Archive of ‘Embroidery Techniques’ category

Magnetic Hoops

I take magnetic hoops for granted.  I invented them so long ago, I’d have to check the patent to verify the year.  I use them everyday for many embroidery tasks.  So it surprises me when I attend events and meet embroiderers who are not familiar with magnetic hoops.

They’ll ask if they work.  And the answer is, “Absolutely!”

They ask if they’ll harm their machine.  And the answer is, “No!”

They’ll ask what size should they buy.  And the answer is, “Every size available for your machine!”

So let’s dig a little deeper.  Magnetic hoops work like a dream because they do not cause fiber distortion. They have a flat metal bottom frame and a flat magnetic top.  The magnets are quite strong and firmly grip a quilt sandwich, a terry towel, a knit shirt and many other fabrics.  They do not replace a standard embroidery hoop, they complement it!

Magnetic hoops do not harm your machine as the magnetic force is shielded by the metal frame.  The magnetic force grips the fabric – not the machine.  The hoops have been thoroughly tested on all machines during the prototype stage.  There has never been an issue with a magnetic hoop interfering with the machine’s operating system.  Many years ago, we were told not to use magnetic pin cushions.  At that time, the computer in the machine was encased in a light plastic housing and magnets could interfere with the operating system. In you owned a cell phone in that era, it was housed in a tote bag with long coiled wire!

Today, the machine’s computer, although very powerful, is tiny. It’s highly insulated and the magnetic force can reach it.  Think about the power of your cellphone, the advancements in embroidery technology are very similar.

So what size should an embroiderer buy? I always ask, ” What size hoop do you stitch the majority of your embroidery projects in?”

Whatever the answer is, that’s the first magnetic hoop size they should purchase.

Now if someone is starting to quilt with their embroidery machine, then the answer is, the largest hoop that’s available for your machine!

The Formula for Embroidery Fun & Success

Stitch Lab, the formula for embroidery fun and success, debuted last weekend in Dublin, Ohio!  What a blast, I’m so glad I attended.  Inspirations consultant Ashley Jones led the 2-day hands-on event  for 72 embroidery enthusiasts. Our host, Quilt Beginnings, was a delight – boy, do they know how to treat their customers.

I met so many old acquaintances and friended new ones. We stitched 6 unique projects and everyone learned something new.  Even the ladies who told me they’ve been stitching since the first embroidery machines were available, learned some new tricks.  That shouldn’t have been a surprise to me because every class or event I attend, I always learn something new!

Look at some of the fun we had. 

After all that stitching, Kathy Daum, Quilt Beginnings owner and customer cheerleader, donated all of the projects made in class to a local charity – a women’s shelter that helps countless women and children in the Columbus, OH area.  We stitched items for home, mom, baby and pets.

But the best part, all attendees took home a kit to stitch at home on their own machine.  I hope you’ll consider attending a Stitch Lab this year.  I’m heading to several Stitch Lab events this fall, scattered all over the country.  I’ll release the schedule soon and maybe you can join me at an event in your town.

Make Sketch Fonts

Spotted on garments, chalkboards, wood signs and even glassware, open, airy fonts are the rage. It’s easy to get the same look if you have Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Follow along and you’ll be stitching this look in no time.

Open a new screen in Perfect Embroidery Pro (PEP).  Go to File, Import TT (True Type Fonts).

Select a script font from any true type font installed on your computer. Write the message in the text field and place 500 in the size field. Click OK.

The text appears on the screen.  To produce the best stitch file, meld the connecting elements.  Select the o and v, right click, Shaping and Meld.

See how the o and v are one continuous line and do not overlap like the v and the e? 

That’s the looks you’re going for.  At this time, the ov is one unit and the e is a separate element.

Select the ov and e, right click, Shaping and Meld.

Select all, right click, Convert to Complex Fill.

With Love selected, change the Fill Type in the Properties Box to Contour. Click Apply.  Change the density to 1.0 and the stitch length to 2.6. And there’s your sketchy font!

