Author Archive

His Patches Went to the Moon

Today we said goodbye to an icon in the embroidery industry. Marvin Gardner passed away on Monday April 11 at his home in Dallas, TX. Marv1BL

His name may not be familiar to you but his presence and influence in the commercial embroidery industry is legend.  For several decades, he steered Dallas Cap and Emblem and was honored by President Nixon in 1969 for working with NASA on developing the official Apollo 11 Emblem worn by the astronauts.  When Neil Armstrong and Edmund “Buzz” Aldrin stepped on the moon, they were wearing the Apollo 11 embroidered emblems on their flight suits under their space suits. Apollo11BL

President Nixon sent Marvin a letter commending him for his participation in this historic event.NixonBL

Marvin was Big Poppa to all of us at Designs. He came to work every day for the 16 years since DIME’s inception.  You see, he’s family here, the father of my business partner, Gary Gardner.  An avid sports fan, Marvin led the office football pool every week and took great joy in winning a dollar from his best office friends, Charles Henry and Bryant Royal. Those three have worked together for 39 productive years.  Marvin was also our walking encyclopedia of embroidery facts, myths, equipment, people and more. If we had a question about embroidery, we asked Marvin. If he didn’t know, then we probably had an opportunity to invent something new and exciting!

MarvinBL

Gary, Marvin, Brent and Shirley Gardner.

Marvin was not just a businessman; first, he was a family man. A husband to Shirley (Pasternak) Gardner for 62 years and father to five children: Paul, Robert, Janelle (Friedman), Gary and Vickie (Sokolik).  He had 22 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

Marvin was bigger than life – a true Texan. When I look at Big Tex at Dallas Fair Park (home of the Cotton Bowl), I always think of Marvin.  Standing tall, an imposing presence with a smile that lit up the city.  BigTexBL

I remember the first time my Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno, worked with Marvin at a show in Michigan. They dined together and Marvin ordered and finished the largest steak she had ever seen. That was Marvin, larger than life with a heart of gold.

Batter Up!

It’s baseball season! Can’t you hear the swing of the bat and the ‘thwack’ when leather hits wood?  Smell the peanuts?  Even though I never played, I still think summer begins with the official opening of baseball season.

And maybe there’s somebody in your life who feels the same way. My new family members, my daughter’s new family, are baseball fanatics – they live for baseball! So when I was invited to a baby shower for the newest grandson, I couldn’t think of anything better than embroidered onesies and burp cloths.  Of course, I have to include a monogram because they already shared his name with the family. Modern times, eh?

My first thought was varsity type athletic letters. Easy to do, just a click of the mouse in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro.

Click on the Text tool and select the Fiction Applique font. Click Ok.BB1BL

Type the initials in the Properties Box.BB2BL

But I felt it could use a little more pizazz. So I added a baseball mood to the common athletic-type appliques. Select the run tool and draw a curved line across the left side of the first initial.BB3BL

Select the line and in the Properties Box on the Run tab, change the Type to Motif, Pattern 129. Add more curved lines to the letters.BB4ABL

Cute!  Now we have to move the baseball stitches behind the satin outlines.  Select the text, right click and select Break Up Text from the dropdown menu.BB5BL

Select the first applique (the text is now two appliques), right click and select Break Up Path from the dropdown menu.BB7BL

Now, arrange the colors in this order: placement guide, tackdown, baseball stitches and satin outline.FinalbbBL

How easy was that? Perfect Embroidery Pro provides all the tools you need for creativity.

Pretty in Pink

4_2_16_9I finally found some time to stitch a sample of the applique flower that we’ve been discussing over the past few Software Saturday posts.  I selected a pink hand-dyed fabric for the flower and a subtle green batik print for the leaves. The center really needed a snappy yellow but I found my stash is totally lacking in yellows. So I cut a yellow section from a wild print fabric. It’s okay for the sample but I think I’ll look for a yellow with a bit more…zing!

