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Lofty Monograms!

Gift #2 on my top 10 gifts to make for the 2019 Holiday season was a personalized throw. There’s such a wide selection of throws available at every price point and in many different fabrics. In Thursday’s Facebook Live session, Deborah Jones and I reviewed four different throws: a fleece buffalo plaid, a nubby and stretchy chenille, a poly/wool blend tweed and a faux suede with a Sherpa back.  The trickiest one to embroider was definitely the stretchy chenille because of its thick yarns and open weave.  But I am thrilled with the finished results.  Let me walk you through the process so you can duplicate this at home.

Open a new file in Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Select the Text tool and type in your monogram.  Select the Fan_Scr font and click Apply in the Properties Box.

With the Text tool selected, click on the monogram and the kerning tools will appear.  Drag the blue diamond between the letters to change the spacing.

Click on the Select tool, right click and select Utility, Nap Blocker from the dropdown menu.

Leave the default setting at 4.0 mm and click OK.

The Nap Blocker, or low density fill, will now be the first color of the embroidery design.

Its function is to hold down the fabric’s nap and create a delicate, yet solid base for the beautiful monogram.  Without it, the monogram would slip between the chenille’s yarns. The end result would be less than professional!

Change the color of the Nap Blocker to match the fabric and select the color of your choice for the monogram.

Click on the Auto Baste tool to add a basting outline around the design.  It will stitch in the first color.  Send the design to the machine.

Hoop the throw with Piece & Stitch Tear Away Wash Away stabilizer.  Place water soluble topper over the design area to allow the embroidery foot to glide over the surface.  Without it, the foot would caught in the loops.  (Hmm…wonder how i figured that out!)  Stitch color 1, the basting outline.  Stitch color 2, the Nap Blocker.

Finally, stitch the monogram.

Remove the throw from the hoop. Snip the basting stitches and remove.  Tear the excess Piece & Stitch stabilizer from the wrong side of the throw. Tear the water soluble topper away from the monogram.

If you hate those pesky bits of water soluble stabilizer that are trapped in the small openings, then you’ll love Deborah Jones’ tip for getting rid of every last speck. Watch the Facebook Live session from Thursday, Dec. 5.  You can watch here on YouTube or over on our Facebook page.

I love this throw and think it will definitely put a smile on someone’s face at Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Holidays can make many people sad, especially, if they’re spending the holiday alone.  If you don’t have big plans – or if you do have big plans – remember, it’s not about the fuss. It’s about being grateful for all our blessings: good health, family, friends,  faith and our talents.  If you’re alone on Thanksgiving Day, reading this blog and not feeling so happy, go to your machine and find some joy by using your creative talents.   Today is a gift – a gift of time – don’t squander it, enjoy it!

On Thanksgiving Day, I’ll be cooking and hosting family but I will take some time in the morning to reflect on the past year.  As I look back over the last 12 months, I know I’ll find hundreds of moments to be thankful for.  Moments with loved ones, moments with new friends, moments of renewed and strengthened faith.  And my heart will fill with gratitude.  I wish you the same.

Thank you for reading, watching and making my life full! Happy Thanksgiving!

Gift #3 Reveal!

Join me tomorrow at 1:00 CST on Facebook Live or Youtube to see Gift #3 on my top 10 gift-making ideas for 2019!  Tomorrow’s ideas are all in the hoop – fast, affordable and easy ideas to make.  I’ll bet you already have the fabrics you need – as several of the ideas are true scrap-busters.  And it’s a great way to use odd textile remnants like marine vinyl, sweater knits, fleece and more.

Join me at 1:00 CST, and make sure you say hello, it’s more fun when you join in!  I know some of you aren’t on Facebook but you can watch live on YouTube.  In fact, go to https://www.youtube.com/user/dzgns and subscribe to our channel.  All subscribers are notified when a new video or live session is broadcasted.

See you then!

Instant New Baby Gift

As embroiderers, we are always driven to create a custom gift for new parents but it can be difficult to find time to create something special.  For the new parents, there’s nothing quite like seeing the statistics of your new baby etched in thread on pretty fabric. Inspiration’s Word Art In Stitches has just what you need to put a smile on the parents’ faces.

Subway blocks were added as a free update to the software several months ago and I think many of us forget they are in the software.  Let’s take a look. Open a new file in Word Art in Stitches and click on the Library icon under the Properties Box (lower right corner).  Scroll to the bottom of the list.

Here you’ll find nine different blocks for baby, new home, wedding and more.  Select the first one, Baby 4×4. Once the design appears on the screen, select it, right click and Ungroup.

It’s so easy to change the name, date and weight to customize the block for the new baby.  Just click on the name and type the new name in the Properties Box.

Select the name, drag one of the side handles to stretch the text to fit the space.  It’s that easy!

Do the same for the date and weight.

The block is 4×4 but you can resize it to fit your needs.  Wasn’t that simple!  You can use as framed artwork, a custom block in a quilt or as a quilt label.  I’m sure you’ll find many ways to use the Subway blocks.

Remember to join me on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 1:00 CST on Facebook Live and YouTube Live to see gift #4 in our holiday gift making countdown!.  I hope you had a chance to see gift #5 on Nov. 7 – it was one of my all time favorites!  If you missed it, you can watch it anytime, check it out!

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!

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.

