanging which uses quite a few of the designs, and I think that they would be wonderful for a quilt too. In total there are over 100 designs in the Embroiderer’s Prayer collection. Why so many you may ask? Firstly there are five sets for five different size of hoops. You will notice that as well as the floral designs, which can decorate your prayer, I have included lace work for borders and corners, which can be stitched in subtle tones of ivory and pink, or just in one colour. I always like to include as many possible elements in a collection.

There are several ways to stitch out the prayer, and of course you can create your own version as the words are available on their own.

Or you may want to surround it with the lace frames and corners.

Of course you don’t have to embroider the prayer as there are plenty of other options within the collection.

Here is a combination that I just created! I first opened GFE-EMP-5-4 and just selected the first 4 colourways to make a frame on a 360 x 260 hoop. I deleted half of the frame and moved it up as high as I was able.

I copied and pasted this frame below so that I had as much space as possible for the prayer.

To edit the prayer I opened GFE-EMP-3-9, GFE-EMP-3-10 and GFE-EMP3-11 and pasted them in the centre. This required a little editing to centre them all.

Now you could embroider the lace on the fabric, but you could also prepare the lace on tulle or English cotton net, beforehand and add it as a extra. The possibilities are endless. I hope this starts you on the journey to creating something special with these designs. They are available for just $35 but be quick as the offer runs out on May 1st, 2019.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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Finishing my second Vintage sewing crazy quilt – a re-blog

Take a few pieces of gorgeous richly coloured dupion silk, along with some pretty shades of thread and some lace, that blend well and see how they turn out when stitched and embroidered as the new Romantic Crazy quilt with a vintage sewing theme…

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Over the last few weeks I have been perfecting the second vintage sewing crazy quilt and preparing the detailed PDF tutorial on how to stitch it out and get the very best results. This crazy quilt is now available and I want to share details of the last sample I have created with these fabrics and threads. Many of these pictures speak for themselves.


I recently invested in a little steam iron that allows me to press the sections as I go within the hoop. Search online for the Pyrm mini steam iron which is so handy to have for quick pressings. I use a fabric glue to hold them in place too, and if the results are not good I unpick and attach them again.


Trim as close as possible to the stitches so they are hidden under the embroidery. Looking at these purple motifs I remembered that I had some square crystals which would be perfect to embellish them with. As they are AB ones they will pick up the colours around them.

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Using lace over the raw edges works perfectly on this join, but you need to attach it temporarily with fabric glue to hold it in place for the zig zag stitches. It is surprisingly difficult to get the lace aligned so I have added treble guide lines.


Obviously you need not stitch out all these motif fills, or you could add your own to the fabric pieces before application by using the inbuilt stitches on your machine. I think it is best to use a thread near to the same shade as the fabric.


There a few digitising errors in this stitch out which have been perfected. Some stitches disappeared from the pale jade motif fill on the right, but that has been rectified. I was delighted with the effect that metallic thread gave to the fabric though. Notice the crease in the mauve silk at the bottom. Once badly creased or folded it is nigh impossible to remove such creases from silk, but they can be hidden under embellishments if you are determined to use your silk remnants.


Now to add the first stage of embellishments!


These hearts are a little more of a challenge to attach. I lay mine in place and hold my heat tool over them counting slowly up to about twenty. This saves time changing the heads. I have added satin ribbon to the buttonholes but lace works just as well.


I love the little Singer sewing machine.


Tiny lavender pearls have been added to the white embroidery below.


As you can see I have hand sewn the pale mauve lace along the edges of the panel which disguises any imperfections that you are not happy about. Even the tiniest of lace is useful and I sometimes cut the little hearts, flowers and motifs off lace to use individually.


A few hand tied bows of narrow satin ribbon will add a little dimension to this part of the quilt block. Most of the colour planning went well for this crazy quilt, although the row of embroidery should have been a different colour from the buttonholes. Not altogether sure about the sage green block on the top right. If you need some pieces of silk dupion visit The Silk Route, a website that sells all sorts of wonderful silk including some theme packs. It is full of useful information about silk too. 

