Archive of ‘Software Techniques’ category

Volume 103 It Started with a Quilt Block – Signpost Lesson

It Started with a Quilt Block was featured in the March/April 2017 issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine. Since space is limited on the printed page, you’ll find the details for creating the quilt’s sign post.

Experiment by using your favorite quote or saying for your own signpost.  Dime’s Patch Attach was used to fuse the final sample to the quilt.

Inspirations’ Word Art in Stitches and Perfect Embroidery Pro software programs pack a powerful punch when you have both installed on your computer.  If you do, the Word Art in Stitches features are available WITHIN the Perfect Embroidery Pro software. You don’t have to open both software programs!  Duplicate these steps to create your signpost.


Step 1.  Make the Frame
Open Perfect Embroidery Pro.  On the right side of the screen, click on the Bubble Text icon from Word Art in Stitches.

The window below will open.  Click on the three dots to view the catalog.

Click on Objects / Borders.  Select Borders-10.

Do not type any text in the Words field.  Don’t worry about the size.  The size will be adjusted later.  Click OK.

The frame will appear on the screen.

Select the frame.  Click on the Transform tab on the right side of the screen.  Make sure the “Maintain aspect ratio” button is selected.  Change the frame size to 5 inches  Click OK.

 

With the frame still selected, right click and select Convert To / Applique

In the Properties – Applique box, select “Change Colors.”  Click Apply to update the design.

Repeat Step 1 to add a second frame inside the outer frame. I made the inside frame 4.4” x 3.15”.

Once you’ve completed the inner frame, your design should look similar to the image below.

Change the color of the second frame (any color) to make it easier to maneuver.

Step 2.  Express yourself with a fun message!

Select the Text icon at the top toolbar.

Type:

“Let your” <press Enter key>

“ideas take” <press Enter key>

“shape!” <press Enter key>

Select the Arial font.  Resize to:  3.5” width.  Change the Line spacing to 100 percent.  This will add space between each row of text.  Click Apply when finished.

Center the text on the frame.

I wanted to add emphasis to the words “ideas” and “shape” by using a different thread color.  I can stop the machine before it stitches those words.  Then switch the thread color. But that’s a hassle and I’m easily distracted.  Or I can use the “Break Up Text” feature. Breaking up the text transforms the text data into stitches. All editing will then be done on each individual stitch (or letter if you group them) instead of the entire text word or phrase. It’s best to edit the text (envelopes, spacing, etc) before applying Break Up Text.   Note: It’s wise to save the design in its original version before applying Break Up Text.   Make your changes and save the new version under a new name.

Select the text.  Right click.  Select Break Up Text.

Each letter is a design – not text.

Select the appropriate letters for “ideas” and “shape!”

At the bottom of the screen, right click to add another thread color.

Right click on the Yellow to make the selection yellow.

Your design will look similar to the sample below.  Don’t worry about the colors – you have the freedom to select any thread colors once you’re at the machine.  😉

Double check the stitching sequence is correct.  Save the design and send to the embroidery machine.


Step 3.  Stitching the Sign

Hoop Water Soluble Stabilizer in a 5” x 7” hoop.  Stitch the first thread color—the placement stitch.  Place the wood grain fabric down.  Stitch Color 2, the tack down stitch.  Remove the hoop but do not unhoop the project.  Trim the excess fabric.

Return the hoop to the embroidery machine.  Stitch Color 3, the satin stitching around the outer frame.  Stitch Color 4, the placement stitch for the inner frame.

Continue the process to stitch the inner frame.

The finished sign should look similar to the sample:

Trim away the water soluble stabilizer leaving about a quarter inch all the way around the design.  Soak the design until the water soluble stabilizer dissolves.  Let the frame dry completely.  Iron the frame flat.

Audition the sign on your quilt.  Measure the distance to the grass to determine how long a strip to make for the signpost.  I cut my signpost 6 1/2″ tall by 1 inch wide.  I folded the fabric 1/4″ lengthwise on both sides to create a clean edge.  I ironed it flat for perfect creases.

I ironed Patch Attach permanent adhesive to the sign and the post then I ironed them on to the quilt.


Additional Ideas:

  • Use this method to add labels to the back of your quilt.
  • Word Art in Stitches has a variety of shapes – not just frames.  Experiment with animal shapes, food or people!  

