Beginning Embroidery Floss Tips

I’ve recently picked up my embroidery projects again and I’m loving the simplicity of stitching while I watch TV at the end of the day with my husband. I’ve got my big zenbroidery project that I’ve been playing with again which meant I needed to pick up a few new colors of floss to round out my collection that I’m using.

That got me to thinking about the way I’m organizing my stash. Originally I had my floss collection all wrapped around some plastic Darice bobbins and tucked away in a clear box that was falling apart and looking pretty shabby. I mean, to be honest, it was the same box I used as a teenager to make friendship bracelets.

With my new floss in hand, I sat down to declutter and organized my collection. I’m a huge believer in using the plastic Darice floss bobbins* because I find that these are more sturdy than the cardboard ones.

I also don’t write my floss ID number on the bobbin. Instead, I cut the number off the floss and wind it with the thread.

It makes for simple identification of each color and also makes organizing super simple.

I added those hearts when I was younger and I’m thinking of sticking to it. It adds a little pizzaz to each bobbin.

I have an adopted set of floss from a friend and those are wrapped on cardboard bobbins and a pen and/or pencil was used to mark the colors. Those, I’m finding, are fading and can be hard to read. A good example of why I choose to mark and store my floss the way I do.

By some luck, my husband had some clear plastic cases in his new tool kit that he wasn’t going to use. They are meant for nails and screws. I took one look and realized they would be the perfect fit for my floss stash. And they are smaller so I can take them away with me and carry them in my purse rather than hauling along the big ol’ plastic cases.

Ah! There is something so satisfying when I see all those well wrapped and organized colors lined up. Very comforting.

Well, hobbyists, if you are a beginning embroiderer, these might be some worthy tips to consider. Now if you search on Pinterest, there are LOADS of other tips so use your fingers and do some Googling to find the methods that work best for you!

And if you want to see more on my reorganization of craft room and all my supplies, check out my Youtube video on my recent decluttering! Don’t forget to subscribe that you don’t miss any new videos!

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Frankie Baby!

To say that my husband is proud of his very first fully completed quilting project is an understatement!  From start to finish, he did everything…choosing the pattern, the fabrics, the hand embroidery, the appliqué process, the quilting, the binding and sewing on the buttons.  ALL OF IT!  And I’m sure you’ll agree it’s not only adorable but it’s also fabulously executed!

This is the pattern that Reg chose.  Isn’t that button pack cute!?


Using the light box he made for me, Reg traced all the appliqué shapes carefully on Wonder-Under, which I had on hand.  There were soooo many pieces lol!  Then he fused the pieces to well chosen fabrics that he felt Frank would be stylin’ in.


Choosing a light green fabric for Frank’s skin tone, was a no-brainer.  Reg insisted Frank’s pallor was important!


Here’s where Reg’s vision really came into play.  He wasn’t satisfied with the pattern’s suggestion for a background.  So, while on the So. Cal. Quilters Run, we kept a look out for some sort of Halloween fabric that would suffice.  We found a beautiful panel that made all the difference, and helped Frank to look like he was almost three dimensional.


Though Reg has needlepoint experience, he’d never done embroidery before.  He chose to do a simple backstitch with black embroidery thread.  He even learned how to bury threads between the layers!


Reg has always been a bit wary of my sewing machine.  But, determined to do this all on his own, he allowed me to teach him how to use a buttonhole stitch to anchor the raw edged appliqué pieces.  He first tweaked the stitch a bit to his liking, then setting the speed to low, patiently stitched every curve and difficult point.  Then he switched gears and quilted around the tree branches and the haunted house.


He’s definitely a “go big or go home” kinda guy.  When stitching the handle on Frank’s treat bag, he chose this bright silk ribbon.  Now…have you noticed something different about this and the last photo?  The fussy cut spider treat bag is different, yes?  Welllll….that’s because Reg wasn’t happy with the first go at Frank.  So he made a completely NEW one!  There were a couple of things that he did differently, but he’s much happier with how the second wallhanging came out.


