Sweet Summer Sewing: Shannon Fabrics + Aurifil with Colleen Bell

We’re thrilled to bring you the 5th post in our fabulous blog series featuring Shannon Fabrics + Aurifil. The series showcases projects handcrafted by both Aurifil Artisans and Shannon Fabrics Brand Ambassadors using Embrace® double gauze, Cuddle®, and Aurifil 40wt thread! Today we are thrilled to profile one of our Shannon Fabrics Ambassadors, Colleen Bell. Colleen always puts together such fabulous projects and we're particularly thrilled to share this darling little dress with you today!


Ciao! Hello, all the way from Italy, and thank you for the kind words! I am Colleen Bell, and I have the pleasure of recently being introduced to the wonderful threads of Aurifil, an Italian based company, and being a part of this fun blog series. Aurifil created a luscious assortment of 40 wt threads to coordinate with the Sweet Melody Designs by Carrie Tomaschko. They work marvelously with Shannon Fabrics Embrace® double gauze, and Cuddle®. Surprisingly, you can even machine embroider with them.

It is so much fun being a Shannon Fabrics ambassador. We receive the most beautiful fabrics in the mail. My family’s favorite mail is now from Shannon Fabrics. They cannot wait until I open the box(es). So I knew I would be thrilled with the fabrics from the Sweet Melody Designs chosen for my project. But they out-did themselves. They chose the “Bear Hugs” just for me. Little did they know that my children loving call me “Mama Bear.” It is a long story involving bears, deer hunters, and my nine children, but that is for another day. As you can imagine with having nine children that I was smothered with bear hugs, so thank you Shannon Fabrics for speaking to my heart.

This project lovingly uses the “Bear Hugs” print in Embrace® double gauze for the skirt of the dress, and compliments the dress with Embrace® double gauze in banana, so it can showcase the beautiful Aurifil threads in the machine embroidered bodice, and the specialty machine stitches in the border of the hem. Did you notice that those specialty stitches are a honeycomb design in the middle, flowers on the top, and bees on the bottom row? Thank you Baby Lock designers for thinking of everything! They were so easy to create on my Baby Lock Ellisimo Gold.

Sweet Melody Designs Bear Hugs Embrace Double Gauze Banana

Embrace® double gauze is a lovely substrate, but when it comes to machine embroidery, specialty machine stitches, and buttonholes, it does require a little TLC. To keep all those stitches looking beautiful, I used Floriani No Show Nylon Mesh Fusible cutaway stabilizer. I used this product instead of the recommended interfacing.


In preparation for this project, I recommend washing, and starching your fabric so that all those wrinkles are controlled and they do not get caught up in the machine embroidery stitches, plus it makes alignment in the embroidery hoop so much easier.


McCall’s pattern M6304 Toddlers' Rompers, Dresses, Jacket and Shirt was perfect for a little dress in Embrace® double gauze. It also has a pattern for a jacket, which would be perfect to transition this dress to the fall. It has an option for a pocket, but I have plans for a jacket in Cuddle® with in-the-hoop honeypot pockets, so I did not want the dress pocket to distract from the jacket. It also has a tuck at the bottom of the hem that was perfect for replacing the matching hem with a solid colored border with machine stitches and the yoke was an ideal palette for machine embroidery.

Embrace® double gauze is so easy to hoop for machine embroidery because it has built-in lines. Every inch there is a line. The lines on the double gauze line up perfectly with the registration marks on the embroidery hoop.


NOTES for this project:

  • I substituted the Sweet Melody Collection thread colors instead of the recommended machine embroidery design colors. (Please do not tell Aurifil that I cheated and did not stick to strictly using only the 10 colors. I added chocolate #2360 for the body of the bee.)
  • The embroidery design is from Embroidery Library #H5307 “Busy Little Bee.” I omitted the text “busy little’ with the software editing program “Perfect Embroidery Professional” by Designs in Machine Embroidery.
  • I added the words “Sweet” to the embroidery design with the built-in font on my Baby Lock Ellisimo Gold and gave a slight arc before saving.
  • I machine embroidered first on a piece of Embrace® double gauze that was cut larger than my hoop and the bodice, and then cut the bodice out after embroidering.
  • When cutting Embrace® double gauze, I recommend not placing the pattern on the fold, but cutting each side individually by lining up the pattern on the fabric line.
  • I used French seams on the skirt and wherever the seams were exposed. This prevents the Embrace® double gauze from unraveling.


  • The bodice was topstitched to keep the Embrace® double gauze looking sharp.


  • To strengthen the back placket, I added a French seam in the back instead of cutting it on the fold.


  • Specialty bee buttons from “Buttons Galore” were used on the back bodice. The package indicated they were the recommended ½”, but I made the buttonholes larger (3/4”) to accommodate the unusual size. Also, I used a flat button in the buttonhole attachment instead of the bee button.


  • I used Floriani No Show Nylon Mesh Fusible cutaway stabilizer to: machine embroider; as an interfacing for the buttonholes;


IMG_4757and as a lining in the hem border to stabilize the machine stitches.


  • For the border hem, I cut a piece of the Embrace® double gauze in banana the same width as the two skirt pieces by 8” and sewed it together as one continuous piece, opened it up to use the machine stitches, then folded it in half.


  • I cut the skirt 2” below the tuck line and turned it under one inch then I tucked the border into the hem and sewed it with the recommended 1” tuck.

IMG_4748This allowed the border to be included into the tuck without any exposed edges.


A special thank you to Aurifil and Shannon Fabrics for providing all the thread and fabric for this project. I had so much fun using their gorgeous products.


Until next post, happy embroidering, and keep making the world a softer place!



Thanks so much, Colleen!! We absolutely love this project and bet there are tons of little gals out there who would love to wear one!!

This is the last week of our series, so don't forget to check out the previous posts, linked below, for more great tips. Our final project feature will launch on Friday, right here on Sewciety!


August 10 – Intro

August 15 – Aurifil, Hilary Jordan (By Hilary Jordan & Aurifil Social Media Coordinator)

August 17 – Shannon Fabrics, Jayme Christensen (@findingsweetland)

August 22 – Aurifil, Amista Baker (Hilltop Custom Designs)

August 24 – Aurifil, Faith Essenburg (Sarana Ave)

August 29 – Shannon Fabrics, Colleen Bell (The Embroiderist)

August 31 – Shannon Fabrics, Pamela O’Neill (@pamelaon)




Colleen Bell Shannon Fabrics Brand Ambassador

Colleen Bell is a passionate machine embroiderer who writes regularly for the “Designs in Machine Embroidery” magazine, and
occasionally for “Creative Machine Embroidery” and “Classic Sewing” magazines. Along with being an ambassador for Shannon fabrics, she is a designer for Fairfield World. Her greatest joy is being the mother of nine grown children, and she lives where others vacation – the highest shoreline point on the east coast in Connecticut with her husband and their pets.

sewing patterns, Shannon Fabrics, Aurifil 40wt thread, Sewing, Sweet Melody Designs, Sweet Summer Sewing: Shannon Fabrics + Aurifil, Embrace double gauze, fabric, garments, Machine Embroidery, McCall’s pattern M6304, Floriani, Aurifil, double gauze, Embrace, Sewciety, sewing
Written by Colleen Bell