Archive of ‘Embroidery Techniques’ category

Software Saturday – The Backdrop Tool in My Quilt Embellisher

One of the helpful features of Inspiration’s My Quilt Embellisher is the backdrop tool. The backdrop tool allows you to bring an image on to the screen and audition embroidery in actual time. It’s a surefire way to design beautiful blocks.
First, take a photograph or scan an image of your quilt into your computer. Take note of where you stored the photo on your hard drive.
Open a new file in My Quilt Embellisher. Go to File, Load Backdrop. Locate the image of your quilt block and click OK.MQE_b1
The image appears behind the grid on your screen. Chances are the image is not perfectly square on the screen. That’s ok; it’s an easy fix in My Quilt Embellisher. Hover the cursor over the backdrop tool on the left toolbar.MQE_b2
Click on the small arrow under the icon to access the Backdrop tools. Select Define horizon. MQE_b3
Place the cursor on one corner of the block and with the left mouse button depressed, drag the cursor across the block to the opposite corner. Release the mouse. The image will straighten on the screen.MQE_b4
In the properties box, notice the size of the image – it’s quite large.MQE_b5
That measurement is the size of the image, not the block. So let’s tell the software exactly what size our block should be.
Select Define Scale from the Backdrop tool menu.MQE_b6
Place the cursor on one corner of the block and with the left mouse button depressed, drag the cursor across the block to the opposite corner. Release the mouse. A window appears. Type in the correct measurement. My actual block measures 7” so I type in 7”.MQE_b9
The image shrinks and in the properties box, the size of the image changes too.MQE_b10
The properties box measurement is larger than 7” because it’s illustrating the size of the image – all the white/gray space that’s actually part of the image.
Now that you are viewing the block in actual size, it’s time to audition embroidery designs in the patches. This block was created for a sweet couple, Liz and Mike Tucker. The monogram font is August, the heart is Block Frill Heart (found in Embellishments) and the bird is #57488 in My Quilt Embellisher Free Designs.MQE_b12

Stitch Insurance

Today’s guest blogger is Inspirations’ education consultant Melisa Nisius.

I enjoy virtually creating quilt blocks using my fabrics, threads, embroidery designs and quilting stitches before making that first cut into my fabrics. Call it stitch insurance. My favorite method is to use Inspirations’ My Quilt Embellisher (MQE) for this task.


My first step is to load fabric images into each segment of the block and then lock the images in place so that I can debut various stitches.


Follow these easy steps for your own insurance. Open the Block Library and choose a block. In this example we used the Diamond from the Connector Blocks folder.Block Photo 1BL

First, we need to virtually fill the block with fabrics.  Using the Select Tool, select a patch in the block to fill with fabric. Click on the second icon in the Tool Bar, the Fabric tool. Once the dialog box opens, choose your fabric. Select Ok. (It’s easy to update your fabric swatches, just follow the steps in this blog post: )

 Block Photo 2BL

Your highlighted pieces should now reflect the chosen fabric.

Block Photo 3BL

Repeat this process until your block is completely filled with fabric. Notice that in the Sequence Viewer each piece is still artwork. Left click on All Items to select the entire block then in the top Tool Bar, select Copy, Paste.

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In the Sequence Viewer, left click on the small padlock icon next to the top two items.

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Now we can add stitches and embroidery designs to our quilt block and still see the fabrics. Using the Selection Tool, either left click directly on a piece of your block or select an unlocked patch in the Sequence Viewer to add stitches. Here we selected a Stipple Stitch.

Block Therapy 6BL

Continue adding stitches or embroidery designs until you’re pleased with the results.

Block Therapy 7BL

You can learn more about My Quilt Embellisher here. Enjoy!

Double Decker Applique Letters

Since we’re celebrating 100 issues of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine, I thought I would share one of my favorite projects: curved, double decker applique letters.  I love everything about this project: the teal hoodie (so comfy), the split applique (trendy) and the double layer of applique (the perfect fabric combo: white felt outline and tiny bright print).2016-09-17_9-29-38Make one of your own in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro. Open a new screen and select the Text tool, 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.

You can find the actual stitching instructions in Vol 97, March/April 2016 of Designs in Machine Embroidery. Enjoy!

I Heart Puffy!

