Archives

Oh Brother!

I don’t know how old Mom’s serger is but I do know that it is really old, old enough to have knob tensions and be extremely difficult to thread. I also know that it has been giving her fits for years. It has a hard time holding its tensions and the lower looper thread keeps breaking. She has had it in for repairs and service many times, but it just never seem to be fixed or to work correctly especially in the last several years. It was another phone call from Mom one week before Christmas, bemoaning that fact that Christmas was just one week away and that her serger would just not behave so she could get her Christmas sewing finished, that finally prompted me to push Mom again to get a new serger.

Years ago when mom’s serger started to act up, I tried to help her replace her serger. When I looked into the available sergers at that time, I found there were two types, the expensive ones, $2000 to $3000, with all the bells and whistles, and the cheap sergers, $200 to $300, with no features and that barely serged. What happened to a nice $500 to $1000 machine that had just a few features but still serged nicely? At the time, Mom was not sewing as much as she use to, so she did not want to spend a large amount of money on a new serger, so a Singer serger from Walmart was purchased.

Big mistake! The machine was horrible!

It rattled and vibrated and did not serge well at all! It was not long before mom had pushed that serger into the corner and went back to fighting with her old, original serger.

Over the years, I have kept an eye on the big expensive sergers, hoping that one might have that special feature that would make it worth the dollar amount it was demanding. But, I never found one that was worth the price. So, as mom complained about her serger, I did not know what to say. Now, I love my serger so I decided to try and help mom by finding a used serger like mine. After some time looking, I did not find a good used serger similar to mine, but I did find a lot of useful information about sergers.

It seemed that most of the newer more expensive sergers that were purchased were hated, with many owners regretting their purchase and they were trying to rid themselves of their new serger’s on eBay. Most said that because there were so many special features that the machine did not serge well or even perform the special features well. It was a bad case of featuritus. On the other hand, almost all the reviews for the cheap sergers could be summed up to one phrase – piece of crap. So once again, where were that middle of the line sergers?

This time though I found one of those great middle of the line serger’s, the Brother 3234DT. This serger had several great special features, but none that took away from it’s main function, serging.

I told Mom what I had learned and she decided to take a chance and to get one of these new Brother 4 thread with differential feed sergers. When it was unpacked and the owner manual read, I helped Mom thread the serger. It threaded very easily with color coded lay in threading, dial tensions, and even auto needle threaders. I then showed Mom the adjustable stitch length and width, and differential feed like my serger has. Mom was very excited about these features. But, Mom’s new serger had some special features that mine did not. One of these features is the auto needle threader. Another feature that this serger has is a free arm. The table portion of the serger can be removed and there is a free arm for serging cuffs and collars. Man, wouldn’t that be handy while sewing baby sleepers? An extended table also came with this serger. Once again the side is removed and replaced with an extended table that would come in very handy when serging heavy or large items. I was so excited about the extra features of this serger that I thought for a moment about replacing my serger with one of these, but then I decided that there was nothing wrong with my serger and it did not need replacing. (But, if and when my serger does need replacing, I know which serger I will look at first.)

Mom seemed very happy with her purchase. She has sewn a couple of things with her new serger so far and says it serged like a dream. No more nightmares from using that old serger. I am happy that she has a good working serger now and that she can enjoy sewing and serging once again. Plus, along the way I learned a lot about sergers that I did not know before.

So until next time, sew forth and serge on!

Wow! A great sewing machine deal on Amazon Goldbox!

This morning Amazon’s Gold Box deal is for a commercial JUKI HZL-27Z Sewing Machine for $159!

.

This deal is good only for 5-1-11.

.

That is $690 off the retail price. It’s a great deal for a great heavy duty commercial machine if you want a spare to do those heavy or dirty jobs you wouldn’t want to put your normal machine through. It has several 5-star reviews on Amazon. I’ve owned several Juki’s in the past and my first serger which my mom still uses today was a Juki. They are tough machines.

.

