Machine Embroidery on a Cool Memory Pillow

I love words and I love incorporating words or letters into my projects if I can. What better way to show them off than by using machine embroidery on a cool memory pillow?

Today I want to check out the built-in fonts on the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale. I have loads of ideas of how to add words to a variety of projects that I have on the go. Today though, we are going to focus on one of the built-in fonts and one project. Next time, I’ll show you a variety of projects where words have been added.

Let’s get started and see what we can do with those fonts.

Built-in Embroidery Fonts

Even though there’s an actual size picture of each of the four built-in embroidery fonts and the three different available sizes for each font, I thought it would be a good exercise to actually stitch them out. That would give me a chance to use the Royal Hoop (360 X 200), get some practice adding multiple designs to the Embroidery Edit screen and well – just have fun watching the Ruby Royale do the embroidery!  It has been a while since I’ve done machine embroidery and I need some warm up before I get to my project.

This is the Embroidery Edit screen and you can see in the bottom left corner that I have chosen the Royal Hoop (360 X 200).  Notice the dotted vertical rectangle. That is the embroidery field for this hoop. My designs must be within that range or I won’t be able to proceed to the Embroidery Stitch-Out screen.

Embroidery field in the Embroidery Edit screen

To make my sample more useful, I decided to embroider the font name and size. That way I could easily choose the combination that I want.

Three separate “font designs” in the Embroidery Edit screen

Did you notice that TWO of my designs go beyond the dotted line?  No worries – the computer will alert me if the design is too large for the embroidery field.

Pop up message telling me at least one of the design is too big for the hoop

It is easy to choose the letters (upper case, lower case or numbers – each in their own menu) using the stylus.

The stylus makes it easy to choose the letters

To fix the problem of those designs that didn’t fit the embroidery field,  I could have rotated them, but remember – I’m keeping this simple. I simply shortened each line until it fit in the embroidery field.

Ruby Royale stitching out the built-in fonts

Here’s my stitch out of the four fonts in each of the three sizes available. Oh yes – I can manipulate those sizes but not now!

One of the amazing things about the Ruby Royale is the Automatic Jump Stitch Trim. You see from the stitch-out below how the letters are not connected to each other? Well if you have the Automatic Jump Stitch Trim engaged in the Sewing Settings, the Ruby Royale will trim the top jump thread and pull the thread to the underside of the fabric!  Seriously? When I read that – I thought “Oh sure”. But when I saw it in action – I was awe struck. For anyone who has done machine embroidery, you know how long it takes to trim all those jump threads yourself.

The only jump stitch left is the space and that is a large baste stitch so it’s easy to get rid of.  I notice that there are still a couple of jump stitches between the letters – look at the Claren 20 – you can see the jump stitch between the 2 and the 0. Imagine having to trim that away from EVERY jump? Nice that there’s just one or two.

I do not profess to be an expert machine embroiderer so these two things can probably be eliminated if I were more knowledgeable. Regardless, I was thrilled to just trim a few rather than all.

The built-in fonts all stitched out. That Claren should in fact be Clarendon!

You probably noticed that there are clips on the Royal Hoop (360 X 200) (pictured above). That’s a large area within that hoop and there’s a lot of pressure as the fabric is hooped and the design is stitched out. Those little metal clips (easy to put on and take off) help to secure the fabric in the hoop and stabilize the hoop during the embroidery process.

Clips on the Royal Hoop

Machine Embroidered Memory Pillow

As you can imagine, I’m always on the hunt for new projects to share with you. From time to time, we have brain storming sessions during my regular sewing days and we come up with all kinds of things. I wish I could share them all with you.

One of the ideas was a Memory Pillow. My friend Karen lost her husband last year and I though a Machine Embroidered Memory Pillow would be perfect for her. I asked her if she was OK with that and if she still had some of Barclay’s shirts that I could cut up. She said yes to both and I was good to go.


