Author Archive

Hold Onto Your Hat

Hat embroidery presents two challenges for the home embroiderer. First, hat embroidery usually entails small lettering.  Second, keeping a hat in a hoop on single-needle, flat bed machine is tricky.  We’ve got you covered on both bases!  Inspirations’ Word Art in Stitches is the perfect software program to create a quick hat embellishment.hat1bl  In Word Art in Stitches, click on the Bubble Text icon and select the following items in the preview window:

  1. Shape: Select the state of your choice.
  2. Change the default size to 75 mm width and 71 mm height.
  3. Border: Steil
  4. Words: Remove My Text
  5. Click Apply

Select the Micro Text tool and type Home in the Properties Box. Select the Arial Small font. Click Apply.  Move Home into the state.hat2bl

Click on the Text Designs tool, scroll down and select So99686. Click OK.hat3bl

Right click on So99686 and select Ungroup from the drop down menu.hat4bl

In the Color Sequence window, click on the eyeball next to the star colors to hide them.hat5bl

Select the remaining portions of So99686 and delete them.hat6bl

Click on the eyeballs again in the Color Sequence window to reveal the star. Move the star next to Home. Save the design and print a template to audition it on the hat. Tape the template to the hat.

The easiest way to hold a hat in a single-needle flatbed hoop is to use adhesive tear-away and our newest product, Hoop Clip. Here’s how to do it: Place adhesive tear-away stabilizer on the back of the Snap Hoop Monster’s metal frame. Snap the Hoop Clip onto the bottom frame. Hoop Clip is magnetic and attaches easily and firmly to the metal frame.hat8bl

Open the clip and slide the brim into the opening.  Finger press the cap onto the sticky stabilizer.hat9bl

Attach the hoop to the machine and stitch the design.hat11bl

Sweet! A hat on a flatbed single-needle machine!hat12bl

All Aboard!

The blog will be back for regular programming on Wednesday. Last week, Marie and I were cruising on the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas ship.AllureBL

After a year of planning with Baby Lock and Inspirations’ dealer Flash Sew and Quilt, Naples, FL, we had a ball.Cruise1BL

Not only did 70 cruise attendees embroider with the Stitching Sisters, they are also received expert software instruction from Inspiration education consultants, Donna Siler and Lisa Knight.  Donna is at the helm here.DonnaBL

And Lisa is first mate during this class.LisaBL

Marie and I enjoyed connecting with familiar faces – embroidery enthusiasts we’ve met all over the country through the past six years.SisterBL

And our dealer, Harold Havard, is one easy-going chap! “Yeah, mon” as they say in Jamaica.HaroldBL

If you’ve been considering an embroidery/sewing/quilting cruise, sign up today. It’s a blast!

6 Helpful Tips for Digitizing Continuous Line Designs

300Recently, I’ve been digitizing quilting designs – continuous line designs in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Continuous line designs present unique challenges to digitizers.

Since the designs are just one line of thread, there’s not a lot of room for error. But the biggest challenge may be in the pathing – where the needle will travel throughout the design. Sometimes this is intuitive and sometimes, not! I’ve learned a lot as I’ve worked on these designs. Here are six tips that have kept me on track.

Start with pencil and paper. Sketching a continuous line design is the best way to address the pathing. Even if it’s digital clip art, print it out and trace over it. If you have to lift the pencil to draw the next area, there’s going to be a break in the stitching.  Find another solution like backtracking (retracing over previous stitches) or looping (adding an extra design element like a vein on a leaf) to get to the next area.

Dive in –Go to the software and get started. You’ll find the time spent sketching/tracing has already focused your brain on the task. Sketching is like stretching exercises before a run – they prep your mind and body for the task ahead. Start drawing the design and adding nodes.  It will flow faster than you think. Don’t worry if it looks like a mess at first. You can tweak each node later.

The Close Line feature is a time saver. If you’re drawing a closed shape, at the last node, right mouse click and select Close Line from the drop down menu. The shape will instantly close and you won’t waste time wondering why your continuous line turned into a two-ply. In Perfect Embroidery Pro, draw the shape, (setting modes with a click of the mouse), when the shape is complete, right mouse click to end the line.  Select the Shape tool, right mouse click and select Close Line.CL4BL

The Slow Draw tool is your best friend.  Before you begin tweaking the nodes, click on the Slow Draw tool. This tool allows you to focus on the pathing. Keep a close eye on the screen as the design stitches.  Get your pathing right, and then tweak the nodes.CL1BL

Zoom in. Magnifying the stitches on the screen helps you see exactly where they lie in the design.  This is quite helpful when perfecting individual shapes within a design. There are several ways to zoom in on a design in Inspriations’ software programs. The most obvious is to click on the magnifying glass.CL2BL

Or select a percentage from the drop down menu at the top tool bar.CL3BL

It’s important to remember when you are zoomed in, you are seeing a magnified view of the stitches – not what it will appear when sewn. So don’t stress out too much!  Pull back to actual size often to keep it in perspective.

