Machine Appliqué Tips Part II

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

In my previous Sulky® Blog post, you discovered that machine-embroidered Appliqué Designs stitch up quickly and are fun to create, combining different textures and prints of fabrics.

The only “rules” cited for this process was to follow the digitizer’s directions:

  1. Understand what each color stop represents
  2. Follow the digitizer’s stitching order
  3. Do not color-sort/combine threads colors

However, sometimes being a bit naughty and “coloring outside of the lines” produces a new twist to a design.

Appliqués use fabric as fill stitches, but any appliqué design can be stitched as a normal embroidery, omitting the steps of adding fabrics. However, some designs present better as simple machine embroidery.

Compare Sulky Embroidery Club’s #832 Crazy Cat Appliqué to their #762 American Sweetie Pie Cupcake design.  Notice how many accent stitches enhance the fabric appliqué pieces of the cat, while the cupcake relies solely on the print of the fabric?

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the cat will still look adorable stitched as an ordinary embroidery…

while the cupcake will look rather plain.

Does the stitching order matter if the design is to be used as a regular embroidery?  Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.

Cat design colors #1-#6 outline and place the fabric pieces while #7-#26 stitch all the accents, including edging stitches on the appliqué pieces.  The first six colors will be hidden by the additional steps, so the design presents the option of stitching as-is, or simply starting with color #7.

After reading the cupcake’s directions…

and reviewing the design in an editing program (or directly on the embroidery machine)…

it’s apparent that some outline/placement stitches would be covered if the icing fabric is appliquéd, but would show if the design is simply embroidered.  The solution is to skip over those color stops.

Color-stops that show placement or tack-down of appliqué pieces can be skipped over without losing the integrity of a design.  However, if a color-stop shows placement of an appliqué piece, and then goes on to stitch a detail of the design (colors 1 and 7 were combined for demonstration purposes), forward through the placement stitches within the color-stop and begin stitching the details.

Now that we realize the importance in understanding what each color stop is intended for, we can manipulate this information to our advantage.

Not every appliqué designer offers a fabric placement step.  Some, like this design above, only have a few color stops. Since one is the satin stitch and the other a decorative edging to the heart, that leaves one stop for trimming the fabric, but no indication of fabric placement.

When you feel the need to know where the appliqué piece is to be placed, or even how big to cut the appliquéd piece (always cut larger than the intended shape), stitch the tacking stop on the foundation fabric, cover with the appliqué fabric, and repeat this same color stop (which in this case is #1).

Repeating color stops is a good trick to know, because another fun technique with appliqués is to make them “pop” even more by adding a layer of batting behind the appliquéd pieces.  Batting and fabric layers should be applied and cut separately.  Even if the design has a placement stop as well as a fabric/trim stop, one repeat is necessary to make it all happen.

Color stop #1 was stitched directly on the foundation fabric and covered with batting.  Color #2 anchors batting and allows for it to be trimmed.

Notice that the batting is trimmed as close to the stitching as possible.  Even if a stitch or two is clipped, the covering fabric will continue to anchor batting edges.

The batting is covered with the appliqué fabric. Color #2 is stitched once again to anchor the appliqué, and to allow for trimming just outside the stitches.

Helpful Hint:  Save scrap pieces of Sulky Sticky+™ Stabilizer and use them as “lint brushes” for all embroidery projects, picking up loose threads and lint, keeping the stitching surface clean.

Color #3 can then stitch the decorative satin edging.

Notice the height of the purple fabric in relationship to the satin stitches and foundation fabric.  Polyester batting gives the most “lift”. However, natural cotton batting can be used as well as another layer of fabric, especially flannel.


Before we continue, let’s review the quality Sulky Stabilizers to use with appliqué designs:

Sulky offers several quality choices when embroidering appliqués.  A foundation stabilizer is needed – one that can be securely hooped, and will provide additional support to the foundation fabric – which will be the base for layers of fabric and stitches. Soft ’n Sheer™, Tear-Easy™, and Sticky+ Stabilizers are all great choices.

It is advisable to fuse a backing to the appliqué pieces to prevent fraying.  Sulky Soft ’n Sheer Extra™ or Totally Stable® are equal to the task.

KK 2000™ Temporary Spray Adhesive (ozone friendly, non-flammable, and odorless!) is extremely helpful in securely holding appliqué pieces in position during the tacking process by lightly spraying the wrong side of each appliqué piece.


Now that we are reminded of the importance of stabilizing, let’s back up.  We just learned that an appliqué can be raised well above the foundation plane, but did you know that appliqués can also “sink” below the foundation fabric? Photographs will not do this process justice, but trust me, it does give the same design a new dimension.

To “reverse” an appliqué, stitch the outline color stop directly onto the stabilizer.

The applique fabric is placed face up on top of the stabilizer. Make sure it is larger than stitched area, and fully covers the appliqué shape.  This piece of fabric should be reinforced with one of the fusible Sulky products, and lightly sprayed with Sulky KK 2000 to hold it in place.  Cover with the foundation fabric and stitch the second color, outlining the shape on the foundation fabric.

For a reverse applique, the foundation fabric is cut away inside the stitching line, exposing the appliqué piece underneath.  A seam ripper comes in handy to gently lift and slice just the top fabric layer…

allowing a pair of scissors to be inserted…

and cutting the shape slightly away from inside the stitching line.

