Author Archive

Inspirations Dealers are the Best!

What a week! We had 30 fabulous dealers from all over the US join us in Dallas for two days of Inspirations software training. They braved the hot, hot Texas weather to learn how to use Perfect Embroidery Pro, My Block Piecer, My Quilt Embellisher and Word Art in Stitches. They met the whole Inspirations team plus had a tour of our offices.

2015-08-01_12-27-27Not only did they enjoy learning the software programs but they told us what their customers are up to. I’m always interested in hearing about their classes, projects and events. The whole DIME team learns by listening and dealers aren’t shy. They are successful business people with their pulse on industry trends. They are as the saying goes, out in the trenches, and share their thoughts freely. We love meeting with our dealers.

If you spot your dealer in the photos, give them a big thank you for attending Inspirations software training. After all, it’s knowledge they’ll be sharing with you soon!2015-08-01_12-28-25


Not Just for Beginners

Are you too apprehensive to use your embroidery software for anything besides downloading and converting designs into a different format? Fear no more. I have a solution for you. If you are new to Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro software or unfamiliar with many of its features, then watch PEP Intro Video 1, PEP Intro Video 2 and PEP Intro Video 3. Katherine Artines created these three videos to get you started on your journey. Webinar1bl

Each of the three videos is just under 30 minutes, so they are easy to digest in one sitting and easy to refer back to you as often as you’d like. What’s the best part of learning on the web? You can learn in your own home, according to your schedule. You can just watch the video or follow along in the software (click here to read a previous post on how to do that).

If you haven’t taken one of Katherine’s webinars, then you are in for a treat. Katherine is a superb instructor. Never flustered or rattled, her calming voice conjures confidence in all of her students. I watch every one of her webinars and I learn something every time. Really, every time!

I also learn from Tamara Evans, our quilting expert. Every time I watch one of Tamara’s webinars, I learn a new feature in My Block Piecer and My Quilt Embellisher. Webinar4bl

Now you can find all of the Inspirations’ webinars on the Inspirations YouTube channel. You’ll find quick videos – how-to’s on specific tools – and deeper discussions on techniques. Webinar2BL

Here’s two of my favorites:   Organizational Skills (who doesn’t need help on that subject?) and Divide and Conquer (splitting designs). Webinar5bl

Subscribe to the Inspired by DIME channel and you’ll have instant access to tons of education. Your local dealer is always your first source for embroidery education but when the store is closed and you’re yearning to learn, jump on YouTube. Our channel is growing every week. Click here to see all of the videos.  And don’t forget to subscribe – it’s the easiest way to stay up to date. And it’s free!


Wedding Dress Update

Wedding Dress Update

I love to sew. I mean, I really love the act of sewing two pieces of fabric together.  I like placing two pieces of fabric under the presser foot and putting the pedal to the metal. I love to guide the fabric under the needle, watch it whiz across the machine bed and then cut the tails at the end.  When I agreed to make my daughter Janelle’s wedding dress, I had visions of feeding yards of beautiful, white, silky fabric under the needle.  It seems I forgot that the actually sewing part doesn’t arrive until hours and hours of preparation were accomplished.

And boy as it been a lot of preparation. I approached this project with more apprehension than I normally bring to sewing projects. I’ve had my share of sewing pressure – magazine covers, product packaging and television appearances. But a wedding dress is something different. It’s so personal, it’s my daughter. Her wedding photos – you know what I mean. So I’ve been taking my time and tackling it one step at a time.

Of course, my family has been aware of the process. In fact, my sweet sister, my Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno sent me a text on Sunday afternoon. I didn’t hear from her all weekend, she knew I was working on the dress. Her text said, “Is the wedding dress done yet?” Charming, isn’t she? My sister, she can be 1400 miles away and she still cracks me up.

I responded with an image of bridal fabrics in a heap on the floor with the caption: “Almost.” dress1bl

What she didn’t know was that a pile of scraps is actually a really good sign because I spent Saturday and Sunday cutting the lining, interlining, silk organza and satin pieces. I pieced the lining for Janelle’s final fitting. I basted the layers for all of the pattern sections. There are 15 – each with intricate markings (that I swear are nearly identical on several pieces!).

