Author Archive

Stitching Split Designs

It’s easy to split designs in software but the challenge for many embroiderers is in the stitching.  I use a combination of templates, Perfect Alignment Laser and the advance stitch feature on my machine. First, split the design in Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Click here to review the steps.  Send the two designs to your machine.

Print a template of both designs. I use Print & Stick Target Template Paper because its adhesive back will stick to the fabric.  Align the two templates on the fabric focusing on placement of the entire design.  For instance, if you’re embroidering a pillow, center the monogram (both designs aligned) on the pillow.  Then remove the second design template (the second hooping).  Hoop the fabric centering the crosshair of the first hooping.  Stitch the design. 

Remove the fabric from the hoop.  Place the second design template on the fabric aligning the template with the stitched design.  

Hoop adhesive stabilizer and remove the protective paper.  Attach the hoop to the machine and stitch the first color of the second hooping, the alignment line. Remove the hoop and position the hoop under PAL aligning the horizontal beam with the horizontal marks on the hoop and the vertical beam with the stitched line. 

Place the embroidered fabric on the sticky stabilizer aligning the stitched line with the vertical beam and the horizontal beam with the template’s horizontal line. 

Double check the placement by lifting the fabric and checking that the stitched line on the fabric is aligned with the stitched line on the stabilizer. 

Attach the hoop to the machine and return to the beginning of color 1, the stitched line.  Advance through color 1 watching the foot trace over the stitched line.  It should align with the stitched line, if not, adjust the fabric until it does.

Stitch the second design.  Now take a closer look.  

My sample is not perfect. 

The four circles illustrate where the two designs connect.  The connections are fine in the blue circles but the areas in the red circles need some help.  I would fix these disconnected areas by sewing a narrow satin column (zigzag stitch) on the sewing machine to join the two areas.  No one would ever know!

I hope you’ll forgive me for this not-so-perfect project and the poor photography on the laser shot.  We’re moving our offices this week so my working environment is not quite up to what it should be.  Hope to have everything back to normal in a week or two!

Last week’s winner of Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons is….BRENDA KENNEDY!  Brenda said, “I have four tops that need to be quilted.Just purchased the Brother Dream Machine. I need to do something to justify the cost of the machine.I also have a Quattro 2.”

Brenda, we’ll email you to get your mailing address. Congratulations!

Small Hoops – Jumbo Designs

If you love jumbo designs but don’t have a jumbo hoop, you can easily split a design in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro. Follow along with me to learn how.

Open a new file in Perfect Embroidery Pro. Click on the Monogram tool and select Mono17. Type in the letter P. Change the height to 6” and click Apply. Split1

Select the design on the screen and click on the Split Design icon. Split2

The Split Design screen appears. Click on the arrow in the Hoop field and select your hoop. I entered 130×180. The red boxes illustrate two hoopings: 1:1 and 2:1. You can move the boxes to select what portion of the design you want to stitch in the first and second hoop. It’s a good idea to move the boxes to split the design at a natural point. In this instance, where the upper right of the P meets the left leg of the P. Click on Split Preview to see the actually split.

The first hooping appears in the preview window.Split4

When you click in the second hooping area, the preview window changes to the second hooping. Split5

Toggle between the first and second hooping to view each individually. If you want to adjust the split, click on Split Preview again. Move the boxes around each portion of the design. Click on Split Preview again to see you changes.

Once you’re satisfied with the split, click Save and the software will save the design into two separate files and templates of both portions.Split6

Print a template of each design and send the designs to your machine. Splitting designs has never been easier.  Give it a try, this is a skill you’ll use over and over again!

 

 

Finish Those Quilts in 2018!

If your New Year’s resolution is turn those quilt tops into finished quilts, then you might be interested in learning how to do that on your embroidery machine. About an year ago, Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons was published.  It is my best-selling book and no wonder – quilting with an embroidery machine is so doable!  And many of us have quilt tops that need to be quilted.  This book has been the culmination of over 20 years of quilting with an embroidery machine. I’ve done everything from embroidered quilt tops to quilt as you as go to quilting king size quilts on an embroidery machine.  I’ve learned an awful lot on this journey and you can still watch the Sewing with Nancy episodes online at http://wpt.org/SewingWithNancy/.

