A giveaway for my second Craftsy Class!

I’ve got butterflies again!  In less than a month, my second class on Craftsy comes out and I think we should celebrate with some sneak peeks and a giveaway!
Any guesses as to what the class is about?

Register to win before my class is available!

Register to win before my class is available!

Visit this link to register for the giveaway!  Details to follow!!

What to do when the bobbin thread is showing on top of the hoop

So you’re stitching along and your embroidery is looking great in the hoop.  All of a sudden you notice that the bobbin thread is starting to show up on top of the hoop!  Don’t be touching the top tension knob!  90% of the time, the problem of bobbin thread on top of the hoop is caused by a problem under the hoop in the bobbin area.

photo 1-1Here are the first things I run through to troubleshoot the problem:

1. Did you just change the bobbin?  If so maybe you didn’t thread it through correctly OR maybe you put the bobbin in backwards.  Take the bobbin out, make sure you are putting it in following the diagram and make sure that you are threading the bobbin through the path with a little bit of “secure tension” on the thread – kind of like if you were flossing teeth.  Not tight and rough to cause bleeding gums! But you want to “thread with purpose” so that you are sure that the bobbin thread is going into the tension disks securely.

2. Take out the bobbin and the shuttle (the case the bobbin drops into shown to the left).  Use a soft brush and clean in the machine, under and around where the case was seated.  Your machine manual will have great diagrams on how to take out the bobbin, shuttle and most I’ve seen have pictures showing where to clean or where to pay attention to where the fuzz collects!  NOTE: I do not use q-tips to clean this area.  I use a small nylon brush or a mini sheepskin duster (looks like a pencil or chopstick with a sheepskin fur ball glued to the end).  Qtips tend to shed and can snag on sharp edges adding fibers to what you are trying to remove.

3. Next, you need to clean out the tension disks of the bobbin case using a fine pin or business card.  Here is a PDF file that you can download showing you a close up of what I’m talking about:

PDF on Bobbin Case Cleaning

A bright light and a fine pin or business card are the best tools for the job.  The fuzz that you will find may not be seen unless you shine the bright light in there and you see reflections or shadows.

I clean out my bobbin area every time I change bobbins ESPECIALLY if I am stitching with tearaway stabilizer or on fabric that sheds like Minkee or burlap or glitter vinyl appliques!  Felt is another fabric that will fill your bobbin case with schmutz – not the technical term but dust and fuzz do not really describe what you will find in the bobbin area. And yes, I said tearaway stabilizer will create more schmutz in the bobbin case than other types of stabilizer – its the nature of the product.  It tears away so the needle can shred it and down the hole in the throat plate go all the particles.  And yes, some brands will create more or less particles than others.

In other words – for consistently successful embroidery, there are a couple of things you need to work out between you and your machine.  Sounds like I’m giving relationship advice – how many of you are nodding and thinking this doesn’t sound far fetched?  So here’s how to keep the honeymoon going (or getting it started!)  First, you  need to determine what “fiber ingredients” work best for you with the types of designs and projects you are stitching.  What stabilizer, hooping technique, needle, thread in top and bobbin, topping, fabric stitching on, etc – all these make up the ingredients to the embroidery project at hand. How do you figure all this out?  Pay attention to what your machine is doing.  Listen to your machine as it stitches. Look at the stitching results on top of the hoop and underneath.  If you make ONE adjustment, note it and see what changed – on top and on the backside of the hoop.

Part of the “paying attention to see what works” is also to note what is going on in the bobbin case.  If you just finished appliqueing a bunch of burlap garden flags with glitter vinyl floated on a very papery tear away stabilizer – take a few moments to take out your bobbin and bobbin case.  Notice anything different that when you were stitching cotton totes with simple monograms? Make a note.  I bet you see schmutz.

I am definitely NOT saying that the only time you get schmutz in the bobbin case is when you stitch non-cotton fabrics!  Holy smokes! The only time your bobbin case will remain pristine clean is if you don’t use your sewing/embroidery machine!  It can’t be avoided, but if you want to continue successful embroidery, taking the time to make a few adjustments before the next project can save lots of headaches dealing with a problem.  Clean the case.  Change the needle.  Inspect the thread cutter area under the throat plate.  Just do a quick 1-2-3 check of everything and a quick clean and you’ll be more likely to continue successful embroidery.

Until next time – wishing you zero thread nests!


