Tag Archive | digitizing

Skipping A Step

Or how not to do, what you think you should do, when you think you should do it.

Late last year around Halloween I started working on digitizing an embroidery design of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, one of mine and the husband’s most favorite Disney attractions. The plan at the time was to embroider the design to the latest shirt I had been making for the husband, but this plan went awry and it just never happened.

I did get the design completed last year and once it was completed I was smart enough to hoop a scrap of fabric from the husband’s shirt instead of the actual shirt to test it out on. This proved to be a very good thing. The embroidery test on the scrap did not turn out well at all. But, was it the design’s fault or user error? Had I not hooped the fabric tight enough? I was leaning towards poor hooping because the fabric was so stretchy but I returned to the computer and did some tweaking of the design anyway just in case.

Returning to the embroidery machine, I hooped another piece of scrap fabric with a top stabilizer this time and started to stitch my revised design. The design stitched much better but still not good enough to put on the shirt. Since I felt that I had hooped this scrap very well, I leaned more to blaming the design for the failure this time. I would have went back to the computer to tinker with the design but a little voice in my head kept saying that maybe this fabric was just too stretchy for this large of a design. Was this the problem?

Flustered, I picked a smaller design for the husband’s shirt and set the HM design aside for another shirt at a later date.

Well, the time had finally come to try again. This time the fabric I picked for the husband’s shirt was far less stretchy than the last one. I hooped a scrap of the fabric carefully and used a top stabilizer again. My revised design was stitching great on this fabric. I was greatly pleased. After stitching the first thread color which was black, I noticed that I actually liked the design with just that color alone stitched on this color of fabric. It looked kind of like how some black & white photographs looks better than their color counterparts.

I showed the husband the result and he said that he really liked it in the mono color as well. But because this was a trial run, I decided to go ahead and stitch the rest of the colors anyway. I was using the same colors that I used the last time I stitched the design but as they stitched on this fabric, I did not like them as much. So half way through the stitching of the other colors, I started switching out colors to see what looked the best. When I was done, I had a pretty funky looking multi color design but a lot of colors for the husband to pick from.

It did not take much debating for the husband to pick the colors he wanted. He said that he liked the black only design the best on this particular color of fabric. This was great for me since it cut the number of stitches in the design by half, but it was a terribly odd feeling to stop the machine after the first color and say that the design was done.

I really like the results of the half stitched single color design on this shirt. It looks very rich and clean to me. How about you? Do you like the full color version or the black and white mono color version better?

I don’t think the black and white effect would work on every design I use, but in the case of this bright fluorescent yellow green glow in the dark color of fabric it turned out wonderfully!

It is a useful and helpful technique I will remember to use for another day.

From Box Number Two…

With my first mystery box of fabric shirt done for myself, it was time to make the husband a shirt. From the second mystery box in the closet, I pulled this large piece of blue interlock knit out. Once again, I don’t know where or when I bought it, but I am sure I fell in love with it then as I have again now. It is a beautiful piece of fabric with a great soft feel and stretch.

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I cut the husband’s shirt out and then applied the interfacing to the fabric. The interfacing did not give me any hassle, which was nice. Do you think I have finally figured out the trick to applying interfacing? Or is the interfacing just teasing me, and will bubble and curl even more than normal the next time I use it?

The sewing process for the husband’s shirt went smoothly. Before I opened up the mystery boxes from the closet, I had started a shirt for the husband but had not yet finished it. So as long as I was sewing the new blue shirt, I decided to finish up the first shirt at the same time. It is made from a ribbed green knit that has tons of stretch. Needless to say, with the stretch, the green shirt took more time to finish up than the blue one took to make. I only thought that I used a lot of pins on my shirt to keep the fabric from stretching. It was not even close to the number of pins I had to use on each seam of the husband’s green shirt to keep it from stretching too much.

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Embroidering designs on the shirts became a little more challenging than I expected, well at least on the green shirt. The only difficult part of embroidering on the blue shirt was picking the design. After looking at many designs, I returned to the my first choice, the Peanuts Snoopy as a World War I flying ace. It stitched up nicely on the shirt and it looks great. I love it, of course since it is Snoopy. Hopefully the husband will like it half as much as I do.

