Author Archive

If You’re Serious about Machine Embroidery…

If you’re serious about your machine embroidery hobby, it’s time for you to elevate your skills by using embroidery software and upgrading your embroidery tools. A good place to learn about both is in an Inspirations’ Everything from A to Z event. What’s A to Z? Embroidery techniques from Applique to Zippers. You’ll learn the keys to making beautiful machine embroidery applique – inside and out – from basic satin edge to trendy motifs on flat to furry fabrics and everything in between.  2016-05-07_13-13-40

You’ll want to include lettering in all your machine embroidery projects after you see Inspirations’ smorgasbord of lettering techniques: monogramming, miniature, bubble, puffy and calligraphy. 2016-05-07_13-12-08

Want to stitch a hat on a single needle? Yes you can! Learn how to mark, stabilize and hoop a hat in no time.  Plus you’ll discover how easy it is to transform one dimensional embroidery into oh-so-cute and useful 3D projects.

Learn how to leave tricky zipper insertion and flawless buttonholes to your embroidery machine. Our Inspiration education consultants will lead you through the tips and tricks for successful embroidery plus you get to play with magnetic hoops, laser and placement tools. It’s a fun, relaxed class that will inspire you to go home and get stitching!  Treat yourself to a Mother’s Day present and sign up for a class today. There are almost 200 events scheduled across the country in the next months and more added every week. Click here to find an event near you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Stitch Soup

Christina, the founder of Stitch Soup began embroidering over 12 years ago.  After she embellished almost all of her wardrobe, she saw her first in-the-hoop project, a tissue holder, and had an ah-ha moment.  She realized there can be so much more to an embroidery machine than just cuffs and collars!  Since then she has focused on digitizing in-the-hoop projects for the home, birthday or Christmas gifts, for new babies, and for mom.  She blends artistic talent with an engineer’s approach to function and the results are an offering of unique embroidery designs – something for everyone.

Over the past year, the DIME staff has been enamored with her collections.  Denise Holguin, managing editor, swooned when she made her first fairy house.  She couldn’t stop at one; in fact she made several dozen and has enjoyed photographing them in charming settings.SSoup4BL

Her little fairy houses even jumped into her Caribbean-bound suitcase on a recent vacation.  Clearly these fairy houses spread a whimsical spell over the stitcher’s creative talents. Because she dreamed up a resident – a silk flower skirted clothespin doll!SSoup8BL

Denise had a ton of fun with the thatched hut.SSoup2BL

She played with color and buttons on the roof.SSoup3BL

The shell trim under the roof line was added in the hoop!  She’s a brave lass, she is.SSoup9BL

As fun as fairy houses are, some of us prefer a bit more function.  Stitch Soup’s tea-light collections were born from necessity. You see, Christina, lives in a fairly remote part of Canada, and is often left in the dark due to power outages.  Those ‘dark moments’ inspired her to keep tea lights close out at hand yet of reach of her canine companions (she has four!).  Hanging tea lights were the answer. Marie Zinno shared the how-to in our July/August 2015 issue.SSoup6BL

One of my favorite Stitch Soup designs was published in our May/June 2015 issue.  What fun to use embroidery, fasteners, small ribbon and trim!SSoup7BL

Visit Stitch Soup today – they’re having a sale!

Tell us about your favorite Stitch Soup design and you’ll be entered to win one of four $25.00 gift certificates to Stitch Soup. 

Saturday Blog

It’s update time!  On Monday, May 2, 2016, you’ll be prompted to update your Inspirations software programs when you open one.  Once you go through that simple exercise, you’ll find several new features that make the software even easier to use than it’s always been. I’m going to hit the high points in this blog post but there are more updates than featured here.  In Perfect Embroidery Pro, you’ll find three versions of the most-requested motif – candlewicking. Look for them in the Properties Box, Run tab, Type: Motif.May1May2

New shapes are added to the drawing tools: heart, rounded rectangle and star.May3

New Fabric Fill settings (in the Properties Box) include changing the scale and focal point of the fabric.  You’ll also find the ability to change the color, thickness and type of the stroke (outline).  The image on the left shows a heart filled with a chevron fabric and a copy with the fabric scaled increased and a blue outline added. May4BL

If you’d like to keep two words linked together when creating bubble text in Word Art in Stitches, now it’s easy to do. Add the tilde symbol (found on many keyboards just left of the #1 key) between the two words.   Example: New~York May5BL

You’ll find a Name Drop feature in Perfect Embroidery Pro (PEP) and Word Art in Stitches (WAS). Create a text object, add optional decorations and select them all. Then go to Tools, Name Drops and type the list of names.May6BL

Now you can automatically save text in a vertical line in PEP and WAS.May7BL

In all software programs, the placement lines can now be set at a specific angle and color.May8BL

My Quilt Planner has some helpful updates, I’ll cover them next Saturday.


Kelli from True Bias has been having fun working with My Fabric Designs for her launch and wanted to put together a little post to show you how easy it is to make a repeating pattern using My Fabric Designs design tools so that you can make your own fabric too…

Creating a pattern that repeats evenly and seamlessly can be a tricky part of designing the fabric. You can do it all in photoshop or illustrator if you prefer. Here are a few youtube tutorials that helped me a ton when I was learning how to do it. Click here, here, or here for the videos or tutorials.

