In the Hoop Embroidery – Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part series about In the Hoop Machine Embroidery and introduces Sisters In Stitches. Click HERE for Part 1: Reen Wilcoxson, Embroidery Garden Master.

Anne Van Dyken & Edna Strom Sisters In Stitches

Anne Van Dyken & Edna Strom
Sisters In Stitches

Sisters In Stitches is a business that actually originated with an original “In The Hoop” idea.

Sisters Edna and Anne grew up in Montana, in a family with 12 children. Making Barbie doll clothes was a big part of their childhood.

Fast forward . . . the sisters got married and raised their families six states apart. In 2003, Anne’s family was visiting Edna’s. Edna’s daughter asked if they could make her some Barbie doll clothes.

There was a moment when Anne was making Barbie clothes, and Edna was at the computer playing with the embroidery software. The light came on almost simultaneously! Could they digitize the doll pattern into the software and not have to use the paper pattern?

Anne tossed a Barbie shirt and capri pants that she had cut out. Edna scanned and decorated them with musical notes and stitched them out.

Eureka!! No more cutting out using those tiny paper pattern pieces! One HUGE fussy step eliminated.

In the Hoop Embroidery Sisters In Stitches

Sisters In Stitches

They started to experiment. What about jeans and all the detailed stitching? CHECK!! They looked great! Perfect topstitching every time — Thank you, embroidery machine. Two fussy steps eliminated.

But what about the tiny armholes and neck facings? ¼” Steam-a-seam to the rescue! Three fussy steps eliminated.

They shared their designs and construction techniques with a few friends. People loved it.

Edna says, “The easiest way to explain our process is to compare it to stamped fabric from years ago. It was stamped with Barbie clothes, stuffed animals, aprons, etc. You cut them out and sew them together and you were done. That’s what we are doing using the embroidery machine. But you get to pick the fabric, you pick the threads and watch it stitch. The embellishment is always where it’s supposed to be. When the machine is done, you cut it out and sew it together. By simply changing the fabric or the threads you can make the same outfit many times and they will all be different.”

They decided to create more designs and burn them to CDs. Sisters In Stitches was born. The business name has many meanings. They are sisters by blood and in heart, they sew a lot, and they laugh often (keeping each other in stitches, get it?).

Mastering Machine Embroidery In The Hoop is Easy . . . and Fun! Sisters In Stitches In the Hoop Embroidery

Mastering Machine Embroidery In The Hoop is Easy . . . and Fun!
Sisters In Stitches

In 2004, they went to a Machine Embroidery Enthusiasts Convention in Las Vegas. They had four CDs of Barbie clothes — Dresses, Tops, Pants and Vests. Their first In The Hoop designs were the HIT OF THE SHOW.

They built a basic website, and began to design other “In The Hoop” projects. Knowing the 18” doll was the new darling of little girls everywhere — they developed some patterns that would work for the American Girl.

Edna says, “Our best customers are a three-generation group. The granddaughter chooses the outfits she wants, her mom pays for them and grandma has the embroidery machine and the time to make them.

Our most successful events have been ‘Grandma and Me’ classes. Using their fabric of choice, adding some fun and glitzy threads, Grandma walks her granddaughter through the process of garment construction and there is pure joy on every face. It’s a fun class. Sewing machine stores use this class to ‘justify’ the purchase of an embroidery/sewing machine. Nothing gives a grandma ‘permission’ to buy the machine quicker than a grandchild looking up at her and saying ‘Please grandma, can we make more together?’”

Here’s the very best thing about having SEWING as a hobby. It’s never going to be just one thing. Maybe you love sewing simple ragged edge flannel blankets. Or you might be in the mood to learn how to digitize designs with your new embroidery software. Perhaps your granddaughter is excited about making doll clothes. Or this could be the day you finally piece together the quilt blocks from the Splendid Sampler™.

But no matter what you’re sewing — sooner or later — what you make becomes a gift you give to somebody you love.

And what hobby could be better than that?

In the hoop Machine Embroidery 18" Doll Celebration, #D016 Sisters In Stitches

18″ Doll Celebration, #D016
Sisters In Stitches

In the Hoop Machine Embroidery – Part 1

This is a two-part series about In the Hoop Machine Embroidery. Part 1 introduces Reen Wilcoxson, Embroidery Garden Master. Next week Part 2 will introduce Sisters in Stitches.

Embroidery “In The Hoop” in action with Embroidery Garden. In the Hoop Embroidery Reen Wilxcoxson

Embroidery “In The Hoop” in action with Embroidery Garden.

You might think “In The Hoop” is basketball slang . . . or a reference to Scarlett O’Hara’s undergarments. But, if you love machine embroidery — you know “In The Hoop” is a sewing revolution.

According to Eileen Roche, Editor of Designs in Machine Embroidery, “In The Hoop” (ITH) is basically a technique that allows you to construct AND embroider a project, using your embroidery machine and software.

Eileen has created many ITH projects, such as a camera case, clutch, cellphone wristlet, etc. that are featured in books she’s written. Designs in Machine Embroidery has developed a software program that turns almost any quilt block into an “in the hoop” block. They also have a special ITH Block of the Month program for their dealers.

Reen Wilcoxson Embroidery Garden Master  In the Hoop Embroidery Reen Wilxcoxson

Reen Wilcoxson
Embroidery Garden Master

One of the most popular ITH teachers in the country, Reen Wilcoxson, started her sewing business by selling at craft shows. Her love of technology and early embrace of the embroidery machine is the basis of her business, Embroidery Garden.

In 1997, Reen saw an embroidery machine for the first time — and knew she had to have one. She wanted to create her own designs and she dove into the software. Her oldest son was going to college for computer science, so he built a simple website. In 2001, Reen started selling her embroidery designs online. She also started to develop simple ITH designs for lollipop holders, gift tags, etc.

Needle Holder, an Embroidery Garden Design. In the Hoop Embroidery Reen Wilxcoxson

Needle Holder, an Embroidery Garden Design.

“‘In The Hoop’ is just like sewing, but you have the constraint of a hoop. There are some things you cannot do but there are workarounds. Early on, I figured out that . . .

  • The embroidery machine stops for a color change.
  • Placement lines and machine stops can be created so a zipper or fabric can be machine stitched in place.
  • Fabrics can be placed on the back side of the hoop.
  • When the project is done stitching and removed from the hoop, you trim, then turn the item to the right side through an opening that was created in the digitizing.”

She figured out how to create fully lined items like purses, wallets, etc. (with no exposed seams inside) completely in the hoop of an embroidery machine. These designs usually require two turns.

“The big advantage to ITH designs is that you produce a consistent product that turns out every time with perfect stitching and placement of your embellishment. Your embroidery machine does all the work for you.”

As her reputation grew, Reen was invited to teach ITH techniques at embroidery conferences and sewing events. Her classes quickly sold out, and she made sure every student completed their projects. She takes pride in the fact that she has the ability to handle any size group, and some of her 2016 classes have been close to150 students.

Embroidery Garden Designs, In the Hoop Machine Embroidery. In the Hoop Embroidery Reen Wilxcoxson

Next Week, Part 2: Sisters in Stitches