What stabilizers do I need to get?

The Economical Embroiderer Series: Stabilizer

I have had fun doing the research to become an Economical Embroiderer! 

This week we are talking about stabilizers, and how to be economical with stabilizers.  Some people will go to extreme lengths to save a few pennies on stabilizers, and I am not going to suggest any of these solutions – I will briefly talk about them and why I don’t suggest following those suggestions, but that is going to be it on that subject.  I don’t really want to ruffle those darn feathers today!

START OFF WITH THE BASICS:  When you are starting off building your stabilizer stash, it can be quite overwhelming because there are so many options out there.  Where do you start, let alone how do you save money?   In this situation, my advice would be to start with the basics so you can get doing some embroidery.  The basic stabilizers are cutaway, tear away and WSS (water-soluble stabilizer).  That’s it!  3 rolls and you can get started on any embroidery.  Now there are different weights, sizes, cuts and so many other options for each kind of stabilizer.  I say go for the middleweight and get the fabric type WSS stabilizer, that will get you going.

THE BIGGER THE BETTER:  The only way to really be economical with stabilizer is to purchase the stabilizer in bulk – the bigger the roll the more money you will save.  Again, stick with the basics on cutaway and tear away.  You can really save a lot of money if you purchase larger rolls of stabilizer – for production purposes, we purchase huge rolls of 500 yards of tear-away stabilizer – it’s a massive roll – I only wished it lasted longer!

USE COMMON SENSE AND KNOW YOUR PRICES!  you always have to be careful when making ANY purchases – use common sense and of course, know your prices. If you are purchasing large rolls, make sure the price per yard is less than the smaller rolls.  Also, use your common sense – make sure that what you are purchasing is actually used for embroidery – that is super important – and make sure you will use that particular stabilizer.  Some people have purchased large rolls of stabilizer only to find out that they hate how it hoops or the end results in their hoop.  For that reason, spend the extra money and don’t worry so much about being economical, and purchase a SMALL ROLL of that stabilizer before you purchase the large roll.  Test out the type of stabilizer and make sure it is useful for you – and once you decide that it is, THEN purchase the large roll.  Having a large roll of stabilizer that saved you money and you hate using really is not saving you money in the end, is it?  Know your prices and make sure you are getting a good deal – some stores will just make it look like you are saving money – know your prices and make sure it is a great price.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ROOM FOR LARGER ROLLS:  Yeah, that may seem like a stupid thing to say, but some of the economical rolls can be very large – larger and heavier than you think!  You must be able to use the large rolls, and you must be able to store them somewhere.   In our workroom, we have a large strong table that can support the weight of the roll, and a cutting board underneath it so that we can cut the sizes that we need.  If you don’t have a set up like this,  you may not be able to use a large roll effectively.  Make sure you have room in your workspace and make sure you can get at the stabilizer easily when you need to!

REMEMBER YOU PAY FOR CONVENIENCE: If you purchase pre-cut stabilizer of any sort – even perforated stabilizer of a certain size, remember that you are paying for that convenience.  Sometimes it can be a lot more money per square if it is pre-cut!  Now I am not saying that pre-cut stabilizer is not economical – it certainly can be under some circumstances.  Production would be a good example of when the pre-cut cutaway stabilizer is economical.    If you need to stitch say 40 shirts on your 4×4 hoop, it will save you tons of time to just grab a perfectly sized square of stabilizer and then hoop and go.  In that example, the extra cost of the pre-cut stabilizer is saved in time.  Time is money, and if pre-cut stabilizer will save you time, it will save you money too.  I have a bunch of pre-cut stabilizers left over from our t-shirt production days, and I seriously rarely use it!  It does look great sitting on my shelf though – almost inviting me to do some 4×4 designs once in a while just to use it up!