You will need:

  • a shirt – preferably cotton or other woven fabric. You could do the same thing with a knit material, but best if you stabilize the knit.
  • Contrast fabric for the pocket – I used a second shirt
  • Pillow form (I used a 20 inch pillow form)
  • Zipper (I used a 14″ zipper)
  • You also need stabilizer for the embroidery, embroidery weight bobbin thread and embroidery thread for the embroidery

Supplies needed for the Machine Embroidered Memory Pillow

I’m making an orange pocket for the blue shirt. Initially, I was going to take the orange pocket off the orange shirt, do the embroidery on the pocket and then sew it to the blue shirt. More on that in a minute. I find it very confining to think out the entire project ahead of time. I like to make it up as I go which you’ll see during this project.

I thought it was interesting to see how the shirt pockets are reinforced in two different ways. If ever you sew a pocket on anything – a garment, a bag or whatever – you must reinforce the stitching at the top. If you don’t – that pocket will rip off with repeated use and usually tear whatever the pocket is stitched to.

Reinforced pocket tops

While it was easy to remove the blue pocket, the orange pocket had a bar tack which is very secure.

Bar tack to reinforce pocket top

It’s easy to get rid of the bar tack. On the inside of the shirt, take your sharp seam ripper and carefully insert it underneath the stitches of the bar tack. Slice the bar tack stitches open. Then from the right side of the garment, you can just rub the bar tack with your finger nail and most of those stitches will fall right out. You may need to pick a few more out with the seam ripper. Be careful – you don’t want to cut through the garment.

NOTE: There is nothing like having a sharp seam ripper. Did you know seam rippers get dull?  Well, they do get dull. Make sure you replace your seam ripper when it isn’t doing a good job. 

The stitches on the top right bar tack has been sliced open. See how they fluff up

Both pockets are removed – big difference in size between them.

Next I used scissors and cut up the blue shirt. I cut carefully around the edges of the seams. Wait until you read all my tutorial before you attempt this. Since I’m a bit of a “let’s wing it girl“, I usually end up with some sort of challenge. You’ll see what I mean in a minute!

Shirt back removed from the shirt

Then I repeated the same process for the shirt fronts. Cut them carefully with scissors. More on that in a few minutes.

The shirt fronts removed from the shirt

Now I want to stitch the shirt fronts together. I could use the buttons as a way to get the pillow form inside the pillow cover, but I didn’t want the front to gape between the buttons. So I decided to stitch the front of the shirt closed.

I’m a detail person so if I stitched the front closed, I would end up with two lines of stitching down the edge of the placket.

So I removed the stitching along the edge of the placket. The one closest to the edge of the shirt.

The original stitching on the placket. I removed the right most stitching.

Then I pinned the shirt fronts together (matching the strips) and sewed the two pieces together where I had previously removed the stitching.

The shirt fronts stitched together

Technically, the shirt placket looks the same, but now that right most line of stitching isn’t only holding the placket lining in place, both sides of the shirt are stitched together. A small detail, but this is the front of the shirt and two lines of stitching would have driven me crazy!

The “new” placket

Now I have two big pieces of fabric to make the pillow cover. One from the back of the shirt and one from the front.

Here’s where I ran into trouble. I did not measure. I went shopping for the pillow form and I was going to purchase an 18 inch pillow form. But I liked the quality of the 20 inch pillow form better so I bought that one.

Now a little voice in the back of my head was saying “Are you sure the shirt is going to be big enough to cover the 20 inch pillow form?” I promptly ignored the voice and bought the bigger pillow form.

There are instructions for making a cushion/pillow cover in these two links.

Sewing a cushion top Part One

Sewing a cushion top Part Two

From that you know that I like to cut my squares for the front and back the same size as the pillow form. 20 inch pillow form means two 20 inch squares of fabric (the back technically is bigger to start since I’m putting a zipper in).

Have a look……………

Just short of what I need!

Shoot – if had of been a bit more careful with the scissors, I may have been able to eek out that extra little bit.

But this is where the project gets exciting for me. I wasn’t too worried, because I could always get a smaller pillow form and I would be OK. Let’s think – think – think – what can we do to solve this problem?

AHA – there is a hem on the shirt – let’s open the hem and see how much more that gives me.