Save As often. You really can’t have too many versions of your work. Go to File/Save As and rename the design every time. Eventually, you’ll be satisfied with the final design and you delete the earlier versions.  But during the design phase, it’s wise to keep each version. Just go for something basic like HeartV1, HeartV2, HeartV3, etc. Use the same method for all your digitizing and you’ll know where to find your latest and greatest.

I’ve found these tips to be real time-savers. I seem to be immersed in quilting designs right now – there’s so many beautiful designs dancing in my head! I’d love to know what you’ve been working on.

The Cart Before the Horse

Last Saturday, I provided step-by-step instructions on intertwining letters in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro. I think I should have taught you how to overlap letters first, and then advance to intertwining letters.  In other words, I put the cart before the horse.  Intertwining letters are different than overlapped letters. Intertwining means a portion of one letter goes both over and under the other letter. Overla20BL

Overlapped letters are when one letter sits on top of another.Overla21BL

Creating overlapped letters is very simple. Type the letters individually. Change the color of one letter so you can see your work more clearly. This is a good habit for almost all digitizing tasks. Overla21_Abl

Position them as you’d like. Select the letters individually, right mouse click and select Break Up Text. Overla22BL

Select the letter on top, the C is this example, right click and select Ungroup.Overla23BL

Select the letter on top, right click and select Remove Overlaps.Overla24BL

The stitches behind the C are removed.Overla25BL

Double check by moving the C to see the open space underneath.Overla26BL

So now you know how to overlap and intertwine letters.

Behind the Scenes

If you’ve ever prepared Thanksgiving Dinner… or any special meal… you can appreciate the amount of planning and work that is involved.  The same is true with running a magazine.  By the time the printed magazine reaches your mailbox, your local newsstand or your favorite sewing machine dealer, it has experienced many iterations of edits and tweaks, love and care.   Some are often very subtle.  Here’s a photo of the different versions of the latest cover that is currently on newsstands. CoverBLThe back story on the ‘hero’ (magazine lingo for the finished sample on the cover) is quite interesting.  It began last June when I was recovering from a broken patella and humerus (not very funny).  My dear friend, Rita Farro, sent me a little sunshine in the form of four elegant hand-embroidered pillowcases that she recently scored at an estate sale. When I opened the box, I was hit with the aroma of that beautiful fresh-from-the-clothesline smell – straight from her country home in Iowa.  What a delight!  I was touched beyond words and determined to put them to good use.Cover2BLI planned on monogramming and transforming them into envelope pillows. At the time, all I could do was sit and look at these beautiful vintage linens. Weeks later, after I was back to driving, I made a trip to my local quilt shop, Must Have Fabric in Grapevine, TX. Must Have Fabric has at least 2,000 bolts – plenty to choice from. I was on the hunt for 1930s, 40s or 50s fabrics. I could envision the type of print and color way and surveyed the shelves. I found only one bolt that would work. It was the right color, scale and motif. I smiled, tucked it under my arm and got in line at the cutting table.  While waiting, I looked at the selvedge and low and behold, it was Mary Mulari’s Penny Rose fabric from Riley Blake!  How amazing is that?  You see, Mary and Rita are the YaYa Sisters – wonderful and talented presenters at national sewing shows and two of my dearest friends.  Everytime I look at that pillow, I remember the kindness Rita and Mary showered on me when I was under the weather. What luck it was to find Mary’s fabric – full circle, wouldn’t you agree?

I’m sure Rita’s not the only who likes to scour auctions, resale shops and antique stores. Do you like to do that? If so, are you looking for anything in particular?  Leave a comment and a random winner will receive

Here’s your assignment this week:

I’m sure Rita’s not the only who likes to scour auctions, resale shops and antique stores. Do you like to do that? If so, are you looking for anything in particular?  Leave a comment and a random winner will receive. One random winner will receive a $25 shopping spree coupon to the DIME website.

The winners of the last assignment answered the following question:

Have you had a ‘lightbulb’ go off recently?  Share your Aha moment with us and you could win a sewing room twin set! What’s a ‘sewing room twin set?’ Gifts from our friends at Euro-Notions – Grabbit magnetic pincushion and Bobbinsaver.

The winner is:  

Alice: “I have been doing embroidery over 20 years. One of the best things I have used is the Springs from the pens. I place that spring on the screw of the embroidery hoop. You can set the tension on the hoop and the spring gives you a little stretch and keeps the hoop tight as it needs to be.”

