The word "only" gets kind of a bad rap. It can seem a little too close to "lonely," but the flip side is the heart of its true meaning: to focus on one thing. If you do one thing very, very well, then you are likely an expert. So it is with the Janome Memory Craft embroidery-only machines. Yes, they only do embroidery, but they do it expertly and with Janome's trademark ease-of-use. The newest member of this family is the Memory Craft 500E, which just debuted last month at authorized Janome America dealers. We got the opportunity to try the new model and used it to create this beautiful set of embroidered placemats and napkins. We selected two built-in florals, stitching them against a shear ribbon lattice on a 100% linen background.
Here are a few super-cool reasons why you might want an embroidery-only machine: 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 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"
There are 160 embroidery designs and 6 fonts for monogramming built-in to the MC500E. You can also easily import additional designs via the USB connection. Do your editing and arranging right on the large LCD color touchscreen or connect (again via USB) to your computer to complete the same functions, such as: enlarge/ reduce, rotate, flip, drag and drop, arc, combine, copy and paste, and more.
Anchoring an embroidery design with an interesting background treatment is an innovative way to add texture and give the arrangement a definite base, so it doesn't appear to be simply "floating" on the surface. We used a sheer ribbon lattice as our anchor on both the placemats and napkins.
We selected two florals from the MC500E's built-in designs, copying and pasting each one multiple times to create a grouping of nine designs on the placements and a complimentary trio of designs of each napkin.
If you haven't done a lot of embroidery, you may not understand that grouping designs as well as picking thread colors is part of the creative process... and the fun. Designs can be stitched in the palette of your choice. We selected warm tones that hint at the gorgeous falling leaves outside our windows.
Fusible fleece between our layers of linen give the placemats more stability and help protect your tabletop from hot dishes.
The Memory Craft 500E is available now at authorized Janome America dealers. Ask for a demonstration so you can see how easy it to add embroidery to the mix in your sewing room. The list price is $2999, but many dealers are offering introductory specials, bundles and/or trade in opportunities. Find out more from your local dealer.
Our thanks to Janome providing the new Memory Craft 500E. To stay up-to-date on all the news from Janome, visit their website and/or follow the creativity on their blog, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
Our placemats finish at approximately 19" x 13" and the napkins finish at approximately 19½" x 19½" when flat, 9¾" x 4⅞" when folded.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
The amounts shown below are for TWO placemats and TWO napkins
- 1½ yards of 44"+ wide medium weight linen or similar; we purchased our linen locally - a similar option is Waterford Linen in Natural by Kaufman Fabrics
- ½ yard of 44"+ wide fusible fleece; we used Pellon 987F Fusible Fleece
- THREE sheer ribbons in varying widths; we used Offray ⅞" and ⅜" plain sheers and one satin-edged sheer at 5/16", purchased locally
NOTE: The amount of ribbon needed will be determined by your ribbon lattice design. In general, approximately 2⅓ yards of each style is a good starting point for two placemats and two napkins; this allows you the flexibility of up to two strips on each placemat and one diagonal strip on each napkin.
- Tearaway stabilizer as recommended by your machine; we used Floriani
- 40wt embroidery thread in your chosen embroidery colors - we also chose embroidery thread to stitch all the ribbons in place; we used Floriani high-sheen polyester
- 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
- From the main fabric, cut the following:
TWO 15" high x 22" wide rectangles for the placemat fronts
TWO 14" high x 20" wide rectangles for the placemat backs
TWO 21" x 21" squares for the napkins
NOTE: Sizing given above is to accommodate the hoops we used with our Memory Craft 500E.
- From the fusible fleece, cut TWO 13¼" x 19¼" rectangles.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Locate one of the 15" x 22" rectangles. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- We recommend positioning the widest ribbons first. We cut two 16" lengths of the ⅞" ribbon. The first length was placed 3" in from one raw side edge of the fabric. The second ⅞" length was placed 2" from the first. The raw ends of the ribbon should extend slightly beyond the top and bottom raw edges of the fabric panel. Pin both ribbons in place.
NOTE: In our sample, we cut our linen selvedge to selvedge so we chose to work from the selvedge, side knowing we would then trim away the selvedge when the embroidery was complete.
- Add the additional ribbons. We used three additional narrow ribbons, cutting each into 16" lengths. Space the ribbons evenly, following our design or creating your own. Our ribbons ended up being approximately ½" part with the outermost ribbon about 2" from the raw side edge.
- Thread the machine with 40wt embroidery thread to match the sheer ribbon in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin.
- Sew all the ribbons in place along each edge, using a standard straight stitch, removing pins as you sew.
- We edgestitched the sheer ribbons in place, but for the satin-edge sheer we choose, our stitch ran just inside the satin edge rather than along the very edge.
- Repeat all the above to create the ribbon lattice on the remaining front rectangle (or however many placemats you are making).
Memory Craft 500E embroidery
- Hoop two layers of stabilizer in the MC500E's 7.9" x 11" RE28b Hoop.
