Monday, April 25, 2016

Welcome to Fabulous Louisville, Kentucky!

It's Derby Festival time again where I live.  We celebrate a two minute horse race with two weeks of festivities.  The super-mega-ginormous Thunder Over Louisville Fireworks display kicked it all off this past weekend.  It is a fun time to live in the area and it is great for our local economy and for our international footprint.

We make a big deal about it and have fun with it!  So for silliness, I am doing some decorations for my house.  This is a kitchen towel I just finished.

OK, I will admit that this is not the best digitized file I have ever used, but it is kitschy and fun and really, now that Why Louisville and Lynn's Paradise Cafe are both closed (although someone just bought the Lynn's property!), it's getting harder to....

The file is from  I think it might be cute, if I stitch this again, to replace the swanky star with a fleur-de-lis, since that is the symbol borrowed from King Louis XVI, the namesake for Louisville.  Or maybe not!  I floated this towel over tearaway and stitched on top of water soluble stabilizer (WSS).  The only fill area was the white behind the letters for "welcome" so it does stitch up pretty fast.

The towel itself is just a cheap bar mop that has strips of cotton print stitched to the bottom hem to dress it up.

I do put every single file through Embrilliance before I stitch it.

This was stitched with Metro polyester embroidery thread.  Stabilizers were from World Weidner.

This was a fun project.  I have a few other Derby projects to complete for my house and only a couple of weeks to get them done.

To see last year's "Talk Derby to Me" towel, click here.  To see previous Derby paper projects, click here and here.   All of my paper projects can be found on my Paper Project Gallery and many of my embroidery projects can be found on my blog's Embroidery page.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Embrilliance Software with Anita Goodesigns

I have been on a fun adventure, quilting with my embroidery machine! There are many ways that the machine can be used for creating quilts:

  • Piece in the hoop using a stitch-fold-and-stitch method 
  • Quilt-in-the-hoop as a QAYG (quilt-as-you-go) method
  • Embroider designs to be the focus of blocks
  • Applique block pieces
  • Use a combination of those!   

The result is a "programmed" quilt block that is perfect every time.

I have done traditional quilting in the past.  I have made wall-hanging and bed-sized quilts.  The challenge, as the size increases, is the actual quilting (combining the layers of the top, the batting, and the backing with decorative stitching).  Quilting in the hoop as you go solves that problem!  Once all the blocks are completed and stitched together, an additional layer of thin cotton batting and a backing are added.  Stitch-in-the-ditch attaches the layers in the center.  The quilt is bound and it is complete!  The simple, stitch-in-the-ditch quilting only shows from the back, and since we typically use a busy backing fabric (instead of the traditional muslin like you use for traditional quilting), it barely shows up.  The decorative, interesting quilting that was digitized shows up beautifully on the front of the quilt.

I have been experimenting with quilt files from Sweet Pea and from Anita Goodesign.  Those Anita Goodesign files have been kind of addicting to collect!  (Must be my natural hoarding instinct-- haha!)  I beefed up my collection after picking up a number of All Access CDs with books on eBay. Those books are the tutorials and they are really fun and inspiring.  The best part about some of the Anita Goodesign CDs is that they work together so that you can use sashing from one, large blocks from a second, and border blocks from a third.  This is their Mix and Match concept and it offers so many options!

