Monday, June 1, 2015

Doodling for another scarf motif... think stars for July 4th...

Whether you are a free motion doodler or a digitizing embroidery scribbler, both methods can produce great results for infinity scarves and border embellishing! Using a tablet and pen adds to creative freedom in embroidery software but not crucial, if you know how to use the right tools in your software. If using a tablet, there will be a "smoothing" line feature available in the software that accompanies it. Or in the Bernina, you can do it from within that software.

Last week at the embroidery conference, my students learned how to create the design used in the scarf for the hands on class.The simplicity of a motif with an added bean stitch provides the back drop needed for any repetitive design. If you apply a double stitch then the design will begin and end at the same point. Using a bean stitch allows a heavier line that begins and ends at opposite ends.  That is the key  for easy repetitive stitching and multiple hooping. In the class, it was demonstrated  with Bernina and Brother made software with a reference to Art and Stitch.
Let's explore Art and Stitch.  By using the built in drawing tools, you first have the ability to perfect your artwork.  Keep in mind that this is doodling so perfection really is in the eye of the beholder.  July 4th brings to mind stars and a casual feel. First choose the hoop size!

The freehand, straight, curve, bezier and arc tools are easy to use and references on them are kept on the Art and Stitch website with clear details in the well written manual. This quick sketch was drawn using the straight and curve tools to provide practice with switching between them and editing.
The key to Art N Stitch is to perfect your drawing first and then applying stitches.  The same holds true for many software bundles on the market and it's an excellent habit to adopt. You will see the difference between this initial drawing (start and finish) and the final one with stitches applied. The beginning and ending area points have been reshaped curves to make them blend better for continuous stitching on a scarf.

Play with your points and lines until you are satisfied.
Use the running stitch tool to apply stitches. For this type of repetitive design, choose the bean stitch as a suggestion. Under Type there is a drop down menu. For my own design, I lengthened it to 2.5.

Apply stitches and you can still reshape, if needed.  Note the difference between the original and the final.

The next step will be to test out our pattern by stitching. Looks plain  right now... but wait!

If these tools are new to you, learn more in Digitizing Machine Embroidery Designs on

Next post: stitching out our sample and creating templates!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The infinite scarf from sketching to stitching...

The American Embroidery Conference is this upcoming week and final kit preparation for my classes are done!  All directions neatly printed and packed, ready for distribution, Yay!

The scarf kit was a bit more challenging than past ones because the length and type of fabric was tricky. Plus the pretty fabrics need to be manageable and drape well for all levels of sewers. The linen blend and higher rayon fabrics makes this scarf easy to work with and beautiful results. The student chooses whether they would like the infinity scarf to be twisted or not. The lining fabrics are serged  to make the handling of the fabric easier in class. I know, it's a level of illness! The fabric was positioned on the cutting table for days prior to cutting to ensure the fabric was "relaxed".  We will chat about scarf fabrics and preparation of them in class.

We are using the Destiny by Babylock at the conference.  It's a beautiful machine with a huge 9.5 x 14 inch hoop.  A big thank you to Babylock and Atlanta Sewing Center for providing the machines. For those who are considering one of these machines in their future, no doubt about it - these newly opened machines will be adoptable at great savings at the conference. There are 25 of them in the classroom.

Skill building is always a goal and this project includes multiple hooping. The built in camera feature in the Destiny will ensure the hooping lines up beautifully. However, classroom templates will be furnished in the kits to ensure the students are familiar with "traditional hoop" and the "camera cool" methods!

Just to add excitement for my own cutting pleasure, we made some kits up with a robin egg blue color. Both the red and blue kits are pretty, and I can't wait to see them as finished scarves...

My other class "Sketch it in Stitches" is for those who wish to create their own motifs quickly and easily.  I doodled the design for the scarf class.  In essence, both classes are the how to create the project from beginning to end. You can do one or both.  Last time I checked, the scarf class has 2 spots left. The other class is a lecture demo so that seating is not critical.  If you wish to bring a laptop to Sketch it in Stitches, be sure to charge the battery if you plan to play along in that sketch class. Can't come? Check out my classes on Artistic Digitizing and Digitizing Machine Embroidery Designs

Last thoughts: layer your clothes as temperatures in all conference facilities vary from room to room!  If you love sandals, it might be smart to tuck a pair of socks just incase!  See you there!  Cookie & Michele are ready!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Do you have a favorite feature on digitizing software that you own?

Home embroidery full digitizing software packages have common basic tools: column/column, running, fill.

These are the extra bells and whistles that can make a difference in creating designs that meet your special needs. This is a random sampling and believe me I could write volumes on each software. Pull out your manual and test them out, if you haven't done so already:

Art and Stitch

Art and Stitch has the easiest method for producing beautiful cutwork each and every time.  There is specific tool to automatically create the steps needed for stitching cutwork which happens in a blink of an eye. Same for lace.

The bookmark was created  in very little time and stitched out in less time.

Babylock and Brother 10 Software:

(The plus editing software has it, too!) Read the package to be sure it is listed because not all versions of editing have it.
Brother and Babylock have the this feature:
Photostitch - seeing is believing and I believe that this program built into their software packages produce the nicest quality designs of this type.

Embird software users enjoy a very nice photo conversion plugin to produce embroidery designs

Bernina 7

Bernina's Blackwork run feature rocks! - Create your artwork, enter into the Embroidery Canvas, click on the outline with the running stitch  and apply blackwork run. Voila! the software puts the outline stitching into one continuous run!

