Creating Large Motifs by Grouping Multiple Designs or Repeats

*I have prepared these instructions as an addition to my Victorian Fancy design set, a set of victorian surface embroidery designs intended for whitework, tone on tone, or multi-colored designs. Victorian Fancy are designed to coordinate with one another and lend themselve to combining into large multi-hooped motifs using the Pfaff 120mm hoop. The instructions may be used with any designs which will go well together. You can make scenes using this method by combining related designs. There is a separate file with pictures to illustrate these principals and show a few examples of combined designs. Due to the large file size of the graphics (it wouldn't fit on the disk), I have provided it in printed form. Print this text and use the two together. Similar instructions are provided with my Celtic Collections for joining letters to make long words in multiple hoopings with the 120mm hoop.

By grouping designs or repeats of a single design, you can make large motifs that will appear as a single large design. To do this effectively you need to follow some preliminary steps. The directions below take you step by step through this process. Although these instructions are written specifically for the Pfaff 7570 machine, I have tried to be very specific about the purpose of each procedure so that users of other machines can use the equivalent technique on their own machines or software. To experienced 7570 users, I apologize for any redundancy.

Best results will be obtained if you have the following at hand:

PCDesigner software - or software compatible with your embroidery machine


Light box

Pencil and fine line marker


Washout fabric marker pen

Cellophane tape (or masking tape, but you can't see through it.)

(*While I'm not trying to promote any particular brand of product, I must add that you should use a good quality of tape. The Scotch brand tape is so much easier to remove than the cheaper brand, which was so thin that it tore in pieces as I attempted to remove it. I had no end of frustration with it and found a roll of Scotch brand!)

The following is optional but very helpful:

Stitch Bunny software (for Macintosh users)

--or similar program (I won't name them because, as a Mac user, I am not familiar with which ones do this as well as Stitch Bunny.) which can print a precise and accurately scaled template of your PCD design.

*In lieu of Stitch Bunny or another template printing program, you can print templates with PCDesigner, but the finer lines of Stitch Bunny's printouts make accurate placement easier.

I advise reading through the entire instructions before beginning to be sure you understand how the steps will fit together in the final production.


1. You will, first, choose the designs you would like to use in your layout. --You're still in the "deciding what will look good" stage. Make a 1:1 template printout of each design you may use. I like to make at least one of these printout/cutouts of each design I am considering.

Cut each of these designs out around (fairly close to) the outline of the design itself--not on the hoop guidline. How close you cut to the actual edges of the design depends on how closely the parts need to fit together. If you find, while laying it out, that you left too much white paper around it, just cut more off until the design fits as you like it. You want to see the size and shape of the actual design on your fabric. If your final design is to include 4 of a particular design, you will want to print that one 4 times. If some of the designs are to be mirror images, you will want to mirror it before printing the template. Play with these cutouts on your fabric or project. You can turn a cutout upside down to mirror, but it is much easier to visualize the final motif if you have a printed copy with the design facing you. Move them about until you see the arrangement that pleases you.

~~In doing my daughter's wedding dress, I spent 12 hours printing, cutting and laying out the templates before I hooped the first one! ......And that was with my daughter doing some of the cutting for me. However, that covered the entire front and back panels and borders on the side panels. The figures used to illustrate these techniques are from that dress and the designs are included in my Victorian Fancy designs, available on my web site. Http://

During this process you may need to print out additional cutouts if your layout calls for more than you anticipated. *Save these cutouts as they will be used again as you complete your design motif. To avoid confusion, put aside the cutouts for any designs you have chosen not to include in your layout. I don't throw them away until I am finished, in case I change my mind. After all, I am a woman!

2. Print a new 1:1 template of each design to be used in your layout. This time you need only one template for each design you will use -- be sure to make a separate template for mirrored designs. With your pencil, write in the margin of the work area "right edge of hoop" or "front" to remind you of which direction the design will sew. See Figure 1 For Macintosh users, Stitch Bunny's templates print with "Front" already marked on the edge that will be on the edge of the hoop closest to your body as you sew. (That is the edge of the hoop with the adjustment screw.) If you are not using Stitch Bunny and prefer to designate which edge is the bottom of the design as you see it on the computer screen, write "right edge" on the *bottom of your template work area--the part that is at the bottom of the computer screen faces the right edge of the hoop as it is attached to the machine. This will remind you that the bottom of the design is at the right edge of the hoop (the edge that connects to the embroidery arm of your 7570).

