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This project is designed to show you an example of the popular embroidery-in-the-hoop technique. The technique is just as the name implies, the vast majority of the project, both sewing and embroidery, is done within the hoop. In this case it means that although the machine we used, the Janome Memory Craft 500E is an embroidery-only model, it can complete the entire project. We’ve given detailed steps below for completing these beautiful coasters on the MC500E, but even if you don’t have this model or its sister machine, the MC550E. you’ll find the in-the-hoop process intriguing. We used one of the MC500E built-in designs, using its flexible on-screen editing features to create the border.

Our thanks to S4H seamstress team member, Michele Mishler for the design and construction of the coasters as well as her thorough step-by-step embroidery instructions. You’ll also find a file to create the custom “frame outline” that completes the stitching. Follow the link to download the design file in any of six major embroidery formats: ART, EXP, JEF, PES, VIP, and VP3.

When considering how to best add embroidery on a coaster, we gravitated first to the MC500E’s built-in designs that could be formed into a border. We knew these would stitch out beautifully around the edge of a square coaster. Depending on the width of the border design as well as the size of your finished coaster, the open space in the center of the embroidered frame could be large enough to accommodate the full base of a glass or mug, or just a smaller center accent to capture condensation.

A combination of metallic and polyester embroidery thread was used to stitch our embroidery design against a rich chocolate brown linen. The resulting effect is similar to the dense weave of a jacquard ribbon.

Michele used and recommends embroidery batting for her in-the-hoop projects. This is a batting with stabilizer built in so only one layer is needed. She chose Floriani Embroidery Batting, which is needle punched to the highest standard to prevent stretch, puckering, and shrinkage.

If you’ve not experienced an “embroidery-only” machine before, you might wonder why on earth you’d add such a thing to your sewing room. There are actually a number of good reasons: 1) you have a reliable sewing machine but are interested in adding embroidery to your projects without stepping all the way up to a top-of-the-line sewing and embroidery model; 2) you are a sewing powerhouse and need to be able to have one machine dedicated to embroidery that can be running while you’re using another machine to finish construction steps; 3) you aren’t really interested in doing a lot of sewing, but would love to be able to add embroidery to off-the-rack garments and linens.

The Janome MC500E has a maximum embroidery size of 7.9″ x11″ and comes with four embroidery hoops: RE28b 7.9″ x 11″, SQ20b 7.9″ x 7.9″, RE20b 5.5″ x 7.9″ and SQ14b 5.5″ x 5.5″. We used the SQ14b for this in-the-hoop project. As mentioned above, this project was designed specifically for the Janome MC500E, using its built-in designs and taking advantage of some of the amazing editing functions available in the machine. But the Coaster Outline can be used with any embroidery design 5″ or smaller, so you can create coasters using your own personal selection of designs.

Our coasters finish at approximately 5¼” x 5¼”.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: The amounts shown below are for FOUR coasters.

  • ½ yard of 44″+ wide linen or similar
  • ½ yard of 20″+ wide embroidery batting; we used Floriani Embroidery Batting
  • 40wt polyester embroidery thread in your chosen embroidery colors; we used Janome polyester in light blue and teal
  • Metallic embroidery thread for the embroidery accents; we used Floriani metallic in gold
  • Bobbin thread; we used Janome bobbin thread
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pressing cloth
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the main fabric, cut the following:
    FOUR 8″ x 8″ squares
    FOUR 7″ x 7″ squares
  2. From the embroidery batting, cut FOUR 8″ x 8″ squares.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the border design

  1. The steps shown describe creating the design on your computer while connected to the MC500E. We chose this option in order to show you complete screen captures. The Medallion arrangement can also be created on the Edit screen of the machine, using the same steps.
  2. On the MC500E, access the built-in designs and locate the Border Collection. Save the desired designs to the built in memory.
  3. Connect the MC500E to your computer. Open the Embroidery Editor and select File Manager.
  4. Select the icon for the MC500E and locate the saved designs.
  5. Create a folder for these designs on your computer.
  6. Select the designs you wish to save by checking the boxes. We chose just one design (BORDER_4); you can select more than one design to transfer.
  7. Click on the lower arrow to transfer the designs to your computer (the highlighted arrow as shown in the image below).
  8. Open the Embroidery Editor. The opening screen will show the area of the hoop; the default hoop is the SQ20b.
  9. Click on the File Manager.
  10. Select the location of your design. You can access the designs directly from the MC500E or open a design saved to your computer. When the machine is connected to your computer, you can see that the machine, built-in designs, and the USB flash drive are all present in your Folders window.
  11. We selected our BORDER folder from within the Built-in Embroidery Designs folder.
  12. Open the design BORDER_4. Using the features of Embroidery Editor, this is the design we will use to create a medallion frame for our coasters.
  13. When the design appears on the screen, select the Edit tab.
  14. Select the design. You will see a green box with anchor points around the design. Select Colors to change the design to your desired color scheme. This design has three colors. Change each color layer by clicking each layer in turn, selecting a new color for that layer. When you are finished, click OK. Notice that the color changes appear on the screen and in the Design List to the right.
  15. Copy and Paste the design three more times so there are four identical designs in the Design List.
  16. Drag the designs into position so there is a single design in each quadrant of the screen. Use the Rotate function to rotate two of the designs 90°.
  17. Arrange the designs so that they form a square. The jog keys on the edit screen (the arrow keys on the computer keyboard) can be used to fine tune the arrangement so the elements of the design align and are evenly spaced.
  18. When the arrangement is complete, select all of the designs by clicking each of the designs in the Design List while holding down the Control key. When all four designs are selected, click the Center icon. This will place the arrangement in the center of the screen.
  19. Return to the Home screen. Notice there is now design information at the bottom of the screen. For our completed arrangement it says: Hoop SQ20b: 200 x 200 mm/W: 119 x H: 119 mm/21632 st/12 Colors.
  20. Change the Hoop size to SQ14b. We’ll change the colors from the computer screen as shown in the steps below.
  21. The design is now complete. Save the design as Medallion (or the name of your choice). Write the design to a USB flash drive or send it directly to the MC500E. We chose to save to a USB flash drive.

