Sew Sweet Monogramming

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Episode Summary

Alexis Galloway is a commercial machine embroidery artist and the owner of Sew Sweet Monogramming. She is also the founder of Sew Sweet Academy -a membership community for embroiderers of all levels to learn and support one another. She joins the show to share her story of how she was born into sewing. Alexis also shares her experience making the leap to fully owning her own business, where the name of her academy came from, and the challenges she faces as a business owner. For embroiderers who are wanting to make the leap from single needle machines, Alexis explains her process of making the leap from a single needle to multi-needle machines. This is a fun episode where Alexis takes us behind the scenes of her business and process, even sharing details of the challenging materials she had to embroider as well as how she made the shift from embroidery to teaching.

Episode Notes

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Lisa Woolfork 0:09

Hello stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together.

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. And I am delighted to bring to you, to introduce Alexis Galloway from Sew Sweet Monogramming, Sew Sweet Academy, so sweet, so sweet! Thank you so much, Alexis, for being with us today. Alexis does machine embroidery, commercial machine embroidery, and works with multi needle machines. And I am very interested in those, and learning more about those, and to bring her to the Stitch Please family. Welcome, Alexis.

Alexis 1:13

Hey, thank you, thank you.

Lisa Woolfork 1:14

And if you are a Patreon subscriber, you get the benefit of the video of our conversation, which, why are you not? If you're not a Patreon subscriber, why are you not? It's only $2 a month. And as I say all the time, you know I am worth way more than two doggone dollars. Sign up for the Patreon and you get to see, not just this video with Alexis looking fantastic with her embroidery nutrition facts sweatshirt, and her fantastically and very clean-looking embroidery studio. Like it looks - there's a reason that I film in this corner of the room every week, because I'm not about to be showing all of my studio to the people. Because it's not it's not suitable for that kind of viewing. But Alexis' is in wonderful shape. So Alexis, welcome. Welcome. Welcome. And thank you for joining us today.

Alexis 1:17

Thank you for having me.

Lisa Woolfork 1:20

So I wanted to get started with, can you tell me about your sewing story? When did sewing first come into your life? I think you said you learned from your mom?

Alexis 2:19

So I was born into sewing, basically. My mom sewed, and as young as I could sit on her lap and hand over hand stitch, put things on - she was controlling the foot pedals and I was the one, you know, just kind of maneuvering everything around - and it's never been a situation, you know how usually some people like to put everything up from the kids? I was always exposed to everything, you know, the pins, all kinds of stuff. I was able to play with the tools from very young, I just had a good knowledge of what everything was. And I grew up - she showed me how to make different things. I stitched all the way through middle school, and then high school, it was not as popular and not as cool to sew anymore. So I stopped, and I wish I hadn't. But when I had my daughter in 2007, I picked it back up probably the year after, because a co-worker came in and she had an embroidery machine. And I was like, I could do that. Right? Probably be better too. I came home, told my mom about it, just typical her; she went out and purchased an embroidery machine for all of us to use. Me, her and my sister. And I'm the one that took a special interest in it, started selling things to my co-workers, and just you know, fell in love with it all over again, with the creative space. Here I go.

Lisa Woolfork 3:40

That is such a beautiful story, Alexis, and I really like how you recognize your mother's invitation. Right? That from a small child, your earliest memories of sewing wasn't just Oh, go sit down somewhere I'm trying to sew or, you know, Don't touch this. And like you said, that's true that a lot of parents would keep sewing machines and sewing gear and scissors and pins and those kind of things away from children. Right? My mother, for example, my poor mama, she had fabric scissors, and she had paper scissors. And there's three girls, I'm the oldest of three. And she would tie a piece of fabric to her scissors. Unfortunately, I never knew if the fabric meant those were the ones we were supposed to use for paper, or the ones we weren't supposed to use for paper. I'll just say my mama had a whole lot of jacked-up scissors, because my sisters and I could not understand the system and so for her it was better to put all her stuff up. You know? Not that we wouldn't find it and be like, Look what we found! Look at all this stuff in here! Did you know this stuff was here?

Alexis 4:47

Exactly, it's just cool. And it's always so colorful and nice.