The flower center looked so boring in the software I made one more digitizing change to the design before I actually stitched the sample.  Here’s how to do it in Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro digitizing software:

Select the flower center, right click and select Break Up Path from the drop down menu.  4_2_16_1

The design will be split into Run (your placement guide), Run (your tackdown) and Applique. 4_2_16_2Select the Applique, right click and Convert to Steil. 4_2_16_3

Select the Steil and in the Property Box, change the Jagged Type to Both.  4_2_16_4

Change the Value to 4.0 and click Apply. 4_2_16_5

Now the flower center has much character than its original settings.4_2_16_6

My next task is to select the final fabrics for this quilt and I could use some help. What color backgrounds do you like? White, black, blue, cream or gray?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!4_2_16_8

Multi-Needle Monday: Add Embroidery to Almost Anything!

If you are a Designs in Machine Embroidery subscriber you might have seen my current project in volume 97. However, many readers who follow the DIME blogs might not subscribe to the magazine, and they should. For this reason I want to share this interesting technique I used for embroidered shoes. Actually the embroidery is done in the hoop and then added to a pair of purchased shoes.

I love to follow fashion blogs on Instagram and try to duplicate interesting embroidered garments and accessories. My 18 year old daughter has a great eye for trending styles and encouraged me to try my hand at the elegant floral embroidered shoes pictured. The price of the pictured shoes were $240 and definitely out of our range.rose embroideredBLThe online search for the perfect affordable shoes and embroidery design began. It was much easier to “google” a specific style of shoe rather than drive to shoe stores in my area. Once I located the shoes (which cost $49) it was time to pursue the perfect embroidery design. The search for the ideal design had to have these characteristics:

  1. Light to medium density
  2. Vertical orientation
  3. Natural looking roses
  4. Attached stems to flowers

The flower embroidery designs were located at http://www.KreationsbyKara.com. Once selected, I tested and retested the design for density, size and color choice. Always stitch out the proposed embroidery design on fabric as similar to the end use as possible. In this case the final “fabric” is actually black tulle (netting). The embroidery design will be stitched on the black tulle in a 5×7 hoop. I suggest placing water soluble stabilizer in the bottom of the hoop along with the tulle for extra stability. Cut the tulle large enough to fit in the hoop as needed and make sure everything is taut, but not over stretched. Notice in the photo below how the tulle is not puckered?shoe3BLshoe4BL

 

After the embroidery is complete, carefully cut around the embroidery design. Leave ¼ inch of tulle around the embroidery design. Attach the embroidery designs on each shoe back as desired with heavy duty fabric glue such as: Fabric Fusion or Gutermann HT2. Follow all directions as suggested.

This technique can be used for a variety of uses such as: suit cases, hat brims, baskets and containers among a few. (Yes you can stitch on most hat brims but this can be an alternative if needed).

There are a few more step by step instructions in the article but I think you can get a good idea of the procedure. I like to share my challenges and how I find inspiration. Get creative with how to tackle a problem project by trial and error – test, re-stitch and test again.

The following photos were photographed by me of my daughter and her new and much loved embroidered chunky high heels.rose shoe2BLrose shoe3BL

Enjoy this coupon and join me in my Craftsy class “How to Start a Machine Embroidery Business”.

https://www.craftsy.com/ext/MarieZinno_4963_D

Room for Improvement

Last week, I showed you how to how to draw a simple flower design in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro and turn it into a large applique quilt block. I ended the lesson with this comment: “I’ll stitch a sample before creating the whole block.”  Testing an applique design is the sure-fire way to beautiful quilt blocks.  But you can take some initial steps before stitching a sample in software. Start by critiquing parts of the design by asking yourself some basic questions about the design. Blk1

  1. Can the area where the right and left leaves meet be improved?
  2. Are the leaves elegant? By elegant, I mean do they flow naturally along a curve? I see an awkward spot (the stop/start point) on the bottom of the right leaves.
  3. The leaf ends (corners) look blunt.

These are easy steps to fix before stitching.