In-the-hoop embroidery

  1. Download the Coaster Outline in the appropriate format for your machine. Save the design to the same USB flash drive used above to save the Medallion design.
  2. Set up the MC500E for embroidery with bobbin thread in the bobbin.
  3. Locate the SQ14b hoop.
  4. Place an 8″ x 8″ square of embroidery batting over the lower hoop. Place an 8″ x 8″ square of your main fabric (brown linen in our sample) over the embroidery batting.
  5. Insert the upper hoop and secure so the fabric and batting are smooth and flat. Place the hoop on the machine.
  6. From the Home screen, select the Edit Screen.
  7. Open Design and select the Medallion design from the USB flash drive.
  8. Confirm the hoop size is SQ14b.
  9. Select Color Sort to minimize the color changes. In this case, it reduces the thread changes from 12 to just three. Click OK. The design will appear on the Ready to Sew screen.
  10. On our sample coasters, the metallic gold thread is the first color. Thread the machine with the metallic thread in the top (there should already be bobbin thread in the bobbin). Use the auxiliary upright spool holder so the metallic thread feeds in an upright position. Start the embroidery.
  11. The remaining two colors of the design are done in 40wt polyester embroidery thread. Thread the machine with the first color (light blue in our sample). Use the standard horizontal spool holder and cap. Continue the embroidery.
  12. Re-thread with the final color (teal in our sample) and complete the embroidery.
  13. Remove the hoop from the machine but leave the fabric hooped.
  14. On the screen, open the Coaster Outline from the USB drive in the same manner as above. Thread the machine with all purpose thread in the bobbin and on top of the machine.
    NOTE: The re-threading step is optional. The coaster outline can also be sewn with bobbin thread and matching 40 wt embroidery thread.
  15. Place the hoop back onto the machine.
  16. The Coaster Outline design has two color changes. The first color is a line of stay stitching that secures the fabric to the batting.
  17. When Color 1 is complete, place a 7″ x 7″  square of linen over the hoop. Sew Color 2. This is the outline, which includes a pre-programmed break in the seam that will be used for turning the coaster right side out when removed from the hoop.
  18. Remove the hoop from the machine, and remove the fabric from the hoop. On the reverse side of the embroidery, trim away the excess batting close to the outline stitching.
  19. On the right side of the embroidery, trim back the main fabric to ¼” all around. Clip the corners at a diagonal, taking care to not cut into the seam.
  20. Turn the coaster right side out through the opening in the main seam and press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  21. Hand stitch the opening closed with tiny stitches. You could also use a strip of fusible web between the layers of the opening for a clean edge.


Project Design and Sample Creation: Michele Mishler

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Barbara P
Barbara P
1 year ago

I am interested in learning about embroidery; this article was a helpful introduction. I do not yet have an embroidery machine. Does all embroidery thread need a special bobbin thread? Do you have to test tensions on the machine or does an embroidery machine automatically adjust? What about needles used with an embroidery machine?

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Barbara P

Hi Barbara – In general, I’d recommend visiting your local dealer (our choice is, of course, Janome) to test an embroidery machine in person. That’s the very best way to experience it. There are a LOT of variables (just like all sewing techniques), including fabric, project, thread type, etc. that come into play. In most situations, we do choose to use a bobbin thread in combination with embroidery thread. The needle is going to be determined more by the fabric and thread, but there are embroidery and metallic needles that are often recommended. Tension, again, depends on what you are… Read more »

Kris Valle
Kris Valle
3 years ago

I love this project and I’d like to make it in Sashiko stitching.

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Kris Valle

Wow – that would be pretty. Let us know if you give it a go. We’d love to see a picture.

3 years ago

I loved the detailed instructions. Thank you!

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Thanks, Laura! I love the dense look achieved with the border design.

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