*Users of machines other than the Pfaff 7570 must adapt these hooping instructions to the way your particular machine and software handle the design.

Your template should have a center cross-hair mark to indicate the exact center of your design. If your printout does not have this marking, place the template on a light box. Fold the template so that one edge of the line marking the design area is exactly on the opposing edge. Crease the template. Now do the same in the other direction. Your template will be divided into 4 sections and the two fold lines will cross in the center. Draw over this cross-hair with a dark pencil or a fine marker so it will show through when viewing on the light box. If you are using several different designs in your layout, label each with its name to avoid confusion later. You may choose to write this in the margin of the template or cut out the name from your printout and tape it into the margin.

This time, cut out the template around the hoop guideline, cutting on the inside edge of the black hoop line. At the rounded corners, you can allow your scissors to follow the outer edge of the black guide, due to the shape of the Pfaff hoop. Set the hooping templates aside and take up the cutouts which you made in step 1.

3. Lay your fabric out on a table or any flat surface large enough to accomodate it. Using cellophane tape, secure your cutouts to the fabric in strategic spots to hold them in place. (See Figures 1-4. The design shown is about 10.5" in diameter. It is accomplished in a series of 5 hoopings. Each large section of the floral motif is sewn separately and the single flower in the center is done in a separate hooping.

Fig. 1     Fig. 2     Fig. 3     Fig. 4

Don't use too much tape-just enough to hold the coutouts in place. They can be moved by gently lifting the tape. Mark dots on your fabric at strategic points around the edges of the design with a washout fabric marker. *[The illustrations do not show the marker dots or lines. Be sure you add these before removing the cutouts from your fabric.] Be sure this is a marker meant for marking fabric and test for washoutability (good word) on your fabric before using. Some of these markers disappear with time; others with moisture. I recommend the water soluble/washout ones as the others may fade before you finish your work on some fabric.

Turn your project over and secure the desired stabilizer backing to your fabric. I find tape to be easier to use and more accurate than pins, but make sure that the tape is outside of the area to be sewn and that any pins used are outside the entire hooping area. Tape seems to let the fabric lie flatter and you can do multiple hoopings into the same large piece of stabilizer if it stays nice and flat. For the wedding dress, I used the entire water soluble laundry bag, both thicknesses and uncut. I still had to add pieces as I reached the edge of the bag. This was a LARGE embroidered are

4. Decide which section of the layout you will sew first. Leave the cutout for that section in place on your fabric and remove the other cutouts for now. This is important because they will be in the way of the hoop and would get all wrinkled. --- Remember the guide dots are there to show you where it will go when you replace it later. Place the fabric, with the cutout taped in place, on the light box (This is not so easy on heavy fabric that does not let the light shine through. These instructions are written for use on white or very light weight fabrics.)

Take up the hooping template that matches the cutout you are going to sew. Using the light box, place this hooping template precisely over the cutout, making sure all edges and the center mark are exact. With the light box you can see through the fabric to do this. Use 2 or more small pieces of tape (as needed) on opposite sides of the template to secure the hooping template on top of your cutout.