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The green shirt was made for the new Haunted Mansion design I had recently digitized for Halloween, but with the stretch, I just was not sure it was going to work out. Luckily over the years, I have learned and remembered some hard learned lessons, so I hooped up a scrap piece of the green fabric and tried the design out first. Due to the stretch, it did not work out. I hooped another piece of green scrap differently this time, tinkered with the design, and tried again. Still it was a No go. Disappointed, I looked though my designs and found a design I just loved, but have just never put on anything until now. So, I present to you superhero Tootsie Roll! The stretchy fabric still gave me a hassle with this design but since it was smaller, stitched from up and down rather than side to side, and had a much lower stitch count, I was able to make it work without too many problems. I think the design turned out cute and I like the chocolate buttons I chose on the shirt with the design.

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Now the dilemma, I want to finish sewing up the fabric from the boxes, but I am anxious to get into the stash and find a piece of fabric for another shirt to put the husband’s Haunted Mansion design on. So, what to do next?

Towel Day

My husband is a huge Science Fiction fan and a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fan since the 80’s. There is this thing called Towel Day which was created to celebrate the Hitchhiker’s series where on May 25th you wear a towel around your neck all day. My husband has been wearing a ratty towel around with him every year on May 25th since 2001. This year I decided that I would make him a nice new custom made towel to wear around with custom Hitchhiker embroidery to go along with it. It turned out so nice I went ahead and made me one too! So if you see us wearing our towel’s on May 25th make sure and stop to say “Hello”. Just in case you have no idea what I talking about, here is some more info on Towel Day.

A Primer on Towel Day From Wikipedia:

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Towel Day is celebrated every 25th of May as a tribute by fans of the late author Douglas Adams. On this day, fans carry a towel with them to demonstrate their love for the books and the author, as referenced in Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The commemoration was first held in 2001, two weeks after Adams’s death on 11 May 2001.

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The original quotation that referenced the greatness of towels is found in Chapter 3 of Adams’s work The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

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More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

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Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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So long Douglas, and thanks for all the fish!

Monorail Blue

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Well my husband is a huge train fan, and an even larger Monorail fan. I think at this point we have ridden most of the Monorails on the planet, multiple times. So for his newest blue striped shirt that I made him he said he wanted a Monorail on it. The Mark VII Monorail Blue from Disneyland to be exact.

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A Monorail?

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Was he kidding?

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Did he think I could just find a Monorail embroidery design on the internet somewhere, download it and just stitch it on his shirt? No, you cannot. So I decided I would need to digitize one to use from scratch. It’s painstaking work. Which would probably take longer than it took to create the shirt in the first place.

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Oh well, he can never make things simple, but I always enjoy the challenges he puts in my path to create something cool, new, and most of all fun!

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So I went through my Disney Pins and found one that had a suitable Monorail on it that I could use.

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There was only one major problem with it. It had Tinkerbell on it and he greatly dislikes Tinkerbell. So I decided the only thing to do was to use the pin as the basis of my design and figure out some way to remove the Tinkerbell from it.

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This was not easy. Since Tinkerbell was going, all of the fairy dust she was sprinkling on the pin had to go too. That wasn’t easy to remove either.

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It might have been quicker to just redraw the whole thing by hand.

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But in the end I think it turned out ok. What do you think? Did it turn out ok?

Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs Part 3

If you missed Part 2 of this series, you can find it HERE!

Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs Part 3: Creating a digitized design using Bernina Artista Designer Plus Software

(Updated: June 13th, 2015)

As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve tried most of the embroidery digitizing software out there over the last 10 years or so, and even after trying the latest greatest I always tend to come back to my stand by software, Bernina’s Artista Designer Plus. In this post I will take you step by step how I use it to create my own custom designs which are then stitched on my latest sewing projects.

Step 1: Get ready! Get set! Start your software! GO!

Do you have it up and going?

Great! Here we go!

You will notice that when Artista starts up it will be in freehand stitch placement mode where you can just draw stitches or shapes in freehand mode. This is the mode most embroidery software starts in.

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We need to change it to picture mode so we can load our previously touched up artwork and trace the bitmapped image using the auto trace tool. To do this click on the picture tab up at the top of the design screen. Then click on the icon in the left toolbar that looks like a flower coming out of a folder. This is the Load Picture tool.

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When the file browser comes up you can select your touched up artwork saved in a variety of formats like BMP (Bitmap), JPG (Jpeg), PNG (Ping), etc. I will be using my Mickey Indy Graphic that I touched up in Part 1 of this blog series. Click on the one you want to digitize and then click the Open button in the file browser and your design screen should now look like this.

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The next step is to use the built in Artwork Preparation Tool on the left toolbar as shown below. Once you click on it the Artwork Preparation window will pop up and show you the number of colors in your design as shown below. You want to choose an amount of colors that still gives you good detail of the design, but no more than necessary. I never use more than 16, but I usually try to stay around 4-8 colors if possible.