This technique is especially effective when displayed side by side in table runners, throw pillows, or tote bags.

Many appliques lend themselves to be made into tags!

First, our stabilizers change a bit. To ensure clean margins around the edges of the finished project, the foundation stabilizer changes to Sulky Fabri-Solvy™ or Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy™, which can easily and completely be removed by rinsing in tepid water.

The need still remains to prevent fabric fraying plus temporarily holding fabric pieces, so Sulky Soft ’n Sheer Extra or Totally Stable and KK 2000 Temporary Spray Adhesive will remain on hand.

Once again, it all begins with understanding the stitching order and then we can own it!

Securely hoop the stabilizer, and stitch fabric outline – color-stop #1- directly onto stabilizer.

Cover with the foundation fabric, and anchor by stitching color #2.  This piece can be trimmed at this point or all accent color stops, #3 & #4, can be added, as well as the backing, which is what the example shows.

Before stitching the final satin edging stitches, color #5, remove the hoop from the machine and turn it over.  Depending on the tag’s intended use, add a “hanger” – such as ribbon, jute cord, embroidery floss, etc., by spraying the ends of the hanger with KK 2000, and pressing it in place to hold it securely for stitching. (Omit this process if a hanging cord is not needed.)

Cover the back with the backing fabric (which has been protected with Soft ‘n Sheer Extra or Totally Stable), and lightly sprayed with KK 2000.  Stabilizer surfaces face each other leaving the right side of the fabric facing up.

Repeat color stop #2 tacking the back fabric in place.

Remove the embroidery hoop from the machine, but leave everything securely hooped.  Trim the back fabric making sure not to cut through hanger.

Turn over and trim front fabric.

Helpful Hint: Hold hanger in its straight-up position with a pin to prevent it from getting caught as the hoop moves around. Return to it to the machine and stitch the final color, which is the satin stitch edging.

Helpful Hint: To keep the back of the tag looking as nice as the front, change the bobbin thread to match the color of the top thread. Sulky PolyLite™ 60 wt. Thread is the perfect weight for this application, and it is available in a vast array of colors.

Machine Applique Tips Part II

Trim the excess stabilizer away. Although it is extremely hard to see any stabilizer after trimming, rinsing will completely remove any residue.  Or, take a damp washcloth and just gently rub it along the edge.

Tags are perfect for school backpacks or lunch boxes, additional identification on luggage, mobiles, or party decorations.

Just remember, all appliqués are not created equally!  Stitching order will vary, especially if accents are incorporated in the overall design.  While one appliqué might work as a regular embroidery, it may not be a good fit for becoming a tag.  One might be good as a reverse embroidery, but too plain to stand on its own as an embroidered design.

Read the digitizer’s directions, and then try “breaking a few rules” to create an “original appliqué”. Experiment with materials, such as using a sheer fabric or adding Mylar for a bit of shine.  Leave a bit of water soluble stabilizer in the fabric to shape your 3D item.

Have fun!

Machine Applique Tips Part II


Machine Applique Tips


This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

Applique Part 1 - Traditional

Design: Sulky Embroidery Club’s #684 Owl with Heart

Machine Applique Tips

Applique designs are one of the quickest, most fun methods of machine embroidery.  Quick, because fabric takes the place of fill stitches (check out the difference in thread count!).

And fun because fabric color, print, and even texture combinations are endless!

Owl with Heart: Sulky Embroidery Club #684American Sweetie Pie: Sulky Embroidery Club #762 (free download) – Heart and Megaphone: Original design

Basic steps are involved with every applique. Although, the sequence may differ to accommodate additional applique pieces or to add decorative accents.

Therefore, it is very important to read the instructional PDF file that is included with your design to understand when to add or trim fabric pieces.

It is also very important not to change the stitching order of the design nor to combine colors.  The various color stops within an applique design pause the machine to allow placement and trimming of applied fabric pieces.

It is a bit difficult to state exactly what sewing supplies are needed because of all the possible combinations of fabrics plus the variety of available Sulky® Threads.  However, a new Schmetz® Topstitch Needle will penetrate multiple fabric layers quite nicely and handle all thread types – including any Sulky Metallic Threads.  Gauge will depend on fabric weight:


Sulky Stabilizers offer several options that will all work equally well underneath the foundation fabric.

Sulky Soft ’n Sheer™ (a cut-away stabilizer) or Sulky Tear-Easy™ (as its name implies) are the two I reach for most often.  However, Sulky Sticky+™ is perfect for holding the foundation fabric securely, yet easily tears away from the embroidered stitches.

Sulky Fabri-Solvy™ is another option for applique projects that are completely washable since this stabilizer is removed by rinsing.

Napped fabrics require a top stabilizer and Sulky offers Solvy™ (a wash-away stabilizer) or Sulky Heat-Away Clear Film™ (an iron-away stabilizer).

These stabilizers keep the outline stitches of the applique sitting on top of the napped fabric and also prevent the nap from accidentally being cut while trimming applique pieces.

There are also two more Sulky products that should be on hand when appliqueing:

  • Sulky Soft ’n Sheer Extra™, an iron-on fusible stabilizer. This can be applied to the wrong side of applique fabric pieces to prevent fraying and add extra body.

  • Sulky KK 2000™ Temporary Spray Adhesive.  Lightly spray the wrong side of applique pieces and finger-press in place.  The fabric will now remain securely in place for the stitching process, while keeping fingers safely away from the stitching area.


