Summer Reading and Monogramming

If you are like I am, some childhood summers were defined so much by the books I read. I was always bookish – Nancy Drew when I was younger and later James Fenimore Cooper and William Faulkner. I had wondered if, in this much more modern age, it would ever feel the same for my children. I assumed no and then, fabulously and unexpectedly it happened — my son fell in love with summer reading and I have J.K. Rowling and my son’s amazing language arts teacher to profusely thank.

With precious weeks of summer left, I think he may finish all 7 books. Reading them a bit older, he is getting all the quieter messages the books offer. In the opposite vein, my daughter who tries but can’t fully read the books yet, is playing imaginary games of quidditch and practicing spells. It is all incredibly wonderful.

Harry Potter 1
After reading the books, he and I have stayed up late and listened to them again on tape. And of course, since my sewing is always a mirror of our family, I thought it would be fun to embroider something to do with the Marauder’s Map – these napkins were just the thing.

I love the style of these designs but my caveat is that they were not well digitized and did not stich out nearly as well as I would like. Good enough for family dinner napkins but I would not recommend them for anything more polished. There are actually two napkins promising “I solemnly swear I am up to no good” because that design was in high demand.
Harry Potter 3

Harry Potter 2

I hope you enjoy your last days or weeks of summer. Thank you for stopping by.
– Joanne

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Color Crush: Brown and Blue Monograms

[/caption]Blue and Brown InteriorInspiration for monograms can come from so many places — recently I saw this post from Tina at The Enchanted Home featuring interiors with brown and blue accents and thought the combination was fantastic. 

Paired with crisp white, it is an unexpected combination in summer. It also made me think of crisp white hand-towels.

For my interpretation, I used my arrow monogram and made these hand-towels. They area a wedding gift for a couple where each person is keeping their own initials. Having a 4 letter monogram myself, I really like the way this design accommodates all 4 letters — something surprisingly difficult to make work with traditional fonts and layouts.

Brown and Blue Four Letter Monogram

Brown and Blue Four Letter Monogram

I am quite smitten with this subtle combination. There are so many ways to find great color combinations – I’d love to hear some of your favorite inspirations.

As always, thank you for stopping by,
– Joanne
JH JW Close Up

JH JW Arrows 2

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Summer Monograms

ice cream applique

I hope you all are having a happy summer. Ours is going fast fast fast. Too fast for me but I think my kids are having the kind of dreamy summer where time takes a back seat. I love that. I have been doing quite a bit of sewing but somehow I always seem to fall behind on my posting in the summer. Today, I wanted to share some pictures of some of the summer monograms I made this year.

This ice cream monogram is I think my favorite. I stitched it out on a really nice quality t-shirt dress and it has been perfect for cooler summer nights (or hot days when we are in the air-conditioning). Actually this dress was a hand-me-down with another monogram on the front. I removed the monogram but you could see some snags in the fabric so a large applique like this worked really well. If you are interested, you can find the design here.

I remember my mom sewing ribbon with my name on it on the inside of my coats and sweaters when I was little– these monograms are my versions of that for my daughter. Here are some cheerful summer monograms that are getting heavy use these days.

Sweet monogrammed jammies

Sweet monogrammed jammies

This is one of my favorite circle monograms, it is by Apex Embroidery and you can find it here.

Monogrammed bikini

Monogrammed bikini

I really like the calligraphy style font I used for this monogram, it is from Hang To Dry Applique and you can find it here.

Andy if you don’t have access to an embroidery machine, here is a link to some wonderful French styel brocade ribbon from Purl Soho – perfect for adding some monogram flair to all kinds of projects.

Monogrammed brocade ribbon

Monogrammed brocade ribbon

Thanks for stopping by. I have more posts ready to share so please stop by soon.
– Joanne
swimsuit mono close up

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Father’s Day Monograms – in your child’s handwriting

For Father’s Day this year, my husband is getting monogrammed handkerchiefs from the kids. Any handkerchief is lovely with a monogram but these I think are wonderful because the messages are in my childrens’ own handwriting and in their choice of colors.

To Dad 1

Just like I have a soft spot in my heart for any craft project that involves hand-prints, there is something really precious about children’s handwriting and especially the way little ones leave notes like this for parents. For the two handkerchiefs pictured above, I ordered a wonderful quality organic flannel handkerchief – you can find it here. The flannel was so fluffy, I actually used a topping when I stitched it out so the stitches would sit nicely on the fabric. My trusty Badgemaster was the stabilizer of choice here so the designs look neat on the back as well.

Here is a close-up of the same design on a simple white napkin.

To Dad 2

If you want to take this project in a different and more grown-up direction, my inspiration for this came from an absolutely lovely and hand embroidered handkerchief that I have pictured below from Julia B. I really like the perfect simplicity of the font. While these hand-made ones are expensive, it would take about 2 minutes on an embroidery machine to create something quite similar and still very wonderful.


