Author Archive

Free New Features in PEP!

The development team at Inspirations wants to wish you a happy holiday season with two exciting new features in Perfect Embroidery Pro!  Update your software now (for free!) to Version 9.68.  I’m sure you remember (and it might be why you purchased PEP) that all updates are free for life in Perfect Embroidery Pro.

Katherine Artines created a new 45-minute tutorial on the new features. She gives a thorough exploration – and explanation – of the new tools.  She confesses her new favorite feature is Navigator.  Navigator allows you to view areas of a design quickly by blending the Zoom and Pan tools into one window.   You can access the Navigator on a tab at the bottom left of the screen, next to the Library and Color Sequence tabs. Here’s a close-up view of the area.

Notice the blue box  – that shows the magnified area in the main screen.

You can move the blue box in the Navigator window to any area of the design. This tool is such a time-saver – I love it!

If you’re intrigued with embossed fills, they you’ll be overjoyed with the expanded control you now have. Scale percentage allows you to change the size of the actual embossed pattern.  Katherine has a great example – three rectangles, three different percentages.

Of course, there’s more!  Now the angle can set the angle of the embossed pattern to follow the shape of the letters or any shape.  Just put a check mark in the box, click apply and you’re done.  Take a look at JOY without the check mark.

And JOY with the check mark.  Notice how the pattern flows with each letter, not just in a vertical pattern like above.  It bends around the curve of the J, around the O and out into the branches of the Y.

Another great example of the Inspiration development team listening to its users.  It’s just keeps getting better and better!

Check out Katherine’s video and see how she cleverly used the new features for her holiday decorations.

 

E-Stitch or Satin?

Do you like to finish the edges of your applique with an e-stitch or a satin?  I have to admit I like both finishes.  In fact, in some projects, I mix them.  I’m working on a quilt – a large quilt – that features five embroidered blocks in a modern composition. Each block has four flowers, stems, leaves and some sort of center design to link them together. I opted to include one block with e-stitch edges.  It’s the center block so it works in the overall layout.

When deciding what type of edging to use in an applique project, remember satin (and motif) edges introduce another element to each applique. The edging can blend with the applique fabric, the host fabric or contrast with both. 

E-stitches usually blend with the applique fabric and of course, there is no applique fabric beyond the e-stitch edging.

The key to success for e-stitch applique is to apply a fusible web to the wrong side and pre-cut the applique pieces. Since a tack down stitch would be visible in the final applique, don’t include a tack down on e-stitch appliques. Instead, use a tacky fusible web such as Steam A Seam. The tacky adhesive will hold the applique in place while the e-stitch is applied. It can be fused permanently after removing the project from the hoop.

The applique feature in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro and My Quilt Embellisher gives you control over placement guides and tack downs.  Follow along in your software so you can see how easy it is to remove a placement guide.   Select a leaf from the Applique Shapes menu.

The default applique is a satin edge.

Change the type in the Properties Box to E-Stitch. Notice the check marks in both the Placement line and Tack down line boxes. 

Remove the check from the Tack down line box.

When you stitch the design, apply the tacky fusible web to the pre-cut applique pieces and you’ll have a beautiful applique.

 

Sharing the Craft   

What’s the best part of sewing? Inspiring others to learn the craft. Sometimes the ‘inspiration’ is subtle, not deliberate. You don’t have to sit someone at a machine and show them how to operate it. No, inspiration can happen by osmosis. Just exposing someone – specifically family members at a young age – to sewing. Leaving the sewing room door open, welcoming them into your creative space and answering questions.

Mothers and daughters can lock heads when it comes time to teach sewing. In fact, in many households, the love of sewing skips a generation.  But not always.  My niece, Lindsey Zinno (daughter of my infamous stitching sister, Marie Zinno), is the proud maker and owner of The Northern Market. Lindsey created NM to provide multi-functional fiber art for the modern home and lifestyle.  Her work is sold online and in boutiques across America and Europe.  And she started this company at the ripe old age of 17 – yes, SEVENTEEN!

Marie has always left her sewing room door open to Lindsey encouraging her to find her way and explore different mediums.  Lindsey witnessed Marie succeed in her commercial embroidery business and joined the Stitching Sisters on the road.  I think she couldn’t help being inspired by her surroundings.  

Today, she’s featured on Nancy Zieman’s blog as she was a guest on Sewing with Nancy. How did that come about? Well, I happened to be taping with Nancy in November 2016 when Marie sent me a link to a local newspaper story about Lindsey and The Northern Market. I showed Nancy and she was intrigued with Lindsey craftsmanship and minimalist style.  She wondered if Lindsey would like to be guest on Sewing with Nancy.  Not many people turn down that offer.

Lindsey’s success is due to her creative, open spirit. As a youngster, she was forever dabbling in art – drawing, painting, sculpting and music. She was like a sponge, drawing inspiration from everything and everyone around her. It was no surprise that she took to making rope baskets under the tutelage of another one of my sisters, Mary Pat Palombo (the oldest of my five sisters and the first stitcher).  While visiting Mary Pat, Lindsey watched her wrap clothesline with fabric and then sew the wrapped cord into baskets. Lindsey jumped into action and quickly made the technique her own.

