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Small letter more tips for better results

Earlier I blogged about small lettering and how to get better results in software. here are a few more tidbits of info you might find useful. 

Thread weight makes a difference in how clear the lettering reads. The columns are identical except for the thread weight. Top letter A is 10mm, 7mm, 5.5mm. 80wt thread is from Wonderfil and is lovely in top and bobbin. 

If you have a thread trimmer on you machine for jumps, turn it off if you care what the backside looks like.  No one is paying attention to those threads dotting the “i” or other in word threads. Use fray check on back side and carefully trim between words. 

100wt thread in bobbin can make things even clearer. Yes you may need to adjust bobbin tension if your machine has a tendency to put bobbin thread to top. It’s not hard – read your manual and make micro adjustments. 

I use a SCHMETZ gold 75/11 embroidery needle 95% of the time. I may switch to a Microtex needle if stitching on a tight woven but that’s rare. 

Starch. Create a stable surface to embroider on that’s the key to successful embroidery for any project. 

Be smart. 10mm lettering on a fleece is not going to show up – make a patch and appliqué :). I’m not being mean when I say be smart! We all get too close to project and don’t see obvious. Breathe. Take step back and look at the entire project and say what is the best way to approach? If you’ve tried thinner thread and needle and it still is not right, maybe the material stitched upon needs to be adjusted. 

Enter Your Pin – pincushion in the hoop

Photo Aug 18, 9 58 16 PMEver have a week where you seem to start more projects than get finished?  That was me last week.  So when I finally got my new pincushion finished and sewn, I was super excited and posted a photo to the Embrilliance Facebook page. Are you on Facebook?  If so I invite you to like the Embrilliance Facebook page (as well as my SewBubbles page).  I try to post daily tips as well as inspiration ideas and free patterns and other such stuff related to sewing and embroidery.

Here is the link for the Embrilliance page.

The number 1 question that we received was, “how did I get the printed fabric for the appliqué?” or was that an embroidery design?  I saw many say that there were similar embroidery designs but to me that would be a lot of stitching that could just as easily be done as a printed fabric applique.  And it just so happens that StitchArtist has the capability to add a photo to an applique shape so you can print it on fabric and use in your project!  So I made a video showing those steps using Embrilliance StitchArtist.  Its really super easy with the steps broken down as such:

  1. Add library shape
  2. Set to applique stitch type
  3. Select the position stitch color break in the properties pane and choose the appliqué tab.
  4. In the Image section, browse to the image on your computer that you want to fill the shape.  I wanted a pin pad so had already searched Google for an image that would work and saved it to my computer.
  5. Size the image using the handles – you will see that part of the image NOT inside the shape is ghosted – the software will crop the image for you to fit the exact shape you have.
  6. Change your printing settings so that only the cropped image prints.
  7. Print the cropped image on printer fabric.  For this project I used EQ Printables, Premium Cotton Satin Inkjet Fabric Sheets.  Follow the instructions on the package for printing.
  8. I trimmed the printed fabric a bit bigger than the shape so that it would be stitched and held in place.

    So, that was the main question people had, but I figured that I would create this supporting blog post with other tidbits of information.  And of course, included is a video that goes thru the rest of the steps.

The lettering was added using the Lasertag font from DigiStitches and sized to fit the embroidery design.

When I looked at this design, I already knew it was going to be a simple square pin cushion – and I’m always being asked how do I digitize and in the hoop design – so here was a great opportunity to show how.  You’ll laugh at how simple this is but the biggest issue with creating in the hoop embroidery designs is being able to look at something backwards and figure out how to add sewing steps in the hoop.  The actual digitizing is easy – its figuring out the process and WHEN you need to have the steps occur.

For example, to turn this into a pincushion, I would normally take it out of the hoop, trim it up to be the size rectangle I wanted, and cut a backing fabric the same size.  Then put both pieces right sides together, pin and stitch 1/4” seam allowance all the way around leaving a hole at the bottom for turning.  Trim corners, turn, stuff and stitch the hole closed.  Well, this sewing can actually be done in the hoop!

So you would stitch the design.  The last color comes up and its the running stitch seam.  So I place my backing fabric right side down in the hoop, just like an applique design fabric, and stitch the final color which is sewing the back on and leaves a hole, remove from hoop, trim up and turn and stuff and stitch the hole closed.

