Archive of ‘Uncategorized’ category

Remembering Nancy Zieman

I think about Nancy Zieman often – absolutely every time I’m sewing. I use her patterns, her tools, her books and her techniques.  Since I learned to sew by watching Sewing with Nancy, of course it makes sense that I would think of her when I sew.

We wrote books together, developed product and taped almost 20 Sewing with Nancy episodes.

But we were friends and I treasured my relationship with her. She was a wise woman. Patient, fair and classy.  I miss her tremendously.  If I was facing a business challenge, she was the first person I called.  As our friendship deepened, I would turn to her for personal advice and she would do the same to me.

You don’t replace a friend like Nancy but you can honor her legacy by remembering what she meant to you. Even if you never met her, there’s a good chance she changed your life – your sewing life – by making your hobby more enjoyable.

Today, June 21, she would have been 65 years old. I hope you’ll spend a minute and think about what Nancy meant to you. What did she teach you?  Maybe, how to accomplish large sewing tasks in 10-20-30 minutes segments?  Or how to bind a quilt or turn a collar point?  Possibly how to create a breathtaking landscape quilt?

I’d love to hear what you remember about Nancy.  Do you have a favorite technique you learned from her?  Maybe you received a hand written thank you or get well note from her.  Do you continue to watch Sewing with Nancy?  Do you have a bookshelf full of Nancy’s books?  Please share your thoughts…

 

 

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?

Circles Got You Going in Circles?

If your embroidered circles look more like ovals than you know what I mean by ‘circles have you going in circles?’  What you see on the computer screen is not necessarily what you see stitched on fabric.  That can be frustrating but help is just a click away.

Recently, I was digitizing a new Stipple collection that features a rainbow of embroidered polka dots.  Unfortunately, I can’t unveil the new collection just yet but it will be available soon. Back to the problem at hand,  I was diligently working away and stitched my sample.  Ugh! My circles weren’t round, they were oval.

And that’s definitely a rookie digitizing mistake.  In Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro, it’s so easy to fix this problem.  I selected all of the polka dots and changed the Pull/Pull setting in the Properties Box.  Here’s how to do it.

Use the artwork tool to draw a small circle (.25″) diameter).  Convert it to satin.  Click on the Pull/Push tab in the Properties Box.  Notice the Value is set at 100%.

Change the value to 120%.

View the difference on the screen.  Notice the higher percentage fills out the circle across the width. The width of the dot now measures .28″ while the height remained the same at .25″.

The difference is minute but it’s all that was needed. My circles are now really circles!

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!

How to Hoop a Tote Bag

Just about every tote bag can benefit from the addition of embroidery but hooping one can be challenging. Here’s how I do it – on a single needle machine or a multi-needle.

Place a target sticker 4” below the center top of the tote.  Place the tear-away stabilizer over the metal frame of Monster Hoop.

Turn the tote inside out and center the tote over the stabilizer (centering the target sticker).  Place the magnetic top over the tote. Use the edge of the tote as an alignment guide. If it’s straight, the design will be straight.  

Attach the hoop to the machine and lift the tote over the machine head. Keep an eye on the straps and make sure they are not caught under the hoop. 

Multi-Needle Machines

Place a target sticker 4” below the center top of the tote.  Place the outer ring inside the tote and lay a piece of tear-away over the outer ring.  Insert the inner ring, keeping the target sticker centered. 

Or if you’re using Multi-needle Monster, then insert the magnetic frame into the bag, centering the target sticker. Position the metal frame on top of the magnetic frame and attach to the machine. 

Easy peasy!

April 2018 Update!

It’s update time!  On Monday, April 2, 2018, your Inspirations software programs will be updated.  When you open your software, you’ll find a prompt that says, Update available.  Would you like to update now? When you click OK, your software will be updated to remain compatible with Windows 10 plus your My Today screen links will pop up in your default browser (Chrome Internet Explorer, Edge, etc). Previously, the links defaulted to Internet Explorer.

You’ll also find an updated ‘Exquisite Thread 40’ thread chart as some names have changed since it’s initial upload.

I’m excited about this handy new update at the digitizing level in Perfect Embroidery Pro, My Block Piecer, My Fabric Designer and My Quilt Embellisher.  Now you can align points when using the Shape tool.  Select more than one point in an object, right click and select Align.

 

Also when using the shape tool, you can now see the length when editing an angle line. 

 

A new digitizing option that’s a real time saver is for making prefect curves / circles with only 5 points.  The new default setting is a more controlled way of digitizing curved lines and satins.  To use this new feature, go Tools, General options, Digitizing, Circular curves. Turn on “Circular Curves” and click OK.With just five clicks, you’ve got a perfect circle!

No tweaking needed! Now, that’s a time-saver.

Lastly, there’s very exciting news for Vintage Software owners, you can now change any design to Vintage style with just a click.

As always, there’s no fee to keep your Inspirations software up to date. I hope you’ll enjoy all these new, free features!

 

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!

 

Block of the Month: Block 3 – Four Triangles – Sewing Instruction

My Block Piecer
Block of the Month : Block 3 Four Triangles
Sewing Instructions

Block 3 is our first two-unit block in the My Block Piecer Sampler Block of the Month. My Block Piecer splits some blocks into smaller units when a patch shares seam allowances with more than one patch. The 4-Triangle block consists of four half-square triangles. We’ll piece two units of two half-square triangles in the hoop. Then the units will be removed from the hoop and sewn together on the sewing machine with ¼” seam allowance.