Like many of today’s makers, she started selling her work on Etsy. As she poured her heart and soul into every stitch, The Northern Market’s popularity grew. She will graduate from the University of Cincinnati this spring and then, heaven knows what’s next for her.

You can watch Lindsey and Nancy as they share these techniques with you on, Rope Sewing Reinvented on Sewing with Nancy.  Click here to watch online now.

Thanks for letting me toot my horn – I’m so proud of Lindsey!

Houston is Ready…

If you’ve been hesitant about heading to Quilt Fest next weekend in Houston, don’t be, come on down!  The George Brown Convention Center is in pristine condition after serving as host to Hurricane Harvey evacuees. This weekend is Quilt Market, the industry’s largest convention to the trade, and attendance appears to be up as quilt shop owners flock to Houston.

But that’s not the only reason to be in Houston this weekend. Just a block away from the convention center, the Houston Astros are in the World Series at Orange Maid Park!  It’s not very often that you stumble across a display like this:

 

Here’s a closer look at each showcase:

Quilt Market 2017

2017 World Series

What’s so great about Quilt Market?  This is THE event to see new product, new fabric lines and beautiful quilts. What we see here this weekend will hit be hitting stores soon – sometimes immediately or a few months down the road.

The day before the show floor opens, Schoolhouse classes are staged in every available classroom on the second floor (this place is massive!). I assisted Deanna Springer in Nancy Zieman’s class, I Sew for FunTwo of Nancy’s granddaughters appeared on the PBS Sewing with Nancy show and the book that highlights that series is titled, I Sew For Fun.

It’s a new line of product geared at the younger generation and includes child-friendly notions from Clover.  Check out this retractable seam ripper – perfect for little hands (and big ones!).

Martingale published Nancy’s charming illustrated child’s book.

Easy in the hoop embroidery designs from Amazing Designs make computerized embroidery fun for little techies.

You’ll find a user-friendly software program, Click, Print and Stitch.  All of these products will be available at your sewing machine dealer or Nancy’s Notions very soon.

This whole concept from Nancy is focused on teaching adults how to teach children to sew.  After all, it’s common to have a young assistant in the kitchen but you wouldn’t let them loose with needles, knives and hot plates.  In the sewing room, the little stitcher needs a big stitcher to get started.

Today, the Quilt Market officially opens and I’m excited about visiting with our cherished machine advertisers: Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Janome, Viking and Pfaff. They spend hours and hours designing their booths and samples to inspire shop owners.  I love seeing the samples they make to highlight new machine features and accessories (hoops, feet and more!).

This is often the only time of the year I get to visit with designers in person instead of over the phone or email.  I’m often humbled with the amount of work that goes into creating their displays.  I know how difficult it is to be a one-woman show!  Their samples and product bloom with creativity as they pour their heart and soul into every stitch.

On Monday, the doors of Quilt Market will close and the floor will be transformed to accept thousands of quilters for Quilt Fest.  By then, the World Series will be over and the town will be ready to host it’s favorite convention – Quilt Fest!  So come on down, Houston is waiting for you!

Magnify Those Stitches

Here’s a sneak peek at a recent work in progress.  These jeans will be featured in an upcoming issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery and I’m excited to see them on the model.

I know you’ve seen the flower patches in previous posts but check out the magnifying effect on this patch:

Isn’t that fun? Follow along in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro to duplicate the technique.  Use the Art tool to draw a rectangle.  Select the rectangle, right click, Convert to Complex Fill. 

In Properties Box, change the Fill type to Motif, Pattern 129.  Change the Pattern Length to 10.0. Click Apply. 

Draw a circle and position it off one corner. 

Convert the circle to Complex fill. Select the circle and rectangle and click on Combine.  

The overlapped area will be empty.

Draw around the open space. 

Convert to Complex Fill, Motif, Pattern 129, Pattern length 18.0 mm.

Select all, right click, Utility, Create Outline.  

Enter 0.0 in the distance field and click OK. Make sure the color sequence is rectangle, circle and border. Since I planned on stitching this on denim, I assigned Vintage Retro 40 wt thread to the first two colors and the Vintage Rope 15 wt. to the border to mimic hand stitches.  Enjoy!

 

 

Give Thanks Video Tutorial Part 2

Check out Part 2 of Katherine Artines’ Give Thanks video tutorial on YouTube.  Finish the remaining two blocks of the fun Thanksgiving project begun in Give Thanks Part 1. You’ll create additional custom stippling and work with Text on Path and the Outline feature. Katherine illustrates how to access artwork from Word Art in Stitches and use it for other techniques. 

If you’ve been wanting to explore the Artwork and Shape tools, this video will help you understand the features of both helpful tools.  Learn how and when to use the Combine tool plus how to set colors in the proper order (sequencing).

Katherine shares the steps for completing the quilted wallhanging – the actual sewing part!  She’s so much more than a ‘virtual quilter’, I’m sure you’ll pick up several tips to use in your digitizing.  Enjoy!

