Archive of ‘Software Techniques’ category

Lettering Like the Pros

If you want to get lettering like the pros, you need software that gives you multiple font options, the ability to kern letters, change line spacing, density and column widths.  Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro most certainly answers that call.

But if you want to put a stylized effect on your lettering with just a few clicks and instead of getting a master’s degree in digitizing (oh, I wish there was such a thing!), then Inspirations Word Art in Stitches is your answer.

Let’s look at the popular golf brand, Titleist.  Their logo is a simple, classy script but it’s enhanced by the addition of embroidery foam under the stitches.  If you visit their website, you’ll notice how all of Titleist’s catalog images are shot from an angle to highlight the dimension of the embroidered logo.  That adds serious wow factor to a traditional cap and sport!

In Word Art & Stitches, dimensional text is just a click away.  Whatch how easy it is. Select the Puffy text tool.

Type the word in the message box and boom – there’s your dimensional text.

This is such a popular technique that we teach it in our Stitch Lab events and everyone masters puffy text on their first try.

After teaching how to make it in the software, students learn how to stabilize and stitch the lettering on a pet bandana.  Everyone of those pet bandanas are sent to a local animal shelter.  Talk about a win-win!  Students learn and the shelter gains a customized bandana for their adoption days.

Check the calendar at  to see if a Stitch Lab is coming to your area.  You can fill out the form on that page to be notified when one is coming up in your region.  Hope to see you there!




Satin Frames in Seconds

A simple way to transform a shape into a satin frame in Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro is to use the Create Outline tool.

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:


The satin stitches fill the star instead of outlining the star. 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.


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


Make Sketch Fonts

Spotted on garments, chalkboards, wood signs and even glassware, open, airy fonts are the rage. It’s easy to get the same look if you have Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Follow along and you’ll be stitching this look in no time.

Open a new screen in Perfect Embroidery Pro (PEP).  Go to File, Import TT (True Type Fonts).

Select a script font from any true type font installed on your computer. Write the message in the text field and place 500 in the size field. Click OK.

The text appears on the screen.  To produce the best stitch file, meld the connecting elements.  Select the o and v, right click, Shaping and Meld.

See how the o and v are one continuous line and do not overlap like the v and the e? 

That’s the looks you’re going for.  At this time, the ov is one unit and the e is a separate element.

Select the ov and e, right click, Shaping and Meld.

Select all, right click, Convert to Complex Fill.

With Love selected, change the Fill Type in the Properties Box to Contour. Click Apply.  Change the density to 1.0 and the stitch length to 2.6. And there’s your sketchy font!

I just learned this trick from one of our education consultants, Tina Bartelmay.  Tina is an embroidery whiz – she uses PEP everyday – evident in her awesome samples!  Catch her at upcoming DIME event at a dealer near you.  Click here to learn more about Tina.

Thanks for sharing this great tip, Tina!

My Block Piecer Block of the Month: Block 7 – 9 Patch Star Software Instructions

  1. My Block Piecer
    Block of the Month : Block 7 – 9 Patch 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 7.

Let’s continue the journey of learning and creativity!

