Welcome to Part 5 of the @Anita Goodesign Halloween Town Sew Along! In this video, we are going to stitch out a quilt top, step by step! Lots of bright Halloween colors, pumpkin applique and scary ghosts – and of course the scary Halloween trees!!
The Economical Embroiderer here, bringing you important computer information: clean up your computer desktop and keep your embroidery designs organized!
OK, that may not seem like a big deal, but eventually, it may be. I am making it a part of the Economical Embroiderer series because eventually having tons of embroidery designs on your computer will take up too much space and everything will slow down. If you take the time now to organize your designs and keep up with it every time you download a new set of designs, it will take up less room, and your computer will be faster for longer. True story!
DON’T HAVE EMBROIDERY DESIGNS ON YOUR DESKTOP. Yep, people don’t realize this, but the more you have on your desktop, the longer it takes your computer to boot up and get ready to work. Keep your desktop clean! On all 4 of my computers, I have only 4 folders on my desktop – and my computer functions very well. All of the icons for the programs that you use are simply shortcuts – get rid of them they are just clutter. All you need to do is RIGHT-CLICK on your programs, and select “pin to taskbar” and they will appear at the very bottom of your screen, for easy access. Then all you have to do is take the icon and drop it in the recycle bin. Do that with all of your programs and clean up your desktop.
FILES ON YOUR DESKTOP NEED TO BE CLEANED UP TOO. As I said above, keep your desktop nice and tidy. If you have a ton of embroidery designs, you need to organize them on your desktop, or better yet, take them right off of your desktop! If you must have them on the desktop, then organize them by putting them in folders. You can create a folder easily. All you have to do is RIGHT-CLICK anywhere on the desktop and a list will pop up (similar to the image above) and you can navigate down to NEW FOLDER and name it! That’s it! Then all you have to do is drag and drop (left click and hold) all of your designs into that folder. Double click on the folder and it will open up to show you all of the embroidery designs that you have put in there! Now your desktop should look a bit better – some folders, a file here or there, but you should be able to see the background now! If you can’t see your background picture, keep organizing!
ORGANIZE THE REST OF YOUR EMBROIDERY FILES: At this point, it may be a huge job to get organized BUT if you can find the exact embroidery design that you are looking for in a short amount of time, then it is worth it – time is money, and saving time before embroidery leaves you more time for embroidery, right? Well, that is how I see it – I don’t really want to waste time finding stuff when I can use that time to create and stitch.
People ask what is the best way to organize all of your files. By digitizer? by design name? by design subject? My answer is YES. Each of those or even a combination of those ideas will work just fine. It really depends on what you like. If you would like to know how I do it, hold on because it is a big job. I have been creating embroidery designs for around 15 years, and I have a big BIG list of embroidery files on my computer. The list is so big that I have around 8TB of storage space on my computer. No, I don’t use nearly all of that, but I can if I need to. I think probably if I wasn’t so organized, that hard drive would be filling up faster. Here is how I keep organized.
I keep work files separate from “fun” embroidery files. That is the first “branch” of my folder organization. WORK is one, and Embroidery is the second one, and everything is organized into those two big files. If I am working, I am only using the work folder. Yes, there are many subfolders, etc, but I don’t have to see any embroidery files that are not work-related, so that saves me time.
Let’s look into my Embroidery organization methods. This file folder contains my non-work related digitizing files as well as files from other digitizers. I have some files that are organized into general categories that are easy to find. For example Dogs, Cats, Christmas, Halloween etc. That way if I am looking for some Halloween designs, I am going to have a whole folder full of them. I also have a few digitizers with separate folders. I do that for a few reasons – time-saving would be the main one. When I am downloading designs from Kreative Kiwi, it is easier and faster to put them in one folder directory. I also want to know exactly where Kreative Kiwi’s designs are because I know they will all stitch perfectly, so I don’t have to worry about any of those designs – I have confidence and I just pick what I want and send it directly to my machine. I do have some other digitizer’s work from big companies, and I like to put them in separate folders so I know where they came from.
If I am starting a big project or planning a big project, I like to make a folder specifically for that project so I can keep everything in one place. All the designs that I am thinking about using, I COPY them into that folder. If I don’t end up doing the project, I can simply delete the entire folder, and I am only deleting copies of files – the original files are still organized on my computer. It’s a simple way to keep organized and keep the right designs exactly where you need them.
