Monday, March 30, 2015

Stitching Monograms with Embrilliance Essentials

I have loved having Embrilliance Essentials but I have been so surprised by the lack of great tutorials on the features of this program!  (I am used to papercrafting where there are so many bloggers and vloggers that every single function has multiple tutorials by the hoards of crafters eager to share!!)  I will say that the Embrilliance Essentials program has been fairly intuitive and, either because I have used Cricut Design Space and Adobe Illustrator or because it is just really easy to learn, the program has been a joy to use!  It has allowed me to use my one-needle machine, a Brother PE770, as a simple vehicle for stitch out while the software does all the heavy lifting (combining, spacing, previewing) for me!  I have had the machine and software for less than a month, and I have loved the ease of use!

One exception has been monograms!

One of the biggest benefits of using software with an embroidery machine is that I can place my design on a virtual hoop and combine multiple files, editing to add or remove elements.  With Embrilliance and bx file fonts, I can also type out text just like I do in Word or Excel programs in my office.  This means that spacing and alignment are done for me (and I still have the option to change and edit those elements).

For some reason (come to find out: many reasons), I was unable to get my monograms to look the way they were designed to look without using the pes files and importing them one letter at a time.  My monograms, even the 3-letter styles, were all center format when I used the bx files.  I knew that was NOT how it was supposed to work!

So here are the secrets, well probably not so-secret, but I couldn't figure it out easily so I wanted to share what I learned with you.  Paying it forward now since I have learned so much from my papercrafting-friends-turned-embroiderers I thought I would share what I have figured out in that same spirit in the event that it is helpful to someone else!

Step one and SUPER IMPORTANT:  After hitting the key to insert text, click the single line/monogram button to let the program know that this is a monogram!  Not doing this was my first mistake but no more!  This is actually in the manual so I should have known this!  (For a link to the Embrilliance manual, scroll down to the bottom of this post under Quick Links!)

I type in my letters as I want them to show up.  Now notice the drop down next to "Quick Style". I will use this to make my monogram automatically format, size, and space itself.  This works great for all kinds of monograms! I had been manually formatting my stacked monograms but no more!  This stacked monogram is from Rivermill.

I love how easy it is to make perfectly and automatically sized scrolly monograms like this one from Jolsons.  I can still scoot these letters closer so they overlap if I wish using the space lever.

Or this one from Lynnie Pinnie...

And this one from Stitchtopia that changes using the Quick Style button...

For two-letter monograms with different orientations, I have found that I need to use an uppercase letter with a lower case letter to let the program know which orientation goes where!  (Both of mine are from the same vendor, so results could vary with different designers!) In this case typing Ab will create the correct left and right formatting for this monogram from Designs by JuJu.  I must have seen this someplace, though I am not sure where!  This is one where I might want to scoot these letters closer together, again, using the space lever.

For this one by the same vendor, I used the same uppercase-lowercase format to enter the text in this way: Pm.

I had to reduce the space between them so they would fit together, but that was easily done with the space lever.

When using a regular font and just making it look like a two-letter monogram, I found that I didn't have to do anything special; just type in the uppercase letters, like this font called The Frog.  I picked a Quick Style to make the letters "Bridge Up."

I found this all worked well unless I was doing a circle monogram!!!  There is no Quick Syle for a circle.  If you do what I have described above (for most of the circle fonts in my collection), the closest you would get using your bx file would be this shape even though this is designed to be a CIRCLE monogram:

In order to use my bx font and have it format in the circular shape, I find that I need to enter my letters in this way:
lowercase left letter--uppercase middle format--number or symbol right letter
(for these particular letters, that would be aB3)

To know which numbers or symbols to use for the right format letter, I use this key:

Circle Monogram Key for Letter on the right
      A 1 N @
B 2 O #
C 3 P $
D 4 Q %
E 5 R ^
F 6 S &
G 7 T *
H 8 U (
I 9 V )
J 0 W _
K  -  X  + 
L  =  Y [
M ! Z ]

For another example, to do this one, I would enter aB* in the Text field to make this monogram from Rivermill:

This solution worked on most of my circle monograms from various vendors.  I am not sure why I even tried numbers in the first place.  Must have seen that somewhere?  To find the symbols past number 9, I just started trying out all the keys on the top row and shift and then moved to other keys once those ran out until I found them to Z.

