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:
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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!

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2015 Craftsy Blogger Awards – nominate me and you could win a free class!

Craftsy Blogger Awards - Nominate Me badgeMake your voice heard from January 9-20, 2015! Nominate your favorite blogs in any of the listed categories, based on what you really loved about their posts. Only the top four blogs per each award and category will continue onto the next round of voting. The judging process is determined 50% by your individual votes and 50% by the Craftsy panel of expert judges, so your vote is VERY important!

Of course I would love for you to vote for my blog, but even if mine is not your favorite – participate in the voting and maybe you will be lucky and win a free class of your choosing! Click on the button to the left to be taken to the Craftsy blog post to vote for your favorite!

The address for my blog is:

Category of course is Embroidery and I’m shooting for Best Tutorials 🙂  I know, big surprise but hey – that’s me!

Have a great day!

StitchArtist – The User Interface, Using the Object Pane, Freehand Drawing and Remove Hidden Stitches with Essentials

Embrilliance GUIThe user interface in the Embrilliance programs is consistent between all the programs.  This is a super time saver in the product line because as you grow or add new programs, you don’t have to relearn an entire new program and where things are located!  For example, most people start with Essentials or even Express (the free program that works with BX fonts from your favorite digitizers).  When you purchase a new program like StitchArtist, you simply open your existing program, go to the Help menu, choose Serial Numbers to add your new serial number and restart as directed.  When you reopen the program you now have the new features that you purchased in the same familiar user interface.  No need to open one program to create lettering, another to combine designs and a third to add stitches or create a new design – its all done in one program.  Pretty slick and a super time saver.

So if you have been using Essentials you are familiar with the user interface and this will just be a quick recap.  The display pane on the left shows you a graphical representation of your hoop boundary – that is, the maximum area where stitches can be placed.  Hoops are always defined in metric measurements – always, every brand, make and model.  We approximate the size to “close enough” inch measurements such as 5×7 which is easy enough to remember but not exact. The two panes shown on the right side show you the same information as the design pane but in a different format.  The Object pane shows the designs and objects that make up what you see in the Design page in the order that they will stitch at the machine and the bottom properties pane changes based upon what is selected and what mode you are in. If you are in regular select mode, and you choose an object from the list in the object pane, the properties pane may show you the current thread color or bring up the lettering properties if it is a lettering object or allow you to adjust the stitch properties if you have Density Repair Kit installed.  The default view for the Embrilliance program will always be the same – no matter what program(s) you have installed or in what “mode” you are in.  Design Page, Object Pane and Properties Pane – if you are missing any of these or want a bit more information on them, check out the video from the Embrilliance youtube channel.

The Object Pane in StitchArtist is a nice way to keep your digitizing pieces organized – especially for re-use in the future!  When I look at the graphic of the monkey in the box, I see two “designs” – the monkey and the box. If I create this as two design objects, its really simple for me to come back in a couple months when I want to create a Cat or Mouse in a similar box – select the Box design, copy it, start a new design page and paste it in.  My “rule of thumb” when creating a design from a graphic is to look at the entire graphic and break it into smaller sections that could possibly be used again in the future.  Yes, I’m lazy so if I can make things easier for me in the future by taking an extra step or two now, I’m all for that!

SA_new designToday, we’re going to work on the monkey so the first thing I will do is to start a new design from the create menu. Remember that the Create menu only shows up after you click on the Create button in the menu bar.  As soon as you choose Begin a New Design, nothing really changes except the Object Pane on the right – you now have a second Design listed and it has a #2 identifying it on the left.  This second Design comes after what we have already created – and everything we create today will be added to this Design.

Now you may be thinking “Design is such a “useless generic” name, wish I could change it” and you can.  Click on the word “Design” and you will get a white entry box where you can type a name in and click Enter on the keyboard.  I renamed the new design I just created to Monkey and the original first design to Giftbox.  You will want to be careful what you name your Design Objects as certain design types (such as Lettering Templates) use this name for specific purposes.  Check out the Embrilliance Manual for more information on this.

Now that I have started a new Design for the monkey – let’s create the hand on the left.  Normally I use Point Drawing mode, but to show you another option in Level 1, let’s use the Freehand tool.  If you enjoy drawing like this, I highly recommend exploring all the options for this tool as described in the manual.  I find it “messy” so I have not become proficient in drawing this way but it does have its merits for those that wish to explore it further.  What is nice about the way this tool works in StitchArtist is that you do NOT have to complete the entire shape at one time. So as you can see in the video, I zoomed in an drew the paw in a couple sections which automatically connected to each other.  When done, you can right click to end or choose the Close.

