Archive of ‘Current Posts’ category

Magnify Those Stitches

Here’s a sneak peek at a recent work in progress.  These jeans will be featured in an upcoming issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery and I’m excited to see them on the model.

I know you’ve seen the flower patches in previous posts but check out the magnifying effect on this patch:

Isn’t that fun? Follow along in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro to duplicate the technique.  Use the Art tool to draw a rectangle.  Select the rectangle, right click, Convert to Complex Fill. 

In Properties Box, change the Fill type to Motif, Pattern 129.  Change the Pattern Length to 10.0. Click Apply. 

Draw a circle and position it off one corner. 

Convert the circle to Complex fill. Select the circle and rectangle and click on Combine.  

The overlapped area will be empty.

Draw around the open space. 

Convert to Complex Fill, Motif, Pattern 129, Pattern length 18.0 mm.

Select all, right click, Utility, Create Outline.  

Enter 0.0 in the distance field and click OK. Make sure the color sequence is rectangle, circle and border. Since I planned on stitching this on denim, I assigned Vintage Retro 40 wt thread to the first two colors and the Vintage Rope 15 wt. to the border to mimic hand stitches.  Enjoy!

 

 

Give Thanks Video Tutorial Part 2

Check out Part 2 of Katherine Artines’ Give Thanks video tutorial on YouTube.  Finish the remaining two blocks of the fun Thanksgiving project begun in Give Thanks Part 1. You’ll create additional custom stippling and work with Text on Path and the Outline feature. Katherine illustrates how to access artwork from Word Art in Stitches and use it for other techniques. 

If you’ve been wanting to explore the Artwork and Shape tools, this video will help you understand the features of both helpful tools.  Learn how and when to use the Combine tool plus how to set colors in the proper order (sequencing).

Katherine shares the steps for completing the quilted wallhanging – the actual sewing part!  She’s so much more than a ‘virtual quilter’, I’m sure you’ll pick up several tips to use in your digitizing.  Enjoy!

To Rip or Not to Rip?

Imperfect stitches happen, no matter how experienced you are. The more you stitch, the better you get. The more confidence you have, the more you trust your machine to produce professional results. Even so, not every project will be perfect.  You can stitch the same design 30 times and 28 of them will be spot on, but two may not be up to snuff. Is it the end of the world? Of course not, but it does beg to answer a serious question, “To rip or not too rip?”

Some rip out EVERY misaligned stitch while others shrug and move on. Here’s the criteria I apply on making this call: How bad is it?  Can it be easily corrected? Will the recipient even know if something is amiss?

How bad is it? On a scale of 1 to 5, is it glaringly noticeable?  That’s a 5.  Barely visible, that’s a 1.

Can it be easily corrected?  On a scale of 1 to 5, will the removal of 20-30 stitches fix the problem?  That’s a 1.  A 5 is when you must start over as the project cannot be salvaged (and really that’s a 10!).

Will the recipient even know something is amiss? If yes, that’s a 5, you must fix it.  If not at all, that’s a 1.

Recently, I stitched an applique name and everything started out smoothly.

But as I advanced to color 3, the satin outline of the first letter, something must have hit the hoop and the outline didn’t cover the tackdown.  Ugh!  

Immediately, I applied the 3 questions: How bad is it? It’s a 1 in my book because the tackdown and satin outline is the same color as the applique fabric and there’s a just a speck of background fabric peaking out.

Can it be easily corrected?  Since I didn’t notice the problem until the satin outline was complete, it’s a 4. That’s a lot of satin stitches to remove.   Plus, I was on a tight schedule so ‘easily corrected’ didn’t fit the time frame.

Will the recipient even know something was amiss? No, not this little angel. She’s only 5 and not an embroidery expert yet!  If this was for a customer, then yes, by all means, rip it out.

End result? I removed the visible tackdown stitches, moved on and completed the project. 

How about you? What’s your criteria for removing stitches?

Learn Today in Your PJs

Resident software wiz Katherine Artines just posted a new tutorial on the Inspired by Dime YouTube channel. This latest video, Give Thanks, concentrates on Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro digitizing software.  She shares easy steps for using (and finding!) artwork that is in the public domain and royalty free to use for digitizing. 

Follow along to make a fun Thanksgiving project as you hone your Shape Tool skills.  A master at lettering of all types, Katherine shows how to make TTText fit into pumpkin shapes. But she doesn’t stop there. She creates Custom Stippling to finish the block.

Imagine what you can do what those skills!  She’s featuring several of PEP’s premium tools:  Backdrop, Artwork, Shape, TTText, Combine and Sequencing.  She even unearths a hidden Windows tool found on most computers: the Snipping tool for capturing screen shots.