Supplies for above:

Now that we understand the basics of appliqué designs, stay tuned for Applique Part 2, as we explore some fun ways to expand our applique skills.

Original heart design


Sulky products available at

Sulky Embroidery Club designs available at

Free Webinar: Create a Unicorn Towel Hoodie

Free Webinar: Create a Unicorn Towel Hoodie

Free Webinar: Let’s Create a Unicorn!

Demystifying the Hooded Towel

“Let me walk you through the process of creating adorable Hoodie Towels using my new Unicorn pattern. Creating these towels as fun gifts is easy and so satisfying. I will even show you how to fold it and add a bow so it is all ready to give away.”
Desiree of Desiree’s Designs


You’ll learn:

Free Webinar: Create a Unicorn Towel Hoodie

  • How to hoop up your stabilizer and float your towel
  • How to make different-sized towel hoodies for different ages
  • How to follow a machine guided applique by either cutting or using SVG files
  • How to use a topper like Sulky Solvy Stabilizer, as well as Sulky Fabri-Solvy Stabilizer for embroidery on towels
  • How to assemble your hoodie with the bath towel
  • How to fold and add a bow to complete the whole package

  • Downloadable step-by-step instructions for the hoodie
  • Each step has pictures!
  • A chance to win the special Sulky webinar CD that will have 4 unique designs, consisting of: a hedgehog, Boston Terrier with glasses, Boston Terrier with bow, and the unicorn (a $24.95 value!)
  • A chance to win a completed Unicorn Hoodie

Free Webinar: Create a Unicorn Towel Hoodie

Join us live if you can, to take advantage of our web-specials!

Date | February 20, 2018

Time | 2 pm EST

Duration | 1 hour

Featuring | Desiree Dianne Habicht: Artist, Fiber Artist, Multi-media Artist, Owner and CCO of Desiree’s Designs, Fabric Designer, Pattern Designer, Embroidery Designer, Instructor and Business Coach

Can’t make the live viewing? No worries! You can still sign up! Following the initial broadcast, the webinar will be available on-demand so you can watch it at your convenience!

Free Webinar: Create a Unicorn Towel Hoodie

Picture This! DIY Photo Frame Mat

Picture This - DIY Photo Frame Mat

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

Picture This!

DIY Photo Frame Mat

It’s hard to find a Valentine’s Day gift that can be used all year long.  Candy is great, but in this household it is gone almost as soon as it is opened!  Love those flowers and I do wish they would last forever, but sadly they don’t. But picture this… A photo frame mat!

A framed picture of a loved one does last forever, and machine embroidery makes it easy to customize a photo mat, making it all the more special.

Instructions given are for personalizing an 8”x10” mat displaying embroidery designs of choice, including an area for a 4×6 photo insert.


10”x12” frame with a 7-3/4” x 9-3/4” opening

12”x14” piece of tightly woven fabric such as Denim, Duck-cloth or Osnaberg


Fusible web, such as The Warm Company‘s Steam-a-Seam2®

Sulky 40 wt. Rayon Thread

90/14 Topstitch needle

Embroidery Designs from Sulky Embroidery Club:

Scrolling Hearts Collection #1641

Love Flourish Medium #770 (free download)

Photo insert template

Cardboard – from a cardboard box is fine and an optional piece of card stock

Plan a customized mat:

Open the photo template in a software editing program. The design shows three color stops.


The brown, color stop #1, is not intended to be stitched out, but rather to define the available stitching area for an 8″ x 10” mat during the planning process. The opening for the photo insert has two color stops. Color #2 – blue – bastes the oval shape showing placement. It is then covered with a 5” x 7” piece of Sulky Soft ’n Sheer Extra™.  Color #3 – green – stitches the stabilizer in place with secure small stitches. Both color stops should be stitched in a thread that matches the foundation fabric.

Bring several designs into the working area of an editing program and begin to create your mat.

Planning a layout is truly a “trial and error” effort.  Choose designs that have potential and begin to move them around.  Two choices were eliminated immediately as being too large.  The two remaining were positioned around the opening.

Once satisfied with the layout, combine the designs and check the stitching order. The embroidery designs must stitch out before the oval.  If need be, change the stitching order in the software.  If combining colors, make sure no design thread color is found in the template.  If there are matching colors, change the template, allowing it to stitch out independently.

The oval can be selected and moved within the brown framework. Although design edges can touch the framework’s sides, keep the oval at least 1/2” inside the boundary.

Planning a mat can be done directly on the embroidery machine, providing the machine offers some basic “editing” features. Since there are so many embroidery machines available, it would be hard to state definitive steps.

It is the same thought process of bringing in designs, experiencing the trial and error process and then combining them. If you’re unable to change the order of colors, ensuring that the oval stitches last; individually select which color stops to stitch during the embroidery process.


With paper still intact and facing up, Secure a piece of Sulky Sticky+ in the hoop. Lightly score the paper with a pin, and remove the paper exposing the sticky surface.

Mark the center of the fabric. I hand-baste the intersecting lines. When the hooped stabilizer is placed on a quilter’s cutting mat, the grid lines are visible underneath the stabilizer, which helps in placing fabrics straight and on grain in the hoop.

Once satisfied with fabric placement, firmly press into the sticky surface, keeping the fabric wrinkle free.

Transfer your creative combination to the embroidery machine.

