Author Archive

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.

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!




Volume 97

For the first time in American retail history, 2015 saw more dollars spent on athleisure than denim classics. Athleisure is defined as a fashion trend in which clothing designed for athletic workouts at a gymnasium, is worn outside of the gym; to the office or shopping or other social occasions. In other words, we’re wearing it every day, no matter where we go.  Since we strive to bring you relevant embroidery projects in every issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery, our March/April 2016 issue focuses on stitching on knits. Since we’re wearing it everywhere, we might as well embroider it!

You’ll find star-studded embroidery on Nancy Zieman’s oh-so-soft fleece jacket . A matching t-shirt transforms the entire ensemble.Vol97PromoBL

Tari Intardonato worked a little of her own magic on an oversized sweatshirt by adding a fun feline design.  We couldn’t resist including an adorable kitty in the photo shoot.CatBL

You’ll also find instructions on double applique, curved text and multi-hooping on a zippered hoodie cardigan.  I was inspired by the cardigans we’ve seen for years at The Gap.  In fact, I wanted to applique NAP across the hoodie but my staff encouraged me to change it to LOVE.  I like this too!LoveBL

Knits don’t have to stay in the gym – they’re just as wearable in other fashions. Joanne Banko stitched a gorgeous wrap dress with asymmetrical embroidery.  You’re going to love her easy-peasy approach to decorating this neckline.  Look for your March/April issue now.  Or jump over to our website to order your copy.DressBL

Your assignment for this week:
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.


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: Automatic Basting File

My multi-needle embroidery machine has an automatic basting file option which I use in a variety of ways. I know I have shared this feature in a past blog but I did not show you how to use the basting file to hold bulky items in a hoop. For example,embroidering on neoprene fabric such as a lap top case, tablet case or mouse pad. The thick cumbersome fabric is difficult to place in a hoop, even when you use a sticky back tear away stabilizer the item can be pulled out of the hoop. As the embroidery mechanism moves the opportunity for the lap top case to come loose is increased.

This is how I use the basting file option as a third hand.

Step One: Locate the center of the lap top case and place a text target sticker on the fabric. Make sure the monogram or initial is stitched in the correct orientation. The arrow on the target sticker will designate the proper direction for the monogram to be stitched.basting1BLbasting2BLbasting3BL

Step Two: Place water activated tear away stabilizer in your hoop. Spritz the stabilizer with water and lay the lap top case on the hoop. Keep the target sticker in place until precisely aligned under the needle bar.basting4BL

Step Three: Load the embroidery design on the screen and touch the basting file icon on the editing screen. basting5BLThe basting file will move to the first color of the design. I like to use a thread color that matches the background of my fabric. (For this photo I opted to use red thread so you can see it better).basting8BL You have the option of increasing the size of the basting file distance around the design on page 2.basting6BLbasting7BLStep 4: The basting file is stitched first and will now hold the bulky fabric to the hoop. The monogram will be stitched next. After the embroidery is complete, carefully remove the basting file stitches from the back of the fabric.basting9BL

If your machine does not have his feature, you can easily create a basting file in your embroidery software. Go to your appliqué shapes icon, select a simple shape such as a rectangle, right click and convert to “run” stitches. Increase the stitch length to 4.0 . Save the basting file in a folder for future reference.

Join me in my Craftsy class and save now with a $20 coupon.

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!

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