If you have questions or comments, or if you have suggestions for designs you'd like to see added to the site, I'd love to hear from you!  

WHY THE SITE IS SET UP THE WAY IT IS: a bit of history

Q: I find the ordering process cumbersome; do you have plans for an online store?

A: Unfortunately, for the time being at least the answer has to be no; there are some historical reasons for this, having to do with how the site came about in the first place, which I'll get to in a moment.

First though, the order process: as you've most likely already discovered, you don't click on individual designs to order. Instead, with only a few exceptions, the designs are sold by size, and you’ll find a generic order form in the upper right of each page that you can use to order the size of design you’d like. Once you've placed the order, you can send me an e-mail with the names of the designs you desire and the format you need. Despite the initial confusion, it's actually fairly simple once you understand how it works.

I’ve sized most of the design at 3", 4", and 5" (specific dimensions for each are shown in the images). To facilitate the ordering process, I've priced all the designs (with only a few exceptions) the same:
$4 for a 3" size,
$5 for a 4" size, and
$6 for a 5" size.

Packs of five designs in each size are discounted by approximately 20%. You can mix and match designs from any of the categories to obtain the discounted price.

Exceptions to this structure are few -- in-the-hoop designs, heraldic crests, and lace are among them. At any time if you can't make sense of the process you can send me a list of the designs you're interested in and the size you need, and I'll send you a cost, which you can pay via paypal. If you would like more detailed information on the ordering process, click here.

Now, if you can stand it, a little bit of history that will help explain why the site works the way it does. When I created it some 10 years ago, I envisioned merely a hobby site where I planned to display some of my projects and share a selection of freebies. Having been the beneficiary of similar generosity from other digitizers when I first began machine embroidery, I wanted to “pay it forward” with my own shares. (This is still a motivation for me, and in the 10 or so years that the site has been operating, I've given away well over 6000 designs.)

At the same time, I was also doing some custom digitizing as a courtesy for people in an embroidery group I belonged to. Several of those people, happy with the work I’d done for them, started urging me to add a “for purchase” segment to my freebie site. I did this somewhat reluctantly at the start, because really I had learned to digitize mainly so I could create designs that *I* wanted to stitch, on topics that weren't available from the commercial companies, and I wasn’t particularly interested in running a business. I eventually relented, in part because there were costs associated with the site and I hoped that selling a few of the designs would help to defray these.

To facilitate the process, I set up a very basic ordering system that I hoped would be straightforward and that would not add to the cost of running the site. This set-up – the same one that is still in place – is a bit more high-maintenance than a real on-line store would be, especially now that the site has grown so much. But though I realize it's a bit confounding upon first encounter, it's still sufficiently functional for my purposes.

I realize that the site would probably be more lucrative if I were to make changes to this structure, but I've actually *chosen* not to do so, just as I have chosen not to promote or market the site at all -- no newsletter, no facebook presence, no youtube videos. Those omissions are deliberate, because this site was only ever supposed to be a hobby for me, and I have really no interest in building it into a business, so I don't actually want the site to be any busier or larger or more costly than it is already. As things stand at the moment, the site maintenance and updating take up more of my time than I'd like, so in fact, I'd be happier if it slowed down a bit. 

I hasten to emphasize that although it's a hobby, I do take *very* seriously my obligations to those who order from the site, and I am very conscientious about checking e-mail and getting the designs out within a couple of hours of receiving notice from paypal. I don't want people to have to wait too long for their designs.

In some respects, the site has grown into a bit of a monster. It took a long time to gain visibility with embroiderers, but it now gets quite a lot of traffic (most of it for the free designs, but still . . . ). I do regular weekly postings, including new free designs, and now I find that the demands of the site drive my digitizing to a great extent . . . I end up creating a lot of designs I will probably never use on a project of my own. In fact, it seems I am always either digitizing for the site, checking e-mails and responding to queries, or posting an update. And though I don't sell a lot of designs, I take the commitment seriously, and so I have to check my e-mail several times a day in case there is an order to be processed and sent along. That means I always have to be near my computer, which makes it difficult, for example, to travel, or even to go out for the day.

