2 Aha! Moments and 1 Stocking


Z stocking all2x


While working on this stocking or a friend, I had two AHA! moments.  Now that’s a good sewing day!

Many of you, I am sure, have long since experienced these aha moments.  But for some readers…




I was ticked pink to discover two new problem solutions.

My first problem was the design.  I love the Winter Pines alphabet which is currently being offered for free, one letter at a time every few  days, from Sonia Showalter Designs.  Every single design on her site is spectacular, with artistic flair and flawless stitching.  It is one of my favorite embroidery sites.

Winter Pines  seemed perfect for this bulky knit stocking.  But the alphabet was only up to the letter “O” when it was time to get started. I needed “Z” for Zahra.  No time to wait for the entire alphabet so…..

AHA #1.  I took one of the previously downloaded letters, deleted the letter itself and then inserted a similarly styled “Z” from my Brother PE-Design.  Because that program has so many fonts and allows unlimited sizes, I found the perfect “Z”  to fit the cuff.  A bit of adjustment was required to make certain the letter stitched first and to remove the heavy satin stitching under the pine designs.  But it worked.  I was so pleased to get just the design I wanted.

Now, can you see the sort of challenges this stocking presented with regard to hooping the cuff? Initially, only two options came to mind.

A. I could open a side seam to lay the cuff flat and stitch it to tearaway stabilizer.  But a whole new world of difficulties would arise by opening a satin lined, knit seam and then sewing it back together again. Uh, nix that option.

B. Sewing “in a cave,” as I did with this tote bag, was another option.


The bag is turned inside out and stitched with the head of the machine inside the bag. NO FUN!

The bag is turned inside out and stitched with the head of the machine inside the bag. NO FUN!


This tote bag, though, was wide enough for the head of the machine to be inserted into the bag.   The stocking cuff, however, is only 7″ wide and would certainly not fit around the head of any embroidery machine.

Manually holding the back of the cuff while embroidering seemed to be the only remaining option. This posed many possibilities for disaster.

Nonetheless, I tried.  The black basting stitches on this template show my effort at stabilization.


Zahra recol template 1CR

First template for initial effort. Failed attempt.


Even with my best efforts, the cuff could only stretch so far and ripped away from the stabilizer before basting was finished.

AHA! #2.  The design could be embroidered in two parts!

The design was redone so that it first basted in black around the Winter Pines and “Za.”   After scrolling through the color changes for that portion of the design, I inserted more basting threads, shown in blue around the remainder of the name.  Those letters, “hra” were assigned a different color, though ultimately the entire name was stitched in the same rusty red requested by Zahra.  Now the design was ready for the stocking cuff.


reworked design with two sets of basting threads

#2 template for the reworked design with two sets of basting threads. Success!


So I got started. The first half of the design was basted to the stabilizer and then embroidered.  After that was finished, the first inch of basting threads were snipped and the first half of the pines design and Z were freed up from the stabilizer. Enough stitches were left to hold the cuff securely to the stabilizer.

Then with that portion of the cuff free, there was more room to stitch.  The remainder of the design was easily embroidered.  Whew!


Z emb closex

Notice the detail in the Winter Pines design. It is so pretty!


That was a lot of fiddlling, but I realized that embroidered circular items like this can be done more easily than I thought.  Then again, I keep dreaming about Brother’s new Persona, a single needle free arm machine which would make hooping this cuff a piece of cake.  This and tote bags and onesies and tee shirts and jeans legs and pockets……Maybe I’ll write a letter to Santa.

Some days are more significant than others when it comes to learning, but my 2 aha’s! on one Christmas stocking were big scores for me.

ME learn something

Neither does sewing.

22 responses to “2 Aha! Moments and 1 Stocking

  1. Very good, especially the Aha #2! I’ll be making stockings shortly (just washed the fabric) but I can embroider the design on squares of fabric instead of on the stocking. You certainly know your software!

  2. Cynthia, I think you have the right idea. Starting from scratch and embroidering on fabric rather than on stockings is much less stressful than working with ready-made items. I hope you will post photos of your stockings when they are finished.

  3. Terry Jane Collins

    Janice, you are a genius! I’m laughing because I am also collecting Sonia Showalter’s Winter Pines and my first thought was, how did you get the Z? Your solution is brilliant.