Lisa Woolfork 4:52

Yeah, my poor mama. Poor mama, poor mama. And so your mom was like, I invite you to come in and play with this stuff like - the beautiful vision of you as a toddler, as a small child sitting on her lap, while she controlled the needle going up and down the speed of the machine, but you got to guide the fabric through with your hands on top of her hands. That is a really beautiful image. And it just shows the way that sewing was incorporated into your life from your earliest memories. Did she make a lot of your clothes and those kinds of things? Or did she sew for other people, or both?

Alexis 5:29

Both. So she made a lot of my clothes. I don't know if you remember, but in the 80s the patterns with the big fluffy shoulders, and the high waist, I love those - I think it was like Kingdom something, I can't even remember the name of the pattern. But my sister and I, she was-

Lisa Woolfork 5:45

Daisy Kingdom?

Alexis 5:47

Daisy, yes. See, that's so crazy. I remembered the Kingdom portion of it. I can visualize it. So she would make so many of our things. And we would just have like different color renditions of each other's stuff. I think blankets are my favorite right now. I have a couple that just, it's like a Winnie the Pooh blanket, and it's falling apart. And I still love it. And she wanted to take it home to revamp it. I said, You do not touch my blanket. This is mine.

Lisa Woolfork 6:12

Every hole and every bare spot has a memory. It's been worn down with love.

Alexis 6:18

Yes, exactly. And it's mine.

Lisa Woolfork 6:20

So when you decided, then, like - what occurred to get you to make the leap from, "Okay, I'll make things for co-workers. My mom got this machine for me and my sisters and her to use. I want to do more than just the occasional project here and there. I actually want to completely transform from working and having co-workers to owning my own business." How did you get from those two? That seems like a pretty far leap.

Alexis 6:49

It is. Before I went full-time in embroidery, I was a physical therapist's assistant. And in my mind, there was no way I could replace my income. Like I just couldn't see how that was possible, just crafting and doing this as a hobby. So I had a couple friends and I would just tell them- in the entrepreneurial space, I still had friends that were there- and I would just say, "You know, I don't think I could just really make money off this. I mean, I do things, I sell it here and there. But I don't think this is like a real career." And they're like, You could teach this. I said, "Okay, that sounds fun. But you know, who knows." And I got laid off from - I was doing home health, physical therapy. I love love love the profession. I actually, if I have to be honest, I miss it. And my mom's therapist came the other day to help rehab her knee, and she came back the next day and said, "You know, I think you really should consider working for us." And I was like, "Mmmm, no."

Lisa Woolfork 7:02

How about I work for my own mama here. How about I do that instead.

Alexis 7:50

Right. So I just, you know, when I got laid off, all the Medicare changes and the cuts with home health, and that was in 2019. So, perfect God-planned timing. Because by the time unemployment ran out, the world shut down. And I couldn't go to work anyway. I had already opened the Academy, I was doing that - Sew Sweet Academy - I was doing that while I was working, and I was just feeling so overwhelmed. I could tell my heart was not in it. Even though I love therapy. My heart was not necessarily in therapy anymore. I was getting burnt out. The timing was just right, and I opened the Academy. I wanted to have more time to spend with my Academy members, and just really plan things out. That transition, God made that transition for me, and I just was obedient.

Lisa Woolfork 8:50

It's so funny because the name of your Academy, Sew Sweet Academy. Where did that name come from? Can you talk about "sew sweet"? Because when I hear "so sweet," I'm thinking like, you know, things that are sweet, like you know, sweet little cute little sweet little hearts, and little animals with little button eyes, you know, really cute sweet things. But what you're talking about's not sweet. So like, tell me about the name, Sew Sweet.