More to come! What is your favorite software and which tool makes you happiest? Share it here or on Facebook!

SKETCH IT IN STITCHES! Look through your software and identify your running, column and fill stitch tools and come join me at the American Embroidery Conference, May 27-31.

Let me show you how in the comfort of your home, any time, any day on Craftsy. Here's $20 off my newest class: Artistic Digitizing from Inspirations to Stitch!

Friday, May 1, 2015

What skills are on your list of items to stitch?

Proof of Inspiration
Perhaps a quilt?

Paula Reid arrived at Ashby Sewing for last week's sewing event.  I am not a quilter  because of little free time. I found the presentation engaging, informative and inspirational. I snapped tons of photos while absorbing great tips.
The proof of inspiration is when you act upon it!

Meandering with no bunching on top or bottom, evenly spaced throughout the quilt. I had fun throughout the entire process. Even fixing mistakes was easy!

It was perfect timing as I was in town, having fun testing sewing machines. Attending this event gave me a greater appreciation of a longer harp, (the distance of the arm between the needle and the right inner side of the machine). You can see the photos of the event on Facebook. Paula teaches on Craftsy . You can enjoy the same information. I watched the class again and all the info is there.

To my friends who digitize their own embroidery designs, the tips were great for quilting embroidery display quilts, too.  You know who you are.  They will hang straight and last the test of time by following her tips.

I came back to my studio inspired with fresh new eyes. Monday night, I finished stitching all my leftover strips made from projects of the past into a pieced topper. (Wish I had taken her class before I had done the piecing but a little girl won't notice.) In a couple of hours each night, I finished the quilt.

I layered the quilt exactly as she suggests on my table and used the clipping technique she demonstrates, and pinned with the quilting pins she likes.  I aligned my chair view per Paula's suggestions, chose threads accordingly and it was the best free motion quilting session, ever!  Every step was a pleasure and not an effort.  I'm now the former queen of unfinished pieced tops. I will advance my skills and try all her tips in the class.
The best way to learn anything, is to do it exactly like the teacher and then add your personal touch once you have mastered the techniques. 
I have plenty of room for improvement and I am up for it.  Paula Reid has changed my view on the quilting process and I do have time for it at night as it is NOW relaxing! And I am thinking that a stitch regulator is the ticket for me to enjoy the free motion even more.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Stitching onward in search for perfect stitching on a new sewing stand alone machine...

If you flip the fabric sample over, how would the bobbin stitches rate? If the stitches are off, is it the machine? Or does it need cleaning?
I tested with my favorite fabrics including layered fabrics for auditioning machines.  View of bobbin thread in photo. You might be surprised to see which machines produced these bobbin stitches. Always check the quality of stitches before sewing your garment. Every machine can produce that uneven stitching in those bottom rows without proper maintenance. Clean and oil as needed.

The machines tested were impressive based on stitch quality, lighting, dual feed, stability, and pricing, last week. All the machines were within a fairly close range of each other based on the sale pricing last week except the Bernina 750 which offers an optional embroidery unit and comes with the BSR foot, covered in this post...

The Janome 8900.  11 inches of harp, nice lighting, lovely stitching, knee lift, and more.  I took over this machine for 2 hours and began basic stitching, learning the interface, decorative stitching, buttonhole creations, blind hem, and testing different fabrics. It is a quilter's delight!  Quality neat stitching with every fabric tested: cotton, denim, sheer, and  the bonus is the 11 inch harp.  It does have the Dual Feed (AcuFeed system!) The only thing that was a slight negative but got better with practice is the wheel. It's not a feature on any of my previous machines so it would take adjustment time. I tested this out at Ashby Sewing Machine Co with Elaine. Made in Japan.

I also had the pleasure of auditioning the Pfaff Creative 5, at Discover Sewing with Linda who provided a well guided demonstration on the machine.   Nice interface, ease of use, knee lift, 10 inch harp and  the IDT (Dual Feed).  The stitches sewed nicely on top and bottom. Good interface with a tabbing system that I found very easy to navigate through.  Learn more here on the Pfaff website. See the photo there, it's very attractive. The harp is roughly 10 inches. Nice lighting and the best feature is the straight stitch sensor plate - NO MORE BROKEN NEEDLES.  I forgot my camera and didn't take picts with my phone,  so look on the website. German engineering, assembled in China.

A dress rehearsal for the Bernina 710 and 750: Both are being replaced 740/770 in the line with a few added stitches and improvements. The staff provided a great demo and then a hands-on play hour. Nice interface on both.  The stitches are very nice, easy interface, wonderful lighting, knee lift, the new Dual Feed is fabulous.  10 inch harp.  You can add the Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR) to the 710 as an additional option which is a small compact unit that works really well. The 750 comes with the BSR and has the option to add an embroidery unit.  Thank you to Carol and Dianna at Atlanta Sewing Center in Duluth! Swiss engineered. Assembled in Switzerland.

You may ask, why haven't I written about the Brother/Babylock machines.  I own one with an embroidery unit! Downside when mine is embroidering, my sewing machine is unavailable.  If you purchase a new Brother/Babylock - get that pivot feature. I use the pivot for garment and all kinds of sewing projects. Mine can be seen on youtube: Meet your Feet,  in action stitching with various feet. The playlist is further down the list just below sewing matters! Assembled in China.

If you own any of these sewing machines listed above, what was the key feature that guided your purchase decision?