Want to turn your child’s handwriting into a one-of-a-kind monogram? If you don’t do your own digitizing, then take a look for a digitizer online. You can simply send a .jpg image and they will digitize it from there. For something small like these monograms, the cost is minimal. There are a lot of digitizers out there but my favorite is Mid South Digitizing and you can find them here

I’d love to hear what projects you have planned for Father’s day. As always, thank you for stopping by!
– Joanne

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More Monograms for Boys

Monograms for boys are really a great sewing challenge. It is pretty easy to do monograms for girls – pretty thread colors, fabrics, a ton of complementary designs and ornaments. For boys, you have to be creative. Less is more and, especially when monogramming for teens or tweens, it is a trick to balance cool with classic. This latest one is a new favorite of mine – I love the crossed arrows for so many reasons: they are graphical and cool, they suggest my son’s interest in archery without being too cute and most of all, they are perfectly configured for a 4 letter monogram.

archery monogram

I purchased this navy t-shirt from Land’s End and liked the medium blue contrast stitching. To give the monogram more depth, I stitched the arrows in a pewter grey and then matched the medium-blue for the lettering (please ignore my wobbly stitching as I re-attached the pocket to the t-shirt!). I think I will be stitching out this monogram again soon.

I have to confess though that my idea wasn’t totally original; I am a devotee of vintage monograms of all kinds. The 1940s-1960s seemed like a golden age for hand sewn monograms like this crossed tennis racquet one donned by Carey Grant in “The Philadelphia Story” – completely fabulous, don’t you think? I may still copy this one more directly with tennis racquets, golf clubs or even shotguns for skeet and trap.

Carey Grant

The second monogram I wanted to share is more traditional except for the scale – which is large and bold. The bright blue against the cheerful yellow makes the shirt look almost grown-up –unless you see it at the end of the day when my son has invariably dripped chocolate milk down the front somewhere as if to remind me that he isn’t that grown up yet.


2015 05 03_4416


If you didn’t see my first post of boy monograms, you can see that here:

Thank you very much for stopping by.
– Joanne

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Monogram Play with Variegated Thread – Part 1

I love the idea of using variegated thread to create an added dimension to a monogram but sewing with this thread is a lot like closing your eyes and reaching into a grab-bag.  If you are like me, those pretty spools of multi-colored thread have caught your eye at the fabric store too.   I thought it would be fun experiment to stitch out the same monogram with different variegated threads to see what the effects were and I wanted to share that with you today.

the threads

I recently bought a stack of thick fluffy bar-wipes for our kitchen and thought they would provide a great blank canvas to test out these threads and, even if I didn’t care for the thread colors, I would still have a very cheerful bar cloth at the end of the day :)

For my test monograms, I chose a very simple two letter monogram (it is nice that my husband and I are both JR’s) so the thread will stand out.  A you can see from the photos below… to me there was one winner, one maybe, and two losers.

First I started with the most brightly colored spool and the purple variegated.

not the winners

Surprising isn’t it? The brightly colored one might work for a Mardi Gras themed monogram, but not much else.   The purple one perhaps might work if it wasn’t on a white background — maybe on a pewter linen napkin but then again I’m not really sure that purple stripe would be what I would choose for a stately pewter linen…   Perhaps I’ll use that spool again for a kids project for my daughter but I was surprisingly disappointed by both.

Next up was the pink/green/purple spool that was my favorite and the blue variegated that I thought a bit boring.  What do you think?

the winner

I was shocked.  The purple/pink/green had a much less room between the colors and it yielded a narrowly striped monogram that was ok but not special in the way I was looking for.  My surprise was that the spool I had maligned as ‘boring’ was really quite fun stitched out.   My son saw these and the blue monogram got a vote of “Cool!” right away so I kept my machine threaded and stitched out the shirt below– love this thread! You might see it again around 4th of July.

IR close up

My biggest take-away from this experiment is that less is definitely more when working with this thread for monograms.  I really like the multi-tone effect on a monogram but not so much the multi-colors (though they do look pretty on the spool).  I also like the relatively simple monogram font.  I labeled this post “Part 1″ because I have just ordered some hand-dyed cotton variegated thread from England that I am excited to try so stay tuned for more color experiments.

One other tip.   If you look at the monogram above you can see how bumpy the pique in the polo shirt is.  The bar-wipes also had terry in a raised stripe pattern.  To get the monograms to sit nicely on both of these fabrics I used scraps of BadgeMaster stabilizer as a topping.  I always save my scraps of Badgemaster for these kinds of projects.  The more I sew, the more I really appreciate the benefit of having a topping on top of almost all fabrics– without it even the relatively subtle texture of a pique can create a jagged edge effect on a long line of satin stitches.

As always, thank you very much for stopping by and reading my blog; I really appreciate it.

– Joanne

Ian shirt mono

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Designing Your Monogram – Creating Proof Sheets

Today I thought I’d share a little bit of my process when I design custom monograms.   A lot of times, customers have a pretty clear idea of what they want for their monograms and I develop one or two ideas but sometimes, I have the chance to develop a larger proof sheet like this one:

 FKP Proof Sheet copy2

It takes a bit of time to do this but what monogram aficionado doesn’t love to see their monogram in 8 different styles? I particularly like rending them all in a color theme and then adding two-color options.  The part of me that is a typography geek loves seeing the way the same letters render in different fonts– it really shows how a bespoke monogram can be so very different from a standard, commercially-rendered monogram.

