Dancing Needles ~ Embroidery Frames with a Flair: How To / Tips

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How To / Tips


FRAME - Dancing Needles embroidered design FRAME that will attach MEDIA to a BACKGROUND FABRIC, much like an applique.

FLAIR-OUT - Decorative stitches that run outside the FRAME.

FLAIR-IN - Decorative stitches that run inside the FRAME.

CENTER/CENTER Cross-hair - The horizontal / vertical stitching lines that create a reference point in the center of the FRAME to allow one to easily position media in the FRAME.  TIP:  All FRAMES have a balanced viewing area, except for the HEART shape.  Due to the nature of the HEART shape with the drop-down "V" at the top center, media centered then positioned slightly below the Cross-hair "horizontal" stitching line - towards the bottom tip of the HEART may display better.              

MEDIA - Consists of a printed fabric photo, a pre-embroidered design block, or a piece of fabric, to be attached by way of a FRAME to a BACKGROUND FABRIC.

BACKGROUND FABRIC - Where an Embroidery FRAME will be stitched.  

  • The BACKGROUND FABRIC can be a complete piece of fabric such as a complete panel for a quilt top or wall hanging panel - no need to cut the fabric into pieces, just mark where the FRAMES will stitch.
  • The BACKGROUND FABRIC can be an article of clothing, such as a sweatshirt, T-shirt, jacket, children's clothing.
  • The BACKGROUND FABRIC can be a craft item, such as a tote bag, purse, doily.
  • The BACKGROUND FABRIC can be a tablecloth, tablerunner, placemat, napkins, potholder, towels, bed linens; anything that can be embroidered.  
  • The BACKGROUND FABRIC should be something suitable to embroidery; fabrics used should consist of a high thread count.  Don't overlook the "Cheater Quilt" fabrics in your stash.  They already have a pre-planned layout window where a FRAME can be embroidered.   


1)  All FRAMES come in many sizes for your convenience.  Resizing could alter the size of the Cover Wrap edge; sizing up could make it wider; sizing down could make it narrower.  This may not be desirable, so many sizes are already available to choose from; all have the same width Cover Wrap. 

2)  On a project, like a quilt top or wall hanging, if you want to mix BASIC FRAMES and those with a ~ Flair-Out ~ simply use the FRAME design with the ~ Flair-Out ~ eliminating, or bypassing the ~ Flair-Out ~ while stitching at the machine.  This way will ensure that all FRAMES are the same size and the end result may look better. 

3)  If the stitched Center/Center Cross-hair is unnecessary, simply advance to color #2 at the machine, then start stitching. Regardless, the stitched C/C Cross-hair is hidden beneath the media attached.  When stitching the C/C Cross-hair, using thread the same color as the BACKGROUND fabric will also help hide the Cross-hair. 

4)  Stitch file names consist of 8 characters.  In some cases, the .zip file name may differ a bit from the stitch file names within it, but one can still easily recognize what the files are.  {Example:  Zip file "SquareR11.zip" will have stitch files named SquarR11.art; SquarR11.exp, etc.  Zip file "Pentagon01.zip will have stitch files named Pentgn01.art; Pentgn01.exp etc.  File names are shortened to 8 characters.}  Some machine windows see a limited number of characters so with the shortened names, there is no need to rename files to view at the machine.

5)  When planning where to place the windows for the frames on a quilt top or wall hanging panel, having an uneven number in a row may look the best.  Such as, 3 across, 5 across, 7 across in a row.  Folding the fabric in 1/2, then again so it is in 1/4's, then starting by using the point where all folds meet for the placement of the first Frame, places that one in the center, then by positioning the others to the left and right, one will end up with an uneven number in a row.  Quite a bit of measuring for placement can be done by carefully folding and marking.  Use a yardstick for measuring to verify or adjust.  Try to get the starting points laid out and marked BEFORE embroidering the FRAMES.  Add additional lines to aid with hooping straight if necessary.  Most embroidery machine hoops have horizontal and vertical centers marked.  By placing vertical lines on the fabric, then, by using those lines to position the fabric in the hoop, it helps with alignment so the final embroidery looks good.   Spend some time marking, measuring, and carefully hooping.     

