Make it Personal! Machine Cross Stitch Journal Cover

Make it Personal

Machine Cross Stitch Journal Cover

Finished book size: 8-3/8” x 6-5/8”

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!

When my girls were little, I volunteered in their classrooms.  I remember an elementary school project, which I was so fortunate to participate in:  Helping young authors turn pages of their original stories into a book!

Together, we wrapped cardboard in gift wrap, folded the story pages in half, and hand-stitched down the center to bind these precious thoughts into history.  To this day, I have my daughter’s book and she is now 35 years old!

Preserving thoughts…documenting events…capturing expressions…are well appreciated by us in simply remembering special times.  However, it is invaluable for our future generations in understanding the lives of the loved ones who came before them.

Sulky’s new “Wordplay” designs unleash a flood of inspirations!  These whimsical word-play designs, created by Ursula Michael and digitized by Marcia Manning of Lickity Stitch, manage to capture the best expressions within each theme!  And there are usually a couple of designs to choose from within a theme.  Plus, the designs are applicable for a variety of projects besides the featured book!

Tote bags:

Throw pillows:

Or every design can stand on its own as a framed picture!

Even though I chose to do a “Christmas Book” – tis the season – many other designs offer unique book cover ideas to document a variety of notable occasions.

So let’s get started!

Gather Supplies:

17” x 13” piece of Osnaburg fabric – Osnaburg is a 100% cotton utility fabric resembling coarse linen, is a perfect canvas for cross-stitch.  Place the fabric on true grain by pulling threads, until one fiber travels the full length of the piece.  This establishes the “straight edge” to begin straight cutting.

8-1/4” x 13-1/4” of Christmas themed cotton fabric

90/14 Topstitch needle



#1348 Christmas Tree Word Play Word-Play Design 16.4 count – Available at

Cardstock folded in half like a folder for the cover, along with paper for inside pages.  Paper can be computer paper, specialty paper, card stock, or themed scrapbook paper.

Jute thread (optional)

How to make it happen:

Fold the piece of Osnaburg in half, and hand-baste along the fold, establishing the fabric center.  From the fabric center, hand-baste a vertical line 3-1/2” to the right.  From the bottom edge, hand baste a horizontal line 6” up.  The intersection of the two lines is center design placement.  (Shown above.)

Hoop a piece of Sulky Sticky+ Stabilizer, with the gridded release sheet side facing up, and still intact.

Lightly score the paper inside the hoop and remove it, exposing its sticky surface.

Smooth the fabric, right sides together, along the vertical center, matching the intersecting basted lines with center markings on the hoop. Helpful Hint:  If the hoop is squared on a quilter’s mat, the grid lines will be visible underneath the Sticky+, making it easy to keep the fabric straight in the hoop.

Firmly press the fabric into the stabilizer, keeping it taut and wrinkle free.

Secure the hoop on the embroidery machine, matching the center needle position to design center.

Remove the stitched basting lines.

Slow the machine down by half, and stitch a “fix box” (basting box) around the design.  Although this step is optional, a basting box serves as a second method for checking that the fabric is straight in the hoop, and that the design placement is acceptable. 

Once you’re satisfied, stitch the design.  Cut the jump threads after each color change, before proceeding to the next color.

When the embroidery is finished, remove the hoop from the machine.  While the fabric is still hooped, use a pin to score through the stabilizer outside the fix box and remove the piece from the hoop.

Using the fix box as a guide, fold the embroidered fabric in half, wrong sides together, 1/4” to the left of the fix box.  From the fold, measure 8-5/8” to the right, and straight cut. From the bottom of the fix box, measure down 1-1/4” and straight cut.  From the bottom cut edge, measure up 10-3/8” and straight cut.  Press under a 1” hem on all four sides.  Miter corners. 

Cut the cardstock 6-5/8” wide x 8-3/8” high and fold it down the center. Check that the fabric cover fits the cut cardstock.

Cut a piece of Steam-a-Seam2 Fusible Web the same size. Fold the fusible web in half, leaving the protective paper covering on one side and removing it from the other to expose one sticky side.  Tuck the cardstock folder inside.  Keeping the folder folded, first fuse one side and then turn it over and fuse the other side.  This permits the fusible enough “give”, allowing the book to close.

Remove the release sheet from the folder’s front cover section. Position the folder behind the wrong side of the embroidered tree using the creased hem lines as a guide, but don’t fuse yet.

Turn it over to confirm proper placement. Helpful Hint: If you’re not pleased, gently lift the fabric from the sticky surface and re-position it. Once satisfied, smooth the front in place, keeping it taut and wrinkle free. Iron it to fuse in place.