And to throw a wrench in.... this monogram from Embroidery Boutique worked the first time, in a circular shape, when I entered all caps, just as I wished they all did!!  In fact, when I put in my numeric "fix" for the right letter, it would only show the left and middle letters!  This means that not all circle monograms are the same!!  When I asked the folks at Embrilliance about this, they suggested contacting each font vendor and asking them!  (Yikes!)  Apparently, they are all supposed to do this!

So this isn't an exact science!  And I have found variance from vendor to vendor when it comes to circle monograms!

I hope this helps you!  I decided to blog about this because it was JUST EXACTLY what I was hoping to find when I was trying to figure this out and googling like crazy for answers!  If you have any great monogram tips using bx fonts in Embrilliance, please comment to share!  

Quick Links:
  • Embrilliance Manual- click here. (Scroll down when you download it.  It looks like a blank screen but it is the top of the first page!)
  • Rivermill Textured Circle 3-letter Monogram:  click here.
  • Rivermill Mini Thin Circle Monogram:  click here.
  • Designs by JuJu Elegant Swirls Diamond Monogram:  click here.
  • Rivermill Boys Stacked Monogram:  click here.
  • Rivermill 4" Circle monogram (shown above with a diamond quick style in Embrilliance):  click here.
  • Embroidery Boutique Chevron Circle Monogram:  click here.
  • Jolsons Interlocking Floss Stitch:  click here.
  • Lynnie Pinnie Swirly Monogram Font:  click here.
  • Stitchtopia Bailey:  click here.
  • Embroidery First The Frog:  click here.
  • Designs by JuJu Adorn Duo:  click here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

See ya later, Alligator: Baby Gift Set and My New Obsession

After many years of wanting one, I finally took the plunge and got an embroidery machine earlier this month!  What sealed the deal for me, aside from finding a great price and convincing my husband that this would be a better delayed birthday gift than what he had planned for me, was the fact that several of my very creative paper-crafting friends have the same model and are so generous with sources for the best products and best prices for all the supplies, tools, and files I would need.  Two of my "enablers" and mentors in this are Susan of Creations by Suebella 4U and Danita of Danita's Designs.  (If you are looking for great tutorials for machine embroidery, be sure to check out Susan's blog!)  Secondarily, a number of us recently bought this or similar machines and so we are all learning at about the same time.  Still others are getting back into machine embroidery as a result of the enthusiasm for it in our group.  The excitement has been contagious!  I have loved seeing their projects online and it inspired me to step it up and stop "practicing" so that I could make something gift-worthy for the newest baby in our family!

The machine I have is a one-needle, embroidery-only, 5x7 hoop model:  Brother PE770.  I have fallen in love with it!  I spent my first couple of days with it just going through the manual, learning how to thread it, how to thread the bobbin, how to move objects on the hoop, how to flip and rotate objects.  Then I took some great advice and got Embrilliance Essentials and learned how to combine images, how to install alphabets with bx files, how to move and center objects, how to change the stitch order of projects.  This software allows the user to print out the final design to size, along with a list of thread colors.  It allows the user to watch the stitch-out on the computer so that all the color changes make sense.  It has been such an important part of machine ownership that I cannot imagine not having the software and highly recommend this for even the newest of  beginners -- like me!  I found it tremendously easy to learn.  And it was affordable!

I decided to make a gift set that included a burp cloth, a bib, and little teddy bear.

The base of this burp cloth is a Gerber brand cloth diaper from Target.  I tweaked a tutorial I found on Notes from the Patch to dress it up a bit before embroidering on it.