6)  Can one sell the "products" created from a Frame?  The answer is "yes", however, one needs to be aware that some designer fabric prints have copyright restrictions that may forbid resale.  i.e.  Disney, Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter, etc.  It is the responsibility of the user to choose fabrics accordingly.

7)  SUGGESTION:  To make a quilt top the size of a double, queen, or king size bed, purchase a good quality, high thread count solid color top sheet.  Use the entire sheet as a piece of fabric to make a quilt top.  No need to cut, then re-stitch pieces of fabric  together; it is already one complete piece.  To find high thread count sheets, just GOOGLE High Thread Count.  Read below, the  EASY MEASURING TIPS FOR MARKING THE STARTING POINTS ON A 45" SQUARE "LAP" QUILT TOP to get started with where to place starting point dots.  Use a yardstick for measuring to mark more dots on a piece of fabric larger than 45". 

8)  When planning to pre-stitch embroidered design blocks for attaching with a Frame, be sure to create the blocks large enough to fit the Frame(s) of your choice.  It may be best to choose the Frame, print it on paper, then decide just how large of a piece of fabric is necessary for the design block.  Keep a notebook of results for future reference of necessary fabric size for a certain Frame.

9)  Positioning a pre-embroidered design block in a frame - First, find the center of the design and place a dot on the backside with fabric marker.  This could also be done at the machine immediately after stitching the block.  Some machines allow one to drop a needle.  Most designs are set up so that the needle is in the center of the design at the start and finish of the stitching.  After the design is stitched, place a piece of masking tape on the embroidery below the needle.  Drop the needle so it passes through the tape.  The puncture hole is the center of the embroidered design.  To align within a Frame, pass a stick pin through the tape or the dot on the backside of the design block, then to the center of the stitched Cross-hair in the Frame.  Rotate to adjust.  Remove the pin before stitching.  

10)  When marking the center of a printed fabric photo, put a tiny dot on the backside.  Depending on the product used to print the picture, passing a pin through the center of the photo may not be a good idea.  So, place the photo in the hoop, pick up a side, roll the photo horizontally, then vertically in the hoop, lifting to see the backside to position the dot on the photo with the stitched Cross-hair.  Diagrams for this procedure are in the Heart Hanger Pattern.                  



As is....

  • Simply add the media piece in the hoop after the SHAPE LINE stitching.  If desired, spray back side of media piece lightly with a temporary fixative spray.  Do so over a garbage can, away from the machine.  Use care and common sense so as not to get the spray on or inside the machine.  Run the ATTACH LINE stitching, then cut away the excess fabric up to the stitching line.  

Using the fusible approach...

  • On a piece of fabric to be used in an embroidery frame, apply "Lite Heat and Bond" or other adhesive product, suitable to stitching.  Many adhesive products are available that iron on to fabric; please use a product designed to be stitched so as not to gum up machine needles. The product delivers a layer of glue onto the fabric.  Use the fabric like any other piece of fabric, adding it in the hoop after the SHAPE LINE stitching.  Run the ATTACH LINE stitching, then cut away the excess fabric up to the stitching line.  With a tiny iron, fuse the piece of fabric to the background fabric.  Wait until it cools completely.  Finish stitching the frame.  Or, one can finish stitching the frame, then iron on the backside or on the right side to fuse layers together.  Take care so as not to damage threads. 

Using the template and pre-cutting...    

  • Each frame comes with a template.  It is automatically created within the software program, so the template has been included in the .pdf Color Run Information file.  Use the template as a pattern to pre-cut media, however, please read the details outlined in the included .pdf sheet of every frame to ensure that the template will work.  Work up a test sample to get the template size right BEFORE pre-cutting.  The loftier the media, the larger the template needs to be to ensure that the pre-cut media is not too small.  Pre-cutting media can be beneficial in some cases, however, whenever possible, stitch at the machine and cut away the excess.  Every effort has been made to offer instructions about how to use the template.       

Without hooping....