KEEPING DUPLICATES OF THE SAME FILES: When you are downloading embroidery files, you quite often get ALL versions of that file: PES, DST, JEF, and XXX (singer, if you didn’t know). While it may not seem like a lot of extra files, if you are downloading files that are separated into sizes too, you may have a few extra hundred files that you really don’t need. After a while, that can quickly pile up and take up a lot of space on your computer. The solution is pretty easy and fast and if you do this EVERY TIME you download files, it will simply become a habit. All you have to do is delete the files that you don’t want! Personally, I only keep the EMB files (of course) and PES files, because I only have Brother Machines. You may want to keep the DST files, as that is the commercial version and you can use it on most machines. But cutting out a few hundred files on each design will end up saving you space on your computer.
Computer housekeeping is important and will help you get stitching faster – and a faster computer, too.
COMMENT on how many files/folders you have on your desktop and how many embroidery designs you have on your computer.
Here are my answers: 4 folders and no files on my desktop and….more than 400,000 embroidery files. Can you beat that???
Until next time,
The Economical Embroiderer
I do have a ton of experience stitching and creating embroidery, I have not done much sewing. If I could program the embroidery machine to sew for me, that was a good day! Then McDreamy came along (he is my Brother Dream Machine 2) and everything changed! The DM2 is an incredible embroidery machine, but also one of the best sewing machines out there. So now I have to learn to sew and quilt!
I am still working on sewing…I generally give it a try and then pick it out until I get it right. Yep, trial and error. I am getting better at it each time I try, and I do learn something new. How am I supposed to move the quilt around? What about embroidery???
My big problem was sewing and quilting LARGE QUILTS. It is hard to get the whole quilt moved around so everything lines up, sew a bit, and then do re-arranging again and a bit of sewing again. It is a lot of hard work! Since I am not an amazing quilter or sewer, just about anything will make my stitches crooked. So. What the heck can I do to make this easier? I don’t want to give up. I found the solution, and I am super happy.
What solves all of my large quilt quilting problems?
THE WEIGHTLESS QUILTER, BY DIME!!! (here is the link if ya wanna check it out https://www.shop.dzgns.com/collections/quilting/products/weightless-quilter )
The best part? you don’t need any additional equipment to get this to work – it is adaptable to any desk and any sized quilt. Even better, it has a small footprint, so if you only have a smaller working space like I do, the Weightless quilter fits right in! I was so happy to make quilting easier for me. Check out my set up!
How will this work for embroidery? After all, that is what I do best! All you have to do is make your quilt sandwich (same steps as sewing) and grab your Snap Hoop Monster – the biggest one you have!!! and find a gorgeous machine embroidery quilting design. Press start. Watch the magic happen!!!
I am loving this solution – it is FANTASTIC and so easy to use! I will be working more with the Weightless Quilter, so stay tuned for more embroidery experiments and tests. So far, this is EXCELLENT!
I am so happy!
Until next time,
(a happy weightless quilter)
Protect yourself from online embroidery scams! If it seems to good to be true, it probably is!! The embroidery machine is the most expensive embroidery investment, so be careful out there!
Can you really find a cheap embroidery machine? what is a good price? does a $66 embroidery machine really true? I can save so much money on machine embroidery if I get a cheap embroidery machine. Let’s face it. You purchase embroidery designs, in the hoop embroidery designs, thread, stabilizer and of course fabric. What are you missing? AN EMBROIDERY MACHINE. Before you purchase one, you need to ask: is this too good to be true? Can you go onto eBay and get a $2k 10 needle embroidery machine? Probably not. To purchase an embroidery machine, you need to be able to see the embroidery machine in action. That means that you need to stitch something on that machine to make sure that it works. New machines right from the dealer are great but can be expensive. If you want to save money, purchase a used machine! But, be careful about it! we have sourced out some amazing deals on newish embroidery machines. We find the machine, ask a few questions and drive out to see the machine. We start the machine. We stitch an embroidery design that is built into the machine. We check it’s service status. Then and only then do we consider purchasing it. Although we would love to think that the world of embroidery is a safe place, there are scammers out there that will play on your desperation for an embroidery machine at a cheap price that you can afford. But $66 is not a reasonable price – that’s shipping, not that machine. It is said that people take advantage of other people like this, but it happens all the time. Be careful with your money – when you pay for something, make sure you are walking out with something. Be safe out there!