JG Proof Sheet copy


While I am rhapsodizing about fonts– the ones shown here are some of my favorites.  Almost all are from Embroidery  I love the way their fonts are based on historical patterns and they are digitized so beautifully that I find they are my go-to designs.   There are a lot of fonts proliferating now for embroidery software –many are fun, whimsical designs that work well for children’s monograms but the ones I really love are these artistic, vintage-inspired ones.  Also if you are buying fonts online, I find that with many I need to add extra underlay stitches so they stitch out well — something to ask about before you purchase if you are not able to do this in your embroidery software.   These fonts are so well digitized and you can really see that difference when you go to sew them out.

If you are like me, looking at other beautiful monograms can be cheerfully distracting.  I will be adding more images soon to the monogram gallery here on my blog.  Also, if you haven’t already, take a look at my Pinterest boards.  In addition to my own projects, I have collected a large board of monogram designs and typography

Enjoy- and thank you for stopping by!

– Joanne


Shadur monograms


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A Modern Pinafore – (monogrammed, of course!)

“Pinafore” – doesn’t it sound so nostalgically vintage? In my book pinafores for little girls have the same timeless appeal as new crayons in boxes and footed pajamas on a the first cool Fall day.  But now it is Spring.  At last!  And Spring means pinafores– to be worn with shirts underneath for now and then eventually as a breezy summer top.

pinafore main

Really, if I was strictly pragmatic, I would focus only on monograming and leave the sewing to bloggers who are much more talented than I — but beautiful fabrics like these make it impossible to resist and this is one of my all-time favorite patterns.  It is called the “Criss-Cross Tunic” by Whimsy Couture and I have made, if not dozens, definitely many of these tops for my daughter in the last 6 years.   It is a super-easy pattern and I love the simple lines of this reversible top (you can find the pattern here:

This cute yellow popsicle fabric came from Jo-Ann’s last year and I chose a circle monogram in bright pink to hold contrast against the print of the fabric.   For the reverse is this pretty fabric from Aneela Hooey — “Playtime” from the “Hello Petal” collection – it is perfect for my girl who loves balloons and hopscotch.

pinafore reverse copy

Before I close, I want to say a particular thank you to my dear blog subscribers who have been patient with me while I have had a delay in posting these past few weeks.  Thank you for subscribing and for visiting my blog – I appreciate this virtual community so much.
Best wishes & thanks for stopping by,

– Joanne

pinafore 2 copy


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Soft-Spoken Baby Monograms

Baby monograms are some of the happiest projects to embroider.  I still remember how special it was to get a monogrammed gift when my son was born — seeing his name on a blanket was wonderful and new.   I monogram a lot of baby things, but blankets are really my favorite gift to make: for a period of time that never lasts long enough, blankets last as long as possible.

two blankets

I have two favorite baby blankets– one I purchase and one I make myself.  I will share the home-made one at a later post, but I want to share the purchased one today —- it is by luxury brand Peacock Alley.   There are so many fluffy, pretty and patterned baby blankets on the market.  However, this one is incredibly fluffy and soft and is made of real cotton – something that is surprisingly hard to find in the baby aisles these days.   I recently monogrammed two of these blankets for baby gifts.  The blue and the pink are both such perfectly soft colors and the blankets are bound with white trim.  I definitely could have done a bolder monogram but I just love the softness of the white monogram against the pale baby colors.

The first blanket I made for my niece’s little boy.  Little James lives in Manhattan so I wanted to use colors that were baby soft but also sophisticated.  I really like the light blue with the soft grey.  Again I like to keep my fonts very simple for baby items — here a sweet whale adds just a touch of preppy-ness.

James onesie


softspoken baby blankets

The close-up photos of the blankets really show the wonderfully fluffy nap of the fabric:

Lucy detail

Little Lucy lives here in Des Moines and I am crazy about how well this font worked for her name – this font has a great ‘L’.   I also embroidered a bunny blanket doll to go with her blanket – baby items really do get cuter every year, don’t they?

lucy rabbit

If you are interested in purchasing the baby blanket you can search online or find them directly through Peacock Alley here:

Thank you for stopping by!

– Joanne


Monograms with Ornaments


I wanted to share some sweet embellished monograms I have been stitching out lately.   I really like the idea of a monogram accented by a simple embroidery as a complement- it is a great way to incorporate more colors into a monogram and also create a very custom look with your monogram.

I think these flower pots are my favorite– doesn’t this monogram just say ‘Spring!’?

AER flower pots

This ice cream cone monogram is a cute way to add more detail to a simple monogrammed knit dress.

A ice cream

Finally, these cute wiener dogs with pink noses frame a pink A on a bright turquoise corduroy dress.

wierner dog border

These examples are all for kids, but ornaments can be chic grown up monograms also.  Just check out the grown-up wiener dog monogram and mod giraffe monograms (both from

imagesN9J2C5W8 imagesIOUZRWL0

Thank you for stopping by!

– Joanne

wiener dog dress


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