The Freehand tool does NOT use the bezier handles – or rather they are just not accessible for editing unless you choose to convert the drawing to a bezier curve drawing.  You can delete nodes by double clicking on the node, or add a node by double clicking on the line.  Reshaping is done by simply moving the nodes and the lines reshape with them.  All reshaping is done by moving nodes, you can not move a line like you can when the beziers are active.  Its just a different way to edit shapes – not better or worse, just different.

Adding the hand shown on the right side can be accomplished by a simple copy, paste and move to where it belongs in the design page.  Notice that the pasted object is placed at the end of the current design.  Next we will draw the tail and it is added to the end of the design – each new object you create is added after the last object created UNLESS you choose an object beforehand – future blog post but thought I’d mention the possibility in case you decide to play on your own – and play you should!

So after we draw the tail, notice that it is going to stitch after or rather on top of the paw and kind of on top of the box.  To make things easy, lets first just reshape the bottom of the tail so that it is even with the edge of the box.  We’ll go into how to break up and reorganize the applique position/material/finishing stitches in a future post, but for right now, let’s get this part looking clean.  Look at the object pane and you see that it shows you the stitching order – left paw, right paw, tail. We want the tail to stitch before the right paw so right click on it in the Object pane and choose Stitch Earlier to move it one position sooner.  You can also drag and drop.

RHS_ESS with SAThe following is a really cool feature that I wanted to show for those that ALSO have Essentials authorized with their StitchArtitst.  You can find more information about what this program can do for existing stitch files on the Embrilliance website.  In short, Essentials removes stitches automatically when you overlap designs you have merged. We created two designs in StitchArtist and the second design, Monkey, has applique objects that overlap parts of the first design, gift box.  So when you click on the Remove Hidden Stitches (RHS) preview button, you can see that when you save the stitch file and go to the machine, certain parts of the first design that are hidden by the second design overlapping these areas are removed.  The KEY POINT here is that they are only removed in the stitch file that goes to the machine.  You did not have to muck up your working file to get these holes!  Remember that the RHS button is there to show you a preview of what is going to happen in the stitch file.  There is no need to press it to make it happen – this is all done automatically when you save the file in Embrilliance Essentials.

So here is a short video that shows you all that I just talked about!

Link to Video on YouTube

So we are making a bit of progress with our design.  I hope you are enjoying the journey and look forward to seeing you online!

How to Digitize in StitchArtist Lesson 1 of many – opening the graphic, setting the plan and GO!

monkey in boxBetween Christmas and New Year’s, I thought I would try to make a couple posts on some of the digitizing functions of StitchArtist.  I know many people got the program for Christmas or are thinking about getting the program.  I’ve been using it for over a year and really enjoy creating my own designs.  I thought that creating a series of posts that follow me through a design from start to finish might help give some insight as to how a “non-professional but always learning” digitizer works with the software.

First, let me say that this project will be using StitchArtist Level 1 just to demonstrate that there is quite a bit you can do with this entry level digitizing program!  Yes, it runs on both a Mac or Windows computer and pretty much looks the same on either operating system – so just because the picture/video is done in the Mac version, pretend you are looking at a windows computer and tell yourself “Its ok that my program is not identical, if I click on the same button on my computer that looks a little different, the same thing happens so it’s all good!”  YES you can start with Level 1 and upgrade to Level 2 at any time.  YES the program is stand alone, HOWEVER, I have other Embrilliance titles installed so when you watch the video, you may see other buttons that you will not have if you only have StitchArtist authorized.  I WILL NOT be using any of these buttons, so please do not say “I have StitchArtist Level 1 and mine doesn’t look like yours, why?”  Yours will have every function and feature that I actually click on and use in this blog post – I will not be discussing the other programs.  If you are paying attention to the other stuff I’m not talking about…stop that 🙂

In case I forget, you can find out about the software from the Embrilliance website and here is the direct link to the StitchArtist page:

There are many ways to do any single task – including how to digitize a design.  In fact, I would say ESPECIALLY when it comes to design creation because this is a personal and artistic form of expression.  That being said, I’m going to walk you thru ONE way that I chose to create this embroidery design – not the right way or only way – but rather, my way. Use this information any way you want!

Before I start any embroidery project, I decide what hoop I am going to use.  I’m choosing to create the design for the 5×7 or 130mm x 180mm PES hoop.  Deciding this now will tell me how much detail to include – for example I have zero desire to stitch large areas with fill stitches or cut applique shapes the size of pennies – not my idea of fun.  I also work in metric because it just makes more sense.  I know the difference between a 2mm and 3mm stitch but .078 inches or .118 inches means nothing to me visually – I can’t “see” the difference between those in my head.  But I know that a 2mm running stitch is going to be wicked tiny and a 3mm stitch will do decent curves for a running stitch.  So the first thing I will do is open my software, set my measurement and hoop.