Double or Triple Your Library of Embroidery Designs

Don’t you hate it when you feel frustrated with a design? It’s not tall enough, or curved enough or skinny enough to fit in a certain shape?  (Yikes, sounds like we’re shopping for bathing suits!)  Back to the subject at hand.  When you have a design that won’t fit into the space you need to fill, that’s where software comes in.  Even if you don’t digitize, you can most certainly manipulate designs to get the look you need. All you need is embroidery software with robust editing features.

I use Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro for 90% of the embroidery digitizing and editing I do every day.   Recently, I wanted to place a delicate design along the neckline of a onesie. That’s a small area and because it’s so small, its curve is quite defined.   I selected a design from Perfect Embroidery Pro’s Monogram catalog. If you’d like to follow along, here’s how to do it. Click on the Monogram catalog.

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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.11Isn’t that fun? With a bit of experimentation, you can transform any design into a new shape.  You can double or triple your stash with just a few clicks.

Design Bigger than Your Hoop? Split it!

Serious machine embroiderers never let hoop size hold them back. When they think big, they stitch big. But that doesn’t mean they have to have a big hoop. No, they just need the right software and some handy notions (okay, the notions are optional but really helpful!) to get the job done.  Here’s how to do it.

Select a large design. My sample is the letter M from http://www.EmbroideryArts.com, Arabesque 9 XL.  I enlarged the design to a height of 262 mm – a whopping 10.31” in Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro. Now that it’s so big, it won’t fit in my largest hoop.  But Perfect Embroidery Pro has a great splitting feature. Open the design in Perfect Embroidery Pro. Click on the Split Design icon. 

The Split Design screen appears. Click on the arrow in the Hoop field and select your largest hoop.  I entered 200 x 300. 

The preview screen shows two hoopings: 1:1 and 2:1. 

Click in either hooping to move the split. Toggle between the first and second hooping to view each individually.  Look for a natural break in the stitches. for instance, I would avoid splitting the column of satin stitches.  It’s better to have one leg of satin stitches in one hooping, and the second leg in the second hooping. Once you’re satisfied with the split, click Save and the software will save the design into two separate files. Print a template of each design and send the designs to your machine.

Place the templates on the left side of fabric (allowing room for the second hooping).  Slide a target sticker under template Hoop 1:1 and align the target sticker’s and template’s crosshairs.  Remove the template. Hoop the fabric with tear-away stabilizer, centering the target sticker.

Stitch the first design: Hoop 1:1. The last color is a vertical basting line (placement line) which will align with the second hooping. Stitch the line in a contrasting color to make alignment easy. 

Remove from the hoop.  Hoop another piece of tear-away stabilizer. Stitch color 1, the placement line, of Hoop 2:1 on the hooped stabilizer. Remove the hoop from the machine. 

Place the hoop under PAL, Perfect Alignment Laser, aligning the stitched placement line with PAL2’s beam.  

Spray the wrong side of the embroidered fabric with temporary adhesive.  Slide the embroidered fabric under the beam aligning the stitched placement line with PAL2. Finger press the fabric to the stabilizer. 

Attach the hoop to the machine and restitch color 1 to verify the design is aligned. 

Stitch the remainder of design Hoop 2:1. Wasn’t that easy?  I often approach splitting designs with a bit of intimidation but I’ve learned if I take my time and pay attention to the details (like aligning the fabric with the laser crosshair), the results come out as planned.Splitting designs is very rewarding – people will think you’re an embroidery rock star!

Mega Monograms

Mega Monograms by Eileen Roche

On the cover of the January/February 2017 issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine, mega monograms were shown.  The monograms are huge – 8″ tall – and are complex fill letters.  They were created in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro are the magazine included the step-by-step directions for some of the pillows. Recently, I had a reader ask how to transform the letter B into complex fill.

Here’s how. First, select the Text tool and type in the letter.  Enlarge the letter to the size you want, my sample is 8″ tall.  Select the Run tool and trace the outside of the letter B.Trace around each opening.

Select all three lines and click on Combine.

Select the letter, right mouse click, and select Convert to Complex Fill from the drop down menu.Once the letter is converted, you can add a border. Select all three elements and click on the Combine tool. Now the letter is filled.