Alexis 9:18

This is my second favorite story to tell when it comes to my business, because when I first started I was making items that were - I was doing baby, I love baby items. So I was doing bibs, burp cloths, onesies. And I would construct them into the shape of sweets. So the burp cloths were cupcakes. The onesies and the bibs, I would roll them up as candy. I think I might have one in the closet, I can't remember. But um, as candy, and I will put ribbons and stuff on it. So I was like okay, yeah, that's cute. So one day I was in my kitchen, and I was operating without a name, I didn't know what I was going to do. I prayed about it, you know? Any move I need to make, I pray about it. And I was just sitting there, I was just walking around washing my dishes in my kitchen, and the words "sew sweet" just came to me. And I said it, I said "sew sweet. I'm like, "sew sweet," like, "'sew sweet,' that's it! It was just clear as day. And I did not know at the time that that name would just match every portion of my embroidery career.

Lisa Woolfork 10:19

I love that. I love how it's both a revelation and a manifestation. It's a revelation because it was revealed to you while you were just in the midst of your regular activities, right? You had prayed about it, you had thought about it, it was percolating in the back of your mind. And then the name was revealed to you, it just came to you. But it's also a manifestation. This idea that somehow, your business, the monogramming, the teaching, the stitching, it can be sweet. It does not have to be bitter, it does not have to be sour, it does not have to be difficult. It can be sweet as well. And it can be joyful and pleasurable. And that's absolutely what I love about your name and about that story. Because you know what, it announces that this is going to be something that you would enjoy, even though the process behind it was not enjoyable. Not always, not always. Can you talk about some of the challenges in the growth of your business? You said you were able to start off with - what was the first embroidery machine that your mother got, when she got that machine for all three of you all to share? Because I think that some folks need to understand the difference between the different types of embroidery machines. What type was it that she bought?

Alexis 11:51

So it was a PE680D.

Lisa Woolfork 11:56

And it's a Brother, is that the single needle Brother?

Alexis 12:00

It's the Brother. It looked a lot like the 770, but it was the Disney edition. So it had Disney characters built in. I compare it to stitching while playing Tetris, because those little dots and little pixelated things, you don't know what you're about to stitch out.

Lisa Woolfork 12:51

I have seen, of course, the Brother PE. This is a machine that's very, very popular, y'all. You know how we all are familiar with the way that sewing machine companies name and rank their machines. They start with, you know, Bernina does it with numbers and letters. BabyLock does it with names, I think Janome might do names as well. But it might start with a basic machine that has very few features, and then as you go up the hierarchy, you end up with machines that have WiFi, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, and these are still all single machines, y'all. Okay? And so what Alexis is describing is kind of like a single needle, smaller, lower end. But it was a four by four hoop, was that the max,

Alexis 13:08

This one was the five by seven.

Lisa Woolfork 13:09

A five by seven. So the smallest ones have like a four by four maximum range of embroidery, four by four inches. And then the next ones up go to five by seven, and some go to eight by ten, and they go to nine by twelve, like they get bigger and bigger but they're still single. The benefit of this Brother machine that people loved was the Disney in it. Because it is impossible, I would say, to stitch out Disney designs that are legit without Disney's legit authorization. And you know who else did that? I don't know if it was Brother or maybe it was - I think it might have been BabyLock that had Laura Ashley designs built in. So certain machines will have, and who does - I think Bernina has Tula Pink designs built in? So like all these different companies will develop relationships with brands to stitch out their designs. Do you remember stitching out a bunch of designs when you first got your Disney machine?

Alexis 14:05

So the funny thing is I wanted the Disney brand so bad, because my daughter thought she was a Disney character. I got so tired of listening to "Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog." The funny thing is, I think I stitched the Disney design that came with the machine one time. One time. I got a couple of other programs that went with it, like for fonts and stuff. That was my main thing, I wanted to be able to do fonts and cute names. I took a big liking to appliqué. The appliqué didn't come on the machine at the time. They may have some now, but I would go on Etsy or some of these different websites that have the digitizers, that have a whole library of it, and I would just download and do from there. But yeah, I rarely used what was on it, to be honest, but it was nonetheless still an awesome machine.

Lisa Woolfork 14:57

And it's a great starter machine. A lot of people start with it. And embroidery can be very expensive. And so it can be good to kind of start small, just to see if you like it. And it turns out you liked it! So when did you decide to make the leap from the single needle Brother to something that you had to approach very differently? I guess the commercial multi needle embroidery machines, that these - oh look, there's one right behind us, y'all, right behind Alexis. And if you're a Patreon subscriber, you get to see it. And if you're not a Patreon subscriber, why don't you look in your couch and find $2 and send it to me?

