Tuesday 21 June 2016

Embroidery machines make great quilt labels!

Have you ever seen the back of Tula Pink’s quilts?  She sold some last year on her blog and showed the quilt labels she used to name and sign them.  One was an aerosol can with fancy writing on the label of the can, naming the quilt.  They were really amazing and I realised, how bad a job I do on my quilt labels.  From time to time, I just write on the back with a micro fine pen!  One quilt, I signed with quilt writing on the front, in each of the 4 corners.  It’s legible to me!  This weekend, getting the embroidery machine I was given at the Cork IPS (Irish Patchwork Society) meeting going, I thought I need to do a better job labeling my quilts. 

G is a computer engineer and a bit of a hoarder – as such it was no trouble to find an old laptop with Windows XP on it and I got the driver installed so the laptop could finally talk to the little Huskystar EM10.  Using some Gutermann rayon thread that I had on hand, I downloaded some patterns I had purchased on sale from Urban Threads and stitched them out.  This little machine is a doddle to use and the hoop firmly holds the stabiliser and fabric with no shifting.  No thread breakage at all and you can walk away and let it do its thing.  The only issue is, from time to time, a faulty sensor on the presser foot gives an error.  I cleaned the machine, oiled it and released the lever and it started up again!


I did get a stitch error on the snowflake when I ran out of bobbin thread and missed sending the machine back a few steps when it restarted – can you spot the error in the stitching?  Totally my fault!


Then I did got a bit ambitious and tried a really dense pattern – I think this is really meant to be a bigger pattern – it has over 20,000 stitches and in a 4” space, this means a lot of thread.  It didn’t really like this much and thread breakage ensued but it got there in the end.  I can see these as really cool as pockets on a t-shirt, used as an embellishment for a bag or covers of notebooks as well as labels!

Saturday morning was pretty much taken up by all of this and when G saw my progress he asked if using the little machine had taught me anything I could apply to my own H600e – aka she who must not be named.  (If I named her she would be Hideous Heidi the Husqvarna, temperment like a Viking warrior!)  So while in town with mum looking for wedding presents, I just happened to pop into Hickeys, a haberdashery shop in the city centre.


I thought I might buy some more Gutermann thread, as the morning’s session has left me with very little on the spool.  I was shocked to hear they don’t carry it anymore!  They do have lots of hand embroidery threads so that’s a good sign!  I like hand embroidery but if I tried that for quilt labels none would ever be finished!  I did leave with a new oil cloth for the kitchen table though!

Pondering machined embroidery labels for my quilts while mum was oohing over a beautiful white stand up mirror, I told her I’d be back in a sec and wandered up to Lena’s who sell sewing machines, do custom embroidery and are the only place in town I can get Debbie Bliss yarn.  There was queue.  I was a little bit more than a second but I did pick up some Royal Rayon thread in these gorgeous colours!  Not cheap at 4.95 a spool!


So new thread, new bobbin case and old machine I gave she who must not be named another go!  The hoop size is much bigger about 8” x 11”.  The software is different too and runs off my windows cheapo tablet from Walmart, another plus!  It was getting a bit crowded on the kitchen table at this stage!


The software with the H600e will resize, allow you to add lettering, combine motifs and delete elements but doesn’t mirror and and you can’t precisely position something in the hoop too easily.  The little EM10 will mirror and is easy to position but not too easy to customise a pattern.    The EM10 follows the pattern on the screen so you can see how much is left.  The H600e instead gives you the number of stitiches done and shows 1 layer at a time.  Why you pay a fortune for an embroidery machine and the software from the same company is so different is beyond me but these are considered bottom level entry machines so maybe the 2000-3000 Euro machines have something different?


This wolf from Urban Threads reminds me of Game of Thrones and epic episode this week with Jon Snow, so I tried it out in the blue threads I bought (original pattern uses grey & black!)


 It’s fun watching it stitch out, kind of like waiting for a polaroid photo to appear.  Each new colour of stitching really adds to the effect.  I like this guy so much I think I’m going to hang him on the wall for decoration!


I learned something new.  My machine loves this Royal thread!  Not one breakage – no beep beep beep except when bobbin is about to run out – wish all machines had that sensor!

I kept trying to make this machine free motion quilt and had some success with Aurifil, but could never really get past the tension issues without adjusting the bobbin and you are not meant to do that with this beastie.  It seems all her short life, she only ever wanted to be an embroidery machine and have Royal Rayon for dinner.


So the weekend kind of got away from me!  The baby quilt I could have been making, the quilts I should have been basting and the QAL catching up didn’t quite happen but I did get some labels made.


A generic pretty label and those suitable for my dog quilt, camera inspired quilt and christmas quilt I am planning in my head!  I’ve left room to add the quilt name and date when I get to that stage.  Now I just have to find a home for the little EM10.  It’s not thread fussy and doesn’t pull in the hoop and is really easy to use.  She has a name – I’m calling her Happy Henrietta!  Glad she got diverted my way on her way to the dump!

All in a weekend's work!


  1. I hadn't thought about using embroidery for a quilt label. That is a great idea. All of your images look great!

  2. Makes me want to use my Bernina as her other self again! She came with an embroidery attachment and I used to think watching her stitch out a design was as therapeutic as watching fish in a tank! Love that framed wolf!

  3. Very interesting Ruth! A great post.

  4. These are just great - I have never been interested in an embroidery machine ... until not. The wolf is awesome and the labels will be the snazziest quilt labels I have ever seen!

  5. What a fabulous idea for quilt labels! I now wish I had an embroidery machine, but may settle for one that beeps when my bobbin is about to run out! Totally agree with the hug a dog advice. Off to snuggle my charlie now :)

  6. Maybe my quilts wouldn't sit for months unlabelled if I had one of these. :)
    I think I would want to use the dog label for everything.

  7. These are fabulous! And how cool to have discovered your moody machine can do it after all.

  8. Your labels are amazing, and the wolf is really beautiful. It's good you took the time to get to terms with both machines, so next time you'll know what they want.

  9. What a fantastic use of your embroidery machine...I still don't label my quilts....I know terrible!


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