Turn the unit over and continue to cover the back.  Once again, keep folder folded.

Turn under a 1/2” hem on all four sides of the lining fabric, mitering corners.

Cut a piece of Steam-A-Seam2. Peel the paper away from the sticky side, and cover the back of the cardstock folder.  Helpful Hint:  Expose only half of the sheet, securing it before removing the other half.  Keep Osnaburg hems free.  Secure the Osnaburg hems to the stabilizer making sure that the iron only touches the 1” fabric hem allowance.  Center the lining inside the cover and fuse. 

Using Cotton+Steel Thread by Sulky, hand stitch the edges of the lining to the Osnaburg hem with a slip stitch.

Cut the inside paper to size.  Use as many sheets as desired.  On the fold, cut 6” x 7-3/8”.

Align the folded paper inside the folded cover.  Open the book, and machine stitch with Cotton+Steel Thread, using an elongated straight stitch (about 8 stitches per inch).


Wrap the bound edge with a piece of jute and tie into a bow.  Pages can be left blank for the receiver to fill in, titled to encourage thoughts; or, if talented with a computer (which I am not), pages can be first printed and then bound into a holiday Christmas book.

Machine Cross Stitch Journal Cover

Handmade Gift Ideas from “Trash to Couture”

Hi there, Laura here from Trash to Couture!
Need some inspiration and ideas for your handmade gifting this year?  No worries, Sulky and I have got you covered. Not only are handmade gifts a sentimental gesture, they’re also fun to create.  Below we have 4 DIY gift ideas you can make for just about everyone in your life.
Get the details below :

DIY Ornament:

  • Hoop using Sulky’s Fabri Solvy – I usually do 2 layers.
  • Use a free standing ornament design. I used a star from my Brother SE machine.
  • Use Sulky’s Metallic Thread and metallic needles.
  • Embroider away!
  • Place in water and let the magic happen as the stabilizer disappears.
  • Once it has dried, tie a string to hang.
DIY Free-standing Jewelry:

DIY Monogram Beanie:

We monogram just about anything in the South and it’s the perfect way to customize a gift like this essential winter beanie. 

Other ideas to try:

Monogrammed Camera Case

Handmade Gift Ideas From Trash to Couture

DIY Hoop Art:

I love embroidered hoop art, it’s such a fun and cute way to add some artwork to your walls.  It’s also easy to customize, which makes it a great gift idea – like this cactus design here. It’s perfect for hanging right above my sewing machine!
Check out this DIY Embroidered Wall Art for more.

Machine Embroidery Series – Velvet

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 Christmas represented by a fabric… would be a rich, elegant fabric, yet soft to the touch, bringing joy when caressed. Only velvet can fulfill all these wishes!

Originally made from silk, velvet is now manufactured from synthetic fibers bringing price points down without sacrificing the deep nap or the soft-flowing drape of the cloth.  Check “care instructions” found at the end of the bolt as most velvets do require dry cleaning.


Velvet should never be directly secured in the machine embroidery hoop. Stabilizers have never played a more important role in machine embroidery than right now. Sulky® provides several products which all work equally well.


Within the range of stabilizers, the common denominator is to always hoop the stabilizer as “tight as a drum” and then secure the velvet directly to the stabilizer in the appropriate manner. Because of the deep nap, Velvet will require the use of a top stabilizer to tamp down the thickness, and allow the embroidered stitches to sit “on top” rather than sinking into the richness of the fabric.


Sulky® offers two choices, one washes away, Solvy™, while the other is removed by the heat of the iron, Heat-Away Clear Film™. The bad news is that most velvet is not washable nor should it come in direct contact with a hot iron.  The good news is that both these stabilizers are easily torn from embroidered edges.


When applying the top stabilizer, either place pins close to the inside of the frame keeping them out of the path of the stitching; or machine baste or “fix” the fabric to the stabilizer – a feature found on many embroidery machines.  If basting, we recommend using a small gauge Microtex needle (70/10) and a fine thread (60 wt.).


This will require changing needles from the basting to the embroidery phase, but this extra step will eliminate any unnecessarily large holes from showing around the design. Sulky® Soft ’n Sheer™ is very light-weight; truly, as the name implies.


Yet it is very durable. If a bit of stabilizer is left behind, it will not affect the feel or drape of any fabric. After securing the stabilizer, lightly spray the wrong side of the velvet with Sulky KK 2000™ Temporary Spray Adhesive, pressing the fabric firmly in place to the hooped stabilizer, keeping it smooth and wrinkle free.


The velvet was topped with Solvy™ by the basting method in final preparation.