Stitched example uses the flourishing word “Love” and design #1608 from the Scrolling Hearts Collection, omitting the word “love” from its design.

Match machine needle and design centers,

remove hand-basted threads, and stitch out the accent designs before the oval.

Helpful Hint:  Slow the speed of the machine down by half.

After the accent designs are finished and the oval’s first color has basted in the shape of the oval, center the piece of Sulky Soft ’n Sheer Extra over the oval with the fusible side (rough-to-the-touch side) facing up. Stitch the 2nd color, keeping the top stabilizer wrinkle-free and taut.

Remove from the machine and release the hoop.  Do not cut the excess Sulky Sticky+ Stabilizer from the back side. Instead, remove the remaining paper and press the full fabric piece onto its surface, keeping the fabric wrinkle-free.

Helpful Hint: Sticky+ does allow for fabric to be gently lifted off its surface and repositioned if need be.

Trim jump threads.

Cut inside the oval 1/4” away from stitching, through all three layers; Soft ’n Sheer Extra, fabric, and Sticky+.

Clip into seam, up to, but not through, the small securing stitches.

Pull the top stabilizer through the opening to the wrong side. Carefully press around the oval, fusing the stabilizer in place to form a nice oval shape while keeping the fabric wrinkle-free.

Finish Framing:

“Crop” the photo:

Lay the photo, facing up, on a flat surface and apply scotch tape to each side, with the sticky side of the tape facing up as well. Hover the oval opening over the photo, selecting the desired portion of the photo, and press the fabric down into the sticky scotch tape.

Cut the fabric piece to size:

Laying the glass insert on top moving it around until the area you wish displayed is under glass. With a fabric marking pen, mark a 1” margin around all four sides. Trim the fabric mat along these lines.

Press 1” margin hem on all four sides.

Cut a piece of cardboard to fit the frame by tracing the glass insert. Cut a piece of Steam-a-Seam2 the same size as the cardboard:

Fuse material to the cardboard keeping the paper side facing up and paper intact.

Lay the cardboard inside the fabric’s turned up edges:

With glass back in the frame, place the unfinished mat in place to check the fit of the mat; turning over to look through the glass, confirming placement of photo insert and embroidery design within viewing area.

Helpful Hint: If you’re pleased with the results, continue with directions. If not, remove from frame, iron fabric to remove 1” creases and/or reposition photo. 

If the corrections moved the embroidery design in a different position, the hemmed sides may not be a uniform 1” all around, but that’s okay.  The margin allows room for change.

Return the mat to the frame, check once again and continue. Peel the paper backing away from the Steam-a-Seam2. Gently tug up on the fabric as it is pulled over the edge of the cardboard and pressed into the sticky surface.  This will keep the fabric wrinkle-free and as taut as possible.

Allow the fabric in each corner to stand upright by smoothing adjacent sides together until they meet, mitering the corner.

Once all four sides are secured to the cardboard, remove the mat from the frame and press corners flat. Press each corner individually to keep the iron away from the sticky surface.

Return the finished mat to the frame.  If the frame has a full backing, simply add it.

However, if the customized mat will not be covered by a pre-made one, cut a piece of card-stock, lay it in place and seal the back.

Get ready to proudly present your special Valentine a lasting gift made with love!

Use this template to celebrate other holidays, special events, friendships…

Designs: Spoolie 5 #870 from Sulky Embroidery Club – Accents: both Quick Express Embroideries from Premier+2


or simply a special photo.

Remember, the oval can be moved within the framework’s work space to change the available space for accent designs. The oval shape also accommodates horizontal photos and layouts.

Designs: Cowboy Bear 830 from Sulky Embroidery Club – Accents: both Quick Express Embroideries from Premier+2



Stabilizers and Thread available at

Designs available at

Free-Standing Lace vs. Lace Effect

free standing lace vs. lace effect

Free-Standing Lace vs. Lace Effect

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

Free-Standing Lace & Lace Effect

Design from “Tatted Edges Set” by “From The Needle of Anne”

We all know what lace is, but do we understand “lace” in terms of machine embroidery?

Many design collections include the word lace in their title, and this is especially true for embroidery intended for Bridal or even Heirloom designs.  However, lace in a title can be describing a “lace effect”, which requires a fabric foundation, a strip of lace to be used as an accent or even an item made of lace.

Many motif-filled designs

imply “lace”, especially when stitched on sheer fabrics.  Often, if the speed of the embroidery machine is slowed down, a sharp, small gauge needle (65/9) can be used to “embroider” the pattern because the reality is simply a decorative stitch.

Other lace effects are achieved by embroidering a design on sheer or semi-sheer fabrics.  However, designs need to be those that have been precisely digitized for lighter weight fabrics. Once again, consider categories labeled Heirloom or Bridal, but don’t just assume proper stitch density. Examine designs by magnifying them in an editing program or directly on the embroidery machine.

Compare the difference between these two designs noticing how much of the pink background is visible in each. If the full designs were compared, the denser embroidery has all elements very closely place – if not on top of each other – while the heirloom design shows more spacing between stitches as well as more openness between elements.  This is not to say that one design is digitized more correctly than the other, but it does point out that one design is more suitable for light-weight fabrics and will more closely imitate lace.

Design from Graceful Embroidery – “Graced in Petals Collection”

FSL (Free Standing Lace) designs indicate that the embroidery element can hold together in its intended shape without the support of a fabric foundation.