Katherine doesn’t leave you hanging at the computer – oh no, she walks you through the embroidery process at the machine.  Watch for free on YouTube.  While you’re there, make sure you subscribe to the Inspired by Dime channel, you’ll be notified of all new posts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrGI7OgUkkY

Your Opinion Matters

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of teaching at Wisconsin Quilt Expo. My topic was Turn Your Embroidery Machine into a Longarm.  The one-hour lecture covered everything from selecting designs to placement of designs to handling the bulk/weight of the quilt.  I had a blast! I love that topic and my students were really interested in mastering the technique. I shared everything I know about the topic that I could fit into 55 minutes. You know, I’m originally from New Jersey so I can talk really fast! 

That experience made me wonder what you look for when you want to learn new embroidery techniques.  What motivates you to attend a teaching event? What’s your preferred learning environment: at your local dealer in small groups, large group, hands-on, short lectures, online, TV or in print?  If you prefer a mix of environments, I’d love to hear our thoughts. Would you take a moment to share your thoughts on classes/events?

More Denim Inspiration

Last week, we started with this flower in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro (with Vintage Embroidery Software installed on the computer):

and ended up with this flower:

You can follow those steps by clicking here. Now, let’s take it a step further. Remove the complex fill (blue) and the center embellishment (red).

Resize the flower to 2.13” x 2.07” and move it to the top right corner.

Now that the flower is smaller, you might want to narrow the oval shapes a bit. Just click on each side center point and move the node in towards the center.  Copy and paste all elements.  Move the second flower below the first. 

Remove the two bottom petals and ovals (they are all separate elements).

Select the Shape tool, zoom in and click on the left petal extending below the square.

Move the stop point to a node just above the square outline.

Delete all nodes below the outline. Repeat for the right petal.

Change the colors of the second flower.

Copy, paste and rotate the third flower. Move it to the open space on the left.

Recolor and resequence all elements so that the 15 wt. elements stitch as one color and the 40 wt. ovals stitch as one.

Of course, you can add color stops to stitch three uniquely-colored flowers.

What a fun trio of flower patches!  

In a few months you’ll see what I decided to do with the patches in a future issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine.  I know there is bleach, bling and a bit more of embellishment in their future. But I’d love to hear what you would do them. Please share!

Denim Inspiration

A few weeks ago, I posted several photos of embroidered denim that I spotted in a department store.  You can read that post here.  I mentioned my favorite technique of the several options I showed was this one:

I love that embroidered patch. I found a similar design, Flo_0019Flower_D, in Inspirations Vintage Embroidery software. 

Once I started playing with the idea, I spotted another flower, Flo_0085_Buttercup_D in Vintage Embroidery Software that struck my fancy.

I stitched the flower on a scrap of denim with the intention of making a patch.

I couldn’t resist playing with it a bit more in Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Follow these steps if you want to play along. First, trace around the flower petals and add a complex fill. Apply a stitch length of 3.5 and the same number in the density setting to stitch this color with Inspiration’s 15 wt. Vintage Rope Thread.

Next, use the artwork tool to draw an oval inside of each petal.  Just draw one, then copy and paste each one into position.

Draw a square around the flower and apply a long bean stitch: 3.0.  Reorder the sequence with the complex fill in color 1 (15 wt. Rope), satin outline in color 2 (15 wt. Rope), oval shapes in color 3 (40 wt. thread), flower center in color 4 (15 wt. Rope) and finally the square outline in 15 wt. thread.

Next weekend, I’ll walk you through the third version of Flo_0085_Buttercup_D.

Behind the Scenes: Volume 106 Sept/Oct

A Piece of Pie!

The latest issue is shipping to stores and mailboxes across the globe and it’s packed with inspiration that we hope you’ll enjoy.  I’m a crazy detail person— it’s the small details that add up to something great in the bigger picture.  Literally speaking it’s why we selected Katherine Artines’ sunflower for the cover – all those chunky stitches, tiny beads and tufts of tulle are a winning combination.

For today’s blog, I thought I’d share some of the wacky details you might not otherwise notice or think about.  It also gives you a glimpse of the day in the life of the Designs magazine team and contributing writers.  We are grateful for everyone who makes the magazine possible.


High-Tech Meets Handcrafted by Nancy Zieman

Take a look at that beautiful photo put together by our photography team.  Is that pumpkin pie real?  It’s too perfect to be real.  Maybe the whipped cream is shaving cream?  It surely isn’t homemade….

It is, in fact, real!  Editor, Eileen Roche made the pie the night before just for this photo!  Of course, once the photo shoot was complete, we each enjoyed a slice of that delicious pie.  We definitely need to do more food related projects.

Connection Perfection and a Dress Fit for a Princess! By Joanne Banko

Like all of Joanne’s clothing projects, it’s difficult to part with them.  The garments she makes usually fit me and what fun it is to twirl around in this dress!  But it is customary to return all projects to the designers.  (some exceptions do happen!)

If you haven’t visited Joanne’s blog, you need to visit.  She has tip sheets and additional information related to the project, in this case, the dress.  I’m always so impressed with her endless energy and willingness to share her skills with readers.  Be sure to check out her other blog posts with expanded coverage of her projects.

