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Behind the Seams: Creating The Flower Box Quilt

An Interview with Eileen Roche by Denise Holguin

DH: Eileen, you are a very busy individual! You manage the production of a magazine, write weekly blogs, do appearances at events, invent new products… AND you had time to design and create a new quilt for the Flower Box Quilt book. Wow! What is your secret to finding time to create this new quilt project?

ER: I leave and breathe embroidery! And I have a passion for embroidered quilts. I just love using my embroidery machine to decorate quilt blocks and quilt the entire quilt.

DH: When you started designing the Flower Box Quilt, did you have a clear path of what you wanted or did the project evolve over time?

ER: I had a basic layout in mind as I was inspired by Amy Gibson’s The Quilt Block Cookbook. Of course, along the way, a project guides me in a new direction.

Flower Box Quilt_Designs in Machine Embroidery

Amy Gibson’s The Quilt Block Cookbook via instagram @karenlewistextiles

DH: You used e-stitches on at least one of the blocks in the Flower Box Quilt. To those unfamiliar with an e-stitch, will you tell us more?

ER: E-stitch, also known as the blanket stitch – is a common hand (or sewing machine) applique technique. Often, the stitching is shown in a contrasting color. In the Flower Box Quilt, I matched the thread to the applique fabric to let the fabric shine – I didn’t want to introduce a wide line of stitches (think satin column) – just a gentle, almost indiscernible line of stitching. I like it.

DH: Your projects always look impeccable! Do you ever make mistakes? How do you overcome them?

ER: Thank you!
I make mistakes ALL the TIME! Frankly, if I wasn’t for the mistakes I’ve made, I wouldn’t be the embroiderer I am today. When I do make a mistake (which I do with every project), I rarely throw out the project. I figure out how to rectify the situation and move on. One of my biggest shortcomings is, I’m always excited to finish the project – to figure out if the design and techniques that I created will work as planned. I think if I worked at a slower pace, I would eliminate some mistakes. But I also know, that a slow pace does not meet deadlines! It’s a catch-22.

DH: What is the one take-away you want readers to learn from the Flower Box Quilt book?

ER: You don’t have to make a large quilt to learn all the techniques. Start with a manageable size, like a table runner or lap size quilt and you’ll master the techniques upon completion.

DH: Do you have a favorite quilt block in this collection?
ER: Hmm…that’s a tough one. Probably Block 1 – I just love those flowers!

Flower Box Quilt_Designs in Machine Embroidery


For more information about Eileen’s Flower Box Quilt and its companion product, The Quilting Stabilizer Kit, visit the Designs in Machine Embroidery website at https://www.shop.dzgns.com.

Join Eileen on March 20 at 1:00 CST on Facebook Live.  She’ll be sharing her Top 6 Tips for Machine Embroidered Applique!  See you there!

Flower Box Quilt_Designs With Machine Embroidery

What’s Your Favorite Embroidery Tool?

Perfect Embroidery Pro is definitely my favorite embroidery tool.  This user-friendly software gives me everything I need to create one-of-a-kind embroidery projects.  Yesterday, my latest book, The Flower Box Quilt, was released.  It’s a sampler quilt with a modern layout plus a table runner bonus project.  The 68-page book is loaded with tips and techniques on stabilizing quilting fabric, machine embroidered applique and quilting.

I used Perfect Embroidery Pro through the entire design process. From creating the embroidered applique elements to designing the custom quilting on the blocks to the quilting on the sashing and of course, the overall quilting in the large negative space areas.

How did I go about designing a large-scale project like this? One stitch at a time. Literally. And Perfect Embroidery Pro made that easy.  I drew each flower. Then converted the artwork into applique.  I used the copy, paste and rotate features to set the four elements into 12” blocks.

Of course, each flower had to be tested and tweaks were made along the way.  But as long as I worked in Perfect Embroidery Pro, I could save every version until I was satisfied. Then the fun part started.  I visited my local quilt shop to select bright, cheery fabrics.

Once each block was stitched, it was time to concentrate on the quilting.  I just uploaded an image of each block into PEP and doodled.  PEP gave me the freedom to experiment. I saved several versions of each block before getting to the stitching stage.  I love how I can audition ideas without stitching!

If you’d like to purchase The Flower Box Quilt book, click here for more information. This week, on Wednesday, March 20, I’ll be doing Facebook Live at 1:00 CST to share my top tips for professional results with machine embroidered applique.  Hope to see you there!

 

 

Monograms for Men

illThere are countless ways to arrange the letters but I’ve focused on three versions of the three-letter monogram. The traditional diamond shape: first name initial, last name initial and middle name initial. The two outer letters are proportionally smaller than the middle letter. DiamondThe standard order: first, middle and last initial – all the same size. StandardOn the pocket flap, go for a contemporary approach with the first initial stacked over the middle initial. This ‘tower’ of letters is equal in size to the last initial. Take this approach when the garment is a casual shirt like flannel, worn every day. ContempLet’s take a look at how you do it.