    1. Open MBP.
    2. Click on Create a New Design.

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Click on the Block Icon.
      1. Enter 9_Patch_Star 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Click on the Reorder icon.
      1. Number the patches in the block. Look at the diagram below for the numbering sequence.NOTE: Also notice that the first row is numbered from left to right and the second from right to left. This was done so the seams will nest when sewn together. Third row is same as the first with only colors in different positions so it does not need to be numbered.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.
    6. Click on the Select icon and draw a box around patches 1 through 4 (top row).
    7. Click on the Workflow icon.
      1. Select a 200mm x 200 mm hoop or similar for your machine.
      2. Click the Auto Build button. If the right window looks like this, the block was created with one unit, go to Step 8.
      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.
      5. Right Click and Group.
      6. Holding down the CTRL Key, Click on unit and 3.
      7. Right click and group.
    8. Click Preview.
    9. Click Save.
      1. Click on Create a New Folder icon and name it Block 7.
      2. Double Click on the folder to open it.
      3. In the File name box enter 9_Patch_StarA.
      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. 9_Patch_StarA_001.c2s.
        2. 9_Patch_StarA _artwork.c2s.
        3. 9_Patch_StarA _preview.pdf.
      7. Close the file window.
      8. Close the Save window.
    10. Click on the Select icon and draw a box around the middle row.
    11. Click on the Workflow icon.
      1. The numbers have been changed to 1-5.
      2. Select a 200mm x 200 mm hoop or similar for your machine.
      3. Click the Auto Build button. If there is only one unit, go to Step 12.
      4. Right Click in the window on the right side and Click Reset.
      5. Holding down the CTRL Key, Click on the 1 and 2.
      6. Right Click and Group.
      7. Holding down the CTRL Key, Click on unit and 3.
      8. Right click and group.
      9. Holding down the CTRL Key, Click on unit and 4.
      10. Right click and group.
    12. Click Preview.
    13. Click Save.
      1. In the File name box enter 9_Patch_StarB.
      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. 9_Patch_StarB_001.c2s.
        2. 9_Patch_StarB _artwork.c2s.
        3. 9_Patch_StarB _preview.pdf.
      5. Close the file window.
      6. Close the Save window.
    14. Click the Select icon and draw a box around the entire block, OR Enter CTRL-A to select all of the block.
    15. 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”. When using digital cutters, add a 4 in the repeat box if making four blocks for the large quilt.
      3. Can Unclick Optimize Orientation if using a directional fabric (This will optimize how the pieces file on the paper.
      4. Click Apply.
      5. Select the appropriate format for your cutting method and Click Save.
        1. In File name enter 9_Patch_Star Templates.
        2. Click Save.
        3. The Following Files have been created.
          1. 9_Patch_Star templates.pdf
          2. 9_Patch_Star templates_preview.pdf.
      6. Close the files window.
      7. Close the Cutter window.
    16. Click on New Design.Note: When using the Merge to open a file, SAVE is actually a SAVE AS and the original file is not overwritten.Note: If desired the embroideries can be saved in a specific format individually or they can be combined into one file.OPTION 1: Save each design individually.
    17. Click on the Hoop Icon and select 200mm x 260mmhoop or similar.
    18. For each of the two embroideries, Click File, Merge.
      1. Locate the file 9_Patch_StarA.c2s or 9_Patch_StarB.
      2. To open Double Click on the name OR Click on the name and Click Open.
      3. Click Save.
      4. In the Name field, Enter 9_Patch_StarA OR Star_B.
      5. In the Save as type select the format for your machine.
      6. Save.
      7. Go to Step 24.

OPTION 2: Save entire block in one hoop.

  1. Click on the Hoop icon and select a Hoop size to 200mmx260mm or similar size.
  2. Click File, Merge.
    1. Locate the file 9_Patch_StarA.c2s.
    2. To open Double Click on the name OR Click on the name and Click Open.
    3. Move it to the top part of the hoop.
    4. Copy, Paste.
    5. Move embroidery to the bottom part of the hoop.
  3. Click File, Merge.
    1. Locate the file 9_Patch_StarB.c2s.
    2. Move to center of hoop.
  4. To save time at the machine, stitch all placement guides in the first color.
    1. Select all.
    2. Ungroup.
    3. In the Sequence window move each of the other two placement stitches below the first one.
  5. Click Save.
    1. In the Name Field enter 9_Patch_Star.
    2. In Save as Type select the format for your specific machine.
    3. Click Save.
  6. Print the templates, or prepare your fabric and send the templates to your cutter.
  7. Load the design/designs into your machine create the 3 pieces for the block. Remembering on the bottom to reverse the two triangles.
  8. Sew the 3 sections together manually to complete the block.




Not an Artist? Not a Problem!

You don’t have to be an artist to digitize embroidery designs, the tools are right at your fingertips in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro. Familiarize yourself with the art tools and your creativity will soar.  Let’s take a look.

Click on the Artwork tool and select the heart.  Drag the cursor across the screen to draw a heart.  Use the pen tool to draw a quarter section of the heart.

Select the small shape, right click and select Convert to Complex Fill. 

Do the same for the remaining portion of the heart.  Select the run tool and draw a straight horizontal line across the top of heart.  On my heart, it’s about 1” long.

In the Properties box, select Symbol from the Type menu.  Scroll down the menu to find the star.   Click OK. 

The line will now be a series of connected stars.  Copy and paste the line to fill the blue area.

When drawing stripes, rely on the art tools to make uniform stripes.  Select the Rectangle from the art tools and draw a rectangle over the right half of the heart.

Copy past and change the color of the second rectangle.  Continue to copy and paste the rectangles to fill the heart, placing each rectangle next to each other.  This will create even stripes with equal spaces between them.

Convert every other rectangle to complex fill. Remove the rectangles that marked the open spaces.  Use the Shape tool to move the end points of the rectangles to align with the outer edges of the heart.


Select the white stripes, right click, select Utility, Remove Overlaps.  Add a border and convert it to Steil to complete the design. Change the gold stars to white.  Save the design as Patriotic Heart and use it to embellish your 4th of July picnic linens.