This book teaches you several different methods for quilting with an embroidery machine: quilting and appliqueing in one step; custom quilting and allover quilting.  Quilting and appliqueing in one step is a patented process that I designed in 2008.  Since then, I’ve created 16 Stipple Collections, and in this book you’ll find two projects that incorporate that revolutionary technique.

Custom quilting is no doubt the type of quilting that makes your jaw drop at quilt show competitions.  The quilting is designed to specifically enhance and fill a shape (block), applique or area. To be honest, custom quilting is probably best achieved through expert free motion quilting. When custom quilting is done on an embroidery machine, you do not have the ‘freedom’ to move the needle as you do in free motion quilting so the results are not as ‘customized.’  However, custom quilting is how many of us want to finish our tops. I show you how to do it in the Patriotic Pillow and Diamond table runner.

Allover quilting is often the result you get when you ‘quilt by check’. Quilt by check mean you pay someone else to quilt your quilt. When you send your quilt to a longarmer, they select an allover pattern that complements your quilt top unless you have specifically requested (and agreed to pay for) custom quilting.  There are two types of allover quilting: nesting and linking. You’ll learn the difference between the methods with two projects.

You’ll discover three different ways to handle the quilt during the stitching process: furniture you have on hand, the shortE and the Weightless Quilter.  My goal for this book is to help you expand your embroidery skills into the world of quilting and get more out of your machine.  I hope you find quilting with an embroidery machine as rewarding as I do. 

Want to win a copy of Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons?  Just leave a comment and tell me if have any quilt tops that need to be quilted.  Do you have one, two, three or more?  One lucky winner will be selected to win the book and the accompanying collection of 20 embroidery designs.  I hope you get all of your quilt tops finished in 2018!

 

Last Minute Stitching!

If you still need something special for someone on your gift list, go the personal route.  You can take a mundane item and transform it into a heart-warming and thoughtful gift. This might sound simple but you really can’t go wrong with embroidered towels, terry, linen or cotton.

Embroider linen or cotton towels for the kitchen with seasonal embroidery. Add the family name and you’ll add that extra touch. This week (right up until Christmas), our friends at Urban Threads are offering huge discounts on Quick Stitch Christmas designs.  They not only stitch up in minutes but display beautifully.  Here are two sure-to-please designs for Christmas.

And this pretty design will take you through February.

Of course, last minute stitching can be very stressful so when I’m crunched for time I use our Perfect Placement Kit (PPK) to place the design on each towel.  Deborah Jones developed that product many years ago and it’s one I still use every time I embroider.  Such a time-saver.  The towel templates ensure every towel matches in the entire set!  I don’t know what I did before the PPK.

Here’s how I stitch 3, 4 or a dozen towels. I mark the vertical center of each towel with a pin.  Then I place the towel template on the towel, aligning the template’s horizontal border line with the towel border. I insert a target sticker into the opening, aligning the cross hair with the template’s cross hair.  The sticker’s arrow points into the body of the towel indicating the top of the embroidery design.

Remove the template and repeat for all the towels in the set.  Once I have target stickers on all towels, I won’t get confused if I get interrupted during the stitching process. And since it’s the holiday season, I probably will get interrupted!

How about you? Do you have a favorite last minute gift item that you embroider?

Last week’s winner of I Sew For Fun, Click, Print & Stitch software is Janet Rettig.  Merry Christmas!

 

 

8 Tips for Embroidering with Metallic Thread

Tis the season for shiny, sparkly embroidery!  Many embroiderers shy away from metallic thread but a few tips will help even the most hesitant embroiderer master this holiday favorite!