First, let’s change the stop/start point from the middle of the right leaf to the center (where the arrow is pointing).QB2Notes3

Now, select the leaf and change the Corner Type to Extended in the Properties Box.QB2

Finally, let’s reshape the curve to remove any unnatural bends. Select the Shape tool and adjust the points on the leaf.Blk2

 

The result is a much more pleasing to the eye. Now it’s time to head to the machine to stitch a sample. Next week, we take a close look at the stitched sample.Blk2A

Need an Embroidery Miracle? Then You Need Friends in High Places!

Where do you turn when you need a solution to an embroidery dilemma? It started innocently enough with “Honey, can you embroider my name and phone number on this strap?” I naively responded, “Oh sure, I’ll bet it’ll be an easy thing to do.” Then he hands over the ‘harmless’ strap. From afar, it looked like camo canvas maybe camo neoprene. But once in my hand, my knees began to tremble when I gripped the…RUBBER backing! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Rubber? Really? Are you kidding me? Dang, I wish I hadn’t shared that joke about the lady who informed her husband that no, she won’t stitch a logo on his golf shirt because her machine can’t do menswear. I still chuckle at that line. But my sweet husband knows the truth behind that – it’s a joke he’s heard me tell in Stitching Sister events. He knows all of my machines ‘can do menswear.’

So off I trotted to the office with the noose, I mean strap, over my shoulder. I figured I’d start my research there – pour through all our technical journals, embroidery books and commercial magazines to look for a solution. My search led to nothing, not a clue on how to hoop or stabilize rubber-backed neoprene. So I did what I normally do when approached with a stumbling block. I climb around it. Avoid it. Make a path around it – like the elephant in the room. And mull it over for a few days. But not this time because in walked the most knowledgeable person in the embroidery industry. Deborah Jones.

She was here on official business – really big important stuff like what would we have for lunch. At the end of our visit, I remembered the noose – strap (gee, I keep staying that!) and asked for her advice. Without a trace of confusion or a moment of hesitation, she said, “Oh hoop it with wax paper. You’ll need something to lubricate the needle and thread as it exits the rubber.”

I looked at her like she handed me the Hope diamond. She looked at me like she sometimes does, “Oh you silly Yankee.” (Doesn’t matter how long you live in Texas, you’re always a Yankee if you imported yourself.) Then she left. I was perplexed, okay scared, so I worried for a few more days. And then I bought wax paper. I haven’t purchased wax paper in years and didn’t spot it the new fancy grocery near the office. I asked a salesperson where I would find it and she wasn’t quite sure what it was! After a minute she muttered something about packed lunches at grandma’s house when she was a little girl and then sent me to aisle 23. Anyway, I bought it.

The noose, I mean strap, is thick so holding it in a hoop was not an option. Sticking it down on hooped wax paper in a standard hoop would likely result in the noose, strap, popping off the wax paper. So I hooped tear-away stabilizer and two layers of wax paper (Why two? I don’t know, I bought a whole roll, so I figured I’d get my money’s worth) in Snap Hoop on a 10-needle machine. Snap Hoop is flat and will help keep the strap on the wax paper. I sprayed the back of the strap with temporary adhesive and pressed it onto the wax paper. Then taped it for extra security.

As you remember Deborah told me to ‘use wax paper.’ She didn’t tell me anything about hooping, adding stabilizer or adhesive. I was on my own there, I just tried to apply common sense (something most Yankees are not known for in Texas) and tame the challenge and well, git her done as they say here.

It worked! An embroidery miracle, thanks to Deborah Jones.

 

The winner of last week’s blog post answered the following question:
Have you used Kreations by Kara’s designs? If so, do you have a favorite?  Leave a comment and four random winners will each receive a $25 gift certificate! Yippee! A shopping spree is in order.

The winner is:

Josie D: “I hadn’t heard of her before but what you’ve shown is awesome.”

Sara R: “There are too many beautiful designs to pick a favorite but I love FSL and the FSL Christmas ornaments are definitely some of my favorites.”

Janet F: “I used Kara’s butterflies on the lining of a quilted jacket. I smile every time I put it on, the inside is as pretty as the outside.”

