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Where Oh Where Did My Design Go?

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve fallen in love with a design, any design like a luscious rose, pretty lace or a furry kitten. You stitch it once and then forget about it until you remember just how beautiful it stitched. And how elegant it would look on your current project. But you struggle to locate it on your computer. Its name is not a noun, more likely it’s a five-digit number with a letter or two thrown in. And since it’s been ages since you bought it, you don’t even remember the company who sold it to you.

I’m sure you’ve felt as frustrated as me when searching for embroidery designs. The list of designs is not helpful as I don’t really want to open each design to see what it is.

Now that I use Inspirations Perfect Stitch Viewer, all of my designs appear as small images of the embroidery designs. Eureka! That makes life so much easier.

Perfect Stitch Viewer is a helpful tool for keeping easily identifying embroidery designs in Windows Explorer (the folder system on your computer). My good friend and colleague Katherine Artines created a helpful tutorial on YouTube about Perfect Stitch Viewer. Katherine taught computer skills in her previous career so she brings solid expertise when she talks about storing and locating designs. Every time I watch one of Katherine’s videos on best practices in Windows Explorer, I learn how to work more efficiently. And she doesn’t disappoint this time either. Click here to watch out how she gets the most out of Perfect Stitch Viewer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BpBGQWj_fg

Stitching Split Designs

It’s easy to split designs in software but the challenge for many embroiderers is in the stitching.  I use a combination of templates, Perfect Alignment Laser and the advance stitch feature on my machine. First, split the design in Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Click here to review the steps.  Send the two designs to your machine.

Print a template of both designs. I use Print & Stick Target Template Paper because its adhesive back will stick to the fabric.  Align the two templates on the fabric focusing on placement of the entire design.  For instance, if you’re embroidering a pillow, center the monogram (both designs aligned) on the pillow.  Then remove the second design template (the second hooping).  Hoop the fabric centering the crosshair of the first hooping.  Stitch the design. 

Remove the fabric from the hoop.  Place the second design template on the fabric aligning the template with the stitched design.  

Hoop adhesive stabilizer and remove the protective paper.  Attach the hoop to the machine and stitch the first color of the second hooping, the alignment line. Remove the hoop and position the hoop under PAL aligning the horizontal beam with the horizontal marks on the hoop and the vertical beam with the stitched line. 

Place the embroidered fabric on the sticky stabilizer aligning the stitched line with the vertical beam and the horizontal beam with the template’s horizontal line. 

Double check the placement by lifting the fabric and checking that the stitched line on the fabric is aligned with the stitched line on the stabilizer. 

Attach the hoop to the machine and return to the beginning of color 1, the stitched line.  Advance through color 1 watching the foot trace over the stitched line.  It should align with the stitched line, if not, adjust the fabric until it does.

Stitch the second design.  Now take a closer look.  

My sample is not perfect. 

The four circles illustrate where the two designs connect.  The connections are fine in the blue circles but the areas in the red circles need some help.  I would fix these disconnected areas by sewing a narrow satin column (zigzag stitch) on the sewing machine to join the two areas.  No one would ever know!

I hope you’ll forgive me for this not-so-perfect project and the poor photography on the laser shot.  We’re moving our offices this week so my working environment is not quite up to what it should be.  Hope to have everything back to normal in a week or two!

Last week’s winner of Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons is….BRENDA KENNEDY!  Brenda said, “I have four tops that need to be quilted.Just purchased the Brother Dream Machine. I need to do something to justify the cost of the machine.I also have a Quattro 2.”

Brenda, we’ll email you to get your mailing address. Congratulations!

Last Minute Stitching!

If you still need something special for someone on your gift list, go the personal route.  You can take a mundane item and transform it into a heart-warming and thoughtful gift. This might sound simple but you really can’t go wrong with embroidered towels, terry, linen or cotton.

Embroider linen or cotton towels for the kitchen with seasonal embroidery. Add the family name and you’ll add that extra touch. This week (right up until Christmas), our friends at Urban Threads are offering huge discounts on Quick Stitch Christmas designs.  They not only stitch up in minutes but display beautifully.  Here are two sure-to-please designs for Christmas.

And this pretty design will take you through February.

Of course, last minute stitching can be very stressful so when I’m crunched for time I use our Perfect Placement Kit (PPK) to place the design on each towel.  Deborah Jones developed that product many years ago and it’s one I still use every time I embroider.  Such a time-saver.  The towel templates ensure every towel matches in the entire set!  I don’t know what I did before the PPK.