POCKET FLAP

Find the vertical center of the flap. Place a target sticker just right of the edge of the flap. Hoop sticky stabilizer and place the hoop under the Perfect Alignment Laser. Turn on the laser and center the hoop under the laser. Position the flap on the sticky stabilizer. Smooth the flap on the stabilizer making sure the shirt is not caught under the flap.Flap1Support the weight of the shirt while transporting the hoop to the machine. Attach the hoop on the machine and verify the needle is centered over the target sticker. Remove the sticker and embroider the monogram.

CUFF

Button the left cuff and place it on a flat surface.Cuff2Place the Perfect Placement Kit Cuff template on the cuff, aligning the fold with the template fold line and the topstitching line with the topstitching. Slide a target stickerunder the template – use A for sizes small and medium and B for Large and extra-large.CuffUnbutton the sleeve and pull the sleeve inside out. Hoop adhesive stabilizer and center the hoop under the Perfect Alignment Laser. Slide the cuff under the beam, aligning the crosshairs. Attach the hoop to the machine and embroider the monogram. These small precise monograms take under three minutes to stitch – you could do a whole wardrobe in an afternoon!

Next week, join me on Facebook Live at 1:00 CST on Wednesday, March 20, I’ll be discussing appliqueing – tips for success on your embroidery machine!

Selecting Thread Colors

Select Color with Confidence

The easiest way to select thread color is to start with a print that you love, select a coordinating solid and then select the thread. For instance, I spotted this floral blouse in a retail store.

I fell in love with the flowers and immediately thought of pairing it with a denim jacket.  Here’s how to select the thread to go with it.  Audition spools right on the blouse and grab your phone to document the process as you switch out some spools. 

Thread Option 1
Thread Option 2
Thread Option 3

Next, review the photos to see what composition is the most pleasing. Once you’re satisfied with the combination, move the spools to the denim jacket.

Auditioning on the actual fabric

Denim is one of the trickiest fabrics to select thread for because it’s a mixture of light, medium and dark threads. Often what you think will contrast with denim, blends too well and leaves the embroidery looking lackluster.  The colors may be beautiful, but the value (the lightness and darkness of the color) may be too close to the denim’s value making the embroidery almost invisible from a 6 ft. distance.  

To avoid that result, use a value finder.  A value finder is a piece of translucent red plastic or glass. When you peer through the colored plastic, all color is removed from the object. What remains is the value of the fabric and threads.  Look through the red panel to view threads right on the fabric. Your phone camera may have filter available. Check your camera settings.

Use a value finder

If they are the same value as the fabric, you’ll know you must find a lighter or darker thread if you want the embroidery to pop off (or separate from) the fabric. 

I trust the value finder more than I trust my own eye.  Because I tend to fall in love with a color, I try to force it on the fabric. Every time I override the value finder, I’m disappointed with the result.

The final winner of the Farmhouse Sentiments Kit is Linda Alford! Congratulations, Linda. We will email you privately for your mailing address. Enjoy!

So Much Talent!

What do you get when you give 11 talented embroiderers a fairly simple fabric panel and a few embroidery designs? Eleven uniquely-embroidered works of art. It absolutely amazes me to see how people put their own stamp of creativity into an embroidery project.

The past month has been an eye-opener – we’ve seen subtle touches such as Marie Zinno’s soft blue filagree designs that are built-in the Baby Lock Valiant.

MarieZinno.com

 

And an out of the box transformation by Cathy Sundermann of Stitch Fork Designs. That’s an impressive front door!

Cathy Sundermann of Stitch Fork Designs

Deanna Springer of Nancy Zieman Productions sashed the wood grain panel with Nancy Zieman’s red Riley Blake shiplap fabric to spice it up. Deanna ditched the wrapped canvas idea and added a pretty floral border for a traditional wall-hanging.

Deanna Springer of Nancy Zieman Productions

Milinda Stephenson opted to wrap her panel around a pillow. This was a fast and easy finish and her dog, Iris, loved it!

Milinda Stephenson

Michelle Umlauf used the IQ Designer in her Baby Lock Solaris machine to enhance the lettering. Talk about perfect placement! That’s a show stopper technique and wonderful way to show how to incorporate prints with embroidery. It’s all about value – making sure the embroidery is visible on a busy print.

Michele Umlauf – Sewing Machine Artistry

Carla Reale used Baby Lock’s Palette software program to add her own message in the applique heart of the Grateful panel. Join the Baby Lock Palette group on Facebook to watch her video.

Carla Reale of the Baby Lock Palette Community

Karen Parker made two samples! Her Grateful panel shows offset floral sprays at the top and bottom. I love that layout and never think of using it! Of course she pulled her thread colors from her fun, striped border.

Karen Parker of Thread Head & Company.

Karen’s English Pub theme set the tone for her border fabrics and faux leather trim – complete with nail heads! Her satin circles mimic a dinner plate and the embroidered knife and fork really seal the deal. Finished with two glasses of cold beer, this panel will look great in any proper drinking establishment.

Karen Parker of Thread Head & Company

Debbie Henry extended the wood grain quilting beyond the panel edge onto a wide border. Love her delicate blue floral spray in the center of the heart!