Design, 915 Scroll Three with Holly, available through the Sulky Embroidery Club, was chosen and stitched in Sulky® 40 wt. Rayon Thread. Once completed, the basting was released from the wrong side to avoid possibly nipping into the velvet nap; and then jump stitches were cut.


The top stabilizer is easily removed. You might think you should tear it “away” from the design since it is to be “removed”; however, lifting and tearing it into (towards) the embroidery produces cleaner edges.


When working with new materials, it is always good to do a “test stitching”.  Most of us do not want to spend the extra time or cost of materials to do so; but it often saves time and sometimes disappointment in the long run.  The entire design does not need to be stitched.  In an editing program, take a sample “cut” of the design, saving it under a new file name and preserving the original.  Don’t worry about tie offs or extra stitches, this is only a test.  (If you don’t have software, just stitch out part of the design for the test.)


Notice the size was greatly reduced as was the stitch count, yet all the elements are represented.  This is also a good method to verify that color selections work well together.  Tear-Easy™ was selected to test the stitching in Sulky Original Metallic Thread, color #7007 for the scroll. The stabilizer is hooped, scrap fabric sprayed; then secured and topped with Sulky Heat-Away Clear Film™, which is just a bit heavier than Solvy™.  After basting with the Microtex needle, an 80/12 Topstitch Needle was inserted and the machine was slowed down to just under half-speed.


Basting was released from the wrong side, and the topper removed by tearing it towards the stitches.  Success!  The holidays will sparkle!!


Tear-Easy™ lives up to its name, easily but gently tearing from outer edges.


Sulky® Sticky+ is also a valid choice. Hoop the stabilizer with the paper intact and facing up.  Gently score the paper around the inside of the frame and lift it up exposing the tacky surface.


Firmly press the wrong side of the velvet to the sticky surface keeping it smooth and wrinkle free. This test was to experiment stitching without a top stabilizer.


Sticky+ holds the fabric securely during the stitching process, yet the fabric is easily lifted from the surface when completed.


It, too, can be gently torn to remove from the embroidered edges.

Results:  The design shows fairly well, however, small flecks of the black nap peeked through the satin stitches even though it might be difficult to see in the bottom scroll. The comparison shows, that the top scroll,  stitched with the Solvy topper, presents cleaner, clearer edges – therefore,  it’s the better option for stabilizing.


Velvet is perfect for holiday garments especially when partnered with taffeta.  But don’t let your imagination stop there.


It also makes a wonderful Christmas stocking;  Go “crazy” and make a Christmas Stocking or gift tags from scraps of velvet.

stocking-2   gift-tag

Both items feature designs from “Velvet Stocking”, a collection by Graceful Embroidery

Think about using Sulky® Original Metallic Thread (green – #7018) , Holoshimmer™ (lavender – #6043) or Sliver™ Metallic Threads  to add a bit of sparkle to the holiday projects.  Use a 14/90 Topstitch Needle, and stitch a bit slower than you might normally do.  Layer a strip of Sulky® Soft ’n Sheer™, underneath the intended stitching area.


Contrasting fabric textures combine to make beautiful throw pillows, quilts and fashion accessories!


Not that velvet needs to be limited to the holidays, but it tends to be associated with colder weather and, therefore, festive activities.  My wish for you is to continue to have fun learning about and improving your sewing/embroidering skills as you enjoy a healthy, happy 2017!!

Machine Embroidery Series – Felted Wool or is it Wool Felt?

wool-feltpamela 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!


Felted Wool? or is it Wool Felt?

Often the two terms are used interchangeably, although that would be incorrect to do, since they are two different materials.  The common factor is that both fabrics are made from wool.  The difference comes in the way the wool is processed:

  • Wool felt is produced by applying moisture, heat and pressure directly to wool roving, compressing the roving into a solid compact fabric.
  • Felted wool is a woven fabric, washed in hot water and dried at high temperatures. Basically, the woven fibers shrink into each other.


Probably difficult to see in a photo, the red felted wool has a softer look and feel to it than the more solid yellow wool felt.  It is evident that cut edges will fray on felted wool, but not on wool felt.

Felt can be produced from synthetic materials (See the picture below. The light gray-left). Although once again, it is probably difficult to discern from a photo, wool felt (dark gray-right) is a heavier material with a rich napped surface.


Wool felt is best used for projects which are not exposed to “wear and tear”.  Some projects might include table runners, wall hangings or mats for candles or coffee mugs.  Its texture is a perfect match for “primitive” designs and stitches.

