Archive of ‘Software Techniques’ category

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!

Flamingo Navidad

Flocking around the flamingo tree on this happy holiday!

The Volume 113 Nov/Dec issue features instructions for making the Beaded Flamingo card.  The instructions on the blog will cover how to make the Feather & Sequined Flamingo and the Felt Wing Flamingo.

All cards use the Fabulous Flamingo collection.  Perfect Embroidery Pro was used for making modifications to the design.


Feather & Sequined Flamingo

The embroidery design technique is the same as the Beaded Flamingo.  If you missed the steps in the magazine, follow along here.  Otherwise, scroll down to the Embellishing section within this blog.

Overview:  The goal is to replace the fill stitches for the main part of the flamingo body with an outline stitch.  The original design does not have an outline but we will create one in Perfect Embroidery Pro.

At the Computer
Open Birds of a Feather-17 in Perfect Embroidery Pro.

Delete the text:  “Birds of a feather flock together”.

Select the second thread color in the sequence, Bashful Pink.  This is the main part of the flamingo body.

With the second thread color still selected, right click.  Select Utility.  Create Outline.

A new window appears.

Change the default from .08 to .00.  Click Apply.  There’s now an artwork outline around the flamingo body.  Note, this is artwork, not stitches.  I changed the color to a dark purple so you can see the outline a little better in the screenshot.

Delete the original color 2.  Then rearrange the color sequence so the outline of the flamingo body is now the second thread color in the sequence.

Change the Color to Bashful Pink.

With the artwork selected, right click.  Select Convert To / Run.  Click Apply.

In the Properties box, select Bean and click Apply.

Save the design in the appropriate machine format and send to the embroidery machine.

Hoop a piece of felt in a 5” x 7” hoop.  Stitch the design.  Trim the flamingo leaving 1/8” of felt all around the flamingo.

Embellishing

For this flamingo, I opted for the Pink Glitter Glue.  Based on my earlier testing, the glue does secure sequins.  But it does take longer for the glue to dry.  No problem!

I applied the glitter glue to the entire flamingo.  The photo shows a conservative amount but I did add more.  I wasn’t concerned about applying glue to the entire flamingo at once.  The glue takes awhile to dry.

Apply the sequins, one by one.  The packaging I purchased included three different sizes of sequins.  I used all three sizes for variety.  While it might strike you as tedious to attach each sequin, not everything is created in an instant.  Some things do take time.

Once I filled the flamingo with sequins, I did a spot check to see if there were any open spaces.  I added more sequins.  I even layered them because you really can’t have too many sequins.

Next, I decided a feather would be the perfect finishing touch but when I auditioned it, I discovered the pink was not the right shade.

Fabric spray paint is the solution!  This is the tricky part.  Don’t get overly excited when spraying the feather.  You will drench it and make a mess.

Instead, be judicious.  Gently apply the spray paint to the feather.  Take your time.  The flamingo that wins the race is not always the fastest. I sprayed two feathers to give me options.

Let the feathers dry.  Then attach the most appropriate feather using FabricTac glue or for faster results, attach with a hot glue gun.

Use some rhinestones to create a necklace (and hide the area where you attached the feather.

Finishing the Card

Select a fun card stock to create your card.  The words “Flamingo Navidad” were created in Adobe Photoshop Elements with font, AR BONNIE.  The font is also found in Microsoft Word.  Use your favorite font style and program to create your own text.  Place additional embellishments as desired.

Use a hot glue gun to secure the flamingo embroidery to the card.

 

Fabulous Flamingo cards are sure to make everyone smile!  Give them to family, friends and coworkers.  Make a stack and deliver them to shut-ins and nursing home residents.  You’ll have as much fun making them as you’ll have seeing everyone’s reactions when they receive them.

Purchase the design collection here.

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.

 

 

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!

Float Your Quilt Block, Part 2


Update/Correction:  The video the batting is cut to the same size as the front and back fabric – the batting should be smaller and fit within the hole in the block maker, only the front and back fabric should get stuck to the tape!  


Last Saturday’s blog showcased how to use the Monster Block Maker with one of the included embroidery designs.  This post is an expansion to last Saturday’s blog. This time, we will create a quilt block using software.

This exercise uses Perfect Embroidery Pro with My Quilt Embellisher to create the quilt block.


  1. Launch Perfect Embroidery Pro.
  2. Using the art tools, create a 4.8” square.

  1. Right click on the square. Click Convert To / Run.

  1. Change the stitch length to 4.8 mm. Click Apply.
  2. Click on the arrow underneath the My Quilt Embellisher Icon on the right side of screen. Select Embellishments.
  3. A new window will appear. Click on Butterfly.  Click the second image, Embellishments 10_Circle.
  4. Your block will look similar to the image below.
  5. Select the first outline.
  6. Right click. Select Utility.  Create Outline.

  1. Leave the default .08. Click Ok.
  2. The image will look similar to the one shown.
  3. Select the new outline. Right click.  Select Utility.  Create Outline.  Keep the default .08.
  4. The design should look similar to the one shown.
  5. Select both artwork outlines. Right click.  Select Convert To / Run.
  6. Select the second element in the design as shown. This is artwork.  Right click.  Select Convert To / Run.
  7. Rearrange the thread sequence so that the butterfly section stitches second, followed by the outline stitches.
  8. I like using different colors, so I selected different thread colors for each of my outlines. Change the thread colors as you wish.

 

Follow the directions included with the Monster Block Maker to prepare the template with double sided adhesive tape.  Watch the short video clip to see the steps where I made the quilt sandwich.  The double sided adhesive tape lasts for multiple blocks.  (hence my tape looks a wee bit messy, but it does keep the fabric secure).  Once the tape loses its stickiness just change the tape.

The next video shows the the outline being stitched.  This step secures the quilt sandwich.

Here’s the finished block.

Remove the block from the Monster Block Maker template.

Here’s a look at the finished trimmed block.

 


Additional Resources:

An Introduction to Floating Your Quilt Block

Single Needle Machines

Mult-Needle Machine 

 

 

 

Blue is the Winner!

Earlier this week, I tallied your votes on your favorite of three pillows. Here’s the rundown:

40 picked blue

22 selected pink

4 went for green

I agree, I think blue pillow is splendid.  I love the designs and the color.  Here’s how I made the layout in Inspiration’s Vintage Embroidery software.

Open a new file and click on the Vintage design icon (circled in purple above). Select the Abstract folder and the Abs_0024_Icon_ design.  Click Ok.  Copy, paste and mirror the design.

Select both designs, copy, paste and mirror vertically.Now, tweak the position of the designs to even the spacing.

Select the Vintage designs icon again to add the center design, ABS_0011_Icon_D.

Change the color to blue and move it to the center of the four designs. Select all four designs, right click and select Group from the drop down menu.

On the keyboard, select all (CTRL A), right click and select Align, Center.  

That’s it!  Now the real fun begins: the embroidery and the hunt for the perfect trim!

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