Since Amazon has a no questions asked money back guarantee and free shipping I am going to pick it up as a spare. I’ll let you know how I like it once I get it and try it out.

.

If you want more information on it or want to purchase one for yourself you can find it here:

.

JUKI HZL-27Z Sewing Machine

Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs Part 1

Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs Part 1: How to get a usable graphic image ready to digitize.

(Updated: June 13th, 2015)

Happy Fall Everyone! I thought I would give all my lovely readers something great to start Fall, the 1st of October (my favorite month) and the weekend with, so without further ado, here it is!

Before I start talking about the software used to digitize your own designs, and how to go about digitizing on your own, I need to talk about the first step in the process.

And that step is to first get the artwork you want to use, and then making it usable to be digitized.

This is the most important step in the process, and if you do it correctly it will usually take the most time.

The hardest part of the whole process is getting good artwork and tweaking it so that you will have no problems digitizing it using your choice of software later on.

If you don’t do this step first your end results will most often end in frustration and disaster.

I can not stress this point enough, if you don’t spend the time now getting your artwork in good shape before digitizing, you will spend hours and hours later trying to fix it.

Please don’t try to use badly photographed or the lowest resolution clip art that you have downloaded off of some website somewhere on the internet that is no larger than a postage stamp, you won’t like your finished results.

Try to make sure your artwork is clean and in a medium to high-resolution format. I usually like to start with something at least in the 300×300 pixel size range. Of course if you have some camera ready artwork of 1200+ pixels in size you should be in great shape and you should get some excellent results without too much tweaking.

ALWAYS REMEMBER! The lower the resolution of the item you are trying to digitize is, the more work you will have to do up front in a graphic editor getting it ready to digitize.

Of course you don’t need to have great camera ready artwork to start with. If you have a simple idea of what you want, you can just sit down with a piece of blank white paper and sketch out a simple design of what you are trying to create. I’m no artist, so I usually try to use something that has already been drawn by someone else and go from there. But if you cannot do that, just sketch something simple onto a piece of plain white paper and either scan it in or take a photograph of your sketch to get it into your computer to get started on the process of cleaning up the bitmapped graphic before you begin the digitizing part.

Here are a few photos to show you what I am talking about in the good art department.

original1

To the left is an original photo I found on the internet somewhere. I really wanted to use the Indy Mickey graphic for an embroidery design but I didn’t want to use the background since it is very complicated and it wouldn’t embroider well.

The first thing I did was extract Mickey from the background graphic. I won’t be describing the exact process or software I used to do this since almost any graphics editing software can do this process of snapping out an object from the background of a photo. Do a search on the internet for ‘remove a background from a photo’ and you will find several great articles and tools on how to do this.

Of course the most common graphics editors used to do this type of work are Adobe’s Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. They are great tools to use for this. But there are many others that are very usable and are available for very little money or for free in shareware and freeware tools.

Ok!

Now once you have the graphic that you want extracted from the background you should have something that looks like Image 1 below.image-1-2-3This is a good start, but it still needs to be edited by hand a little more to remove more detail before going any further.

This next step is a very important one too.

On most designs you will want to have a heavy black edge around the entire design to help with digitizing later on.

So if you look closely at Image 2 you can see how I traced around all of the lighter lines around the border and the light grey colored areas to make them thick dark black lines and curves.

This little bit of editing here will give you a nice dark satin stitch around the border of your design once we the design digitized.

Here is my edited image a little further on in the process.

image-4In Images 3 and 4 I am getting really close to the final bitmapped image that I will put into my digitizing software.

You will notice that I have continued to edit the graphic until I have changed the hair and teeth on the golden idol to more solid colors rather than the individual fine lines that the original graphic had. I’ve also simplified the shoe strings and shadows on the shoes since at smaller sizes these would end up being unrecognizable blobs of knotted up thread on your embroidery machine once it was stitched out.

And you don’t want that.

It’s a mess!