When Janelle tried on the lining last night, we both breathed a sigh of relief.  Her, because she loved the silhouette. Me, because it fit! So now comes the easy part – the sewing, the part I really love! I’ll spend this weekend piecing the bodice and skirt. After I add the lining and insert the zipper, it’ll be time for hemming and final decorations.  The wedding is August 21 – just under a month away and I’d really like to get this wrapped up by August 3rd.

I still haven’t had to time to get a mother of the bride dress but maybe that’ll happen this weekend too.  Thank goodness I live in Dallas – where you can shop til you drop.

If you think I’m cutting it close (and I know I am), you have to remember I was out of commission for six weeks – that’s practically a lifetime in my sewing world!

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the bodice sections. dress2bl


Here’s your assignment this week:

I’ll share the photos of the bride after her big day – don’t want to break any traditions! Speaking of traditions, I’m planning on embroidering a label for the gown, documenting the occasion. Have you ever done that? And if so, what information did you include? We’ll pick one random winner to receive a $20 gift certificate to Designs in Machine Embroidery.

The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question:


Leave us a note and tell us what Stitch Soup fairy cottage is your favorite. We’ll pick five random winners to receive a $20 gift certificate from Stitch Soup!

The winners are:  

Sara Redner: “I love the flowers on the one in the center”

Rosalie sharps: “I like the fairy house that has the yellow flowers on the roof.”

Shawn Marie: “I just am in love with the House of Flowers!”

Patty Sack: “I like the one with the flowers for windows! Too cute.”

Kitt: “I like the Lilly Pad chalet the best”

Editing Text in Perfect Embroidery Pro

A few weeks ago, blog reader Jenny left a comment on the June 27th post. She asked, “Can you please help me figure out how to “Edit” what I had “Grouped” together? I am not able to ungroup the design as was once before? I have to keep typing the poem up every-time I want to change the name on the stitch out.”

At the time, I responded with this, “Jenny, select the design, right mouse click and choose Ungroup from the drop down menu. There are also Group and Ungroup icons on the top tool bar but I can’t load an image here into comments to show you. Oh, I just realized you mentioned a poem – so that’s a little different. Again, click on the Select tool, select the poem, right mouse click and select Breakup Text from the drop down menu.”

I can do a more thorough job of explaining the process and give more options for editing text. Since the only information I have Jenny is what she stated above, I’ll start from scratch with a recipe. Follow along with me. Open a new page in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro. Click on the Text icon. The cursor changes to an A and the Properties Box opens. Select your font. I’ve chose Arial Small. Type a fictional recipe into the Properties Box, then click Apply. Text1

With the Text tool still selected, change the justification to Left Alignment. Click Apply. Notice all of the editing features available on the text itself. You can move individual letters, whole words and lines. Text2

When the Select Tool is used, your options diminish. You can size the design (the software sees it as a design and not text when the Select Tool is used), rotate, mirror image, duplicate, etc. But you do not have the freedom to edit the individual letters. Text3

Click on the Text tool again, and all of your text editing options appear. I’ve readjusted the kerning on the word chips. Text5

When I click on the Select tool again, my changes are there. Text6

Save the design now in C2S – the native format of Perfect Embroidery. Change the color of the thread to green and save it as Chips.pes. Close both designs.

Open Chips.pes. The design is no longer recognized by the software as text – it’s just an ordinary design. When you click on a letter, the sequence field now shows all of the individual elements of the design – runs and satins. Ugh – that’s very challenging to edit. Text7

Not to worry, you have the original file. Open it and you’ll find the software recognizes it as text and all of your editing abilities are right at your finger tips! Text8

For instance, you can increase the 5 cups to 6 cups in the Properties box.. Text9

This is a great example of why it’s so important to save the original file in C2S and a working copy in your machine format. Make your changes to the original and you’ll always have the ability to edit.



This Fairy Needs a Home

Many years ago, DIME Managing Editor Denise Holguin and I were enchanted by Sally Mavor’s Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects published by C&T Publishing in 2003. Salley’s latest book was released in March from C & T Publishing, Felt Wee Folk-New Adventures: 120 Enchanting Dolls.  This stellar event was under my radar but not Denise’s. It seems she caught the wee folk bug again.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a heap of peculiar supplies on her desk: bits of felt, a clothespin, embroidery floss and a silk flower.  I wondered what she was up to and in a matter of minutes, Denise spun these simple elements into an adorable, yet homeless, small fairy.  Since Denise never does anything once, she churned out multitudes of these charming creatures.