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Once you choose your number of colors and click on ok Artista will decrease the number of colors and smooth any lines in your design it can. It will also create large single color blocks if possible. This will provide the auto digitizing function with less work to do in the next step.

The next step is to take your prepared artwork and use the auto digitizer tool to insert stitches over your artwork. To do this click on the Design tab at the top of your design window as shown below. Then click on the Select Tool in the left toolbar. Next click on the prepared artwork image on the right. This will select it so it can be auto digitized. To do that click on the AutoDigitizer Tool on the left toolbar. It looks like a paintbrush with multicolored paint on it.

At this point you will see an AutoDigitizer window pop up where you can change your Fills and Details stitch types. I normally leave these settings at their defaults but you can use the different stitch types to create different looks for your designs. Choose your stitch types or leave it at the default and click on the OK button.

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Now you should see the bar at the bottom showing that the AutoDigitizer is creating the different stitch objects of your design. Once it has finished your design window should look like the screen below.

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If you click on the Artistic View tab you should now see a 3D representation of your completed auto digitized design as shown below.

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This is all looking pretty good at this point except you will notice that it automatically digitized the white background of the design.

I don’t want this to stitch so it needs to be removed.

So I click back on the Design Tab up at the top of the design window. Then I click on the object Select Tool on the left toolbar (it looks like a white arrow). Then I click on the edge of the portion of the white background and it will be selected and turn to a pink color to show it selected.

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Then I just hit the delete key on my keyboard and POOF it’s gone! It should now look like the screen below.

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You can click on the Artistic View Tab at the top again to make sure you are satisfied with the results. Now make sure and use the File/Save As menu option from the top to save your design. Artista offers several design formats to save to so choose the one your embroidery machine uses. I always save in the PES format since I have Brother machines.

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That is it! You are all done! Now you can change thread colors or resize your completed design to make it larger or smaller or rotate it, mirror it, or whatever else you would like to do with it using the built in tools.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post series, I sure had a lot of fun creating it!

Please let me know if you would like to see other topics covered or if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer.

If you missed Part 2 of this series, you can find it HERE!

Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this Series, you can find it here.

Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs Part 2: Which Digitizing Software should I use?

(Updated: June 13th, 2015)

First let’s get a few things out of the way.

The software you use to digitize your designs probably isn’t going to be a very important decision for you.

At first glance this might come as a surprise. But the reason I say that is simple.

Most of the embroidery machine makers usually have their own in house software that is made by a third party company for them. They don’t make their own software in house. There are only 2 or 3 major embroidery software creation companies in the world that create this embroidery software for them so they will all pretty much work the same way and have most of the same features.

So no matter what brand of embroidery machine you have, you can usually use whatever digitizing software you like or that suits you best for the job at hand.

Now they will tell you that you have to use their software so that you have the proper hoop support or the right thread colors, etc. but that is all bunk.

They are just trying to lock you into their particular product so that you always have to purchase their support, their updates, their supplies, etc.

Don’t buy into their hype and sales pitch.

I’ve been using a different manufactures brand software than the one that made my embroidery machines for over 10 years now without any problems whatsoever so use what YOU want to, not what they want you to use.

I have always only owned Brother embroidery machines (for why read this previous blog post),  but I dislike their PE-DESIGN embroidery software that comes with their machines. It’s seems too simplistic to me, and it will not allow me to do some things I like to do, the way I like to do them, so I use Bernina’s Artista (Now called Bernina Designer Plus) software instead.

Why do I use this particular software rather than another?

Well for me, it was because I spent a lot of time at different sewing machine stores trying out everything they had in software (digitizing software) and hardware (embroidery machines) before I purchased anything.

What I found by doing this was that after using Bernina’s Artista, Brother’s PE-DESIGN, Husqvarna Viking’s 4D/5D, Janome’s Digitizer/Customizer, Pfaff’s Creative 4D/5D, Singer’s PSW (Professional Sew -Ware), and several others along the way, I just liked the way the Bernina Artista software worked the best.

More than anything it fit the way I seemed to want to work. So many of the embroidery software packages I tried just kept putting up road blocks and getting in my way. The Artista software never seems to get in my way, it let’s me get in and get what I need done, get out of it and get on with actually stitching out the design on my machine.

Most of the embroidery software comes in what they call modules. What that means is if you want to do resizing you have to load a single program to do just that. But then say you need to change the colors or maybe digitize something? Well that will require that you close the program you are in and load another one instead. And you have to continue to re-load the same design into the different modules over and over again.

