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DIY: Keychain using Machine Embroidery and Heat Transfer Vinyl

DIY: Keychain using Machine Embroidery and Heat Transfer Vinyl main article image
Posted on March 22, 2021 by Naomi Garcia

Do you ever see a beautifully crafted item and think, “That is gorgeous!  I wish I could make it.” That’s how I’ve felt about embroidered key fobs. They look so classy. They make cute zipper pulls. You can even use them as gift tags. But they always seemed too complicated to make. Let me explain my journey from “I wish” to “I did it!”

Completed Pay Key Fobs by NDO Garcia

My First Embroidery Machine

Machine embroidery is not new to me. In fact, I own 2 Brother embroidery machines. I purchased my first machine more than 15 years ago. My mom and I had been kicking around the idea for some time. Then, one day, we took a trip to Walmart together. We had seen the Brother PE 150 advertised and decided to go check it out. If you’re anything like us, “check it out” means to see if they actually had it in stock. Well, they did. So that day we walked out of the store with not one, but TWO embroidery machines: one for my mom and one for me. 

At first, I used my machine often. I’d add names to blankets and make logos for our business shirts. Making monograms was always one of my favorite things to work on.  Personalizing gifts became so easy, enjoyable, and professional looking. My husband surprised me with a more advanced Brother machine for our anniversary one year. I used it a couple of times, but was a little intimidated. Like most new “toys” the novelty wore off and my interest shifted to other types of crafting. 

A New Crafting Love

In 2016 I was introduced to the Cricut Cuttlebug and Explore machines. It was love at first sight! My crafting game changed and now my focus was everything Cricut. Iron on and vinyl crafts quickly became my favorites. I was making cards, personalizing vases, and labeling ALL THE THINGS. The whole time, my embroidery machine sat, unused and untouched.

Meanwhile, I’d also begun using faux leather with my Cricut. My daughters loved getting new bows. My sisters enjoyed adding the lip balm holders I made for them to their key rings. I even designed my own patterns for mini sanitizer pouches. As I browsed Pinterest and Etsy for ideas and patterns to use with faux leather, embroidered key fobs caught my attention. I loved the decorative detail of the satin stitches. But I just could not wrap my mind around completing one of these “in the hoop” projects. I purchased patterns, but was unmotivated to try them.

Combining Machine Embroidery and Cricut Crafting

In early 2020, I lost my beautiful mom, my craft buddy, the original Crafting Queen. My sisters and I divided her crafting supplies and sewing machines between the 7 of us. This is when my interest in machine embroidery began to resurface. You see, among the things I received was my mom’s original PE150 embroidery machine. My heart was stirred as I reflected and remembered us purchasing our machines together. That is when I was determined to learn how to make those key fobs. I guess I kind of felt like it would be a great tribute to my mom to learn something that would extend the use of her almost-new machine.

Recently, I joined Creative Fabrica. My original purpose was to access digital backgrounds and graphics to use in my content creation. Little did I know that I was in for a treat!  As I browsed the site, I came across “Embroidery.” And what do you think I found? That’s right! I found designs for key fobs. This was it!  I knew it was time to learn and use this new skill.  

With that determination, I searched YouTube and various websites trying to find the best tutorials. It took less than an hour for me to understand what had seemed so complicated before.  Plus I found a way to incorporate iron-on vinyl with machine embroidery. That is why I want to share with you how easy it can be to make a personalized paw print key fob.

How to make the Paw Print Key Fob

Supplies and Materials

  • Faux leather or vinyl (available on Amazon or in craft stores)
  • Fabric for the back of your key fob (I like to use denim or similar fabrics)
  • Light-weight stabilizer
  • Thread (your choice of color)
  • Thread snips
  • Fabric scissors
  • Plastic snap or fabric glue
  • Key ring
  • Paw Print Key Fob digital design (If the required file format for your machine isn’t available, email the Creative Fabrica support and they will help!)
  • Embroidery machine
  • HTV vinyl (iron on, available in most craft stores)
  • Cricut, Silhouette, or other electronic cutting machine
  • Heat press or iron (I like the Easy Press Mini for small projects)
  • Parchment paper or teflon sheet

The Process

Embroidery Design

  1. Download the Paw Print Key Fob digital design from Creative Fabrica and add it to your embroidery machine (process varies depending on your machine and software).
  2. Hoop the stabilizer only. Stitch the first step, which is the outline stitch.  Hoop Stabilizer by NDO Garcia
  3. Cut a piece of vinyl to cover the area of the outline stitch.
  4. Place the vinyl on top of the stabilizer over the outline stitch. You can use masking tape to tape it to the stabilizer. Be sure not to cover the outline stitch with the tape.
    Float faux leather on top of stabilizer by NDO Garcia
  5. Stitch the next steps.  Trim the jump stitches between stops and starts. (These are the stitches where the machine “jumps” from one area to another, leaving a bit of thread.)
  6. Complete all EXCEPT the final the step.
  7. Remove the hoop from the machine, but leave the vinyl in the hoop. Cut a piece of backing fabric large enough to cover the design. Tape it to the back of the design.Add back fabric by NDO Garcia
  8. Replace the hoop and complete the final step.
  9. Remove the design from the hoop. Trim around the design about ⅛ inch from the outer edge of the stitching.

HTV Design

  1. Use your cutting software to cut the initial or other image you want.
  2. Be sure to mirror your design and place your vinyl on the mat shiny side down.
  3. Trim and weed your design. (Remove the excess vinyl)

Complete the Key Fob  

Prepare to apply htv to design by NDO Garcia

  1. Position your HTV design on your paw print as desired.
  2. Cover with parchment paper or teflon sheet.
  3. Following the manufacturer instructions, use your iron or press to apply the design.
    1. For faux leather and iron-on, I generally use 280 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 seconds
    2. Resource: Cricut Heat Guide
  4. Add the keyring and snap or glue. 

Ready to add keyring by NDO Garcia

You are done! How did you do? 

Completed Paw Print key fob with Glitter HTV by NDO Garcia

I’d love to see what you create. If you make this, please tag me on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. I am EJsFunCrafting on all platforms.

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Deb Conrad

April 18, 2021

Very interesting article. I will have to give this a try. My husband just bought a Silhouette Cameo 4 and I have a Janome Memory Craft 200 E. Thank you for this helpful information.

Naomi Garcia's profile picture
Naomi Garcia

April 18, 2021


Thank you! I’d love to see what you create. Tag me if you post anywhere. 😊

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