 

Intertwining Letters

In the recent issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery, you’ll find detailed instructions on how to intertwine letters in a monogram. Let’s review the steps with two built-in fonts in Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Select the Monogram tool and type the letter A in the Properties box.  Select the Trad_Scr font.  Select the Monogram tool again and type the letter K. Change the font to Fan_Scr. Select the K, go to the Command tab in the Properties Box and type in 2 in the Color field.

Select the letter and right mouse click to view the dropdown menu. Select Break Up Text.OD2BL

Select the letter and click Ungroup. Select the lower portion of the K and click on the Slice tool.OD3BL

Left mouse click at one edge of the satin column where you want the split to occur.  Drag across the column and hit the Enter key.OD4BL

Repeat at the other side of the overlapping column.OD5BL

Select the column, right mouse click and select Break Apart from the drop down menu. OD6BL

Select the portion you want to remove and hit delete on the keyboard. OD7BL

The column is now split.OD8BL

Split the underlay stitches by selecting the Shape tool and clicking on the line.OD9BL

To remove the jump stitches between the satin stitches, select the satin colum. In the Properties Box, select Trim from the End Command window and click Apply. OD10BL

You can apply this to any area where the two letters overlap.  See how easy it is to create one-of-a-kind monograms in Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro? I just love this software!

Tame Those Tees

Yesterday, I was prepping t-shirts from the Simple to Chic T-shirt Remakes collection that Nancy Zieman and I recently created.  I ruined one of them.  I stepped away from the machine for a second (that’s when danger sprints into the sewing room) and when I returned, the needle was pounding through several layers of t-shirt – of which only one was supposed to be stitched.  URGH!  I exhaled and carefully removed the stitches to release the excess fabric. It worked out okay – the t-shirt will be used for teaching purposes only so I can hide the damage. I moved on to other tasks.

Then last night, I was sleeping and dreaming about work (that’s a mix between a dream and a nightmare).  The dream/nightmare involved t-shirts. I was reliving the day’s activities (see how boring I am – I dream about this stuff!) and then I woke with a start. Use Press’n Seal to control the bulk around the sewing field.  Yes – Press’n Seal, sealable plastic wrap, that you find in your local grocery store. Brilliant!

I couldn’t wait to get to the office and try it out.  And lo and behold – it’s perfect!  I cut a 4” strip and then cut that in half for two 4” x 6” strips. I rolled the t-shirt up around the sewing field and stuck a strip of Press’n Seal on each side of the sewing field.Press1BL

Oh My Gosh – brilliant. Now all those folds and rolls are controlled out of harm’s way. That’s what I call taming a tee!Press2BL

Here’s your assignment this week:

Have you had a ‘lightbulb’ go off recently?  Share your Aha moment with us and you could win a sewing room twin set! What’s a ‘sewing room twin set?’ Gifts from our friends at Euro-Notions – Grabbit magnetic pincushion and Bobbinsaver.
Press3BL

The winners of the last assignment answered the following question:

Now it’s your turn!  Tell us about a recent accomplishment that you’re especially proud of! This is your chance to share and inspire other readers.  It can be related to machine embroidery, sewing or any other skill you’ve honed!  4 random comments will be selected and each person will win a $25 gift certificate to go on a fun shopping spree at Zippy DesignZ.

The winners are:  

Doreen Linehan: “I made a tuffet. Used a whole bunch of things I had never used before. Long Upholstery needles, metal button, 15 degree ruler. Came out great.”

Linda Lynch: “I was fearful of using my embroidery machine and am making small projects i.e. Small art quilt, kitchen towels and graduated to a beautiful large tote for carrying supplies to classes.”

Judie: “Gee, where do I start!!~ Yes, my Evolution is sitting in the corner,…. I need to get a grip on that and actually use it. I have designs and handkerchiefs ready to try a cutwork corner…. someday AND that continuous border will be on my next set of pillowcases. Yes, really love this key fob design and am proficient at In-the-Hoop so I’ll be giving it a try. I read directions at EVERY step. Only takes one or two boo boos to learn that.”

Deanna: “I recently finished a baby blanket for my niece. Their theme is camouflage and deer. So I embroidered 5 blocks with different bucks, found coordinating deer fabric and put it all together and gave it to them at baby shower. They loved it!”