Debbie Henry of Secrets of Embroidery

The Embroiderist, Colleen Bell, used a dark thread to quilt her Gathering panel – love how visible the wood grain is. She paired her panel with an embroidered chalkboard fabric. As a mother of nine, she knows a thing or two about prepping meals!

Colleen Bell, The Embroiderist

Sara Gallegos of Sew Positively Sara added family names to the applique heart on the Grateful panel on her Baby Lock Solaris. Of course, she nailed the placement of the quilting designs with the help of a quick camera scan on the Solaris. Nothing like seeing before you stitch!

Check out her blog at SewPositivelySara to see how she pieced the heart blocks on her pillow.

Sara Gallegos

Our last participant, Debbie Cleek, added trapunto to her floral sprays on the Gathering panel. She used Designer’s Gallery to add the traditional technique of trapunto but with today’s technology.

Debbie Cleek of Designer’s Gallery

I’d like to give a huge thank you to all of the participants. If you followed along, I’m sure you’re were as impressed as I was with their creativity. And so many techniques were shared! Please leave a comment and tell me what’s your biggest embroidery challenge. We’ll pick a random winner to send one Farmhouse Sentiments kit.

6 Tips for Continuous Line Designs

Recently, I’ve been digitizing quilting designs – continuous line designs in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Continuous line designs present challenges to digitizers that are all their own.  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.

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.

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.

Or select a percentage from the drop down menu at the top tool bar. I

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.

Heirloom Hankies

My colleague, Richards Jardin, founder and owner of EmbroideryArts.com recently gifted me his private collection of 700+ hand embroidered handkerchiefs.  To say the least, it was a humbling experience to open the boxes and view this fabulous collection.  My intention is to share them with you over the next year in the pages of Designs in Machine Embroidery and occasionally, here on the blog.

In the January/February 2019 issue, I shared this beauty and talked about a conversation I had with another passenger on an airplane. My seat mate was a mature, refined woman. She carried an embroidered linen handkerchief and told me she never left the house without one. And she has done this her entire life. She considers them a sweet reminder of how to treat yourself well, find joy in the small things life offers, pay attention to the tiny details and appreciate the time spent in creating a small, lovely gift such as an embroidered handkerchief.

I’d love to know if you remember using an embroidered handkerchief? Or maybe you still do. If not you, then does it evoke memories of a family member? Possibly, your mother, grandmother, aunt or even father? My mother didn’t carry a linen handkerchief but my father did. And no matter what time of day it was, when he pulled it out of his pocket, it was crisply folded and clean. I found that quite amazing.

Isn’t it beautiful? Such a small work of art. I love the chain of leaves and each precisely-placed tiny flower. It’s colorful yet charming. And to hold it in my hand, it’s so delicate. The thread is soft and supple and has not changed the drape of the luscious fabric.

I wish we still carried these…they are a reminder of the joy of simple luxuries. Oh I know, they are not sanitary, but they sure are beautiful. And they make a lovely gift – unlike no other. As machine embroiderers, aren’t we always on the look out for a quick gift that’s personalized?

I would hoop a plain linen handkerchief with Sew ‘n Heat and select a delicate embroidery design. After the embroidery, the Sew ‘n Heat would dissolve under the heat of a household iron. Simple enough!

How to Use Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro’s Scatter Tool

On January 13th, blog reader Sue L requested information on about Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro’s Scatter tool.  The Scatter tool is fun to explore and very easy to master. Let’s dive in and take a look.

An 8” quilt block is the ideal canvas to experiment with the Scatter tool. Some brief text, Bee Happy, and a swarm of bumble bees will bring it to life.  Draw an 8” square with the Artwork tool.  Select the text tool and select the Tango font in the Properties Box.  Type Bee Happy, adding an extra return to space out the two lines of text.  Click Apply.

Tango Font

Enlarge and center the design in the square. 

In the sequence view, click on the padlock to lock the text. 

The Scatter tool becomes active when you have a design on the screen.  It’s best to start with a small design such as a symbol because the scatter tool will repeat the design to fill a specific sewing field.

Click on Select to access the Symbol library.

Go to Symbol, scroll down to the Bee and click OK.

Click OK.

Click once on the screen and one bee will appear.

Select the bee and click on the dropdown arrow on the Carousel tool to access the Scatter tool.

In the preview window, you can change the size of the sewing field.  The default size is 7.87”. If you’re pleased with the arrangement on the screen, click OK.  If you’d like to see more possibilities, click Apply.  Every time you click Apply, a new layout will be presented.  Since the layout is random, you can not go back to a previously-viewed layout. If you like it, click OK!

To remove the bees that overlap the text, Ungroup the bees. Once ungrouped, all the elements of each bee are also ungrouped. When you select a bee, group it first as you work on arranging the bees.  Select each bee that you want to remove.  The text will still be locked so don’t worry about inadvertently grabbing the text.  You can resize, rotate and reposition each of the bees.  Play with the arrangement until you feel the bees are evenly spaced on the quilt block.

Once you’re satisfied, select all, go to Edit, Resequence by Color and Optimize Sequence.  View the Redraw and save the design. So fun!

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