5. With both templates in place on your fabric (the square one is on top of the cut-out.), place the fabric in the lower piece of the hoop and position the upper hoop over it. *Pay attention to the marking for the front or right to assure that you hoop the design facing the appropriate direction. Move the fabric until it is precisely in place before pushing the two pieces of the hoop together. Be sure you have a full bobbin and all is in order for sewing out the first color. Attach the hooped fabric to the embroidery arm of your machine. Check the placement of the design, using the appropriate keys on your machine. If it is close to perfect, remove the square hooping template from the fabric. Do not remove the cutout template at this time. When removing this, press one finger down on the hooped fabric to avoid pulling the fabric out of the hoop. Lift the edge of the paper template next to the finger holding the fabric and tear the tape away from the hoop. You can remove the rest of the tape after unhooping. After you have done several of these, you may feel comfortable to remove this hooping template before placing hoop on machine. The hooping template gives you the proper direction, assures the edges are parrallel to the sides of the hoop and approximates the position. The coutout template is the one that needs the most accurate checking while on the machine. This will tell you if your needle is entering the design exactly where you want it to. Check placement again. This time be sure the presser bar lifter is in the embroidery position. When the machine stops tracing the perimeter of the design, it should stop with the needle directly over the center mark on your cutout. Use the positioning arrow keys to move the design the little bit that may be needed. If it is off by more than you can adjust with the keys, remove the hoop from the machine and repeat from step 4. Depending on the degree of accuracy you need for your layout, you may be able to sew with the design off by the amount of one "click" or so. Because of the exactness needed here, I like to leave a few mm of space at the edges of the design so it will have a little bit of manipulating room when it is loaded in the machine. When the needle stops over your center mark on the cutout, turn the fly wheel by hand to see that the needle is ready for the first stitch. Be sure it will go into the beginning of the design where you want it to for your placement adjacent to the other segments of your design. Do not actually put the needle through the paper template. Just move it down to pierce the paper, then turn it back to raise the needle out of the paper and fabric. If it is not in the right place, remove hoop from machine and repeat from Step 4 until it is accurate. (If you need to do this, press the pattern start key to set the machine to check placement again.)

When it is accurate, carefully remove the cutout before sewing. This time, hold the fabric down and carefully peel the tape off the fabric. Take care not to pull the fabric out of its place in the hoop. The tape on this cutout should be accessible and easy to get off. If your cutout tears a bit, tape the tear before you use it again. Sew this segment of your motif

6. Remove the hoop from machine. Remove fabric from hoop. Now replace the cutout onto the next section you plan to sew (See Figures1-4) and repeat the process from step 4. Repeat this process for each segment of your motif. (See additional examples of a large border motif below.) After doing a few, it will not seem so complex.


Large Border Motifs:


Additional Tips

1. When stitching out designs, watch for jump stitches. It is much easier and will give a smoother finished look if you snip jump stitches as they occur, usually after each color, so that they don't get sewn over by the next section or color. A longer thread is so much easier to hold tautly when snipping them. When cutting these threads, pull up just slightly, making it taut when you snip very close to the embroidery. A tweezer helps with this if the thread is short.

2. When sewing on batiste or other fine fabrics, you will get nicer results if you use only the water soluble stabilizer. Two layers under the fabric are recommended. You may also put a layer on top, if you choose to, but it is not necessary on smooth finish fabrics. On terry towels, you definitely need the top layer and you would, then, choose a regular tear away backing for the back. When using this on large designs with lots of inner areas, the trimming away can be tedious. Use care in removing the excess and do not pull at stitches. The chain stitch or any other long stitches are especially vulnerable to distortion if you pull at them. You may need to wash the item twice or soak it in quite hot water with detergent and rinse well to remove all the residue.

3. Ironing is best done on the wrong side of the fabric so that you do not flatten the satin stitching too much. If necessary to press on the front, do it gently.

4. These designs are digitized for #40 rayon thread.

6. If you length mirror any design, be sure to Flip Order on the stitching, otherwise you will have your underlay stitches on top and ruin your design.

Happy stitching. I appreciate any feedback and if these instructions are not clear, I'd like to know how I could improve them.


© 1998 by Catherine Paulson

Embroideries made from these designs may be used for your personal use or for items you sell. The design files, however, may not be sold, shared or otherwise distributed in any way.

Paulson Designs

2005 Old Westminster Pike

Finksburg, MD 21048



*The templates shown in the illustrations are cutouts made from the printed templates created with Stitch Bunny. Stitch Bunny is a Macintosh shareware program written by Mel Patrick, which prints out templates, changes colors, etc. For more information on Stitch Bunny, visit: