Author Archive

Free-standing Lace – Fun or Frustrating?

Stitching free-standing lace can be fun and frustrating. Fun? Definitely because the results can be outstanding. Frustrating because the results are not always what you had hoped!  The challenge lies in getting the outlines to align with the edges of the lace. Most likely, the lace will include a satin border that gives a clean finish to the lace. But after all those stitches are laid down, there is often a gap between the border and the lace. So frustrating!

Like I often do, I read the instructions which were’ hoop with water soluble stabilizer.’ I know from past experience that mesh-type water soluble would be a smarter choice than film-type. I also know that a standard hoop would probably grip the mesh-type water soluble firmly.

This image clearly shows where the lace has pulled in during the embroidery process. The satin border marches down the perimeter of the design but doesn’t meet the lace.Lace3BL

The problem is not in the digitizing because the digitizer took the proper steps in creating a base for both the lace and the satin edge.  I watched the design stitch – it walked around the perimeter, moved on to the open fill, the decorated lace and finally the satin edge. But still the lace/stabilizer pulled in at the horizontal and vertical centers of the design. That’s a bummer, right? It took 70 minutes to stitch this panel and it was a lot of thread!

Was it worth it? Yes, it ignited my ‘discovery mode’. I was off to find a solution. My next attempt included adding a layer of tulle and another layer of mesh-type water soluble stabilizer in a standard hoop.  I was certain that would fix it. Nope, didn’t make much difference, same problem.Lace4BL

I figured it was in the hooping. So I ‘McGyvered’ a solution. I hooped a rubberized mat in Snap Hoop Monster and placed it on a cutting mat. Then I cut open the sewing field with a rotary cutter.  Since the cutter couldn’t get all the way to the edge of the hoop, I removed the hoop and trimmed the mat with scissors. Then I placed one layer of mesh-type water soluble stabilizer over the magnetic frame, then the rubberized mat and finally the metal frame.Lace6BL

Perfect! It stitched beautifully with no tulle and one layer of stabilizer.Lace7BL

I’m keeping the rubberized mat with the opening handy, I know I’ll be using it again in the future.

I was using a multi-needle machine but the same technique would work on a traditional machine. Place the water soluble stabilizer over the metal frame, the rubberized mat and then the magnetic top.

Top 3 Tips for Free-standing Lace

Slow the machine down.

Use mesh-type water soluble stabilizer.

Insert a layer of rubberized matting.

 

What’s your favorite ‘MacGyver’ trick?

Preserving Signatures

The grandmother of my children, Mom-mom Roche could feed an army within an hour’s notice. No one ever went hungry in her house. The warmth that is shared around her table is legendary – wonderful food, prayerful gratitude and lots of laughter.

On special occasions, she would dress her table in a fine linen cloth. Over 50 years ago, she started to ask her dinner guests if they would sign her tablecloth.  Later, in her spare time (how she ever found a spare minute with 7 children, 21 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren), she would hand embroider their signatures. The next time you saw the tablecloth, the last signature would be stitched – she never missed a single autograph.

It became a rite of passage for all family members. I remember seeing toddlers finger the embroidery and ask when they could sign but Mom-mom wouldn’t let them scribble a few dashes and dots. Oh no, they had to actually hold the pen and sign their name.  The anticipation was about all they could handle. They would watch an older child sit at the table next to Mom-mom and sign. Usually, a tongue was sticking out of the child’s mouth as he or she focused fiercely on the task. Oh the pressure! Not really, Mom-mom has a heart of gold and hugs to match.

My children, now in their 20s remember the day they were asked to sign. Not the same day, mind you, because Janelle is two years older than Ted so Ted had to wait his turn. They loved the ceremony of it and when visit Mom-mom they always examine the tablecloth looking for their own signatures, those of the newest family members and those who have are no longer with us.

Mom-mom has passed this tradition to her grandchildren. When Janelle was married last year, she gave her a hem-stitched linen tablecloth for Janelle’s table along with her blessing to update the tradition to today’s lifestyle. No longer will the signatures be hand embroidered, instead guests will sign a piece of paper, Janelle will photograph it and send it to me. I will then load it as a backdrop into Perfect Embroidery Pro digitizing software and digitize the signatures.

I’m honored to carry on this tradition for Janelle even if some of the nostalgia is lost in the process. She will have a stitched memory of a tradition from her childhood that she can pass down to the next generation.

Today, I started with family members who attended Janelle and Kegan’s wedding reception. (Yes, I know that was last summer!) In a new file in Perfect Embroidery Pro, I loaded the image as a backdrop (File/Load Backdrop).ST1

Then I traced each line in same manner as the letters were written. ST2

As tempting as it was to smooth curves and straighten lines, I forced myself to just follow the lines. After all, it’s a signature not a lesson in calligraphy. 2 sus

What an enjoyable task – as I digitized each name I focused on that person, so many memories come flooding through my mind.  It’s like I was spending time with them – all part of the gift!

Do you have any family traditions like this? If so, I’d love to hear about them.

Crucial Embroidery Placement with Success!

Often placement is crucial to embroidery success and little bit of planning will make your embroidery look professional. I recommend printing templates of your design so you can see it in actual size. Once the template is printed, audition it on the garment. In this case, it’s a small flower for a collar point.Collar2BL

Take your time with the placement and try different positions. It’s helpful to use a digital camera (or your phone!) to take a photograph of the placement. Every time you move the template take another photograph.Collar3BL

Do this a couple of times and then review the images on the camera. You’ll quickly know which one is the most pleasing.  Tape the template to the collar. Spray the wrong side of the collar with temporary adhesive.

Hoop stabilizer (tear-away, cut-away or wash away depending on your fabric and design).  To achieve perfect placement, use PAL, the Perfect Alignment Laser. Place the hoop on a flat surface and turn on PAL. Align the beams with the horizontal and vertical markings on the hoop.Collar5BL

Slip the collar over the stabilizer aligning the template’s crosshair with the beams.  Finger press the collar to the stabilizer. For added security, you can always add tape to the edges.Collar6BL

Carefully transport and attach the hoop to the machine, retrieve the design and verify the needle is perfectly aligned with the template’s crosshair.  Remove the template and embroider the design.

Using a template, camera and laser ensures a professional finish on your embroidery. What tools do you use when placement is crucial?

 

If You’re Serious about Machine Embroidery…

If you’re serious about your machine embroidery hobby, it’s time for you to elevate your skills by using embroidery software and upgrading your embroidery tools. A good place to learn about both is in an Inspirations’ Everything from A to Z event. What’s A to Z? Embroidery techniques from Applique to Zippers. You’ll learn the keys to making beautiful machine embroidery applique – inside and out – from basic satin edge to trendy motifs on flat to furry fabrics and everything in between.  2016-05-07_13-13-40

You’ll want to include lettering in all your machine embroidery projects after you see Inspirations’ smorgasbord of lettering techniques: monogramming, miniature, bubble, puffy and calligraphy. 2016-05-07_13-12-08

Want to stitch a hat on a single needle? Yes you can! Learn how to mark, stabilize and hoop a hat in no time.  Plus you’ll discover how easy it is to transform one dimensional embroidery into oh-so-cute and useful 3D projects.

Learn how to leave tricky zipper insertion and flawless buttonholes to your embroidery machine. Our Inspiration education consultants will lead you through the tips and tricks for successful embroidery plus you get to play with magnetic hoops, laser and placement tools. It’s a fun, relaxed class that will inspire you to go home and get stitching!  Treat yourself to a Mother’s Day present and sign up for a class today. There are almost 200 events scheduled across the country in the next months and more added every week. Click here http://www.inspiredbydime.com/inspiration-socials/ to find an event near you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Stitch Soup

Christina, the founder of Stitch Soup began embroidering over 12 years ago.  After she embellished almost all of her wardrobe, she saw her first in-the-hoop project, a tissue holder, and had an ah-ha moment.  She realized there can be so much more to an embroidery machine than just cuffs and collars!  Since then she has focused on digitizing in-the-hoop projects for the home, birthday or Christmas gifts, for new babies, and for mom.  She blends artistic talent with an engineer’s approach to function and the results are an offering of unique embroidery designs – something for everyone.