The Silk route

Silk is wonderful for crazy quilting as it is easy to trim the raw edges. Once your embroidery is complete any edges peeping out can be pulled away or snipped.


After all the care I take to get the finished embroidery free of puckers some always appear during the embellishing process. I checked all the photos on my Pinterest board and it seems commonplace. I have never considered hooping the finished block for the hand sewing and wonder if anybody does this. Certainly something to consider for next time. By the way do let me know of any websites that sell crazy quilting accessories as once you have succumbed to this addiction you can never have enough embellishments. So many of them are just a little too big for my liking and tiny buttons are very difficult to come by.


Now I see just a few more gaps, and have started some beading… and so begins the second stage of embellishment. Knowing when to stop can be difficult but I don’t add too much as this tends to hide the embroidery and distort the fabric! You will be pleased to know that I have already started my next crazy quilt and this one will be circular. I am also thinking about doing a couple of design sets featuring the elements that can be found in my two vintage sewing blocks. Let me know if you are interested.

All my Romantic Crazy Quilt blocks, including the stocking, have been reduced by 50% this week. (April 29th to May 6th, 2019)

Happy crazy quilting from Hazel

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Embroidery projects for your sewing room

This week I am featuring another guest blog which I am sure you will all love. Marrilyn always does exquisite work and her machine cover is a splendid addition to her sewing room, along with these other items.

For this project I combined designs from the Embroiderer’s Prayer, Antique Sewing Machine 1 and Bridal Lace 2. Using my original machine cover as a guide I made Patterns for each panel. I was given a remnant of self-patterned curtain fabric which I thought was firm enough to combine with double-sided fusible cotton batting and quilting cotton for the lining to make the cover substantial. I embroidered with Robison-Anton threads and Janome Metallic gold and silver.


Firstly I opened Embird Editor and selected a hoop compatible with the desired embroidery size I wanted to create, then I selected a few designs I might like to combine. I changed the fuchsia stamens to orange because when smart colour-sorted they sometimes join with the silver and I want gold stamens. I edited elements from a chosen designs and added tie ON/OFF stitches to each separated element to prevent unravelling. Next I began to play with the designs to combine them until I was happy with the look and the required size.

When duplicating a design make sure to copy and paste from the first design to prevent errors occurring.

Using my original machine cover as a guide I made patterns for each panel. Sandwich together Top, Batting and Lining and on the top edge trim the batting 1/2″ down from the top edge to take out the bulk when lining is folded over after stitching 1/2″ seam right next to the edge of the batting. Turn lining to the back and press then top-stitch the top edge.

Next, I set my machine for free Motion stitching and quilted around the self-pattern on the fabric, firstly to create an embossed look and make then pattern “pop”  but most importantly to give added stability to the cover by quilting all three layers together.

Next, I set my machine for free Motion stitching and quilted around the self-pattern on the fabric, firstly to create an embossed look and make then pattern “pop”  but most importantly to give added stability to the cover by quilting all three layers together. The pocket was then stitched to the lower half of the back.

All other embroidered panels were quilted in the same manner.


After cutting my panels to size I began construction by joining the top panel to each end panel to get the correct fit then bound the inside seams with bias binding and stitched the final turn by hand to prevent stitches showing on the outside.The joining seams were top-stitched from the front.

The bottom edge of each side panel was bound with 1/2″ binding then fancy stitched to form a lace-like edging.

I covered my piping cord with a  1″ strip of 2-way stretch lycra being careful not to stretch the fabric as I stitched. (I chose Lycra because there was no need for bias fabric required for the curves)

I bias bound the top Flap and used the same fancy stitches to finish the binding before I attached it to the Front top Panel before piping.

Then I stitched the piping to the Top and Side panels being sure to extend the piping on the ends which will be required for joining the Front and Back panels.  I stitched the Back to the back of the Top panel seam leaving the side seams open.