Design is a free download from Sulky Embroidery Club – #137

FSL designs are digitized with multiple layers of stitches interlocking with neighboring stitches, creating a strong unit.

While designs labeled FSL

Free download by: From The Needle of Anne

can be stitched directly on fabric, often delivering a completely different look,

do not attempt to stitch a lace-effect design without a fabric foundation because it cannot, and will not, hold itself together.

FSL can be used in traditional methods of insetting or top-stitching to fabric, or it can be appliqued, tacking in specific areas.

Many FSL elements look very elegant when incorporated into a wall hanging, as seen in this project from Sulky® Magical Thread Art & More Course.  Although the pear is free-standing, it was stitched over Mylar. This was one of my most favorite projects…ever!


Stabilizer plays an extremely important role when embroidering lace.  Since most lace effects are stitched on sheer fabrics, it would be best to have the wrong side looking as nice as the right side.  This means using the same thread in the bobbin and removing excess jump threads and stabilizer.

FSL designs also benefit from these same standards,



Stitched with Sulky 30 wt. Cotton Blendables®

but it also demand that the stabilizer be strong enough to withstand dense stitching directly on its surface!

Sulky Fabri-Solvy™ Stabilizer provides the highest quality in meeting these requirements!  It is easily hooped and can be tugged “tight as a drum”. It can directly support heavy stitching

and yet, after excess stabilizer is cut away, the remaining is effortlessly rinsed away.

Many sheer fabrics are non-washable, so there goes the lace effect if stitching on one, right?  Hold on, not so fast! Sulky Soft ’n Sheer™ Stabilizer to the rescue!

Soft ‘n Sheer is another quality stabilizer from Sulky, which solves the problem of needing a durable foundation for embroidering, while remaining unnoticed in the background.

This sheer stabilizer is easy to cut-away from designs. Yet any stabilizer that might be left allows the fabric to drape and flow while being invisible! Soft ’n Sheer is indispensable when stitching a lace effect on non-washable fabrics!

Designs: Graceful Embroidery – “Graced in Petals”

Successfully Embroidering Lace Step-by-Step:

  1. Tightly secure Sulky Fabri-Solvy Stabilizer directly in hoop. Even though many design directions will state to use two layers of stabilizer, I only hoop one layer of Fabri-Solvy. To date, I have never had a problem. All samples shown were stitched with one layer.

Mastering Free-Standing Lace

If a fabric foundation is needed for a lace effect design, baste (fix) the fabric to the stabilizer using a sharp, small-gauge needle.

  1. Turn the speed of the embroidery machine down by at least half.
  2. Use the same thread color in the bobbin as threaded on top. Lace can be stitched in Sulky 40 wt. Rayon Thread, Cotton + Steel 50 wt. Cotton Thread by Sulky,  or Sulky 30 wt. Cotton Thread – using the same thread in the bobbin. Sulky PolyLite™ Thread also makes a great choice for bobbin thread matching colors.
  3. Use a sharp new needle of appropriate gauge (75/11 for fine threads 90/14 for heavier cotton thread).
  4. Trim excess stabilizer from around the design. Trim jump threads.
  5. Following Sulky Fabri-Solvy Stabilizer removal directions, rinse for several minutes in cool to tepid water. Thorough rinsing will remove all traces of stabilizer, leaving the lace soft and supple.  Some lace items may benefit from leaving a bit of stabilizer for shaping purposes, adding body to the lace.


Valentine’s Day DIY Inspiration

Valentine’s Day DIY Inspiration

With Valentine’s Day coming up we wanted to highlight our previous Valentine’s Day blog posts to give you some “lovely” inspiration.

Heart Mug Rug and Place Mats Tutorial

Fill your home with love! Create these adorable heart-shaped place mats and “mug rugs” for the perfect Valentine’s Day environment.

Valentine's Day DIY Inspiration

Machine Embroidery on Card Stock Tutorial

Create unique, personal cards that the recipient can cherish forever or even use as Valentine’s Day decor for years to come!

DIY Heart Pendant

Whether you want to show love to a friend, sibling, child, or make one for yourself, these little hand-stitched pendants are wonderful, quick and easy Valentine’s Day gifts!

Scrappy St. Valentine’s Day Cards

These cards are not only fun to make, but they utilize those old tiny scraps you have lying around! Learn how to transform your scraps into beautiful, hand-crafted cards that can be cherished forever.

Written by guest blogger Jen Frost of Faith and Fabric.

In-the-Hoop Picture Frames – An Easier Way!

Give your photographs a home with these thoughtful, one-of-a-kind picture frames.

Written by guest blogger Patti Lee, Vice President, Consumer Relations, Sulky of America.

Valentine's Day Inspiration

Show us what Valentine’s Day gift ideas you come up with! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and use hashtag #SewBetterWithSulky for a chance to be featured on Sulky’s social media!

Autograph Your Quilt

Autograph Your Quilt

Eric Drexler, Master of Free-Motion

Did you know that today is National Handwriting Day?  I don’t know about y’all, but I am personally NOT a fan of my handwriting (yikes!).  But you know what, we should be proud of those messy, crooked letters! 🙂  On the blog today, we have Eric Drexler, Sulky Educator and Master of Free-Motion, talking about how he incorporates his own handwriting in his quilts! Here’s what he has to say…

The first time I even thought about “signing” my quilt was at one of my first guild lectures.  When the ultra-fun trunk show of beautiful Sulky® quilts, and some of my own, was over, one of the guild members approached me and asked, “Why don’t you sign your quilts?”  I had never thought about it before and had always used pre-printed labels on the back.  Since then I have always tried to slip my signature in there somewhere.