Sara: “I have purchased her designs for quite some time now, the best is she has for every thing & every body, so talented, her creations are exquisite! Sad to hear she passed, but the talent runs in the family with her daughter. We are so happy to have Kreations by Kara for the magnificent, creativity & versatility we get with her creations!”

 

Thank you, everyone for taking the time to comment.  The information you shared is very helpful as we continue to come up with fresh content you’ll enjoy!

Quilt Block: Easy Steps to Big Blocks

Oversized applique quilts make a big impact and you don’t need a giant sewing field to get the look. Create one quarter of the block and then duplicate it to fill a large 15″ canvas. Her’s how. In Perfect Embroidery Pro, draw a flower. Here’s a little secret, flowers look more realistic if they’re NOT perfect so don’t sweat drawing like Picasso.  Now, draw two leaves joined in the middle.  Copy and paste the leaves. Enlarge the copy.  Position the leaves under the flower as shown.Blk1BL

At this point, it’s a good idea to see what the flowers will look like in a block setting. Group the elements (select, right click and Group). Rotate the flower 90 degrees to the left. Click on the drop down arrow next to the Circle Template and select the Reflection template. Type 30mm in the Horizontal and Vertical distance fields.

Check the spacing between the flowers, paying close attention to the leaves.  I want to leave some room for quilting between the elements. Click Cancel.Bk2BL

Select the flower, right click and select Convert to Applique.Blk3BL

Repeat for the leaves.  For the stem, you want a combination of straight stitches and steil. The steil will be visible between the leaves and the runs will be under the leaf appliques.  Draw five lines (in a straight path): 1: from the flower to the top of the first leaf; 2: behind the first leaf; 3: from the bottom of the first leaf to the top of the second leaf; 4: behind the second leaf and 5: 1” length from the bottom of the second leaf. Select the run segments that are connecting the elements, right click and select Convert to Steil from the dropdown menu.  In the color sequence window, move the stem elements to color 1.Blk4BL

Draw a circle in the flower center and convert it to Applique. Use the Reflection Template again to view the finished block.Blk5BL

Consider what applique fabrics you’ll use. I’m planning on using small, busy prints (polka dots, plaids and geometrics) so I won’t add any stitch details to the flowers or leaves at this time. Of course, I’ll stitch a sample before creating the whole block and I might just my mind. That’s the beauty of Inspirations software you can always change your mind and improve your work!

Versatility

It’s not often you find a designer who offers unique designs in multiple categories. Many design companies specialize and excel in specific categories like home décor, quilting and fashion. But Kreations by Kara’s is different, they seem to nail multiple categories like fashion, quilting and holiday.  Since they are this month’s blog sponsor, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of their work that we’ve published in Designs in Machine Embroidery over the years.

In Vol. 88, tattoo jeans were featured.  First, they stitched the design on a combination of water soluble stabilizer, tulle and stretch mesh. After removing the water soluble stabilizer, they cut a hole in the pant leg (painful for some of us, I know!) and pinned the design in place. Free motion stitching tacked the design in place and wow – it looks dynamite!TattooBL

One of my all-time favorite Kara designs is this floating butterfly. Her use of value is powerful, as it gives the illusion of flight.Shadowedbl

Next, we have a mix of fashion and holiday. What gray hoodie or white t-shirt wouldn’t benefit by the addition of this trendy holiday stamp design? As an Irishman, I’d be happy to wear this on March 17th.KreatByKaraBL

Back a few years, Kara’s Christmas Ornaments Throw graced the cover of Vol. 83, Nov/Dec 2013. What a stunner that was.Vol83BL

Coming full circle, you’ll find a quilted tablerunner stitched by Marie Zinno featuring Kara’s Quilt Floral Squares in our May/June issue.  I love these designs – they fill the block and swirl from edge to edge.KaraBlockBL

Your assignment for this week:
Have you used Kreations by Kara’s designs? If so, do you have a favorite?  Leave a comment and four random winners will each receive a $25 gift certificate! Yippee! A shopping spree is in order.