Tension issues and how to solve them!
Do you have Tension issues? The very first things you need to do are: Clean your bobbin, clean and rethread your upper thread(s) and do the I-test
The I-test sounds like it should go along with your iPhone and iMac or testing your eyes, but don’t worry, it’s completely different and has to do with your embroidery machine!
I have noticed a growing trend on Facebook – tension issue posts. Not everyone knows what causes tension issues or how to fix them, but tension issues can be a big problem and can ruin your embroidery. Tension issues can “pop up” in the middle of embroidery, at the end or at the beginning of a new project – your machine can be perfectly tensioned and then the next stitch it out and you have white bobbin showing through. It can happen at any time and it can happen to you.
What are tension issues? Tension issues have to do with either the top or bobbin thread. If your bobbin tension is too loose, the bobbin thread will come up and show up in your work. If your top tension is too tight, you will probably have a lot of broken or shredded threads. What happens if your top tension is too loose? Birds nest are a possibility, as well as loopy and messy embroidery. The I test is to help with the top thread tension, and I would suggest that every few months, or if you change thread brands you should run an I test. Remember that tension is a balancing act – and your goal is to fix the balance so your machine stitches properly.
Most of the time when your bobbin is showing through to the top, it is bobbin tension.
It sounds complicated, and sometimes it can be a bit of work to figure out what is going on, especially if you have a multi needle machine! All you need is a place to start to become a good “tension Detective”. You need to figure out the tension issues and get your machine back into balance. Here are a few suggestions, the first step we take is looking and analyzing the issue – loops, bobbin thread showing, threads breaking, etc. Once you understand what the issue is, you can then move on to the solution and get back to embroidery!
What is the I test? It’s actually really easy to do on your machine. If you have a multi-needle machine, you will have answers for each needle regarding tension. Newer machines actually have the I test in the built-in designs! Look for a series of capital letter “I” in a row, and that is your eye test. If you don’t have it built into your machine, you can use your software to stitch out a few I’s to make this work – the idea is one capital letter I for each needle and thread color. Then all you have to do is stitch them out and get your detective boots on and analyze the results!
We just bought a new machine and fixed another one, so before we do any work on either of those machines, we do an I test on each. Here are the results:
Fig 1 (10 needle)
This is the back of the embroidery, so we can see the balance between the bobbin thread and the top thread. The perfect balance is for the white bobbin thread to be through the middle and be taking up about 1/3 of the space, and each side has the top color, taking up 1/3 each side. You don’t have to be precise, but you can see in the first image of the 10 needle I-test, we have some issues! Needle number 1 in red looks great – a nice balance between the two, although I would still adjust the top tension a little bit because it is not quite 1/3 at the sides. However, I don’t think you would have any issues with stitching using this tension. If you look at the silver thread (needle 5) you can see that the bobbin thread down the middle is really small – not close enough to the 1/3 measurement that we want. That means that the top tension is too loose, and we need to tighten that one up a bit. You can see that the other ones are just about right, and the balance of 1/3 is good for the bobbin and top thread.
If you did an I test, and each needle has too much bobbin thread showing down the middle, I would adjust the bobbin – you can clean the bobbin case and slightly adjust the bobbin tension – if it is on every needle every time, then it is bobbin. Once you make that bobbin adjustment, then run the test again and you can start working on the top tension.
Let’s look at Figure 2, the 6 needle machine that just got it’s motor fixed. Yep, wow, that tension is out on just about every needle!
Figure 2, 6 needle
Needle number 1 (silver) has the start of a birds nest and some loops of the top thread that completely covers up the bobbin thread. Yes, that one needs to be fixed before we do any more stitching. Because that one has so much thread showing, I would completely unthread that needle, right back to the thread spool, and clean the thread path with a small soft brush or possibly some canned air if it is really bad. I would double check the tensioners, and then re-thread – and then check the pathway again. Turns out that there was a small mistake in threading and we missed one path of the thread – and it made that big of a difference! Without making any tension adjustments, we stitched the I on that needle again, and it was perfect! So before messing with the tensioners, make sure that your thread path is clean, and that you have followed the path properly – I have been threading machines for 15 years, and it is pretty easy to miss one of the tiny steps that the thread takes on the multi-needle machines!
