Archive of ‘Software Techniques’ category

Digitizing for Metallic Threads

Last week, I provided some tips on digitizing for metallic thread.  Reader Janis O’Connor asked for some clarification on how to stitch the underlay of a complex fill in polyester thread and finish the decorative layer of the fill with metallic. There may be a better way to do this but this is how I do it. Let’s walk through the process. Draw a hexagon with the artwork tool. Select the design, right click and convert to Complex Fill.

Click on the Redraw tool, and notice the underlay that’s automatically added to the complex fill. Below is a screen capture of the underlay only.

Of course, in Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro, you have control over the type and density of the underlay.  Click on the Underlay tab in the Properties Box and note the underlay is Perpendicular with a density of 3.0.  Remove the underlay by clicking on the check mark next to Perpendicular. Click Apply.

Now, select the hexagon, copy and paste it.  Change the color of the first hexagon to pink, this will serve as the underlay.  Select the pink hexagon.  The Fill tab will be open in the Properties Box.  Change the density to 3. Click Apply.

The pink hexagon is the same density as the original underlay but the stitches are traveling in the same direction of the blue hexagon.

Change that by selecting the Shape tool and moving the black circles to the opposite sides of the hexagon. 

Now the underlay will be perpendicular to the complex fill providing a stronger foundation.

Small changes to run stitches and satin columns help light reflect off the metallic thread resulting in eye-catching sparkle. Lengthen short running stitches to provide more metallic surface.  Just change the stitch length in the Properties Box to 2.8 or even longer.

Add curvy edges to satin columns. Use the shape tool to move the nodes on each side of the column.  If your column doesn’t have a node, place the cursor where you want to add one, right click and Add Point.

The image below shows an exaggerated example as just a little movement can make big changes in a metallic design. 

So go ahead, add a little sparkle to your stitches!

Celebration Quilt

Celebration Quilt – Sashing Instructions

We’re wrapping up the Block of the Month series from the Volume 118, September/October issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery.

Download the files for the sashing here: Celebration Quilt Sashing

Horizontal Sashing Units

Piece four cornerstones to three sashing strips.  Make five horizontal sashing units.  Set aside.

Block Units

Piece four sashing strips to the sides of three blocks as shown.  Repeat for four rows.

Piece one block unit to one horizontal sashing unit.

Add another block unit to the pieced block/horizontal sashing unit, matching the seams of the cornerstones to the blocks.

Continue piecing the quilt.

Add the borders.  Press the quilt. 

Quilting with a Sewing Machine

Cut the batting and backing 41” x 50”.  Place the backing on a flat surface, wrong side up.  Center the batting on top.

Center the quilt top on the batting. Pin baste the quilt.  Stitch in the ditch around all blocks with the sewing machine.  Use a decorative stitch such as a serpentine stitch to quilt the borders.

Quilting with an Embroidery Machine

Download the sashing and cornerstone designs from the blog (http://www.dzgns.com/blog). Hoop each sashing and cornerstone

Trim the excess backing and batting.  Bind.

Patches!!!

Once you make a monogram patch, you’ll know why patches are #8 on my 2019 Holiday gift-making list!  It’s so easy in Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Open a new file in Perfect Embroidery Pro. Select the artwork tool and the Ellipse.

Hold the Ctrl key down on the keyboard and drag the cursor across the screen to create a perfect circle. Size the circle to 2.25″ for left chest embroidery.  Select the circle, right click and select Convert to Applique.

Select the Text Tool. Type the three-letter monogram in the Properties Box and select the Circle Monogram from the list of fonts. Size the monogram to fill the 2.25″ circle. Change the color of the monogram if you don’t want it to stitch in the same color as the applique outline.

Save the design in the appropriate format and stitch it on the heavy-duty water soluble found in the Patch Maker Kit (special offer this week!).  Then follow the instructions in the Patch Maker Kit to permanently attach the patch.  Watch last week’s Facebook Live video to learn more.  You’ll find tips on using patches on slippers, shoes, down jackets, children’s wear and more!

Resizing Tip

The Lace Charm collection features 34 small designs  – all under 2” – perfect for adding small enhancements to jewelry, purses, zipper pulls and the like.  Depending on how you intend to use them, you may want to resize the mini designs. No worries, all Inspirations’ software can handle resizing because stitches are recalculated when enlarged and reduced.  If you’re not familiar with the term recalculate, it means stitches are added when a design is enlarged and removed when a design is made smaller.

But sometimes, you want to use caution when resizing. For instance, the Fringe Earring design – the first of my top 10 Holiday gifts to make for 2019 – looks very cool as large, dangling earrings.  One of our Inspiration dealers, Jill Esber from A Scarlett Thread in McDonough, GA, bumped up the volume on her fringe earrings.  She enlarged it right at the machine (Baby Lock Solaris) and loved the results.  She did confess that the eyelet ‘collapsed’ when resized but she was able to force the fish hook earring into the eyelet.  But they look great, wouldn’t you agree?

