Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why love machine embroidery? My story begins...

A well-respected mentor asked why do I love machine embroidery so much recently asked me? Such a simple question, yet the more I gave it thought, I realized that my story might be true for many creative careers. And perhaps by sharing how this all began I might help someone with a passion for creativity get that little boost of confidence to move forward.

I love the many facets of machine embroidery: designing, planning, software packages, sewing, new products, stabilizer and thread knowledge, learning and teaching, exchanging ideas and inspiration, balancing time, and most of all teaching.  Being an instructor of machine embroidery is the most gratifying experience out of my list.

I must love it, or I couldn't do it for over 20 plus years, right? I remember what it was like sitting in a presentation seeing the first embroidery machine at my local store and realizing that this machine was doing it all.  Up until then I was sewing skate, dance and Halloween costumes.  It was incredible to behold a machine stitching out a 4x4 design all by itself.

While watching the machine stitch, I was quickly thinking of how I was going to come up with a reason to purchase this wonderful embroidery miracle.  By the time I reached home, I had my sales pitch ready.  Like many women, I felt the need to justify the purchase and shared with my husband what I witnessed at the dealer while getting my "well used" Bernina machine serviced.

Step 1: " I could embroider all your shirts with monograms, if I had this machine". The negotiations had begun. How many of you have felt the need to do this?

Step 2: I brought my children to the store to see all the fun designs this machine could do.   I was enlisting their help in my campaign with their dad. Again, how many of us bring in assisted sales help?

Thank goodness for Mother's Day!  And so the first embroidery machine arrived.

I learned how to use this machine by trial and error. I had an excellent sewing dealer but the machine was new to them and so was selling one.  Little things that they didn't send home with it like embroidery thread and stabilizer.

I make jokes about how smart my son was. He let his sister's shorts go first.  I hooped them up, threaded the machine with sewing thread, selected a built in design, and pressed Start! Success! 80+ fingertip towels (I had not mastered saying "No" to friends, family and teammates) later I moved on to T-shirts!

My walk away today for towels:
Back then I used a water-soluble topping to keep the pokies under control and a tear away on the bottom.  It worked but I had to be carefully to hoop carefully to avoid getting hoop marks which we refer to as hoop burn. All of us have had that happen, and cold water or magic sizing helps remove those marks if used quickly.

My preferred method today is using Heat N Gone topping on my towels instead of water soluble because the iron removes the exposed topping quickly and it never washes away under the stitches.  I like that! I use Perfect Stick tearaway or Wet N Stick tearaway stabilizer in the hoop and I can avoid hoop burn entirely and the towel is new crisp and ready to be gifted or used.

Lots of friends and their friends, in my old neighborhood, own those fingertips and bandanas because back then I had to come up with $$ to feed my need for designs, stabilizers, needles and thread. I smiled fondly remembering the nightly drives to Walmart! Now Amazon has fingertip blanks, if only it existed back then! What I learned: you need not justify your hobby.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

How we influence others with our hobbies...

My husband's remote control airplane project needed upholstery!

The chair on the left shows the raw edge with batting revealed. I have to smile as I made the channel fabric and it was my husband who made the seats for the cockpit. He purchased all the fabrics and knew exactly what he wanted me to stitch. Seeing the piping on the bench showed just how much he has paid attention to my hobby over the years! Okay, he used glue instead of thread but the technique looked great!

His wood working abilities influenced my cornice board/window treatments over the years so it is nice see how techniques can go from one hobby to another.  Does your family have crafting hobbies that are touched by your sewing and embroidery skills? The plane he is building is amazing.  I have little interest in RC planes but I am fascinated in how the scaled reproductions are built and the artistry involved.

This is a little off topic but I am so impressed that he knew the fabrics needed, the finished look he wanted and the right terms.  My mission to impress upon him the value of my SEWING machines is complete!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Be Fabric Savvy!

Seasonal changes effects our embroidery fabric choices. Pick a design, fabric and stabilizer that work well together. Let's consider a linen towel for gift giving!

Many embroiderers avoid outline designs on crisp linen towels due to the appearance of the towel in daily use and the shrinking effect on the stitches. If you love the look of embroidered linen and would love to have them in your own home, follow these tips:
  1.   Pre-wash new linen towels and press them back into shape with Magic Sizing. Use a pressing cloth with an even weave is recommended since irons can be unpredictable. It gives an even layer of protection. Cheap fabrics like muslin may have uneven weaving which DOES effect the outcome.
  2.  Choose a high quality, smooth stitching Redwork design, with a reasonable stitch count for the embroidery hoop selected.
  3. Important: a good design can stitch out poorly with the wrong or low quality stabilizer.  A water soluble stabilizer that offers an adhesive wash away property is fabulous. Avoid pulling on those outline stitches once the design is stitched by applying a little water to those stitches. Remove as much water soluble stabilizer as possible without tugging and wash out the remaining stabilizer.
  4. Choose a polyester 60 wt. thread for a crisper looking micro tiny lettering. Important for those who love to embroider recipe towels to accompany baking gifts ;) All threads are not equal when it comes to shine and breakage. Do your research!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

What if you love to machine embroider and enjoy creativity but do not want to digitize?