Alexis 15:38

There you go.

Lisa Woolfork 15:39

But those, I find them so impressive. I really, I don't know what it is. It's kind of like, imagine one of those gigantic organs at, like, one of those really elaborate churches from the 18th century in Europe, where the pipes go all the way up to the ceiling, you know? It's just like, how do you play this? Does it have keys? You know? I don't know what it is about looking, when I approach a machine like that, that my brain just goes - I guess because I'm so used to watching one needle, I can't keep my eye on eight, you know? Or on seven, or four even. But was that the first one you kind of transitioned to? How many needles does that machine have?

Alexis 16:24

So this has six on good days. It has six - the other day, I may be down to five, because it hit the side and I almost had a heart attack. But listen, everybody that has one, it's like a rite of passage. Everybody knows that, at some point, something's going to bend on there because you're going to hit the wrong button, and you almost just pass out because you think your life is flashing before your eyes. This is the PR655. It's not the newest, there is another new one out, I think it's the PR680D? 780D? Something like that. No, W, that's what it is. The W is not for wide. But it's the W brand. This, I stepped up from the Disney one that I had to this one. And the way I did it, I did not finance it at all, okay? I got here and I stitched bunnies for Easter. And you can stitch on the ear, stitch a name and the year, and I saved my money. I used that to do two things. I took my daughter on a Disney cruise with all of my money from that. And then also, I saved it and I purchased my machine, and I would go in there - and we were talking about manifesting earlier - I would go into the embroidery shop, and I would just go visit my machine. I didn't know I was doing that. I didn't know I was manifesting it. I just knew that I liked this machine. I would come in, and they would say "Are you ready to buy today?" I would say, "Nope, I'm just visiting." I'd just come by and just check on my machine. And then finally one day- I didn't even have a date set- finally one day, I just looked at my account and I was like, you know what? I think I can swing this. I think it's time. Went in, purchased it, came on home with it. Let it sit for a month because I was afraid of it.

Lisa Woolfork 18:04

Just let it settle in. We still visit every now and again, you know? Do you name your machines? Do you name your embroidery machines?

Alexis 18:16

No, you know, I don't. I've never been one to name my cars or my machines. My sister does. She names her car, but I've never been one for that. I probably should.

Lisa Woolfork 18:04

Well, I just feel like y'all had developed a relationship. You came and you visited often, you visited over the months and checked in on her while she was at the store. And then one day you decided to bring her home, and then you set her up in the sewing space and let her get acclimated to all the threads, and get adjusted to the other machines in the community. And I feel like you have done everything to, you know, anthropomorphize - that's what they say when you turn a thing into a person or animate it - to anthropomorphize your sewing machine. This is like a Disney thing where she'll be like, the eyes will start blinking and then she'll wave her little arms around, you know, say Hello, I'm alive!

Alexis 19:05

She has a mind of her own, I will say that. I probably do need to come up with a name. The problem is, will I remember it? Or the problem is, can I tell people the real name, because I call it some names. I call her some names on a regular. I don't know if I could tell everybody those names.

Lisa Woolfork 19:23

Yeah, we don't want her to think that that's her name. Right? "My name is Dammit?!" That's fantastic, though. I am so excited to see this growth. What were some of the things you had to keep in mind., moving from a machine that most of us are familiar with, where you go in, you sit down, you put your thread spool in the top right corner, you take your thread through the thread guards and up and over the loop, you put it into the hook. You thread it in around the needle, and you thread it through the needle, and then you're ready to sew. You've been doing that for years, ever since you were a small child, and now you are facing a machine that has six needles. What's the first thing that flashes through your head? And then how do you make that adaptation to, "Okay, I really do like this."