Let’s look at needle 3, brown. Oh, that tension is a bit off too – there is not nearly enough bobbin showing on that one – we need to adjust so that we can get back to the 1/3 measurement. When you are making tension adjustments, I would advise some baby steps! For my 6-needle, the tensioners are all marked off in increments – even though this needle is quite off, I would not do a full turn of the tensioner, I would do maybe a ¼ turn and see how that worked first. If it is not quite there, then I would do another ¼ turn and then stitch it again until it is perfect. It is easier to tell which way to go (tighter or looser) when you are only working in small steps – if the next ¼ turn is too much, then all you have to do is put it back ¼ turn and you know you have it exactly where you want it. If you were to make a full turn, then you would still have no idea where the perfect mark is, and you will take more time to figure it out. Baby steps!
I would also like to point out that each tensioner is probably set differently. What I mean is that you can’t just set one up perfectly (if there were numbers, say tension number 12) and do that for each needle – set each to 12 and have them all work fine – you have to do each needle separately, one at a time. Chances are the tension settings will be similar, but each one will be different. There is no room for shortcuts when it comes to the tension!
Tension issues can happen at any time! Keep an eye on your work – and if you see some loose threads or the bobbin showing, you need to make some adjustments – the tension is not going to fix itself.
Keep in mind, there are some quick fixes that will work to help your tension issues – if you have a tension problem, you don’t always have to stop what you are doing and immediately do an I test. The I test is for maintenance, to fine tune your tension.
One of the biggest issues of tension is fluff. Fluffy stuff building up in your bobbin case or a tiny piece of fluff in your tensioner. It really does not take much to throw your machine off tension! And yes, it can happen any time – you could be in the middle of an embroidery project and see bobbin thread coming up. Yucch! Immediately stop your machine and have a quick look at your bobbin. If you have a multi needle machine, I would carefully take a thick piece of paper or business card corner, and slide it under the tension part of the bobbin to clean out that fluff! Then pop it back into your machine and keep stitching. If you have a single needle machine stop your machine, take the hoop off, take out the bobbin and grab that tiny brush and remove all of the fluff that is in there. Yucch again – I bet you will find more than you thought you would! Once you have removed all of that fluff, your bobbin tension should be back on track.
There are many more things that can affect thread tension – changing brands of thread, humidity and sometimes temperature can change the “elasticity” of your thread and throw your machine off tension balance. With regular cleaning and checking your thread path, as well and keeping your machine well oiled and keeping your bobbin case clean, you can keep your machine running in tip-top tension and have beautiful, sharp and clear embroidery each time.
Until next time,
Have you ever tried to stitch an in the hoop drawstring bag? If you have not tried yet, then you need to add this to your ITH creation list! These bags are finished completely in the hoop in two simple hoopings, and look amazing!
To get this gorgeous design, check out Anita Goodesign’s website: https://www.anitagoodesign.com/product/anitas-wonderland/ The drawstring bag is part of Anita’s Wonderland Premium collection so you don’t have to stop at one bag! The collection is full of matching placemats, table runners, free-motion blocks and scalloped blogs, plus so much more!! You can even stitch a matching coffee cozy!!
check out this video and follow along with me!
In this video, I am going to show you how I mixed and matched 2 embroidery design collections – both for quilting blocks. The first embroidery design that I selected was from the July 2019 All Access embroidery book, and the design was from the Folk Art Animal quilt! I loved the bright fabric colors and the folded fabric borders – and there were so many cute folk art animals to pick from – so many embroidery designs in one collection! I decided on the folk art bunny rabbit to be the central focus of my quilted wall hanging. For the second quilting set to mix and match, I picked a border design from the Beautiful Blocks and Borders collections which is another huge collection of embroidery designs and embroidery patterns for the edges or borders of the quilt blocks. There are so many gorgeous embroidery designs in this collection, it was really difficult to select which embroidery design would look the best! The flower embroidery design would be gorgeous – but I wanted to keep the fabric colors and the embroidery thread colors in the range of orange and blue – 2 shades of machine embroidery thread, and a few shades of blue embroidery thread, similar to the folk art animal quilt. I am so happy how this embroidered wall hanging turned out. Even with the bright and happy fabric and the bright thread, this embroidery makes a statement. And thanks to Anita Goodesign, it is truly beautiful and I am so proud of my stitch work!!
