Archive of ‘Embroidery Tips’ 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

All You Need to Know About Lettering in Perfect Embroidery Pro

One of the mottos that I live by is using time well. Let’s face it, we all try to cram as much into a day as possible. So when I have a choice about how to spend my time, I want to learn something. If I learn one thing when I read a book, take a class or watch a webinar on machine embroidery, then I consider it a good investment in my time. I imagine you feel the same way about your time.

If you watched Tuesday’s webinar by Katherine Artines, I’m sure you learned more than one thing about lettering in Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro. Here are some of my favorites:

Why mini fonts look best when stitched with a 60 wt. thread in a #9 needle.2015-02-21_13-28-18

The shortcut to view all of the available characters in a special font.2015-02-21_11-03-47

More than one way to access and view the over 200 fonts that included in Perfect Embroidery Pro.2015-02-21_11-02-18

An attractive alternative to override split satins when enlarging fonts into jumbo letters. You have to watch the webinar to see how easy it is to make this switch from a satin:2015-02-21_10-46-49

to a fancy fill:2015-02-21_10-46-03

How to emphasis the meaning of the stitched word.2015-02-21_14-07-55

Witness the morphing of a single line of text into an inviting expression.2015-02-21_13-53-18

Learn the secret to better envelopes.2015-02-21_13-50-20

See the trick to perfectly flanked motifs in arced lettering.2015-02-21_14-06-39

And you’ll be intrigued by Katherine’s creativity when she explains how each of these fun designs are created in Perfect Embroidery Pro.2015-02-21_10-52-05

Watching this video is time well spent. Click here to view the webinar.


Software Saturday – True Type Fonts

Want more embroidery fonts?  All you have to do in Perfect Embroidery Pro is click on File, Import TT Text and you’ll find every font that’s installed on your computer.  Just click, type and convert!  It’s that easy.  Learn how here:

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If you can’t view the video here on the blog, use this link to view it on YouTube.

January Update – Buttonholes!

I love machine embroidered buttonholes! Why? Control. Machine embroidered buttonholes give me total control over the length of the buttonhole and the placement. Starting with a digital file guarantees perfect duplicates since I don’t have to guide the fabric under the foot.

So let’s take a look at how easy it is to create custom buttonholes in Perfect Embroidery Pro.2015-01-03_18-45-36

Once you update your software you’ll find a new icon on the top tool bar, a button (it’s easy to update, just say yes when the New Update available window appears).2015-01-03_18-49-00

Click on the drop down menu to access five completely customizable buttonholes, keyhole, round1, round2, standard narrow and standard.2015-01-03_18-49-24

Select your favorite and click the mouse on the screen. Your first buttonhole appears. I chose keyhole – that  hard-to-mimic classic buttonhole!2015-01-03_18-52-00

With the buttonhole selected, click on the Properties box to access the height and density settings. After measuring the diameter of your actual button, add a small amount (such as .10 of an inch) for the length of the buttonhole. Enter that measurement in the height box and click apply.2015-01-03_18-52-43

Naturally, you must make a test buttonhole on the same fabric as the final garment.  Include the identical interfacing, facing or lining on the sample. You can’t cheat here – it’s the only way to guarantee positive results and this is when you’ll tweak the length if necessary.

Hoop crisp or lightweight tear-away stabilizer as it tears cleanly. Once hooped, draw a straight line down the length of the hoop to use as an alignment mark for the garment edge. Spray the hooped stabilizer with temporary adhesive.

Advance to the first stitch to see what end of the buttonhole will stitch first. You want to stitch the end closest to the edge first and sew away from the edge. The fabric will not bulge next to the seam if you do this (a frequent occurrence in manual buttonholes). Rotate or mirror image the design if necessary. Stitch the test version.

Remove from the hoop and tear away the stabilizer. Use a seam ripper or a chisel and wood block to open the buttonhole. If using the seam ripper method, insert a pin at one end of the stitch to avoid slicing beyond the buttonhole.

Or place the buttonhole over a wood block, and insert the chisel into the space between the satin stitching. Press down to cut the fabric. Insert the button into the hole checking for ease. If the button slides in freely, you’re all set. If not, go back to Perfect Embroidery Pro and adjust the buttonhole.

Once you’re satisfied with the buttonhole, it’s time to stitch it on the garment. Measure the distance from the garment edge to the end of the buttonhole. For pleasing proportions, it’s best to leave a space between the end of the buttonhole and the garment edge that is half the diameter of the button. For the 2” buttonhole, move the end of the design 1” from the garment edge. Stitch the design.