Opening the hem gives me an extra one half inch!

Let’s not forget that I like to round off the corners of the pillow cover. Oh yes – I’m good to go!  See? There’s always a way! This is my version of living on the edge – a problem comes up – how can it be solved? I love it!

I wanted to insert a zipper into the back of the pillow cover. Therefore I trimmed the front to 19 1/2″ and the back was trimmed to 19 1/2″ wide and as long as I could get from the back. I was going to try and match up the plaid when I inserted the zipper.


A note about the cut size of the pieces and the pillow form size: Even though the pillow forms are a certain size – you can usually get away with a slightly smaller pillow cover. If you were to make the pillow cover exactly the same size (in this case 20 inches), it wouldn’t fit nice and tight on the pillow form.

Cutting the pillow cover front (from the shirt front) and the pillow cover back (extra long to accommodate the zipper insertion)

Zipper inserted – not too bad on the plaid matching

Yes – there really is a zipper in there.

Machine embroidering the pocket

Now it’s time to move to the pocket and the machine embroidery.

Karen gave me some text to embroider on the pocket. I was working with a very small area (the original orange pocket), so I did a complete sample stitch-out to see how it would work for the size. I did have to shrink the letters down a bit so they would fit on the pocket. There are ways to print this out rather than stitching it out, but we are not there yet.

When the sample was stitched out – I realized the pocket was too small. The embroidery would fit, but just and that would make it look too squished. Oh dear – I hate making pockets, but looks like I have to bite the bullet and make one.

Original pocket is too small for the embroidery

Well – I had an entire shirt – so I just hooped an area of the orange shirt and did the embroidery on that. I did not bother cutting the shirt apart. Notice that they are little marks on the hoop which are excellent for lining up your fabric. I matched a strip on the shirt to the mark on the center top and center bottom to get the stripes straight.

Orange shirt hooped

Embroidery in progress

Embroidery is complete

I removed the stabilizer from the back of the embroidery design and cut out the pocket. I sort of eye balled the size based on the size of the embroidery. Then I used the original pocket as a guide to cut the angle for the bottom of the pocket.

The bottom angle mimics the original pocket

One of the reasons I hated making pockets is that I could never press the edges consistently. Well I decided that a piece of lined index card would be a perfect guide. I could use the lines to get a consistent measure and the straight edge of the card worked like a charm to get a perfectly straight edge. Hmmm – I don’t hate pockets any more!

Notice in the picture below that I fused a piece of lightweight interfacing over the back of the stitches. The pocket is a functional pocket and I didn’t want the rough edges of the underside of the embroidery to be felt.

Note to self: In future, make sure you do all the trimming on the front of the pocket (those jump stitches in the spaces) BEFORE you fuse the interfacing on! See – these projects are learning experiences for me too!

Using a lined index card to press under the edges of the pocket.

Next up was sewing the pocket to the shirt front. Notice that I reinforced the top of the pocket.

The pocket is sewn onto the shirt front

I rounded the corners as per my tutorial that was mentioned above. I used the J foot and an overcast stitch to sew the pillow front and back together. 

Make sure you open the zipper before you sew the two pieces together so you can turn the pillow cover right side out.

Lastly stuff the pillow form inside the pillow cover and VOILA – a beautiful Embroidered Memory Pillow.

I must admit that I love putting the pillow form inside the pillow cover. It’s like a big pillow fight as you shift everything around to make the stuffing fit into the corners and be evenly dispersed!  A good stress reliever!

Machine Embroidered Memory Pillow

Don’t you just love that I found a matching sofa to display it on!  And I added my little signature tag to the pillow cover as well. Making those tags was covered in this link.

I would like to thank Karen (and Barclay) for sharing this very personal moment with us.

I hope you enjoyed the process of making the memory pillow. If you don’t want to make a memory pillow – you could put any special message, design, an applique or even a photo on that pocket. Make the pillow for a student going away to college or leaving home for the first time, a loved one who lives far away, a friend who moves away, a beloved pet. The possibilites are endless.

