Digitizing and Embroidery with my Favorite Things

Hi everyone.  As you probably have noticed, I have not posted in quite some time.  Life can sometimes take over and you have to choose your priorities.

I have been working hard though, so I have lots of information to share with you over the next few weeks.  I have been busy digitizing  a lot of machine embroidered appliques which can be purchased on my website soon.  I wanted to share with you my favorite notions and products and the stitching process of my machine embroidered appliques.  Some posts on digitizing with Bernina’s Designer Plus Software are in the works for posting as well.

Since I digitize my own designs, I have my computer close by with my all time favorite software,  Bernina Designer Plus Version 6.  This software is so powerful and gives you creative capabilities that are amazing.  This software is not just for Berninas and is used by many who own other brands of machines.  In my opinion,  it is the very best.  By the way, if you own or plan to own Designer Plus, the very best book that you can purchase to help you learn the abilities of this software can by found on http://www.creativesewing.com.

And, of course, my Bernina 830 sewing and embroidery machine which by itself,  will knock your socks off.  This particular weekend, my friend Gina trusted me with her 830 so I could get a lot of blocks finished for the quilt I am doing.  You might think that was a good thing,  but now,  after having two 830′s running, I am obsessed with having two of my own.

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I am in love with my Koala Quilt Pro IV sewing center.  The drawers and storage of this center are to die for.  The swing outs are perfect for my computer on one side and tools and such on the other.  I love having my computer close by the machine for making corrections to the designs I have created while I stitch them out.  I stitch my designs many times to make sure they are as close to perfect as I can get them.

Add a nice cup of hot tea on my mug rug and a few bites of candy and I’m sitting pretty.  My friend Belvalee made the mug rug and also the tea carrier which holds several tea bags .  Perfect for your purse.  I think it was made for charge cards, but it”s also handy for tea or coffee packs.

I have two cutting tools that are a must when machine embroidering my applique designs.  My Gingher Double Curved 6 inch embroidery scissors and my Side Hopper Jump Stitch Scissors.

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Those little Jump Stitch Scissors are amazing.  In my future posts,  you will see how I position them to get the perfect snipping of tiny thread tails.  They snip threads so close to your fabric you will be amazed.

I use my Gingher scissors for trimming the excess applique fabric away after the machine tacks it in place.  They cut close to the stitching which is so important in achieving neat and good results to your applique.  Leaving too much fabric extending from the tacking stitch will cause frayed fabric edges in your final stitching because the stitch cannot cover the edges of the fabric.  If you cannot find the scissors in your area, visit my friend Gina on her website http://www.ginasbernina.com and contact her for purchase and shipping.

I also love my Jumbo Hoop for creating large embroidery designs for my quilt blocks.  This embroidery measures 10.5 inches square.  Perfect for a twelve inch block, or a larger block with room for decorative quilting.  I also have embroidered quilting designs available on my site, http://www.kathydrewquiltingandembroidery.com.

That’s it for today’s post.  Future posts will include more of  the tools and products I use,  but more importantly, the stitching process of my embroidered appliques.

Let me know if  these planned future posts are going to be of interest to you and feel to ask any questions you may have or things you would like me to include.

See you at my next post.

Keepin It Straight

I’ve been working on a few designs for embroidery that will be adorable to use on collars, yokes or hem lines of heirloom dresses.  When I showed the designs to my friend Regina, she immediately planned a beautiful dress and asked me to create 2 yards for the hem  and 18 inches to use in the yoke.  We decided to apply the embroidery to a blank entredeux insertion that is approximately 1.5 inches wide.  It comes in various widths and is great for creating your own bands with decorative stitches from the machine or in this case designs created for the embroidery machine and embroidery unit.Immediately the problem with this product is hooping.   The hoop is too wide to be able to secure the piece on all sides.  There are stabilizers that have a sticky surface that you can load in the hoop and then place the item directly on the sticky surface.  They work very well on many items but, in this case, that type of stabilizer is not a good choice.    The designs I digitize for heirloom sewing are very delicate and are sewn with light weight thread.   Sticky stabilizers could be problematic.