Design Tips:

Buttonhole Placement: It can be challenging to determine evenly-spaced buttonhole placement. For garments, mark the widest point of the bust and the top of the garment. Fold the garment, meeting the top mark to the bust mark. Place a third mark at the fold. You now have the positions for the top three buttons. Measure the distance between two buttons. Use that measurement to mark the remainder of the buttons below the bust point.

Fuzzy Fibers: Place a piece of fusible web (protective paper removed) over the buttonhole area. Stitch the buttonhole. Tear away the excess fusible web. Press the buttonhole with a hot steam iron to melt the fusible web into the satin stitches. Once cooled, cut open the buttonhole. The fusible web will tame the fuzzy fibers.

Other great updates this month include smoother icons,  the Monogram, Motif and Applique buttons are now found under the Text designs icon and the lasso button is now under the Select Tool. All of these improvements streamline the screen – you’ll be comfortable in no time!

Enjoy January’s update!


A Clutter-Free Digital Workspace

It’s common to feel the urge to get organized in January– purge closets, cabinets and drawers. Many sewers feel the same way. We want a fresh start in the New Year, often pledging to finish projects, clear the cutting table, and tame our stashes – fabrics, stabilizers and threads. The goal is to follow that urge all year and really get our environments under control. I don’t know about you but it’s an annual event for me. It helps me get organized for the next 12 months; forgive myself for the projects that didn’t get completed and make a decision on whether or not I’ll ever finish them. And then toss them, if I know I won’t finish them. It’s a tough decision but I find once I make up my mind, it’s very cleansing to move on with a clean slate. I even like to create a clean space in my digital workspace when I work on a design.

In Perfect Embroidery Pro, My Block Piecer and My Quilt Embellisher, I clean up my thread chips. Sounds silly, right? Well, removing the excess thread chips at the bottom of the screen helps me focus. Let me show you what I mean.

I dragged one of December’s free designs onto the workspace. Notice the 11 color chips in the thread tray. The design is only three colors so I find all of those excess chips to be distracting, unnecessary clutter.Thread1

First, I clicked on the minus sign to remove all excess chips.Thread2

Now, only three chips remain in the tray.Thread3

I’m going to change the colors to reflect a warm, tropical climate (like the one Stitching Sisters are going to enjoy on our February 2016 cruise – join us!) First, click on a chip to see the thread palette.Thread4

At the top of the thread palette click on the brand to access the thread you have in your sewing room.   Thread5


Once you set this brand, the palette will always default to that brand although you can reset it anytime you’d like.

Simplifying the thread tray makes it easy to see what threads I need to collect from stash of thread. I love the new plastic drawer inserts that keep my stash under control.  It’s the fine-tuning of organizing that helps me keep my year-long goal of staying on top of clutter!

The Best Way to Learn Your Software

People ask me, “What’s the best way to learn my software?” My answer is always, “Use it!” You can read, watch videos and go to classes but until you start using your software as often as possible (ideally everyday!), you really won’t be comfortable. You just have to get in there and do it!

If you don’t know where to begin, start with the free monthly projects that are available through the My Inspiration Today screen. When you open your software, click on the Free Monthly Projects icon on the opening screen. 1Proj2


You’ll arrive at the Inspired by Dime website.1Proj2a

Scroll down the page to view the download link. Click on the link to download the project.2Proj6

Once downloaded, you’ll find two PDF files in the folder – instructions for preparing the design in the software and the other for embroidering/sewing the project.3Proj7

Tamara Evans, Inspiration Consultant, has created these projects just for you. She openly shares her wealth of knowledge in each project. You’ll find quick steps to efficiently edit the designs, secrets to controlling the stitches in the software plus methods of good practice to cut down on errors.4Proj8

The software lessons in all of these projects are designed to help you learn how to use the software’s features.   Even if you’re not tempted to stitch the project – take the time to work the software lesson. What you learn can be applied to any project you would like to stitch. And before you know it – you’ll be comfortable with the icons and features.


December Update in Perfect Embroidery Pro

Beads, Crystals, Pearls and Rhinestones

Do you love to add crystals, beads and pearls to some of your embroidery designs? Then you’re going to love December’s free update in Perfect Embroidery Pro! Now you can audition gems on a design in Perfect Embroidery Pro before you ever take a stitch. Click on the video below to see how easy it is to add crystals to a lace neckline.

