How to Travel with a Embroidery Stitching Project in 4 Steps

By Emily Hammer
on July 15, 2019

How to Travel with a Embroidery Stitching Project in 4 Steps



Hand-sewing is relaxing and an easy way to unplug. I feel the most substantial benefit is that it allows your brain to claim down and loosen the body because you're only focusing on doing one thing, which is the stitch you've chosen to do. Also, it's something tangible that can be gifted or hung on the wall or turned into a pillow, or more.

I am known to keep an embroidery project in my handbag with everything needed to sew on the whim. My bag usually contains a Norton House Quilting cloth bag, but when going to the beach, I will place everything required into a huge zipper-plastic bag to keep it safe.

Before I start any stitching project, this is what I do:


1) Choose the pattern that inspires you. Inspiration comes in many forms. I typically choose based on the conclusion meaning, will it be a store sample, will I gift it to someone in mind, or am working on mastering a technique. I find that if I don't know my "why" then the project might not get done.

Before the boys and I went to Old Orchard Beach for a holiday, I picked out this embroidery pattern from Kathy Scimuble.

From Kathy Schmitz Studio, by Kathy Schmitz. 
(About the pattern, This little wall decor is a great way to greet the spooky goblins that visit every Halloween. Hand embroidery and piecing pattern. Included with the pattern is printed banner fabric! Simply apply your own fusible web, cut out, iron on! 14in x 18in)

I'll be using the pattern as an example of how I start and finish a stitching project.


2) Gather what you need for the project. I always make sure I have backups of the items that I could lose, such as needles. I strongly feel it's one of the worst feelings to sit down ready to sew but, yet you're missing something.


For the example project, it doesn't come with fabric, so I choose to use an unbleached 100% cotton muslin fabric. I then grabbed a FriXion ball pen, and it just so happen to be in the color of pink.

Then choose what color DMC floss or pearl cotton color or colors you wish to use. I always read what the pattern suggests, but sometimes, I feel wild and select colors that I want to use.

In the example case, I went with grey pearl cotton from DMC.

BUT before I could start stitching, I first had to transfer the pattern onto the fabric by using a light-box. I usually use a window with the sun shining through, but I found a light-box in my Grandma's sewing room. Going forward I'll use the light-box, I'm hooked of the ease and constant brightness.


My little people wanted to transfer the pattern onto fabric and they did a wonderful job! 



3) Gather your tools.

You'll want handy:

  • Embroidery needles (I have a minimum of 3 ready to go on the cloth at all times)
  • Snippet scissors (little embroidery scissors that are small but yet mighty at the same time)
  • Needle threader just in case my eyes fail me
  • Thread with a bit of extra. It's beyond annoying to run out of floss.

4) What to place the project within. I'm very mindful about how I take care of projects. There are so much love and care that goes into the art piece that I want to make sure it stays safe. I don't wish to stains or rips to happen. So to ensure it remains secure I place everything needed above into a Norton House Quilting cloth bag, or I put it into a sizeable zip-plastic baggie.

When I fly to Houston, TX, for Quilt Market, I place everything I need into an oversize zip-lock baggie, which also includes the hoop. I will even cut ALL the DMC floss into the correct size I want so I don't need to worry, nor bring snippet scissors.

When the boys and I were on the beach, I still had everything I needed in a plastic zipper bag but didn't cut my thread in advance.

When you plan and feel inspired, you'll be ready to work on any project. I love going to the beach with the boys and watching them boogie board and dig in the sand, but I too need something to do. I've never been able to sit still and lay on the beach or lay by the pool. I need to keep my hands move and head, thinking, and dreaming.


I hope I've inspired you to bring a hand-stitching project with you the next time you travel or when you sit outside in the evenings.

I'm happy to help if you have questions! I LOVE talking stitching and sewing.

Happy Stitching,


Norton House Quilting

30 West Main Street

Wilmington, VT 05363


How to Start a Sashiko Project

By Emily Hammer
on June 30, 2019

How to Start a Sashiko Project

What to expect in this article:

  • What tools you need
  • How to prepare the project
  • What stitch to use and how to do it
  • Why it's essential for mental health

Before I start a Sashiko project, I have the following ready to go:

  • Sashiko thread
  • Sashiko needles
  • Sashiko pattern printed onto fabric with water-soluble markings

Why am I mentioning Sashiko Japan products only? First, Sashiko threads are wound together. They're not straight threads placed together like DMC floss. The DMC floss has six strains that can be easily pulled apart, which is the opposite of Sashiko thread.

I strongly recommend the Olympus Sashiko thread because it's a heavy cotton thread, designed for Sashiko purpose, and I've been delighted with the result. Sashiko requires your time and effort, and I want you to have an excellent effect.

Second, the Sashiko needle has a large eye to fit the thread through, and it's super sharp and long enough to collect thread for the running stitch.

And you'll also want to have handy:
* Super Snips scissors
* Perhaps a needle threader

To date, the only patterns I've used are the Sashiko projects that are printed onto the fabric. I have yet to go rogue and create a design. If you don't want to use a pattern and stitch onto the fabric, then the only thing you need to keep in mind is that your stitch length and between the stitches should be the size of a grain of rice.

Now that you have what you need ready to start, it's time to prepare your Sashiko thread.

Assuming you've taken my suggestion with purchasing Olympus Sashiko thread. The Olympus thread is joined together in a circle.

The easiest way to avoid entangled thread is slowly taking the thread out of the plastic package, take off the paper, and then open the thread into the shape it wants to be, which is a circle.

Then look for the tiny piece of thread that is tied together around the large thread-ring and cut it next to the knotted piece. It doesn't matter which side of the knot you cut it on; you choose the left-side or the right-side.