Ta Da!  And here he is, all ready to go trick-or-treating!

That FACE!!!

The bag is perfect!

I’m not a natural teacher.  Trying to translate skills that I’ve practiced for more than forty-five years was daunting for me.  I take them for granted, and with Reg being a complete beginner, I needed to remember to include the absolute basics.  He patiently listened and learned quickly.  At times, he even questioned my methods! Being quite open minded and the type who thinks outside the box, he often implemented his own ideas on how he wanted to proceed.  Trust me, I had to let go of my pride and ego to allow him to experiment and do his own thing!

Are you gearing up for the Halloween season?  How so?  Do you create and add to your collection every year?

We’d love to hear!


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Hobbies Up To Here Episode #49

Hey hobbyists and crafters! It’s Katie and Dori with an other episode of Hobbies Up To Here!!


Today we delve into stitching! Stitching can encompass so many things from making clothing, hand sewing quilts, and darning socks. But we focus on counted cross stitch, embroidery, and even touch a little on thread punching.

Dori shared an original piece of her’s done years ago when they had Home EC classes. Oh how jealous I am! I wish we still had the choice to take sewing classes in school!

This fine fellow was once a pillow but has since started to fall apart and is now free of it’s original purpose and ready to be mended.

We both had a history with counted cross stitch. It takes us WAY back into the late 80’s and 90’s when the internet was new and Round Robins were in.

This tool, so lovingly known as the needle minder (or as I call it The HotDog) was lurking in my closet to be rediscovered by my mom for her stitching needs.


Lavender and Lace Angel of Light

My mom is still working on her Angel of Light, similar to the one pictured above. It’s gorgeous and intricate and even in its state of undone, it’s just stunning.

All of my cross stitching projects are in various states of unfinished (are we surprised?) and range from barely started to 90% done.

This one is so close and it’s calling me to whip out my needle and thread to get those last back stitches and details done!

Definitely check out our Facebook live video where we share a whole slew of new fun things for me to dip my needle into. Everything from iron on transfers and a gorgeous free form mandala!

Thread punching is new to both of us and this book was based along to us from my Nonnie. This is a WHOLE world of stitching I’ve never seen before but we’re both fascinated by it and may add it to our list of things to learn.

For more info check out this YouTube playlist of Punching Embroidery Designs. Finding current videos on this process is a little tough but it’s worth a look!

Dori was gifted with a pattern to make a little handy bag for all her on-the-go beauty items or crafting needs. She whipped it together in NO time and it’s just adorable!

Great finish!!!

And now time for a few shout out!
coffee chat

  • Dori has a HUGE thank you to all our readers and followers for the support offered and the kind words on her finished quilt. I’m telling ya, the pictures don’t do it justice!
  • Thank you Leah for letting us know how to properly pronounce your name!
  • Hello to the ladies who visited recently. You can find G and Sherri on Instagram and also thanks Michelle for the lovely visit with Dori. And a hardy howdy to Stephanie, too!
  • Alida from Tweety Loves Quilting left a wonderful comment on our last podcast comments. We really appreciate the time and effort you took to share your thought with us. Thank you!

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The Splendid Sampler: Block 11 Crocheted Thoughts 

It’s finally time to update everyone on another Splendid Sampler finish block.


Block 11 by Alyssa Thomas was a mix of piecing and embroidery. After my successful attempts at embroidery with block 4 and block 7, I was throughly excited to start this new  block!

So I jumped to it and get my block done. I was in the groove so I didn’t want to leave my house and sewing room to use my mom’s light table at her house.

Thank goodness for BIG west facing windows and warm, sunny California days! I was able to tape up and trace the embroidery pattern right onto my fabric without the need for a light table.

Before I began the actual stitching, I made a quick trip to Joann’s for some hoops and needles. The last blocks did I with old hoop or without one completely. And with the way this sampler was going, I figured there was more embroidery to come so it wouldn’t hurt to have some hoops to use. Good ones.

