Applique Design Process

Here is a quick peek at how I make my applique designs. Each design takes about an hour and are 100% manually digitized. I use Wilcom Embroidery Studio to make them and then stitch them on my Brother PR-650.

How I Use Fast Frames

One of the first things I bought after getting the Brother PR-650 was a set of Fast Frames. I don’t like hooping, I never have. Honestly, I’ve just never been good at it and so I learned early on how to float blanks. I find it much easier to get it lined up straight when it’s not attached to the hoop and so the Fast Frames have been invaluable to me. But the Fast Frames are considerably different than the standard hoops and require a little bit of work up front so that the machine cooperates with them. So I wanted to share how I use my Fast Frames.

Make sure the frame isn’t upside down

The frame should slope down, not up. Otherwise, it will bounce around while stitching.


Put the stabilizer under the frame (not on top of it)

This is especially important when the embroidery design is close to the edges of the frame. If the stabilizer is underneath the frame, it will help guide the frame over the bobbin plate. Otherwise, the frame could bump up against it or get caught in it.


I use a cutaway stabilizer and (sewable) basting adhesive, but this will also work with poly mesh, tearaway and water soluble stabilizers. I cut the stabilizer about an inch bigger all around the frame.


I spray the sides with the basting adhesive and wrap the stabilizer to the front, then do the same for the bottom edge.


On the back, I add a bit of painter’s tape to keep the top of the stabilizer secured to the frame.


The shirt or fabric gets attached to the top of the frame with sticky spray and pins. If I need to float some tear away stabilizer, I use spray to hold it on the back.

Find the center of each frame

Each frame has a different center, but my machine does not know where that is. Because of the Fast Frame arm attachment, the machine thinks that it’s using the largest hoop (which is an 8×12 hoop in my case). So even if I’m using the 4×6 Fast Frame, my machine thinks that I’m using the 8×12 hoop. That’s why it’s important to measure the frames to find the center and the maximum embroidery field. I only had to do this once for each frame. I found the center and wrote down the coordinates and then when I use my frame, I set my machine to those coordinates.

To find the center of the frame, I attached some cutaway stabilizer using the method above (paper would work just fine also). I first measured my embroidery field to see exactly how much space there was. I pushed the ruler all the way up against the inside of the frame and it measured 7.25″ in each direction, so I know I can safely stitch a design that is 7″ wide and/or 7″ tall.


I measured each side and marked the middle with a pen.




Then I drew a cross of all four points and this marked the very center of my frame.


Then I put the frame on the machine and loaded a design (it doesn’t matter what design it is). I went past the edit screen (press Edit End) and on to the second screen. The edit screen allows you to move the design and the second screen moves the arms.

My machine doesn’t have the laser alignment tool (which would make this step much easier), so I just hit the trim button to drop the needle to see where it lands.




The needle needs to be moved slightly left and down. So I used the arrows to move the arms and I keep dropping the needle and keep adjusting until the it hits the center of the cross.




Once I have it in the center, I write down the coordinates. I prefer to keep my machine in inches rather than mm, but either one is fine. Just make sure to write this information down where it will be handy. {Negative number means left or down, positive number means right or up. In my case, I move my machine left 0.02″ and down 0.31″.}


Tell the machine where the center is

When I’m ready to embroider using my frames, first I get my design ready. If I’m doing a shirt, I rotate the design so it looks upside down on the screen. I put in all my colors and stops in the edit screen. On the next screen, I look at what the center coordinates should be for the frame and move my machine to those coordinates. Now my frame is centered in the machine. I should note, it doesn’t matter if the design is right side up, upside down or sideways when you do this because the machine rotates it in the very center of the design.

One more important step is to do a trace to make sure your needle won’t hit your frame when stitching out. You can either do the full trace, or go to each of the corners (which I prefer to do). With the stabilizer on bottom, you can get really close to the edge without the frame bumping the bobbin plate. I can usually see (or feel) the needle hole underneath the stabilizer to see where it lands, or sometimes I drop the needle to see how close it is.

That’s it!

The only other thing to worry about it getting the garment on the frame so it’s centered and straight. But I have a trick for that which I’ll share soon.

Merry Christmas

This year I got my act together and put names on our new stockings. I picked these up at Target and for the most part they weren’t too hard to embroider with my Fast Frames. The only thing is the fur is pretty long. I used two layers of a light weight water soluble stablizer on top (tearaway in the hoop) and still had to trim away a lot of the fur around the letters. I used Casual Font from GG Designs Embroidery. I increased the pull compensation to 1mm and also increased the density a bit to make it thicker. All in all I love how they turned out.