Here’s how I stitch 3, 4 or a dozen towels. I mark the vertical center of each towel with a pin.  Then I place the towel template on the towel, aligning the template’s horizontal border line with the towel border. I insert a target sticker into the opening, aligning the cross hair with the template’s cross hair.  The sticker’s arrow points into the body of the towel indicating the top of the embroidery design.

Remove the template and repeat for all the towels in the set.  Once I have target stickers on all towels, I won’t get confused if I get interrupted during the stitching process. And since it’s the holiday season, I probably will get interrupted!

How about you? Do you have a favorite last minute gift item that you embroider?

Last week’s winner of I Sew For Fun, Click, Print & Stitch software is Janet Rettig.  Merry Christmas!

 

 

I Sew For Fun

To all of us, Nancy Zieman was an industry icon but to her granddaughters, she was Grandma.

Nancy loved hanging out with all of her granddaughters. Sometimes she would sew with Avery and Luella (the older granddaughters) but often they would bake. Playing in the kitchen with Grandma is something every child wants to do.  Nancy Zieman’s children were no different.  Nancy enjoyed not only baking in the kitchen but also playing on the computer with her granddaughters while they decorated cupcakes and other bakery items in a popular software program.  She marveled at how engaged her granddaughters were, how they intuitively knew what buttons to click and how pleased they were with their creations.

She really wanted to experience something similar with them for sewing.  She shared this desire with me in early 2017. I listened to her thoughts and then explained the possibilities that we could make happen here at dime.  After Nancy and I defined what we wanted the software to do, the dime software development team jumped into action. They understood our goal of creating a one-of-a-kind software program that children and adults could enjoy.

Nancy and I knew that kids would jump right into this program because they love technology. To them, it’s a natural first step in the sewing process. Create the fabric, print the pattern and move to the sewing machine!  That’s what Click, Print & Stitch does.

Imagine what fun it would be to help a youngster design an outfit for an 18” doll.  They can make capris, a skirt, sundress, top and skirt.  Of course, they can personalize the fabric by drawing their own embellishments like dots, diamonds, squares, hearts and more.  Unlimited color choices are just a click away or they can choose from a built-in repeatable pattern.

 

Kids love the cat and dog pillows.  Here we show a purple cat but this kitty could be any color under the rainbow.

 

Our blue dog is a big hit with everyone. In just three simple steps, the project is complete!

 

Click, Print & Stitch is just one element of Nancy Zieman’s I Sew for Fun line of youngster-friendly sewing notions, a child’s book, Amazing Design embroidery collection and more. This new line of products ensures Nancy’s legacy of making sewing easy is passed down to the next generation. I’m looking forward to using all of these products with my 5-year old grand daughter – lots of memories in the making!

What project would you like to do with a youngster?  Share your thoughts below and one random winner will receive a copy of Nancy Zieman’s I Sew For Fun Click, Print and Stitch software program.

To Learn more about Click, Print and Stitch, visit Nancy’s Notions.   To watch the I Sew For Fun episodes on Sewing with Nancy, click here. You can watch online, anytime at WPT.org!

 

Tame Those Furry Fibers!

Cold weather calls for cozy fabrics like Minky, faux fur and lofty knits.  As wonderful as they are to wear, they present challenges when it time to add embroidery to them.  First, their fibers creep over embroidery camouflaging the beautiful stitches. Second, since they’re lofty and bulky, they’re hard to hold in a hoop.

Inspiration’s Perfect Embroidery Pro’s Nap Blocker feature is the answer for taming the fibers.  Nap Blocker adds a layer of complex fill stitches that’s just light enough to flatten the lofty fibers creating a smooth surface for the embroidery. Here’s how to do it in PEP.

Select the Text tool and type JOY in the Properties Box.  I used the Bookman font. 

Select the design, right click to access the command menu.  Select Utility, Nap Blocker.

Instantly, a layer of complex fill is added to the design in the first color position.

The fill extends .15” beyond the design to ensure any long fibers will not obstruct the embroidery.  You can change this by selecting the fill only and resizing.

Notice how the complex fill is placed at the beginning of the design in the color sequence. 

Stitch the complex fill in the same color thread as the fabric. This is key because you want these stitches to disappear behind the beautiful embroidery.  And…you don’t have to use a topper when you use Nap Blocker. How sweet is that?

Now to hoop – I use Snap Hoop Monster for all lofty fabrics because the magnetic flat frame does not leave hoop burn.  My 5” x 7” is my go-to hoop for these bulky fabrics – its strong grip does a great job for monogramming and more!