In Image 4 you can see that I changed some of the colors in the graphic to other colors that already exist in the graphics design to reduce the number of thread colors I would need to use when digitizing the graphic.

The fewer colors you have  in your bitmapped graphic once it has been tweaked, the easier it will be to get a good digitized embroidery design in the end.

When embroidering something on a machine that needs to punch thousands and thousands of holes using a needle into a very small area, fewer colors means fewer punches.

The fewer the punches that are needed, the happier you will be with your end results.

Luckily for you, most graphic editing software tools have a great feature that will reduce the amount of available colors in a graphic image easily or automatically for you by using color averaging.

It’s best to reduce the image you are working with to 256 colors or less before trying to digitize it.

I usually prefer to stick with under 16 colors in my embroidery designs. 8 is better still.

Sometimes you do need more colors than that to make your design work though, and that is ok too.

It just won’t be as sharp and precise of a design in the end.

Well I hope that gives you a pretty good idea on how to get your original ideas, concepts and designs into your computer and get them into a condition that will work well for digitizing.

The next step will be to get that graphic into your embroidery software and finishing the touching up and final digitizing of the design.

I will cover that in my next how to: Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs Part 2.

Part 2 of this series is HERE, Part 3 of this series is HERE.

More Blanks to Embroider on!

We have this fun little store in town that sells clothes for $5.99 and less. I enjoy shopping at this store, not because I will ever find anything that fits me, but because I can get some wonderful deals on blanks. The last time I stopped in, they had kids levi denim jackets on clearance for $3.00. How could I pass that up. I bought one in of all the sizes they had and two of some of the sizes. I certainly could not buy the fabric or snaps for that little money, not to mention the time involved in sewing a denim jacket together.

Like all sewing items, the jackets have been hanging the closet waiting for me to get busy working on them, but I knew that the size 7, the largest size of the jackets, was not going to fit the eldest nephew for much longer, so it was time for action. I called that nephews and asked them what they wanted on their jackets. I already knew that the answer for the 4 year old nephew would be Batman. But the soon to be 7 year old nephew couldn’t decide. At first he wanted a Star War’s stormtrooper, but then he picked Snoopy as the flying ace. Hopefully, he was not just trying to make the aunt happy knowing how much I love all things Snoopy.

With the husband’s help, I increased the size of the two designs to 5″ by 7″ and started to stitch. Blanks can be difficult to hoop sometimes. I had to use sticky paper to hoop the jackets. I love to use sticky paper, but I have learned that with a larger design it is not always the best choice. So, in the sewing process there was a little curling, but it did not affect the designs too much.  On the Batman jacket, I ran out of bobbin thread. When I put the new bobbin in, I did not get it back in right. As the machine started to sew again, it made a big thread mess and pulled the stepper off. I about cried, but with lots of patience and luck, I was able to realign the design and finish the pattern. Good thing too, that was the only size 5 jacket I had. I learned a lot about fixing an embroidery alignment problem, but most of all I learned to take an extra minute to make sure the bobbin is in right!

I am pleased with how the jackets turned out. Hopefully the boys will like the jackets too! Now that I have a couple of empty hangers in the closet, I guess I will go shopping for more blanks. (Grumble-grumble says the husband.)

My Sewing Room and Me


Hi! My name is Lanita and I just love to sew.

Sewing is just a hobby for me, no professional sewing here. I have three machines. I have a Brother ULT 2001 that I use for my sewing machine, and a Brother Innov-is 4000D that I use for my embroidery machine. Both machines are usable as sewing and embroidery machines, but each has features that I like better for either sewing or embroidering. My third machine is my serger, a Viking Huskylock 1001L. It is an older serger, but it does a great job, so I have seen no need to upgrade.

My sewing table is new, and I am totally enjoying it. I got the cabinets and counter top from Home Depot. My custom made table was a little expensive, but it was still less expensive than the manufactured sewing tables that come in sizes and shapes that you cannot choose.

My machines are protected by Norbit, the sock monster. He keeps the dust bunnies away.