Tag Archive | indy

Star Wars Weekends

It is always fun to watch my blog stats page to see how many hits I get on my posts during a certain time of the year.

Over the years I have noticed a definite slowdown around major holidays and it really gets slower around the time of year when the sun finally starts to come out and the days get longer for most people in North America. We call that summer time folks! When the livin’ is easy!
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Because of this, I have decided that I will also slow my postings down around this time of year since no one is taking the time to read my brilliant word smithing anyway. I should still have about a post a week, but it may be more filler and not so technical or informative, that is so I can save the more exciting stuff for the fall and winter when more people are reading it.

So if you notice a difference in the posts that is why. Don’t worry. The juicy stuff will be back in the Fall and the Winter when you are stuck inside with nothing better to do.
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Just call me Indiana Domo-Kun! Indy Domo for Short!

Just call me Indiana Domo-Kun! Indy Domo for Short!

In May I usually travel to Walt Disney World to celebrate Star Wars Weekends with my husband. It is always a giant Star Wars Celebration with all of the geekyness and nerdyness that ensues at such an event.
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He is a huge Star Wars fan and there are several of the actors and actresses from the movies scheduled to appear for meet and greets and Q&A sessions.

Plus they have an AWESOME special Star Wars parade with several characters from the Star Wars Universe in it that is a MUST SEE every year!

It is always a lot of fun and I really enjoy going and doing all of the different events every year. This year was an especially big deal with the new Star Tours 2 in 3D premiering and opening on the first Star Wars weekend and George Lucas and Bob Iger even showed up to open the new ride.

Snakes! Why did it have to be Snakes!

Snakes! Why did it have to be Snakes!

It was a real thrill getting to meet George Lucas at the event. Anthony Daniels, the actor that was C-3PO in all the films was there too and it was great getting to meet him as well. Several other personalities from the Star Wars universe were there too but other than George Lucas and Anthony Daniels I had already met them previously.
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This year I decided rather than having the husband take a hundred pictures of me standing in front of something or another that no one really cared about, I would take one of my recent creations with me instead to photograph at the different events we went to.

This turned out to be great fun and I will definitely do it again. I looked at my recent amigurumi creations and I saw Mickey Mouse and Domo Kun within eyeshot.

I didn’t think Mickey would pack very well so I decided to take Domo-Kum instead since he would pack flat in a suitcase just fine.

Here are some of the HILARIOUS photos that I ended up taking with him. I hope you enjoy this bit of silliness as much as I did!

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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!

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.

More Fun With Indy Designs

After finishing the shirt for the nephew and the bag for the brother, the husband noticed that he did not have anything with an Indy design on it. So, my next project was a new shirt for the husband with an Indy design on it. I picked some $1/yd fabric I had just got at M&L fabric. I had not tucked it into the stash yet so it was an easy pick. I had planned to use one of the stitched samples and do the fraying, but the husband decided he would rather have the design stitched right to the shirt.

The construction of the shirt went well and the design stitched out beautifully.  I had a little issue with the tips of the collar. I did not stitch as close to the point as I should have but did not notice until I had the collar completely sewn onto  the shirt. Not wanting to unpick every thing, I cheated and used a little clear finger nail polish to seal the points of the collar. So far it has held up well.

The husband had the chance to wear the shirt last weekend and it passed the wear test. Generally the husband is not that fond of brighter colors, so I was concerned about the gold fabric, but I noticed that the color did not stand out. I liked the looks of both the color and the shirt’s fit on him.

I have enjoyed making things with Indy designs on them, but I can not decide if I want a shirt with an Indy design on it for myself. What do you think?

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.

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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.

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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.

“Doomed” Fraying

If you missed Part 1 of this story, it can be found HERE.

I know I keep talking about writing some technical posts on how to digitize designs, but I am too excited about my new designs and have been playing with them rather than focusing on the technical aspects and getting them written down. So, don’t give up on those posts yet, they are coming but in the mean time, take a look at my steps to complete the Messenger Bag of DOOM!

Looking at the bag, I did not want to just stitch the design to the lid of the bag and have the back of the design show every time the  bag was opened. I thought about unstitching the lid of the bag from its lining so I would only be stitching on the top, but decided that was way too much work. Staring at my sample pieces of the designs, I decided I would try to make a patch to sew to the lid, leaving only a single stitch line on the underside of the lid. Commercial patches are made with a special merrowing machine that makes a sealed merrowed edge to keep the sides of the patch and the embroidery from unravelling over time. These are single purpose machines, and that is all they do. Because I don’t have have a need for such a machine very often, I think $3000.00 is a bit much to pay for such a machine. Therefore I would need to make my own edge.
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A very long time ago, I tried to make a patch but had very little luck with the process. I embroidered a design and then statin stitched a frame around it. I then cut close to the statin stitches and used some seam 2 seam to attach it to my project. It was great at first, but over time the edges started to fray and the statin stitches started to fail. I was not really happy with the end result. I thought on the bag that I could statin stitch the patch directly to the bag and that my solve some of the problems, but I certainly am not skilled enough to free hand the statin stitches and because of the size of the designs, there was no way I could stitch it in with the embroidery machine. The thought of using a fabric paint around the edge was quickly discarded. Although there are projects just right for fabric paint, this bag is just not one of them. I feel it would have make the project look homemade. Returning back to the picture of the bag from Disney, I decided to try what they did, sew the patch on and then distress the edges.
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Having never done a distressed edge before, I was not willing to test it out first on the bag and ruin it, so I grabbed a piece of fabric from my last shopping spree and cut out a size 3 sweat shirt. One of the nephews loves Indiana Jones as much as the little brother so a shirt would be great for him. I left about a 1 and 1/2 inch border around the design and then stitched close to the design edge, sewing the patch to the front of the shirt.  Then I started fraying the edges. After fraying for a little over 2 hours, I was getting no where. Discouraged a little, I cut some of the border off and started to fray from there. When I finally frayed down to the design, I could see just how much border I really wanted. After trimming some of the border and having a good start, the fraying went a lot easier and faster. So, what I learned was that when fraying an edge do leave a good border and don’t let the starting discourage you. The more you fray the faster it goes. After fraying, the design will need a “haircut” to get rid of split ends and long hairs. I am super pleased with the results even though I trimmed some spots a little too close to the designs.
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I wanted to see how the design washed, so a trip to the laundry was the next step. After a washing and drying, the edges of the design curled around the design. I like the curl except that it covers the edge of the design a bit. So, I learned that when stitching the design down to not stitch quite so close to the edge  leaving a place for the curl.

