Archive of ‘Software Saturday’ category

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!

 

 

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.

Digital Cutters and My Block Piecer

Use your digital cutter to cut quilt block patches with Inspirations’ My Block Piecer (MBP) . Let me show you how.

GO to the Block Library and select a block.  I chose Basic, Nested Triangles. This block features five patches, two patches in fabric A and three patches in fabric B.

Go to the Properties Box and click on the Transform tab. Enter the size of your finished block.  My sample is 5” finished – the software will add all necessary seam allowances to each patch. Click Apply.

Select the block and click on the Cutter icon.

Scroll through the list of formats and select the appropriate format for your digital cutter.  I selected FCM for the Brother Scan ‘n Cut.  The screen shows the first frame, or the two patches for the fabric A. 

When you click on Frame 2, you’ll see three patches for fabric B. Click Save.

Select FCM for the Brother Scan ‘n Cut to actually save the files in that format.  The software creates a new folder with all of the necessary files.  Name the file and select Save.

The software creates a folder and stores the cutting files in that location.

If you are cutting patches for multiple blocks, change the number of repeats on the cutter screen.

How easy was that?

Custom Quilting

Last week, blog reader Kay asked for some help in Inspirations’ My Quilt Embellisher. It’s a popular software program and easy to use. You can design custom quilting for an 8-point star in just a couple of steps. Follow along to learn how.

Click on the Block Library icon. Go to Eight Point Star and select Arrow Star. Click OK.

Select the white diamonds in the center of the block. Right click on a color chip in the tray (bottom of the screen) to change the color of the diamonds.

Change the color of the center diamonds.

We’ll start by filling the negative space with stippling, In the sequence view, select the remaining white shapes (red box) and click on the Stippling icon (red arrow). In the Properties Box, change the Stippling style to Hilbert (green arrow).



To decorate the eight points, use the art tool to draw a diamond. Size the diamond to fill one of the star points.

The diamond pre-set shape in the Art tool drop down menu.

Select the diamond and click on the Contour tool.

The Contour tool fills a shape with rows of stitches.

Copy and paste the Contour diamond to fill the star.

Save the design. That was easy, wouldn’t you agree?

Software Questions? Read on…

It’s been a fun journey hosting Software Saturday for the past five years. I’ve covered many of Inspirations’ software programs with primary focus on Perfect Embroidery Pro. In order to continue offering educational content, I’d love to hear your thoughts on future lessons for Inspirations software programs.

I know a blog is fairly one-sided but I do read all of the comments and use that information to create new posts.

Please leave a comment below and tell me what Inspirations’ software you’d like to see discussed on Software Saturday. Perfect Embroidery Pro, My Block Piecer, My Quilt Embellisher, Word Art in Stitches, My Fabric Designer, Vintage Embroidery Software or My Quilt Planner? And what topics would you like covered?

You input matters – so take a moment and share your thoughts – let’s make 2019 the year to master the software you’ve invested in.

Set the Stage

Many embroiderers are stitching last minute gifts and that can mean trying to tame long fibers like faux fur and lofty knits. You need to ‘set the stage’ for the beautiful stitches and give them a foundation to sit on. Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro’s Nap Blocker feature is the answer for providing a base for the beautiful stitches while taming the fibers. Nap Blocker adds a layer of complex fill stitches that’s just light enough to flatten the lofty fibers creating a smooth surface for the embroidery. Here’s how to do it in PEP.

Select the Text tool and type JOY in the Properties Box.  I used the Bookman font. 

Select the design, right click to access the command menu.  Select Utility, Nap Blocker.

Instantly, a layer of complex fill is added to the design in the first color position.

The fill extends .15” beyond the design to ensure any long fibers will not obstruct the embroidery.  You can change this by selecting the fill only and resizing.

Notice how the complex fill is placed at the beginning of the design in the color sequence. 

Stitch the complex fill in the same color thread as the fabric. This is key because you want these stitches to disappear behind the beautiful embroidery.  And…you don’t have to use a topper when you use Nap Blocker. How sweet is that?

If you’re working with intricate text, you might want to adjust the shape of the nap blocker.  the image below shows the default nap blocker for a paragraph of text.  Remember, nap blocker has a default setting of .15″ so if it sees a space wider than that, it will leave it open.