Alexis 20:16

At first, I was so intimidated by the threading situation. But to be honest, it's the same process. All the machines, they do show you. They have a track. It goes down the track. All you have to do is just follow the track. And then you do it five more times. Once you do the first needle, you do it- because it's six- then you do it five more times. It's not that hard. What I like to do now, I tie it off. When I learned that you could do that, you tie it off at the top, kind of like a serger, and you pull it through. If one of them comes unthreaded, I don't want to start back over threading. But that is the easiest way to do it. Just tie it off, go all the way through. It seems very intimidating, but it's really not. Like once you get it, you get it. You just have to remember that it is sensitive. And it's a machine, literally, so there's got to be sensors. And if your little bitty piece of thread moves this much out of the sensor area, you'll get something that says "Check upper thread" and you know, it's probably still the lower thread or, you know, it just says "Check upper." So you have to know where to go. And I tell people all the time, if all else fails, just follow that thread back up and see if something looks like it's out of place

Lisa Woolfork 21:27

Hey, friends, hey. What are you doing on Thursday around 3pm or so? You got 30 minutes to hang out with Black Women Stitch? You got 60? If so, come through for 30 Minute Thursdays.Thursdays, 3pm Eastern Standard Time. You can chill with Black Women Stitch on Instagram Live, or talk with us through the two-way audio on Clubhouse at 3:30pm Eastern Standard Time. That's Thursdays for 30 minutes. Come hang out, chill and have fun with us. See you Thursday.

Lisa Woolfork 22:05

I also am excited to note that your machine will tell you what is wrong.

Alexis 22:09

Kind of. It'll tell you something is wrong.

Lisa Woolfork 22:13

It's like, I don't need a computer message to tell me something's wrong. The machine isn't going! Something must be wrong. But I do love how it kind of gives you this message to say, oh, okay, check upper thread, do this. Now, those of us who are familiar with the standard machine, I keep referring to this because I want to kind of have some kind of interpretive connection, like the things we're familiar with to things we might not be. The sewing machine operates with a single needle in a single bobbin. Right? That's how a stitch is formed. Can you explain how a stitch is formed on your six needle machine? Are there six different bobbins for each thing? Is there just one giant bobbin? Like, how does the stitch get created?

Alexis 22:56

So it's the same concept, because you can only stitch one needle at a time. So it will stitch whatever needle that you have programmed in there. And then when it's time to move to the next one, it just "zzt, zzt" moves to the next one it stitches. And the bobbin actually looks like- and when I was growing up, I hated this kind of bobbin because I never really knew how to thread it.

Lisa Woolfork 23:16

Oh yeah, yeah, that's a front-loading bobbin. She's showing us a front-loading bobbin. The kind that I think, I think Viking had some front-loaders. I think I had a Viking that had a front loader. Yes. Like you hold this little wing, it's like a car door, and then you slide it on there.

Alexis 23:36

But yeah, so that took a little getting used to. But I mean, it's the same thing, it's one bobbin. The thing I like about this one, when I started getting into new things with the multi needle, it's magnetic. And it uses it all the way down to, like, nothing. I'm almost done with this. But it uses it all the way down to nothing. It just pops right in there. If you're close enough, you can hear it click. It's just super easy, but it goes on the same - it's the same thing as a regular sewing machine, you know, it does the locking stitches and all the things that hold the stitches in place, if you were to slow it down and look at it. It's not, to be honest, it's not much different from a sewing machine, because it does the running stitches. It does the satin stitches. It does all that. And the funny thing is with my sewing machine, I have - I think it might be a Kenmore, I don't know - but there's nothing computerized about it and I love it. I do not want a computerized machine. My mom has a ton of sewing machines and I just love my plain, just, you push the lever and it goes.

Lisa Woolfork 24:39

It's like, what does this machine do, does it do a tie-off? Nope. Does it knot the threads> Nope. Does it automatically backstitch? Nope. What does it do? It sews a gorgeous and strong straight-stitch. That is what it does. And the only button I have, is I can flip the switch to turn it on and flip the switch to turn it off. That's all it does.

Alexis 24:55

Never had problems with it.

Lisa Woolfork 24:58

That's fantastic. Oh, I love that. I love it. I was thinking about the hooping. There's so many things that you can stitch on a machine like that. Can you identify something really, like, one of the most outlandish or unexpected things that you have embroidered for someone? Like, oh, I don't want to put this on, I want a boot! Or I want a hat, or I want a barbecue grill cover. I mean, I don't know what people might want to bring to you to have embroidered. Do you do those kinds of challenging things?