NOT RECOMMENDED:  Here is where some feathers may get slightly ruffled – but remember this is just the writer’s opinion here.  I don’t think anyone should bother stitching scraps of stabilizer together to be economical, for any reason.  The stabilizer in your embroidery is the foundation of all embroidery – the foundation of your hooping and material.   If that foundation is weakened for any reason (such as running stitches holding it together), then your embroidery is going to be “weaker” as well.  If I have larger pieces leftover from other jobs, I will cut them into 6 x6 squares and save them for the 4×4 hoop, but the rest of the scraps won’t fit into any other hoop,  and those small or medium pieces need to be thrown away.  Remember that your foundation is everything.    Being an economical embroiderer is great, but I don’t think you can take shortcuts with your stabilizer foundation.

KITCHEN PRODUCTS ARE NOT STABILIZERS AND ARE NOT DESIGNED FOR EMBROIDERY ON YOUR EXPENSIVE FINE-TUNED EMBROIDERY MACHINE.  Enough said, right?  Foundations, foundations, foundations.   Coffee filters are for coffee, and you don’t make coffee on your embroidery machine….or do you?

Great embroidery starts with great products that will ensure that your embroidery looks great for a long time!

Until next time,

Sue

Dream Machine 2 – scan and stitch handwriting!

Can you digitize embroidery without embroidery software? Yes you can with My Design Center and a Brother Dream Machine 2! All you have to do is scan the writing, fix it up a bit and stitch! It’s that easy! Have you tried this yet? Let me know in the comments!

Did you know you could scan handwriting right in the hoop and the Brother Dream Machine 2 can turn the handwriting into embroidery? Yes, you can, and it looks amazing!! When you purchased your Brother Dream Machine 2, you recieved a bunch of hoops. One of the hoops was thick and had some green magnets attached to it. That is the scanning hoop, and that is what we are using in today’s video. Take a plain piece of paper and draw a picture, or create a saying using a thick sharpie pen. Keep it simple and make sure there is a clear contrast between the handwriting and the paper. If you used colored paper or even lined paper, you will have a more difficult time digitizing the handwriting on the Brother Dream Machine 2 because it will scan and recognize the lines too. Once you have your handwriting in place, put the paper on the special scanning hoop and load it onto your embroidery machine. The special scanning hoop loads the exact same way as other hoops, so this part is easy. Once the scanning hoop is in place, go to your “my design center” on the screen of the Dream Machine 2 and select line drawing. Then you can start scanning! This takes a few minutes to do and a few minutes more to recognize the writing, but it is fun to watch 🙂 .

Once the handwriting is scanned, you are ready to convert it into embroidery. I think the stitches look best as satin stitches, but you can play around with different looks. you have a chance to edit the embroidery design right on the dream machine 2. You can move, resize and change the satin stitches to suit your embroidery needs. Once you get the embroidery design how you like it, remove the scanning hoop and replace it with a regular embroidery hoop. I hooped some cutaway stabilizer and some groovy fabric and use my Snap Hoop Monster 8×8 magnetic embroidery hoop to make things easier. yes, I love my snap hoop magnetic hoops – they make embroidery so much easier. Now load the snap hoop monster on to the dream Machine 2, load up your favorite embroidery thread and get stitching and watch the embroidery magic happen!

Joy Rinearson’s embroidery story…

When I was growing up on the farm where we had three TV channels I started hand embroidering. I made numerous quilts that my mother hand quilted. 
Fast forward to last year. I started to sew some home decor items and my old machine kept fighting me. My husband finally talked me into letting him buy me a new one for Christmas. When we went to our local babylock store they have so many wonderful finished mainly Anita Goodesign items such as quilt, placemats, runners etc that we were so amazed at. I had recently retired and just started taking classes to learn new things. Machine embroidery was part of some of those classes.  I bought the Flourish II as I wouldn’t let myself spend the money on a Destiny machine as I didn’t know how much I would use it? I fell in Love with machine embroidery and how it reopened my creativeness. After Eight months I bought the Destiny and I am excited about what I will be able to create with it. 
I am so happy that I found you and Don on the internet. You are fun and inspiring and are helping those of us new to embroidery and those that are digitizing. I’m not ready to digitize, yet..

-Joy Rinearson (via email to OML Embroidery)

Thanks for sharing your embroidery story, Joy!

Do you have an inspirational embroidery story? email me your story to sue@omlembroidery.com

Sue Brown

Part 4 of the Dream Machine 2 + Scan n Cut DX225 series – the grand stitching finale!