CHECK IT OUT AND BE INSPIRED!!!
Let’s talk embroidery! Do you know the lingo? There are quite a few embroidery terms, short forms, and verbs that we need to be using properly to speak the embroidery lingo properly. Using the correct terms will help everyone understand your comment or question better, and it will also help you make more professional posts and statements. Also added in this list are some things that you should be doing in everyday embroidery. Embroidery is a skill that you must learn! I am not the Grammar Police, but I do see the same mistakes made over and over again – and as we discussed in the blog two weeks ago, presenting yourself and your business in a professional manner AT ALL TIMES, in every post and everything you do online is paramount to increasing your business. After all, first impressions are lasting impressions – and social media works the same – even if we are not in person anymore, people do read what you write, and if you don’t present yourself properly in a professional manner, that is what everyone will remember.
I know everyone can read their manuals and find out these definitions, but I am not going to copy and paste any manual – I am going to explain everything in terms that everyone can understand, somewhat of a guideline to speaking and doing embroidery.
Stabilizer: This is what you use under your embroidery to provide stability for your embroidery designs on your machine. There are many kinds of stabilizer, just as there are many different fabrics: you must make sure that your stabilizer is the correct thickness and type BEFORE you hoop. Hatch has an “auto fabric” feather that will tell you exactly what stabilizer you need to use. Listen to Hatch’s suggestions and your embroidery will look much better, and last much longer too!
Hooping: I know I sound like a broken record here, but I am going to keep saying it until everyone has heard me. HOOPING IS PART OF EMBROIDERY. You must hoop stabilizer AND the garment/material that you want to embroider. Floating is an option and yes, it may work, and it may look OK, but it is certainly not as good as it should be. Seriously. I am confident that my embroidery will look great through many wash and regular wear – because I have the proper stabilizer and I have hooped everything properly. I go for the best, so I take the time to do my best. Learn how to hoop. Some projects may be difficult, but it will be worth it!
WSS: This stands for water-soluble stabilizer and it is one of the most over-used stabilizers around. It is not actually a stabilizer – it does not stabilize your garment/fabric in any way. WSS was designed mainly for FSL, and that is what you should be using it for! You can also use it to help hold the stitches up (a bit) when you are stitching items like towels or anything with a high nap, but you will get much better results with a light fill stitch, stitching first to hold down the nap (also called Hatch Smash). You do NOT need to use WSS for stitching designs on t-shirts or sweatshirts or jeans. You are simply wasting money and time.
FSL: Free Standing Lace is one of my favorite things to do in embroidery, as long as the embroidery is designed well. The FSL design is made up of only thread – that is to say that you are not embroidering on any material, just some WSS, and when you have finished the design, you soak the design in water and wash the WSS away and you are left with a beautiful design. I have noticed over the years that FSL designs have changed quite a bit! I have done a few designs, and my machine was not happy going through layers upon layers of thread to stitch through. I do not continue to stitch when my machine doesn’t like it – I am not going to break or wear my machine down because of dense stitching. When you are stitching your FSL design, your machine should be happily stitching, no banging, no thread breaks, and no design separation. I have noticed quite a few people posting designs where the FSL has come apart, or parts have separated from the design, and even been “punched out” of the WSS before it is done! That is not how FSL is supposed to be! Some FSL designs are merely a crosshatch design with satin stitches over top and a few layers in between too – while they may be nice-ish, they are not going to hold up well and they are not going to make my machine happy.
ITH – In the Hoop Embroidery Designs: ITH is the short form for in the hoop – which means that the embroidery design is comipleteted in the hoop. Some ITH designs need some sewing when they are finished stitching, but they are still considered ITH. You can make bags, purses, zipper purses and even cute stuffed animals. Anything goes! My favorite place for ITH designs is Kreative Kiwi! Her designs are fantastic! If you want some fantastic machine embroidered ITH mugrugs or coasters, Kreative Kiwi is the place to be. You will love doing ITH once you try it!!
IT’S GRAMMAR TIME!