With all that I really love about Anita Goodesign files, there are some things that are less than great too.
  • First of all, the price.  Thank goodness for eBay.  I have been fortunate enough to snag single collections for less than $10 and All Access with books for less than $60 (that is usually six to nine collections that were released in the same month).  Some have clearly been opened; some arrive still sealed.  Many, I have been able to haggle down when they are listed with 'make an offer'.  
  • Next, my hoop size is 5x7 so there are some files that just won't work for my machine. Shrinking, even with awesome software, often creates highly dense areas.  It makes me wonder if the smaller size blocks aren't just re-sized by the digitizer instead of being digitized specifically for the size.  That means that some of those All Access CDs include files that are not useful to me.
  • Third, I have noticed some overly dense parts of the designs.  I am not sure if that exists in the larger block sizes but it can be a real problem for the "D" size block, which is the size used for 5x7.  I have used Embrilliance Density Repair Kit successfully for those.
  • Fourth, for some collections, there are some typos and grammatical errors in the text of the instructions and even on some covers!  That distraction is easy to ignore when the design is attractive!
  • Sometimes, even blocks that are supposed  to fit in a 5x7 hoop are over-sized by just a fraction of an inch, but it keeps the design from being read by the machine.  Embrilliance Essentials allows me to adjust the "Y value" to proportionally resize the blocks only enough to fit correctly in the hoop.
To me, the biggest benefit of having software when using Anita Goodesign files on 5x7 hoops is the ability to fix density, merge other designs in, adjust size, and add personalizing text.  These are my notes on using Density Repair Kit on quilt blocks!  I am currently working on blocks from Birds of a Feather.  My favorite thing, aside from the hand-drawn look of the art, is the technique used whereby the fabric design is printed at home on inkjet-printable fabric using the provided PDFs.  

First of all, I open the file. For this block, I clicked the "flip horizontally" button so that  I could make the bird look the other way.  I only did this because I will be repeating this block but I want the quilt to appear to have all unique blocks.  This just makes a little change to make the overall quilt more interesting.

I want to take advantage of Density Repair Kit's ability to remove hidden stitches.  I make sure that I have chosen to remove hidden stitches in My Preferences.  

In order to have the software remove hidden stitches but NOT lose import tack stitches that will be needed to add the folded pieces that form the outer edges of the quilt block, I have to tell the program that those tack stitches must remain.  I do that by denoting those as "position" and "material" stitches. Just like in applique, the position stitches are placed so that we know where to place the fabric.  The material stitches are placed to hold the fabric in place.  On Anita Goodesign files using the Folded Fabric Method, each fabric strip is sewn by first stitching a placement line or box so you know where to put the fabric, followed by the seam that is sewn when you place the strip face-down, followed by a line or shape that is sewn after you fold the fabric right-side-up to keep it in place.  The initial placement line or box should be denoted as "position" and the two fabric tack-downs should be denoted as "material."  So unlike applique that has one position and one material, the Folded Fabric Method has one position and two material stitching lines.  

To do that:

Arrow 1:  Select the object in the object pane for all the tack down items.  We do this one at a time. In this case, I selected the tackdown for material.  That will bring up the thread color in the Properties pane.

Arrow 2:  Select the thread color.  This will bring up the Thead box.  

Arrow 3:  Select the Applique tab.  This will bring up a box with drop down arrow.

Arrow 4:  Click on the arrow to select either Applique Position or Applique Material.  In this case, I had chose the object that would sew down the folded material so I chose "Applique Material.  

For this block, this is how my Object pane now looked once I denoted all the position and material steps.  Now, the software will not remove any of these as it removes hidden stitches!

 The the best part:  I can click the Density Repair Kit (DRK) icon...

The stitch count started at 12,486.  That is found at the bottom right side of the Embrilliance screen.

 After clicking the DRK icon, the stitches are reduced to 11,831.

Considering the size of the block and that the majority of stitching is in a 3.25" x 2" area, that's a big change!

The first time I stitched this block (without adjusting the density in this manner), the white and dark coral threads, that had to stitch over so many layers, broke trying to go through them all and the flower on top of the birdcage was pushed to the back of the canvas.  This time, the thread was unbroken and the stitching was flat!  The stitching still looks dense, but it is not hard, curved, and "bullet proof."  

I am still working on my blocks (I make one every morning).  These will be sewn together to make a wall hanging for my foyer.  I have about a month of blocks to make!

Thank you for checking my blog post today!  I hope you are taking time to make something every day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Quilting with an Embroidery Machine!

Although I have known for a while that there are lots of 'continuous stitching line' files intended for machine quilting by embroidery machine, it is relatively recently that I realized that there are files that do piecing and quilting in the same file!

I have been looking at those kinds of files at the Sweet Pea Embroidery site for a few months, unsure if they were worth the price, more than I usually pay for any file!  They are just so unusual and different from the other files I have seen and stitched.  Right now, because of the current exchange rate, we in the U.S. are getting a bit of a break in the price so I considered that my discount.  This company does not have sales.