Meet Inspirations Education Consultant Melisa Nisius, this week’s guest blogger. She’s just as passionate about embroidery as you are so I thought it was a good idea for Melisa to share a recent experience with you. You can apply the techniques she outlines to your favorite designs or download the free-for-a-limited-time heart design by clicking here.

Take it away, Melisa!

Recently, while preparing to stitch a hat and searching through my design collection, this stylish heart caught my eye. I knew that I would have to edit the design in software if the finished hat was going to meet my vision. I needed a design with lots of dimension!image1

The original design is created with flat satin stitches. Let me show you how easily I changed that by adding puffy foam to just the heart creating a fun, dimensional design. We’ll need to delete a few stitches and recreate the stitches that currently form the satin-stitched heart portion of the design. Ready?

Open the original design in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro. Left click File and Save As to save the design with a new name. This will protect your original design, allowing you to go back to the original at any time.Image2

Now let’s have some fun.  Left click on color 2 in the sequence viewer. You will notice it is highlighted in blue when selected. Delete it either by using the scissors icon or the delete key on your keyboard.Image3

Now, let’s do that again with color 3. Left click on color 3 to select it then delete it. You should be left with just colors 1 and 4.Image4

Right click on color 1 in the sequence viewer and choose Create Outline. Set the distance to 0.05. Click OK.Image5

Left click to select the newly created artwork in the sequence viewer and then right click on a new color in the Thread Toolbar at the bottom of the screen to change the color.Image6

Here is where the magic happens. Right click on the artwork, color 3 in the sequence view, and select Convert to: Puffy-Stitch. The width of the new stitches is fine but the design itself is too large to fit inside the original frame. We need to adjust the size to fit.  Make sure that the newly created puffy stitches are still selected and then in the Properties box choose the Transform icon. Verify the Maintain aspect ratio box is checked then change the width to 1.18 and click the apply button. Finally, right click on color 4 in the sequence viewer, select Order,  To Front.Image7


Click File, save. Your design is now ready to stitch.Finished Heart



Stabilizer Experiment

2016-07-30_16-41-18Normally, I use fuse polymesh stabilizer to the wrong side of the design area to stabilize knit fabrics. But recently, I was working on a couple of knit skirts. The brown one, shown above, is an a-line skirt and easily slips over the hip. I used polymesh cut-away stabilizer on it with satisfactory results. The second skirt, a pretty avocado green is more fitted. I really needed to keep the stretch of the skirt so it could slip over the hip. I opted to use Piece & Stitch  wash-away tear-away stabilizer instead of my usual cut-away.2016-07-30_17-06-54

As you can see, the stitches are lovely, they sit nicely on the fabric without a ripple.


This Piece & Stitch wash-away tear-away stabilizer breaks down in water leaving soft fibers in the embroidered stitches and practically vanishing from other areas. And I was thrilled with the results. The stitches are gorgeous and after laundering, the skirt has not lost any stretch.  As a bonus it’s so comfortable to wear because the remaining stabilizer is very soft.

Do not confuse Piece & Stitch wash-away tear-away stabilizer with a water-soluble stabilizer. Water soluble stabilizer means it dissolves and disappears in water. Wash-away tear-away means it breaks down in water, like tissue paper, leaving no gummy residue.  2016-07-30_16-57-43

It’s good for many uses but not a substitute for water soluble, so don’t try to make lace with it!  Normally, I use it for piecing quilt blocks in the hoop but now it’s my go-to stabilizer for stable knits.

Crucial Embroidery Placement with Success!

Often placement is crucial to embroidery success and little bit of planning will make your embroidery look professional. I recommend printing templates of your design so you can see it in actual size. Once the template is printed, audition it on the garment. In this case, it’s a small flower for a collar point.Collar2BL

Take your time with the placement and try different positions. It’s helpful to use a digital camera (or your phone!) to take a photograph of the placement. Every time you move the template take another photograph.Collar3BL

Do this a couple of times and then review the images on the camera. You’ll quickly know which one is the most pleasing.  Tape the template to the collar. Spray the wrong side of the collar with temporary adhesive.

Hoop stabilizer (tear-away, cut-away or wash away depending on your fabric and design).  To achieve perfect placement, use PAL, the Perfect Alignment Laser. Place the hoop on a flat surface and turn on PAL. Align the beams with the horizontal and vertical markings on the hoop.Collar5BL

Slip the collar over the stabilizer aligning the template’s crosshair with the beams.  Finger press the collar to the stabilizer. For added security, you can always add tape to the edges.Collar6BL

Carefully transport and attach the hoop to the machine, retrieve the design and verify the needle is perfectly aligned with the template’s crosshair.  Remove the template and embroider the design.