- Find the exact center of the ribbon lattice (top to bottom as well as wide to side) and place a pin to mark this center point.
- Place the ribbon lattice over the stabilizer within the hoop. The 15" side edge of the fabric panel should be parallel with the long side of the hoop. The center pin should align with the molded center marks on the hoop. Once positioned, pin the fabric panel in place along the edges of the hoop.
- Thread the MC500E with the first color of 40wt embroidery thread in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin. Place the hoop on the machine.
- Open the poppy design arrangement. Use the machine's jog keys to center the design.
NOTE: We've included an advanced technique tutorial below on How To Make an Embroidery Arrangement.
- Embroider the design, using the color pallet of your choice.
- The machine will automatically stop, lock off, and alert you to change thread color.
- When the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine, and remove the stabilizer from the embroidered panel. Press from the wrong side of the embroidery.
- Repeat for the additional placemat panel(s).
Finish the placemat
- Thread a sewing machine with all purpose thread to match the linen fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Trim the embroidered panel to create a 14" x 20" panel. We centered our trim line so the outermost edge of our embroidery would be about 1¼" from the side edge of the cut panel.
- Place the panel right side down (embroidery side down). Find a fusible fleece panel. Place the fusible fleece on the wrong side of the embroidery panel, centering it side to side and top to bottom. There should be approximately ⅜" of fabric extending beyond the fleece on all sides. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place.
- Find a 14" x 20" plain back panel. Place the front and back panels right sides together, sandwiching the embroidery between the layers, and pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the panels together, leaving a 4" opening along one long edge for turning. Remember to pivot at each corner and to lock the seam at either side of the 4" opening.
- Trim the corners and turn right side out. Use a long, blunt tool to gently push out the corners so they are nice and square. A knitting needle or chopstick works well.
- Press the edges so the seam rolls slightly to the back. Press in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Edgestitch around the entire perimeter of the placemat, ¼" from the edge.
- Repeat to create the additional placemat(s).
- The napkins are made in a similar manner to the placemats - just with a smaller, simplified design.
- Find a 21" square of fabric. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place one or more lengths of ribbon diagonally across one corner. We used one length of sheer ⅞" ribbon and one length of narrow satin-edged ribbon. The ⅞" ribbon was placed approximately 6" in from the corner. The narrow ribbon is about ½" from the wide ribbon. Pin the ribbons in place.
- Stitch in place using the same technique as above for the placemats: edgestitching on the sheer ribbon and stitching just inside the satin on the narrow ribbon.
- Press narrow ¼" double fold hems around all four sides of the square, mitering the corners.
NOTE: If you are new to this hemming technique, we have a step-by-step tutorial on the process.
- Edgestitch in place. A stylus or seam ripper comes in handy to hold the mitered corners in place so you can easily pivot at each corner.
- Hoop two layers of stabilizer in the MC500E's 5.5" x 5.5" SQ14b hoop.
- Position the ribbon embellished corner over the stabilizer, using the center marks on the hoop to help align the napkin corner diagonally. Pin the point of the corner in place.
- Embroider the napkin flower arrangement, following the same steps as above.
- Repeat for create the additional napkin(s)
Advanced Technique: How to Make an Embroidery Arrangement using the Janome Memory Craft 500E
- Open Embroidery Editor. Select the RE28b Hoop.
- Click on the Design icon.
- From the folders, select Design Folder. These are the designs available on the MC500E.
- Select Favorite Designs.
- Our arrangement uses FAV_1_03, a beautiful poppy design.
- Select and the design will appear on the screen, centered in the hoop. The design list bar to the right will also show a single poppy design.
- Locate the Copy & Paste icon in the upper left corner.
- Click on Copy & Paste two times to create two additional poppy designs on the screen. Move them into position as shown in our sample arrangement or create your own grouping.
- Locate the Rotate function. Select a poppy design and enter the angle of rotation desired.
- The poppy will rotate and the rotation information will also be shown on the Design List.
- Continue to adjust and rotate the poppies until you have your desired look.
- To add the small accent flowers, click again on the Design Folder.
- Select the Petite Designs folder. Our sample arrangement uses PET_1_20.
- Copy & Paste the design to create six small flowers. Arrange the flowers in groups of three.
- Rotate some of the flowers using the same technique used for the poppies.
- Write the design directly to the MC500E's built-in memory banks or to a memory stick.
- We did our editing on a laptop, however, this arrangement can also be created on the machine's Edit screen without any need of a computer. The MC500E has a full complement of editing tools, including the ability to group and move multiple designs – very handy when positioning the groups of small flowers among the poppies.
- One of our favorite Janome editing feature is Color Sort, which groups multiple designs to minimize color changes.
- The arrangement for the napkin was made in the same way as the large arrangement for the placemats, using just three of the small flowers, rotated and positioned to create a pleasing group.
Project Design and Sample Creation: Michele Mishler