embroidery in quilts

My early efforts in machine applique were
all satin stitch – maybe you remember?

Satin stitch is that really tight zigzag

And, although it does the job, it makes a
kind of bulky line of stitching around the
outside of your applique piece.

The other option – early in my quilting
days – was to hand applique the pieces.

And I did a lot of that.

But now most of the newer (and better)
sewing machines can do a blanket stitch –
which is a great way to applique pieces
onto a background.

The only thing you need to do is make sure
that you tuck under your seam allowance,
or iron on some interfacing onto the back
of your piece, so it doesn’t fray.

To learn more about this technique, visit:


In the early days of quilting, sometimes quilters combined their love of embroidery or cross stitch with their love of quilting using ‘Redwork.’

As the name implies, redwork designs are embroidered entirely in red floss. The mark of true redwork is the simplicity of the design.

For example, an apple embroidered in full glory might indeed be red, but it is not redwork.

Redwork is an outline. It looks like a design was traced in red – it is not filled in.

These were common, everyday projects – not just a project for a special event or holiday.

You’ll see one of my “someday” projects when you visit:


redwork squirrel in quilt block

Redwork Squirrel Quilt Block

If you are new to prairie points, they are the little triangular folds of fabric usually placed along the edges of a quilt as a decorative binding.

In today’s how-to-quilt.com’s article, we are discussing how to embellish those prairie points to “kick them up a notch.”

Two ways to change up your prairie points are to make them nestled and to embroider them.  Read more about prairie points at:


You have decided to put that embroidery machine to use and start embroidering your quilt signature. But where should you put the information and when?

The “when” part of the question is easily answered. Add the embroidery before the project is pin basted. You may put the signature anywhere, but the back is always a safe place because it will not distract from the design on front.  You can pin most of the quilt but leave the area in which you plan to embroider vacant. Hoop the fabric and stitch away!

If you want your quilt signature to more closely resemble a signature, select a font that is more script like. All embroidery machines that have fonts loaded into them have at least one type that is a script. For those with digitizing experience (and software) you can scan your very own signature and turn it into an embroidery file.  Without the software, you can still get the result by taking your signature to an embroidery store to have them develop the file for you.  Be sure to sign your name on a white piece of paper in black ink for best results. You can select your choice of thread for the stitching even though the name is written in black ink.

In addition to your signature, you will need to include the date and other relevant information in your embroidered autograph.  Even if you use a special font for your signature (or your actual signature converted for embroidery), you can get by with using a simple font for the extra information.

If adding the information by hand, transfer your signature to the back side of the quilt. If ironing on the transfer, be sure to start with the reversed image so it will be readable when transferred. You can transfer the date and other relevant info the same way if you would prefer, or simply freehand it. If the fabric you are embroidering on is light enough, you may be able to sign the quit using a water soluble pen or pencil, and then embroider over it. Hoop the area to be embroidered and use your hand embroidery skills to stitch over the transferred information.

Whether machine or hand embroidering your signature and related information, be sure to make your stitches tight. You don’t want the quilt to pucker, but you also don’t want the stitches to come out either. When embroidering by machine, this is easy to control because most times the machine will embroider in a thin satin stitch. Wide satin stitches have a tendency to snag on things and can break and unravel. With hand embroidery, you will have to be conscious of making secure stitches. If they pull out or ravel over time, or are too loose and get broken, your signature is gone.

While you are embroidering, you might choose to add a signature motif of some sort along with your name. Some quilters have fun doing this – adding a flower, a heart, a sun – just some simple design that they add to all their quilts. Don’t rely on the motif to be your signature, though. Over time, the story of your motif may be forgotten and no one will know who created it.

Adding your signature to your quilt with machine or hand embroidery is a creative way to sign your quilts if you have the machine or skills for it. Otherwise, adding the information with a label or signing with an acid free pen are both still good options. You may change your signature method with each quilt depending on the fabric color or type used, design, and personal preference.


It’s true that many teachers no longer use chalk boards. Technology has given way to PowerPoint presentations, overhead projectors and white boards. Still, there is something very traditional and school-like about a good, old-fashioned blackboard.

In that way, blackboards and quilts have a lot in common. We can just run out and buy a quilt when we needed it, but the traditional craft still holds interest. It gives us a chance to be creative, to customize what we get, and to have fun and relax while quilting.

It’s nearly the end of March already! School will be ending in a couple of months, so what could be more thoughtful than a small quilt for the teacher?

Today’s article gives suggestions about how to assemble a quilt using the children’s signatures and blocks designed by the children themselves. In addition, you might consider that at some schools they hold auctions where a larger quilt incorporating more classes can fetch hundreds of dollars that can be used to buy supplies and equipment for the school. What a wonderful gift to be able to donate something like that to your children’s school.