So I began. Using the same maroon floss and this time using a chain stitch, I made my way around the design and then…

I slowed to a stop. For some reason I couldn’t pull myself through. I’m not sure what it was, maybe just the need to quickly move onto the next block or the tedium of so much embroidery.

After a while, I finished the center design and decided it was good enough. I enjoyed learning a new stitch but I was ready to move on.

What did I learn from this block:

  • Using a hoop really does help. While I can embroider without one, the tension built with the hoop does made it easier.
  • I may want to purchase some stabilizer. I’ve yet to use it and I wonder if it will change the way I embroider.
  • DON’T LEAVE MY PROJECTS IN THE HOOP! As you can see, no matter how much I iron it, the impression from the hoop is still there.
  • Sometimes, less is more. Not doing the whole design for the embroidery turned out perfectly fine and looks good.

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Hobbies Up To Here Episode #40

Hey hobbyist and crafters! We’re back and ready to roll with episode 40!!


This week we share the people who made us do it!
They inspired, encouraged, and even taught us how to do the things we didn’t know we wanted to do. We each shared those who got us into a new hobby or enabled us in some way shape or form. Check out our lists below!


Photography inspiration: Greg Lucker
Personal inspiration: Me (Yay!) and Jennifer Kerr
Tatting inspiration: RustiKate
Knitting inspiration: Lucy Neatby and Vickie Howell
Quilting inspiration: Christa Watson, Leah Day, Angela Walters


Personal inspirations: my mom and dad (thanks for the crafty genes!)
Quilting inspiration: Jenny Doan (and mom’s too!)
Handcrafting inspiration: Honest Craft Roomies on instagram!
Embroidery inspiration: Alyssa Thomas (by way of the Splendid Sampler)


  • We’re looking forward to our So Cal Quilter’s Run!
  • Check out GoGoKim and The Sewing Loft for a fun Instagram hop for all those quilters staying home and missing out on Quilt Market!IMG_9709
  • If you are thinking about buying a Quilty Box subscription and you’d like to help support Hobbies Up To Here, feel free to click this link. We’d appreciate it! (Affiliate link)

What’s In Your Hands?

Have you ever been somewhere that required you to wait around for some time? Like the DMV or the airport? Maybe even closer to home like waiting to pick up your child from school or football practice. It’s in these times that I always find myself wishing I had something to do.

Yes, Words with Friends and Doodle God on my phone are entertaining but more often than not, I find myself bored with games and wishing for something to keep my hands busy that was also creative.

Enter hand crafts and projects on the go! I’ve recently learned of so many options for sewing or crafting while I’m out and about. Some of them have stuck while others I’ve learned to leave at home even though they appear portable. A few favorites have made their way in to my handbag anytime I leave and know I’ll be waiting for some time.

The first: hexies! Simple paper hexies used to paper piece fabric. I use premade templates and I use scraps from my stash to create hexies quickly and easily.


I currently use a basting stitch to create fabric hexies but many friends have shared that they use glue to hold down the folds. Making a good stash of hexies can keep you busy but also give you a good source of items to appliqué to a finished project.


Through the Splendid Sampler, I’ve learned to love my second favorite portable project: embroidery. With a hoop and some floss, I can create darling little pictures on my quilts to add a little something special.


After tracing a picture onto my fabric, I simply straight stitch the outlines onto the fabric I want to use for my finished product. Or, you can upgrade your skills and attempt some more intricate stitches to add depth. This is one of my favorites to take with me.

If you’d like to see some of these crafts and also what other crafters think are great on-the-go projects, then join us on Periscope at 6 pm PST/9 pm EST on May 12th for our weekly Periscope hop with the #honestcraftroomies. We’ll be sharing our favorite crafts to take with us when we must leave our sewing rooms!