Embroidery vs. Embroider. Ok, this is a bit of a grammar police paragraph, but it is worth mentioning. Some people write “I am going to embroidery this design”. Embroider is a verb (verbs show action) so the correct sentence is “I am going to embroider this design”. Embroidery is the name of the skill that we are learning “I am learning embroidery” or “I am learning to embroider” are both correct. Of course, there are exceptions to all grammar rules, but that is the basics.
Digitizing: I see this word spelled incorrectly all the time. You digitize, or you learn to digitize, and I am digitizing. It is not digitalizing. Grammar police, again, but there it is.
Jump stitches: When you are learning to digitize, one of your main goals is to get rid of as many jump stitches as you can. Jump stitches are literally “jumping” from one object to another. A jump stitch can be long (a no-no) or shorter (between letters in a word), some are acceptable and some are not. Jump stitches between letters are fine, as long as they are not too long! Again, if I am doing an embroidery design and there are huge jump stitches (my old single needle machine did not trim any stitches) I will STOP stitching that design. If you have jump stitches everywhere, your needle foot may get caught on them and you might break your machine. If I am working on one of the big machines which trims, I still hear and see all that trimming going on, so I know that the design was not optimized properly – and that means that the digitizer did NOT take the time to digitize properly.
Connections or connecting stitches: These stitches are what you need to eliminate the jump stitches to keep your design optimized. You must learn optimization if you are a digitizer – you must! You need to make running stitch connections between objects so you don’t have an excessive amount of trims or jumps. Anything less than a maximum effort on optimization is not acceptable.
Optimization and optimizing your designs: This should be the final check of your design that you are about to stitch. Do you need to make connections with running stitches? Is your design set out in a logical manner? Do you have tons of unnecessary color changes? Do you have tons of jump stitches? Does your machine stitch one color at the top, then trim, and then move to the bottom and back up again? If your machine is doing any of these things, your design is not optimized and therefore not finished! Take the time and finish it!
Design Registration: This term has to do with your hooping skills, which includes using the correct stabilizer. If your design is “out of registration” that means things don’t line up, your fill stitch is pulled back from your outline, or things are misaligned. These issues are not usually the digitizer’s fault, more often than not it is the embroiderer’s fault! If you don’t hoop everything and stabilize properly things will move around and pull. Keep things looking sharp and exactly where they should be by learning hooping skills.
Hopefully, that will helps some people that are struggling with some of these terms. If you don’t understand WSS and what it stands for, the whole process of FSL will be confusing! Hopefully explaining these terms will help some of the new people understand some of the terminologies that we use in embroidery.
Until next time,
We are still working on the puzzle motif, this time in Embird Studio. In this video, I show you how to set up the motif, save the EOF file and then the stitch file and last but not least create a BMP (bitmap image) of the design so we can get creating the user-defined motif in the next video!!
Have you tried the new and fun embroidery project that we have been working on in OML Embroidery University? it’s a puzzle piece. This week I digitized the puzzle piece in Hatch Embroidery software 2, and this video is doing the same thing in Embird Embroidery Software! This is not any puzzle piece machine embroidery designs – this puzzle piece makes a fantastic motif stitch! The key to this design is making the puzzle piece embroidery design perfectly symmetrical – if you create the design by manually digitizing each piece, the motif stitch will not look correct when you put it all together, so take your time digitizing each piece carefully. When you have created all of the parts, then you can branch the entire design so that there is one start point and one finish point. Make sure you save the embird EOF file before you go any further. Embird EOF is the working file for embird, so if you need to go back into Embird Studio and make changes, you need to use the working EOF file. The next step is to compile and save into Embird Editor – and you can save a stitch file so that you can send it to your embroidery machine if you wanted to stitch it out to see how it looks. Once you save the stitch file, head over to Embird Manager and export a bitmap (BMP) image and that is where we are going to pick up in the next video – we need the BMP to create the embroidery motif in Embird Studio.
We have some winners!
The first contest was for the Village Quilt Collection! THE WINNER IS KATHY SMITH!
THE SECOND CONTEST IS FOR THE HORIZONS QUILT COLLECTION or OTOMI QUILT COLLECTION.
THE WINNER IS LISA BLUNDELL!
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org from the email address that you entered the contest with so we can get your address and get the collection to you in the mail!
Lisa Blundell, please let me know which design collection that you want most either Horizons or Otomi quilt!