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