The winner of last week’s blog post answered the following question:
Since this issue is the first time we welcomed a cat into our studio I’m wondering if you prefer cats or dogs as pets in your home.  Leave a comment and we’ll select a random winner to receive our new Hoop Clip.

The winner is:
Arleen:  “We have 3 cats and a dog in our household. They all like to “sew” and “embroider” with me in my room.”

Thank you, everyone for taking the time to comment.  The information you shared is very helpful as we continue to come up with fresh content you’ll enjoy!

Multi-Needle Monday: Saving an Embroidery Design as a JPG

Technically this subject could be viewed as embroidery software but I think if you are using a multi-needle embroidery machine for a business you could use this information. As a commercial embroidery business owner, I use this feature often. Many customers select a font or embroidery design from a website or printed catalog page and we know as embroiderers, that all letters are not created equally. Therefore, it is important to lay out an entire monogram or logo in embroidery software and have the customer approve the selection.

One of the many benefits to having this opportunity is to quickly share the future order with whoever needs to ok the design. For example: I work with a high end interior designer who frequently changes her mind on lettering styles and overall design size (much to my dismay). Instead of stitching out samples for her approval, I can go to my software and save the new design as a JPG. I can easily email the design to her in a few minutes rather than stitch the sample and wait for her new changes in a matter of days. I always charge for sample stitch outs but sometimes I am more concerned with the deadline ahead and the JPG file is a wonderful tool to have at our fingertips in our embroidery software.

Here are a few samples of what I would send to a customer for approval.lac 1BLlac 2BL

The two designs shown are the exact same monogram font which contains left letters, center letters and right letters. This style is called master circle and the letters should be placed as Left, Center, Right. I always re-work the monogram to be more pleasing to the eye and make sure it is legible. Intertwining letters are perfectly acceptable and it looks elegant as long as you can read the monogram. The first monogram design shown is using only the center letters.

My Perfect Embroidery Pro software by Inspirations has the capability to save any embroidery file as a JPG file. Save each new design as separate file name: LAC1, LAC2 it makes it easier for the customer to select the correct file name.

Step One: Open the monogram or other design in the embroidery software and select File, Save as Image. save as imageBL Select the JPG file format. Name the file as desired. design in folderBL

Step Two: Open the second choice of monogram and save the design as an image again. Rename it something different.

I am not sure if all embroidery software has this option but you can check when selecting “Save As “. Save all JPG images in a folder titled appropriately.

Join me in my Craftsy class “How to Start a Machine Embroidery Business”. Click the link below to save $10.

https://www.craftsy.com/ext/MarieZinno_4963_D

A Visit to the Dallas Quilt Show

Today, I treated myself to a few hours at the Dallas Quilt Show.  Since machine embroidery is so close to my heart, I’m always on the lookout for machine embroidered quilts. Today, I saw several and I loved the story behind Robyn’s Tulip Garden by Jill Johnson of Argyle, TX.12

Jill learned how to machine applique with her ‘new embroidery machine’. Wow!  What fantastic results for her first venture with applique.  The designs are by Smith Street Designs, Tulip Time.

Power of a Woman by Pamela Hansen of Greenville, TX is a happy quilt! What a profound statement. Pamela used the Sew Vintage collection from Lunch Box Quilts to make this quilt.  I smiled when I saw it.14

I have spotted a quilt based on Aie Rossman’s Affairs of the Heart at every quilt show I have attended in Texas over the last dozen years. Today was no different. This beauty, Forever Hearts is Margaret Cotten’s of Tyler, TX version. Every time I see a quilt based on Affairs of the Heart, I want to make one.  I know that won’t happen but a girl can wish.15

Looking at these beautiful quilts makes me want to start digitizing new quilt blocks.  Next week, I’ll share my progress.  There’s so many options with Inspiration’s software programs. I could do a piece-in-the-hoop block in My Block Piecer, an applique block in My Quilt Embellisher  or a play on words in Word in Stitches. See my dilemma? Sometimes starting is the hardest part of a project!

 

 

 

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