The piping cord was pulled out and clipped 1/2″ from the casing to take away the bulk when the binding was added. A rectangle was cut and bound above the back pockets and on the back panel making an opening for the machine carry handle.

I stitched the back side seams and finished the inside raw edges with bias binding. The front was positioned and stitched to the Top and sides then bound on the inside. The Front and Back bottom edges were bound to match the flap and the same fancy stitches finished the edge.

I covered my 29mm self cover buttons with the cotton lining fabric which I embroidered by resizing a design from Bridal Lace B12-1-14 to 29mm. The buttonholes on the Back Flap were embellished with scrolls and leaves from Antique Sewing Machine.

I attached the buttons with dental floss for extra strength.


Two – 3 1/2″ squares of Aida cloth were embroidered with designs from Vintage Grace birthday gifts. All sides were marked in halves and the points were matched to the half-way markings and the seams stitched by hand then embellished with a string of pearls.


Using designs GFE -EMP -5-9 and GFE-EMP-5-10 from The Embroiderer’s Prayer I embroidered my sewing chair Back in colours to match the machine cover. I did add a few colour stops  to add variation.

After embroidering my designs I made a sandwich of Top, Batting and Backing and with construction thread I Free Motion embroidered around the designs using a stipple stitch on the Back and between lettering on the Front and outlined the self patterned fabric with needle down position beginning in the centre of the design and working outwards.

After stippling the 2″ wide gusset I covered the Piping Cord as before with 2-way stretch Lycra and stitched it to the gusset edges.

I can only say just how much I enjoyed creating this set with fantastic designs. Marrilyn Northeast 2019

Here is a close up of the antique sewing machine. Thank you so much Marrilyn for sharing this with us all. You must be very proud of what you have achieved, every time you go into your sewing room. Thank you for inspiring us all.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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Increasing your machine embroidery skills

So you have seen many beautiful embroidered projects that others have created but you cannot imagine that you would ever be able to create something as wonderful. I think that when you become passionate about machine embroidery you start on a journey of discovery and continued learning. I regularly take online tutorials to learn how to get the best from my software and apps, as well as keeping up to date with the speed at which the internet and computers are advancing. Tutorials are a great way to learn more skills and to get more creative. As well as the tutorials I have written there are also a series of tutorials at Graceful Embroidery by Pamela Cox, who is an expert in machine embroidery. This week she is releasing a new tutorial for you all and I am sure you will love working through her instructions and creating something wonderful with a unique embroidery that I have created with elements from the Symphony of Flowers collection.

“Whether you are a skilled seamstress, or want to expand your sewing knowledge, this linen table runner will explain the Heirloom techniques of wing-needle stitching, inserting lace and an embroidered, sheer Madeira Applique window.  And the best part?……the techniques are not just applicable to table linens, but they can be featured with many other beautifully embroidered projects. “

So take a tutorial soon and learn some new skills. This tutorial is available for $17.50 until the end of April 2019 and you will also receive a coupon to get 50% off another Pamela Cox tutorial!

Happy embroidering from Pamela and Hazel

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Combining designs for a large area of embroidery

When we first start embroidering on our machines, we tend to place individual designs on various garments and items around the home, but at some point we need to start combining embroidery designs for larger areas. This can appear overwhelming at first, but it is not that difficult and the results are very satisfying and rewarding. Let me show you how easy it is to combine.

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My Orchids for Ruth collection

Back in 2017 I finally created a collection of designs which I had put off digitising for some time. I just adore orchids, in particular the Phalaenopsis variety, and was reluctant to convert them to embroidery until I could be satisfied with the result. The option of making dimensional orchids brought these beautiful flowers to life on fabric. This month the whole collection which comprises 5 sets for different sizes of hoops, is available at a special price and I encourage you to get these designs, embroider them out and introduce them into your home.

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How to embroider Nutcrackers for Christmas

With the release of Disney’s film, “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”, there have been a surge of interest in these little figures. At present there are now 6 nutcrackers in the collection at Graceful Embroidery. These little men have been created for the 5″ x 7″ hoop.

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