Most of the time it is visible, but if I can find a way to hide it in the quilt somewhere, it is way more fun.  I have added it to the stippling which is easy to do in bubble letters with my name.  I have also hidden it in some of the artwork on my Zentangle quilts.autograph your quiltAny way you do it is fine.  Be proud of the work of art you created and sign your work like the true artist that you are (You are to someone).  Quilts last a long time and are often passed from generation to generation.

Eric usually incorporates his signature in every quilt!

My all-time favorite way is to actually autograph on the quilt.  I described a method in my Fearless Free Motion online classes.

You can check out his Fearless Free Motion II Class here.

Here’s how…

Start by writing your name on a piece of paper as large as you would like it to be on the quilt.  You might have to do it a few times like I did because my (sloppy) check signature is not like my (legible) autograph.

Next, lay a piece of water-soluble, such as Sulky Solvy®, Super Solvy, Fabri-Solvy, or Sticky Fabri-Solvy, over the autograph and trace it with either a water-soluble Fade-away, or FriXion™ pen.

If you are using Sticky Fabri-Solvy, simply cut it out, peel off the release sheet, and stick it where you want it.  Of course, if you are using Sticky Fabri-Solvy you already know that you can just scan your autograph into your printer then print directly onto the 8 ½” X 11” pre-cut piece.  Be frugal and make sure to write or print it in the corner so you still have plenty of space to play with later.  For all the other Solvy Stabilizers, turn them over and lightly spray Sulky KK 2000 (a non-flammable temporary spray adhesive) on the wrong side, then flip and apply.

Now you have a perfectly placed autograph without having to write directly on the quilt with the possibility of making a mistake.

Set your machine for straight stitch, feed dogs down, and free motion foot on.  It is important to tie off at the beginning and end to avoid losing stitches.  Trace the lines with the machine, making sure to pay attention to stitches per inch.  This can also be done with zig-zag, but usually has to be larger writing to allow for the needle swing.

There you have it!  I hope this helps.  I hope to cover monogramming in the next installment of Fearless Free Motion video, so be on the look-out!

Live long and be Hippie


MJ Kinman’s Diamond Quilts

MJ Kinman’s Diamond Quilts

When people ask me what I do, I like to tell them I make the biggest diamonds in the world. But instead of working with the hardest substances on earth, I work with the softest… cloth.”
– MJ Kinman

We are honored to have MJ Kinman as our newest Sulky Featured Artist.  If you haven’t gotten a chance to see her amazing work, you must check out her website!  Her beautiful gem-inspired quilts are intricate and unique in every way!  Her passion for quilting shows throughout every single piece she creates.  Because she uses Sulky products, you may even see one of her quilts in the Sulky booth at one of the quilt shows! 😉

MJ Kinman's Diamond Quilts

Titled: “I’d Rather Have Roses On My Table Than Diamonds On My Neck”

We got a chance to ask her a few questions, such as, what inspires her, where she’s from, how she go started, and more!

Where were you born?

I was born in Hastings, an amazing town in the middle of the Nebraska cornfields. If you take a map of the contiguous United States and fold it into equal quarters, Hastings is a straight shot north about 60 miles of those fold lines. It truly is the heartland.

How did you grow up (i.e. in a city, on a farm, raised by wolves)?

My family lived in town. Hastings was the perfect size for kids back then – small enough so that you could get just about anywhere on your bike if you really wanted to and big enough so that there was plenty to explore. My favorite places were the Hastings Public Library and the House of Yesterday, our local museum.

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist/designer? 

I knew I loved color and creating things as a little girl. I kept a running list of all the color combinations I loved, but could never decide on my favorite. One day it might be the green of the trees against the blue sky. Another day it was the bright pink of my fuzzy slippers on the dark black bathroom rug. But the one that still makes me crazy to this day is the sight of a storm coming across a sunlit wheat field in July. I’ll stop the darn car any day to watch that.

As much as I loved color and making things, I never thought it would be a career for me. I had a terrible time in college figuring out what I wanted to do. I ended up becoming a social worker for the first part of my career and then jumped into corporate America as a project manager. All the while, though, I was quilting.

“Copper Queen” Series: “Bourbon Diamonds”

How did you get started in the Sewing/Textile Industry?

While I’m just now joining the industry, I’ve been sewing since I was 8. A group of us formed a 4-H club as 5th graders and I kept up with that until I was in junior high. I entered sewing projects and did cooking demonstrations at the county and state fairs.

I learned to quilt in 1987. I moved into my first apartment and wanted to hang a quilt on one of the walls to brighten up the place. My mom and I asked one of her friends to teach us how to quilt, so in 1987 she and I spent every Wednesday evening at Gay’s house putting together our wall samplers. That was it. I was hooked.

Title: “Char #4” in progress. Series: “Bourbon Diamonds”

Title: “Char #4” in progress. Series: “Bourbon Diamonds”

Do you have any professional training or are you self-taught?