6 Tips for Digitizing Continuous Line Designs

Have you tried your hand at digitizing quilting designs, continuous line designs? Follow these 6 tips to create your own quilting designs

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 the pathing is intuitive. Other times, you’ll have to make several attempts at creating streamlined pathing.

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

If you’re using a mouse, just push the wheel away from you to zoom in.  Do this while holding down the CTRL key and the magnified area will focus on the location of the cursor, not the center of the screen. That’s a huge time saver!

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.

Water Soluble Stabilizer Substitute

Colleen Bell’s gorgeous quilt in the most recent of Designs in Machine Embroidery (Vol. 110, May/June 2018) was made with Shannon Fabrics’ Cuddle.  Wrapping yourself in a Cuddle quilt is like submersing yourself in a teddy bear hug.  Its fibers are luxurious and irresistible to the touch. 

Those luscious fibers can make embroidering on it a challenge. The fibers want to work their way through the embroidery stitches leaving your embroidery looking lackluster. Colleen’s traditional method of taming the fibers was to add a layer of water soluble stabilizer on top of the Cuddle before adding the embroidery.  Colleen is an embroidery whiz – she knows what stabilizer to use when and what hoop is best for the job as seen in this photo. 

Her water soluble stabilizer covers the whole design area and is easily removed by just tearing it away after the embroidery is applied.  Her Snap Hoop Monster won’t leave any hoop burn on the tender Cuddle fabric.  This approach is tried and true but what if you don’t have a supply of water soluble stabilizer on hand?

Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro has the solution with one of its most popular features – Nap Blocker.  In just a few clicks you can add a light density fill BEHIND the design that will permanently hold down the fibers. Here’s how you do it.

Open your embroidery design in Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Colleen used Urban Threads UT17449, Floral Arrow. 

Select the design, right click, select Utility, Create Nap Blocker.

The Nap Blocker, a light density complex fill, is now listed as the first element of color 1. 

Select the complex fill and change its color to match the color of the fabric.  This is crucial as you want the complex fill to disappear behind the embroidery.  

Just hoop your fabric, stitch the first color in thread that matches the fabric and complete the design.  No need to tear or wash away a topper!  Love that feature!

What’s your favorite feature in PEP?

Using Stitched Snapshots Plus: Part 2

This is the second in a series of three Software Saturdays that will highlight the features of Stitched Snapshots Plus.  If you missed Part 1, click here to read Dalene McDonald’s post on converting photos to stitches.

  • You can follow along by downloading a fully functioning version of the software (with the exception that you cannot save).  Click here to download the software.
  • Ready to purchase?  Visit an Inspirations Dealer to purchase Stitched Snapshots Plus.
  • Learn more about the Stitched Snapshots Plus features by clicking here.

Some readers have been wondering about the differences between Stitched Snapshots and Stitched Snapshots Plus.  The Plus version includes 35+ built-in frames to enhance your creations.

For this week’s software lesson, we’ve asked Inspiration’s Education Consultant Lisa Knight to share her tips for converting clip art to stitches.

Clip Art to Stitches
By Lisa Knight

It’s a snap to create photos into stitches with the new and improved “Stitched Snapshots Plus” by dime.  This fun and innovative program transforms photos into beautiful stitches. You can convert everything from a portrait of a family member, a beautiful sunset, a favorite car or wildlife. The better the contrast, the better the outcome.  I have had a lot of fun playing and experimenting with this program.

I discovered Stitched Snapshots Plus is not just for photos.  You can take clip art images and convert them into stitches, with some really interesting results.  There are many different options that you can use when playing with this technique.

When you open the program, the My Inspiration Today screen appears. Left click on “Create a New Design.”

You can find clip art online by searching for copyright-free clip art.  You’ll be amazed at how many resources you will find.  You may also have an extensive library of images in your own stash.

As with embroidery designs, I find it’s helpful to create a folder for my clip art.  I save all my clip art together in that folder.

Left click on the backdrop icon located on the left toolbar.  Locate the folder where your clip art is stored, and select the clip art you want to use and click on Open.

The clip art will appear on your design page.

Now is the appropriate time to size the image to accommodate your embroidery project and your embroidery machine’s capabilities.  Note the Properties box on the right side of the workspace.    Adjust the size by entering new dimensions.

Next, convert the clip art to stitches.  Click on the Stitched Snapshots icon in the top toolbar as shown in the image below.

A new window appears with multiple options. The example we are using has two colors– make the adjustment in the Max colors field. You can also raise and lower the brightness and contrast levels. Decide whether you would like the overall design in the stippling or hatching effect.