The process takes only a moment, so I introduce this method in my workshops.

The cut thread is then to a length of about also has still a ga length, so I then leave the cut about 30"-36" inches off for my stitching. I use the same guideline as I do with DMC floss which holds the end of the thread close to my heart with my left hand and then pull the thread out with my right-hand and then pinches the result with my right hand and that's approximately 36" or so inches to use each time I go to start stitching.

After your thread has been cut, thread your needle, and then get your fabric pattern ready to begin stitching.

If you're having trouble threading your needle, use a needle threader.

You don't need a hoop.

It might surprise you not to need a hoop, but it's true.
Place the fabric project into your hands and look to a place where you would like to start. I would suggest beginning in the corner. Sometimes I'll to scrunch the fabric to get to the line of stitching I want to start on.

No knots.
When you're starting a project, you don't add a knot like you would with embroidery.

This is the backside of the Bears and Trees Sashiko project.

When first starting your project, you'll begin your running stitch three or four-stitching from where you would like to start stitching. If you're starting a new project, then I would look to the corner of the project but stick my needle either up or down four-stitch lengths because once you've gone forward four-stitches, you'll then turn around and go back over the stitches. You'll have buried your stitch and reinforced it by going back over it. Then keep going in the desired direction after you've back-stitched. You will do this every time you need to start and stop. On the underside of the project, it will leave a little tail.

Your stitch length should be the size of a grain of rice.

See images below for visual help.

Not done yet, but progress has been made! This pattern is Bears and Trees, Click HERE to see what it will turn into when done. 


Before starting a project, I scan with my eyes where my stitchings will go first and in what direction. I want to avoid starting and stopping stitching. My goal is to stitch until the thread runs extremely low.

The benefits of sewing for mental health is undeniable.

While you're working on a project, you're learning new skills. You're always improving. You're developing effective problem-solving strategies, not to mention, you have an opportunity to come up with amazing creativity.

Plus, sewing gives you all sorts of reasons to feel proud of yourself and like yourself better.

If you are struggling with an unbalanced lifestyle or you are suffering from a lack of drive or depression then, sewing might be a beneficial coping strategy for you because it's the overall feeling of accomplishment, self-confidence, and the joy of being in-the-moment.

Meeting with people or new people is important to keep a healthy balance in your life and joining a sewing community is a smart way to connect with other like-minded people. Our facebook page and Quilting your Legacy facebook pages has awesome people online you could talk with if you don't feel like going out or come into shop to talk sewing!

When talking to like-minded people it can be very motivating and fulfilling.

Lastly, when first starting, I highly recommend out Sashiko kit because it not only includes everything below, but it also fits a project in it neatly folded.

The Kit will include:

  • Sashiko needles
  • Super Snips scissors
  • Sashiko thread in black and white
  • Vermont zipper bag ready to hold everything peacefully and ready to take with you on the go

In my VT zipper bag, I have the items above, and my Sashiko bear's in the forest theme project neatly folded. It contains everything I need to work on my project anywhere.

You're officially all set to start stitching! Email or call with questions at the shop, Norton House Quilting.


One of the VERY BEST PARTS about Sashiko is that you can take it (almost) everywhere!

Even at the pool when the sun is getting ready to set and you're (begging) your kids to get out of the pool to get ready for bed, haha! The photo was taken on 6/20/19 by Emily. 


Our cat Lou thinking I need his help, haha! 


Thank you for reading this! Call or email with questions or book a one-on-one power hour to master the Sashiko skill. Call the shop to book your session with Emily.


Happy stitching!

-Emily (owner) from Norton House Quilting

The Essentials A Guide to Start any Iron-on Embroidery Project! ~ The perfect quick gift to give to anyone!

By Emily Hammer
on February 11, 2019

The Essentials A Guide to Start any Iron-on Embroidery Project! ~ The perfect quick gift to give to anyone!

First, before you start any embroidery project let’s talk about the hoop which is what holds the fabric tightly. I grew up using a wooden hoop that was 8inches round, but a few years ago our distributor back ordered them for whatever reason, and I had to Grit my teeth and bought a plastic hoop. Jokes on me because lo and behold I have never gone back to a wooden hoop because the plastic coop does not stretch the fabric in my option.

Read more »

Threading your needle tips and thoughts

By Emily Hammer
on April 10, 2018
1 comment

Threading your needle tips and thoughts

Threading needles can be a nuisance. It doesn't matter what your age is or how your eyesight is, everyone at some point in their quilting or crafting journey has had a moment of frustration while threading their needle.

I felt the need to write this post because over the weekend at the shop we had a private machine quilting class. Our client was having an issue with threading her sewing machine needle so I shared a few tips that work for me and I found a video on threading your needle on YouTube for you to view. 


How to thread your needle tips:

1: Cut the thread with wicked sharp scissors at a forty-five-degree angle. The thicker the thread is, the more you will see the angled thread, however, even if you can't see the end of the thread, it will still make it fluent to guide the thread through the eye of the needle.


2: Use a white piece of paper behind the needle to see better without background color distractions.


3: Try using tweezers while your thread your needle.


You should check out this video (link below), tip 2 is really cool and I'm going to try to thread my paper piecing project this way as soon as I can. I've never seen anyone loop thread into the eye before. If you have a moment, you could check out the video. 


Those are my best tips. I welcome yours! Add your tips and suggestions to our Facebook page by clicking on this wording. :)

Happy quilting and crafting!

-Emily and Beckie

Norton House Quilting
Wilmington, VT 
802-464-7213 ~ Open 9-5pm daily.


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