So I took a leap of faith and tried the Circles Quilt file.  I loved the way that the center of the blocks looked like matelasse.

Because it was my first attempt at this, I chose to use only one of the two blocks, creating circles instead of flowers that the pattern creates when using both.  I was pleased that there was a detailed pdf instruction file included.  I simply followed the directions to stitch my blocks.

This is one block in my 5x7 hoop.  On some of them, I hooped poly mesh to stabilize, in others, tear-away.  (The instructions say that either cut-away or tear-away could be used.  I would not think that regular cut-away would be a good idea).  I liked them both for different reasons:  The poly mesh is so thin and flexible that it does not need to be removed.  It also backs the batting, making it less likely to get caught on something.  The tear-away easily tears off and makes for a less stiff quilt block.  

I used a cotton batting for the loft.

I let the embroidery machine stitch nine blocks and I then stitched them together using my regular sewing machine.  That was my first real challenge.  I had problems getting them matched up.  Matching the lines is imperative so getting it right was necessary.  And so was ripping some seams....

I got lots of great advice from the Sweet Pea Facebook group on fixing this.  In the end, I figured out that if I pinned super close to each side of the satin stitching, they couldn't slide off of each other and they matched up better.  

I also found that when they didn't match up, that I only needed to rip out the area around them and simply ease them together, instead of tearing out the whole line of stitching.

I peeled back the corners to match them.  I just slid the fabrics until the folded back stitched areas created a 'square'. 

Finally!  They all matched!  This created my pillowtop.  It finished around 15".  I used a 16" pillow form from Hancock Fabrics.  

I simply basted on piping and then cut a piece of cotton for the back, using the top as a pattern for the back.  (I cheated and did not put in a zipper).

Ta-da!  My pillow is complete.

List of Links from this post (none of the links are affiliate links):
To see my Embroidery page on this blog, that includes links to my other embroidery posts, tutorials, and resources, click the tab at the top of the blog or click here.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Read With Me: A Personalized T-shirt for a Crocodile

In the midst of all the ladies on all the embroidery and Silhouette Facebook pages putting names on bunny ears in preparation for Easter, I worked instead on a crocodile for a birthday!  This is a Kohl's Cares plushie and book that I bought for my niece but I wanted to personalize it for her.  My daughter suggested making him a t-shirt instead of using embroidery or heat transfer vinyl on his body.  I loved that idea!

I have made the free Liberty Jane t-shirt pattern a gazillion times over the years for my daughter's dolls!  I knew the pattern pieces would not fit but I used the same sewing instructions that are used for that pattern.  Using that guide, gift wrap tissue paper, quarter inch seam markers, and my dedicated tissue paper scissors, I drafted a t-shirt pattern for Cornelius.

I drafted a sloper for him first.  That just means that I used tissue paper to create a fitted top, focusing on half of the front of him and half of the back of him.  How handy that he has seams down the front and back centers!  The sloper doesn't have seam allowances or hems; it is just the pieces made to fit, using pencil and scissors to alter it.

This was nice and easy because I could pin it right to him.

I traced those sloper pieces onto more tissue and added seam allowance and a hem.  The Omnigrid Quarter Inch Marker is very handy for this, but even a clear grid ruler works just fine.

I wasn't sure how to handle the sleeve.  I ended up using the doll pattern sleeve, pinning it to the armscye, only to realize that I needed to remove some of the width of the pattern.  I adjusted the pattern and re-cut the sleeve to that size.

I also added a bias strip to make a neckband.  I measured the sloper (no seam allowance) to figure the length and cut it on the bias.  This was a feature from the Liberty Jane t-shirt variation pattern that I used.  Cut on the bias, it will stretch to fit, stabilize the neckline, and look more like a real t-shirt.

All pieces were cut and stitched, using the same construction as detailed in the Liberty Jane t-shirt pattern.

I stitched the neckline first then added one sleeve to test it.  This pattern sets in the sleeve BEFORE the sides are sewn.  Next it was time to do a pin fitting to make sure it was sized correctly.