    Santa didn’t bring it, but I did buy the Persona 100. So far, I have only admired it. Part of the “deal” was a free copy of PE Design Next that I am anxiously awaiting. It’s a rebate so I have to wait for it to come from Brother. I have Bernina software 1.0 (literally) and can’t do much with it, so I’m excited to try the Brother software. I wound up buying the Brother version of the machine so I could access the Disney designs on iBroidery and it was less costly than the BabyLock. Little Miss 2 1/2 loves her Minnie.

    P.S. You have reminded me that I gathered the fabrics to make Mary Engelbreit’s dress, “I have news for you”, for my 18″ Anne Estelle doll . I can’t remember if I ever made it! A mind is a terrible thing to lose!

  4. Oh, Terry, we do have so much in common. We’re both collecting Winter Pines, admiring the Persona 100, learning PE Design Next and loving a 2.5 yo granddaughter who love Minnie! I love Brother machines and the access to single designs through iBroidery. But now you have me thinking about the”I have news for you” dress and imagining Vivian Rose wearing such a sweet concoction. If you find the dress or fabrics, please share pictures. I think you “found” your mind!

  5. Terry Jane Collins

    Your items for sale in Smocking Destash could have come from my sewing room!

  6. We’ve both been around the smocking/heirloom block a few times. It seems that you and I have collected all the goodies, both old and new and have amazing stashes! Wish we could get together and trade.

  7. Congratulations on your success! The stocking turned out beautifully. I, too, love Sonia & her wonderful designs. I find it quite refreshing to know that you solved your problem with your own experience & determination. All to often, on FB embroidery groups, I read others wanting their problems solved for them. Those of us who have been embroidering since the the 90’s didn’t have anyone else to solve our problems. We had to depend on our manuals, software & tenacity! The first bit of advice I give to novices is to get the manual out & read it, along with practicing lots of different scenarios. Embroider on!

  8. Beckie, my first embroidery machine was a Pfaff 7570. It came with a manual and no instruction. I just had to figure it out, but I would have been happy for some help if it had been available. Too often, though, help is sought outside our head rather than inside. Solving these stocking problems was very satisfying and gave me a little more confidence that I can probably handle the next challenges.

  9. Shirley Boyken

    Pure GENIUS!!! That’s all I can say! I, too, love the designs that Sonia produces and like you, I’m also collecting the Winter Pines alphabet. Kudos to you for figuring out a method for a letter that has not been published yet! Wish we were closer so you could give me some lessons on that software. I have it but have not used it much awaiting the time to sit down and figure it all out. One of these days maybe I’ll be motivated to do just that! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  10. Thanks, Shirley. There was no genius involved in solving that problem. If necessity is the mother of invention, then desperate need is the push for a solution. I wish you lived closer so I could help you with software. I am no expert by a long shot, but I have learned to make it do what I want. Merry Christmas to you, too, Shirley.

  11. from Martha Pullen forum: Lovely!

  12. from Martha Pullen forum: A perfect result! Looks lovely…and thank you for your “tips”!

  13. from Martha Pullen forum: That’s an amazing job! I, too, have of necessity morphed parts of two letters together to create the necessary one on occasion. But having the courage to tackle that stocking–that leaves me totally speechless!

  14. from Martha Pullen forum: You did a great job! I agree about your courage in tackling that stocking. I’m way to wimpy to attempt that knit.
    Happy Sewing, Carol

  15. from Martha Pullen forum: That is beautiful and perfect for that stocking, good job! Thanks for sharing tips.

  16. from Martha Pullen forum: Count me among the cowards! You did a fantastic job!! Kuddos !!!

  17. from SewForum: I love the letters, beautiful!

  18. from SewForum: Really nice to see that font sewn out. You did a great job!

  19. from SewForum: beautiful work***

  20. from SewForum: Beautiful! I enjoyed reading about your aha moments.

  21. Great job on the stocking Janice, and using your software to make it work. I’m collecting Sonia’s winter pines also and they are so pretty. I made a set of stockings for my son and DIL but monogrammed them as flat fabric before I stitched them together. You always inspire me, thanks for sharing your ideas and projects.

  22. Thanks, Betty. I bet your stockings are spectacular. I’d love to see a picture.

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