Preparing Files to Send to Janome Machines

If you’re a Janome user, it seems simple enough to send a design you created in Inspirations’ software to your Janome machine. But there’s one more necessary step if you’re transferring a JEF file to a USB stick for your Janome embroidery machine. A special folder must be created on the USB stick in order for the machine to find the design and thanks to the genius engineers at Janome, your machine is programmed to do that instantly. Just insert a USB stick into your Janome machine. Select Embroidery.  Select the USB icon. You’ll notice a warning screen telling you NOT to turn off the machine or remove the USB stick.  When the message clears, you’ll see a folder on the machine screen, titled, EMBf.janome1BL

Remove the USB from the Janome machine and insert it into your computer. Open a design in your Inspirations’ software, I’m in Perfect Embroidery Pro. Go to File, Save and select JEF from the drop down menu.janome2BL

Locate the USB drive. When selected, you’ll find a new folder, EMB.janome4BL

Click on it to open and there you will find the EMBf folder.janome5BL

Open the folder and save the design in that folder.janome6BL

Now, take the USB stick to the Janome machine. Select Embroidery, USB stick and open the EMBf folder. You’ll find your design.janome8BL

That’s all there is to it.  If you need specific Janome model information (some machine models generate one file instead of two), you’ll find a very thorough blog post by a Janome dealer.  Click here to view. That solves the mystery of ‘Why can’t I see my design on my Janome machine?’

Multi-Needle Monday: On the Set of Sewing with Nancy

What an honor it was for me to tape two episodes of Sewing with Nancy last month in Madison Wisconsin. Sometimes I have to take a moment and think of all the places, experiences and amazing people have met through this hobby turned business of machine embroidery. One of the top moments was to be invited by Nancy Zieman to tape on her PBS show “Sewing with Nancy”.

The brainstorming and planning of what will be featured and taught on an episode can be stressful. As an educator I want to keep things simple and concise as much as possible. As a business owner, I want to showcase beautiful embroidery. I think in these two episodes we covered both of these points.

Once the design selection and products are finalized the real work begins. It starts with stitching out the embroidery designs to see how they will look on camera and how long each design takes to stitch out. I usually test my new embroidery designs on craft felt and keep a reference of each sample. Then I need to source my “blanks”. The blanks used are items I sell through my embroidery business but you need to provide multiple sets of each blank item for the various T.V. shots. So basically 3-4 samples are used for each product show on camera.

The real focus of the program was to teach the new book Hoop it Up and demonstrate the simplified hooping techniques for baby items, tote bags, slippers and a cosmetic case. We decided on a two part series: Baby items and Spa theme.

I arrived at the Madison WI airport in early December and proceeded to drive to the small quaint town of Beaver Dam, WI, home of Nancy’s Notions and Nancy Zieman Productions.madison1BL  Cheese Head Hats! You know you have arrived in Wisconsin when the Cheese Head hats are sold at the first airport convenience store.

Nancy has the most efficient and energetic staff who really help to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Although the guest does the actual sewing and step outs, the producers make sure the step outs make sense to the viewers.madison2BL Can you make sense out of this mess?

After spending a day planning and stitching on two Babylock Destiny machines simultaneously I had all the step outs needed and ready for taping.madison3BL madison5BL

Nancy’s offices looks a lot like the set of her show (and her home too by the way). I love her cool greens and blue paint colors because they are my favorite colors too. As you can see by the way we dressed at our first taping.madison12BL

The set is located at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. The PBS station also tapes a number of different shows and apparently they are prepared if extra lighting is needed.madison8BL

All joking aside, all of the hard work and planning really paid off. I think the samples turned out nicely and my techniques came across seamlessly (no pun intended). I hope you have a chance to watch the episodes. You can view them online here  or check your local PBS listings for Sewing with Nancy-Hoop It Up series with Marie Zinno.madison6BL madison17BL

 

I hope you can join me in my Craftsy class “ How to Start a Machine Embroidery Business” Clink the link below for a special coupon.

https://www.craftsy.com/ext/MarieZinno_4963_H

 

An Expert’s Tip on Text on a Path

Leave it to Inspirations Education Consultant Ashley Jones to teach me another shortcut on digitizing text on a path. Previously, she taught me (and you) how to instantly place text around the perimeter of a shape (artwork).  You can read up on that tip here.

Today’s tip is applicable to the Inspirations’ software program that includes the text on a path feature (Perfect Embroidery Pro and Word Art in Stitches). Select the Text tool and type a sentence into the Properties Box. I wrote: Once upon a time, in a land far away. Click Apply.TP1BL

The text appears on the screen. Right click on the text and select Path from the dropdown menu.TP2BL

Right click again and select Edit Baseline.TP3BL

Right click and select Add Point.TP4BL

Place the cursor under the n in upon and click to add a point.  Do the same under the w in away.  Now move the new modes up to create a curved line.TP5BL

Left mouse click and the words are on the curved path. Use the blue nodes to slide the letters and words along the path. (Black nodes allow you to move that letter independently).TP6BL

But moving the whole line doesn’t seem to work because the first letter, O, does not have a blue node. Ashley showed me a simple fix for that. Just add a space in front of the first word of the line in the Properties Box.TP9BL

Now a node appears (blue diamond) to the left of the line.TP11BL

Use this node to slide the entire sentence.TP12BL

Gee, I just love a tip like this; it simplifies what used to seem like a laborious task into a breeze. Thanks Ashley!TP13BL

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