PEP and Snap Hoop Monster are a powerful combination for furry fibers.  Use it for Christmas stockings, faux fur throws and Minky blankets.

 

 

Free New Features in PEP!

The development team at Inspirations wants to wish you a happy holiday season with two exciting new features in Perfect Embroidery Pro!  Update your software now (for free!) to Version 9.68.  I’m sure you remember (and it might be why you purchased PEP) that all updates are free for life in Perfect Embroidery Pro.

Katherine Artines created a new 45-minute tutorial on the new features. She gives a thorough exploration – and explanation – of the new tools.  She confesses her new favorite feature is Navigator.  Navigator allows you to view areas of a design quickly by blending the Zoom and Pan tools into one window.   You can access the Navigator on a tab at the bottom left of the screen, next to the Library and Color Sequence tabs. Here’s a close-up view of the area.

Notice the blue box  – that shows the magnified area in the main screen.

You can move the blue box in the Navigator window to any area of the design. This tool is such a time-saver – I love it!

If you’re intrigued with embossed fills, they you’ll be overjoyed with the expanded control you now have. Scale percentage allows you to change the size of the actual embossed pattern.  Katherine has a great example – three rectangles, three different percentages.

Of course, there’s more!  Now the angle can set the angle of the embossed pattern to follow the shape of the letters or any shape.  Just put a check mark in the box, click apply and you’re done.  Take a look at JOY without the check mark.

And JOY with the check mark.  Notice how the pattern flows with each letter, not just in a vertical pattern like above.  It bends around the curve of the J, around the O and out into the branches of the Y.

Another great example of the Inspiration development team listening to its users.  It’s just keeps getting better and better!

Check out Katherine’s video and see how she cleverly used the new features for her holiday decorations.

 

E-Stitch or Satin?

Do you like to finish the edges of your applique with an e-stitch or a satin?  I have to admit I like both finishes.  In fact, in some projects, I mix them.  I’m working on a quilt – a large quilt – that features five embroidered blocks in a modern composition. Each block has four flowers, stems, leaves and some sort of center design to link them together. I opted to include one block with e-stitch edges.  It’s the center block so it works in the overall layout.

When deciding what type of edging to use in an applique project, remember satin (and motif) edges introduce another element to each applique. The edging can blend with the applique fabric, the host fabric or contrast with both. 

E-stitches usually blend with the applique fabric and of course, there is no applique fabric beyond the e-stitch edging.

The key to success for e-stitch applique is to apply a fusible web to the wrong side and pre-cut the applique pieces. Since a tack down stitch would be visible in the final applique, don’t include a tack down on e-stitch appliques. Instead, use a tacky fusible web such as Steam A Seam. The tacky adhesive will hold the applique in place while the e-stitch is applied. It can be fused permanently after removing the project from the hoop.

The applique feature in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro and My Quilt Embellisher gives you control over placement guides and tack downs.  Follow along in your software so you can see how easy it is to remove a placement guide.   Select a leaf from the Applique Shapes menu.

The default applique is a satin edge.

Change the type in the Properties Box to E-Stitch. Notice the check marks in both the Placement line and Tack down line boxes. 

Remove the check from the Tack down line box.

When you stitch the design, apply the tacky fusible web to the pre-cut applique pieces and you’ll have a beautiful applique.

 

Sharing the Craft   

What’s the best part of sewing? Inspiring others to learn the craft. Sometimes the ‘inspiration’ is subtle, not deliberate. You don’t have to sit someone at a machine and show them how to operate it. No, inspiration can happen by osmosis. Just exposing someone – specifically family members at a young age – to sewing. Leaving the sewing room door open, welcoming them into your creative space and answering questions.

Mothers and daughters can lock heads when it comes time to teach sewing. In fact, in many households, the love of sewing skips a generation.  But not always.  My niece, Lindsey Zinno (daughter of my infamous stitching sister, Marie Zinno), is the proud maker and owner of The Northern Market. Lindsey created NM to provide multi-functional fiber art for the modern home and lifestyle.  Her work is sold online and in boutiques across America and Europe.  And she started this company at the ripe old age of 17 – yes, SEVENTEEN!

Marie has always left her sewing room door open to Lindsey encouraging her to find her way and explore different mediums.  Lindsey witnessed Marie succeed in her commercial embroidery business and joined the Stitching Sisters on the road.  I think she couldn’t help being inspired by her surroundings.  