The other sleeve was added and they were hemmed.  With the sides still un-sewn, it was the perfect time to embroider the t-shirt.  I used Embrilliance Essentials to add text (Itch2Stitch Pinky Swear) and merge in a mini alligator from Lynnie Pinnie.

In the software, I simply clicked the Add Lettering button three times to have "Read," "with me," and "Avery" as separate objects so that I could change the colors.  I clicked the Merge Files button to add the alligator.  I selected the alligator in the Objects Pane and right clicked it, selecting the 'move earlier' option until it was under the word "Read" since I had colored them with the same green.

I stabilized the crocodile's t-shirt just like I do for all knit garments:  fused poly mesh on the back of the garment and floated over hooped tear away.  I sewed down water soluble topping with the basting box.  For complete instructions with pictures of this stabilizing process, check out my Onesie tutorial on this blog or click here.  I used the paper printout from the software to place it perfectly on the hoop.

I stitched my embroidery design.

I tore off the tear away and water soluble stabilizer, clipped threads, and trimmed away the poly mesh.

I sewed the side seams, tried it on the plushie again to make sure it was okay, and then hemmed the bottom.  For the sleeve and bottom hems, I stabilized the t-shirt knit by fusing the hem in place before stitching with Steam-A-Seam 1/4" tape.  This prevents the rippled stitching that can occur when stitching on the cross-stretch.

I sewed velcro to the back.

The t-shirt was complete!

I am happy with my little project and I like that it adds value to this inexpensive gift!  You may have noticed that I used an alligator image on a crocodile's shirt.  I found it difficult to tell the difference between the two until someone shared this with me.  That clears it up!

Links from this post (none are affiliate links):

  • Kohl's Cares Crocodile plush animal:  click here.
  • Kohl's Cares Cornelius book:  click here.
  • Liberty Jane doll t-shirt pattern for instructions:  click here.
  • Liberty Jame doll t-shirt variation pattern:  click here.
  • Embrilliance Essentials embroidery software:  click here.
  • Font - Itch2Stitch Pinky Swear:  click here.
  • Mini Alligator from Lynnie Pinnie:  click here.
  • Onesie tutorial for info on how to stabilize knits:  click here.
  • Steam-A-Seam2 1/4" fusible tape:  click here.
Thanks for checking my blog post today.  To see all my embroidery resources and links to my other project posts, check out my Embroidery Page on this blog, or click here.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Making Embroidered Patches and Combining Parts of Files

For Easter this year, I thought it might be fun to make little patches to go on buckets for some of my Easter gifts. These are my notes on how I make a patch from an applique. You do need to be able to stitch an applique for this information to be valuable to you!  If you do not know how to do that and need a little guidance, check out the tutorial on how to stitch an applique from Itch2Stitch (click here).

Additionally, I have included my notes on taking parts of the digitizing from one file and combining it with another to make fun, new files.

As with all of my tutorials:  This is just the way I have found to do this task.  You may have a different way that is better for you.  This post is done with pictures that feature my PE770 and Embrilliance software.

How To Make A Patch
The key to making a patch is two-fold:  (1) making sure the outer edge is stable with a continuous line of intact stitching and, (2) stitching on two layers of Vilene (strong, non-filmy water soluble stabilizer) so that the base can be dissolved, leaving only the applique itself.  The fabrics I like to use ravel, so I use appliques that have a continuous line of satin stitching on the outside.  That's pretty traditional for patches.  That said, I have seen great "raggy-style" patches and felt patches that only had a bean stitch on the outer edge.  On the patches I make, I also like to add a layer of fabric to the back side of the patch, under the hoop.  Adding a layer will keep the E6000 glue (that I will later use) from oozing through. Depending on when the back fabric is added, the wrong side of the stitches can be hidden.  I usually do not hide mine unless my patch is going to be a tag.

Step one:  Prep the hoop.
I hoop two layers of Vilene.

Step two:  Prep the back.
I tape a starched piece of fabric to the back of the hoop.  I really don't think most people do this step. I do because I want an extra layer between my embroidery and the glue that I will use later to apply my patch onto a metal bucket.

