Do you speak embroidery?

Embroidery Lingo

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.

Now you speak some of the embroidery lingo!

Until next time,

Happy Digitizing

Sue Brown

Be creative with embroidery designs!

transform a quilt block design into a gorgeous shirt design

Be creative with your machine embroidery designs! The quilt block embroidery design is from Anita Goodesign All Access May 2019 issue. I love the design, but I didn’t want to make a quilt block, although it is a very pretty quilt block – and the other embroidery designs in the collection. I had to think a little bit about it and get really creative.

Now, I am not telling you to change embroidery designs or edit them in any way, BUT you can get creative with what you have. I do not resize the quilt block embroidery design, but I remove some parts and group the rest of the objects so I can play around with the center design.

PLEASE NOTE: even though I edited and took apart the original embroidery design, it still belongs to Anita Goodesign – it is still their design. If you make changes to embroidery designs, it doesn’t mean that you can own that design – it is still the property of the original digitizer. Ok, whew, I just wanted to make that clear and make sure that no one gets any funny ideas. LOL. It’s kind of important to make that clear.

Also it should be made clear that you should not resize stitch file designs at all. You can really make a mess of it, and your embroidery machine will not be happy!! Remember the saying (say it with me now) STITCH FILES ARE FOR STITCHING. Yep, you got it!

I remove some of the parts, group and arrange some other parts and end up creating a design that is perfect for my shirt.

For more details on how I created this gorgeous shirt design for ME (I had to have something cool to wear to the Anita Goodesign Garage Sale next week), wait for the video that will be released tomorrow. The video will show you how I set up the designs and put them together to make a new (ish) design.

The next video, I will show you how to place the design and mark them with the little snowman dudes for perfect placement. I will also record the stitch out.

Be creative – remember the sky’s the limit! Start off with professional digitized designs and get the best embroidery results!

Until tomorrow!

Sue Brown

OML Embroidery/OML Embroidery University

6 Common Machine Embroidery HOOPING Mistakes

The 6 Common Embroidery Hooping Mistakes that change the outcome of your embroidery work. True Story. Read on, fellow embroiderers.

Hooping Skills:  the most important skill to learn in embroidery.

I have said it before, and I will keep saying it:  YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR HOOPING SKILLS.

I know, I know.  I am such a nag, right?  Nah, not really.  I just want to get everyone to see that there is in fact, a right way and a wrong way when you are hooping.  How do I know this?  Years and years of experience, thousands of embroidery designs stitched on just about every fabric/item you can think of,  more learning, and tons of time figuring it all out.  So why not take advantage of what I know, and then you know how to do it right?  Why not set yourself apart from everyone else who does embroidery? You can do better, I just know it.

You are only as good as your hooping skills:  It makes sense, doesn’t it?  You can have the most beautiful embroidery design on the screen, and when you stitch it out, it looks terrible.  Why?  Hooping skills, that’s why!  If you don’t hoop something properly, it is not going to stitch properly.  If you don’t use the right size hoop, you may have mistakes.  If you don’t use the right kind of stabilizer, you will have issues.  Everything comes back to proper hooping skills.

Learn them, and learn them well.

Here are the 6 biggest mistakes in embroidery today.

  1. Using the wrong sized hoop for the job:

I see this time and time again – using the wrong sized hoop!  If you have a small design, you do not want to use a 5×7 hoop for that design – you want the smallest hoop that will fit your design.  You can figure this out in your software, or even on some machines.  My small single needle machine has some icons that tell you what sized hoop that you should be using.  Actually, it doesn’t tell you the right size, it shows you the size that your design will fit on.  It shows you the smallest size to the biggest size that is available.  Yes, the machine will stitch a 2×3 design on a 6×10 hoop, but that is not what you should be doing.   The smallest sized hoop for the design will ensure the proper stabilization and tension of the fabric and stabilizer when you hoop – and it will be easier to maintain that support when the design is embroidering.  If you use a bigger hoop, there is a bigger chance that the material will slip during embroidery.  Even if it slips a tiny bit, 1mm, that means that the part of your design that is stitching will be 1mm out.  Ok, that might not be too much, but it is quite possible that it may happen a few times- and then you will be out of registration on your design.  And that looks bad.

  • Floating stabilizer instead of hooping it.

I am pretty sure we have gone over this one before.  Let’s all say it together. Ready?  Float a boat, not stabilizer.  Or fabric.  Or anything.  Floating is for boats, not embroidery.   If you want sub-par or OK, results, keep floating.  If you want professional level, better-than-OK embroidery that you can be proud of, learn how to hoop properly.

  • Not hooping the fabric or garment:

See above.  Say it all over again, one more time.  You need to hoop stabilizer AND fabric at the same time.  Basting and (gasp) pins are NOT the same thing as hooping.  Basting stitches may generally hold your fabric in place, but it is not hooped and does not have the same consistent final results.   You may think it is good enough, but in reality, it just isn’t.  There is nothing that can take the place of hooping.  So hoop everything, please.

This embroidery design is using the proper hoop size for the large design, the felt and stabilizer are hooped properly.