For the embroidery design, I used Lynnie Pinnie's Circle Stripe applique frame.  I love this design because it allows the use of three fabrics and I wanted to combine a number of prints in this gift set.  (And through the end of the month, there is a great sale going on there!)  I used a circle monogram:  River Mill's Circle 3-Letter Monogram.  The tiny alligator at the bottom is a filled design, Lynnie Pinnie's Mini Alligator.  I used two sheets of Totally Stable tear away stabilizer on the hoop, floated the diaper, and used water soluble stabilizer as a topper.

The bib was super fast because I used a plain, vinyl-backed, terry cloth bib from Walmart as a base.  The alligator is Lynnie Pinnie's Applique Alligator and the lettering is Lynnie's Type A Lower Case.  I hooped two sheets of tear away stabilizer and floated the bib on the hoop.  I used water soluble stabilizer (WSS) as a topper.

The bear was made completely by the embroidery machine!  This was so fast and easy!  The file is GG Designs' Bubba Bear ITH.  The fleece gets floated over tear away that is hooped and topped with WSS.  Adding lettering and another tiny alligator was so easy with the software!  The tiny text was 8 Claws and a Paw's Jane Doe Mini and is only 1/4"!

The lesson I learned on this project was to use care to give plenty of contrast between thread and fabric!  Next time I will!

I made a tag for the outside of the package using Lynnie Pinnie's Circle Alligator Frame plus I added the same text used on the bib and a buttonhole from Applique Momma (free design) so that ribbon could be threaded through it.  I fused canvas to the fabric using Heat N Bond Lite and then hooped only water soluble stabilizer.  Next time, I will fuse to cut away stabilizer (instead of canvas) and also use tear away on the bottom, as the WSS started to rip away while stitching and small fibers from the canvas poked out on the edges a bit.

I love how it looks on the package and what an easy way to decorate the gift box!

Lastly, I made a card.

This was so easy using Cricut cartridge Crocs Rule for the critters and Artbooking for the frame. Because I had read in the Facebook Cricut groups that there were some glitches in Design Space today, I used my cartridges and my Expression for this card.   I cut the frame at 5" (H) and then used the center point feature to make the circle bigger.  Then I used a contrasting paper and cut two nested circles for the inside border.  The croc was cut at 4" (H).  I inked him in green to give him a little dimension and interest and popped up his snout and the frame.  The little bird was from the same cartridge, cut at 1" (H).  

Quick Links:
For all embroidery projects, I used pre-wound bobbins, Metro Embroidery Thread, individual stabilizers as detailed above, Sewer's Aid, Organ Titanium Embroidery Needles.
For my card, I used a Cricut Expression.

Thank you for checking my blog post today and for letting me share this with you!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Oo La La French Theme Birthday Gift Wraps and Grace Thomas

Oh!  How much fun it has been to make Parisian-inspired gift wraps and presents...  and to order some special things as well for my sweet girl this year for her birthday!  This year's birthday has been a bit of a challenge.  The week she normally would hand out birthday invitations to her school friends, she was out sick.  The next week, there was no school at all due to snow! That has put her sleepover off for a week.  Having to also reschedule the family dinner she wanted over the weekend due to icy roads has kind of put a damper on the whole thing for her, so it was time to ramp up the fun.

In addition to the desk that she asked for and knows that she is getting, she is also getting the new American Girl Doll of the Year, Grace Thomas, and this one has a French connection.  (My daughter thinks she will have to hope for money from grandparents so she can buy the doll herself.  She even told her grandpa, who says he will give her $1 for every year of her age, that she is turning 60.  Ha!)  I wanted all of my wrappings to make her want the doll all the more to build the fun when we surprise her at dinner.  The only problem:  the doll is set to be delivered today, and with the weather challenges, I am biting my fingernails on this!  But the silver lining, with no doll-sized box for her to see, is that she really has no idea that we have this surprise for her.

I made this little box for one of her gifts.

Click here for file.