Alexis 25:29

I'm crazy. Because I feel like people come to me with the most random things, and I just take it on as a challenge. So if I had to think about the most random things I can think of, the first one was a Bible. And I was like, Okay, we're really going to say a prayer before we do this. And I was at the mall, I wasn't even at home in the comfort of my own home. I was at a vendor event right outside of Barnes and Noble. It was around Christmas time, and he wanted it as a gift. He wanted it embroidered. I tell everybody all the time, just know the basic rules. If you're going to do a book or something like that, if it's leather, as long as it's not a hard binding, you can do it. Just know those simple rules. I tried it. I said, Well, what if I mess this up? He said, Well, then, you know, I'll just go buy another Bible. I'm like, Are you...you want me to buy another Bible? What's going on?

Lisa Woolfork 26:17

"You said you would buy another Bible. I just want to make sure you said you, sir, you. Okay."

Alexis 26:22

It went well, I stitched on it. It was the name and everything. It was a well-made leather Bible. So I suggest if you're going to stitch on a Bible, do leather. The next thing that I did was on luggage. I did my logo on a carry - no, it wasn't even a carry-on. It was a checked luggage bag. Huge. I had to stand here, literally right here, and I had to hold the other side of it while it stitched. And I used specialized hoops. It might have been this one right here. These are hoop tech clamps. And I just clamped it on there, stitched it, and those are...yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 26:59

I'm imagining, like, a bag, and like you zip down the compartment, you open that compartment. And is that the part you stitched on?

Alexis 27:07

So that front pocket area. You know how you have carry-ons, it's the top pocket, and then there's the bottom one? I did the top one, but I still had to hold it.

Lisa Woolfork 27:17

Hold the whole luggage piece and help it move? Wow, wow. I would have absolutely made that a patch.

Alexis 27:27

I didn't know how to do patches yet.

Lisa Woolfork 27:28

I would have stuck it on with safety pins, because I would not have wanted to sew that onto the machine. So mine would have looked quite jacked up. Quite bad. That is exciting. I was wondering about your academy, and if you could talk a little bit about what it meant to shift from, in addition to doing, like, the bunnies that were able to buy you the machine and a vacation for your child, like, that's fantastic. I love to hear it. What was the shift like from teaching, doing this all yourself, to teaching people how to do it?

Alexis 28:00

So it was fairly, I want to say fairly easy. The teaching portion, the showing people what I do? Now the structure is what came harder for me, because I'm not always a structure person. This comes super easy to me. So where I had to slow down, I had to realize it doesn't come easy to everyone. And they're going to need more instruction, they're going to need more backstory and more why. I'm adventurous when it comes to stitching, obviously, due to the stories that I just told you about what I stitched on. And I had to find out that everybody isn't. Everybody isn't going to say, Oh, I can take on this strange project, and I can take on a million projects at one time. So I just had to change my way of thinking and break it down. I started off by just going live every Sunday. This was three years ago. And to this day, I still do. I go live every Sunday at five o'clock Eastern Standard Time. And it's called "It's Sew Sweet to Learn."

Lisa Woolfork 28:54

Do you do that on your Instagram channel on Instagram, or YouTube?

Alexis 29:00

It's on Facebook. I wish I had done YouTube earlier. But I just started uploading just the raw footage. I do everything in the easiest ways possible. I don't edit anything. I literally finish my live, upload it to YouTube. But it's on Facebook, I go live from my personal page, and I share it into many other groups. Luckily, I've met a lot of different group owners that will allow me to share into their group and give value. So I really appreciate that, and I always try to incorporate them into my stitches, even if it's like stitching out one of their designs just to show them my appreciation, because they don't have to.

Lisa Woolfork 29:40

Yes, yes. That's collaboration, that makes the community stronger. Oh, that's really wonderful. So what are some of the common challenges that your embroidery students face? What are some of the common questions that you get that you had to like, Oh, I never thought about that as a concern. You know, like what kind of things did you, in some ways, have kind of learned from your students about what they might find difficult?