When I embroidered the design below on wool felt, Sulky® Tear-Easy™ Stabilizer was secured in a 200mm hoop.


Design #1156-Let It Snow available to Sulky Embroidery Club members (membership is free so you should join!)

An 11” square piece of wool felt was lightly sprayed with Sulky® KK 2000™ Temporary Spray Adhesive (which is an Eco-Friendly product), and firmly pressed on top of the stabilizer, matching the fabric and hoop centers.


To complement the primitive snowman, I used Sulky® 30 wt. Cotton thread to stitch the design.  This did require slowing the embroidery machine down to its slowest speed and using a 100/16 Topstitch Needle. All cotton thread produces lint caused by the friction of the needle penetrating the fabric, especially one with the texture of wool felt. Lint will collect on the presser foot and, because of static electricity, it will also occur on surrounding areas. If left unchecked, a small “wad” of lint could drop into the embroidery area and be stitched into the design, which is unbecoming.


It is necessary to clean the lint build-up from the machine’s bobbin casing after stitching a design embroidered with cotton thread.


Once the embroidery is completed, trim the jump-threads, keeping ending knots intact. Sulky® Tear-Easy™ stabilizer is easily torn away from the design.


This design can easily be turned into a wall hanging. Corner squares could feature a snowflake embroidery while the longer strips could support a family name, date or other welcoming thoughts.


Butted seams, accented with decorative stitches will also add interest to the primitive theme, and are very easy to do with the aid of Sulky Sticky+™, Soft ’n Sheer Extra™ or Totally Stable®.


Begin by cutting all joining sides straight.  Hold the butted strips in place, by either pressing them firmly to a piece of Sticky+ ….


or by fusing in position using either Soft ’n Sheer Extra (the “Extra” means it’s fusible) or Totally Stable.


Once stitching is completed, all stabilizers are easily removed.

remove-stickyremove-extraMake sure the chosen decorative stitch “bites” into the wool felt on both sides of the join.


It is always a good idea to test a few on a scrap piece of the felt to ensure the desired results.  And remember, too…the Sulky 30 wt. Cotton Thread is about 1/3 heavier than the 40 wt. thread that your built-in decorative stitches are digitized for.  So testing is important, and you may need to elongate certain stitches, and some may just be too dense.


Felted wool should not be directly secured in a hoop. Therefore, the hooping process for felted wool is not so different than wool felt.  All the above-mentioned stabilizers, Sulky Tear-Easy, Sticky+, Soft ’n Sheer Extra, Totally Stable as well as regular Soft ’n Sheer, all work equally well.


The main difference is that the felted wool was stitched with a smaller gauge needle – 90/14 Topstitch or Embroidery.  Even a smaller, 80/12, will work with a more delicate design. A piece of Soft ’n Sheer is secured in a 100mm square hoop.  The wrong side of the felted wool was sprayed with Sulky KK 2000 and pressed firmly in place.

Design #895-stocking , from the Sulky Embroidery Club, was stitched out in Sulky 40 wt. Rayon Thread. Once stitching is completed, trim the jump threads. The stabilizer does not necessarily need to be removed since the softness of Soft ’n Sheer will not compromise any of the felted wool qualities.


If desired, Soft ’n Sheer is easily trimmed around the design.


Depending on the final usage, seams may need to be finished to prevent fraying.


The stocking design is part of a cute series which include whimsical Christmas mice, perfect for a felted wool holiday throw pillow!!


Sew All Your Gifts In One Day – Part one!

It’s hard to believe it is already the first week of December! Are you ready for Christmas or do you still have gifts to make? If you do have gifts or want a few more Christmas-y things for your own home, the next few posts are for you! Here are a few quick things that make perfect gifts or decorations for your home and you can get these done in one day. I can’t think of a better way to spend a full day in early December than in my sewing studio, playing Christmas music and making things.


If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know I love coasters! They make a perfect gift and are fun and easy to make.


I made these last summer and gave them as a hostess gift.


Christmas Ornaments I made at the same time I made the coasters!