Select the letter, right mouse click and Add a Border.You can change the border to Steil for a crisp outline on the letter.  If you’re wondering why we didn’t add an outline, here’s why:

Advanced Tutorial for Perfect Embroidery Pro

My good friend, Katherine Artines, recently posted a new video tutorial on the Inspired by Dime YouTube channel.  Katherine’s topic, Push/Pull: Distortion and Compensation, is an advanced discussion of this often misunderstood embroidery feature. If you’ve wondered why what you see on screen does not match your stitched sample, then you’ll really enjoy Katherine’s breakdown of Push/Pull.

She starts with a clear explanation of exactly what push/pull is.

She then goes on to explain the difference between stitch direction and sewing direction and how they affect the end result.  The stitch direction is the angle of stitches while sewing direction is where the needle starts, the direction it travels in and where it finishes.

We learn how size actually does matter on how a design will stitch. Of course, she doesn’t just point out the problems, she gives you solutions.  Each issue is clearly illustrated so you can follow along.

And she critiques stitched designs to show you the problem and gives you the solution.

She brings this same methodical approach to lettering.  Many of us are perplexed about the baseline of text.  Listen to her explanation and you know why the screen shows one thing and the stitch out another.

Don’t you hate when you digitize a complex fill area and spot a row of missing stitches? Ugh!  Katherine explains why this happens (yep, push and pull) and how to fix it.

I encourage you to spend an hour (or break it up into shorter segments) watching Katherine’s video. Your digitizing skills will improve!  I hope you’re already a subscriber to our YouTube channel, if not, sign up today and you’ll never miss a new opportunity to learn more about embroidery.

What are Your Favorite Shortcuts?

As user-friendly as the Inspirations line of software is with all its intuitive icons, it’s still handy to use keyboard shortcuts for repetitive tasks.  I’m sure you’re familiar with Select All (CTrl+A), Copy (Ctrl+C) and Paste (Ctrl_V) but now you’ll find a few more shortcuts with the November 2016 update.  There are four new shortcuts in the Order task menu. shortcut1bl

How about when you want to move a design just a tiny bit?  Select a design (or portion of the design) and use the arrows keys on the keyboard to move the design/element in .10 of a millimeter or .01 of an inch. Now that’s fine tuning!

Want to access the redraw window quickly?  Just hit Ctrl+R and the redraw window appears.

Open a new window?  Hit Crtl+N and a new window appears.

Ctrl+S will automatically save your work.  If you want to save it as a different version, go to File, Save As.

Ctrl+Z will Undo the last task while Crtl+Y will Redo the last task.

How about quick alignment shortcuts?  Shift+left arrow aligns the elements at the left.  Shift+right arrow aligns at the right.  Shift+up arrow aligns at the top and Shift+down arrow aligns at the bottom. Shift+C aligns the horizontal and center axis.

But wait, there’s more!  Digitizing shortcuts abound in Inspirations software.  A simple key stroke of a number key on the keyboard selects a powerful tool.short2blshort3bl

I’ll bet I missed a couple.  Did I? Do you have a favorite that you use all the time?  Let us know – we’re always learning here on Software Saturday!

Updates Coming Your Way

The November 2016 updates for Perfect Embroidery Pro (and all other Inspirations’ software programs) will go live on November 7, 2016. There are many exciting updates to make your digitizing experience more efficient.  When you open your software on Nov. 7, you’ll be notified of the new update.  Follow the prompts to bring your software up to date.

 

The application by default creates outlines after reading a stitch file. This is an option now in File open dialog.update1bl

Tools – General options – Grid. Change the view order of the grid and guidelines to show them in front of the design.update2bl

The application shows different marks for curves and corners now: a square for corners and a circle for curves.update3bl

The auto Outline Close in complex fill, or when pressing ‘C’ in input mode for runs, etc, depends on the first point type now If the first point is a curve it creates a curve; previously the close was a straight line.update4bl

The Spiral feature has been added to Text.  Right Click on the word to select. update5bl

Tools – General options – Digitizing. Option for the default point type in Simple Draw mode; it can be either corner or curve.update6bl

Tools – General options – View. Option to auto close zoom and pan tools.update7bl

Bring Forward, Send Backward options have been added with handy shortcuts (same as in Adobe Illustrator). update8bl

Next week, we’ll review more updates so you’ll know what to expect on Nov. 7th.

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: http://dzgns.com/blog/?s=add+fabric )

 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 http://www.MyFabricDesigns.com 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!

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