It’s easy to adjust this.  Click on the shape tool, select the nap blocker (color 1).  All of the points will be visible. 

Drag the cursor over the points you want to remove.Hit delete on the keyboard. Poof!  They’re gone and the space is not filled!

Much better presentation!

Crazy Quilting

My Quilt Embellisher features 50 crazy quilt stitches that can be combined, sized, rotated and morphed to create hundreds of gorgeous stitches. My Quilt Embellisher is the software I used to create the projects in Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine. To embellish a block with crazy quilt stitches, take a photograph of the block and load it into the software as a Backdrop. Define the horizon and the scale. You’ll find those tools on the left toolbar, just click on the arrow under the Backdrop icon.

Select the Crazy Quilting icon.

Select a stitch from the drop down menu. Select stitch #10.

Once selected, you’ll notice the cursor changes to a small crosshair. Left mouse click and drag the mouse to create the motif. The longer you drag, the larger the motif. Each motif can be dropped individually creating an organic, hand-stitched look. The line of crazy quilt stitches  shown below is five repeats – all slightly different sizes. If your individual units are not aligned, select all and click on Horizontal Center Align to align the units. 

If a design is skewed, just select the individual design and drag the corner handle to rotate it.

Crazy quilting stitches are such a fun, decorative technique for adding embellishments to quilt blocks, small wall hangings, purses and more. One of my favorite projects from the book is this charming storage box.

If you like crazy quilting, you might enjoy my book, Today’s Crazy Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine.  The book includes instructions for creating your own crazy quilt blocks using My Quilt Embellisher software. Follow the steps in the book and watch the video on the CD to learn everything you need to know.  You can learn more about the book here.

 

 

My Block Piecer: Block 11 Crazy Star – Software Instructions

My Block Piecer
Block of the Month : Block 11 Crazy Star
Software Instructions
By Nancy Stansbury

This ongoing Block of the Month series was designed to inspire you to learn new techniques using My Block Piecer.  As a reminder, the first Saturday of every month will feature the software lesson using My Block Piecer.  The following Wednesday will feature the sewing lesson.

  • You are free to adapt the block to a size of your preference.
  • A free trial of My Block Piecer is available if you’d like to try it before you buy it.  Note the “Save” feature is deactivated until the software is purchased.
  • Interested in learning more about My Block Piecer and other Inspirations Software?  Join us at an Inspirations Event.  Click the Events link for events near you.
  • If you’re late to the Block of the Month “party” have no fear!  Start with Block 11.

Let’s continue the journey of learning and creativity!


Editor’s Note: The artwork for this block is original artwork. Download the Crazy Star.emf file and save it to your hard drive.  Download:  CrazyStar