Violet appeared in her floral finery. VioletBL

And Harriet hung precariously from a plant on Denise’s desk. HarrietBL

I told her they need a home, they just can’t sit on her desk, dangle from the houseplant or perch on a shelf. Oh no, they need a real home.  I only know of one place that offers a choice selection of real estate for tiny folk. Stitch Soup.

Wouldn’t Violet just thrive in a cottage like this? Stitch2BL

And I can envision Harriet landing on the lily pad roof of this chalet. Stitch3BL

I think it’s high time Denise got to stitching one of Stitch Soup’s Fairy Houses.  Stitch1BL

Imagine the fun she’ll have selecting the fabrics and thread to coordinate with her wee folk.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. If I know her, the wee folk won’t have one residence. Oh no, they’ll have choices! They’ll travel from a lodge in the forest to an urban lean-to and ultimately find respite at a beach bungalow. Stay tuned for a future post on wee folk real estate.

If you’re interested in getting in to fairy real estate, now is a great time!  I have a strong inkling Denise would love to have her wee folk vacation to wonderful lands, visiting blog readers and their own cottage creations from Stitch Soup!

StitchSoup Blog Banner July 2015

Here’s your assignment this week:

Leave us a note and tell us what Stitch Soup fairy cottage is your favorite. We’ll pick five random winners to receive a $20 gift certificate from Stitch Soup!Stitch1BL

The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question:

What do the letters spell?  A A N D N I

Post your answer and one lucky recipient (with the right answer) will be selected to win a $25 gift card to use on the Designs in Machine Embroidery website!

The winners is:  

Pat Kimball: “Dianna”

Permission to Play

Now when you open Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro, you’ll see a new My Today page.  You’ll find an announcement and live link (if you’re connected to the internet) for an informative webinar, Katherine Artines’ “Permission to Play”. The link takes you right to YouTube to watch Katherine give an in depth lesson on blending complex fills, mastering the slice and lasso tools in Perfect Embroidery Pro. Web1BL

Improve your digitizing skills by understanding the blend feature in complex fills. You’ll learn how to change the fill of an existing design to gradient fill, change the angle and direction of complex fills for more realistic and interesting designs.

Katherine also reveals a shortcut for viewing the contents of the design library. At the lower right corner of Perfect Embroidery Pro, click on Library. Web2BL

Select the folder you want to view and right click. Select Show Contents from the drop down menu. Web3BL

If you have folders within in folders, select the one you want. Web4BL

I selected July 2015 and now all of the designs are visible. Web5BL

To bring one into the software, just select the design and drag it to the Perfect Embroidery page.  This eliminates the standard File/Open path. Web6BL

When it comes to improving designs, Katherine is a wiz!  She shares her secrets for splitting applique or complex fill so that you get more control and better results.   And since Katherine’s motto is permission to play, she shows us how to go from a simple built-in applique design.  Web7BL

To this: Web8BL

So log on, click and learn!  It’s time well spent.

July Updates


Happy Fourth of July!

Hope you’re enjoying your holiday weekend. When you tear yourself away from the festivities, you’ll find July’s free designs on the My Today page of Perfect Embroidery Pro, ready for download. 

Once you open Perfect Embroidery Pro, you’ll be prompted to accept the latest version, 8.47. Just follow the prompts to receive helpful new updates. Here’s what you’ll find:

Enhanced icons – those that are active are brighter while the dormant icons are softer. The distinction between the two is now easily identified.

You’ll find a new option for forcing a machine to stop between color changes in applique designs. Since some machines skip a color change when identical colors are next to each other in the stitch order, adding a check mark in the Color Change box will ensure the machine stops at the correct time.  If you’ve been struggling with this at your machine, you’ll find the stop specifically helpful between the placement guide and tack down of an applique design.

After numerous requests, we’ve added the Break Up Path feature for faster editing of buttonholes.  Select the buttonhole design, right mouse click and select Break Up Path from the drop down menu.

The elements will now be grouped in two groups – the decoration and the actual buttonhole.

We all have a favorite thread chart that we use to select our threads. Of course, you’ve been able to select a default palette and custom any chart. Now when you load a C2S design, Perfect Embroidery Pro will convert the colors to your thread chart if you’ve selected that option in Tools, General Options, Environment. Just put a check in the box to activate the option.

If you have Microsoft Surface tablet, you’ll enjoy the new, larger My Today screen.