Purchased Card - inspiration!
Creativity in machine embroidery does not require digitizing however, editing is a great skill that will expand your current inventory of designs. 

 Having software that will give you maximum editing power is a great solution. Purchasing well digitized designs is the second part of insured success. Editing features that rank at the top of the wish list: re-sizing, changing color, changing stitch order, splitting designs, mirror imaging vertically and horizontally, lettering, monograms, changing fill types, aligning capabilities are needs and worth every penny. 

Pay close attention to the lettering package of the program for variety of font styles, ability to move the letters within a word, circular lettering, changing one color or all colors within a word, altering size of the individual letters, changing the shape of the word as a whole, are micro sizes included? Lettering is the most used feature so pick a software that offers beautiful fonts which targets women, men and children from casual to business. Having a built in monogramming tool built in is icing on the cake and will be invaluable. And monogram built in embellishments is the cherry on top.
Luxury editing features corner repeat (4 way mirroring) with options, design repeat, circular designing, scattered designing, color wheel aka color play, a smart color sort, removing overlaps, hole sewing, auto applique.

Total up the features you want and compare the pricing of the editing software packages versus full digitizing packages. Does it include free updates? A dongle (security device)? Can you keep it on your desk top and lap top? There are some brands of software that offer free upgrades and do not have physical security devices instead they are activated be registering the serial number. There are many choices available and before eliminating any software, look at all the tools that is included, the support offered, cost of future upgrades and the current needs and where you might want to go in the future.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Halloween machine embroidery Word Art made easy for Mac and Windows users...

This post is dedicated to the students who have asked about Stitch Artist 1 and 2 in my Craftsy digitizing classes.

Create a quick design for the"Trick or Treat "kid inside of you.  Word Art is simple and can be done with almost every home embroidery software package in a short amount of time. Key tips: vary the size, direction and font styles. Choose colors that will stand out from background. If this design were stitched on a black sweatshirt, then the Boo and cat would be changed from black to perhaps glow in the dark white thread.

Embrilliance is affordable, easy to use and gets the job done. Not everyone spends their dollars on expensive features in software that they might not use.  I want all the bells and whistles but that is part of my digitizing illness. There is a lot to be said for pay as you go. I tend to buy as much sewing machine as I can afford and the same for software, knowing I can grow into it!

One of my favorite affiliate instructor friends is Lisa Shaw. Not only does she teach the Craftsy affiliate class Hoop Savvy, Lisa is the guru teacher for Embrilliance. Her booth was next to mine at the AEC this year, and I moved my chair right next to her when she told me:

Embrilliance software can be used by both Mac and Windows users.  

Free on Facebook till 10-9-2015
That caught my immediate attention. I am able to put the software on both of my computers which is incredible.  I can seamlessly use both platforms in the same manner and therefore no transitional learning curve required!

In this photo, you can see how crisp the letters are with a nice raised underlay which is set to the default. Impressive clean stitching by choosing the stitching style, the color, and letter style. The Spooky Word Art design file is on Facebook as a free download for a limited time so you can see it stitch out for yourself!  It shows what Embrilliance can do fresh out of the box without any "insider understanding" of setting. Beginners do not have all the tricks of the trade when they first start creating designs! I could make the stitch out even better with entrance and exit point options and angle directions.

There are 12 letter choices in the basic platform with Embrilliance. The prior post on the Yoga Pillow shows some of the other letter styles included. More lettering is available.

If you add Stitch Artist to the equation then you are getting some great "shape art" (see the cat), filled in by stitches with a click of the button. Stitch Artist 1 has the basic digitizing tools and does nice appliqué, Stitch Artist 2 includes a nice clean column turn addition with more tool features. Stitch Artist 3 is coming soon. Learn more #AffiliateLink

In a matter of minutes, the design was typed into the screen, colors and styles were selected, easily resized and rotated and the cat shape added. True we can use most of our softwares for this but I have a Mac, and the convenience and price point made it a no brainer for me. Plus it helps me answer questions for students in my digitizing classes on Craftsy.
I love the Embrilliance slogan: "Welcome to Embrilliance, embroidery for the rest of us!"
Happy Embroidery, Cookie ~