Over the past year, the DIME staff has been enamored with her collections.  Denise Holguin, managing editor, swooned when she made her first fairy house.  She couldn’t stop at one; in fact she made several dozen and has enjoyed photographing them in charming settings.SSoup4BL

Her little fairy houses even jumped into her Caribbean-bound suitcase on a recent vacation.  Clearly these fairy houses spread a whimsical spell over the stitcher’s creative talents. Because she dreamed up a resident – a silk flower skirted clothespin doll!SSoup8BL

Denise had a ton of fun with the thatched hut.SSoup2BL

She played with color and buttons on the roof.SSoup3BL

The shell trim under the roof line was added in the hoop!  She’s a brave lass, she is.SSoup9BL

As fun as fairy houses are, some of us prefer a bit more function.  Stitch Soup’s tea-light collections were born from necessity. You see, Christina, lives in a fairly remote part of Canada, and is often left in the dark due to power outages.  Those ‘dark moments’ inspired her to keep tea lights close out at hand yet of reach of her canine companions (she has four!).  Hanging tea lights were the answer. Marie Zinno shared the how-to in our July/August 2015 issue.SSoup6BL

One of my favorite Stitch Soup designs was published in our May/June 2015 issue.  What fun to use embroidery, fasteners, small ribbon and trim!SSoup7BL

Visit Stitch Soup today – they’re having a sale!

Tell us about your favorite Stitch Soup design and you’ll be entered to win one of four $25.00 gift certificates to Stitch Soup. 

Saturday Blog

It’s update time!  On Monday, May 2, 2016, you’ll be prompted to update your Inspirations software programs when you open one.  Once you go through that simple exercise, you’ll find several new features that make the software even easier to use than it’s always been. I’m going to hit the high points in this blog post but there are more updates than featured here.  In Perfect Embroidery Pro, you’ll find three versions of the most-requested motif – candlewicking. Look for them in the Properties Box, Run tab, Type: Motif.May1May2

New shapes are added to the drawing tools: heart, rounded rectangle and star.May3

New Fabric Fill settings (in the Properties Box) include changing the scale and focal point of the fabric.  You’ll also find the ability to change the color, thickness and type of the stroke (outline).  The image on the left shows a heart filled with a chevron fabric and a copy with the fabric scaled increased and a blue outline added. May4BL

If you’d like to keep two words linked together when creating bubble text in Word Art in Stitches, now it’s easy to do. Add the tilde symbol (found on many keyboards just left of the #1 key) between the two words.   Example: New~York May5BL

You’ll find a Name Drop feature in Perfect Embroidery Pro (PEP) and Word Art in Stitches (WAS). Create a text object, add optional decorations and select them all. Then go to Tools, Name Drops and type the list of names.May6BL

Now you can automatically save text in a vertical line in PEP and WAS.May7BL

In all software programs, the placement lines can now be set at a specific angle and color.May8BL

My Quilt Planner has some helpful updates, I’ll cover them next Saturday.

DESIGNING A REPEATING PATTERN FOR FABRIC BY TRUE BIAS

Kelli from True Bias has been having fun working with My Fabric Designs for her launch and wanted to put together a little post to show you how easy it is to make a repeating pattern using My Fabric Designs design tools so that you can make your own fabric too…

Creating a pattern that repeats evenly and seamlessly can be a tricky part of designing the fabric. You can do it all in photoshop or illustrator if you prefer. Here are a few youtube tutorials that helped me a ton when I was learning how to do it. Click here, here, or here for the videos or tutorials.