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Excited by the results of the sweat shirt, I sewed the design I was going to use to the bag and started to distress the edges. When I took a break from fraying, I decided to iron the sweat shirt’s design and learned that I should have used something under the design to keep it flat to the shirt like some adhesive spray or seam 2 seam. Augh! The bag also needed this too. So, to help this problem, I stitched in the ditch around some of the center parts of the design. When I stitched the design to the bag, I left a border for the curl and I left the frayed edges longer. I am not going to wash the bag myself, but I am sure that will happen sometime in the future when it gets dirty, so I have ruffed up the fray edge to give it a more worn look.

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As always, sewing is a learning process. I have learned a great deal from both the sweat shirt and the bag. I am very pleased with the end result and will happily apply another patch with a distressed edge to any project as it give it a cool worn look that is very in style these days. Hopefully the nephew and the brother like the end results as well.

Creating and Digitizing your own Embroidery Designs SNEAK PEEK!

I have been very busy at work the past week and I have only had a small amount of free time so I have been spending it digitizing some new embroidery designs for my new Messenger Bag of DOOM project. I have been taking notes along the way so I can give everyone a full how to of exactly what I did to get from my ideas to the final designs but it will take a lot more time than I originally anticipated to not only get these new designs created and tested, but also to write up blog posts on exactly how you can do it yourself using your own software and equipment.

I doubt a lot of you are very interested in Indiana Jones or Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, etc. But I think several of you might be interested in how you can take your own graphic or picture of any type and convert it into machine embroidery to stitch on a garment, or just make an embroidered patch that you can sew or iron on to something you have later. I didn’t feel it was fair to keep those of you interested in this project waiting any longer, so for the meantime here is what I have been working on in picture form. The full how to guides are coming soon. I promise.

Indiana Jones and the Messenger Bag of DOOM!

Well okay, it’s probably not all that exciting, at least not the doom part anyway…

So my younger brother is a avid reader of books and he is always on the lookout for a good book bag or backpack so he can transport his current reading material from his trips safely. He is also of the age that rather than playing cowboys and indians as a kid he played Indiana Jones and the evil egyptian tomb robbers or something like that. So one day I found an Indiana Jones backpack at Disney for him and I picked it up and sent it to him.

He loved the backpack so much he ended up tearing a big gash in the backpack from overuse carrying books on his travels. It didn’t surprise me as it was a smaller, less expensive backpack mainly made to haul kids toys around or some duty much lighter than the one he intended his for. I told him I would look for something else the next time I was at Disney. The next time I went I headed straight for the Indiana Jones Outfitters to see what they might have available.

The only thing they really had was a small messenger bag that wasn’t even constructed as well as the backpack that I had gotten for him previously. I knew it would never hold up for what he was using it for, but I did like the design of it and so I started doing a little research on the matter.

From what I can tell from all the various movie trivia sights and talking to some prop masters I know I found out that the bag that Indy wore on his shoulder through most of the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and the Last Crusade movies was a military paratrooper bag with a slight modification. The original canvas belt was removed and was replaced with a black leather belt. Other than that it was pretty much a straightforward paratrooper bag made of heavy duty olive drab canvas.

I did some searching and found this nice one for a reasonable cost on Amazon and ordered a couple. When they came I opened one, packed all of my travel gear in it and headed out on a four day trip to see how well it worked and if it would hold up. I am very happy to say that it passed with flying colors, has a lot of interior room for a medium sized shoulder bag and the main thing is it seems to be constructed very well and is very tough. I think it will work well as a replacement bag for my younger brother as a new book bag for him. And I am loving mine on trips too.

Now the next matter at hand. The younger brother liked the looks of the small, poorly made one I had found at Disney and he really wanted something like that. So I decided to have my husband digitize me some Indiana Jones designs and once he had them done I would embroider them onto the exterior flap of the bag.

Upon closer inspection I have decided that I don’t want the back of the embroidery to be seen on the back of the exterior flap, and I don’t want to go to the time and trouble to rip the seams of the flap, and stitch it to the inside fabric and then stitch it back together. Instead I have decided to do like Disney had done with their bag and embroider the designs to patches and then attach the patches to the bag to further give it that old-timey retro look that is so in style these days. Once the husband gets the designs digitized I will get them stitched to patches and then attached to the bag and I will take picture and let you know how it went.

And if he is REALLY, REALLY nice to me, one of the pockets may even contain a Staff of RA headpiece when he gets it. You never know!

To be continued…

Part 2 of this story can be found HERE.