Or you can just do it straight through the My Fabric Designs website. It’s really simple and you don’t need any fancy programs to it. Before we even start I recommend that you watch this youtube tutorial. It goes through their design tool and will give you a great overall idea of how it works.

Next you are going to need some images. I made up 5 different shapes or groupings of shapes in illustrator. These could also be something that you draw and scan into your computer. Or it could be online images that are stock or free domain. Whatever they are you need to save them as separate files.  If you are going to be overlapping them or making a colored background make sure that the background of your images are transparent. I recommend saving them at 300 dpi and at a larger scale than you think you will actually print them. You can always scale them down when designing, but you can’t go bigger.

Now, go ahead and open the fabric creator. Click File / New and decide what size you want to start with. Go smaller like 6×6 inches if you want a small repeating pattern like you would use for quilting. I like mine larger so I chose 20×20 inches. You also select the background color at this time. I went for a black.


Hit apply. The middle square will be the one that you work on (light gray background) and the right square will show your finished repeat pattern.

Go to Add / Image and choose your first image to upload.


It will drop it in the middle of your work square and show the repeat on the right. Cool right? Continue to upload all of your images.


Move around the images and scale them. You will notice that as some of your images overlap the edge of the working square that they will create a repeat. The right square makes it really easy to see what your repeat looks like and where to place each object for the best visual affect. You can scale the images or rotate them with the handles on the outside of each object. You can call arrange them by sending them in front or in back of other images. Keep playing around until you like the way that the repeat pattern looks on the right.

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Once you are ready make sure you save your pattern to your desktop. Then click order fabric. This will bring you into the area where you can choose the type of fabric you want to print it on and how large you want your pattern to print (it can go down to 150 dpi).


Then order your fabric. Make sure that you use the code TRUEBFS for free shipping on your order this month.

I hope this tutorial made designing your own fabric a little less scary. I have had so much fun playing around with this tool. Just a reminder that My Fabric Designs is providing the prizes for the Colfax Sewalong Contest. So if you want to give it a try this is the perfect opportunity. Click here for more details.

Get Quilting with My Quilt Planner

My Quilt Planner is Inspirations popular quilt layout software. It’s easy to use and loaded with 99 continuous line designs. You’ll find two short videos to give you an overview of how to use the software.

Click the image below to learn the basics for allover quilting.

The second video illustrates working with custom quilting for each block. Click on the image to view the video.


My Quilt PlannerMy Quilt Planner takes all the math out of designing a quilt layout and lets you get to the fun part of quilting quickly!

Love Your Machine? Then Show It Some Love!

Today’s embroidery machine are hi-tech honchos and we love them!  They run and run and barely ever whimper under the stress of all those hoopings. If you want to keep them humming along, then just follow three simple steps:  Keep them clean, use them and turn them off.

Keeping them clean is easy. Remove the plate.Clean1BL

Remove the bobbin case.Clean2BL

Fold a pipe cleaner about 2” from the end and wrap it around itself to create a soft point.Clean3BL

Use the soft point to swipe away dust from the feed dogs.Clean4BL

Bobbin basket. Clean5BL

And nooks and crannies.Clean6BL

Then shudder at the gunk that comes out of your machine.Clean7BL

This example is a machine long overdue for a cleaning. Don’t let your machine get this messy. I worked really hard to get this shot!

Reassemble all the parts and get back to stitching. Of course, read your manual. Manufacturers have different recommendations for everyday care. Many machines require a daily drop of oil while others leave the oiling to the professional technicians. It’s best to read the manual and FOLLOW the instructions.

Using your machine is good for your machine, you won’t wear it out. It was made to run and running them keeps them lubricated. Don’t be afraid of your machine – remember you own it; it doesn’t own you.

Lastly, turn off your machines when it’s not in use. It’s a good idea to unplug them. I have to admit, I don’t unplug them all the time but when there are thunderstorms in the area or if I’m leaving town, I pull the plug on all of my machines. It’s peace of mind.

How do you care for your machine?

Curved Layered Applique Letters

Select the Text tool and type LOVE in the Properties Box. Select High School Applique font from the drop down menu. Size the design to approximately 8” x 3.25”. CL12BL

With the Text tool selected, push the green circle at the center bottom of the text box to curve the letters. CL13BL

Select the text, right click and select Break Up Text. CL14BL

The letters will now be four individual appliques.  Grab the L and O and move them to a new screen. Select the L, right click and select Create Outline from the menu.  Change the distance to .25. Click OK. CL15BL

Select the outline, right click and select Convert To Applique.  CL16BL

Change the color of the new applique. CL17BL

You’ll have to do this twice for the letter O. For the outside, repeat the steps above. For the opening inside the O, select Inside when you create the outline and change the distance to .50. CL18BL

Resize the outline to fit inside the letter. CL19BL

Right click and Convert to Applique. In the Properties Box, change the Applique width to 2.5 to fit in the narrow space. Save the design as LO and go back to the original file and complete the steps for the VE.

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!


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

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