And what would be more appreciated by your children’s teacher than something made by the hand from the heart that includes something from each child?


frankly i could care less about worms.

spiders, on the other hand are pretty fun to watch, and occasionally i even bat my paw at one.

i’ve never eaten a spider, so i can’t say i would recommend them as a diet, but worms????

i couldn’t believe it when penny told me that worms made fabric.

well, there are a couple of steps in between – like the worms spin cocoons, people unwind the cocoons and then use the strands of silk to create beautiful fabric.

but when your brain is as large as mine, about all i can handle is – worms make fabric.

i guess it’s nice to be able to produce something that people can use to create beautiful quilts.

me – all i can do toward that effort is to be beautiful and give you inspiration and ideas for your quilts.

today, you’ll see a silk wall hanging penny made using silk ties as sashing and the border and hand embroidering little kitties in each block.

i wish i could say these kitties were pictures of me – – but they are white, not beautiful siamese brown like i am.

enjoy – maybe you can create a silk quilt using pictures of your kitty (or puppy, or worm!):


silk wall hanging

Silk Wall Hanging with Cats

In yesterday’s online newsletter, we talked about signing quilts and adding labels to your quilt.

In today’s article, let’s explore a little more about adding labels to your quilts.

How you apply a label to your quilt may well be determined by when you make the quilt.

Labels are so easy to add to your quilts these days.

You can order them custom made with your name and stitch them in place.

You can design and print them directly to fabric from an ink jet printer.

You can make them using machine or hand embroidery.

You can even use an acid free, permanent pen to write your information onto your quilt.

Label possibilities are endless!

For more ideas, visit:



Thanks to the hundreds who participated in Jackson’s Middle of the Night Survey!

We’ve gotten some great ideas for webinars this year – and, as Jackson said, eliminated some of the topics that you aren’t interested in.

The first Quilting webinar will be held on January 26, beginning at 5pm Pacific Time – seems that this year 5pm will work better than the 4pm start time folks wanted last year.

The topic will be Designing Quilts, and I will use a quilt block pattern or two from the 2008-2011 Newsletter and Quilt Block Pattern Collection shown below.

More information and registration information will be coming later this week.

Also great news for those who have a business – whether it is quilting or something else – I’ve lined up a webinar for late February with an expert on “Grassroots Marketing.”

He will have tons of great information about how to maximize your marketing time and money.

If you are interested in getting on the list for more information about that webinar and other business-related webinars, please fill in the form in this week’s newsletter.

This week’s newsletter articles are all about writing on quilts – signing them as a label and creating autograph or memory quilts.

As always, the free quilt block patterns are available for download.



quilt label

Quilt Label

jackson here, the official how-to-quilt.com siamese quilting kitty

yes, i know i’m more dignified than to call myself a “cat,” but every once in a while it’s fun to just get to the point.

and the point is that today is national bird day.

yesterday you learned about birds that aren’t birds at all – birds of paradise. they are plants.

today’s article is kind of a diversion as well.

because even though a bunch of people are celebrating national bird day – – i’m not.

it’s not that i dislike birds, mind you.

they are fun to chase – until they fly away.

they are nice to listen to – until i realize that i can’t get to them.

but, truly, my life revolves around me – jackson, the cat.

and so, i thought i’d celebrate national bird day by sharing a tiny bit of information with you about making a crazy-quilt kind of sashing in a wall hanging.

this isn’t just any wall hanging, it is an embroidered silk wall hanging – and the embroidery shows two beautiful siamese cats – just like me and m. mouse.

you’ll also find links to other articles about adding sashing to quilts or wall hangings:


wall hanging with silk embroidered cats

Silk Wall Hanging with Crazy-Quilt Sashing and Embroidered Cats

happy quilting!


the official http://www.how-to-quilt.com quilting kitty

I’ll readily admit that it wasn’t until last year that I even considered creating a crazy quilt.

I’m a traditional patchwork quilt kinda gal, and I just couldn’t imagine that it would be that much fun to cut random-shaped pieces of fabric and sew them onto a foundation.

Yet once I decided to take the plunge, I discovered that making one of these little quilts can be fun while still providing the satisfaction that I get from making a traditional quilt.

And, it takes less time!

The biggest time saver is that most of the work is done on the machine.

And once you piece the quilt, you simply add some embroidery stitching, and you’re almost finished.

No hours and hours quilting – either by hand or on your machine.

No working with a bulky quilt as you quilt it.

Just like quilt as you go projects, you typically finish one block at a time and then stitch them together – on the machine!

And today is the day for our One Time Only, Free Live Webinar about how to create crazy quilts.

It’s all about staying sane, after all, and having fun – because there are some tricks to creating these wonderful quilts.

The thing is that in the several references I used to plan and sew my quilt, I ran into several pitfalls – places where the “experts” “forgot” to include critical information in order to complete the quilt.

But not today.

You’ll get the detailed step-by-step, with all of the tips and techniques you’ll need to complete your crazy quilt project.

As always, this is a free live event, but you will need to register to get the login information and the link for the handout.

Whether you plan to attend or not, you’ll want to get a copy of this webinar replay.

Because I can’t do realtime video using this webinar service, I am including two videos showing how to finish the quilt as well as how to do some popular embroidery stitches.

This valuable information will save you hours of research and frustration.

The webinar begins at:


4pm Pacific Time

5pm Mountain Time

6pm Central Time

7pm Eastern Time


Visit the page to get all of the details of what will be covered as well as the link to register and reserve your copy of the video replay, full size handout and bonus videos:



Happy Quilting!


Penny Halgren

Master Quilter




P.S. you’ll get all of the information you need to create a beautiful crazy quilt:




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