Because I am stitching in a 4×4 hoop, and the pin cushion is the max size of the hoop, I just cut a 5” square and center it on top in the hoop.  If I needed a placement line – such as that in an applique, Yes, I would have made the object as I did, copied it and set it to a funky color with a longer stitch length like 5mm as a single run.  Then I would paste the object on top of this one and set it to the sewing stitch length of 2.5mm and a double run.  Its not complicated-  in the hoop designs are just broken down into smaller steps and sometimes you have to work backwards in order to get the result that you want.  Just make sure each step is its own unique color break so that the machine will stop so that you can add fabric, trim fabric, fold fabric whatever it is you need to do!  The machine just needs to stop – it doesn’t care what color is in the machine!

I hope that you like this fun project!  If you don’t have digitizing software and StitchArtist looks like something you might be interested in, please use this link to get more information on the product.  StitchArtist  Because I teach the software, I sometimes have a promocode which will give you a discount if you purchase using my link.  Send me an email if you are ready to purchase and want to see if I have a coupon for you!



Houston Quilt Festival 2015

I am always on pins and needles this time of year and that’s kind of funny since I’m talking about the Houston Quilt Festival!  If you have never attended this EVENT in Houston – it is quite amazing and gargantuan and full of eye candy and inspiration for those that love fabric.  Its not just for quilters!  I have sewn quilts but I am not an avid quilter – don’t laugh but I get flustered at the thought of cutting fabric into small pieces just to sew it all back together and make one big piece of fabric.  I’m not into the process to do myself, but HOLY SMOKES am I into appreciating the talent of those that have a true gift for creating gorgeous art using fabric.

So you’re probably thinking “if she doesn’t quilt what does she do there?”  First, I already mentioned all the eye candy – and I’m not just talking about the exhibition area which I have yet to see everything that is there each year!  The vendor area is HUGE – the George R Brown Convention center is like the size of 8 football fields and there are over 22 rows of vendor booths.  This is THE show to go to and see new products, gizmos, materials, related to the sewing industry.  And we’re not just talking about threads, needles and stabilizers – this is where I got to see the Silhouette, Brother ScanNCut and Sizzix fabric cutter machines!  Crystals, buttons and embellishments!  Printed patterns and actual samples sew of those patterns “in real life”.  Sure Instagram and Facebook are great but WOW to see the items come alive and sometimes you can even talk to the designer to get their tips and tricks!  All the home machine brands will be there and of course they have their embroidery models!  And if you are looking for a deal on a new machine – the class room machines are usually available for a great discount after being checked out and reboxed

So I mentioned class room machines….yes, that’s what I’m doing there 🙂  I am teaching two classes this year on Wednesday before the show officially opens (#356 & #384).  Those that take classes on Wednesday can go to preview night with the vendors where you won’t be completely mobbed by those that love to sew.  Since I am not working a booth this year at Festival, I plan to use Preview night to make my plan of attack for the next two days.  Yes, I am normally working a booth during Festival so I never get to walk the show.  This year I have free time to see more than the booths on the way to the ladies room AND I might even sign up to take a class!

Since I’m working on my class notes and streamlining the projects I’m teaching now – always need to start early so I’m not stressing last minute – you may get some sneak peaks of step outs and work in process 🙂  I teach hands on machine embroidery with the Silk Experience- we’re doing in the hoop silk flowers and an embroidered silk scarf this year – two classes back to back for someone that just wants to hang out with me all day 🙂  The students will learn all about how to stabilize, choose designs, needles and materials, and get to use silk thread and fabric to embroider these scrumptious materials.  You can find a link to Wednesday’s classes here.  If you have never embroidered silk OR you are afraid of embroidering it because it’s so darn expensive and you don’t want to muck it up – this is a perfect way to test the waters and see if it is something you want to do more of.  No need to invest in any fancy materials – the kit fee includes everything you need.  Plus you may get to use a different brand or model of machine AND get instructions tips and tricks for threading hooping, sewing, etc

So if you live in the Houston area and have never been to the Quilt Festival – think about making a day trip and checking it out.  And if you’re not from the Houston area – you will NOT be alone!  Over 60,000 sewists from around the world attend this event every year and it is growing thanks to organizations such as the Modern Quilt Guild and The BadAss Quilter’s Society.  I love to meet up with the groups that come in from Australia each year – YES they plan their holiday around this event that’s how fantastic it is for anyone that appreciates fabric.  I’m not making this up!  Check out the Quilts website and Facebook page – and who knows!  Maybe I will see you there!

Creating an intertwined monogram using the stitch editing functions of Enthusiast

A few weeks ago I participated in the Applique Getaway in Ft Worth Texas and I am FINALLY catching up with life!  I’m also in the process of having my website completely redone which includes getting the newsletter working properly.  As soon as that is complete, well I’ll tell you about that when it happens – let’s not jinx things!

