Summer of Inspiration | Sue O’Very

Today you’re sure to be inspired by our guest, Sue O’Very! This lady has more irons in the fire than I can count! Sue is a Bernina Ambassador, Aurifil thread designer, Craftsy instructor, YouTube teacher, DIME Columnist, Blogger, published author, sewing & In the Hoop pattern designer/artist, and self proclaimed Notion junkie! (Whew! Let me catch my breath quick…that was a long list!) It was so fun to pick her brain and learn a little bit more about her and her passion for creative business. I know you’re going to enjoy my chat with Sue and leave wildly inspired—I sure did!

How did you get started?

Sue comes from a long line of fabric creatives! She recalls, “My Grandmother was a designer in NY in the 30′-40’s. She taught both of her boys to sew. The family owned an upholstery shop when my dad was a kid. My dad taught my mom and my mom taught me. I was around 6 when I began sewing. I have been sewing ever since!”

That is just so neat! A 30’s designer grandma sounds like an inspiration in itself, nevermind the whole family being in on the business. I asked, “It sounds like everyone in your family is creative and entrepreneurial, what inspired you to start Sue O’Very Designs?”

Sue starts her story, “In 2004 I began a side business called ‘Sealed With A Stitch’ and ran it on and off until my daughter was born in 2009. When she was about one year old I went full time. Though the name of the business was cute it never really was a brand! After talking with some of my mentors I changed the name to my own. This was the best decision I ever made. My business IS me and my brand, Sue O’Very Designs was officially the name of my brand at the beginning of 2016.”

Tell us More!

Sue wears lots of different hats, from embriodery and applique patterns to YouTube Videos, she does it all! I find the videos quite interesting and so does Sue! She produces weekly videos showcasing various sewing, quilting and crafting notions. The series is called, “Does this Notion REALLY work?”.

Sue says, “For me it’s more about the behind the scenes of a notion. Who invented it, how was it created, fun stories behind the creative process. Of course I show how to use the notion, even if I’ve never used it before. In fact, I call myself an accidental quilter because so many of the notions I review are quilting, it has turned me into a quilter!”

Sue’s series was also picked up in a national machine embroidery magazine, Designs in Machine Embroidery. She features a new notion in each issue and of course produces a video to accompany it.

Along with the notion videos, Sue produces at least 1-3 new machine embroidery videos each month! Sometimes the projects are complimentary and other times, they are showcasing a new design for sale. Sue also includes lots of tips and tricks to machine embroidery or sewing, whichever might be covered.

Lets Talk Embroidery

I love embroidery, so I am naturally curious to hear more about that! Before Sue graduated college, her father bought her first embroidery machine. It was a sewing/embroidery combo. She soon grew out of that machine and added a second embroidery only machine. Sue remembers, “Both had tiny embroidery fields, about 3″x3″. To give you an idea, the average size of embroidery hoops in 2018 is 5″x7″ up to 9″x14″. We have grown up a lot since then!”

For those of us who are used to hand embroidery and somewhat clueless about this machine embroidery stuff, I thought I’d pick Sue’s brain a little more…

“What I’m most known for in the industry is a technique called, ‘In the Hoop.’ It’s a process where the project, let’s say a zipper purse, is created using the embroidery machine only. No sewing is required. I have eye glass cases, mug mats, door hangers and by far the most popular are zipper bags. I even have some projects which appear as they were pieced and quilted! The beauty of this process is consistency. As long as the materials remain in the hoop and you layer the fabrics and stabilizers at the exact right time, your project will come out flawlessly. Creating In the Hoop projects is a lot like paper piecing and if you follow the steps exactly as shown, it will be the same every time.”

Now you’re speaking my language…I’m a paper piecing addict!

When I asked Sue why she seems to focus on embroidery, she replied, “I believe our hobbies and passions evolve over time. New technology comes along, new friends with cool ideas are presented and in one way or another our path finds us when we aren’t even searching for it. I created my first In the Hoop project in 2003 while I was working as a shop manager. My boss asked me to make a project so we could use up all the left over pieces of Ultra-suede. Once the project was done, we took all the Ultra-suede off the discount table and ordered more in. We couldn’t keep it in stock it was so hot. It was so rewarding to create something new and clever no one had ever seen before. To this day, I think that is the part of machine embroidery I love the most. The technical side of engineering the steps with software makes it so easy for the embroidery enthusiast at home following the instructions. In the hoop projects keep my brain alive and I’m always searching for new ways to create new things.”

New Ideas

Not only is Sue awesome on the embroidery machine, she’s coming up with completely new techniques! I asked her to talk about her Serge~Briodery® technique a little bit more.

“Serge~Broidery® is a technique I created where both a Serger and Embroidery machine are required. The project was originally an idea I tested in a class for a shop owner who had never sold a serger and didn’t see the need for them. By the end of the class, everyone in the class either put one on layaway or went home with a new serger. The idea is that portions of the project are created with the serger and the next parts with the embroidery machine. The project will take you back and forth and the results are always fun and exciting. It’s nice to be able to use the serger for more than just utility stitches. These patterns can be purchased from shops only as it’s nice to have a little help from your local shop.”

Never fear! Sue has lots of great offerings in her online shop as well as in-store! She provides embroidery designs, In the Hoop projects, designer sewing notecards and sewing patterns.

What to Do With all this Inspiration!

I’m certainly feeling inspired at this point, so I asked Sue what she would tell you if you’re feeling inspired as well:

Sue informed me that anyone can go online and buy an embroidery machine but warned that a machine is all you get. If you want support, lessons and community – find a local shop you love and buy from them. A local store will give you quality support and get you started with the basics. Many people without any support get frustrated and give up before the fun has begun.

Once you get an embroidery machine – the next step is add the right threads, needles and stabilizer. It’s no different from creating a new quilt. You will need the right rulers, needles, batting, etc. What’s nice with machine embroidery is you can get an entry level embroidery machine and start adding designs to your quilt blocks, quilt labels and even some fun quilt blocks are made with embroidery machines. The cross over is fun and exciting.

A Few of Sue’s Favorite Things…

I always like to wrap things up with our designer’s current favorites, Sue is loving her In the Hoop Door hangers right now!

Sue explains, “My Facebook group is exploding with new ideas and tons of friends stitching them out! I love seeing the community involvement. The Door Hangers are made of Vinyl, Cork or other non-woven materials and yet, so many of my fans are making them with regular cotton. I just love how I design something and my audience adds their own twist to it – I call them my Assistant Designers!!”

What Should We be Watching For Next?

I like to get a little sneak peek whenever I can, so I asked Sue what we’ll be seeing soon, she filled us in on what she’s been prepping for and I just can’t wait!

“Currently I am preparing for two major shows. One is BERNINA University at the end of June 2018 and the other is Fall Quilt market in Houston, November 2018.” Sue has some really cool new things to release featuring large embroidery hoops. Sue goes on, “My audience has been asking for BIG hoop machine embroidery designs for a long time now and that is the focus of the up coming collections. BIG. Just imagine what you could create within an 8″x12″ area. It’s amazing!”

Wow! I’d say this summer of inspiration just got a whole new level of exciting! New techniques, new products and lots of fun ideas! I’d like to thank Sue for joining us on the blog today and I hope all of my readers have enjoyed today’s interview. If you’d like to check out more of Sue’s work, head on over to her Website or check out her YouTube Channel.

Don’t forget to join us next week for another inspiring interview, this time we’ll be chatting with the brains behind Penguin & Fish!


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  1. Thanks for providing such a great background on Sue. I love her designs, and have even tested a couple! Thanks

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