The Challenge Revisited

Earlier this week, I mentioned the “What’s Good for the Gal is Good for the Guy” challenge. Yes – I have been working on it. I just love seeing what Jennifer is doing which is so different from what I’m doing. I’ll only give you a couple of pictures to check on my progress. The rest will come the next time I blog.

Ten inch squares from Tim Holtz Eclectic Collection

We’re working with a limited amount of fabric. Not skimpy, but no room for error. I wanted to keep the pieces fairly large.

I played around on my computer quilt design software and decided to keep the design fairly simple, but I’ll be adding a couple of very subtle but very symbolic elements to the quilt. I would like to thank Tish who helped solve my last design dilemma. 

It’s challenging to work on a quilt design for a highly creative person and they have no input to the design. I’ve shown my daughter who is the same age and she thought it was pretty neat so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the recipient feels the same way.

I chose a solid grey to add to the Tim Holtz fabric

Just to tease you – here are a couple of cuts that I made.

Directional fabric cut one way

Directional fabric cut another way

Some fabric was not directional

More cuts

Because the design is fairly simple, I can’t reveal too much!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week with the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale, and the machine embroidery on the cool memory pillow. It’s been loads of fun!

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to show you more amazing things you can do with the Ruby Royale. Some days I feel like a kid in a candy store. But instead of starting a bunch of new things, I’ve been using the features of the Ruby Royale to complete UFOs. It’s a win win for everyone.

Have a great day!


Related posts

Machine embroidery in the hoop!

7 Quilting design elements to add personality

Machine quilting


anna napoleone February 24, 2016 - 6:01 pm
Can you please do a little tutorial on how to set up the machine for the embroidery? I want to embroider that exact saying on my pillow and i have the Brother SE400.. I'm having trouble figuring it out.... not much on utube.. and the manual didn't cover it.. Thank you....
Carla A. Canonico February 29, 2016 - 11:01 am
Hi Anna! Thank you for your inquiry about the Brother SE400. We found two links to help you with your question about setting up your machine for embroidery. We hope this is useful to you. Let us know. Thanks!
Pat November 12, 2015 - 9:55 am
I am going to make five memory cushions for my late brothers grandchildren and was wondering if you could do the embroidery if I were to forward you the fabric. If so could you give me a price for something very similar to the orange strip patch pocket you put on one of your memory cushions that looks fantastic Thanks Pat xx
Carla A. Canonico November 12, 2015 - 11:50 am
Thank you for your request Pat. If you don't have an embroidery machine to do the embroidery for your memory cushions, I recommend you take the fabric to your nearest embroidery stores, the kind that embroider T-shirts, caps and sweatshirts. They'll be able to do it.
Dawn Mason February 7, 2015 - 11:09 pm
I love the sentiment on the memory pillow.
Carla A. Canonico February 9, 2015 - 11:07 am
Yes, it's heartwarming and a reminder that when they leave, they're still around in our hearts.
Monica February 7, 2015 - 11:26 am
Pauline February 7, 2015 - 12:35 am
I really like the embroidered text it would be great to have a machine that does this. Thanks for the chance to win one. Pauline
Carla A. Canonico February 9, 2015 - 11:09 am
Yes! And don't miss the embroidered text that will be revealed on Elaine's quilt in our quilt challenge in March 2015. The quilt challenge is called 'What's good for the gal, is good for the guy'. Stay tuned.
QuiltShopGal February 6, 2015 - 9:17 pm
Very cute pillow project idea. Inspirational. But I'm hoping you can help answer a question. I can obviously leave a comment on this post, but your most current post (for your machine embroidery collection giveaway) I don't see how one can leave a comment? What's up? QuiltShopGal
Carla A. Canonico February 9, 2015 - 11:12 am
You just did! Include your question, and either I or Elaine will answer...Thank you for asking.
Pam B February 6, 2015 - 2:55 pm
Hiya Elaine!!! What a neat idea---the memory pillow. My thoughts go out to Karen on her loss. I love your blog and the work you put into QuiltSocial too. Keep up the good job. Thanks for everything. Blessed be, hugs!!! Pam
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