I prefer using a crisp tear away stabilizer, that will tear away from the embroidery smoothly and easily much like a piece of notebook paper.   This stabilizer will make it very easy to remove from our tiny stitches without damaging or breaking the threads.  When removing the stabilizer, I tear from the sides in toward the embroidery and then while supporting the embroidery with my hand, I tear away the remaining amounts of the stabilizer very carefully and gently.  The products I primarily use come from OESD.

One of the things I always do to my embroidery hoops, is mark some centering lines on the top and sides of the hoop.  Place the template in the hoop, and with a permanent marker,  place a mark to represent the vertical center, and the horizontal center.

Load the stabilizer in the hoop keeping it as flat and taught as possible.   Tighten the hoop to prevent shifting during the stitching process.

Place the hoop on a cutting mat and line up the marks placed on your hoop with the lines of the cutting mat.

Now that we’ve lined our hoop up with the straight lines on the mat, we can draw a line down the center of the stabilizer following the line on the mat. The line will definitely be straight and not at an angle.  I use a water-soluble fabric marker instead of pencils or pens to prevent leaving a residue in the embroidery.

Along the area where the insertion will be placed, lightly spray with a temporary adhesive spray.   Don’t over spray and make the surface too sticky and gummy.  My favorite spray is 505 Spray and Fix.

Draw a line down the center of the insertion with a water-soluble marker.

Place the insertion on the hooped stabilizer lining up the lines.

I can now be sure that the design will stitch evenly down the center of the insertion.  Just a few checks at the machine and we’ll be ready to sew.

I like to use a few clamps to hold the excess amount of insertion.

Lets check to be sure the machine will place our design over our center line.  Most machines have the ability to show you where they will place the center of your design.  Use whatever means that is available on your brand of machine.  I have a Bernina 830, so the pictures I am going to show you will be from my personal machine.

After attaching the hoop, I select the icon on my machine that will show the center of the design placement.  It does this by moving the hoop till the machines default center position is below the sewing needle of the machine.

As you can see,  the machine wants to place the center of my design slightly to the left of where I prefer the center to be placed.

I will re-align the machine to place the center where I need it rather than the default centering position of the machine.  I first select the Move Icon on the machine and using my stitch width dial, I turn the dial until my needle is above my drawn center mark.

Now, I am ready to stitch.  Even though we sprayed the stabilizer with 505, it may not be enough to hold the insertion firmly once the embroidery begins.  My embroidery machine has a basting feature which is wonderful for this type of situation.  I’ll choose the basting style that will stitch a boundary box slightly larger than the embroidery.

Now for the embroidery.

I believe we were successful.

And now, the finished product.  Two yards of beautiful machine embroidered insertion.  Just think of the beautiful things you could make with this.  I have a few things in mind myself, but that’s another post.

To see more of my designs, visit my website at www.kathydrewquiltingandembroidery.com

Bobbin Tension on the Longarm/Towa Tension Gauge

Yesterday while I was working and preparing my machines for a day of work, I realized how much I have loved and enjoyed the Towa Bobbin Tension Gauge.  It saves me so much time and relieved so much frustration from my quilting that  I thought I would share how I use it.

I use a lot of different weights of thread in my quilting.  Many times, I have a different weight of thread on the needle from what I am using in the bobbin.  That combination can lead to “pokies”, or in other words, one of the threads being pulled to the side of the other.  I usually spent a great deal of  time, before working on the actual quilt,  testing the settings to get my stitch just perfect.  I usually did this on the excess backing fabric along the sides of the quilt, adding batting and a layer of fabric to represent the quilt top.   It took so much time and a lot of removing and replacing the bobbin after making adjustments, as well as adjusting the needle tension to make a good stitch.  The two settings have to be happy with each other for things to be perfect.  So each time I started a new quilt, a lot of time was spent getting a perfect stitch.  I HATE poor stitch quality and I really HATE pokies.