I just learned this trick from one of our education consultants, Tina Bartelmay.  Tina is an embroidery whiz – she uses PEP everyday – evident in her awesome samples!  Catch her at upcoming DIME event at a dealer near you.  Click here to learn more about Tina.

Thanks for sharing this great tip, Tina!

Not an Artist? Not a Problem!

You don’t have to be an artist to digitize embroidery designs, the tools are right at your fingertips in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro. Familiarize yourself with the art tools and your creativity will soar.  Let’s take a look.

Click on the Artwork tool and select the heart.  Drag the cursor across the screen to draw a heart.  Use the pen tool to draw a quarter section of the heart.

Select the small shape, right click and select Convert to Complex Fill. 

Do the same for the remaining portion of the heart.  Select the run tool and draw a straight horizontal line across the top of heart.  On my heart, it’s about 1” long.

In the Properties box, select Symbol from the Type menu.  Scroll down the menu to find the star.   Click OK. 

The line will now be a series of connected stars.  Copy and paste the line to fill the blue area.

When drawing stripes, rely on the art tools to make uniform stripes.  Select the Rectangle from the art tools and draw a rectangle over the right half of the heart.

Copy past and change the color of the second rectangle.  Continue to copy and paste the rectangles to fill the heart, placing each rectangle next to each other.  This will create even stripes with equal spaces between them.

Convert every other rectangle to complex fill. Remove the rectangles that marked the open spaces.  Use the Shape tool to move the end points of the rectangles to align with the outer edges of the heart.

 

Select the white stripes, right click, select Utility, Remove Overlaps.  Add a border and convert it to Steil to complete the design. Change the gold stars to white.  Save the design as Patriotic Heart and use it to embellish your 4th of July picnic linens.

 

Water Soluble Stabilizer Substitute

Colleen Bell’s gorgeous quilt in the most recent of Designs in Machine Embroidery (Vol. 110, May/June 2018) was made with Shannon Fabrics’ Cuddle.  Wrapping yourself in a Cuddle quilt is like submersing yourself in a teddy bear hug.  Its fibers are luxurious and irresistible to the touch. 

Those luscious fibers can make embroidering on it a challenge. The fibers want to work their way through the embroidery stitches leaving your embroidery looking lackluster. Colleen’s traditional method of taming the fibers was to add a layer of water soluble stabilizer on top of the Cuddle before adding the embroidery.  Colleen is an embroidery whiz – she knows what stabilizer to use when and what hoop is best for the job as seen in this photo. 

Her water soluble stabilizer covers the whole design area and is easily removed by just tearing it away after the embroidery is applied.  Her Snap Hoop Monster won’t leave any hoop burn on the tender Cuddle fabric.  This approach is tried and true but what if you don’t have a supply of water soluble stabilizer on hand?

Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro has the solution with one of its most popular features – Nap Blocker.  In just a few clicks you can add a light density fill BEHIND the design that will permanently hold down the fibers. Here’s how you do it.

Open your embroidery design in Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Colleen used Urban Threads UT17449, Floral Arrow. 

Select the design, right click, select Utility, Create Nap Blocker.

The Nap Blocker, a light density complex fill, is now listed as the first element of color 1. 

Select the complex fill and change its color to match the color of the fabric.  This is crucial as you want the complex fill to disappear behind the embroidery.  

Just hoop your fabric, stitch the first color in thread that matches the fabric and complete the design.  No need to tear or wash away a topper!  Love that feature!

What’s your favorite feature in PEP?

Nancy’s Sewing Weekend

I just arrived in Beaver Dam, WI for Nancy’s Sewing Weekend.  It’s always a fun time – full of great classes, inspiring samples and wonderful people.  Of course, this year will be a little different without Nancy but we’re all committed to carrying on this great tradition.  If you’re in Wisconsin or Ilinois or Iowa or Minnesota or…well, you get the idea, head to Beaver Dam.  I’m reposting Saturday’s blog from Zieman Productions here.  Read on to see what’s happening at Nancy’s Notions this weekend, May 3-5, 2018.

What started as a grand opening in 1985 has grown into one of Wisconsin’s largest annual sewing events. This year’s events start Thursday, May 3rd, and run through Saturday, May 5th. FREE Admission and FREE Parking!