  1. Use a vertical thread stand. If it comes off the spool and kinks, slip a thread net over the spool. Don’t have one?  Cut a 3” section of pantyhose and slip over the spool.
  2. If you’re worried about feeding the thread from the stand to the machine, add an extra thread guide. Tape a safety pin to the top of the machine (closed end up) and feed the thread through the hole. 
  3. Need another guide? Tape a straw onto the top of the machine.  Just a 1” section will do the trick.
  4. Select the right stabilizer. Soft is best as a heavy, dense cut-away can shred the metallic thread as it enters and exits this tough barrier. Consider polymesh, soft tear-away or tear-away wash away stabilizer.
  5. Tension – decrease the top tension to let the metallic thread slide through the tension discs.
  6. Slow the machine down to 500-600 stitches per minute. Remember this is a specialty thread so it needs special attention!
  7. Chill It – really, many embroiderers swear their metallic performs better after resting in a freezer for 30 mins.
  8. Insert a new sharp metallic needle. The large, polish eye prevents shredding.  You can learn more about needles at SchmetzNeedles.com

 

I Sew For Fun

To all of us, Nancy Zieman was an industry icon but to her granddaughters, she was Grandma.

Nancy loved hanging out with all of her granddaughters. Sometimes she would sew with Avery and Luella (the older granddaughters) but often they would bake. Playing in the kitchen with Grandma is something every child wants to do.  Nancy Zieman’s children were no different.  Nancy enjoyed not only baking in the kitchen but also playing on the computer with her granddaughters while they decorated cupcakes and other bakery items in a popular software program.  She marveled at how engaged her granddaughters were, how they intuitively knew what buttons to click and how pleased they were with their creations.

She really wanted to experience something similar with them for sewing.  She shared this desire with me in early 2017. I listened to her thoughts and then explained the possibilities that we could make happen here at dime.  After Nancy and I defined what we wanted the software to do, the dime software development team jumped into action. They understood our goal of creating a one-of-a-kind software program that children and adults could enjoy.

Nancy and I knew that kids would jump right into this program because they love technology. To them, it’s a natural first step in the sewing process. Create the fabric, print the pattern and move to the sewing machine!  That’s what Click, Print & Stitch does.

Imagine what fun it would be to help a youngster design an outfit for an 18” doll.  They can make capris, a skirt, sundress, top and skirt.  Of course, they can personalize the fabric by drawing their own embellishments like dots, diamonds, squares, hearts and more.  Unlimited color choices are just a click away or they can choose from a built-in repeatable pattern.

 

Kids love the cat and dog pillows.  Here we show a purple cat but this kitty could be any color under the rainbow.

 

Our blue dog is a big hit with everyone. In just three simple steps, the project is complete!

 

Click, Print & Stitch is just one element of Nancy Zieman’s I Sew for Fun line of youngster-friendly sewing notions, a child’s book, Amazing Design embroidery collection and more. This new line of products ensures Nancy’s legacy of making sewing easy is passed down to the next generation. I’m looking forward to using all of these products with my 5-year old grand daughter – lots of memories in the making!

What project would you like to do with a youngster?  Share your thoughts below and one random winner will receive a copy of Nancy Zieman’s I Sew For Fun Click, Print and Stitch software program.

To Learn more about Click, Print and Stitch, visit Nancy’s Notions.   To watch the I Sew For Fun episodes on Sewing with Nancy, click here. You can watch online, anytime at WPT.org!

 

Tips for Digitizing for Metallic Thread

It’s sparkle time!  Dealers around the country are watching metallic thread fly off their shelves as embroiderers reach for their favorite holiday thread.  You can add this shiny element to many designs but you should set yourself up for success.

Use your digitizing software to change some elements into metallic-friendly details.  In Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro digitizing software, lengthen run stitches.  My normal stitch length for quilting designs is 2.2.  For metallic threads, I increase the length to 2.8.  The longer stitch length lets the metallic thread shine on the fabric while shorter stitch lengths, tend to hide the pretty sheen.  Imagine how pretty those longer stitches will look on a dark fabric. 