  • Pulling the fabric:

Yes, this is a big mistake when you are hooping, I see it all the time – and yes, I can tell from a picture that it was not hooped properly, and sometimes I can even tell the mistake.  And this is one of them!  When you are hooping properly, you take the material and the stabilizer and put the hoop together kind of tightly, and when you have everything just so you make the hoop tight so that it will hold everything together. Before you tighten the hoop, you can make some small adjustments, depending on the type of material that you are using and gently pull the fabric into place. What if the material isn’t quite in the right place?  What do you do?  Some people think it is ok to pull on the fabric (and stretch it)  to get it into the right position.  While it may be ok to flatten or pull slightly before you tighten the hoop, anything more than that will cause you so many issues!  Think about it, when you pull the fabric that is already hooped, you are basically stretching the fabric.  When you are finished embroidering, and remove the hoop, what is going to happen?  The fabric does not have anything holding it in the stretched position, so it is going to go back to its normal position, and that will cause some nasty puckering.  It is better to hoop again until you get it right, without stretching the fabric.  Keep hooping it until you get it right.  There really is no point embroidering anything if it doesn’t look great when you are done, right?  RIGHT?  Take your time, hoop properly and carefully.

  • Not hooping fabric because you are worried about Hoop burn:

Hoop burn is no excuse for not hooping something properly. Yes, hoop burn happens!  It really is not a big deal, and is easily fixed, and hoop burn will happen less and less the better you are at your hooping skills.  We have also talked about this one, all you need is a little bit of steam.  If you have hoop burn, have some tea – but before you make the tea, use a little bit of steam on your item to solve that hoop burn.  It is literally fixed in 5 minutes.  So don’t let hoop burn ruin your embroidery, learn to hoop properly and fix it quickly with a little bit of steam if you need to.

  • Not using the right stabilizer:

You need to use the right stabilizer for the embroidery and for the fabric that you are using.  Hatch takes the guesswork out of what stabilizer you should use for certain embroidery.  There are many types of stabilizer, but they fall into two categories:  cutaway and tearaway.    Cutaway offers more stability – it is thicker and more stable and you must use scissors to cut it away.  Tearaway is exactly how it sounds- you can tear it away instead of cutting it.  Obviously tear away is much thinner and less stable than cutaway.  There are also fusible stabilizers, water-soluble stabilizers, no show mesh stabilizers, and the list goes on and on.  What happens if you don’t use the right stabilizer?  Your embroidery will not look ok.  Again, if for some strange reason you are OK with just OK, then keep using water soluble stabilizers for the back of towels…or forget using stabilizers and have none.  Yes, your embroidery *may*look ok when you are done, and it may be ok, but it sure isn’t great.  A lot of people can take their OK embroidery off their machine and gift it or give it to a customer or a friend.  Hooah, you did your first or 100thembroidery.  What is going to happen when they wash it?  If you have no stabilizer, there is nothing to keep the stitches from moving around or clumping up and looking terrible.  People don’t think of this part when they are done with their embroidery.  Embroidery is meant to last through washings and regular use – but only if you stabilize it properly.  Otherwise, the first time they wash your work, they will never use it again, and they will never come back to you again.  Seriously.  That is how it works.

If you take a tea-towel and do one design with a WSS (water soluble stabilizer) and one with a cut away stabilizer, stitch them out and look at them.  OK, the cutaway is going to look sharper, be in registration and look GREAT.  The other one is probably OK.  Now wash them both.  Now, look at them side by side.  If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself.  The properly hooped and stabilized embroidery will still look great, and the other one, well, not so much.  I have seen people actually state that they will NOT use stabilizer on the back of anything because it doesn’t look nice with the stabilizer showing.  Well, that may be the case, but that is how it is done!  If you tidy up the stabilizer, it doesn’t look bad at all, but put your focus on the FRONT where the embroidery is – and when you ask your friend 6 months later “how is the personalized towel I made for you” the answer will be “it is still beautiful” if you use the right stabilizer for the job.  After all, you do embroidery so it will last right? You do embroidery for kids so they can enjoy it, right?  You do embroidery for customers so that they will keep coming back, right?  If you do embroidery that only lasts through a wash or two, do you really think they will be coming back?  No.  No, they wont.  I have a shirt that I embroidered about 10 years ago (it’s my favorite shirt) and I have washed it literally hundreds of times.  And it still looks great and I still get compliments on it.  Don’t you want that effect on your customers and friends?

My advice:  Learn hooping skills and stop taking short cuts.  You are only hurting yourself when you decide that hooping is too difficult to learn, so why bother?  This works fine.  The key word being FINE.  I don’t want just fine, I want long lasting beautiful embroidery that I can be proud of.  Oh, I know some of you are saying, “well, none of my customers/friends/kids have complained about it”  and that might be correct, however, they may not complain, but they will go elsewhere. Guaranteed.

Here is a quick video that shows you some of the basic hooping skills.  Even if you have been doing embroidery for a while, this video is going to give you a few pointers on how to hoop properly.  Learn it, and learn it well.  Once you start hooping correctly, your embroidery will change and look better.

Next week’s blog, we are going to talk about placement.  Once you get basic hooping done properly, we have to put that together with placement and how to hoop properly the first time so that your embroidery design is centered and is in the exact place that you want it, on any fabric.

Until next time, hoop properly and Happy Stitching!

Sue Brown

OML Embroidery

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