If you want more control over the sizing, use software. Open the Fringe Earring design in Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro or My Lace Maker software.  Copy and paste the design. Resize the repeat to 2.5” in height. Notice how large the eyelet is now.  Any earring finding will slip right off the eyelet.

When you measure the eyelets, you’ll find the eyelet has almost doubled in size.

No worries, just resize everything but the eyelet.  In the color sequence window, select the three elements below the eyelet.  Change the size to 2.25”.

Group the three elements into one group (right click, Group). Move the eyelet back in position.  Select all, Align Horizontal.

Now you can bump up the volume without worrying about losing your earring.

30-Second Satin Frame

In Inspiration’s software (Perfect Embroidery Pro, My Quilt Embellisher and more) there’s a speedy method to transform a shape into a satin frame. Follow along in your software.

Select the Star from the Artwork tool menu.

Drag the cursor across the screen to draw the star.  It’s a natural step to select the star, right click and select Convert to Satin.  But here’s what happens when you do that:

The satin stitches fill the star instead of outlining the star.  Definitely not the result we wanted. It’s easy to start over. Just  click on the Undo key. Select the star, right click and select Create Outline. The default setting .08”, that’s fine for this exercise. Click OK.

The points of the outline are squared off so let’s remove a stitch point from each leg of the star to create sharp points.  Select the Shape tool, click on a point, right click and Delete Point.

Select both stars, click on the Combine tool (the paper clip).

Select the star (it’s one unit now), right mouse click and select Convert to Satin.

There’s your frame!  It’s so easy, give it a try.

Block of the Month – Block 12

Block 12 – Star Block Instructions

We’re up to Block 12 in the Block of the Month series from the July/August issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery.  You’ll find everything you need for Block 12, video instructions, step-by-step instructions and all download files.  Enjoy!

If you prefer watching the video directly on YouTube, click here.

Download the files for block ten here: Block 12

Materials Needed – for 1 block

Base Block 9” square – muslin or No Show Mesh

Back Block – 9” square

Front – all cut parts from MBP

Warm and Natural or White Batting – 7 7/8” square

Block 12

1 – Back Block

2 – Bottom Base Muslin

3 – Top Base No Show Mesh

4 – Batting

5 – Background

6 – Corner

7 – Star Points

LOADING THE MONSTER BLOCK MAKER

Follow the directions included with the purchase of Monster Block Maker to apply the Maker to a 200mm x 200mm Baby Lock/Brother Snap Hoop Monster.

 

Place the muslin flat on the work surface. Center the Monster Block Maker on the muslin.

Insert the batting into the opening of
the Maker. Place the Top base No Show Mesh over the batting.

 

Working from the center out, firmly
press the No Show Mesh (top) and muslin (bottom) onto the adhesive tape on
 the edges of the Maker.

 

Attach the hoop to the machine.

 

STITCHING THE BLOCK

Stitch color #1, the block layout.  Place glue at fabric #1 as shown in blue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place fabric #1, right side up,
aligning the fabric edge with the stitched outline. Stitch color #2, the
tackdown. Place glue at the seam for fabric #2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place fabric #2, right side down, aligning the raw edges and stitch color #3, the seam.  Place glue at fabric #2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flip fabric #2 open and finger press
the seam. Smooth the fabric and stitch color #4, the tackdown. Place glue at
the seam for fabric #3.

 

 

Place fabric #3, right side down, and
stitch color #5, the seam. Place glue at fabric #3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flip fabric #3 open and finger press
the seam.  Smooth the fabric and stitch color #6, the tackdown. Place glue at the seam of fabric #4.

 

 

 

 

 

Place fabric #4, right side down, and
stitch color #7, the seam. Place glue at fabric #4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flip fabric #4 open and finger press
the seam. Smooth the fabric and stitch color #8, the tackdown. Place glue at
the seam for fabric #5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place fabric #5, right side down, and
stitch color #9. Place glue at fabric #5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flip open fabric #5 and finger press
the seam. Smooth the fabric and stitch color #10. Place glue at the seam for
fabric #6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place fabric #6, right side down, and
stitch color #11. Place glue at fabric #6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flip open fabric #6 and finger press
the seam. Smooth the fabric and stitch color #12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLOCK EMBELLISHMENT

Stitch colors #14, 15 and 16 – the
embellishments

Congratulations, your Star Block is complete!

 

 

 

Splitting Designs

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. 

I added the bold yellow line to the photograph to make the stitched line more visible. In reality, a single line of running stitches is underneath the drawn yellow line.

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!

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?

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