Archive of ‘Software 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.

Block Photo 4BL

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

Block Photo 5BL

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!

Design Your Own Fabric!

Have you always wanted to design your own fabric? Well now you can!  Let me show you how easy it is to create print-on-demand fabric.  My Fabric Design software is Inspirations’ latest exclusive offering to Inspiration dealers.  Although you can learn about it here, you’ll have to purchase it from your local Inspirations dealer.

Let’s make a plaid fabric, no drawing skills needed! Open a new file in My Fabric Design software.  Click on Canvas. MFD_1

Select Pattern to create a repeatable pattern.MFD_2 Click on Settings and enter 4 in the height and width to set the size of the repeat. Of course, you can make this any size you’d like.  Click OK.MFD_3

Click on the Artwork tool and select Rectangle from the drop down menu.MFD_4

Drag the cursor over the screen and draw a square a bit larger than the box on the screen (that’s the size of the repeat). To change from an outline, select Fill from the Type field in the Properties Box. Click Apply. MFD_4aMFD_5

Let’s draw the plaid sections. Select the Rectangle from the Artwork tool. Draw a skinny rectangle that’s longer than the blue square.  Change the color of the skinny rectangle to yellow.MFD_6

Select the yellow rectangle. Click on the Repeat Tool and enter 4 in Number Across and 1 in Number Down.  Place .24 in Horizontal distance to space the bars. Click Apply.MFD_7

Change the colors of three bars.MFD_8

Select all four bars and click on Rotate Right key once.MFD_9

Paste an identical set of bars. Click on the Horizontal mirror image key.MFD_10

Now let’s see what the fabric looks like in the repeatable pattern. MFD_11 Click on the Preview icon to view your repeatable pattern.MFD_12Pretty fun, wouldn’t you agree?

Now let’s add some text. Click on the T icon, select a font, type in a message. Size the text to fit and move it to the top center area. Extend half of the text off the blue square to so that it fills the blue diamond.  MFD_13

Click on Preview. MFD_14

Or move the text to the center of the crossed bars.MFD_15

Oh my, the fun you can have. And we haven’t even explored cheater quilts yet!  In a future post, I’ll show you how to make custom cheater quilts – think memory quilts, art quilts, ‘intricate’ blocks (that you never have to piece!) quilts!

The possibilities are endless, you can use sketches, scans, photographs, text and your own creativity to make fabric that you’ve been dreamed about. You can save your work and come back to it later.

To print the fabric, click on Send and you’re file will be exported to There you can choose from 26 substrates – quilting cottons, knits, polys, satins, silks, you name it, you’ll find it!   Your fabric will print, ship and arrive at your home in 10-14 days. Amazing!

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



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!

Get Quilting with My Quilt Planner

My Quilt Planner is Inspirations popular quilt layout software. It’s easy to use and loaded with 99 continuous line designs. You’ll find two short videos to give you an overview of how to use the software.

Click the image below to learn the basics for allover quilting.

The second video illustrates working with custom quilting for each block. Click on the image to view the video.


My Quilt PlannerMy Quilt Planner takes all the math out of designing a quilt layout and lets you get to the fun part of quilting quickly!

Batter Up!

It’s baseball season! Can’t you hear the swing of the bat and the ‘thwack’ when leather hits wood?  Smell the peanuts?  Even though I never played, I still think summer begins with the official opening of baseball season.

And maybe there’s somebody in your life who feels the same way. My new family members, my daughter’s new family, are baseball fanatics – they live for baseball! So when I was invited to a baby shower for the newest grandson, I couldn’t think of anything better than embroidered onesies and burp cloths.  Of course, I have to include a monogram because they already shared his name with the family. Modern times, eh?

My first thought was varsity type athletic letters. Easy to do, just a click of the mouse in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro.

Click on the Text tool and select the Fiction Applique font. Click Ok.BB1BL

Type the initials in the Properties Box.BB2BL

But I felt it could use a little more pizazz. So I added a baseball mood to the common athletic-type appliques. Select the run tool and draw a curved line across the left side of the first initial.BB3BL

Select the line and in the Properties Box on the Run tab, change the Type to Motif, Pattern 129. Add more curved lines to the letters.BB4ABL

Cute!  Now we have to move the baseball stitches behind the satin outlines.  Select the text, right click and select Break Up Text from the dropdown menu.BB5BL

Select the first applique (the text is now two appliques), right click and select Break Up Path from the dropdown menu.BB7BL

Now, arrange the colors in this order: placement guide, tackdown, baseball stitches and satin outline.FinalbbBL

How easy was that? Perfect Embroidery Pro provides all the tools you need for creativity.

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

Room for Improvement

Last week, I showed you how to how to draw a simple flower design in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro and turn it into a large applique quilt block. I ended the lesson with this comment: “I’ll stitch a sample before creating the whole block.”  Testing an applique design is the sure-fire way to beautiful quilt blocks.  But you can take some initial steps before stitching a sample in software. Start by critiquing parts of the design by asking yourself some basic questions about the design. Blk1

  1. Can the area where the right and left leaves meet be improved?
  2. Are the leaves elegant? By elegant, I mean do they flow naturally along a curve? I see an awkward spot (the stop/start point) on the bottom of the right leaves.
  3. The leaf ends (corners) look blunt.

These are easy steps to fix before stitching.

First, let’s change the stop/start point from the middle of the right leaf to the center (where the arrow is pointing).QB2Notes3

Now, select the leaf and change the Corner Type to Extended in the Properties Box.QB2

Finally, let’s reshape the curve to remove any unnatural bends. Select the Shape tool and adjust the points on the leaf.Blk2


The result is a much more pleasing to the eye. Now it’s time to head to the machine to stitch a sample. Next week, we take a close look at the stitched sample.Blk2A

6 Helpful Tips for Digitizing Continuous Line Designs

300Recently, I’ve been digitizing quilting designs – continuous line designs in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Continuous line designs present unique challenges to digitizers.

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.CL4BL

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.CL1BL

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.CL2BL

Or select a percentage from the drop down menu at the top tool bar.CL3BL

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.

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