Attention all machine embroiderers and friends of embroiderers. In this episode, the creative force behind the free Sew Powerful embroidery designs, Peggy Creighton, walks us through her process, explains ITH, and hints at what will be available in the months ahead. Peggy explains how to use her designs on your embroidery machine. Then she encourages all purse makers to engage with a friend who has an embroidery machine as a way to introduce them to Sew Powerful in a partnership of friendship and creativity.
Make it In The Hoop with Peggy Creighton
IN THIS EPISODE
Sew Powerful, Purse flap, machine embroidery, free embroidery designs, digitizing, embroidery machine, hoop sizes, how to applique, Hatch digitizing software, embroidery thread
First Friday Free Flap of the Month, https://www.sewpowerful.org/collections/free-embroidery-design-files
Hatch by Wilcom, https://hatchembroidery.com/
Floriani thread, https://rnk-floriani.com/products/Floriani-Thread/
ABOUT THE SEW POWERFUL PODCAST
The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.
Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Peggy Creighton
Jan Cancila, Host 00:04
Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So let's get started.
Hello podcast listeners. Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Peggy Creighton. And we are going to talk about the special offering that that we're able to enjoy once a month because of the artistry of Peggy Creighton. And we're specifically talking about the embroidered flaps, the special designs that Peggy has developed, that you can add to your purse. But if you don't embroider, don't hang up (or whatever the appropriate term might be) because we want to talk to you about how you can be involved in this as well. So let's let's talk to Peggy and let's find all about this. Hi, Peggy. How are you?
Peggy Creighton, Guest 01:04
Hi Jan. I'm good. How are you?
Fine. Oh, I'm I'm so fine. So every month on the first Friday of the month on our website, on the SewPowerful.org website, there's a new embroidery design to put on your flap for the beginner pattern, right?
Yeah. And so how long has this been going on? And what are the plans?
Well, we have plans to offer a new flap each month for 12 months, for a full year. We started in May, with the In The Hoop purse, which came with a flap of its own. And then we offer the First Friday Flap, June, and July. And we now have August coming out and we'll continue through next May, for a total of 12 flaps.
Wow. That's that's amazing. And I understand that there's more than one size that you offer, depending on the hoops that you have available on your embroidery machine that you have. What what are the sizes?
So I didn't want anyone to be left out. And we have from a 4x4 hoop, which is just simply the design that's centered on the flap, up to an 8x12 hoop which includes the entire flap with a quilted background. And then an in-between size which is a 6x10 which is almost a complete flap as well, with the quilted background.
Okay, let's let's break these down. So, when you talk about In The Hoop flap or In The Hoop embroidery, let's just define that term in general, what is In The Hoop, and sometimes it's abbreviated as ITH.
Okay, what is ITH?
So, ITH stands for In The Hoop. And when you complete a design in the hoop, it's the whole design. For example, a lot of people enjoy making the little In The Hoop purses of one sort or another because you can completely stitch the zipper and the front and the back and so on, have a little purse, all done In The Hoop. Well, this is an In The Hoop flap that we're offering. So, what you're going to get with the 8x12 size is the complete flap: the front, the lining, the quilted background and the embroidery design. Now obviously with some of the smaller hoops, you can't complete an entire flap because the flap is larger than the hoop itself. But you can complete most of the flap, and with the 6x10 you can get the quilted background and the embroidery design. And then with the 4x4, you won't get the quilted background but you will get the embroidery design that that looks like the other two.
Well, so the steps that we follow when we do the In The Hoop part is, I hoop some stabilizer
and then I, then there's a stitch-out for the outline of the purse so I know where to lay my fabric.
You take us through the steps; you're better at this than I am.
Okay, so with the largest hoop size, the 8x12, you will have an outline of the flap itself to show you where to lay your fabric. You're going to put down a piece of quilt batting and then you'll lay your fabric on top of that; it's called floating. And so, you can use some spray adhesive if you, if you want to keep them together and lay that on top of your hooped embroidery stabilizer. And then you're going to stitch the quilted background. And then you're going to stitch the embroidery design that's centered on the flap. And then you're going to stitch the lining that goes on the back of the flap so that when you take it all out of the hoop, you just trim the seam allowance and turn it, and your flap is complete.