Or you can just do it straight through the My Fabric Designs website. It’s really simple and you don’t need any fancy programs to it. Before we even start I recommend that you watch this youtube tutorial. It goes through their design tool and will give you a great overall idea of how it works. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5RfnISyCEc

Next you are going to need some images. I made up 5 different shapes or groupings of shapes in illustrator. These could also be something that you draw and scan into your computer. Or it could be online images that are stock or free domain. Whatever they are you need to save them as separate files.  If you are going to be overlapping them or making a colored background make sure that the background of your images are transparent. I recommend saving them at 300 dpi and at a larger scale than you think you will actually print them. You can always scale them down when designing, but you can’t go bigger.

Now, go ahead and open the fabric creator. Click File / New and decide what size you want to start with. Go smaller like 6×6 inches if you want a small repeating pattern like you would use for quilting. I like mine larger so I chose 20×20 inches. You also select the background color at this time. I went for a black.

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Hit apply. The middle square will be the one that you work on (light gray background) and the right square will show your finished repeat pattern.

Go to Add / Image and choose your first image to upload.

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It will drop it in the middle of your work square and show the repeat on the right. Cool right? Continue to upload all of your images.

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Move around the images and scale them. You will notice that as some of your images overlap the edge of the working square that they will create a repeat. The right square makes it really easy to see what your repeat looks like and where to place each object for the best visual affect. You can scale the images or rotate them with the handles on the outside of each object. You can call arrange them by sending them in front or in back of other images. Keep playing around until you like the way that the repeat pattern looks on the right.

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Once you are ready make sure you save your pattern to your desktop. Then click order fabric. This will bring you into the area where you can choose the type of fabric you want to print it on and how large you want your pattern to print (it can go down to 150 dpi).

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Then order your fabric. Make sure that you use the code TRUEBFS for free shipping on your order this month.

I hope this tutorial made designing your own fabric a little less scary. I have had so much fun playing around with this tool. Just a reminder that My Fabric Designs is providing the prizes for the Colfax Sewalong Contest. So if you want to give it a try this is the perfect opportunity. Click here for more details.

Get Quilting with My Quilt Planner

My Quilt Planner is Inspirations popular quilt layout software. It’s easy to use and loaded with 99 continuous line designs. You’ll find two short videos to give you an overview of how to use the software.

Click the image below to learn the basics for allover quilting.

The second video illustrates working with custom quilting for each block. Click on the image to view the video.

 

My Quilt PlannerMy Quilt Planner takes all the math out of designing a quilt layout and lets you get to the fun part of quilting quickly!

Love Your Machine? Then Show It Some Love!

Today’s embroidery machine are hi-tech honchos and we love them!  They run and run and barely ever whimper under the stress of all those hoopings. If you want to keep them humming along, then just follow three simple steps:  Keep them clean, use them and turn them off.

Keeping them clean is easy. Remove the plate.Clean1BL

Remove the bobbin case.Clean2BL

Fold a pipe cleaner about 2” from the end and wrap it around itself to create a soft point.Clean3BL

Use the soft point to swipe away dust from the feed dogs.Clean4BL

Bobbin basket. Clean5BL

And nooks and crannies.Clean6BL

Then shudder at the gunk that comes out of your machine.Clean7BL

This example is a machine long overdue for a cleaning. Don’t let your machine get this messy. I worked really hard to get this shot!

Reassemble all the parts and get back to stitching. Of course, read your manual. Manufacturers have different recommendations for everyday care. Many machines require a daily drop of oil while others leave the oiling to the professional technicians. It’s best to read the manual and FOLLOW the instructions.

Using your machine is good for your machine, you won’t wear it out. It was made to run and running them keeps them lubricated. Don’t be afraid of your machine – remember you own it; it doesn’t own you.

Lastly, turn off your machines when it’s not in use. It’s a good idea to unplug them. I have to admit, I don’t unplug them all the time but when there are thunderstorms in the area or if I’m leaving town, I pull the plug on all of my machines. It’s peace of mind.

How do you care for your machine?

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