Reduce the density of a complex fill.  The stitches should lay right next to each other without overlapping. The density default setting is 5.0, type in .80 and click Apply.

If your design requires underlay, consider making the underlay a separate color.  Stitch the underlay first in a coordinating polyester thread, then switch to the metallic to add the top layer.

Satins – think curves!  Metallics really shine when light bounces off the thread at different angles.  So curve your satin columns, and adjust the widths to take full advantage of the light.

The satin column on the right will reflect more light than the blue, straight column.

When digitizing for metallic thread, schedule some extra time for testing your digitized designs.  Later in the week, I’ll share tips for stitching with metallic. I’m hoping all of your holiday stitching is happy stitching!

Embroiderers Always Get This Request

Stitching a name on a stocking cuff is something almost every embroiderer is called upon to do during the holiday season. Most cuffs are faux fur with long fibers that can creep over embroidery obstructing the beautiful stitches.  On Saturday, I showed how to use Perfect Embroidery Pro digitizing software to create a light complex fill to hold down long fibers of faux fur.

Now let’s take a look at how to stitch it.  On a single needle machine, you’ll have to open the side seam of the cuff to flatten it (and possibly a portion of the stocking).  Find the horizontal center of the cuff and place a target sticker in that position.  Point the arrow towards the top of the cuff (where it meets the stocking) so that the word will stitch in the correct orientation.

Hoop adhesive tear-away stabilizer and remove the protective paper.   Place the cuff on the hooped stabilizer, keeping the straight edge parallel to the hoop. I like to rest the body of the stocking over the pantograph as it has less chance of falling into the sewing field.  If there’s a hanging loop, pin it to the stocking.

Stitch color 1, the light complex fill, in a thread color that matches the cuff.  

This color’s only function is to hold down the nap of the fur. It should virtually disappear after the decorative embroidery is applied.  If you look closely at the image, you’ll notice I changed threads in the center section.  The outside sections are stitched in a 40 wt. polyester thread – with the traditional sheen of an embroidery thread. The center section was stitched in our Retro Vintage thread – 40 wt., a matte finish.  I think it disappears quite nicely. In fact, I can’t wait to try it on towels. Anyway, back to the task at hand.

Stitch the next color in traditional thread and you’re done! 

No topper to remove, just tear it away from the hooped stabilizer and it’s ready to hang. How many stockings have you stitched this holiday season?

Tame Those Furry Fibers!

Cold weather calls for cozy fabrics like Minky, faux fur and lofty knits.  As wonderful as they are to wear, they present challenges when it time to add embroidery to them.  First, their fibers creep over embroidery camouflaging the beautiful stitches. Second, since they’re lofty and bulky, they’re hard to hold in a hoop.

Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro’s Nap Blocker feature is the answer for taming the fibers.  Nap Blocker adds a layer of complex fill stitches that’s just light enough to flatten the lofty fibers creating a smooth surface for the embroidery. Here’s how to do it in PEP.

Select the Text tool and type JOY in the Properties Box.  I used the Bookman font. 

Select the design, right click to access the command menu.  Select Utility, Nap Blocker.

Instantly, a layer of complex fill is added to the design in the first color position.

The fill extends .15” beyond the design to ensure any long fibers will not obstruct the embroidery.  You can change this by selecting the fill only and resizing.

Notice how the complex fill is placed at the beginning of the design in the color sequence. 

Stitch the complex fill in the same color thread as the fabric. This is key because you want these stitches to disappear behind the beautiful embroidery.  And…you don’t have to use a topper when you use Nap Blocker. How sweet is that?

Now to hoop – I use Snap Hoop Monster for all lofty fabrics because the magnetic flat frame does not leave hoop burn.  My 5” x 7” is my go-to hoop for these bulky fabrics – its strong grip does a great job for monogramming and more!

PEP and Snap Hoop Monster are a powerful combination for furry fibers.  Use it for Christmas stockings, faux fur throws and Minky blankets.

 

 

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.

 

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