Since it’s almost the end of the year, I’ll also do my resolutions for 2015. I’m keeping it simple.

1. Create more.
2. Blog more.
3. Stop more.

I’m going to do my best to stop working when the kids are home. I don’t want to be working on projects while my husband takes the kids to the park anymore. Instead, I want to go with them.

I’ve had a hard time blogging because I could never figure out what I want this blog to be about. Should it be about projects that I’ve done? Helpful hints and tutorials for things I’ve figured out? Cooking? Other crafting? That indecisiveness has really held me back. So instead, I’m going to just write about whatever I want. It’ll mostly be embroidery and some digitizing probably. I just got a new cover stitch machine, so I’ll include that. And heck, I’m trying to cook more often and more healthy, so why not talk about that too. First up, though, is probably perler beads. I just had a cute 6 year old show me how awesome they are and now I’m hooked.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Fourth of July Outfits

Since I’ve stopped selling shirts in my store, I’ve had a lot more time lately to do fun projects and other things I’ve been putting off. I already had a bunch of dresses ready to go for Emerson and our trip to Boston this year was the perfect time to get them decorated. I used glitter sheets from Hobby Lobby on the anchor for this green dress. I don’t normally use these glitter sheets because they have a canvas backing and can be a pain to cut out, but I do love how it turned out. The anchor is from Munchkyms Designs.

Next I wanted to make something for the 4th of July and this is the first time I made matching outfits for the kids. Emerson will still wear anything I make her (especially if it’s a dress) and asks me for things all the time. But JP won’t wear my shirts to school anymore. He looks forward to wearing them on the weekend, but he doesn’t want the kids at school to see them because he doesn’t want them to call him cute. I love it. I was able to sneak this one in since we were with family on the 4th.

For JP’s shirt, I used CB Font from FunStitch for the USA part. It’s such a cute, thick applique font. The rest of the saying uses Marker Fine Point by Meringue Designs.

For Emerson’s dress, I used a bow ric rac flag from Happytown Applique. I wanted to add a bit more, so I decorated the bottom of the skirt with the hanging stars from Creative Appliques. I used the same design 4 times side by side to take up the front of the skirt.

I tried to find a cobalt blue fabric with stars on it, but had no luck so I used this light blue fabric that I already had. At first I was unsure about how it would look but now that they’re done I totally love it.

In The Hoop Masks

I had a bit of free time yesterday and so I made some masks for the kids. Emerson is always asking me if what I’m working on is for her, so it was nice to say yes for a change. She sat by me and watched the entire process and asked every 15 seconds if I was done yet. She’s a big helper.

For her princess mask, I used Embroitiques’ Princess Mask set. I hooped a fabric-like water soluble stabilizer, then used one layer of embroidery foam and one layer of glitter sheets (the kind with vinyl backing). This one had a satin stitch outline and so I had to increase the pull compensation in Sew What Pro by 5 so that it would cover the foam. There were still some pieces of foam sticking out (as you can see in the picture), so I just used a marker and colored them as best as I could. With the combination of the foam and the glitter sheets, this one turned out really sturdy.

JP asked for a Power Rangers mask and I found the perfect one at Gracefully Geeky. I didn’t have red felt on me but he said green was okay. For this one I hooped heavy tearaway stabilizer and then used one layer of embroidery foam with the felt on top. Right before the final outline stitches, I put a layer of felt on the back of the hoop. Thanks to the embroidery foam, this one is also pretty sturdy.

By the way, both of these designs came with little holes on the sides to attach the elastic to, but I didn’t care to take the time to carefully punch those out. So instead, I just used my hot glue gun to attach the elastic to the backside of the mask.

Hello Again

In one productive afternoon, I managed to completely erase my blog and destroy my online store. I thought I was being so clever by trying to find a new shopping cart program but I didn’t like it, so I deleted it. Then I tried installing another one, but I didn’t like it either. So I deleted it, but this time I also accidentally deleted my blog and a lot of important data for my shop. After a couple frustrating hours, I decided to wipe everything clean and start over.

Hi. My name is Rebekah and sometimes I bite off more than I can chew.

When I’m not destroying years of data, I like to make pretty things with my embroidery machine.

This is my embroidery machine.

And her little sister.

On this blog, I’ll write about things I’m working on and things that interest me. A little Photoshop, a little photography and a lot of embroidery.