Join in on 24 seminars featuring top educators and designers

New! Sewing Weekend speakers include:

      • Sara Gallegos
      • Mike Johns
      • Joi Mahon

Returning favorite speakers include:

      • Eileen Roche
      • Marti Michell
      • Linda McGehee
      • Pamela Leggett
      • Mary Mulari

Find seminar details and class ticket pricing over at the Nancy’s Notions website.

Nancy Zieman Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend Expo 2012Test-drive a Baby Lock Sewing Machine!

Baby Lock LogoHands-on classes are running throughout the weekend. While many are sold out, tickets for select days and times are available onsite at Nancy’s Notions Sewing Weekend.

Nancy Zieman Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend Expo 2012Free Demonstrations by the Experts

Company representatives from some of the top brands in the sewing industry are available at Sewing Weekend to answer questions and demonstrate products.

NEW! This Year: Food Trucks

    • Food Trucks—7 food trucks/vendors will be part of the Sewing Weekend festivities this year. You won’t need to leave the event to travel to an off-site food location, unless you choose to do so. A seating area and tent will be near the food trucks. It’s a great way to enjoy a variety of choices plus support other Wisconsin-based businesses. Trucks and vendors participating include:
      • Lisa’s Pizza (serving an array of pizzas and pasta)
      • Mac’s BBQ (serving chicken sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, shredded beef sandwiches, jambalaya, coleslaw, potato salad, etc.)
      • Cold Stone Creamery (serving various flavors of ice cream, of course)
      • Curd Girl (serving their specialty fried cheese curds)
      • Gouda Girls (serving specialty grilled cheese sandwiches)
      • We Go Waffles (serving waffles that are both sweet and savory)
      • Mobile Café Express (serving coffee as well as breakfast and lunch food options)

Nancy Zieman Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend Expo 2012Don’t Miss the 3-Day Super Sale!

  • Over 10,000 yards of fabric on sale; and more! Save up to 75% on select Clearance and Overstock items. New deals daily!

Nancy Zieman Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend Expo 2012

Nancy Zieman Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend Expo 2012

Nancy Zieman Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend Expo 2012

  • Ride the FREE! shuttle buses to seminar locations.

Nancy Zieman Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend Expo 2012

  • You can even check your packages while you’re attending seminars and workshops.

Nancy Zieman Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend Expo 2012

  • You’ll find lots of inspiration! Scott Stanton, accounting and IT guru, sports one of his personalized ties. Yes, Scott made it himself. Every day of Sewing Weekend he wears a tie that he made.

Nancy Zieman Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend Expo 2012

Nancy Zieman Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend Expo 2012Special Exhibits and Displays!

Quilt_Expo_Black_and_White_Plus_One_First_Place_WinnerQuilt_Expo_Black_and_White_Plus_One_Second_Place_WinnerQuilt_Expo_Black_and_White_Plus_One_Third_Place_WinnerQuilt_Expo_Black_and_White_Plus_One_Honorable_Mention_WinnerJoin us in celebrating the 34th annual Sewing Weekend, May 3–5, 2018—at Nancy’s Notions in Beaver Dam, WI. What started as a grand opening in 1985, Sewing Weekend has grown into one of Wisconsin’s largest annual sewing events.

Remember the first Sewing Weekend?

Check out these photos from the 1985 Grand Opening of Nancy’s Notions:

Thank you to Nancy, for her vision in creating an annual event for us to gather and celebrate sewing. This year, we celebrate Nancy and her many contributions to the sewing world, her elegant style and gracious living.

Hope to see you there!

Hidden Treasure

Buried in the Properties Box in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro is Projection. A hidden and often forgotten treasure, Projection takes a simple shape and transforms it into a hoop full of beautiful stitches.  When Projection was introduced as a new feature in a free update in June 2017, most of us looked at it as something fun to incorporate into open airy designs, like this butterfly.

But let me show you what it can do with a simple geometric shape like the diamond. Click on the Run stitch tool and select the Art tool. Select Diamond from the drop down menu. Drag the cursor to draw a 1″ x 1.25″ diamond.