This was cut on my Cricut Explore using an svg that I loved!  The Eiffel Tower is made to set on the box that is included in the file.  The legs of the tower form nice, dimensional corners with flat bottoms that make it perfect to adhere on the lid.  There are bottom panels that are designed with cut-outs that give the impression of the tower's metalwork, without tedious cutouts all the way up the design.  Click here to link to the svg file I used from SVGcuts.   I used the writing feature of the machine to personalize it, using an American Crafts Precision Pen.  This pen fits perfectly in the Explore without any aftermarket tools.  To see my whole list of pens that will work in the Explore, click here.

I borrowed my daughter's Kit doll.  Shhh...don't tell.  
Of course, the fun of American Girl dolls is the detailed and endless accessories!  Unfortunately, the "Welcome Gift" that one can order with the Grace Thomas doll is backordered.  No worries, that will be a fun thing for her to get in the mail in April, and I made up for that with a quick little doll apron. (Grace's story is that her aunt owns a bakery in Paris.) I used a fabric from my stash that felt appropriate for her story.  I made this using McCall's M6451.

Next, I worked on a 3D hot air balloon package embellishment.  The gift inside is a DVD and there is nothing more boring or tell-tale than the way a DVD looks if just wrapped.  But, when I put something fun and dimensional on the package, no one ever guesses what is inside.  Neat trick, huh?  (Or maybe we are all easily distracted in my family?)

I loved making this hot air balloon so much!  My husband wanted me to make him one!  And I wanted to make five of them to hang in the window over my sewing machine!  For hanging it was perfect and I did include a small twine loop on top in case my daughter keeps it to hang. (We'll use fishing line to hang from the ceiling if she decides to do that).

Click here for file.

But for standing, such as I have done on this package, I did reinforce the "ropes" that connect the basket to the balloon.  I used the thinnest pop-dot foam that I had on hand and cut a thin strip.  Then I backed it with a thin strip of white card stock and attached it to the backside of each rope, allowing it to touch the floor of the basket.  Without the support, the ropes bent under the weight of the balloon.

Next, I wanted to try an overall pattern for dolls after my daughter showed me Kit's Chicken Keeping outfit on the American Girl on-line catalog.  I wasn't trying to copy the pattern, although it would have been easy enough to do, but rather, I was thinking spring and wanted to make her something cheerful and sunny.

This was a joy to make!  All three pieces, hat, top, and overalls, were made with different pdf patterns purchased on-line:
The hat is from Bonjour Teaspoon, the Phoebe Hat.  
The knit top is from Liberty Jane's T-shirt Variations.
The short overalls is from Forever 18 Inches' Not Your Mama's Overalls.

For all patterns that you print yourself, be sure that your printer is set to "actual size" and NOT "print to fit."  They all have a 1" scale so that you can verify that you printed correctly.  

I loved the topstitching on the hat and overalls!

I used colored denim that I upcycled from old jeans.  (Thrift shops are my source for colored denim for doll clothing).  The knit top was cut from a toddler's size t-shirt that I bought and stashed and recently found among my fabric.  The print was from my fabric stash.  The overalls go on and off easily-- a real requirement for doll clothes in my opinion.  I altered the pattern a bit.  There are options for a drawstring casing with cord that ties at the front and an OshKosh-style back.  Then there is an option for elastic in the waistband and long straps that criss-cross.  The pair I made combined the two without the drawstring or long straps.  I would have gone out specifically for tiny overall buckles if not for the snow and ice we received!  In lieu of that, I used the snap-backed-button option!  I love all the little pockets on these.

This little outfit was wrapped using a purchased gift bag, embellished with elements from DCWV's La Vintage Boutique stack.  

I used the printed banner letters in the stack to create a little package decoration, strung together with twine.

Quick Links to the files and products I used:

Eiffel Tower Box svg:  click here.
Hot Air Balloon svg:  click here.
Doll Apron Sewing Pattern:  McCall's M6451
Doll Sun Hat:  Bonjour Teaspoon's Phoebe Hat.  Click here.
Doll Top (worn under the overalls):  Liberty Jane's T-shirt Variations.  Click here.
Doll Overalls:  Forever 18 Inches' Not Your Mama's Overalls.  Click here.
My list of pens that fit in the Cricut Explore: click here or go to the tab at the top of my blog.
These are the two paper stacks I used for my packages on this post:

DCWV's La Boutique Vintage Stack and Me and My Big Ideas' Mambi Sheets.