I purchased the Towa a couple of years ago, with great suspicion, but soon realized, it was a good investment.  Since that purchase, I think I have taken my Towa for granted until yesterday.

Thread the bobbin with the thread you will be using on the quilt and lock it in place with the bobbin lever tip pointing to the top of the Towa.

The following pics show the sequence and path of threading. 

After threading as shown, you pull on the thread, keeping the tension of your pull consistent until you get a solid reading on the gauge on the left of the Towa.  You may have to pull a few inches until you are consistent and steady with your pull.  If the gauge is fluttering, you need to try again, keeping the tension of your pull from changing.  If you know that you are pulling smoothly and consistently and you still get an flutter to the gauge without a defined and constant setting, your bobbin may be damaged or warped.  We do drop them you know.  Rewind a new bobbin and try again.

I find that I like my bobbin tension to be set around 180 -  190 no matter what the thread weight.  You might find that a different setting works best for you, so don’t be afraid to experiment.  What works best for me and how I guide my machine,  may not be your perfect setting.

The right side of the Towa is designed with a lower edge to allow you to place your screw driver into the tension screw without removing the case from the Gauge.

Tweek the tension screw and check your tension again until you achieve the setting you need.  A little goes a long way when adjusting the tension screw on the case.   As you can see on the picture below, I tweeked a little too much  and my setting went from 160 to 210.

No problem.  Just reverse the turn on the screw a little and you will be just where you need to be.

Place the bobbin in the machine, and adjust  the needle tension a little if needed to balance things out.  Don’t be afraid to play with your tension.  It’s there to use and will allow you to use many wonderful threads of various weights.  How boring to only be able to use one type of thread because you are afraid to adjust your tension.  Your machine will not self destruct if you change the settings, I promise.

I hope this will help you be brave and creative with thread choices.  I’ll talk about adjusting your needle thread tension and proper needle size selection in my next post.

As always, I am not an authority, I am only sharing what I have found to work best for me during the past 13 years of my longarm quilting.

Every day and everything can be a  learning experience.

I Couldn’t Help Myself

I had to do it.  I got all inspired and just had to finish the changes on the design shown on the pillow.  I’ll call them improvements.  All stitch outs have been completed,  checked and double checked and I have loaded it on my website for purchase.

Here are the final stitch outs.

A Short Post

Just a short post today.  I think it must be the spring weather and the buttercups and tulips, but my mind can’t seem to stop thinking about heirloom sewing and all the beautiful dresses I made for my daughters when they were small.  I still have each and everyone.  I just couldn’t part with them.   My girls are in their thirties now, and when I made their dresses, I always embroidered them by hand.  My how things have changed.  I still love to hand embroider, but I also love to digitize embroidery and since I love heirloom sewing, I am beginning to digitize some of my designs for those of you who own embroidery machines.  Below is a picture of one of the designs.  I have made some improvements in the design since this pillow was made, but I think you can still see how very delicate it is.  I plan to start adding designs to my website next week.

Hope each and every one of you have a beautiful day filled with the pleasures of spring.

A Quick Update!

Sew Beautiful Magazine has given me permission to post the picture they used in their magazine article featuring designs from my “Baby Chicks and Bows” Embroidery Design CD.   The only thing I can add, is a special thank you to Sew Beautiful and the beautiful model that wore the dress.  She is so adorable.  You can read more about the article in my previous post, Easter Is on It’s Way.

To view these and all the designs I have available for purchase, visit my website at www.kathydrewquiltingandembroidery.com

The Shop Hop Quilt

Once upon a time, (actually 4 or 5 years ago) there was a Shop Hop.  And with that Shop Hop,  there was a quilt block that all the shops were to use to create a quilt.  Each shop had the same block and were free to use the block in what ever design we chose.