To Rip or Not to Rip?

Imperfect stitches happen, no matter how experienced you are. The more you stitch, the better you get. The more confidence you have, the more you trust your machine to produce professional results. Even so, not every project will be perfect.  You can stitch the same design 30 times and 28 of them will be spot on, but two may not be up to snuff. Is it the end of the world? Of course not, but it does beg to answer a serious question, “To rip or not too rip?”

Some rip out EVERY misaligned stitch while others shrug and move on. Here’s the criteria I apply on making this call: How bad is it?  Can it be easily corrected? Will the recipient even know if something is amiss?

How bad is it? On a scale of 1 to 5, is it glaringly noticeable?  That’s a 5.  Barely visible, that’s a 1.

Can it be easily corrected?  On a scale of 1 to 5, will the removal of 20-30 stitches fix the problem?  That’s a 1.  A 5 is when you must start over as the project cannot be salvaged (and really that’s a 10!).

Will the recipient even know something is amiss? If yes, that’s a 5, you must fix it.  If not at all, that’s a 1.

Recently, I stitched an applique name and everything started out smoothly.

But as I advanced to color 3, the satin outline of the first letter, something must have hit the hoop and the outline didn’t cover the tackdown.  Ugh!  

Immediately, I applied the 3 questions: How bad is it? It’s a 1 in my book because the tackdown and satin outline is the same color as the applique fabric and there’s a just a speck of background fabric peaking out.

Can it be easily corrected?  Since I didn’t notice the problem until the satin outline was complete, it’s a 4. That’s a lot of satin stitches to remove.   Plus, I was on a tight schedule so ‘easily corrected’ didn’t fit the time frame.

Will the recipient even know something was amiss? No, not this little angel. She’s only 5 and not an embroidery expert yet!  If this was for a customer, then yes, by all means, rip it out.

End result? I removed the visible tackdown stitches, moved on and completed the project. 

How about you? What’s your criteria for removing stitches?

Learn Today in Your PJs

Resident software wiz Katherine Artines just posted a new tutorial on the Inspired by Dime YouTube channel. This latest video, Give Thanks, concentrates on Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro digitizing software.  She shares easy steps for using (and finding!) artwork that is in the public domain and royalty free to use for digitizing. 

Follow along to make a fun Thanksgiving project as you hone your Shape Tool skills.  A master at lettering of all types, Katherine shows how to make TTText fit into pumpkin shapes. But she doesn’t stop there. She creates Custom Stippling to finish the block.

Imagine what you can do what those skills!  She’s featuring several of PEP’s premium tools:  Backdrop, Artwork, Shape, TTText, Combine and Sequencing.  She even unearths a hidden Windows tool found on most computers: the Snipping tool for capturing screen shots.

Katherine doesn’t leave you hanging at the computer – oh no, she walks you through the embroidery process at the machine.  Watch for free on YouTube.  While you’re there, make sure you subscribe to the Inspired by Dime channel, you’ll be notified of all new posts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrGI7OgUkkY

Your Opinion Matters

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of teaching at Wisconsin Quilt Expo. My topic was Turn Your Embroidery Machine into a Longarm.  The one-hour lecture covered everything from selecting designs to placement of designs to handling the bulk/weight of the quilt.  I had a blast! I love that topic and my students were really interested in mastering the technique. I shared everything I know about the topic that I could fit into 55 minutes. You know, I’m originally from New Jersey so I can talk really fast! 

That experience made me wonder what you look for when you want to learn new embroidery techniques.  What motivates you to attend a teaching event? What’s your preferred learning environment: at your local dealer in small groups, large group, hands-on, short lectures, online, TV or in print?  If you prefer a mix of environments, I’d love to hear our thoughts. Would you take a moment to share your thoughts on classes/events?

More Denim Inspiration

Last week, we started with this flower in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro (with Vintage Embroidery Software installed on the computer):

and ended up with this flower:

You can follow those steps by clicking here. Now, let’s take it a step further. Remove the complex fill (blue) and the center embellishment (red).

Resize the flower to 2.13” x 2.07” and move it to the top right corner.

Now that the flower is smaller, you might want to narrow the oval shapes a bit. Just click on each side center point and move the node in towards the center.  Copy and paste all elements.  Move the second flower below the first. 

Remove the two bottom petals and ovals (they are all separate elements).

Select the Shape tool, zoom in and click on the left petal extending below the square.

Move the stop point to a node just above the square outline.

Delete all nodes below the outline. Repeat for the right petal.

Change the colors of the second flower.

Copy, paste and rotate the third flower. Move it to the open space on the left.

Recolor and resequence all elements so that the 15 wt. elements stitch as one color and the 40 wt. ovals stitch as one.

Of course, you can add color stops to stitch three uniquely-colored flowers.

What a fun trio of flower patches!  

In a few months you’ll see what I decided to do with the patches in a future issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine.  I know there is bleach, bling and a bit more of embellishment in their future. But I’d love to hear what you would do them. Please share!

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