Alexis 30:07

Stabilizer, what supplies to use, how to price their items, how to get it out there in front of audiences that will buy. So I've really turned the Academy into focusing on things like that. There's a mindset maintenance portion of it, that it's for crafters and creators such as ourselves. For some odd reason, we have the hardest time charging for what we do. Because we know how much time it takes. We know the val- well, we kind of know the value of it. But when it comes to giving or selling it, we retract into some little, Oh, I don't know if I should charge you. Or, people aren't going to pay as much as it takes to do this. Or, I had fun doing this, so I shouldn't charge a lot. So yeah, those are the main things that I run into when it comes to my Academy members. So we're always covering those types of issues that come up. And then I like to really focus on what's popular right now in the stitch space. The other night, we did beanies. I don't know if you've seen them, but they have the patch on the front of it. And we did those. And it's just an applique patch. So for me, I was like, Well, this is super easy. It's just an applique patch. And then when I started doing the class, I realized that a lot of them were struggling with that. But once I broke down the applique process, just merge on there, it just - I gave them homework, they did it. And you know, they got it. And then, guess what? After they did the homework and they started showing it on their page, they started getting sales. I said, look at that.

Lisa Woolfork 31:49

See, there you go. And charge people money because it costs you money to make it, and so, let's get some of that money back to you.

Alexis 31:57

Because their machines are not cheap.

Lisa Woolfork 31:59

No, and that's why when we're talking about being adventurous, it's like, I don't think I could take a machine that cost in the five digits, and take a piece of luggage and try to shove it up there and stitch on it. I think I would be so tentative about, like, Oh! You know, because I don't want to break it. And so, I'm so glad that you're able to get people to develop and foster confidence. I was wondering if you could think about one of the strangest embroidery stories you ever heard of? Well, I mean, beyond somebody putting luggage in a machine, like somebody I know named Alexis. So stabilizers are a crucial part, y'all, of embroidery. A stabilizer is the foundation for your design, I would say, even more so than the fabric that you're choosing to embroider on. The stabilizer that you use to embroider is key. That's why they make 5011 of them. Right. They've got the washable, they've got the iron-on, they've got the meltaway, they've got the tearaway. They've got the stuff that's woven, they've got stuff that's fused, they've got all of these different weights, and different companies that do different things, all of it. All of it is very complicated. I think it's a feat of engineering to figure out, like, what do you need to hold together when you have designs and might have 30,000 stitches. That's a repetitive motion of drilling into a piece of fabric, you know, 30,000 times in different spots, but sometimes in the same spot, so obviously they get a different, like, bulletproof feeling then when it's all built up. And so I remember once I was at an embroidery board or something, and somebody was saying that instead of using clear topper, which some people use a clear topper on top of the embroidery design to kind of - it's another way, in addition to having stabilizer underneath, they'll put a topper on the top to keep down either a NAT fabric or just to kind of give it some more stability, right? This person was using Glad Press 'N Seal from the grocery store.

Alexis 34:05

I don't know about that.

Lisa Woolfork 34:07

And your face is exactly what my face did. Like, but embroidery friend, why would you take your $11,000 machine and then get like $4 plastic wrap from the grocery store, and put it on there? And that's meant to represent a huge cost savings. And I'm like, I don't see it. I don't see it as a cost savings, because when you have to go in there and explain to the people that you tore up your machine with plastic wrap, I don't know how that's going to go for you.

Alexis 34:35

Yeah, I could not imagine. That, and I see where people like to salvage their stabilizer by sewing it together. Or just putting another piece. I'm like, it's stabilized. Why would you do that and compromise your complete project? Your whole stitch out? I mean, is it really worth it? You know?

Lisa Woolfork 34:55

So if you have a 10 by 10 piece and you got a six piece, two sixes, you can't like overlap them, stitch them down the middle and hoop it, and think it's going to do the same as a 12 inch piece.

Alexis 35:07

I would not. People do it, and their project is successful. I would not though. Because when their project is not successful, a lot of times they don't take that into consideration as to why it's not.