This was a fun project to work on!  It’s so creative, and the sky’s the limit!!

In the first video, we created an applique design from an existing design on the Dream Machine – we did some outlines and some satin stitches offset so we don’t cover up the beautiful embroidery AND we put it all together in the correct order.  Once we finished this part, we set up the applique to send to the Scan N Cut DX225 cutter!  We added a bit of extra space around the design – which turned out to be too much space, LOL) and cut the fabric.  We used the special thin fabric blade and cut it perfectly!  I also did an experiment with the new GudyStic temporary adhesive that I love so much – and I got decent results – but I will be working with it more to come up with some better ideas.

In Part 4, the video below, we take all of our applique design components – the placement stitch, the tack down stitch and the satin stitch for the applique as well as the original design plus the pre-cut applique pieces and put it all together at McDreamy (my Dream Machine 2).  Watch the video and see what you can accomplish with a little bit of imagination and embroidery technology!!

Learn. Stitch. Smile

Be confident in every stitch!!

Sue

YOU FLOAT A BOAT, NOT STABILIZER – Hooping skills 101

Many years ago, when I was just starting with embroidery I read some information about embroidery and running a successful business, and the thing I remember most was this:
“YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR HOOPING SKILLS”
That made a lot of sense to me at the time, but I didn’t realize the vast importance of this statement. For example, you can have a beautiful design that looks amazing on the computer, and when you stitch it out, it looks terrible. Why? It all comes down to your hooping skills! Hooping skills do not mean just hooping things straight or hooping difficult items, hooping skills also means knowing the proper stabilization for your items that you are embroidering. Hooping skills makes the difference between OK embroidery and WOW embroidery. Which brings us to the topic of today’s blog: FLOATING STABILIZER.
The message I would like to get across is “floating is for boats, not for stabilizer”. This is what I hear often in many, many groups “ I hooped 1 layer of cutaway and floated tearaway, and it still looks awful”. Yes, yes it will because that piece of tearaway is doing zero good. ZERO. Other than making your embroidery thicker, and possibly pulling down the stitches on the top to compensate for the thickness, floating is not doing any good.
Let’s look at this logically. What is stabilizer? Why do we even use stabilizer? Stablizer is a type of material that makes the pretty material more stable for you to embroider on. That is the key there, STABLE – meaning strong and sturdy. If you are floating something and not hooping it, how is it helping to make your fabric more stable? That floated piece is not holding your fabric still – it’s floating around under your hoop…floating free, like the wind, not providing stability to anything! If you hoop two layers of tearaway or hoop 1 layer of tearaway and float a second, which one do you think will be better? Guaranteed it is the 2 hooped layers because they are helping to make the embroidery more stable and strong, which translates into clear and perfectly placed embroidery.

Some designs that you may have will have a small black outline to them. And most of the time when you stitch this out, that small black outline will be out of registration. Why? Because the material wasn’t stable enough for the embroidery, that’s why! When things go out of registration it is because the fabric has MOVED because it isn’t stable enough. Having the material move 2mm to the left is going to be an issue for that small black line! And, if that line is out of registration, it will make your whole embroidery design look awful. The solution is not to blame the digitizer as most do, the solution is to provide more stability to your fabric in the hoop!
One of the things I spend my “free” time doing is teaching  people the proper way of embroidery so that especially on your own designs, you get amazing results. People float all of the time, and some digitizers are putting floating in their instructions…and you are setting your customers up for a fail, and they will complain, and you are not doing your digitizing any justice by instructing people to float stabilizer to try and make your work look better. For best results, HOOP IT.

You can take your cues from things that are right in front of you. For example, Hatch and other embroidery software  has this cool feature where you can pick a fabric type (cotton, leather, polyester) and Hatch will actually tell you what that fabric requires for stabilizers!! It is all right in front of you!! And please take note, not one of the stabilizer recommendations say to float anything – not a single one.

Ahhhh, the answer is right there!!

