Embroidery Stash was established in 2002 by Australian designer and digitizer, Janet Sansom. Since then, Janet has released more than 150 design collections. In 2014, Janet hosted a stall at the International Quilt Market and Festival in Houston. It was then that Janet was fortunate to meet Donna Cagle, who went on to be Janet’s distributor in the US and Canada and became a trusted friend. When Janet decided to retire from running Embroidery Stash in 2022, it seemed only fitting for Donna to take over the business, having the previous knowledge of the design collections and many years of experience in the industry, previously owning Huntsville Sew Creative in Huntsville, AL.
From an early age, design and decoration were part of Janet’s life. Her grandmother was a tailoress and made everything for Janet and her siblings, including petticoats, school uniforms, pants, and of course, Sunday best dresses. Janet was always at her grandmother’s side when she was making their dresses and was given the task of hand stitching on buttons and hemming, and whenever she could, Janet would use her grandmothers Singer treadle machine. The sewing skills learned as a child stayed with Janet and she still draws on these traditional techniques in her embroidery projects.
Although Janet has no formal training in design, it is something that she seems to be drawn to by nature and nurture. Over the years, Janet has always had creative projects on the go, from cross stitch, hand embroidery and painting, to making clothes and decorating home goods.
Initially, these creative projects were a means of relaxing, but after Janet’s first daughter was born and she became a stay-at-home mum, Janet enrolled in an art course. This ended up being successful enough for Janet to sell her artwork through local galleries and became an instructor for a weekly class of students. Janet then had a friend suggest they take lessons in patchwork together. At the time, Janet was the owner of an old Janome My Style machine, but it soon came to her attention that sewing machines had advanced quite dramatically! Now with quilting stitches and a hand appliqué stitch, it was time for Janet to invest in a new machine.
Despite only being in the market for a machine with a triple stitch to quilt, Janet came home with her first embroidery machine. When shopping around for the machine, the salesperson asked what she wanted the machine to do, and of course, “everything” was the answer. The salesperson suggested, “you’ll never use all the features on this machine” but Janet well and truly did. Janet also asked about buying the digitizing software to create her own designs. Again, the salesperson gave a look, as if to say “you’ll never learn to use it”. Thankfully, again, proving them wrong.
At the time, no one was teaching digitizing, so Janet taught herself, studying the instruction manual, and reading every bit of information on digitizing she could find. With trial and error, her designs slowly became worthy enough to stitch on home decorator items and put into quilts.
Janet went on to teach digitizing and utilizing the decorative stitches and machine feet to their full potential in the early 2000s, as she loved the opportunity to teach. Over the years, Janet has taught some wonderful ladies, including one who had her first introduction to computers at the age of 75. You are never too old to learn something new!
In 2002, Janet started digitizing logos and designs for wedding gowns. The work came in slowly and was spasmodic, so she started creating her own designs. Janet draws her design inspiration from her love for gardening and mainly designing and digitizing florals, but also drawing vision from ceiling roses and decorative cornices, decoration on fine China teacups and saucers, chintz fabric, antique vases, wallpapers and antique lace. Janet uses techniques in her digitizing that replicate a hand stitched look.
A lot of people have asked Janet what inspires her and what comes first, the fabric or the design. There isn’t one way of how it all comes together, but it does, generally in the form of a collection of 9 to 18 cohesive designs that Janet utilizes in a quilt.
In recent years, Janet had the opportunity to create two design sets exclusively for Singer Viking Pfaff Worldwide - Marigold and Madelaine.
Janet’s latest design set, Gardenia, consists of 9 designs, which incorporate 3 new and exquisite flowers in each design. Janet credits this design set as the pinnacle of her work, and completely loves the detail and intricacy of the fine embroidery. Janet hopes you enjoy the design set as much as she does.
Donna is all about family. Having been married for 47 years, Donna and her husband have three sons, one daughter, sixteen grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Donna’s family comes first, and she is very proud of every one of them.
Donna has always had a love for crafts, teaching herself to crochet and knit at the age of nine and going on to hand sew at the age of ten, after being taught by her grandmother. Donna’s grandmother made all kinds of crafts and was her inspiration. In the early 1980s, Donna started her own craft business, including crafts made by her children, and travelled all over the southeast vending at indoor and outdoor craft shows.
In 1984, Donna purchased a florist, which she operated for five years before selling and going to work for a government contractor as a budget analyst. In 1991, Donna went on disability due to her lupus. Donna unfortunately lost her father in 2005, who passed away from lung cancer. At that time, Donna went back to work at a sewing machine shop, which she ended up purchasing three years later. Donna and her husband owned Huntsville Sew Creative in Huntsville, AL until October 2021, selling the store to retired at the age of sixty-two, leaving plenty of time to devote to crafting!
During the thirteen years that Donna owned Huntsville Sew Creative, she was a dealer for Brother, Janome, Juki, Pfaff, Handi Quilter and Melco Bravo. She taught embroidery, sewing and digital cutting on all the brands carried. The top of the lines are Donna’s favourite and she loves embroidery!
In February 2022, Donna purchased Designs by Janet Sansom. The name of the website will remain embroiderystash.com and the option to purchase a CD with all formats will be available soon (US only). Donna will then phase out CDs and change over to USB flash drives, in addition to the instant downloads available.
While Donna is not an artist or digitizer, she has purchased some artwork for children’s designs, and is on the lookout for a talented digitizer to assist with some exciting new projects, after having many requests for children’s designs. Additionally, she has also had requests for the quilting designs so that people can finish their quilts with quilt as you go.
Stay tuned as Donna will post a list of the shows that she will be vending at and the quilt shops that she will be visiting and teaching at. But in the meantime, you can contact Donna on 256-656-1268 or email at email@example.com.