Lisa Woolfork 35:21

And also thread is a big deal too, right? That thread, the different types of the polyester thread, rayon thread, different brands, all of that stuff. It's really complicated. So I think it's wonderful that you have a way to kind of instruct people, and to guide people through that process. And you're saying that you also have a subscription box service in the works, that is also going to help with that? Can you share more about that?

Alexis 35:44

So that is the Ship 'N Stitch box. So what that means is, I was already doing the Ship 'N Stitch where I would ship all of the supplies to make a project because what happens is, if you are either just starting off, or you just haven't done this, it is really hard to get to the store to buy everything you need when you just need a little corner of something. Or sometimes people may live in an area that don't have access to it, they want to try it before they go out and buy it in bulk or just, you know, purchase it. So I would just go and cut them the exact pieces of stabilizer they needed, the exact piece of - like when we did patches, I would cut them the exact kind of twill so that I could control the stitch when we got on camera to do it all together. Because the way it happens, I send you everything and that's not it. You don't just get it and follow instructions. We hop on Zoom, and we stitch it out. And I have a motto, it's like: no stitcher left behind. During the project, there's been plenty of times where someone has started a project and halfway through, I look at the screen and I'm like, You're not stitching anymore? What's going on? "Oh, my machine started messing up." And I'm like, Well, no, we're going to get through this to the best of my ability, if we can. Whether it means me going through the whole project with everybody else, and then we double back to the person to help them get through it. We did it. So that's what I really, really, really enjoy about it. Because, I mean, if you're going to do a project, you want to finish it. You want to finish it. So now, instead of just doing the one-offs, I'm transitioning to the subscription model, where you will get - it'll be like a premium box. So it won't just be the supplies. You may get something nice like a cup, or...

Lisa Woolfork 37:26

This is a gorgeous water bottle, y'all, with embroidery facts on it. This is fantastic. Love.

Alexis 37:31

Anything that has to do with embroidery or sewing. You'll get just some kind of fun goodies in it along with your supplies each month. And it'll come with the replay. It'll just be a whole, it'll be a whole experience around it.

Lisa Woolfork 37:43

That is amazing. Wow, Alexis, thank you so much for sharing all this with us today. We are going to have to wrap up, but before we do, I want to ask you: the slogan for the Stitch Please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch together. What advice would you offer to our listeners to help them get their stitch together?

Alexis 38:02

Be consistent. I mean, that's always my major thing. You know, don't give up. Use the right tools you have, just to get to the right project. I tell all my students all the time, use the right tools to get to the project. Don't go using, like you said, that Glad wrap or regular thread when you're doing an embroidery project. And then the other one would be, I created this planner, My Pretty Perfect Planner. It helps because when we're doing projects, we may forget that you have to have certain threads. Sometimes when I'm doing people's logos, the blue looks like the blue looks like the other blue. So if I write down the exact Floriani blue and the color and the name, I can go back and save so much time by just knowing these are the colors that I need. I can write notes about it, I draw a little picture in it. So it just helps to have the consistency of your projects, your customer care, just all of it all the way around. Just be consistent.

Lisa Woolfork 39:02

I will be sure to include links to purchasing the planner, so you can help get your stitch together that way. And Alexis, where else can people find you on the socials? We'll put all those links in the show notes.

Alexis 39:14

So I'm on Instagram, @sosweetmonogramming, and basically everywhere Sew Sweet Monogramming. And then the free embroidery group where we go live, and we just kind of hang out, that is It's So Sweet to Learn on Facebook. And then once you subscribe to the Academy, then we shuffle you over into Sew Sweet Academy on Facebook.

Lisa Woolfork 39:31

Fantastic. Y'all, you have heard a lot of really great tips and advice here from Alexis Galloway, who's going to help you get your stitch together with the embroidery. Alexis, thank you so much for being here with us today.

Alexis 39:42

Thank you for having me.

Lisa Woolfork 39:47

You've been listening to the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at Blackwomenstitch@gmail.com. If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, and you can find Black Women Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month, you can help support the project with things like editing transcripts, and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really, really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews, but for those who do, for those that have like a star rating or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us, the Stitch Please podcast, that is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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