In the Properties Box on the Run tab, select Projection from the Type field. 

The diamond is filled with smaller diamonds, the default setting is 3.0 stitch length and 1.5 Density.  That’s a too many repeats for me so I’ll decrease the density.

Change the stitch length to 2.4 and the Density to 5.0.

Select the diamond and click on the Carousel tool.  Select Reflect.

In the preview window, type 2 in the repeat field and click Apply.

The hoop is filled with the diamond repeats. 

Select the diamonds, go to to Edit, Optimize Sequence.  Click on Slow Redraw to watch the design stitch seamlessly from diamond to diamond. 

I can’t wait to stitch this in some specialty threads. First, I’ll use KingStar Metallic and then I’ll stitch a second sample in Medley variegated thread.  After I see those samples, I’ll copy and paste the diamonds to fill the open areas.  Oh my, so many possibilities! There are so many hidden treasure in your software!

How to Hoop a Tote Bag

Just about every tote bag can benefit from the addition of embroidery but hooping one can be challenging. Here’s how I do it – on a single needle machine or a multi-needle.

Place a target sticker 4” below the center top of the tote.  Place the tear-away stabilizer over the metal frame of Monster Hoop.

Turn the tote inside out and center the tote over the stabilizer (centering the target sticker).  Place the magnetic top over the tote. Use the edge of the tote as an alignment guide. If it’s straight, the design will be straight.  

Attach the hoop to the machine and lift the tote over the machine head. Keep an eye on the straps and make sure they are not caught under the hoop. 

Multi-Needle Machines

Place a target sticker 4” below the center top of the tote.  Place the outer ring inside the tote and lay a piece of tear-away over the outer ring.  Insert the inner ring, keeping the target sticker centered. 

Or if you’re using Multi-needle Monster, then insert the magnetic frame into the bag, centering the target sticker. Position the metal frame on top of the magnetic frame and attach to the machine. 

Easy peasy!

Connecting Designs

I love this clever storage idea from Colleen Bell published in the latest issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery, March/April 2018.

If your sewing room is chockfull of fabrics, notions and the like, maybe you use plastic totes to store your treasures.  Colleen Bell created a ‘fool the eye’ project to camouflage basic storage units.  She covered a tower of plastic totes with an embroidered linen cover.  The Trompe l’oeil designs from Urban Threads were just the right touch – delicate yet eye-catching.

Colleen used one of my favorite techniques – connecting embroidery designs with regular stitches.  When designs look like they are just hanging in space, linking them together completes the scene.  First, stitch your embroidery designs. Then use a removable marker to sketch lines connecting the designs. 

Then just stitch on the lines in the same thread as the embroidery design!

On Colleen’s project, the sketched lines mimic a swagged curtain and provides a natural resting spot for the bow. It adds to the Trompe l’oeil style of Urban Threads’ designs.  Well done, Colleen!  Learn more about Colleen at her website: http://www.the-embroiderist.com/about/

 

Filling Negative Space with Background Fills

Inspirations’ My Quilt Embellisher offers many ways to fill negative space on a quilt block. I enjoy trying different background fills because virtual quilting is fast and easy.  Auditioning a variety of background fills gives me confidence that I’ll like the final outcome and it’s easy to do in My Quilt Embellisher.  Just a few clicks and the background or negative space of a quilt block is filled with interesting texture. Every detail can be customized right down to the distance between the stitches and the length of each stitch.

I created my simple applique flower and drew a rectangle around the flower – the same size as the block.  This is a quick project so my block is 6″ square. Here’s how to do it: select the flower, right click and Create Outline. Set the distance to zero.  Select the outline and the run stitch rectangle and touch the Combine tool (paper clip).

Next, play with a few of the features after selecting the combined outlines.  I chose Texture, Stipple and Echo for my first three trials.

I’d love to know what background you prefer.  Do you like the Texture block?

The Stipple?

Or the Echo?

Please share your thoughts!  Texture, Stipple or Echo.  If you have another style, by all means let us know!

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