Quilting Big Quilts on an Embroidery Machine

There are several ways to handle the bulk of a large quilt. How large is large?  In my book, large is any dimension beyond a crib size quilt (36″ x 52″).  Once a quilt is wider than four hoopings, it’s time to pay attention to the weight of the quilt.

A few weeks ago, I discussed handling a large quilt in my Facebook Live session on the Weightless Quilter. You can watch that broadcast here.

Tomorrow at 1:00 CST, I’ll demonstrate the shortE – the Embroidery Short Arm with a Long Reach.  Since it’s quilting month here at DIME, I figured it was a good time to have a live Q&A on the topic.  The shortE is set up in the studio so you’ll get a good look at it and you can watch the quilting process.  I’ll discuss how to prepare a quilt when using the shortE, how to ‘work the quilt’ and what’s the difference between quilting on the shortE vs. the Weightless Quilter.

 

 

A Very Cool Tool

Wouldn’t you agree the planning process is the most time-consuming and challenging part of machine embroidery?  Well, you’re not alone.  One of our team members thought previewing a design on fabric would streamline the planning process and after several months of development, we now have a way to do that.  Check out this cool new tool.

The Maximum View Projector, or MVP, is your solution for intricate design placement. The MVP comes with MVP software that converts any embroidery design into an image – sized perfectly – to audition on your fabric.

It’s so easy to use.  Let’s take a look at the process.  Download and install the software. Attach the projector to a work surface with the included clamp.  Measure the projector’s image area which will be up to 14″. Enter the measurements into the software.

Load the embroidery design (any format).  Then save the design in Color, Silhouette Positive or Silhouette Negative.

Save the image(s) to a USB stick and insert it into the projector.  Use the remote (included) to view the images. Slide your fabric under the image, moving the hooped fabric until you are satisfied with the placement of the embroidery.

The leaves and stem are printed features of the fabric while the flower is the image of the design. Notice the 3-d embroidered flower in the finished block above.

 

Align a Target Sticker (included) with the image’s crosshair.  Attach the hoop to the machine and center your needle over the Target Sticker.  It’s just like using a template without the hassle of a printer.  You can watch a video demonstration here.

I’m sure this will be a hot topic during our Wednesday, June 26 Facebook Live session at 1:00 CST.  Not only will I take questions on the MVP but I have a very special guest joining me – Christine Conner of Amelie Scott Designs and author of Edge to Edge Quilting.  Christine is helping me wrap up Hoopapalooza month as she’ll be sharing tips for edge to edge plus custom quilting.  I can’t wait to hear what she has in store!

Please follow us on Facebook to get a reminder for our Live session.  See you on Wednesday!  https://www.facebook.com/DesignsInMachineEmbroidery/

My 5 Embroidery Pet Peeves

Machine embroidery is supposed to be beautiful.  And the process of making beautiful embroidery should be fun and enjoyable.  But all of that can be for naught when the experience is dampened by poor results, painful tasks and laborious placement. Enough already!  Let’s get the fun back into embroidery.

I have five pet peeves that annoy the daylights out of me when I’m embroidering.  And since I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, I’ve come up with solutions.  My pet peeves are hoop burn, hand strain, fabric distortion, laborious placement and tedious rehooping. What’s my solution? I ditched the standard hoop about 10 years ago and haven’t looked back.* Let me elaborate.

When knits, textured and napped fabrics are squeezed between two standard embroidery rings, the hoop often leaves a noticeable impression around the embroidery.  Those lofty and delicate fibers are now flattened – and possibly permanently flattened. Yikes!  The flat frames of Snap Hoop Monster leave no hoop burn – they firmly grip the fabrics and hold them in place without permanently damaging the fibers.

Twenty years of embroidery can wreak havoc on your hands, fingers and wrists.  Pushing an inner ring into an outer ring and tightening a screw 5, 10, 20 or maybe 30 times a day is grueling punishment.  No more.  I just snap that magnetic top frame over the bottom and I’m done!

Fabric distortion is a thing of the past because I pull and tug on the hooped fabric while it’s hooped in Snap Hoop Monster.  It’s the inner and outer rings that squeeze and distort fabric – doesn’t happen when fabric is sandwiched between two flat objects – a magnetic top and metal bottom.

I’ve invented all kinds of placement tools but sometimes I want to move the fabric just a smidgen under the needle.  With Snap Hoop Monster, I lift the top frame, slide the fabric, drop the frame back in place and press start!  No hooping and unhooping to move the fabric a millimeter or two.  I like the freedom Snap Hoop Monster gives me right at the machine.

Speaking of the machine, when I use Snap Hoop Monster, I can remove the top frame and advance the fabric to the next hooping without taking the bottom frame off the machine!  Oh my, what a time saver!  If you’re not sure why I love that benefit so much, take a look at this video.  It’s long – about 12 minutes – but you’ll see how I quilt entire quilt (62” x 80”) in one day!  Oh baby – I love those Monster hoops!

If you’ve been following along, this month is Hoopapalooza at DIME and in honor of that celebration, The Hoop It Up book is on sale.  My Stitching Sister Marie Zinno and I co-wrote this handy hooping tutorial.  You’ll find 99 hooping tips in there!  You can check it out here: https://www.shop.dzgns.com/collections/specials/products/hoop-it-up

*’Ditched the standard hoop over 10 years’ is an exaggeration.  I still use a standard hoop on occasion as you’ll see in the Hoop It Up book!

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