Step three:  the stitch-out.
I like to stitch all the applique fabrics in place at the same time when the design allows for it.  Usually this means stitching out of order.  It is just easier for me this way.  I trim the fabrics as usual for an applique.

I trim the fabric on the back.  By putting my fabric on the back this early, the back fabric won't cover my stitches, but it doesn't matter to me because the back will be glued and never seen. (Actually, on my buckets, the ears will overhang but the ears look just fine, even from the wrong side, since I use a fun fabric for the backside.)  Once the back is trimmed, I don't worry about it for the rest of the stitch-out.

I continue the stitch-out to completion.  I sometimes change the order of stitching for merged files to make sure that certain elements, like the bunny paws, stitch on top of the frame.

 I trim the threads from the front and back.

Step four:  Remove the vilene.
I trim around the Vilene.  The more trimmed away, the less sticky goo!

I try to dip just the edge in hot tap water. It dissolves almost instantly. (Further, I have found that if I dip my fingers into hot or very warm water and touch the edge repeatedly until it dissolves, I can do this with only getting the satin stitch edge wet.)

After it air dries, it is done!

From the back, you can see the difference between placing the back fabric on earlier versus later in the stitch-out.  I tend to only put the fabric on later when I am turning my patch into a tag.

These are the backs of two patches, the one on the right is a tag-style patch.
The patch on the left has back fabric that was added at the beginning; the back stitches are not hidden.
The tag on the right has fabric that was added at the end to cover the wrong side of the stitching, and the outer satin stitches were left until the very end.  

For tags: The key to removing the Vilene is to only get water on the very edge of the patches.  this is especially true for tag-style patches.  If the whole patch gets wet, the Vilene acts like a glue that adheres the back fabric tight to the wrong side of the tag.
For tags, a buttonhole can be added to the stitching or ribbon can be added when the back fabric is stitched.

Now, I will back up a bit and show how I put the file together that I used to make the patches on this post.

How to Combine Parts of Files Together:
What I loved most with paper crafting, especially years ago when the only game in town was Cricut and we were only able to use their cartridges for artwork, was combining parts of some cuts with others to create unique things.  My blog here is filled with tons of that.  I loved it most when I was creating characters and vignettes. I haven't done any of that in embroidery, choosing instead to just stitch what is in the file or, in a limited way, digitizing my own.  Today, I borrow from those old Cricut days and combine parts of a design to use with other files in my Embrilliance software.

I fell in love with a new file from Itch2Stitch called Some Bunny Loves Me.  It's that cute peeking bunny that grabbed my attention!  You can see on the Objects Pane that the nice thing here is that all the steps for the bunny are completely separate from the heart and the text.

I can select each of those steps and click delete to be left only with the peeking bunny.

I bring in my frame design onto my virtual screen.  I select the bunny so I can move it where I want it.  This is Applique Corner Bethany.

I enlarge the grid so I can see the exact placement of the bunny with the frame, tilting the bunny's head to fit the frame design.

Then I can add text and merge other files, like those carrots, to complete the design of the patch.  Both the text (Type A Lower Case) and the carrots (Carrots Mini) are from Lynnie Pinnie.  I usually don't change the thread colors in my software; I usually pick my threads at the machine.  I could change it in my Embrilliance software, however, and I do when the colors are distracting to me.

 Next I have to think about the order I want things stitched.
  • I want the bunny face to be stitched first so that the bottom edge where his neck is (with only tackdown stitches) is hidden behind the frame, but I want the satin stitching around him to be part of the last steps so that his paws aren't hidden.  This is where I consider if I want the 'remove hidden stitches' function to be operational.  For info on that, click here.
  • I want the last steps of the frame to be the outer satin stitch edge when I am doing a tag.  For a patch, it often won't matter.  
  • I can place my back fabric at the beginning but it will not hide the wrong side of my stitches OR I can place it near the very end before the outer satin stitch steps are sewn.  If I am placing my back fabric at the end, I must repeat extra tackdown stitches for both the bunny and the outer frame.  I will need that so that I can trim the back before the outer satin stitches are placed.
In truth, I just take this file to my machine and manually change the order of steps as needed by tapping the advance and repeat steps buttons on my embroidery machine screen.  The list that prints out from my Embrilliance Essentials is my cheat sheet and I just pencil in changes as my guide. The order of stitching, of course, can be changed in the software by dragging stitching steps to their desired locations.  For info on how to change stitch order in Embrilliance Essentials, check out a video by clicking here.

