My burning desire to learn….

by Ramona on April 12, 2013

I don’t know why, but after almost 15 years of doing machine embroidery, the process of watching the needle go up and down, stitch by stitch, still holds great fascination for me. Is it the euphoria of watching thread come to life? Is it the tactile sensation as I run my fingers over the different stitch types? Is it the exactness of stitch placement? For me, I think it is all of it. We sewists have an affinity for watching things come to life with just fabric and thread….in all its forms. Perhaps we may not partake of all types of fiber artistry, but we certainly can appreciate creations from them. This was me not all that many years ago.

I’ll never forget my first adventures into machine embroidery. Mine was in the commercial arena. It began simply then grew. I remember my first trade show and conference. Vendors for software, machines, threads, backings (stabilizer is called backing in the commercial world), needles, hats and frames were among the wares being hawked. Then the classes. How to make money, how to care for and troubleshoot a machine, how to troubleshoot embroidery designs and then what fascinated me the most was “how to digitize”.

I already had a strong background in thread and fabric. I’d done some machine embroidery so I knew what the movement of the hoop and the needle piercing the fabric with thread would do to fabric. I knew fabric types and what needle size and type to use. I had a good understanding of backings, but that thing of laying down all those beautiful stitches into a coherent design…well, that was something I had a burning desire to learn.

At the conventions I would attend over the years while pursuing a commercial embroidery business, I was always sure to include a class or two on digitizing from the “Masters” of the industry who were there to teach us (two of them would later become mentors and friends). I would pick up bits of information in each class: stitch direction, stitch length, run stitches, tatami, push, pull…… It was great for editing designs, but not for trying to do my own digitized designs.

It’s always amazing to me how people come and go in one’s life, and it always seems to be just at the right time, too. Serendipity, divine intervention call it what you will. But at just the right time, it just seems to happen. So it was with me.  Two of those digitizing “Masters”, both  international award winners, would come into my life to mentor me and teach me what I longed to learn…DIGITIZING! They also became great friends whom I adore and highly respect for their talent and willingness to share their craft, not only with me, but with all of you, too!

Many of our ASG members have asked me how I learned to digitize. How did I learn to edit designs? Just as my mentors have shared with me, I wanted to pass along to you how I learned what I’ve learned. Whether you are a visual learner or like to read and then do, both the following resources have taught me so much. I’m constantly going back to these resources to continually learn. Every time I read something in Lindee’s book, or view one of Pat’s videos, I learn something new. These resources are just so incredible I have to pass them on to you!



Lindee Goodall ( I call the “Mother” of the home embroidery movement. She and her husband, Bill, were the first to form a company (Cactus Punch) and create digitized designs for home embroiderers. I first met Lindee at a NNEP convention ( in the midwest. A few years later, she hired me as project coordinator. As part of the CP Team, we decided on artwork to transform into embroidery designs. My job was to take those beautiful designs and create projects and instructions for customers to use them. The other part of my job was to help Lindee while she taught classes on digitizing!

Lindee has done what I call a “brain dump”. She wrote an e-book titled “Anatomy of a Design”. This book focuses on how a design’s stitch attributes affect the design–and therefore your embroidery results. There are links to embedded videos. This book is an incredible value for the amount of information Lindee presents. Were you to take this class personally with Lindee, it would cost more than ten times the amount of this e-book. This e-book is what she taught in those classes.

Anatomy of a Design book image



Pat Willliams, came from the commercial world of embroidery. She ran a huge shop in Phoenix, AZ with many embroidery heads doing large production runs. I remember our first meeting when she was receiving an award at a convention in Las Vegas given by Walt Floriani. There was a huge selection of her award winning work displayed.  I was mesmerized by her talent. That chance meeting would again be repeated. Just about three years ago our paths crossed again. Our conversaion? She wanted to leave her “legacy”. A legacy of sharing her digitizing knowledge and did I think that was a good idea? Did I!!!! I helped her form some classes to teach. From there, she made videos showing exactly what she does, how she analyzes artwork, stitch properties, angles, stitch types, just everything needed to create digitized embroidery designs. If you are a visual learner, these videos are for you. Why, she’ll even share with you how to do incredible small lettering!


Both of these women share with us their in-depth knowledge of digitizing. They show us how to analyze artwork, how to decide on what stitch type should be used for what kind of line or column. Through their work, we are able to cut our learning curve by many years.

These works will not teach you which buttons to push in your software, that is what the dealer classes are for. But, once you learn what each of those icons will do, then it’s time to really put the software to work to create your own designs. Honestly, once you learn from their works, it’s just like sewing a seam. It is simply repeating that knowledge over and over from design to design, adding your own creative interpretation.

Get these works and have fun digitizing. Just as with anything, practice and test. You’ll soon find they’ve helped you digitize your own designs for embroidery!

Sew ’til next time….



JC April 12, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Hi Ramona. Thanks for sharing this story and your love for embroidery. I learned hand embroidery in home ec over 30 years ago. :-). I enjoyed the webinar last night on pressing. I’m going to go back over it again. Thanks for keeping us in the loop with all of the social networking tools (I comment frequently on face book under JC Smitty). Real name: Joan. :-). Take care!

Linda Shumway April 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Ramona; You might not remember all the times I snuck into your office there at CP, but you were teaching me how to audition my fabric then. OK, I didn’t realize it either!!! All those times you showed me how to mix & match and use a color wheel and how to appeal to the eye are lessons that I’m using now to create my quilts! So, thanks!

Ramona April 12, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Glad you enjoyed the webinar, Joan. Isn’t it great how technology allows sharing of all this wonderful information!

Ramona April 12, 2013 at 11:29 pm

I do remember, Linda! We did have some really great times with that company and the incredible team Lindee and Bill assembled. I am where I am now in part because of what CP did for me. Never in my wildest dreams did I think my sewing journey would lead me in the direction it has. Thanks to my husband’s support and all those I’ve met along the way, I am now able to share my knowledge with members as well.

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