PES format users rejoice! The warning message regarding designs that are larger than 200mm x 300mm is now a thing of the past.

Open Perfect Embroidery Pro today, download the update and enjoy all the improvements!


Today’s the Day – I’m Out of Excuses!

I am going to cut out my daughter’s wedding dress.  There.  I said it out loud. But before I do, I just have to say, it takes a lot of courage to commit to make a wedding dress.  Shortly after she got engaged, she asked me to make the dress. Never one to let my children down, I agreed.  Time marched on before we finally got to a bridal shop to try on dresses. She lives a fairly casual life and I wanted her to know what it feels like to wear a wedding dress. And I wanted to confirm her desires – mermaid, aline, sheath, open back, sleeves, sweetheart neckline, well, you get the idea – there were a million decisions to be made.

Then we shopped for fabric. That took a couple of trips – spread out over a month.  Although I ‘kinda’ got a feel for what she wanted we didn’t have any luck in finding all of the right materials. We did purchase the patterns (Vogue 8997 and 1032) and the satin. But we still needed lace, lining, interlining and organza.  In the meantime, I made the muslin and perfected the fit.  But finding the other materials was presenting a challenge. And then….I got injured and couldn’t drive, sew or embroider for six weeks. Oh boy, the days were flipping by with no progress.

Until last Saturday, we paid a visit to one of Dallas’ finest fabric stores, Richard Brooks.  Before we went, I wanted her to see what the satin would like and how it would photograph in the bright sun.  I had her step on a clean, large towel and draped the fabric around her. I took a photo with the shiny side. Satinbl

And one with the matte side.  She likes the shiny.  Mattebl

When we arrived at Richard Brooks, we found everything we needed under one roof.  We spread out an expanse of silk charmeuse (shiny side up) on a broad table and auditioned lace after lace.  She’s not a sewist (currently) so she needed a little guidance about drape and transparency but after a little while she began to appreciate the subtle differences in each lace. And then she made her selection.  She has excellent taste and we’ll use this beaded and sequined embroidered lace in delicate touches.  She comes for one last fitting tonight before I cut the lace for the princess-seamed bodice and then I’m off to the races (well, not really, I’m still healing but that’s another blog).

I thought you’d appreciate the beautiful materials. There’s nothing quite like silky satin, lace and trims. Fabsbl

I know my daughter has many painful childhood memories of being dragged into fabric stores against her will but this time, she enjoyed it!  nellbl

We oohed and aahed over the displays – just a width of fabric wrapped around a dress form.  FunDressbl

We quickly designed several dresses with some of the gorgeous fabrics but logic set in and we walked out with just the bridal supplies.  I have to get through this before I tackle another personal sewing project. God only knows what the mother of the bride will wear!


Here’s your assignment this week:

This week tell me what color do you think I should wear? Let’s take a vote. Tell me if you think deep blue, coral or taupe is the way to go. Post your comments and ONE random winner will be selected to win the Designer Handbags DVD “Nancy Zieman host of TV’s Sewing with Nancy, and embroidery expert Eileen Roche show how to make upscale handbags featuring embroidered accents completely stitched in th embroidery hoop.”


The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question:

This week tell me what you think makes a design outstanding and you could win a subscription to Designs. Post your comments and ONE random winner will be selected to win $25 gift cards to use on the Desings in Machine Embroidery website!

The winners is:  

Glenda: “For me, I like designs that can be used more than once and can be changed by adding more or sometimes taking away. They need to be clean and not too busy. Sometimes less is better.”

Getting Better Mileage from Your Designs

I’m always on the lookout for new ways to use a design and the best way to do that is to edit in Perfect Embroidery Pro, Inspirations’ digitizing program. Let’s take a look at a lace border design from Inspirations’ Timeless Lace Border collection, design #Lc7x2 4. BL1blog

Ungroup the design. BL2blog

Click on the small arrow under the Select tool and click on Lasso. Left mouse click around the scallop area, right mouse click to close the circle. BL3blog

Copy, paste and move the scallop away from the original design.  Go back to the original design and group it. BL4blog

Select the extra stitches and delete them. BL5blog

The edited scallop should look like this. Group the scallop. BL6blog

Now, let’s put the pieces together. Copy, paste and mirror image the original design. Rotate the unit 90 degrees. Move the scallop into the open end. BL8blog

Rotate and size the scallops to fill the space between the borders. BL9blog

Select the Shape tool and click on the horizontal satin bar to reveal the stitch nodes.  Slide the two black nodes back to reveal the blue squares.  Insert BL10BL11blog

Select and pull the blue nodes towards the original design.