  1. Open MBP.
  2. Click on Create a New Design.
  3. If the units for the ruler on the design page show mm, Right Click on either one of the rulers on the Design Page, and Click on Inches.
  4. Right Click on either ruler again and click on Grid Settings.
    1. Check marks by:
      1. Maintain aspect ratio
      2. Snap to grid.
    2. Set Horizontal spacing to 0.25.
    3. Click OK.
  5. Click File.
    1. Import Art Work
    2. Locate Crazy Star.png
    3. Click on the image.
    4. Click on the Open button.
  6. In the Properties Window on the right side of the screen click on the Transform icon.
    1. Have Maintain aspect ratio checked.
    2. Change the Width to 6.
    3. Click Apply.
  7. Click on the down arrow by the Artwork Icon and select the Pen tool.
    1. On the Properties Window, Check the Fill Box and Click Apply.
    2. Right Click on Color 1 to make it the color to use.
    3. Click on each of the 3 corners of the upper right triangle.
    4. Click on the first corner again.
    5. Right Click to create the patch.
    6. Repeat for the other blue triangle.Note: If at some point the cross hair for the pen tool disappears, just click on the Artwork icon.
    7. Click on Color 2 at the bottom and change it to yellow.
    8. Click OK.
    9. Right Click on Color 2 to make it the color to use.
    10. Repeat 7c through 7f for each of the yellow patches.
    11. Continue changing colors and create the artwork for each of the other pieces of the block.
  8. Click on the Reorder icon.
    1. Look at the diagram below for the numbering sequence.
    2. Click on each patch in block.
    3. Right Click to end the numbering. The numbers will disappear but the numbering is still there.
  9. Click on the Select icon, and holding down the CTRL key, Click on numbers 1 through 5.
  10. Click on the Workflow icon.
    1. Select a 200mm x 200 mm hoop or similar for your machine.
    2. Click the Auto Build button.
  11. Click Preview.
  12. Click Save.
    1. Click on Create a New Folder icon and name it Block12.
    2. Double Click on the folder to open it.
    3. In the File name box enter Crazy_Star_A.
    4. Save as type select Inspiration Series (C2S).
    5. Click Save.
    6. A window will open showing you the files that have been created.
      1. Crazy_Star_A_001.c2s.
      2. Crazy_Star_A _artwork.c2s.
      3. Crazy_Star_A _preview.pdf.
    7. Close the file window.
    8. Close the Save window.
  13. Click on the Select icon, and holding down the CTRL key, Click on the patches for the other half of the block.
  14. Click on the Workflow icon.
    1. Click the Auto Build button.
  15. Click Preview.
  16. Click Save.
    1. In the File name box enter Crazy_Star_B.
    2. Save as type select Inspiration Series (C2S).
    3. Click Save.
    4. A window will open showing the created files.
      1. Crazy_Star_B_001.c2s.
      2. Crazy_Star_B _artwork.c2s.
      3. Crazy_Star_B _preview.pdf.
    5. Close the file window.
    6. Close the Save window.
  17. Click the Select icon and draw a box around the entire block, OR Enter CTRL-A to select all of the block.
  18. Click the Cutter icon.
    1. Seam allowance default is .25”. Normally I change this to 0.4” or 0.5”, to make it easier to place the fabric pieces no matter which output format I choose.
    2. How you are going create the fabric pieces for the block, will determine which file format (hoop) to choose for the templates.
      1. If printing paper templates to manually cut the fabric pieces, select Paper Letter 210×279.
      2. If using the Scan and Cut, select Brother SCN 12x12”.
      3. If using the Silhouette, select Silhouette 12x12”.
    3. Can Unclick Optimize Orientation if using a directional fabric (This will optimize how the pieces file on the paper.
    4. Click Apply.
    5. Click Save.
      1. In File name enter Crazy_Star Templates.
      2. Click Save. If using a digital cutter, select the appropriate format from the drop down menu.
    6. The Following Files have been created:
      1. Crazy_Star templates.pdf.
      2. Crazy_Star templates_preview.pdf
      3. Close the files window.
      4. Close the Cutter window.
  19. Click on Create a New Design.
  20. Click on the Hoop icon.
    1. Select the 200mmx200mm hoop or similar for a specific machine.
      Note: When using the Merge to open a file, SAVE is actually a SAVE AS and the original file is not overwritten.
  21. Click File, Merge.
    1. Locate Crazy_Star_A_001.c2s.
    2. Click open.
    3. Move to the lower left corner of the hoop
  22. Click File, Merge.
    1. Locate Crazy_Star_B_001.c2s.
    2. Double Click to open or Click on the name and Click open.
    3. Move to the upper right corner of the hoop.
  23. Combine the placement stitches to sew in the first color.
    1. In the Sequence Window, click on the second design.
    2. Click Ungroup.
    3. Click on the placement stitch for the second design.
    4. Move the placement stitch up to the first placement stitch.
  24. File, Save as
    1. In the name box enter Crazy_Star
    2. In the Save as type select the specific format for your machine.
    3. Click Save.
  25. Print the templates, or prepare your fabric and send the templates to your cutter.
  26. Load the design in your machine and stitch the two parts of this block.
  27. Manually sew the two halves together to complete the block.

 

Projection!

One of my favorite features in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro is Projection.  Projection is a setting in the Properties Box under Stitch Type.  Let me show you how Projection can transform a simple heart.

Select the artwork tool, and click on the heart.

Drag the cursor to create a heart (about 1.5” x 1.5”). Copy, paste and reposition each heart to make a flower.

Select the flower and in the Properties Box under Stitch Type, select Projection. Click Apply.

Now that simple heart is transformed into a detailed flower. 