Stylish + Organized by Reen Wilcoxson

If you haven’t seen the article, it’s a must read.  Reen has solved an age-old problem we all have:  getting tangled in cords.  And she’s solved it with such style, creativity and even with cork!  I love our contributing writers – they go above and beyond for our readers and they have fun doing it.  Reen also generously donated the free Cord Wrap designs.  You’ll find them on her website.  The samples below show just how much fun you can have personalizing them.  Glittery vinyl, bright happy colors, monograms and motifs make them unique.  My favorite is the cork set that just happens to have my name on it. 😉

Headrest Covers by Colleen Bell

Join me in wishing a warm welcome to one of our newest contributing writers!  Although I’ve never met Colleen in person, she’s one of the most thoughtful people I’ve had the opportunity to interact with.  Not only that, she’s very talented.  You’ll see what I mean with the headrest covers in the latest issue.

Here’s the behind the scenes look at setting up the shots for the headrest covers.  Creative Director, Samuel Solomon is seen holding a test card for color balancing.

We had a great selection of photos to choose from for all three headrest samples (Texas longhorn, monogram and a mermaid).

What theme would you stitch on your headrest covers?  Choose favorite sports team colors, school colors or go with a new one for every season.


This is just a small preview of the creativity in the latest issue that is shipping now.  If you have a subscription you can access the digital version online.

 

 

 

 

What Have You Learned from Nancy Zieman?

 

In 1988, I took a beginner’s sewing class from Mary Hayes of Hayes Sewing Machines (now in Wilmington, Delaware).  Shortly after that introduction to sewing, I found Sewing with Nancy on PBS.  I never missed a show. I taped every episode and watched diligently. When my children were born, I scheduled their naps around Sewing with Nancy.  If I were to list every sewing technique I learned from Nancy Zieman, you would think I never took a stitch without referencing one of her books or SWN episodes.  And you might be right.

On the set of Sewing with Nancy

But I have learned so much more than sewing techniques from Nancy. I have been blessed to become dear friends with her over the years and we have partnered on many projects together.  Brush aside the sewing, Nancy taught me how to set and reach goals, lead a team, tackle large projects, cherish family and friends and weather turbulent relationships. Most of all, Nancy teaches me to walk in my Christian faith. And she does that by her example, she doesn’t preach, she doesn’t try to convert yet she lives her faith. Oh, how blessed I am to having Nancy as my friend.

Today, she announced her retirement and, well, she broke the internet. Her blog crashed – for hours!  That’s actually very hard to do.  You see, thousands and thousands of sewing friends tried (hundreds were successful) to leave messages for Nancy.  Messages of encouragement, gratitude and hope.

She means so much to so many but especially those who learned to sew through Sewing with Nancy episodes, her blog, books and personal appearances.  Do you think of Nancy every time you perform a certain sewing task or technique?  Would you share what you have learned from Nancy?  I think she would enjoy knowing how her ingenious techniques have helped you in your sewing room.

A trip to the museum

As machine embroiderers, I think it’s important to step out of our comfort zones to see new interpretations of the everyday.  That’s why I took a trip to the Dallas Museum of Art recently.  A fashion exhibit featuring the work of Iris van Herpen was on display and it was well worth the trip!

If you’re unfamiliar, she’s a fashion designer that boldly and unapologetically mixes media to make her collections.  Ever imagine using 3-D printing to make garments?  She has and she’s done it.  She mixes everything from tulle (we’d expect that) to resins, chain and magnets.

My friend and I commented on whether or not a model could sit in any of the garments.  We concluded most were not meant for sitting!  But they certainly were fascinating and inspiring.

Take a look.


This dress, called Refinery Smoke, is at the entrance to the exhibit.  I think it’s among my favorites in the collection.  The description of the dress, as featured at the museum, follows.

What a unique gift to see beauty where most of us don’t.

The next dress is my top favorite.  It has a vintage look about it – which I love.

Here’s a closer view of the detail.  Would you have ever imagined to use ball chain on a garment?  Somehow it works!  As a machine embroiderer, I can imagine a touch of Urban Threads’ embroidery designs embellished somewhere on the dress.  You’ll make a splash when you enter the room in this garment!

You might be thinking delicate feathers.  No.  Laser cut 3-D polyester film lace and micro fiber.

At a loss for words? Me too.  Among the components are silicone laser-cut feathers, gull skulls and pearls.  Of course!

Close-up view of the garment.

Can you guess the metal components in the dress below?  Umbrella tines!


While you and I may not aspire to create over-the-top pieces like these – we do have permission to be inspired.  Push yourself to see fabric and embroidery designs with a new perspective.  Iris van Herpen certainly “broke” all sorts of “rules” when it comes to creating garments – and you can too – whether it’s embroidered garments, quilts or home decor.

Look for ideas in the upcoming Volume 106 Sept/Oct issue with Katherine Artines and Volume 107 Nov/Dec featuring a variety of 3-D ornaments.

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