Today, she’s featured on Nancy Zieman’s blog as she was a guest on Sewing with Nancy. How did that come about? Well, I happened to be taping with Nancy in November 2016 when Marie sent me a link to a local newspaper story about Lindsey and The Northern Market. I showed Nancy and she was intrigued with Lindsey craftsmanship and minimalist style.  She wondered if Lindsey would like to be guest on Sewing with Nancy.  Not many people turn down that offer.

Lindsey’s success is due to her creative, open spirit. As a youngster, she was forever dabbling in art – drawing, painting, sculpting and music. She was like a sponge, drawing inspiration from everything and everyone around her. It was no surprise that she took to making rope baskets under the tutelage of another one of my sisters, Mary Pat Palombo (the oldest of my five sisters and the first stitcher).  While visiting Mary Pat, Lindsey watched her wrap clothesline with fabric and then sew the wrapped cord into baskets. Lindsey jumped into action and quickly made the technique her own.

Like many of today’s makers, she started selling her work on Etsy. As she poured her heart and soul into every stitch, The Northern Market’s popularity grew. She will graduate from the University of Cincinnati this spring and then, heaven knows what’s next for her.

You can watch Lindsey and Nancy as they share these techniques with you on, Rope Sewing Reinvented on Sewing with Nancy.  Click here to watch online now.

Thanks for letting me toot my horn – I’m so proud of Lindsey!

Houston is Ready…

If you’ve been hesitant about heading to Quilt Fest next weekend in Houston, don’t be, come on down!  The George Brown Convention Center is in pristine condition after serving as host to Hurricane Harvey evacuees. This weekend is Quilt Market, the industry’s largest convention to the trade, and attendance appears to be up as quilt shop owners flock to Houston.

But that’s not the only reason to be in Houston this weekend. Just a block away from the convention center, the Houston Astros are in the World Series at Orange Maid Park!  It’s not very often that you stumble across a display like this:

 

Here’s a closer look at each showcase:

Quilt Market 2017

2017 World Series

What’s so great about Quilt Market?  This is THE event to see new product, new fabric lines and beautiful quilts. What we see here this weekend will hit be hitting stores soon – sometimes immediately or a few months down the road.

The day before the show floor opens, Schoolhouse classes are staged in every available classroom on the second floor (this place is massive!). I assisted Deanna Springer in Nancy Zieman’s class, I Sew for FunTwo of Nancy’s granddaughters appeared on the PBS Sewing with Nancy show and the book that highlights that series is titled, I Sew For Fun.

It’s a new line of product geared at the younger generation and includes child-friendly notions from Clover.  Check out this retractable seam ripper – perfect for little hands (and big ones!).

Martingale published Nancy’s charming illustrated child’s book.

Easy in the hoop embroidery designs from Amazing Designs make computerized embroidery fun for little techies.

You’ll find a user-friendly software program, Click, Print and Stitch.  All of these products will be available at your sewing machine dealer or Nancy’s Notions very soon.

This whole concept from Nancy is focused on teaching adults how to teach children to sew.  After all, it’s common to have a young assistant in the kitchen but you wouldn’t let them loose with needles, knives and hot plates.  In the sewing room, the little stitcher needs a big stitcher to get started.

Today, the Quilt Market officially opens and I’m excited about visiting with our cherished machine advertisers: Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Janome, Viking and Pfaff. They spend hours and hours designing their booths and samples to inspire shop owners.  I love seeing the samples they make to highlight new machine features and accessories (hoops, feet and more!).

This is often the only time of the year I get to visit with designers in person instead of over the phone or email.  I’m often humbled with the amount of work that goes into creating their displays.  I know how difficult it is to be a one-woman show!  Their samples and product bloom with creativity as they pour their heart and soul into every stitch.

On Monday, the doors of Quilt Market will close and the floor will be transformed to accept thousands of quilters for Quilt Fest.  By then, the World Series will be over and the town will be ready to host it’s favorite convention – Quilt Fest!  So come on down, Houston is waiting for you!

Your Opinion Matters

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of teaching at Wisconsin Quilt Expo. My topic was Turn Your Embroidery Machine into a Longarm.  The one-hour lecture covered everything from selecting designs to placement of designs to handling the bulk/weight of the quilt.  I had a blast! I love that topic and my students were really interested in mastering the technique. I shared everything I know about the topic that I could fit into 55 minutes. You know, I’m originally from New Jersey so I can talk really fast! 

That experience made me wonder what you look for when you want to learn new embroidery techniques.  What motivates you to attend a teaching event? What’s your preferred learning environment: at your local dealer in small groups, large group, hands-on, short lectures, online, TV or in print?  If you prefer a mix of environments, I’d love to hear our thoughts. Would you take a moment to share your thoughts on classes/events?

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