If less sometimes leaves you wanting more, then watch the video below to see how a demure neckline can be transformed with holiday sparkle.

Gems are not just for garments as they make lovely additions to home décor items. LuLu Christmas includes a lovely trio of Christmas ornaments – perfect for linen guest towels when sprinkled across the towel. But I don’t always have time to fill the width of fabric with edge to edge embroidery yet I still want a fluid design. The video below shows how crystals are a simple solution in Perfect Embroidery Pro.

When  you update, you’ll find 24 beads, 12 crystals, 16 pearls and 40 rhinestones – each customizable by size. And of course, you can add your own images to the library. Just set the position of each crystal by placing a node on the design or let the software automatically create a string of gems for you – all evenly spaced. Adjust the spacing by changing the instructions in the properties box or fine tune the placement by adjusting the individual nodes.

Stitch marks (you choose between a cross and a circle) are inserted into the design so that the placement can be easily achieved after the embroidery is complete. The size of the stitch marks is adjustable so that even the tiniest gems cover the small marks.

I hope you enjoy December’s free update – I know I’m going to have fun adding sparkle to my creations!

Do You Need Embroidery Software?

Recently, somewhere searched my blog for an answer to this question, “Why do I need embroidery software?”

I been giving that some serious thought and it took me back to my early days in machine embroidery. Back then (geesh, that’s sounds ancient!), embroidery software was not available to the consumer. Digitizing was a mysterious process to all consumers and frankly, we didn’t give it much thought. The embroidery design companies offered dozens of embroidery cards that seemed to suit most of our needs. As we became more passionate and brave with our stitching, reality set in. We experimented with different projects and realized we needed to tweak the designs that we had purchased. And not just mirror image and copy, oh no, we wanted to change the size (drastically), add or delete underlay, morph the shapes, remove colors, merge elements from one design into another. We needed editing abilities that our machines didn’t offer. We needed software. Maybe we didn’t need to digitize but we most certainly needed to manipulate designs.

Today, those needs remain the same. Ninety percent of embroiderers who own digitizing software do not digitize. They are not artists, they are embroiderers. They don’t want to create or find the perfect artwork and figure out how to transform it into beautiful embroidery. They want to buy designs and make them work on the project they are stitching today. They want to open the design in software and inspect it. They want to review the color sequence, watch the design in slow redraw so they know what to expect before they stitch. They want to look at the underlay and see if there’s enough coverage for a terrycloth towel or too much for a sheer scarf. Then they make adjustments to make the design their own – perfect for the project they are stitching next.

If you’re wondering if you need embroidery software, give some thought to your level of frustration when trying to plan an embroidery project.

If you find yourself saying, “I wish I could…”, know that you can with embroidery software!

Manipulating Designs in Perfect Embroidery Pro

Even if you don’t digitize, you can most certainly manipulate designs to get the look you need. All you need are building blocks. What are building blocks? Building blocks are designs – designs that are stashed in Perfect Embroidery Pro.

Let’s take a look at a design from the Monogram catalog. 2

Click on the Monogram catalog icon and select Mon10683.3

Select and Ungroup the design (right mouse click or use the Ungroup icon on the tool bar). Select the branch on the right. 4

Copy and paste the branch. Move it to the upper right, connecting the bottom scroll to the original branch. 5

Let’s close the space at the top between the original branch and the new one. Zoom in to get a magnified view. Select the Shape Tool and move the last two black dots to expose the blue squares underneath (the points). 6

Select and pull the blue squares down to the original branch. 7

Position the black dots back on top of the blue squares, this sets the direction of the satin stitches. 8

Hit Enter on the keyboard to extend the satin stitches. 9

Select the new branch, copy, paste and mirror image the section. Move it to the opposite side. 10

Voila! A perfectly shaped design for a child’s neckline.11







All for Me!

Improvise! Create! Have fun!

I wanted to create something fun and personalized for my friends. These luggage tags featured in Shelly Smola’s book, All for Me, fit my needs for creativity. They can be used as gift tags, luggage tags or even Christmas ornaments!

The luggage tags are designed with a handy pocket made of clear vinyl to slide a name tag with contact information. Unfortunately, I didn’t have vinyl and I didn’t want to drive all the way to the fabric store. (It’s a whole 5 minutes away from the office!)

I decided to improvise…

Improvise on Materials

First attempt: Clear plastic from a paper CD sleeve.
I wasn’t using the CD sleeve and the plastic seemed like it would work. However, the needle penetrations perforated the plastic making it easy to rip away.