So what does that tell you? That tells you that the professional embroiderers that have been the top of the embroidery business for 30 years are not recommending floating any stabilizer!!! Why would you not follow their recommendations? (I mean that jokingly, of course, don’t take me too seriously here, but it is a good question!!) Wilcom knows their stuff, they have been doing it, and doing it well for 30 years, and they are the top of the “embroidery food chain” for a reason. So listen to them, and stop floating anything. You can float a boat, or a duck can float, but please don’t float your stabilizer!!

Hooping skills include being able to hoop properly, with the right tension, having the hoop tight enough, placement of the hoop so that the embroidery is straight AND USING THE RIGHT STABILIZER. And all of these things make a big difference to your embroidery.
Let’s say it one more time together “YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR HOOPING SKILLS “…. And say that to yourself each and every time you embroider a design – are my hooping skills correct? Do I need to do some research on what kind of stabilizer is correct? And when you have a design that has stitched and doesn’t look quite right, it may be the digitizer, but more often than not, it’s user error for lack of the correct stabilizer.
Let’s do this right – do not float stabilizer and let’s have some awesome embroidery stitching out!

Hooping skills: your embroidery will thank you!
Happy Digitizing!

Sue

aka The Economical Embroiderer

Want to learn more?  check out my YouTube channel OMLEmbroidery.  Everything I do is free. Yep, FREE.  100 + videos and counting. Learn and have fun.

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Not enough time in the day for Embroidery

Lots of people say that there is not enough time in the day for embroidery!  I fall into that category as well, there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day!  I have 10 million projects that I want to do, and I have ideas in my head that I need to do!  So many ideas, so little time.  On the bright side in my life, I do get to do embroidery all day – we create and embroider patches, so my day is filled with embroidery!  And I absolutely love it!  Some days, I really just want to sit and digitize all day.  I “work watch” movies and TV and listen to music while I digitize,  and I do find it relaxing as long as there are no time frames for my work to be completed.

So how do you fit in time for embroidery every day?  Here are a few ideas to make a bit of time to add in some embroidery time:

LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY.   A little learning each day adds up in the end.  I do this every day – whether I learn something new about the program, a new way of doing things, a new process or using a new thread or style properly.  Something little each day adds up to good working knowledge in the end.

SET SOME QUIET TIME:  I know this is hard for everyone, including me, but I try and set a few minutes each day for some quiet time to give my brain a rest.  During this quiet time, I usually turn to embroidery digitizing.  Start off small  with even 20 minutes and work up from there.   You may not be able to finish a whole design, but you can at least work on it.

LEARNING IS IMPORTANT:  to make good use of your time and learn your embroidery program – if you get a feel for what you are doing then you will have much less frustration in general working with embroidery.  I do suggest that people know the program before they start working on a project.

KNOW YOUR PROGRAM:  no matter what software you are using, get to know the program as much as possible before starting a project.  I get a good feel for a new embroidery program, and then take a learn- as-I-go approach to it.  I know most of the tools, and if i want to do something and I can’t figure it out, instead of trying a whole bunch of things I will always look it up on the Help guide and find the right way the first time.  This saves a ton of frustration and makes learning happy.

SET GOALS:  I set personal goals for myself every day – the things that I want to accomplish in the day – and that always includes a bit of learning time – whether on Embird, Tajima DG15 Photoshop or any other program that I use.  They don’t have to be huge goals, but something simple and workable.  If you don’t have enough time to finish a whole project, set the goal to get one part of it done, and the next day another part until your design is finished.

So remember, you are never too old to learn something new!  Go for it – set yourself out a bit of time each day and start tackling that embroidery to-do list and feel accomplished.

HAPPY DIGITIZING!

New tutorial just uploaded

new tutorial just uploaded – do you want to learn how to do appliqué manually and a little outside the box?  How about using weld and random broadening, and making some wave stitches?  This is a beginner/intermediate tutorial that I think everyone can learn from – we do so many different things to make this great appliqué design!

tutorial on a christmas appliqué design

Learn a few ways to work with your images – and use the image as a guide, not a design – so you can create awesome and different designs on the fly and make each design a little bit different as you go.

Check it out today – your digitizing skills will thank you!

GO TO THE CHRISTMAS CANDLE APPLIQUÉ TUTORIAL IN THE OML STORE