“Char #4” in progress. Series: “Bourbon Diamonds”

I haven’t had any professional training. I’m primarily self-taught and love taking classes with the experts and learning new techniques. That’s how I figured out how to create my diamond quilts. I have to admit that I’m NOT an expert sewist. By the time I first pick up the scissors or sit down at the machine on any given day, I’ll have already committed a dozen grievous sewing sins. I like to tell people who are interested in taking my classes that if they are looking to learn how to be an expert sewist, please, please, please do not take my classes! However, if they want to learn the techniques that I use to make my diamonds, I would love to share that with them. You know, one of my favorite things about teaching is that I learn so much from the participants. I definitely benefit, too.

What inspires you?

Oh my, lots of things. Clearly, diamonds and colored gemstones are my biggest source of inspiration now and have been for the past 20 years. The geometry of the facets and the flow of light and color across the face of beautiful gemstones captivate me. My recent work has taken a turn toward the abstract as I’ve discovered the stunning landscapes inside gemstones. These little compositions of line, shape, and color that you find deep in the facets has really caught my attention. I’m excited about sharing that personal discovery – and how to facilitate that with any image – with others.

“Lila” Series: “Angle of Repose”

But, truly, I’m inspired by others who are pursuing their passion. People who are moving in sync with their personal vision have an energy and honesty about them that inspires me. That’s why we’re here! I believe that every single one of us arrives on Earth with a mission and purpose. And when we aren’t pursuing our specific purpose, life can get very dark and “un-fun”. I’ve had to learn that the hard way.

I know Sewing and textile art isn’t your only hobby, what other things do you like to do to express yourself creatively?

Making my quilts is my primary creative focus right now and has been for the past 30 years. But there’s also a book of historical fiction – a mystery – bouncing around my brain. The idea arrived a few years ago. So while I’m charting, piecing, and quilting my diamonds, I also like to listen to what I call my “research” on Audible – books about early religious groups and manuscripts, crazy stuff on quantum physics and astrophysics, and the history of lost and hidden art. I’m starting to write, but there’s a long way to go. We’ll see what comes of all of it.

“Communion” detail shot. Series: “Angle of Repose”

How do you come up with your designs and collections?

I’m inspired by images of gorgeous gems in books, magazines, and online. When I first started doing this work in the mid-1990’s, I was living in a log cabin in the woods of Kentucky. It was the early days of the Internet and we only had extremely slow dial-up. Trying to pull up an image on the PC was agonizing. Now, of course, it’s much easier. I also have a friend who is a gem dealer who has given me express permission to use any of her gemstones as inspiration.

My current series is called Bourbon Diamonds. It’s inspired by amber-colored gems and Kentucky’s amazing bourbon makers. I really enjoy the research for this series!

Titled: “Devil’s Due” Series: “Bourbon Diamonds”

“Kentucky Honey” Series: “Bourbon Diamonds”

What is your mission statement?

Love God, do good, have fun.

“Angel’s Share” Series: “Bourbon Diamonds”

What is your vision for the future?

Joy-filled work.

What’s your next big project?

It’s been a dream of mine since I started creating the diamond quilts to do a series inspired by the National Gem Collection, the gemstones at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. My friend the gem dealer put me in touch with a curator in their Mineral Department and I received the green light to move forward! As she mentioned, the National Gem Collection belongs to the people of the United States, and we can use them as inspiration for whatever we’d like to do. The caveat of course is that you can’t use their original images for your own use (which is true for any image, or course). So creating work inspired by the Hope Diamond, the Blue Heart Diamond, the Hooker Emerald, and other gems in the collection is what’s on deck for 2018.

MJ Kinman's Diamond Quilts

MJ’s work as been exhibited in galleries, museums, and national juried competitions.  Her gems were recently featured by the Women’s Jewelry Association at the 2017 Awards for Excellence Gala in New York City.  As well as being featured in national publications and local media, her work will be featured in a PBS series that is airing in 2018.

Want to see more? Check out her website and give her a follow on Facebook and Instagram!

Free Webinar! 30-minute Infinity Scarf

We are kicking off the new year with another FREE webinar: 30-minute Infinity Scarf – Made with Sulky Water-Soluble Stabilizer.  In just one hour, learn a fun, fast, and fabulous technique with “infinite” possibilities – that’s completely free!  Plus: You choose what live date works best for you – or watch it on demand!

Free Webinar: 30-minute Infinity Scarf

Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Time: 2:00 PM EST

Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Time: 7:00 PM EST


Ellen Osten, Sulky Director of Education
Patti Lee, Sulky VP of Consumer Relations

Do neither of those dates work for you?  No worries!  You can still sign up and watch at your own convenience – and don’t worry, it’s still free!

Free Webinar: 30-minute Infinity Scarf

  • How to make a one-of-a-kind infinity scarf on your sewing machine in less than an hour using Sulky Water Soluble Stabilizers
  • How to choose the right yarns and threads that work well together
  • Other ways to use these techniques to create beautiful things!

  • Downloadable step-by-step instructions for the scarf
  • Each step has pictures (For all of us visual learners)!
  • PLUS: A bonus discount for our upcoming Sulky Sensational Scarves – Certified Teacher Continuing Education Online Course
  • PLUS: A bonus Free Project for another scarf
  • Great trunk show from our upcoming Sulky Sensational Scarves Online Course
  • A chance to win the Sulky Sensational Scarves Online Course (a $199 value!)
  • If you watch on one of our LIVE dates, you’ll receive an exclusive web-special offer!