Perhaps a proper on-line store would ease some of that work, but at this stage, changing the entire structure of the site would be even more arduous. A couple of years ago, I decided to give it a try, and I spent the money on an on-line store feature. Then I spent three months painstakingly adding designs, working many hours each day. After all that work, I had managed to upload only a fraction of the designs, when suddenly I discovered that my product quota had been reached! (I could find nothing in the site host's information that indicated an upper limit, so I discovered only after I had reached it that I couldn't list any more designs.) I ended up abandoning the idea of a store, because there was nowhere near enough room to accommodate all of the designs I had already posted on the site -- currently about 15,000 (45,000 if you count each size as a separate entry; the site host allowed only 999 designs to be uploaded). Even if I could get enough slots for all of them, putting so many designs in an on-line catalog, in several formats and three sizes, is incredibly time-consuming, and would take me well over three years of full-time work. Plus, doing so would leave me little time for digitizing or anything else.

Conversion to an on-line store would involve additional cost as well as additional work, but the truth is that the site doesn’t generate enough revenue to justify the effort involved. Although it's now a popular site with embroiderers, most of my visitors come for the freebies and don’t make any purchases. That's always been okay with me, but as I receive only a smattering of small donations and actually sell relatively few designs, the site doesn't quite support itself. In fact, keeping it going actually involves a few out-of-pocket costs as well as a large commitment of time and energy. It would be nice to get it to the point where it could be reliably revenue-neutral and could help cover Internet access, site hosting, and a few supplies, but even after 10 years we're not there yet.

And there's another wrinkle. With a proper on-line store, the site would get even busier; the problem is, I don't actually want it to, because it's still mainly a hobby for me, and at the moment I'm not really looking for it to be anything more than that. I learned to digitize in the first place mainly so I could create designs I wanted for my own projects, on subjects that weren't available elsewhere, and my satisfaction still comes in large part from that same motivation. That's why the site is heavy on heraldic crests and badges, geocaching, math and science, books and teaching, sewing and crafts, and Canadiana: they're all interests of mine, but because many of these are considered “niche” subjects by the commercial sites, they’re not profitable, so you won’t find them on those sites.

By the same token, on this site you won't find a lot of designs on subjects that are well covered by the commercial interests, such as sports, holidays (aside from Christmas, which I love), modes of transportation, fashion, or American patriotic. Almost any design you can think of in these areas is already available from the big companies, and I'm not interested in trying to compete with them. For all the reasons I've already suggested, I couldn't if I wanted to.

On the plus side, because I created the site for personal reasons and not as a business, I have a certain latitude that commercial sites don’t have. I can do custom work or create designs on subjects that interest me, even if they don’t generate a lot of sales, because I'm not nursing a bottom line. So you'll find quite a few designs on this site that just aren't available anywhere else. For example, the site has the most extensive collection of Canadian-themed designs available anywhere and the biggest collection of geocaching-related designs, plus substantial Judaica, Pride, and Veterinary design collections, among others. And so far as I know, it's the only source where home embroiderers can obtain customized heraldic crests for a modest cost. In addition, the site contains no advertising and does not track visitors or share contact information.

So where does that leave us? Well, I acknowledge that the site uses an unconventional ordering system, and I recognize that some people find it confusing at first. And while I regret that frustration, the truth is that I don't really want to run my site as a business, in part because I'm happily retired and not really looking for another full-time career. In addition, I've recently been experiencing some health challenges that require more of my attention, so I really have to consider where I want to put my energy.

If the day comes when I want it to be an actual business, I may have to look into how I could achieve that without driving myself crazy trying to post it all, but for now at least, I'd rather spend the time digitizing and making things than tinkering with the conversion to an on-line store.

In the meantime, though I don't have instant download, I'm always available to answer questions or help with the ordering process. I do check my e-mail several times a day, every day of the year, and I fill orders as they come in. You will always receive your designs within 24 hours at the most, unless there is a problem with e-mail, in which case I'll try alternatives for getting the designs to you or cheerfully refund your payment.

I work very hard to ensure that the designs sew out the way they should, and I believe it's worth a bit of persistence to obtain them. Hopefully after you try them, you will agree.

Questions or requests? Drop me a note.