Quick and easy Holiday gifts

As I’ve been unpacking everything into my new studio I came across some quick and easy projects from a few years ago that make excellent Holiday gifts. Below you will find some tricks of the trade to ensure success when stitching.

Embroidered Gift Card

Heart Collection

This is a small heart from the Hearts Collection stitched onto a piece of cardstock and then mounted in a photo frame.

For best results, use a cutaway stabilizer in the hoop (OESD Medium Weight Cutaway) and back the cardstock with a sticky stabilizer (OESD StabilStick Cutway). StabilStick is very sticky, so expect some sticky stuff collecting on your needle. Use a Superior Titanium Top Stitch needle, size 80/12, with your favorite embroidery thread (a 40 weight polyester or AURIfil Cotton Mako 50 weight).

Cut your cardstock so that it will sit flat in your hoop – but bigger than you want the finished size to be. Stitch the placement line in color #1 directly onto the stabilizer in the hoop and then center the cardstock over it and hold the cardstock in place using Scotch® Magic™ Tape.

When you are done, leave all the stabilizer in place and trim the cardstock to your desired size.

The design in the photo above doesn’t have any appliqué fabric in place, but you can use an appliqué shape as normal if desired, using fusible webbing to hold it in place.

Embroidered Hand Towels

Embroidered Towel

What an easy way to add a touch of color to your kitchen or bathroom!

When doing machine embroidery on towels, you want to use a water soluble stabilizer – and a topper – all of which will totally disappear from your project when it is finished. If you want the back to look nice (let’s face it, when your guests are using these beautiful towels, they’re going to want to take a really good look at them!) then use the same thread in the bobbin as on top. This is a bit of a hassle as you’ll need to change the bobbin each time you change the top thread, but the results are well worth it.

Put a piece of OESD Ultra Clean and Tear stabilizer in the hoop. I discovered that this stabilizer will actually wash away after two or three washings. Cut a piece of OESD Aquamesh Plus and place it on the back of your towel. It should be about an inch bigger all around than your embroidered appliqué design. Aquamesh Plus is a sticky, water soluble stabilizer. I love it for this kind of project as it prevents stretching of the background fabric. And it completely disappears when it is washed.

When figuring out where to put the design on the towel, work on the back of the towel where you have placed the Aquamesh Plus. Find the vertical center of the towel and mark it on the stabilizer. Make sure you are using a marking pen that won’t bleed onto your towel, especially if it is a light colored towel. Now decide where you want the design to be placed on this vertical line and mark that too. Use this intersection just created to align the towel onto your hoop after stitching color #1 which will be a placement line.

For a refresher on how to place a design exactly where you want it, check out my video tutorial Machine Embroidered Appliqué: Back to Basics.

When you are stitching onto anything with a pile or nap, you want to use a topper to stop the stitches from sinking into the background. My favorite topper is OESD Aquafilm. I usually use two layers. Place it on the towel and hold in place with Scotch® Magic™ Tape. Stitch the placement line for the appliqué shape right onto the Aquafilm and fuse the appliqué shape onto the Aquafilm.

As you can see in the photo below, the edge stitching around the appliqué shape is very crisp and clean, even though the towel I used was quite textured.

Embroidered Towel

The photo below shows the back of my towel. There is still a little bit of Ultra Clean and Tear stabilizer showing – I can either tear it away using a pair of tweezers, or wait for it to be washed away after a couple more washes. (Yes, this towel has already been washed once!).

Embroidered Towel

The design on the towels is one of the Fun Flower designs in the GO! Bloom Collection. The designs in this collection are perfect for adding a touch of spring to your home.

How are you going to use these ideas for your Holiday gifts this year? Leave me a comment below!


  1. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing! Have fun organizing that new space!

  2. If you use water soluble stabilizer on your towels, won’t the stitching be compromised after several washings and not hold up? I was always told to use a cutaway stabilizer to keep the stitching in tact and to keep the towel from “bunching” up around the stitches. I realize the look on the back is not as nice. I appreciate your thoughts and comments on this.

    • I haven’t had a problem. If you use an applique shape, that acts as a stabilizer for the stitches. If you go into a store selling ready made embroidered towels I don’t think you’ll find any towels that have cutaway stabilizer on them!

      • Thanks Sarah. I didn’t think about the applique shape as a stabilizer, but I do agree with that. I will try your technique next time I do towels. Thanks again.

  3. I’m thinking of making table runners, placemats and pot holders for friends for Christmas. I’ll definitely use your designs for them. When I tried using the OESD Aquafilm I had a horrible mess. It got stuck on my presser foot and was a total disaster. I quit trying to do high pile towels after that experience.

  4. I will be doing table runners, placemats and pot holders for gifts for friends and relatives this year. I tried doing the high pile towels using the Aquamesh Plus and had a horrible mess because it caught on my presser foot and caused all sorts of problems. I stay away from towels now.

    • Use the Aqua Film as a topper and that should prevent the pile of the towels getting caught up in your foot.

      • You can always tape the edges of the Aqua Film to the towel using Scotch Magic Tape. If your machine has the option, raise the height of the presser foot if the towel you’re stitching on is super thick.

  5. Beautiful work

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