When we put the lining on, we're putting it right sides together, just like when you're sewing. And it's the same as the step that you would do on your sewing machine, but the embroidery machine stitches out the seam for the flap. And what I love about it is the precision of the stitching because sometimes mine get a little crooked or a little wonky, or the corners aren't really nicely rounded. But every single time when I use my embroidery machine, it's following the program and it always looks perfect. So, I love that.
I love that too. That's my favorite thing; saves me every time.
Yeah, me too. And and I, I made the In The Hoop version and then I used the 6x10, which doesn't do it. I had to take it to my sewing machine to apply the lining and when I turned it, it was a little wavy on the side. I had to retrieve my seam ripper and then redo that. But yeah, okay, well, that's great. And, you know, what I love about you offering all three of these designs is, even if I have the largest hoop, I could choose to do just the cute design, the 4x4, either on the front of the flap or on the back or on the pocket on the inside. Or honestly, not even on a purse, somewhere else. So, I mean, they're, they're just so darling. So, let's talk about the ones that you did. What was the first one that we did in May?
May was the In The Hoop purse.
And then June was an applique flower.
Right? And you know, what I loved about the stippling, which is the background design, is that it looks like a little set of leaves. And it was, it's so precious. And it it looks just like that on the 6x10 also. Okay, so then we go to the next month, which was June, which, how would you describe June?
I called it Daisies, but you can call it whatever you want. I I just like the flowers and the little bee and the kind of daisy quilted background.
Right, yeah. And so it has the petals for the daisies on there. And then of course, for the 4x4 or just, you know, to do it, just to do the daisies without the stippling is just so charming. Okay, now let's move to July. And what did we have for July?
So July, it's a dragonfly. And it has sort of an ethereal look, you know, because their wings are almost translucent. And so, the stitching was designed to have that almost translucent look. So, it's really pretty when you pick a dark fabric or a darker fabric so that the wings can show up there.
It has a nice stipple background.
Right and, and again, the 4x4 was was just so cute to do the dragonfly. So we are, this podcast will drop the day before your design will drop. But let's give a little hint about what they're going to be seeing in August, for the August First Friday Flap. What will they get?
So it's a pieced flap. And you're going to be quilting both parts of the pieced flap with two different quilting designs, just a crosshatch and then an elephant outline. And the elephant outline is behind the African continent. And there's a star where Zambia is, with a little pink heart (or whatever color you want it to be), a heart outline around it.
Well, this was a little bit more complex than the other ones because of the piecing. But again, if you were sewing it on your sewing machine, you would put right sides together and so what happens on this one is you get the crosshatch on the top half of your flap. Then you put right sides together with the bottom half and it stitches the two pieces together. Then you, then you open it up and flattened out so that you have your top piece and your bottom piece, and it does a top stitching horizontally right across there to secure it. And then it starts doing the stippling on the bottom half. And wow, was I surprised to see that it started stitching out the outline of elephants and I mean, Wow, that is just beautiful and amazing. And then I got to do an applique for the outline for the continent of Africa. So, I just thought that was such a beautiful, beautiful design. Now, for the month of September, can you give us a sneak peek about what you have in mind for September?
Um, yes, it's a Zambian girl with a fancy headdress. And so, you'll be stitching the different parts of the headdress to look like different fabrics, but it's actually stitching that takes on the appearance of different types of fabrics, several different stitches in the headdress. It's a lot of fun.
Wow, that one sounds beautiful. I can hardly wait to see that one. So, Peggy, what would you say to somebody who, who says, Well, this all sounds great, but I don't have an embroidery machine.
Well, not that many people have an embroidery machine. We're just encouraging everyone who sews, those who embroider and those who don't, to get involved. But suppose you don't have an embroidery machine but you have a friend who does, maybe the two of you could partner up and one could do the designs for the flaps and you could do the purse. The two of you could make a purse together. I actually made a purse that way with a friend of mine who has a great hoop bigger than mine, and she could do the whole hoop in her, she can do the whole flap in her hoop. And she did some of those for me, and and we made a purse together. So, it's a lot of fun. It'd be a great activity to do at your home, or maybe at your church or one of the chapter meetings could be something like that. It'd be a great thing to do.