  • In some cases, it is more beneficial to embroider a frame without hooping.  
  • These instructions are detailed clearly in the Heart Hanger pattern which explains how to mark, align, and affix the background fabric in the hoop by way of temporary spray fixative.  As a lesson, use the pattern to learn how and where to mark, and how to align and affix the background fabric with temporary spray fixative to hooped tearaway using the markings. This technique is particularly helpful when attaching printed fabric photo’s that one wouldn’t want crushed by way of hooping.


EASY MEASURING TIPS FOR MARKING THE STARTING POINTS ON A 45" SQUARE "LAP" QUILT TOP - A good weekend project if pre-embroidered design blocks or fabric photo's are done ahead of time.  This is also a good way to use up fabric pieces in a fabric stash.  Consider using a combination of media.  Intermix Frames using pre-embroidered design blocks with those using pieces of fabric.  A solid color Background fabric would work but so would a subtle print as well as others.  Plan a little; lay it out on a table, bed, or floor to get an idea of how it will look.  Use those pretty variegated threads.      

     Instructions are for a quilt top with 9 embroidered 7” or 8” frames; three in each row.
  • This setup is for placing 9 starting points for embroidery (3 in each row) onto a piece of fabric approximately 45" square.  Be accurate if cutting.   
  • Having wrong sides together, fold in 1/2; fold in 1/2 again so piece is in 4th’s. At the point where all fold edges meet, place a dot with a fabric marker, marking the center of the fabric.    
  • Along all fold edges, place another dot 12” from the center dot. Total of 4 dots marked on right side of fabric.
  • Unfold back to where it is in half. Refold back into 4th’s exposing the side that wasn’t marked. Place a dot 12” from the center dot. Total of 5 dots marked on right side of fabric. Unfold all. Dots look like a + shape. 
  • To add the 4 corner dots, measure 12” at a right angle from the existing 4 dots. A total of 9 dots marked as starting points for the embroidery.
  • Draw a continuous line through all dots joining them to look like a box around the + shape. Extend each line approx. 8” past the dot. These lines are used to help hoop the fabric evenly in the hoop. 
  • Most hoop edges have 4 center point markings; one on the left, (near left bracket); one on the right, (near right bracket); one in the front; one in the back; if not, place hoop over a grid and with a marker, add lines to the hoop edge, identifying the front center and back center.  
  • Hoop the fabric so the line on the fabric aligns with the hoop edge front and back markings. The starting point dot does not need to be exactly centered in the hoop, just near the middle allowing enough room to embroider the frame. It is most important that the line on the fabric aligns with the hoop edge front and back center markings.   At the machine, scroll the needle to the start point dot.  Before embroidering, run a trace to ensure that the needle will not hit the hoop edge during stitching.    
  • Using suitable stabilizer backing, stitch 9 frames following frame design color run information sheet(s), attaching media. If necessary, use the unique stitched centering crosshair to align pre-embroidered design blocks, fabric photo’s, or fabric pieces with a main focal point.  The crosshair is not in the way because it is buried beneath the media attached. To use the crosshair, find the center of the embroidered design, not the center of the block, and place a dot on the back side. Do the same for a photo or fabric piece with a main focal point. After the "Shape Line" stitches, align that dot with the center of the crosshair stitched in the hoop.  If necessary, use a temporary spray fixative to hold the media in place. Stitch the “Attach Line”, then when the machine stops, trim away the excess fabric to the stitching line. Finish stitching the frame. 
  • After all frames are stitched, draw 4 lines again on the right side between and 6” from each of the existing lines, this time all the way to the edge of the fabric. *These lines are to follow for joining together all layers of fabric, including batting, in the final step.  SEE * and OPTIONAL below. 
  • Layer the embroidered top, any desired quilt batting, and a back piece of fabric. Hold all layers together with large safety pins.  Using any of several quilting techniques, finish the outside edge around the quilt. 
  • *On a sewing machine, stitch along the 4 lines between the embroidered frames to join the embroidered top to the fabric back, holding all layers in place. A decorative machine stitch can be used if desired.  Alternatively, one could quilt the layers together between the Frames using a quilting machine.  Or, as some prefer, tie with yarn or heavy thread where the lines between the embroidered frames intersect. 
  • OPTIONAL:  Some may prefer to join all layers before finishing the outside edge.  Whatever way works is fine. 
  • Use a wet cloth to remove any chalk or fabric marker lines.