To turn it into an applique, select the flower, right click to access the Utility menu.  Select Create Outline from the drop down menu.  Change the distance of the outline to 0.0.

Select the outline, right click, Convert to Applique.

All you have to do now is change the order of the colors.

First, make the applique a separate color. 

Then select the applique, right click and select Break Up Path.

Right click on the two runs (in color 2), select order and move to back. Change the color of the second run (this will be the tackdown). The first color is the placement guide.

The projection stitches should sew before the applique.  So easy and so much fun!

My Block Piecer Block of the Month: Block 10 Tulip Time – Software Instructions

My Block Piecer
Block of the Month : Block 10 Tulip Time
Software Instructions
By Nancy Stansbury

This ongoing Block of the Month series was designed to inspire you to learn new techniques using My Block Piecer.  As a reminder, the first Saturday of every month will feature the software lesson using My Block Piecer.  The following Wednesday will feature the sewing lesson.

  • You are free to adapt the block to a size of your preference.
  • A free trial of My Block Piecer is available if you’d like to try it before you buy it.  Note the “Save” feature is deactivated until the software is purchased.
  • Interested in learning more about My Block Piecer and other Inspirations Software?  Join us at an Inspirations Event.  Click the Events link for events near you.
  • If you’re late to the Block of the Month “party” have no fear!  Start with Block 10.

Let’s continue the journey of learning and creativity!


