The Free Motion Quilting Project: 24. Learn how to Stitch with Decorative Monograms

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

24. Learn how to Stitch with Decorative Monograms

It's time to learn something new! This was exactly my thinking when I began considering this idea for incorporating smaller, simpler words into my trapplique pieces.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

I wanted a totally different look from the Thread Painted Words stitched earlier that I am ultimately covering up, so I decided to use one of the decorative monograms included within the brains of my machine (Janome Horizon 8900).

Now I know not all machines have monograms. I also know that it's sometimes THE reason we buy a machine. It's so seductive, this idea of stitching words on things! At least while you're in the store buying the new machine.

Yet I've never actually USED this machine function! To be honest, I've never even used the memory stitch function so this entire idea was throwing me for a major loop. To stop being so afraid of it, and to challenge myself to learn something new, I created this video:

As I said in the video, most machines will have different buttons and settings. This is really just the settings and buttons for the 8900, but the idea behind the tutorial remains the same - stitch out samples first, get everything spelled right!, get your phrases stored in the memory, and be able to reliably recall them on command.

Definitely refer to your manual for more tips on using decorative words and even multiple alphabet styles that machines are now programmed with.

Once you get the hang of that, go play! I have to say, I loved learning this because it was such a challenge to overcome my fear of "messing it all up". Sometimes just jumping in with a practice sandwich is all you need to do to go from scared and confused to having it all figured out and confident of the next step.

Now my bathroom is being ripped out today and I'm needed upstairs for a design decision. After 6 years of wanting to remodel my main bathroom, it's finally happening! Whoo hoo!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Excellent video. Thank you so much for the tutorial.

  2. I see they've made programming letters even easier on the 8900! Oh, and on the 7700, after you have selected your word or phrase from memory and it is ready to start stitching, just touch your stylus to the word or phrase on the screen. A temporary screen will pop up and show you exactly how long your word or phrase is going to be when it's stitched out, both in centimeters and in inches. After you look at that, you just hit the X and it goes back to being ready to stitch your word. It's a wonderful timesaver, because you don't have to stitch the whole thing out beforehand to find out how long it will be!

  3. Leah -- An online quilting friend on Stashbusters, a Yahoo group, uses the monogram/alphabet capability in her DSM to make labels. But these are Not ordinary labels. She prints -- er, stitches -- the label information onto the binding fabric before attaching the binding to the quilt. This way, the label can't get lost, torn off or otherwise destroyed. If I had a modern machine with alphabet capability, I'd do this in a heartbeat. My 1955 Singer 306W is a workhorse, but it can't do this. Damn, I've got to win the lottery. LOL

  4. What a cool way to personalize a quilt or blanket! I just sent off a small quilt that this would have been absolutely perfect for: baby's name and birthdate! Going to be sure to come up with something to put on my quilts from now on! Thanks Leah, I am new to your project site and so happy I found it!

  5. What a fantastic idea. I'm sure I will use it to personalize my quilts. Thanks, Leah. I am new to your site and am so glad I found you!

  6. I love this idea to personalize a quilt or blanket. Wish I had seen this before sending off a blanket to a new baby. Wouldn't it have been great to add her name and birthdate? I'm new to tour site, Leah, and am so glad I found it!

  7. Thanks so much for sharing this Leah! I have been test driving the 8900 and the 12000. I have been tempted to buy the 12000 for double the dollars so that I could make labels for my quilts. Now I that have seen this tutorial, I will be happy buying the 8900 and following your wonderful instructions. Thanks so much for all of your work. I have learned so much from you over the past 18 months since I started quilting. Now I am hooked and read your posts whenever they arrive in my inbox. Best wishes to you and your darling family! xo

  8. Just purchased the 8900. Very awesome machine. Leah Day has taught me so much through her videos. I am learning the monogram feature and still have trouble getting the letters to be taller. They come out very small. Anyone out there that can help, please do!!

    1. The size of your letters are going to be limited by the size of the feed dogs and the width of the foot. I believe on the 8900 it's a wider base, but regardless, the limitation will be the size of the opening the needle can drop down into. If you want really wide letters, you might want to check out an embroidery machine instead which you can use to create much bigger, elaborate letters and monograms.


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