The Splendid Sampler: Block 4 Happy Happy

After my success with my first time hand embroidering on my block 7 for the splendid sampler, I decided to go for it and work on block 4, Happy Happy.


When this block first came out, I wasn’t sure about the vase. It’s supposed to be a bit wonky but for me it wasn’t a cute wonky, just wonky. Between that element and that I hadn’t embroidered before, I had put this block aside for another time. Then it was time to take it on.

I played a little with the design and cut different sizes and shapes of flowers while altering the vase into a more hour glass figure. I guess being that I’m shaped this way it really called to me!

I used a little Elmer’s glue and heat to get my pieces to stick down. Not my favorite way to go about that but it was what I had on hand for the moment. I seriously need some fusible webbing of my own at home.

I broke out some mouline DMC thread to add some sparkle to my vase and I have to say, I disliked it very much. It was very difficult to use and maybe it’s not meant for this but in the end I like how it looks but I don’t like working with it.

All of my appliqué was done by hand. I’m still not turning the edges around but I’m loving the process of appliqué. It’s great to have a handy project I can do while I sit next to my husband at the end of the day.

Almost there! By this point all I needed was to embroider the leaves and stems. I loved the way the vase looked and the teeny tiny stitches on the flowers/circles really tied the whole thing together. (literally)

I thought I would add some small black stitches around the border on the vase and didn’t like the way it looked. To me it looked like tiny black ants were marching across my block so I ripped them out and left it alone.

And ta-da! My favorite block (so far). Now I couldn’t leave things are they were and had to continue stitching some words onto the vase. This block really makes me happy to see it. It’s beautiful and shows how far I’ve come.

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The Splendid Sampler: Block 7 Snug As a Bug

I tend to like to work in order. But for this sampler, I’ve decided not to force myself to work sequentially and instead work on blocks that call to me. Sometimes I skip a block because I’m not ready to take on the skill that’s being asked of me or a different block looks really cool and I can’t wait to jump in! So without further ado, here is my block 7.

You can check out my other blocks here.



Now I’ve never done any embroidery. So when block 7 came out, I was honestly not excited. My first thought, “I thought I was in a quilting sampler.” Away went this project into my binder and I moved on to other blocks.

Once I finished block 5, I started to look at block 7 again and realized it was either this block or block 4 which was a lot of little pieces and I wasn’t feeling like working with small bits.

So I traced the cute little picture onto the back of my fabric (yes, the back which made my whole thing harder and flipped but, oh well, it worked out) and collected a handful of floss from my old cross stitch kits. Yes, cross stitch.

Long long ago, in a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth…sorta… I cross stitched. I don’t know that I’ve ever finished a project but I knew how to read a pattern, pull the floss, start and stop, and I could also do a few fancy stitches.

Since that time in the ancient days, I’ve stopped cross stitching and forgotten all about my past hobby. Until now.

My history with counted cross stitch really came in handy for this block and I didn’t even realize that it would be so similar. And I laugh at myself because, yes, it’s pretty close to what I used to do. Using two strands of floss, I stitched a simple back stitch and followed my drawing.

Super cute! Now my eyes were not done very well. I had forgotten how to do a French knot. Even with step by step instructions I struggled to get them to stay knotted and to look even. I ended up ripping them out and starting over.

MUCH better!!! At the end of the post is the video that ended up clarifying for me how to make a French knot. I was holding the tension thread too high up and my knot was unraveling before it had a chance to wrap around.

While the pattern called for a bunny and a bear alongside the little boy, once I finished I instantly saw my son all of 5 years old again with his buddy, Georgie. So I personalized this for him with only the one buddy and his name along with the date. While this project will be mine, it’s something I’d like him to have someday. Something to pass on to him and to his children someday.


And I what find amazing is that something that wasn’t interesting to me at all has now become something I really enjoy! After this block was finished and came out so adorably, I jumped into block 4 and really enjoyed the whole process. Embroidery is quickly becoming a new and favorite hobby of mine!

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