That was a real pain in the keister!

The Viking and Pfaff software really suffer from this since the same company makes them both. I think they have something like 14 modules in all to let you use all of the different features they offer.

The Bernina Artista software has all of the modules built in to the same program and will allow you to switch modes by just clicking a button in the toolbar. Simple, reliable, and easy to learn.

Bernina’s software is created by the world leader in embroidery software Wilcom, who also makes their own commercial software called Wilcom Embroidery Studio (Wilcom ES) for the big embroidery houses to which they happily charge $5000.00 PLUS for a license to use it. I’ve used a demo of the Wilcom ES software and I can’t see anything I’m missing in my Bernina Software. Not for a personal home user anyway.

Now I am sure many will disagree with my choice of software and will say how much they love this one or that one because of this or that feature.

And I won’t disagree with them. I’m sure they love what they use.

I am just telling you why I use the software that I use. I’m not saying that it is better than one software or another, just that it works best for me and how I like to do things.

I should mention at this point that I am an Apple Mac user and that most of my embroidery software is used on my Mac using Virtual Machine software running Windows XP.

Unfortunately for us Mac users, there is very little native Mac compatible embroidery software available, and the Mac compatible software that is out there is VERY expensive and is only made for commercial embroidery designers.

There are a couple of bright spots on the horizon though.

A friend of mine, Matthias Arndt, in Germany has for the last few years, been creating a Mac compatible embroidery software capable of letting you resize, recolor, flip, convert designs between several different formats and much more. His software is called StitchBuddy. It still will not let you fully digitize designs but it may in the future. It is shareware and can be tried out for free before you need to purchase it at a cost of $50. I was a beta tester for the early versions and I think it is coming along fine. He seems to add new features to it a couple of times a year. He also makes a Quick Look plugin and a Spotlight Importer which he provides for free to let you view your embroidery designs and search for them in the Mac’s Finder. All very, very cool tools and they have decreased my need to start up Windows on my Mac far less than I previously needed too.

One other company called BriTon Leap has recently started converting their Windows embroidery tools to the Mac, but they are close to 3 times the cost of Matthias’s Mac tools. Still they are much less expensive than something like PE-DESIGN or Bernina Artista, etc. They make a Quick Look Plugin called Embrilliance Thumbnailer, a design converter called Convert it, mac, and what seems to be the first steps of a full blown Mac compatible digitizer called Embrilliance Essentials.

BriTon Leap also has a new product called StitchArtist which runs on the Mac and will let you do more complete digitizing than their Essentials product will. I have not reviewed this product yet, but once I do I will add my thoughts on it here.

They also have a demo that you can download to try out their software before you have to pay for it. Clicking on any of the links above will take you directly to their respective websites for more information on their products. I wish I could say I was making money by linking to them here, but I’m not. I’m just trying to help out some friends I believe in and pass the word to other Mac users.

Ever since the smartphone (iPhone and Android)  and tablet revolution (iPad and Android) of a few years back, there have been several new tools released to help you digitize and convert designs on your smart phone or tablet. Both Matthias Arndt with his StitchBuddy HD and BriTon Leaps AirStitch app’s look interesting. I am currently trying out several of these new app’s and I will report back here and in a new post reviewing those tools specifically at a later date.

Stay tuned for part 3 of this series where I will take you step by step through a typical (for me anyway) digitizing session where I take the touched up artwork I created in part 1 and convert it to a fully useable, stitchable design.

If you missed Part 1 of this Series, you can find it here. Part 3 of the Series is here.

I Had No Choice

img_3829After finishing the stand collar, sewing on the sleeves, and stitching up the side seams, it was time to pick an embroidery design to put on my shirt. I looked through all my designs, but did not really find a design I wanted for this shirt. But, as I held the sample patch I had stitched of the design of Mickey Mouse as Indiana Jones against the shirt, I knew that was the embroidery design for this shirt.

But, I img_3830still had not made my mind up yet if I wanted a shirt with an Indy design on it. I looked through my designs again, but still did not find a better design for this shirt..

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Indiana Jones a great deal and as you know, and I like Mickey Mouse.

I just was not convinced that the design is what I wanted on my shirt.

I finally decided that it was meant to be and whether or not I wanted a shirt with an Indy design on it did not matter. I was getting a shirt with an Indy design on it.

With the design embroidered on the shirt, I then had to pick buttons. I found these button in my button stash. They are bigger than I normally use but I really liked them with the design. So, once again, I had no choice. These were the buttons for this shirt.

Now that the shirt is done, I love it and can’t wait to wear it.