 

For our shop,  several of the girls worked on the quilt that Jessica had designed.  The block was constructed in various color ways and Jessica chose several  appliques from McKenna Ryan’s beautiful patterns to enhance the border.  The quilt was looking very nice.  The colors were bright and cheerful,  but the quilt  was also becoming VERY- VERY Large !  Oh, we all had good intentions.  We were planning on filling the border with tons of McKenna’s appliques but, as is always the case,  we just ran out of time.   The border was extremely wide,  and well…………it was  a little empty.   But, not to worry.   We can quilt something really fabulous to fill it up.  Right?   Wrong!!!!

Oh, no.  Now that would just be too easy!  I have to decide to go and get all creative and create hours of work for myself.   And, did I mention that it was just a few days till the opening of The Shop Hop.  Isn’t that the way it always goes.  You always get your best ideas when you’re in a crunch.    I don’t know about you, but I think I do my best work when I’m in a state of complete panick.

Now, while you are reading and looking at the pics,  (which were taken before the gift of the good camera I’m afraid,  be sure and think about the mess I made in “My Room” and all the fun I had making it.

There were quite a few appliques in the lower border,  but  just not enough to fill it up.  You can see there is a  large clam, along with fish and the sea-horse,  several  sea shells and star fish, different appliques of coral and sponge,  a few little Nemo’s and seaweed in various colors here or there.  The bottom of the quilt had the most appliques, but still it was just a little empty, and as you went up the sides of the quilt toward the top, the appliques became fewer.

It really needed a little something to connect it all together, so I put on my thinking cap  and then it hit me.  “Snippets”!  I remembered the technique called ” Snippets”.

Well, just let me tell you that the creative juices started flowing and I never looked back.  I grabbed any and all fabric scraps of anything and everything I could find.  I randomly  and with complete abandon, cut it all up into tiny little nuggets.   I threw all those pieces in a bag and went crazy adding  snips of every thread in every color I could find that would compliment the quilt.  I added metallic threads in different colors, variegated threads, solid color threads of all types and of course Ricky Tim’s Razzle Dazzle, some Halo  and anything else I could find that wasn’t already stitched to something or holding something together.  After looking at my collection  in the bag, I closed my eyes and gave it a few shakes.  I looked inside and low and behold, I had created a concoction that just might work as the ocean floor.

Now, the quilt was already loaded on the machine, wouldn’t you know it, so I just sprinkled and spread all those snippets where ever there were empty spaces, held my breath and stitched it with the longarm and some metallic thread.  I blew away the excess snippets  with compressed air, (hence the mess in “My Room” ) and continued on.

All in all,  it looked pretty good, but needed  a little height and color in places.  I cut long wavy edged strips of various lengths and colors of fabric and free form appliqued them in place with my longarm.  It still needed more, but I couldn’t quite decide what to do.

Paint!  I’m going to paint.  I had tons of paint that I had bought at a quilt show from a vendor and if I’m not mistaken, it was fabric paint.  So with paint brush in hand, and no earthly idea what I was going to do,  I started painting.  I added green sea weed with gold highlights , and random dabs of  maroon and gold metallic paint to fill in.

And then it happened.   I wanted to paint fish and sea horses  and well, I got a little carried away.  So just let me show the pictures.

Wasn’t that little puff fish applique cute?

Yep, I painted those sea horses!

Jessica wanted a fish bowl in the middle where she had applqued some adorable fish.  I had some netting, so I laid it over the fish and using my longarm, I stitched a circle.  I trimmed the excess netting close to the stitch and still using my longarm, I added a satin stitch around the edge.  Now, that took some time!   A piece of batik was added to the top and bottom in the same manner as the net.   I added different colors of stones and beads behind the net and to hold the net down, I did some wavy satin stitched lines thru all the layers.

And after all that, I finally did some quilting.

The quilt was finished the morning of the opening day of The Shop Hop, and Jessica and I had just finished hanging it when the doors opened.