Hoop tear-away stabilizer and stitch color 1, the placement guide of Unit 1.

Place patch 1 fabric, right side up, in patch 1. Stitch color 2, the tackdown.

Place patch 2 fabric, right side down, over patch 1, align the raw edges. Stitch color 3, the seam.

Flip patch 2 open and finger press the seam. Stitch color 4, the tackdown of patch 2.

Stitch color 5, the placement guide of Unit 2.

Place patch 3 fabric, right side up, over patch 3. Stitch color 6, the tackdown.

Place patch 4 fabric, right side down, over patch 3, align the raw edges. Stitch color 7, the seam.

Flip patch 4 open and finger press the seam. Stitch color 8, the tackdown of patch 4.

Remove the block from the machine and hoop. Trim the block on the outside stitch line.

Cut the stabilizer, separating the two units. Examine the block and make sure you cut the units between the raw edges, not the sewn seam.

Align the center seams of the two units and insert a pin horizontally into the ditch of the seam to keep it aligned.

For additional security, pin the units together.

Sew with ¼” seam allowance on the sewing machine.

You could opt to stitch the two units together in the hoop by loading the second design, Blk3Triangle_002.

If making the larger quilt, make three more blocks and set them aside.

It’s fun to play with different layouts but it might be wise to wait until all blocks are made to finalize the layouts.

Created by Nancy Stansbury

 

[/toggle]

Block of the Month: Block 3 – Four Triangles – Software Instruction

My Block Piecer
Block of the Month : Block 3 Four Triangles
Software Instructions
By Nancy Stansbury


We hope you are enjoying this Block of the Month series.  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 3 or spend a little time catching up.

Let’s continue the journey of learning and creativity!


Block 3 is our first two-unit block in the My Block Piecer Sampler Block of the Month. My Block Piecer splits some blocks into smaller units when a patch shares seam allowances with more than one patch. The 4-Triangle block consists of four half-square triangles. We’ll piece two units of two half-square triangles in the hoop. Then the units will be removed from the hoop and sewn together on the sewing machine with ¼” seam allowance. Let’s get started on Block 3.

  1. Open MBP.
  2. Click on Create a New Design.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Click on the Block icon.
    1. Enter 4 Triangles 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Click on the Select icon and holding down the CTRL key, select all of the patches.
  8. Click on the Workflow icon.

    1. Select a 200mm x 200 mm hoop or similar for your machine.
    2. Click the Auto Build button. Notice the block has been split into two units.
      Click Sort numbers. Select Yes in the message box.
    3. The numbers have been sorted according to the order they will be added to the block.
    4. Click Preview. The patch is split into two units. Both units will be created in one hooping. The second hooping (if you choice to use the hoop) will piece the two units together. Click Preview again.

      1. Click Save. Name the new folder Blk3Triangle and save it the format appropriate for your machine.
      2. A window will open showing you the files that are created.
        1. Blk3Triangles_001.pes (First Hooping).
        2. Block3Triangles_002.pes (Second Hooping)
        3. Blk3Triangle_artwork.c2s. (original block)
        4. 4_Triangles_preview.pdf. (stitching instructions)
      3. Close the file window.
    5. Close the Save window.
  9. 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 printing templates to manually cut the fabric pieces, select the Paper Letter 210×279.
      2. If using the Scan and Cut, select Brother SCN 12x12” or 12 x24”.
      3. If using the Silhouette, select Silhouette 12x12” or 12x24”.
    3. Can Unclick Optimize Orientation if using a directional fabric (This will optimize how the pieces file on the paper).
    4. If making four blocks for the large quilt, change 1 to 4 in the Repeat field.
    5. Click Apply.
    6. Click Save.
      1. In File name enter Blk3TriangleCut.
      2. Save the file in the format appropriate for your digital cutter.
      3. The Following Files are created for the Brother Scan n Cut.

        1. Blk3TriangleCut_001_1_1. (First Fabric)
        2. Blk3TriangleCut_002_2_1 (Second Fabric)
        3. Blk3TriangleCut_preview.pdf.
      4. Close the files window.
      5. Close the Cutter window.
  10. Print the templates, or prepare your fabric and send the templates to your cutter.
  11. Load the design in your machine and have fun making this block.

 

 

 

Filling Negative Space with Background Fills

Inspirations’ My Quilt Embellisher offers many ways to fill negative space on a quilt block. I enjoy trying different background fills because virtual quilting is fast and easy.  Auditioning a variety of background fills gives me confidence that I’ll like the final outcome and it’s easy to do in My Quilt Embellisher.  Just a few clicks and the background or negative space of a quilt block is filled with interesting texture. Every detail can be customized right down to the distance between the stitches and the length of each stitch.

I created my simple applique flower and drew a rectangle around the flower – the same size as the block.  This is a quick project so my block is 6″ square. Here’s how to do it: select the flower, right click and Create Outline. Set the distance to zero.  Select the outline and the run stitch rectangle and touch the Combine tool (paper clip).

Next, play with a few of the features after selecting the combined outlines.  I chose Texture, Stipple and Echo for my first three trials.

I’d love to know what background you prefer.  Do you like the Texture block?

The Stipple?

Or the Echo?

Please share your thoughts!  Texture, Stipple or Echo.  If you have another style, by all means let us know!

1 2 3 11