Thanks to all of you — voted 2015 Craftsy Best Instructor’s Blog

Craftsy Blogger Awards - Winner Best Instructor's Blog BadgeYes, I am doing the happy dance and it is all because of you!  Thank you so much for taking the time to vote for my blog and let me know that you like the information that I share with you.  It really means alot.

Now don’t laugh, but I’ve been sitting here at the computer trying to think of something to write in addition to this, but I am at a loss for words.  This has been a crazy week – I didn’t even post here that I found out that an article and project I had submitted to Creative Machine Embroidery magazine was not only featured on the front cover but also as a downloadable project! CMEcover silkcase 2015

I have a few things on my “Business Bucket List”, and one of them was to have something of mine featured on the cover of a magazine in my industry.  I’ve been writing magazine articles for years, but they never made it to the front cover!  So as I was browsing through Facebook with my morning coffee and feeling kind of giddy because my blog had made the top 4 in the Craftsy voting…and kapow!  there was my tablet case!  Thank you to the editors at CME for picking my project and showcasing it with such beautiful photography!

Now, if you visit the webpage, there are a few things to download.  First the article with project instructions is always a good thing.  Next there are the embroidery design files and applique templates.  There are a few links on that page and they are only active for a set period of time, so be sure to get them while you can!

In case you were wondering – YES both designs were created using StitchArtist. I really liked the elegant form of the butterfly and knew that the interior holes would be a great job for my Brother ScanNCut. I love using the E-stitch for a finishing stitch for applique and I think it gave a delicate edge for this project.  I’ll let you in on a secret — the flower designs were created to embellish the lining of a jacket I’m working on!  When you want to embellish a lightweight material like jacket lining, you don’t want to use dense designs. Heavy embellishment on a lightweight fabric will change how it drapes and I didn’t want there to be any stabilizer left in the fabric when it was complete.  So I’m working on that project in case you were wondering what else you could do with the designs!

So today’s post is going to be short and sweet — first and foremost because I really wanted it to be about thanking everyone that voted for my blog.  I am honored and very appreciative.  Second – because one of my sew-lutions this year was to be more consistent in my blog posting – once a week is the goal.  Yes, I have 3 sew-lutions, which are sewing related resolutions – blog once a week, decrease the stash, and learn at least 3 new sewing techniques in 2015.  And I think that this whole Craftsy blogger thing will be a motivation for me to stay on track.

Thank you again and hope you all have a wonderful week!  Next blog post – back to the monkey in the box design so we can finish that up!


A New scissor snob has been created

Lisa SewBubbles:

Yes, Kai Scissors are my favorite when it comes to using a lightweight super SHARP SMOOTH scissor for cutting out fabric and trimming threads. Check out this blog post to see what they think about the scissors!

Originally posted on That's Sew Absurd!:

I don’t know about you, but for me, I’ve bought scissors everywhere! My local sewing shop, fabric store, the cheapies that come with a new machine purchase, walmart, heck.. even the dollar store. They’re scissors, as long as they cut, what the heck does it matter, right? WRONG!

I was recently introduced to Kai Scissors.  Yup, I am officially converted and am now a scissor snob!

My absolutely favorites are the 5100c 4 inch curved.  They’re impressively sharp (Please be careful and don’t drop them in your lap, you will stab yourself… don’t ask me how I know either.. I’m not telling).  For those like me, who have only started their embroidery journey, you most likely have a single needle machine that doesn’t automatically trim jump stitches, and sometimes, they can be a pain in the rear to trim. These make those jump stitches easy to trim.  You do…

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The final day to vote with another free design to download! THANK YOU!

Lilly_finalThe final day of voting has arrived and I am so grateful to all of those that have taken the time to vote for my blog.  The internet is a wonderful thing, but unlike presenting in person, its hard to know if your audience understands or even likes the information that you are presenting to them.  I truly appreciate your feedback and will do my best to continue in this manner!

SO – this is Lilly the elephant.  She’s a layered applique design with a couple of 3D items going on :-)  Her tail is a simple bunco braid that is attached by the applique finishing stitch and she’s got fringe eyelashes!  The fringe is part of StitchArtist Level 2 and I threw that in there because I think it adds a little something to the finished design without going over-board.  Sure you could use this function to create a flapper dress style “fill” but I like to use it as a little bit of wow and it is very simple do do.  Background

But first, Let me show you what the the original photo background looked like.  When you open an image most of the time its in the orientation that we want to work with – but what if it isn’t?  Use the rotation handle in the upper right corner just like you do on any selected object.  So I enlarged the graphic and rotated it so that it was how I wanted to work with it and set the transparency to a lower value so it was less bold on my screen.  I get distracted very easily – squirrel! – so I tend to plan my workspace so I am most productive.