Undaunted, I hunted the office for other clear plastic materials…

Second attempt: A Ziplock bag!

I thought I was pretty clever for trying this technique. Again, the needle penetrations perforated the plastic.

Suggestions from office mates: Use a clear shower curtain.

This idea has been used and tested in the building… but sadly there wasn’t a shower curtain in the office. And the nearest retailer is at least 20 minutes away….

Next attempt: Tulle.

I used two layers of tulle and placed water soluble stabilizer on top. This method worked! Plus tulle comes in countless colors to coordinate with my fabric selection for the dresses. The card insert I placed in the pocket is still legible through the tulle.

Next attempt: Sheer ribbon.

I used two layers and placed water soluble stabilizer on top. This method also worked. I prefer the ribbon because it’s easier to work with but that’s just a personal preference.

All for Me


Sample 1. Pretty Blue!

I selected blue satin fabric for the dress and soft thread colors to coordinate with the fabric. I accidentally stitched the leaves in pink. Surely there are pink leaves found in nature somewhere! I added hot fix pearls to the flowers for added embellishments.

Sample 2. Bridal Party

I selected the same blue satin fabric. This time I stitched everything in white. The blue is subtle enough that it could be used for a bridal shower gift tag. I added the hot fix pearls to the flowers and the buttons. Also consider making one as a Christening ornament for a baby.

Sample 3. Celebrate the Crinkles!

When discussing our serious fabric shortage in the building with Eileen, I came upon a delightful brown crinkle type fabric. I hesitated but had to ask anyway, “will this work or am I crazy?” Fortunately, Eileen encouraged me to try. In fact, she shared a tip to ensure success.

Eileen’s tips:

Add fusible polymesh cut-away stabilizer to the back of the fabric. This will add stability and will also keep the wrinkles in place as you stitch the crinkle fabric. The particular concern was ensuring the stipple stitches would stitch properly on the fabric.

Another tip, the fusible polymesh comes in black. This is especially useful if you’re working with a dark colored fabric. I’ll keep that in mind next time!

I love the added texture this fabric brings to the dress. In fact, I’d wear this dress if it were full size!

Sample 4. Embrace Color!

Now with 3 dresses successfully stitched, I was feeling quite bold. I found a bright yellow satin fabric. I fused polymesh to the back of the fabric. I opted to embrace contrasting colors… and during the process I must admit I got some inspiration from the movie, 27 Dresses. I used two layers of pink tulle for the pocket and of course a bright pink for the stitches. While stitching the flowers I noticed the leaves look like hearts. I decided to skip the flower centers and add hot fix crystals as embellishments.

Have Fun!
The primary motivation when I create anything is to have fun. During this process I enjoyed focusing on variety and details. For this project I only made dresses and challenged myself to try and make each one slightly different. What details can I add? I experimented with fabrics, thread colors, skipping embroidery details, adding hot fix embellishments and more!

Looking at the dresses, I realized hangers would be a nice addition. Using wire and some pliers I fashioned a small hanger for the embroidered dress. I cut two pieces of wire—one for the hook and the other for the base. I wrapped the end of the hook to the base. Next I covered the wire with a decorative fiber.

The hanger was an afterthought for my pretty brown dress. Next time I would skip stitching the hole for the ribbon since the hanger serves the same purpose.

What a wonderful way to have fun with small scraps of fabric!

There are additional luggage tags included with the book as well as other fun projects.

A total of 6 projects are included:

  • Tea Party Luggage Tags
  • Glamour Girl Makeup Case
  • Petite Purse
  • Vintage Apron
  • Time for Tea Pillow
  • Time for Tea Quilt

All for Me

Did you know? All for Me is now available as a download! That’s right, now you can download the book and the designs from the comfort of your home. This is especially ideal for overseas customers!

Visit the Designs in Machine Embroidery website for more information.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Urban Threads is giving away four (4) $25 gift certificates to their website. Just leave a comment below about a design you re-purposed for something new, something different! Maybe you turned a kitchen towel project into some doll clothes or made a bracelet out of a sashing – whatever it is, we want to know.


The winner of last week’s assignment is:

What is your most prized monogram project? Tell us your favorite and one comment will be chosen to receive a $25 gift certificate to spend on the DIME website. Thank you for reading and good luck!


And the winners is..Shea  – “My favorite monogram is the stacked one that I put on one of three t-shirts I gave to my 30-year old son for his last birthday. I’ve seen him wear that shirt three times in the month since then – he LOVES it.”

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