Well, and you know, on Facebook, I belong to some embroidery groups, and they have 40, 50, 60,000 Facebook members. And I started looking at them thinking, well, they could be making purses, or if, even if they didn't want to make the whole purse, like you said, they could make the flap and then partner with somebody who would just take it from there, and even if they only do the small design, or even if they choose to do the entire flap in the hoop. What a great partnership and what a great way to get more people involved.
Absolutely. I mean, it would be a great thing to share and draw more people in. And for those of you who are going to be working some of the shows, the flaps that I've made and taken to the shows always go very quickly. There's another idea.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, so maybe if you don't embroider, or if you do and you've never tried this, what Peggy does is take a design, and she takes it from one format into embroidery format, which is called digitizing, and it is, believe me, it is not an easy process. Peggy, tell us a little bit about when you started digitizing, how you got involved. What made you want to digitize to start with?
My granddaughters. I have three granddaughters who all just love dolls. And the very first thing I did for them once they were born, I wanted to make a soft doll for my twins, twin granddaughters. And I started with that, and I wanted to digitize the face. And so, I like to draw. I'm not much of an artist, but I can sketch out a few things. And that was my first digitizing, was making faces for their little soft dolls. And I actually have a little company that I started years ago, Frog Pond Toys, and began with the little stuffed dolls and then other soft, soft toys and things to go along with them. All different kinds, mermaids, and I don't know, cowgirls and various space aliens, all kinds of things. It was fun. I've been doing it for, golly, I don't know, six, seven years, I think.
Wow. And what kind of software do you use? Because this is all done through software, right?
So what software do you use?
I use Hatch. It's a professional software by Wilcom, pretty well known in the industry. High learning curve. It's not too difficult to master if it's something you're interested in. But I do recommend that you have some drawing software as well. You need to make vector drawings that you can digitize. So, all of my drawing is done digital. I make vector drawings on my computer in my drawing software and then I use those drawings that I've made to digitize the stitches that I stitch out in each design.
I'm curious: do you use
Touchscreen, a pen.
A pen? Well, I mean, yeah. Do you use a pen? Or do you just do it with keystrokes? Or how do you, how do you draw these?
I have a touchscreen, I also have a touchpad. And I do have a pen. So, I use all three tools, depending on what I'm drawing, how detailed it is, how small or large it is, those sorts of things.
And then, like, if you're doing a face, you get one eye the way you like it, you can copy and paste the other one. Is that right?
Right. You can mirror it to the opposite side.
Mm hmm. Oh, that's cool. And how did you learn this? Were there classes or videos or you just powered through it? What what happened there?
I self taught. I learned to sew actually self-taught and embroider self-taught. And I just taught myself the software. I was highly motivated, with my granddaughters. So, I mostly just got on some different groups. But I, like I said I could already draw, and I'd been doing the digital drawing for some time, so just kind of transferred that skill then digitizing.
Okay. All right. Well, you know, I, I love to do embroidery and I've tried to digitize before, without without much success. And I had, I had a piece of software that would take a drawing and it would sort of auto-digitize it. But the results weren't very good at all. I mean, you know, it really, it really takes an eye and it really takes patience to be able to do this.
I pretty much don't use auto-digitizing for anything.
I draw everything from scratch. And I, you basically can put your drawing into your software, but then I completely draw over it with the stitches. Every single stitch is digitized.
And what are some of the different kind of stitches that you you put into a design? What are some of their names?
Well, you know, that's funny, because there really aren't that many different stitches, but it's how you use them
you know, to make the different effects. And, and you do have some things within your software that you can do with your stitches, but you just have a basic running stitch that you can use, you know, to outline a design. And then you'll have like a satin stitch that you can make a border around, like an applique or something like that. And most of the designs fit into different categories, like the dragonfly was a fill design. And even though it's sort of a see through, it's kind of a type of fill that you can make, can make it sort of loose and open and sort of see through. And then the applique, of course, is going to be an outline. And because you're going to stitch some fabric down, so you outline around that to stitch your fabric down. And then you're going to repeat that outline in a satin stitch to hold the fabric down in the applique. And then whatever, you know, little details you add to the applique are going to be done like in a running stitch or something like that, or a little design. Like on the Zambia outline, I had a star where Zambia is and it's just a fill stitch. And then I had a fancy stitch around it in a heart shape.