To preview the effects of your choices, click on “show/hide preview”.

This example is with the Stippling selected.

This example is with the Hatching selected.

For this example, I have chosen Stippling, I have selected the realistic view located on the left hand tool bar to preview the design in stitches.

Now it’s time to play!  Go into your thread library located at the bottom of your design page.   When you left click on any one of these tiles you will open up the library.  Choose different colors to get a feel for the different ways this design could appear.

Highlight the tile that you want to change then select the new color.  Click Ok.   The tile will change to the new color you chose.  Repeat the process as needed.  Note, the changes you make will also change the design.

There are tons of different thread libraries to choose from all you need to do is left click on the drop down menu to find and choose the brand you are looking for.

For my examples I chose Ballet Pink for the main area of the bow and Pink Sorbet for the outline and accents.

Now we can play a little further by ungrouping.  Click on the Ungroup icon on the top toolbar.

Once the design is ungrouped you can isolate parts of the design by working in the Sequence window on the right side of the workspace.

Close the eye by clicking on it to temporarily hide that section. This will let you see what the design looks like without that element in it.  To permanently remove, you must delete that part of the design before saving to stitch.

The first example has the first thread color, Ballet Pink, “hidden”.  To hide the color, click on the eye. 

The result is a fun little bow outline.

The second example has the second color, Pink Sorbet, “hidden”.  To hide the color, click on the eye. 

The result is just a view of the solid fill area of the bow.

These are just a few examples of ways you can play with Clipart and Stitched Snapshots Plus.  I know that you will think of many creative applications!


Hidden Treasure

Buried in the Properties Box in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro is Projection. A hidden and often forgotten treasure, Projection takes a simple shape and transforms it into a hoop full of beautiful stitches.  When Projection was introduced as a new feature in a free update in June 2017, most of us looked at it as something fun to incorporate into open airy designs, like this butterfly.

But let me show you what it can do with a simple geometric shape like the diamond. Click on the Run stitch tool and select the Art tool. Select Diamond from the drop down menu. Drag the cursor to draw a 1″ x 1.25″ diamond.

In the Properties Box on the Run tab, select Projection from the Type field. 

The diamond is filled with smaller diamonds, the default setting is 3.0 stitch length and 1.5 Density.  That’s a too many repeats for me so I’ll decrease the density.

Change the stitch length to 2.4 and the Density to 5.0.

Select the diamond and click on the Carousel tool.  Select Reflect.

In the preview window, type 2 in the repeat field and click Apply.

The hoop is filled with the diamond repeats. 

Select the diamonds, go to to Edit, Optimize Sequence.  Click on Slow Redraw to watch the design stitch seamlessly from diamond to diamond. 

I can’t wait to stitch this in some specialty threads. First, I’ll use KingStar Metallic and then I’ll stitch a second sample in Medley variegated thread.  After I see those samples, I’ll copy and paste the diamonds to fill the open areas.  Oh my, so many possibilities! There are so many hidden treasure in your software!

Design the Block, then the Quilt

Quilt blocks don’t stand alone so when designing the quilting for a block, remember the block is just part of a whole.  Use digital tools to duplicate the blocks so you can envision the whole quilt.

Open a new screen in My Quilt Embellisher.  Click on the Block icon and select Curved Blocks/Curved Blocks-Misc/ Hands All Around.  


The block appears on the screen. 

When designing the quilting for one block, it’s important to imagine what it will look like when multiple blocks are pieced together.  

Work on the individual block first.  Then copy your finished work to see the whole quilt. I used the Contour feature to fill the diamonds in each corner. 

The Texture tool (#144) added the pebbles in each curved patch. 

Stipple (Hilbert) filled the remaining areas. 

When I looked at the whole block, I was pleased. 

After changing the color of the stippling, I felt the shape in the center was lacking interest. 

I used the Contour tool again to create a focal point in the enter of the block. 

When viewed in a traditional layout, the quilting is quite appealing. 

The next step is to view the stitching in redraw and make any necessary changes.  Then test the block on scrap fabric -I usually stitch the design in contrasting thread on felt.  Watch for consistent stitch lengths, unnecessary color changes and registrations.  Make changes on the file and save under a new name.  Test again.  As you test, keep in mind quilting adds texture to a block and enhances the block design.  On the actual quilt, you’ll probably use a thread to blend with the fabric so the stitches will not take center stage.  It’s also important to remember to leave some space for the batting to breathe. Texture is created by crushing (with stitches) some of the batting and leave some areas open.  My Quilt Embellisher gives you all the tools you need to make stunning blocks!


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