CASSo one of the things I love about going to events like the Applique Getaway is that I get completely inspired with new projects and ideas – and seriously put this event on your “must do one day” list as it was an incredible experience.  More on that later! But while I was there, chatting with those that loved machine embroidery – and in particular those that loved applique and lettering designs – I must have been asked a dozen times how to make embroidered letters look like they are twisted together.

So I was talking with Cristy & Janay from The Itch 2 Stitch and I asked Cristy if she would mind if I used one of their monogram style alphabets in a video and boom! here we are 🙂  You will hear me mention “BX fonts” in the video – the BX format is actually an installation file that contains alphabet designs that have mapping commands assigned to each design.  Some call this a “keyboard font” because you can type like in your word processor using the alphabet design collection – sounds fast and easy?  It is!  So you install the BX font to Embrilliance software and when you choose the Lettering tool, you have a new font in your list so that you can now TYPE with that font.  Yes, it is wicked cool, and seeing is believing, so check out the Embrilliance Quick Tip Video to get the whole scoop.

So, I created my monogram and then had some fun with my stitch editor of Embrilliance Enthusiast software.  Normally, the letters stitch out in completion in a particular order – left center right, or center left right etc.  What I show in the video is how I made a stitch editing attack plan on paper, and then went to work in my software to put the plan into action.  Clicking on this graphic should take you to the video on my SewBubbles youtube channel.

LInk to youtube video

Click on this graphic to watch the video on youtube

Just to recap some general stuff about Embrilliance.

**  All the programs are stand alone and run natively under Mac or Windows.

** Each program has a job – Enthusiast is advanced stitch editing and multiple hoop layouts and you can read about everything that this program does here.

** I have all the programs installed but I am only showing you functions that can be done in Enthusiast.

If you are comparing buttons between your software and my software – in order for your program to look exactly like mine, you need to go purchase Essentials, Enthusiast, Density Repair Kit, StitchArtist and AlphaTricks.  But you will NOT see me do anything in this video that can not be done by someone that only has Enthusiast.  I will only click on the Enthusiast buttons, I made sure of that 🙂

** This video was created using the Mac version of Enthusiast.  HOWEVER, the windows version has the exact same steps – the interface is just “window-y”.

Finally, this video was not intended to be a step by step tutorial.  I created it for viewing with your hands on your lap :-).  Maybe near the mouse so you can hit the pause button and rewind but not near the mouse so you can do what I do as in a step by step tutorial.  That would have to be a 4 hour video to complete the project at that speed. Thank goodness no one knows how many times I hit rewind – I love the rewind slider when I’m trying to pick up on the details!  I’ve been doing this many years – I learned all of this the hard way and I would love for you to pick up some tips and tricks to make things easier in your embroidery customizing adventures!

As I mention in the video, each project will have a different plan of attack and different ways to accomplish what you want.  I wanted to expose you to a few of the neat features of the program so that you can take that knowledge and play.  Luckily when you “play” in software – you can’t break anything as long as you save your original under a new name!

So I want you to watch and then go play.  And don’t pressure yourself to remember every single thing from the video!  My goal is to remember ONE thing and use it so that I know it….then I go back and watch again and focus on something different.  For example, the lock and unlock of the object pane – this is the COOLEST thing ever and  exists in all the Embrilliance programs!  Have you ever combined a bunch of designs and now your trying to move them around so that they make the perfect little combined design and you keep grabbing the wrong one?  No more scaring the 4 legged embroidery mascots that hang out with you (I know I’m not the only one with pets in the sewing room – and mine leave the room when Momma gets flustered)!  When you get a design where you want it – LOCK IT.  Now you can click on it all you want on the design page and it is not moving.  Just don’t panic when you want to move it and you can’t – select it in the object pane and unlock it 🙂

If you don’t have Enthusiast you can check it out the Embrilliance website – here is a link to the Enthusiast information page.  If you have questions, posting them to this blog isn’t the fastest way to get an answer.  I would hate for you to have to wait for the blog to send me a message letting me know there is a question.  For the fastest response, I would click on the Contact Us link while you are on the Embrilliance website and you can even mention that you saw this video.  I get tagged to answer questions about stuff all the time.

I hope you enjoyed this post –

Creating an Embossed Letter in StitchArtist

I normally like to create and post “polished” videos – but then there are times like this where I want to show you something that is so super quick I just can’t wait.

Do you like Embossed letter embroidery?  In StitchArtist, all you need to create an embossed letter is the object that is the shape of the frame and the letter that you want to be the hole in the embossing.  As you can see below, I created the letter “E” from a True Type Font and sized it to be the size I wanted.  This shape is from the library of built in shapes but you can create your own as ornate or simple that you want.


