Saturday, March 25, 2017

Personalized Wrist Strap Key Fobs


These are my notes on making personalized wrist strap key fobs.  These are made by using an embroidery machine to stitch on ribbon, then attaching the ribbon to cotton webbing using a sewing machine.  The ends are finished and made into a loop with hardware using a pair of rubber-tipped crimper pliers. The embroidery stitches are completely hidden.  

Step 1:  Add text.
I start by opening Embrilliance Essentials embroidery software and adding text.  This is Caleb by Stitchopia in 1/2".  I chose this size because I am using 7/8" ribbon.

Step 2:  Add a basting box.
After adding the text, I add a basting box (under the utilty tab, baste design).  For more info on how to do this, check out the Quick Tips #4 video from Embrilliance.  


The reason I do this now instead of at the end to encompass all the lettering together is that I will be turning the text diagonally but the basting box works on the x-y axis.  It will grow to the size of the hoop!  I need my basting boxes to stay close to the text so that they can provide a placement guide for my ribbon and to provide even stress on the ribbon so that the text stitches without pulling the ribbon.

Step 3:  Copy text.
I drag a box around the name and its basting box and group them together by clicking the edit tab and then "group" in the drop-down box.  This magically holds the two together.  Then, while they are still selected, I copy and paste twice.  I pull them off the original to have three.  (Extra thing here:  I pull them off in the order I want them to stitch so the top one will be the last to stitch so I scoot it to the far right.  The next will be second to stitch so I scoot it in the middle.  My original will be the first to stitch so it stays on the far left.  If this doesn't make clear sense now, no worries.  We will double-check stitch order later.)


Step 4:  Set the length.
I know I want my text to be repeated evenly over a space of 7-1/2".  That is a length that fits diagonally in my 5x7 hoop and that works perfectly for my wrist fob. (My wrist strap will be 12" long before being joined with hardware).

I move the first and last "Nadia boxes" so that from the left edge of the first letter to the right edge of the last letter of the last box is 7-1/2".  (I think it helps to move the first box to a grid line.  I just eyeball it using the grid to get close.  When I drag a box to include all three text groups (or CTRL and A to select them all), I can double check the length.  I want it close to 7-1/2.  The arrow on the screenshot below confirms that the length is correct.


Step 5:  Automatic spacing.
While they are all still selected, I click the Align and Distribute button.  I click the Distribute tab.  I make sure that both center boxes are selected and I click the box for "EXTENT of SELECTION".  This will keep the length the same, even though it is longer than my hoop. I click Apply.  My "Nadia boxes" are perfectly spaced!


Step 6: Turn diagonally.
Again, while they are all still selected, we will group them together (Edit tab, Group).  Grab the blue dot and turn the line of boxes diagonally.  I just eyeball it.  Then I click the Center-Designs-In-Hoop button.


Step 7:  Double-check stitch order.
I want to be sure that my embroidery machine will stitch the bottom left, then the middle, then the upper right, and not is some weird mixed up order, making unnecessary, crazy, extra jumps.  I just click each object in the object pane and watch what gets highlighted with handles on the virtual hoop. Since I was mindful of this in Step 3, it is correct.  If yours is not correct, simply select an incorrect one in the Object Pane and right click, selecting 'move earlier' or 'more later' to scoot them into correct order.


(You can't take a screen shot of this so I took a snapshot to show the selections when you select an object and then right click.  These allow you to move objects in a different order.  You can also drag, but I tend to get confused when they all look alike!)


Step 8:  Move the boxes to stitch first.
Our goal is to have boxes that stitch a placement stitch, then another set of boxes that stitch the ribbon down, then the actual lettering will stitch.  With that said, the first thing to do is to move the basting boxes to stitch first, but still in the order of lower left, middle, upper right. These boxes will be our placement stitches! I just select one, right click, and select 'move earlier' to place it correctly.  The screenshot below shows that now all the basting boxes are first, then the text objects are later.


Step 9:  Add three more boxes.
This is a step that I could skip and just use the repeat step button on my embroidery machine.  But for the sake of doing it in the software, these are the ribbon tackdown boxes.  I simply copy each basting box and it shows up at the end.


Again, I right click each and move to stitch right after the first three boxes.  While doing each one, I also change color.  This will force my machine to stop after the first three boxes stitch so I can place my ribbon before the next three stitch.


The software portion is complete!  I save my file and transfer it to a USB and move it to my embroidery machine.

I hoop tearaway stabilizer on my 5x7 hoop.


I stitch the first color step, the ribbon placement boxes.  For you smart thinkers, use thread that matches your ribbon.  For us dummies, we will suffer the consequences.  Haha.


Place the grosgrain ribbon.  I cut off about 13" or 14" of 7/8" wide ribbon.  I will trim it down to 12" size once it is all stitched. Normally I would use a textile spray adhesive but something nudged me to use this painters tape and it worked great.  I carefully centered over the boxes.  If I had used matching thread, I could have used a light box to ensure that the ribbon was placed correctly, but with the black, I could see right through it.



Next, I stitched the next color step, the basting boxes to hold the ribbon in place and to offer even tension on the ribbon to prevent pulling of the embroidery.


I removed the hoop, removed the tape, removed the basting stitches and tore the ribbon from the tearaway stabilizer.


I used my tiny pointed Kai scissors to cut jump threads.


The ribbon looks a little wavy despite the boxes but that irons right out and it lies perfectly flat.


I use Steam A Seam tape to fuse the ribbon to my cotton webbing instead of pinning in place.


I place thread in my sewing machine's bobbin that matches my cotton webbing and top thread that matches the edge of the ribbon.  I just stitch with a straight stitch.


the back is perfectly clean with no embroidery back stitches showing and even the straight stitches are hidden in the texture of the webbing because they match.


I trim each side so that the total length is 12".


I fit the webbing into the hardware and clamp down using special pliers.  I got this hardware from Brees on Etsy.  The crimper pliers were from the same shop.


 I slide on a split ring for keys and it's done!


The black strap fob above used Stitchtopia's Classic Style font.  


The small one on top is two layers of ribbon on black webbing with no embroidery.
The second one down with keys attached is black ribbon with white edging sewn onto black cotton webbing.  The font is Stitchtopia Classic Style.
The third one is fabric that was starched and folded and sewn onto cotton webbing.  The font is Itch2Stitch Pinky Swear.
The fourth one down is black grosgrain ribbon sewn to nylon webbing.  The font is Itch2Stitch Pinky Swear.  The tiny shamrocks are from Amazing Designs.
The bottom one is the one from this tutorial.  Font is Stitchtopia's Caleb.


List of links and resource info shared in this post:
  • Embrilliance Essentials embroidery software:  click here.
  • Stitchtopia Caleb font:  click here.
  • Embrilliance Quick Tips video on adding basting boxes:  click here.
  • 7/8" grosgrain ribbon, 1" cotton webbing, and Steam A Seam fusible tape were from Joann Fabrics.
  • Fob hardware with rings:  click here.  They sell the hardware for 1" and 1-1/4".  I used the 1" for this project.
  • Crimper pliers:  click here.
  • Stitchtopia Classic Style font:  click here
  • Itch2Stitch Pinky Swear:  click here.
  • Tiny shamrock:  click here.
Thank you for checking my blog post today!  To see a gallery of my other projects and tutorials, a linked list of resources, and information for machine embroidery, check out my Embroidery page on this blog, or click here.  

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