File details for my patches...

Piper and Carah Patches
These are both done with Itch2Stitch Somebunny Loves Me, Itch2Stitch Fancy Frame Double Applique, and fonts from Stitchtopia.  Both use 4x4 frames but the Piper patch uses a bunny from the 4x4 size and the Carah patch uses a bunny from the 5x7 size.  

Piper's name is stitched with Joy for the "P" and Hailey for the rest of the name.  Carah's name is stitched with Hailey2 except for the "r" which is from Hailey1.  

Stitchtopia has a number of lovely fonts with alternative letters so that you can get just the swirls and flourishes needed to fill a space.

Phoenix Patch
This one (from the tutorials above), in addition to the Somebunny file from Itch2Stitch, used a file from Applique Corner called #1418 Bethany Frame with the carrots and font from Lynnie Pinnie. The font is Type A Lowercase and the carrots are Mini Carrot.

Sacha Patch
This one used an applique from Hang to Dry Bunnies with Eggs in the 6x10 size. The text is Jolson's 133 Bonobo font, sized down to fit.

I used the Enthusiast module of Embrilliance software to lasso off the bunnies on the sides, leaving only the one in the middle.

Nothing was added and I didn't need to finish the back like a tag, so there is no change to the stitch order.

Ella Patch
This is a simple applique from Lynnie Pinnie called Baby Bunny in the 4x4 size.  The font in Stitchtopia Daphne.

Attach to Buckets
Once all the patches were dry, I glued them onto metal buckets that I found at Walmart in the Easter department, using E6000 plastic adhesive. (E6000 works great for all non-porous objects (like these metal buckets) and is fine for porous-to-non-porous adhesion.  They did have chalkboard stickers on them, but they were very easy to peel off without any residue left behind.

To keep the patches in place on the curved buckets while the glue dried, I used stretch film wrap.  This is a non-sticky product, much like the plastic wrap you put on leftover food, a narrow version of Saran Wrap.  I get it at Walmart in the office supply department.

I finished the buckets by taking off the ribbons that came tied on the buckets, ironing them, and re-tying them.  I filled them with Easter basket fill paper grass.

List of links from this post (These are not affiliate links; they are all direct links.  I am not affiliated with any embroidery products or companies.  I just share resources I use and like.):
  • Embrilliance software: click here.
  • How to stitch an applique file (for anyone who does not know, it will make the patch tutorial more helpful!):  click here.
  • Vilene:  click here.
  • E6000 plastic adhesive.  This link is for Michael's but you can find it at all kinds of hobby and craft stores, big box stores, and on-line:  click here
  • Stretch film wrap:  click here.
  • Video tutorial on the hidden stitches function in Embrilliance:  click here.
  • Video tutorial on how to change stitch order in the Objects Pane in Embrilliance Essentials:  click here.
  • Itch2Stitch Some Bunny Loves Me file:  click here.
  • Itch2Stitch Fancy Frame Double Applique:  click here.
  • Stitchtopia Joy font: click here.
  • Stitchtopia Hailey font:  click here.
  • Applique Corner #1418 Bethany Frame:  click here.
  • Lynnie Pinnie Type A Lower Case font:  click here.
  • Lynnie Pinnie Mini Carrot embroidery:  click here.
  • Hang to Dry Bunnies with Eggs:  click here.
  • Embrilliance Enthusiast:  click here.
  • Jolson's Designs Bonobo #133 font:  click here.
  • Lynnie Pinnie Baby Bunny applique:  click here.
  • Stitchtopia Daphne:  click here.
  • Lynnie Pinnie Scallop Easter Bunny:  click here.
Thanks for checking my blog post today!  For all my notes, links to my tutorials, and lists of my sources, check out my Embroidery page or click here.

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

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