Using a template, camera and laser ensures a professional finish on your embroidery. What tools do you use when placement is crucial?


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. 

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

Need an Embroidery Miracle? Then You Need Friends in High Places!

Where do you turn when you need a solution to an embroidery dilemma? It started innocently enough with “Honey, can you embroider my name and phone number on this strap?” I naively responded, “Oh sure, I’ll bet it’ll be an easy thing to do.” Then he hands over the ‘harmless’ strap. From afar, it looked like camo canvas maybe camo neoprene. But once in my hand, my knees began to tremble when I gripped the…RUBBER backing! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Rubber? Really? Are you kidding me? Dang, I wish I hadn’t shared that joke about the lady who informed her husband that no, she won’t stitch a logo on his golf shirt because her machine can’t do menswear. I still chuckle at that line. But my sweet husband knows the truth behind that – it’s a joke he’s heard me tell in Stitching Sister events. He knows all of my machines ‘can do menswear.’

So off I trotted to the office with the noose, I mean strap, over my shoulder. I figured I’d start my research there – pour through all our technical journals, embroidery books and commercial magazines to look for a solution. My search led to nothing, not a clue on how to hoop or stabilize rubber-backed neoprene. So I did what I normally do when approached with a stumbling block. I climb around it. Avoid it. Make a path around it – like the elephant in the room. And mull it over for a few days. But not this time because in walked the most knowledgeable person in the embroidery industry. Deborah Jones.

She was here on official business – really big important stuff like what would we have for lunch. At the end of our visit, I remembered the noose – strap (gee, I keep staying that!) and asked for her advice. Without a trace of confusion or a moment of hesitation, she said, “Oh hoop it with wax paper. You’ll need something to lubricate the needle and thread as it exits the rubber.”

I looked at her like she handed me the Hope diamond. She looked at me like she sometimes does, “Oh you silly Yankee.” (Doesn’t matter how long you live in Texas, you’re always a Yankee if you imported yourself.) Then she left. I was perplexed, okay scared, so I worried for a few more days. And then I bought wax paper. I haven’t purchased wax paper in years and didn’t spot it the new fancy grocery near the office. I asked a salesperson where I would find it and she wasn’t quite sure what it was! After a minute she muttered something about packed lunches at grandma’s house when she was a little girl and then sent me to aisle 23. Anyway, I bought it.

The noose, I mean strap, is thick so holding it in a hoop was not an option. Sticking it down on hooped wax paper in a standard hoop would likely result in the noose, strap, popping off the wax paper. So I hooped tear-away stabilizer and two layers of wax paper (Why two? I don’t know, I bought a whole roll, so I figured I’d get my money’s worth) in Snap Hoop on a 10-needle machine. Snap Hoop is flat and will help keep the strap on the wax paper. I sprayed the back of the strap with temporary adhesive and pressed it onto the wax paper. Then taped it for extra security.

As you remember Deborah told me to ‘use wax paper.’ She didn’t tell me anything about hooping, adding stabilizer or adhesive. I was on my own there, I just tried to apply common sense (something most Yankees are not known for in Texas) and tame the challenge and well, git her done as they say here.

It worked! An embroidery miracle, thanks to Deborah Jones.


The winner of last week’s blog post answered the following question:
Have you used Kreations by Kara’s designs? If so, do you have a favorite?  Leave a comment and four random winners will each receive a $25 gift certificate! Yippee! A shopping spree is in order.

The winner is:

Josie D: “I hadn’t heard of her before but what you’ve shown is awesome.”

Sara R: “There are too many beautiful designs to pick a favorite but I love FSL and the FSL Christmas ornaments are definitely some of my favorites.”

Janet F: “I used Kara’s butterflies on the lining of a quilted jacket. I smile every time I put it on, the inside is as pretty as the outside.”

Sara: “I have purchased her designs for quite some time now, the best is she has for every thing & every body, so talented, her creations are exquisite! Sad to hear she passed, but the talent runs in the family with her daughter. We are so happy to have Kreations by Kara for the magnificent, creativity & versatility we get with her creations!”


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!

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