Well, I want to talk about applique for a moment. And I don't know if this is, has evolved, or maybe it was just the designs that I was buying originally. But it seems like in the olden days (five years ago) that when you were, that when you were doing an applique, they were encouraging you to cut out the exact design and lay it down. But I always had problems with that because if you didn't get it 100% exact, then you had frayed fabric or, you know, around your edge. So
what, how do you recommend that we do an applique design?
I prefer not to do that. Some people, some designs come that way, with the pre-cut. And those are really designed for someone who has a digital cutting machine, or maybe a Sizzix with a die cut, for example. And that way the cut is perfect. Then when you put that perfectly cut piece of fabric down to stitch it there are not going to be any little frayed edges or anything. But if you're going to trim it yourself, and this is part of the art of digitizing, you can determine within your design whether it's going to use a pre-cut or a trim-in-place. And I always select trim-in-place and that way you stitch down your fabric before you trim. But you do need to have some special scissors to trim very, very close, right on that stitching. So, you need to stitch down tightly and then trim right on it, no edge hanging over or anything like that. The little tweezers can help you pick off any loose threads and things before you do the satin stitch around it.
Yeah, I've always had much better luck with the trim-in-place. So, I, the embroidery machine stops, and I take the hoop out, and I take it over to my table very carefully not to apply any kind of different tension to the fabric because then it's not going to line up again. But then I have my curved scissors. And I carefully, carefully, carefully cut around the stitch line. And then I put it back. And then that's where the satin stitch from, finishes off the applique there.
And it, yeah, and it gives it a really pretty sheen and a really pretty finish.
Okay, so what would you say to somebody who's thinking about maybe getting into embroidery? Would our First Friday Flap designs be a good way to get started, if if you have an embroidery machine or thinking about getting one?
Well, there's a wide range of them. And I would start with one of the easier ones, maybe the applique flower before I tried anything else, or maybe one of the fill designs. But yeah, absolutely that, you know, it's always fun when you see something that you didn't think you could do and and then you're able to do it. So that's the joy of doing machine embroidery. I could never do that myself just freehand, free motion, on my machine, like some people can. But with my embroidery machine, I can make beautiful art, you know, more than I could ever imagine doing free motion on my machine.
And you know what I think is so interesting, you have your, the beautiful design that we have. But then just depending on the fabric that you pick for your purse, and the color combinations that you choose for your thread, two different people could have totally different-looking outcomes from the - and beautiful - but from the same starting point, right?
Absolutely. That's the beauty of it. And, you know, all different color schemes can can bring out different effects. I'm working on a bird design right now with two different fabrics. And they're both very different, but it's the same design.
Yeah, yeah. Well, and and, you know, I did the dragonfly, and I did it once on a very dark background and I did it once on a very light background. And when I did the lighter background, I needed to change the thread colors of the dragonfly because it wasn't showing up. And so, you know, there's there's some creativity in doing this with a pre-set design, where you, where you have to make all these choices and imagine how it's going to come out, so.
That's true. You have to have an eye for color and and tone and hue and all those things, you know, in picking out what thread you're going to use. And you can be very creative with all your color choices.
But you know, what I love about your design is that there's a PDF file that comes with it. And you have the the suggested colors that you used in your original design. So that's a good starting point, depending, and then you may have to adjust it depending on your fabric. And or, you know, not everybody has the, every color
that that you might have or, you know, and I have quite a few colors, but I don't have every color. So, I, you know, I'll look at the color chart and I'll say, Okay, what color is closest to this? And sometimes it doesn't make a great deal of difference. But you know, sometimes it does, and you pick colors for shading or to give it a depth perception that that the colors can really make a difference, right?