If you look at the first color break in the design, it is a short little run – maybe 5 stitches.  Its only job is to tell me where I need to put the tail down.  Yes, I could have just guessed when the next run stitched which is the applique position – however I do not want to forget that I need the tail!  In a month from now I can load this design to my machine and it will stitch color #1 and I will literally say “OH I almost forgot – I need to put the tail down, where is my yard?”  Since I said this last night and I literally just digitized the design we all know in a month I will have no recollection until I trim the eyelashes and then its too late.

EyelashSo let’s talk about those eyelashes!  This is a StitchArtist Level 2 function as part of the column stitch – its actually a built in style!  The column stitch is one of the most powerful tools when you want to create interesting designs.  It is also how those swirly tatoo style fonts are created.  The angle of the sitches curve or turn with the shape of the object so you may also hear this tool referred to as the “turning angle tool” in your research.

By the way, I am giving to you here, the SIMPLE “this is how you create this exact shape” explanation – so please check out the information in the StitchArtist section of the manual as well as the Embrilliance videos that show all the features and functions of this tool. If you just look at this example, you are getting a shotglass size dose of the 10 gallon drum of information and capabilities of this tool –  so please don’t limit yourself and check it out!

So by selecting the column stitch Left/Right input method, I started on the right and clicked in my top bottom pattern in the order shown alternating top and bottom.  I started on the right because I am used to demonstrating for a group of people and I like for my audience to see what is being created.  It is perfectly OK to start on the left and go right, you just may need to change the Fringe direction.  The direction is dictated by the 1-2 direction.  I wanted the fringe to be loose on the side where the 2 was which is to the right of the 1 so I set it to Fringe Right. The fringe stitch is a satin stitch that has a locking running stitch on one side – this is what holds the top stitches in place in this case just like false eyelash glue :-)

Lilly_Start  So how does this work at the machine?  I’ve stitched my design completely.  This photo does not have the finishing stitch done on the ear because I was running out of camera battery and wanted to get it all photographed. And yes I have navy bobbin thread in the machine because I was too tired to go get another bobbin plus the navy shows up nice against the white stabilizer :-) Laugh with me – its how I roll!

So the way I like to create the fringe – and remember my way is not the only way, we flip over the hoop and with sharp thin blade scissors trim JUST the bobbin thread for these stitches.  Pictured here are the super thin and sharp Kai 5100DC scissors.  They have a double curved handle so they are great going over the hoop for cutting jumps while your fabric is still Lilly_Backin the hoop (between color changes is when I trim).  This very thin blade is also perfect for sliding right underneath the bobbin stitches and cutting them cleanly.

The only threads you want to cut is the thread that is the underside of the satin stitch.  DO NOT cut the running stitch as that is the only thing that is holding the loose threads in place!  Be careful not to impale the fabric when using sharp scissors – I don’t even cut the stabilizer.

And if you have used a tearaway stabilizer for your project just be careful when you tear it away from the backside of areas like this.  I’ve not had any fringe unravel on me after the fact but you don’t need to be giving it any excuse to misbehave.  If you are a afraid of future wear and tear – a drop of fray check at either end should give you piece of mind.  So once you carefully trim the bobbin stitches, flip over the project and carefully run your fingernail over the column stitch and the loops will pop up!

Lilly_eyeAnd here is a tilted side view of Lilly’s long and flirty eyelashes!  I wanted a soft look which is why I only cut the bobbin thread.  You can also cut the top thread on the fringe side (opposite the side of the run stitch) and they single threads will not be looped so they may have a more wild or organic look.

So here are the design files for today’s blog post.  I hope that you enjoyed the information presented during this fun week of voting!  No matter the outcome at midnight tonight – I thank you for your very visual support and appreciation of what I do!  You have each made me feel very special – thank you!

….and if this is your first time to my blog on the final day of voting here’s the link:
Craftsy Blogger Awards - Vote for Me badge

And the voting continues – thanks for your support!

TurtleI am so impressed with all of you for voting for my blog and boosting us to 300 votes!  You really made my day.  I wonder if we can get to 400 votes?  Is that too much to ask?  We have until Wednesday Jan 28th at 11:59PM MST so we shall see what happens in the next two days!