As an added bonus, I made these little Christmas ornaments at the same time. The tutorial for these guys is here.

coffee coasters all

These wonderful coffee themed coasters are in the Sulky Embroidery Club, but when I downloaded the project, I knew doing it the way the instructions said to do it would take too much time. Here are the shortcuts I took so I could get them done quickly.

coffee coaster layersI layered my fabric with one layer of Sulky Soft ‘n Sheer, a layer of batting and another layer of fabric with the right side down. I cut big enough pieces so that I could do all six coasters. Once the embroidery was done on the first one, I simply unhooped it, moved over and hooped again.

coaster supplies

I hooped all the layers together in the hoop. I used Sulky 40 wt. Rayon Lt. Brown #1170 in the bobbin and top thread. Although the design says to use several different thread colors, I stitched the entire thing, every color stop, in one color. I love the monochromatic look that it has!

coffee coaster in hoop 2

I finished these two different ways: Traditional binding and cutting with Pinking Sheers.

coffee coasters 1

If you choose to bind them, I suggest cutting the binding strip on a 60° bias. This will give you plenty of stretch to go around the curve.

ditch foot

In order to save a little time, I used my Ditch Quilting Foot to finish off the binding so I could sew it all on by machine.

ditch foot in action

Although I don’t mind how it turned out with the binding, I decided I liked them just as well cutting them with Pinking Sheers so I did the rest of the coasters that coasters 1

This saved a lot of time too so I could move on to my next set of coasters!

santa coasters all

I adore these Santa Coasters! This is also a design in the Sulky Embroidery Club.

santa supplies

I did the same layering like I did with the Coffee Coasters above but this time I used Sulky 40 Wt. Rayon Lipstick #561 in the top and bobbin thread.

santa 2

I cut all four out using a wavy blade rotary cutter.

santa w wavy blade 1

Since these are square and I wanted to be sure my line was straight, I used my acrylic ruler as a guide when I was cutting. I also turned my cutting mat over. I know the mats are supposed to be self-healing, but with a wavy blade I felt better doing it on a surface that it wouldn’t matter if it didn’t self-heal properly.

cutting out santa coasters


In no time at all, you can have several gifts made just by making these great coasters! Watch out tomorrow for more quick gift ideas.

Happy Sewing!

Christmas in July Series – The Speedy Spiral Christmas Tree Skirt


I know Christmas is 6 months away, but if you are like me, the closer it gets to the end of the year holidays, the more frantic I am. Between my kids going back to school, fall, Halloween, football season, Thanksgiving and then Christmas, I am lucky to get all my costumes and gifts made. I don’t usually have time to make any new Christmas decorations for myself. Every year, I say I am going to make new decorations and every year I get too busy.

So this year I am doing them now! In July! It’s 6 months until Christmas so there is no pressure to put this aside and make anything else. For the entire month of July, I will be doing tutorials and ideas for Christmas items you can make. It will be a fun month.

I am starting with this awesome Christmas Tree Skirt (designed by Cheryl Phillips from her book “Quilt Without Corners©”).

If you have been a Sulky fan for a while, you may remember this Speedy Spiral Christmas Tree Skirt pattern from our old website.


We decided it was time for an update! I love the bright colors and as you know, I love using Sulky Metallic Threads.

skirt thread close up

This tree skirt was much easier than I expected it to be. The instructions are easy to follow and it really did go together quickly. You can go here to download the full instructions, but I wanted to give you some additional tips from the pattern.

In the pattern I listed out the fabrics I used, but if you can’t find those fabrics, here are some great alternatives. For fabric A, Here is Michael Miller’s Painter’s Canvas in a slightly different blue called Whirlpool: for Fabric B, this green is a nice alternative. For Fabric C, here is the Kaffe Fassett Aboriginal Red Dot that I used, and for Fabric D, this is a good choice. For the Ruffle, I love this, Tiny Guitar Picks by Michael Miller that I used and I am so glad you can get it too!


I also love the Cotton + Steel Christmas line, Tinsel (I actually bought the whole line and you will be seeing some cool projects made with these great fabrics later in the month)

I have talked a lot on the blog about sewing with Sulky Metallic Threads and you can see my list of hints here. This project is a perfect example of how metallic threads can change a project from good to awesome! Just look how great these threads look on this project!

skirt threads

When using metallic thread, it is important to use a 14/90 metallic or topstitch needle. I prefer a topstitch needle. I also sometimes use a thread lubricant called Sewer’s Aid that just helps the thread to flow smoothly through the eye of the needle. Lastly, put your thread on the vertical spool pin so the thread doesn’t twist.  (Or whatever position works on your machine so that the thread comes off flat without twisting.)

skirt threads 2

skirt close

The other hint I want to give you is to be sure you iron the seams the direction they say to in the pattern download. It will definitely make sewing this together much easier because it will create “nesting” seams.

nesting seams

I hope you enjoy making this skirt! If you do make it, send me pictures! If I get enough pics, I will do a virtual-show-and-tell at the end of the month.

BONUS: My next post will be a few cool projects that you can make with the scraps that you have left over from making the Speedy Spiral Christmas Tree Skirt. Stay tuned, you will be singing Christmas Carols by the end of the month.

Happy Sewing!