Slide the black nodes in place and repeat on the opposite side. BL12blog

Change the color of the original designs and move them to color 2 as you’ll want the new bridge to stitch first. BL14blog

The addition of the scallop makes an elegant finish on a continuous border. BL15blog

This editing process is the first step in a wedding table runner that I’m working on for my daughter.  You’ll see more in upcoming blogs and DIME articles. I’d love to know what you need help on in your software.  Leave a comment in I’ll add it to my to-do list.

What Makes a Design Outstanding?

It’s funny how our preferences change over time. Fifteen years ago, DIME featured fashions with tens of thousands of stitches. As the editor of Designs, I was determined to show and wear anything other than ‘plop and drop’.  If you’re not familiar with the term, plop and drop is single design placement (usually on a garment).  Think left chest embroidery – the standard in commercial embroidery.

I wanted our pages to reflect a more passionate approach to embroidery because I knew my readers loved spending time at their machine mixing and blending designs into large layouts. V17bl


I used to joke that I thought in terms of stitches per month, not stitches per minute.  Today, machines have larger sewing fields, gigantic hoops and faster technology. You would think I would be wearing more stitch heavy projects.  But as I look at my current wardrobe, the reverse is true.

Now less is more. Today, I like to accent a garment not embroider the entire canvas. I love a swanky collar.

And you can never go wrong with a pretty neckline. V64bl

But sometimes a single outstanding embroidery design stitch front and center on a garment is enough. So what makes a single design outstanding? In my opinion, the original artwork and the use of color (or value) is what makes it pop.  I like to start with a gorgeous design – delicately drawn lines, intricate details and open space that allows the thread to shine.  I’m not a fan of heavy, dense designs.

Recently, I found a design (in fact, there are several in the collection) that fits the bill. I was scrolling through Kreations by Kara’s design library and spotted the Butterfly Bounty collection. At first glance, it was the scrollwork that pulled me in, and then, under closer scrutiny, it appeared the butterfly was moving.  When I would glance away, I swear the wings fluttered.  Hmmm…how did Kara pull that off? Shadowedbl

I purchased the collection and opened Shadowed in embroidery software to get a closer look. Since I don’t like to wear heavy designs, I took a look at the stitch count and length. They seemed perfect. Then I examined the color sequence.  Normally, I ignore the digitizer’s color suggestions but this time, I had a strong feeling the colors were what gave movement to the butterfly.  Kara layered the thread – darker value stitched first in the background, followed by a medium thread and topped with the lightest. ButterflyKarabl

I noticed how she used a black backdrop on her website so I took the easy route and stitched the butterfly on the center front of a black t-shirt. It looks exactly like it does on her website.  I get compliments every time I wear it. Now that’s what I call an outstanding design. You can visit her website here:

Here’s your assignment this week:

This week tell me what you think makes a design outstanding and you could win a subscription to Designs. Post your comments and ONE random winner will be selected to win $25 gift cards to use on the Desings in Machine Embroidery website!

The winners of last week’s assignment answered the following question:

What’s one thing you learned from your dad that you use all the time? Post your comments and FOUR random winners will be selected to win $25 gift cards to use on the Kreations by Kara website!

The winners are:  

Mary: “Besides having a sense of humor and wearing a big smile my dad taught me how to pump my own gas, check my oil, and change my own tire. Dad passed when I was 16 and now at 61 I am still able to do all the above.”

Carolyn: “My Dad said “Never get mad at someone, only get ‘annoyed.’ It’s easier to get over being annoyed. Getting mad wastes too much energy for too long.” It was a hard lesson to follow, but it’s been rewarding in so many ways.”

Jenny Druding: “My father died when I was 10. My grandmother gave me the most preciouse advice. She told me to think of my father every day so I would not forget him. That was 39 years ago and I still think of him every day.”

Jan: “MY dad – is simply the best – he is 79, loves his train trips, his holidays abroad, anything in nature and birdwatching in particular. He is an avid reader and his daily crossword and just loves life. Took him to see Les Miserables 2 weeks ago and since then he is forerver texting me with opening words – Bring him home! Love him to bits and if there’s one lesson he did teach me – always be true to yourself!”

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