So todays free design is another that I have digitized in Embrilliance StitchArtist and it is an applique design.  There are a couple of different things about this design – the finishing stitches are not the traditional machine embroidery satin stitch.  You will also note when you watch the design stitch out that there are no jumps between the purple legs.  I really don’t like to trim jumps and the machines just stitch faster when they travel vs having to slow down, lock, trim, relocate, lock, and ramp back up to speed.  When you have run stitches that travel instead jumps that trim, the machine will just keep on the speed its going.  So when ever possible I like to incorporating travel stitches into the designs I create – hiding them under stitches that will stitch/cover later.

Both Step1of these items are very easy to accomplish in StitchArtist.  First let’s talk about how to get the pretty motif stitch around the applique pieces.  After creating the shape and choosing applique, I set the finishing stitch to None.  If I am using a fabric cutter, I only select the Position stitch.

Yes, I could simply set this stitch type to a single run since I was planning to not have a material position stitch.  However, I know me – I like to change my mind and setting it to be an applique stitch type gives me to flexibility to quickly add the material option in the future by checking the box.  If I set it to a run and later decided I wanted the second run, I would have to copy and paste and make sure it was in the right order or change it from a run to an applique, set it to none and check both boxes.  So I saved myself some extra work today by setting the shapes to applique none in the beginning.

Step2OK, so I have no finishing stitch – how do I get that?  I drew a line around the top part of the shape only along the outer edges and set it to a motif run.  Because it was an open path, The decorative stitch of the turtle shell was going to cover the spots where the head and legs connected anyway!

Step3And since the decorative stitching of the shell was going to cover the sections in between, I simply created short little single runs to travel from one leg to the next.  Since these runs are connecting to the stitches before and after, you will want to turn off the ties if you have them set on your running stitch.  There is no reason to lock these little runs as we want them to be  a planned part of the design.

So here is the link to the Turtle files.

And if you have not yet voted for my blog before the cut off time, Please take a few moments to do so!  I would certainly appreciate it!  Thank you and enjoy!

Craftsy Blogger Awards - Vote for Me badge

My blog made the top 4 – but I still need your votes!

Craftsy Blogger Awards - Vote for Me badgeA big thank you to all that voted for my blog  in the Craftsy 2015 awards earlier this month!  I was so excited to see that I made the list for the top 4 in the Best Craftsy Embroidery Instructors blog category – you have no idea how cool it was to see my blog listed there as a finalist.

But, the final voting has just begun and runs until 11:59PM MST on January 28th – so if you have not yet voted for me in this second round, I would surely appreciate it if you would do so.  If you click on the link on the left, you can vote in each of the categories by selecting an entry and clicking the orange Vote button like you see below.  Yes, you have to scroll down to the last category to find me, but there I am :-)  I was quite giddy when I saw this and wanted to say THANK YOU….


….. and I wanted to encourage more votes :-)  So as of this moment, my blog has over 200 votes – wow!  So as a Thank You to all of those that have already voted and are going to in the next couple of days, I pledge post a free design here on my blog with some information a tip or a trick each time I hit a “hundred” mark.  So as soon as we get 300 votes – BOOM I will post the next design.

Now I know that my followers are pretty darn enthusiastic and enjoy free designs, tips, and tricks.  So I have already made up the one for when we hit 300 votes :-)  This first one may look familiar – it was a project I did using StitchArtist Level 2TiaraBear2flat.  It is pretty stitch intensive so I would not recommend shrinking it.  I am working on a version that can be stitched in the 4×6 multiposition hoop, but that will need some tweaking, testing and instructions :-)  Hmmm, that sounds like a future blog post if there is interest.

Click here to download the zip file which includes a whole bunch of stitch file formats along with the PDF file that has the instructions for which color is for what purpose.  I want to thank my friend Tiffany and her daughter Josie for the inspiration and explanation for making a tiara “slider”.  Its not something I would have done on my own, but after I had digitized the tiara design I was like “hmmm – what can I do with this?” Color #3 was the original design – that was it.  By adding a couple run stitches in different colors that “traced” the design, I was able to give it a finished back and to stop if from flip flopping around I added the final colorbreak at the front center which creates a “pseudo pocket” for the headband to slide thru.  The 10 for $1 skinny ones at the Dollar make great tiara holders – I will stock up on the metal ones when I find them again.

So again – thank you for voting for me.  Please share this post with your machine embroidery friends so that they can vote for my blog too!  Click on the VOTE graphic at the top of this post to register your vote!  See you at 300!


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