They really can. And you know one thing that is a problem, and it has been for me, the software that is with my machine, it changes designs. A lot of times it has to do with the memory that's within the machine itself. Sometimes it's the limitations of the software itself, but it'll change the colors that are in the original design. And if I just look at what my machine pulls up, I may be totally off, it may not create the beautiful design I was hoping for if I follow what's on that screen, you know, based on my software. So the color charts are really helpful to help me get back to what the original design looked like and was intended to look like and that sort of thing. So, I try to provide those every time so people can, you know, have a better idea of what they want to see at the end when they stitch it out.
And what color thread, what brand of thread do you normally have in your design as the color choices?
I use Floriani,
Oh, Floriani, okay.
Floriani thread, but the Floriani is a top-quality thread. I do use some other brands, but most of my digitizing, I specify the Floriani colors. And you can find conversion conversion charts that will show you what Sulky and, you know, other brands match up to those.
Right, right, right. Yes, and I use that a lot because my, when I got my embroidery machine, my provider recommended the brand that they carry their store, and their store is 2 miles from my house so I've stuck with that. And that's performed well on my machine. So I do have to use those conversion charts to find something and sometimes it'll do it automatically. And sometimes they'll just be big gaps and then I have to get out my little book with with all the threads in there and and try and make that conversion myself.
Yeah. Okay, so let's, let's sort of sum this up. So, if you embroider on the first Friday of every month through May of 2022, we have three free designs for you. And you can use them depending on your hoop size. And if you have the largest hoop size, you can use all three. And if you have the smaller, then then you'll have to choose the one that fits your hoop. And we're doing that through 20- through May of 2022, the first Friday of every month.
If you don't have an embroidery machine, I bet you have a friend who does. And we want you to reach out to that friend and talk to them about Sew Powerful and the free design that we offer. And you know, if you're not an embroiderer, to get these designs, I mean, you normally have to pay a pretty penny, especially for an In The Hoop design, and we are offering them for free. And Peggy's work is top notch and she has donated it to Sew Powerful and it's just such a huge blessing to us. And we want to bring more people to the Sew Powerful ministry and if you can help us by encouraging your embroidery friends to come over and take a look. And they will find the these embroidery designs under the Purse Pattern menu options. So, it's Purse Project, and then Purse Patterns is where these are found. And so they will be out there and there's a photo and instructions and a little write-up every month and just have fun with it. We'd love to see the photos of what you do.
And the beautiful flap samples that are there are all stitched by Jan.
I might edit that out. I do have to say it's been really fun working with Peggy on this project and, you know, we consult on on colors of fabrics and what's going to look good and I, you know, have to show her a photo and say, Did I, did I do this right? Does this represent your work? And what a blessing Peggy is to Sew Powerful. So, we're we're so glad that she's done this and again, it's just such a spectacular gift, free of charge, right there on our website and they'll be there for a long, long time and we, we'd just love to see what you're doing with it. So, thank you so much for your time today, Peggy. This has been great.
Thank you, Jan. Thanks for all you do.
Well, thank you. Well, you know, and I want to talk about one more thing here really quickly. Peggy does the inspirations for all of the note cards, and you can see her artistry in the note cards. And so, take one of those ideas and create a note card to put in the pocket of the purse you make using the embroidered flap.
You know you can stitch on cardstock and so you can stitch the dragonflies on cardstock if you want to.
So you could use your embroidery machine and you could do one of the designs. Oh, that would be fun to match up your note card with a design, and then add your text. Oh, what a great idea, Peggy. Thank you. Let's, let's see who does that first. Be sure and post that in the Sew Powerful Purse Project group on Facebook. That would be amazing so.
Or you can take the color chart and you can cut out the outline of Africa and use that as a pattern to put on a note card, too.
So many creative ways here. I think we could, we could go on. Do you have any more suggestions here before we wrap up?
Have fun that is the key, and and make those purses with love. The girls in Zambia are counting on us. All right. Thank you, Peggy. We'll talk to you soon.
Thank you, Jan. Bye bye.
All right, bye bye.
If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at www.SewPowerful.org. That's SEW POWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.
ABOUT THE HOST
Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Examiner.com. Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at email@example.com.