Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Monogramming - Warehouse Machines vs. Flagship Store Machines

Photos by Salt Water New England
I had published on SWNE a "Complete Guide" to L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bags  <link>.  Here is one point that I should add. 

I have been ordering L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bags for as long as I can remember, and I most always have them monogrammed – which is done at their warehouse – and then shipped out to me.  What I recently learned from an employee there is that the flagship store in Freeport has monogramming machines that are superior to the ones at their warehouse.  

I tested this for myself.

I gathered up all of my new totes that had not been monogrammed (mostly because when I ordered them they were shipped directly from other Bean stores and thus could not be monogrammed).  

I had them done in two batches, some last month (which I left at the store and had them ship to me when finished) and, based on the success of that, more today.

Unmonogrammed Boat and Totes from past seasons. (Too heavy for me to carry.)

The customers ahead of me. 

In-Store Monogramming

The difference is noticeable. (I was gong to write the "difference is non-trivial," but given the subject, thought better.)

On the left in the photo above, the Large Blue tote has the Insignia style (in their Dark Pink thread) done in their warehouse.   On the right, the Large Lawn Green tote had the same style and color but was done at their Freeport store.  

I very much prefer the store monograms, which are bigger and bolder, and will use that option for myself and gifts when possible.

Store Monogram on the Large

Warehouse Monogram on the Large, Smaller Overall and a Much Thinner Circle

And the Store Monogram on the Medium size.  A More Consistent Circle Width.

The Three Medium Totes in the Front Were All Done in the Freeport Store

A final note.  I never trust L.L. Bean's thread color recommendations, especially on the seasonal bag colors.  This is even more true for when they suggest any of their greens.  Lime is okay, but a bit muddy.  Isle Green is much too minty.  And Nile Green is a bit light.  They need to add a good Kelly Green.  Play around on their site aligning the tote colors with the monogram thread colors, and trust your instincts.


  1. Don't get me started on monograms. In 51 years of marriage, no children, every set of towels we have bought has had monograms. I wasn't sure what they were called, these monograms...the type of sewing....but I knew what it looked like. Many years ago there was this scary looking man sitting at a machine in the linens department at the flagship store of Bloomingdales in NYC that would monogram them as you purchased them. This was what I liked. It didn't go back and forth, it was a different look...I find it hard to describe. I found out later it was called the Bonnaz stitch and only French made machines from about 1890 could make this stitch...and the sewing was hand guided. To cut to the present, bit by bit, this wonderful type of monogram has all but disappeared. Now, Leontine Linens in New Orleans has bought all the machines from True Sew (they did to the trade monogramming) and if I want any of these lovely long lasting monograms, I can only have white or cream towels and they must have binding all the way around in a color to match the beige monogram. In other words, it's a dull look. Now I have to move with the times and get machine monograms like everybody else if I want vivid towels and pretty monograms for my all white bathrooms.

    1. This shop in NYC still does the Bonnaz embroidery:

  2. Replies
    1. …and what is with LLBean’s new - last five to ten years - monogram scale? A modest chest pocket monogram now comes with a graffiti-like 1” monogram located somewhere on the midriff. Has happened on multiple garments - pajamas, flannels…I am a steadfast Bean defender, but on this point there is no defense.


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