We hope you will join us!  Remember, if you can’t make our live dates, you can still sign up to watch at your convenience, plus learn all the great techniques, receive the downloadable instructions, and more!


Fill in the Blanks – Oh, the Possibilities!

Fill in the Blanks

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

Need a last-minute gift for a birthday or holiday, but there is no time for shopping?  Not to mention that your mind just goes blank?  That may not be a bad idea after all!

There are many pre-made “clean slates” perfect for embellishing with machine embroidery.  T-shirts, sweatshirts, and linens all come to mind – and all are easily found in many local stores.


A plain white pillow case can easily be turned into a special holiday or wedding gift by releasing the hem,

embroidering a design, and re-stitching!

Design: #135 “Squiggle Flower #4” from Sulky Embroidery Club


A beautiful cashmere scarf would be well appreciated and, when monogrammed, becomes a lifetime treasure.

Original monogram design

Don’t limit garments to just t-shirts and sweatshirts – look at other items to add a fashion statement to.

Blouse design: Janes White Work from Graceful Embroidery; Sweatshirt: Eagle Head-Toile A8372 from Embroidery Library

Obviously, all pre-made items can be used as originally intended, but with a little creative thought, some items can be stitched together to quickly make larger gifts.


A handkerchief can be embroidered and simply be an even more lovely and special handkerchief…

Design: Janes White Work from Graceful Embroidery

Or, a larger handkerchief could serve as a nightstand topper.

Stitching two or more together creates a table runner!

Design: “Pumpkin Scrolls” from Graceful Embroidery


Napkins also make great gifts as is…

but, they too, can be seamed together – or in this case, butted up against each other to create larger table linens.

Most machines offer a variety of joining stitches, a stitch that will “bite” into one side of a straight line and then jump over and “bite” into the other side.

Large tablecloths can even be made from joining linen napkins – and the best part is that it can be made by embroidering a square at a time!

Designs Janet Sansom’s Georgia Collection

Helpful Hints

Now that you can see the potential in using blanks, both as they are meant to be, and, possibly, expanding original intentions, let’s explore a few helpful hints to ensure successful embroidering!

Since pre-made items come in a variety of fabrics, materials, shapes and thicknesses, there is no “one size fits all” advice.  However, it is safe to say that almost all pre-made items cannot, or should not, be secured directly in an embroidery hoop.  It might be due to its material – like this straw place mat.

Or due to its size or thickness, such as a pot holder.

Sulky to the rescue!

Fortunately, Sulky® has many choices in stabilizers to solve any dilemma that might occur during the hooping process.

There are two types of “sticky” stabilizers, which allow pre-made items to be secure in a hoop by firmly pressing it directly on to the hooped stabilizer:


Sticky+™ is an easy-to-tear stabilizer, perfect behind larger designs and especially appliques.

It holds the pre-made item in place, yet easily peels away from the stitched area.  It is the first choice for most commercial embroiderers.

Sticky Fabri-Solvy™

Sticky Fabri-Solvy – a water soluble stabilizer that is perfect for projects where the back should look as nice as the right side of the project. Once again, the item is securely held for stitching, but after the excess stabilizer is gently pulled up from the fabric and cut-away, any remaining stabilizer disappears after rinsing.

On projects such as the potholder, matching bobbin (Sulky PolyLite™) and top (Sulky 40 wt. Rayon) thread color was used.  Compare the two potholder photos.  Hard to tell front from back, right? Hint: check out the hanging loop.  (TIP:  If you are giving a potholder that is going to be used and not just a decorative item, be sure to use only Sulky Cotton Threads for embroidery.  Cotton has a higher melting point than either rayon or polyester.)

Needle selection is dependent upon the material being embroidered, however, Topstitch needles are perfect for machine embroidering, especially since they can be found in larger gauges which are helpful of pre-made quilted items.

Heavy, thick items, such as the pot holder, was stitched with a 100/16 needle, while the bib was stitched with a 90/14 one.  For knits, use a Ballpoint embroidery needle in proper gauge for fabric weight.  (And a real plus for some of us – they’re easier to thread!)

Design positioning is also important on pre-made items.  Take the time to mark center design position on the item and then line up machine needle position to it.

Even though the sticky surface of the stabilizer will secure the item for stitching, if your machine offers the function of basting a box around the design, it is helpful to use it.  Not only will it secure a top stabilizer (Sulky Heat-Away Clear Film™ or Sulky Solvy™) if needed,

but a “fix box” also provides a visual of design placement prior to embroidering.  If your machine doesn’t have a fix feature, and you find you need more “sticky” to secure the “unhoopable” item, you can use Sulky KK 2000™ to add extra sticky to the stabilizer and/or the wrong side of the item.

Two suggestions that are universal when machine embroidering on pre-made items:

  1. Turn the speed of the embroidery machine down by at least half.
  2. Monitor the stitching process.  Many pre-made items, when hooped, present with a lot of extra fabric or parts, which could easily fall onto the stitching surface and get caught in the stitching process – possibly damaging the machine.

Build a stash of blanks by shopping sales to find quality “blank canvases” to keep on hand all year long!  I’m just saying…

“Blanks” may just become your new best friend!

Design: Sulky Embroidery Club’s 684 “Owl”

Featured designs are available on the following websites:

Show us how you #SewBetterWithSulky – follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and share your photos using hashtag #SewBetterWithSulky 🙂