Thank you for checking my blog today!  Well today is the day.  I am off to pick up cupcakes to drop off at her school and will be peeking one more time to see if Fed Ex has left anything...

Look who's here now!!!!  Birthday happiness is saved once again.  Ha!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

What a fantastic year 2015 has been so far!  The only sad part is that my little blog has been neglected, but what better day to share gifts made in love than on Valentine's Day?

This holiday has always been celebrated in a big way in our family because it is also my mom's birthday!  My mom always made it special because it was fun for her and I have continued the tradition, although I have given up on making pink, red, and heart-shaped foods after repeated requests.  Apparently, pink mashed potatoes and heart-shaped mini meatloaves just sent them over the edge a few years ago.  (I know, I don't understand what the problem was either.)  Short of that, I do try to make it fun like my mom made it for us!

I know that with a soon-to-be-eleven-year-old, my days of making stuff for her dolls are not going to last much longer, so I took full advantage of the fact that my daughter still gets giddy when she receives something for her dolls.

This dress was made from Simplicity 1220.  The fabrics, piping, and ribbons were purchased at Hobby Lobby.

My daughter is an American Girl Doll enthusiast, treating them like real living people.  I thought it would be fun if all 15 gave her doll-sized Valentines.  I used printable Valentines from Lettering Delights and created envelopes using the Artiste cartridge and my Cricut Expression.

Each unique card was signed by each doll by name, placed in an envelope, and put in a little plastic mailbox I found at Target in the dollar section.

I created little hand-cut stamps and hand-cancelled each one.

My daughter was adamant that she would make the Valentines for her classmates at school so she used punches to create her own tags for mini chocolate boxes.

She did let me do her teacher's Valentine.  I simply bought a box of chocolates and added paper flowers, ribbon, and glittery hearts to the top.

To make the flowers, I used Art Philosophy on page 69 of the handbook to make scrolled roses at 4-1/2", 4", and 3".  (The sizes are the height of the cut).  The petal flowers were made using the scrolled flower on page 68 at 2" and 3".  The round flowers were cut using the scrolled flower shape on page 68 at 2".  The hearts and tag were cut using a punch.

To make my mom's birthday card, I used an SVG I purchased from SVGcuts.  You can find that file by clicking here.  I used the writing feature on my Cricut Explore to write Happy Birthday on the banner and to write on the envelope with a Pilot Precise V5 pen.

Click here for this file.
For my mom's Valentine card, I used a different file from SVGcuts.  This mailbox file and several others are free with a $10 purchase at the time that this blog was published.  Use code FREEGIFT and pick some stuff off your wish list from that company!

Click here for this file.
I used the pen feature to write on the back of the card and on the envelope.

For the ballerinas at my daughter's ballet school, we simply added little tags to mini chocolate boxes. These were so easy using the Art Philosphy cartridge for the shape (page 69 in the handbook and cut at 1-1/4"), a Pilot Precise V5 pen, a dingbat from a free font at for the little ballerina, and a heart from my Cricut shapes in Design Space.

Lastly, I created a heart card for a correspondence that was sent during Valentine's week.  This was also a file from SVGcuts.   I love this layered rose for all kinds of occasions!  I used the writing feature for the inside sentiment and for the mailing envelope.

Click here for this file.  
I got a nice crafty break doing these projects for our Valentines! I am off to deliver early morning Valentines before finishing the last day of a busy trade show.  I hope you are having a great 2015 and sweet Valentines's Day with folks you love!

Quick Links:

Hot Air Balloon Card -- click here.
Mailbox with love letters box card -- click here.
Layered rose card -- click here.

But wait! There's more! Click 'older posts' above!

But wait!  There's more!  Click 'older posts' above!