So the two objects are inside each other – they kind of look like what I want my embossed letter to look like so all I need to do is add the hole in the shape of the E to the polygon shape.  This is so easy to do in StitchArtist that I created a 60 second video showing you how to do this, apply a motif fill AND add a satin border around both the outer and inner edges.

Seriously – done in 60 seconds.  Here’s how:

Now if you are not familiar with StitchArtist, here is the link to the information page.  Although I am in Level 2 in the video – this can be done in Level 1 for those that are just getting into digitizing.

Click Here for the StitchArtist Information page – click on StitchArtist in the left column to read all about this value priced SUPER DUPER EASY software!


BERNINA Sewpreneur Interview with Olivia Omega

A couple of months ago I was contacted by a colleague of mine, Olivia Omega on behalf of Bernina USA to be interviewed for their new series on being a “Sewpreneur” for their blog,  Yes, I was just a tad bit excited about the idea.  Sewpreneur-feature1

A little background info – I met Olivia at the Sewing Summit in Salt Lake City, UT at a time when I realized that I needed to make some changes in my business life.  That sounds kind of funny now.  Machine Embroidery is my passion and is deeply seated in my everyday life and sometimes it is difficult to say when I am “working” and when I am enjoying my hobby!  But I was ready to make some changes and take a step outside of my very familiar comfort zone.

After absorbing a presentation that Olivia gave on developing your brand, I realized that I had become more than just a software company representative.  By stepping out on my own, I now had an opportunity to take all my machine embroidery experience and knowledge and share it with others as “Lisa Shaw” – be my own brand.  It was kind of scary but I’ve always been attracted to a challenge every since my high school guidance counselor said that I wouldn’t get accepted to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).  Yes, I did.  Yes, I went.  Yes, I asked myself rather quickly, “what on earth did I get myself into?!?!” and figured out a way to make this decision the best one possible for me – no regrets!

It has been an exciting journey and I’d love to share with you this interview. Yes, I even share a couple tips and tricks with my goofy sense of humor 🙂  Its just a little peak into my life and why I do what I do.  Thanks for joining me and be sure to check out the other interviews – such a wealth of information shared by some very talented women!

Enjoy!  Lisa

Freebie Friday! Hardback Portfolio

This is today’s project! I’m going to add embroidery to the front cover so the first step for me is to mark the outside fabric – I am going to use a cotton twill – and embroider my design. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Choly Knight


This was another personal project that I wanted to share with all of you! Every time I attend a convention I always need to be super organized, keeping together all my payment receipts, ledgers, inventory, and what not. I actually have this poor beaten up school folder that I’ve been using for the past few years that’s seen some better days xD I thought maybe it was time to upgrade to something a little more substantial.

It’s true I could have purchased something similar to get what I needed, but this way I know I’m getting exactly what I want and I got to use some pretty floral fabric from my stash (that matched almost nothing else in my collection! Grrr! I can’t be the only one that runs into that problem!)

To give it the right feel of sturdy without the hard edges, I used interfaced cotton with a…

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Hoop Savvy has launched on Craftsy!

Well today is the day – class has launched and I’ve already been answering questions!  You guys are FAST 🙂  For those of you that are interested in taking the class and want to save $20, be sure to use my special sale link.

Hoop Savvy special pricing

Thanks for all the warm wishes and support!


Hoop Savvy Sneak Peek #4 – twas the day before class launch…

I believe that software goes hand in hand with machine embroidery.  Even if I don’t want to change the design at all, I personally need to be able to print actual size templates so that I can mark my fabric and hoop accurately; this is best done in software.  The worst feeling is spending 40 minutes stitching a design on a shirt only to try it on and realize you have a lovely embellished armpit (or worse!)  Using a printed template removes any guesswork as to where the design is going to end up when it is stitched.

So yes, in Hoop Savvy, we will work a bit in software to show you how to do some fun “hoop related stuff” such as watching the design stitch out on screen to help you plan the stitching at the machine.  And what about creating and visualizing repeating border designs without having to print out multiple copies on paper – wouldn’t it be great to preview the border in software when you digitize it?
Of course, we will also talk about creating layouts for multi-position hoops with alignment lines, and how to add a basting box to help with professional stitched results when floating.  Oh yes, we will talk about floating in case you were wondering what that was all about!  And if you have misplaced or never got the plastic grid that came with your hoop – I’ll show you how to create a new one using software so that you can mark your fabrics for accurate placement!
Here come the butterflies again….

Stay tuned – I will have links with 50% off pricing to share with you as soon as the class launches!  I know you like a sale as much as I do 😀