  1. Open MBP.
  2. Click on Create a New Design.
  3. If the units for the ruler on the design page show mm, Right Click on either one of the rulers on the Design Page, and Click on Inches.
  4. Right Click on either ruler again and click on Grid Settings.
    1. Check marks by:
      1. Maintain aspect ratio.
      2. Snap to grid.
    2. Set Horizontal spacing to 0.25.
    3. Click OK.
  5. Click on the Block Icon.
    1. Enter Tulip Time in the Find box at the bottom of the window (DO NOT CLICK THE ENTER KEY).
    2. Click on the Down green arrow.
    3. Click OK to place the block on the design page.
  6. In the Properties Window on the right side of the screen click on the Transform icon.
    1. Have Maintain aspect ratio checked.
    2. Change the Width to 6.
    3. Click Apply.
  7. Click on the Reorder icon.
    1. Click on each patch as numbered below.NOTE: When numbering the pieces of the block, keep in mind that this is a sew and flip method of piecing, so each patch can only have a single straight seam joining it to a previous patch/patches.
    2. Right Click to end the numbering. The numbers will disappear but the numbering is still there.
  8. Click on the Select icon and draw a box around the patches in the upper left quarter of the block (patches 1 through 3).
  9. Click on the Workflow icon.
    1. Select a 200mm x 200 mm hoop or similar for your machine.
    2. Click the Auto Build button.
  10. Click Preview.
  11. Click Save.
    1. Click on Create a New Folder icon and name it Block 10.
    2. Double Click on the folder to open it.
    3. In the File name box enter Tulip_TimeA.
    4. Save as type select Inspiration Series (C2S).
    5. Click Save.
    6. A window will open showing you the files that have been created.
      1. Tulip_TimeA_001.c2s.
      2. Tulip_TimeA _artwork.c2s.
      3. Tulip_TimeA _preview.pdf.
    7. Close the file window.
    8. Close the Save window.
  12. Click on the Select icon and draw a box the Upper right quarter of the block (patches 4-10).
  13. Click on the Workflow icon.
    1. The numbers have been changed to 1-7.
    2. Click the Auto Build button. More than one unit has been created, so this part of the block needs to be manually created.
    3. Right Click in the window on the right side (with the numbers) and Click Reset.
    4. Holding down the CTRL Key, Click on the 1 and 2.
      1. Right Click and Group.
      2. Holding down the CTRL Key, Click on unit and 3.
      3. Right click and group.
      4. Repeat ii and iii for patch 4 -6.
      5. DO NOT CLICK AND GROUP THE LAST NUMBER.
  14. Click Preview.
  15. Click Save.
    1. In the File name box enter Tulip_TimeB.
    2. Save as type select Inspiration Series (C2S).
    3. Click Save.
    4. A window will open showing you the files that have been created.
      1. Tulip_TimeB_001.c2s.
      2. Tulip_TimeB _artwork.c2s.
      3. Tulip_TimeB _preview.pdf.
    5. Close the file window.
    6. Close the Save window.
  16. Click on the Select icon and draw a box around the lower left quarter of the block (patches 11-15).
  17. Click on the Workflow icon.
    1. The numbers have been changed to 1-5.
    2. Click the Auto Build button. More than one unit has been created, so this part of the block needs to be manually created.
    3. Right Click in the window on the right and Click Reset.
    4. Holding down the CTRL Key, Click on the 1 and 2.
    5. Right Click and Group.
    6. Holding down the CTRL Key, Click on unit and 3.
    7. Right click and group.
    8. Repeat ii and iii for patch 4.
  18. Click Preview.
  19. Click Save.
    1. In the File name box enter Tulip_TimeB.
    2. Save as type select Inspiration Series (C2S).
    3. Click Save.
    4. A window will open showing you the files that have been created.
      1. Tulip_TimeC_001.c2s.
      2. Tulip_TimeC _artwork.c2s.
      3. Tulip_TimeC _preview.pdf.
    5. Close the file window.
    6. Close the Save window.
  20. Click on the Select icon and draw a box the around the lower right quarter of the block (patches 16-18).
  21. Click on the Workflow icon.
    1. The numbers have been changed to 1-3.
    2. Click the Auto Build button.
  22. Click Preview.
  23. Click Save.
    1. In the File name box enter Tulip_TimeC.
    2. Save as type select Inspiration Series (C2S).
    3. Click Save.
    4. A window will open showing you the files that have been created.
      1. Tulip_TimeD_001.c2s.
      2. Tulip_TimeD _artwork.c2s.
      3. Tulip_TimeD _preview.pdf.
    5. Close the file window.
    6. Close the Save window.
  24. Click the Select icon and draw a box around the entire block.
  25. Click the Cutter icon.
    1. Seam allowance default is .25”. Normally I change this to 0.4” or 0.5”, to make it easier to place the fabric pieces no matter which output format I choose.
    2. How you are going create the fabric pieces for the block, will determine which file format (hoop) to choose for the templates.
      1. If going to print the templates, and use them to manually cut the fabric pieces, select the Paper Letter 210×279.
      2. If going to use the Scan and Cut, select Brother SCN 12x12”.
      3. If going to use the Silhouette, select Silhouette 12x12”.
    3. Unclick Optimize Orientation if using a directional fabric (This will optimize how the pieces file on the paper.
    4. Click Apply.
    5. Click Save.
      1. In File name enter Tulip_Time Templates.
      2. Click Save if using paper templates or use the drop down arrow to find the digital cutting format for your cutter.
      3. The Following Files have been created.
        1. Tulip_Time templates.
        2. Tulip_Time templates_preview.pdf.
      4. Close the files window.
      5. Close the Cutter window.
  26. Click the Hoop icon.
    1. Set Hoop to 200mmx260mm.
  27. Click on Create a new design.Note: When using the Merge to open a file, SAVE is actually a SAVE AS and the original file is not overwritten.
  28. Click File, Merge.
    1. Locate the file Tulip_TimeA_001.c2s.
    2. Click Open.
    3. Move it to top left corner of the hoop.
  29. Click File, Merge.
    1. Locate the file Tulip_TimeB_001.c2s.
    2. Move it to top right corner of the hoop.
  30. Click File, Merge.
    1. Locate the file Tulip_TimeC_001.c2s.
    2. Move it to lower left corner of the hoop.
  31. Click File, Merge.
    1. Locate the file Tulip_TImeD_001.c2s.
    2. Move it to the lower right corner of the hoop.
  32. Move all the placement stitches to the top.
    1. CRTL-A or Select all.
    2. Ungroup.
    3. In the Sequence Window move the second set up placement stitches on top of the first set.
    4. Repeat for the other two sets of placement stitches.
  33. Click Save.
    1. In the name box enter Tulip_Time.
    2. In the Save as type select the format for your specific machine.
    3. Click Save.
  34. Print the templates, or prepare your fabric and send the templates to your cutter.
  35. Load the design in your machine to create the four parts of this block.
  36. Option: Manually sew the four parts together to create the block.

 

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