The most common way to begin creating a design is with using a graphic or picture as a guide.  StitchArtist is NOT an automatic digitizing program.  Computer software programs have zero creativity and emotion.  Creating an embroidery design is an artform and StitchArtist provides you with tools so that you can creatively interpret the graphic into a stitch file.  So the first thing I will show you is how to do is setup your workspace and open a graphic into the program.  I drew this monkey in a gift box and scanned it into my computer as a JPG file.  The important part of this step is that what you open as a background is a graphic file such as a JPG, BMP etc.  Formats are listed on the website.  The software doesn’t care that you can’t draw – it cares that you choose a graphic on the computer to open.  How the graphic got there is up to you!

Once I open my graphic as a background, I size it to fit my hoop and save the file.  Saving often it a good plan in my book.  When someone asks how often you should save, my answer is that I save as soon as I finish something I never want to do again.  I strongly dislike duplicating work.  Therefore, I save often.

I have zero intention to replicate the information that is well documented in the manual. Again – I’m not into creating more work for me 🙂  If the manual did not exist or was poorly written, I would have a different opinion on the matter.  However, I read the manual.  Its a great read – one might even venture to say that it is entertaining and fun!  I have a copy in my kindle app so that I can search and refer to it often.  The Embrilliance manual makes sense and gives you background information on digitizing practices as well as how to use the various tools in the program.  I highly suggest that if you have not done so, that you download the manual from the Embrilliance website and check it out.  Not sure where to find it? There is a link on the StitchArtist page to both the FAQ and the manual.

So once the graphic is open in the background – that is the inspiration upon which the embroidery design is going to be created. My “vision” is that this 5×7 design will be part applique with various stitched accents.  The monkey is coming out of the gift box, so the first thing that needs to be created is the box and its lid.  My favorite drawing tool is the point input – click your mouse and that’s a node.  You do not need to have the last click be on top of the first click in order to close a shape – that’s done for you automatically using the close button on the menu bar.  And for those that want to get the most our of their software and have read the StitchArtist chapter as suggested, you already know that you can use the Command+right click (CTRL+right click in windows) to end and close the shape in one step.

The Applique stitch properties for Level 1 has two sections – the stitch properties and the tie off properties. (note: Other levels may have more pages to their properties pane.)  Hopefully you have stitched a few well digitized designs so you know that locking stitches or ties are important at the start of a color/section as well as at the end.  These are called Ties in StitchArtist and you can turn them on or off for each object you create.  Yes, I will show you some examples later on in this project of when you would not want the ties to be turned on.  You have various options for the applique properties – the style of finishing stitch and its density and width for example.

The Applique object type can have up to 3 parts and you have complete control to turn any of these – on or off.  An applique normally has a single run that stitches showing you where the fabric needs to be placed.  This is referred to as the Applique Position stitch.  The machine would stitch this and stop because it is its own colorbreak.  You would place a piece of fabric in the hoop covering this outline.  The next colorbreak is another single run (material position) – it holds down the fabric you just placed in the hoop and stops.  If the fabric you placed in the hoop was not cut to fit this shape ahead of time (either by hand or die or fabric cutter), you would remove the hoop and trim the fabric.  Return the hoop to the machine and stitch the final colorbreak – the finishing stitch.

As you can see in the applique properties, these three “stitching objects” are all part of a single object – so if you reshape the applique shape you automatically reshape each of the components. Kind of cool and saves you a lot of time.  You can also turn off any one or more of these depending on what it is you are trying to do.  For this example, our applique will have the 3 components – we’ll start off simple!


Check out the video clip here to see how we got to this point!

If you thought I was going to work through this entire design in one blog post – SORRY!  If you have the software, I encourage you to play.  By playing with the software, you will slowly develop YOUR WAY to do something which may be different than mine – and that’s a wonderful thing to happen!

We have quite a few more lessons coming up so be sure that you subscribe to my blog.  And please remember that if you have questions on the software, you will ALWAYS get an answer by clicking on the Contact Us link on the website!  This is the best and fastest way to get information on any of the Embrilliance programs.

Until next time – see you online!

Graphics for Digitizing

For those of you interested in digitizing, one of the biggest issues we come across is graphic preparation.  I taught a class at SewExpo this year on this topic and one of the programs that mentioned in class was Pre-Design by Artistitch.  I welcome you to check out the program information listed on my website – you can also download a demo version from Loes’ website – to try it out for yourself. 

Don’t forget that the notes/information from this class can be found under Samples > Notes on my website as well!

Enjoy!  Lisa