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.

Beware of some Youtube Videos

This blog post might be a bit of a rant, but also somewhat of a warning, too.  I was trying to do some research on some new techniques for embroidery (reverse applique and the ever intriguing cross stitch), and I came upon some videos that shocked me.

OK, let’s start by saying that I do have many many years experience, but I don’t know everything, ever.  I am ALWAYS up for learning new things.  Don watches each and every video that we produce, for quality control, but also that he learns something each time!  I am far from a know it all, and I am always open to learning a new technique, reviewing old techniques and even going back to beginner digitizing to refresh my skills – it’s a never-ending need for knowledge.  It’s just how I do things 🙂

Enter Youtube.

Youtube is a  fantastic venue for learning (I have many youtube instructional videos), as long as you are careful about what you are watching.  I was going through some videos, again, trying to glean some information on a few things, and I was shocked and appalled, and frankly a bit worried about some of the videos that I found.  I called Don over to watch them with me, just to make sure I was not exaggerating anything – it’s always good to have a second opinion.   Don was just as shocked as I was!  I was in a bit of a panic thinking of the new digitizers out there possibly thinking that this was how to digitize embroidery and how many serious and frustrating issues they would be having if they learned from this video.

While there are many, probably thousands of excellent embroidery tutorials on youtube, you have to be careful what you are looking at, that’s for sure.   You need to use your own judgement as to whether the tutorials are valid or not.  However, when I search out a title “how to digitize a design…” I expect some valid instruction!  Of course, there are many ways of accomplishing the same task, some are shorter, and some are longer ways around – and those types of ideas are not wrong, just different – everyone has their own ways of accomplishing the same goal.  Those are not the videos that I am talking about – I am speaking about the videos that if you follow their instruction, you will be going backward in your embroidery skills!  Yes, I found more than one of those, and the person or people doing these videos portrayed themselves as Digitizers or embroiderers!  Apparently from the videos, they had no idea what they were doing – and the mistakes that this person was “teaching” were beyond errors – they were terrible ideas that if you incorporated them into your designs, you would not be able to stitch them out!  And if you kept on using these “skills” you would not be able to accomplish any embroidery!  I AM SERIOUS.   WOW.   Perhaps if the person titled the video “watch me struggle through a design, and learn with me” or something like that, you might have had an idea of what you were learning.  Not so.  One of the videos started with “how to…” implying that this was a way to digitize.  No, not even close.   Do you see what I am saying?  Pay attention to what you are watching in general – just because it is listed as a “how to” video, doesn’t mean that it is telling you how to do something.

Ok. Ok. So don’t be picking on me for saying any of this – I am well aware that everyone has to start somewhere, and there is nothing wrong with that – but if you are just starting out, are you qualified to offer instruction?  Yes, if you have discovered a new tool or have a particular way of doing something that you know how to do, and have stitched it out – yes.  Absolutely yes, share that with everyone!   Those make great videos.  But if you are making up new rules on how embroidery works, you may have to assess your ability to teach, and maybe work on building up your skills instead?  If you can’t digitize a design, then should you be teaching someone else to digitize a design?

One of the first clues as to the level of your “teacher”  is what designs that they use.  If they are using a design that STILL HAS A WATERMARK ON IT, then you should probably move on to another video…if they offer you the design to work on, then definitely move on to the next video.  Why?  Because you should not digitize from a design that has a watermark on it for many reasons – the first being that it is a copyrighted design – hence the watermark!  If they are offering it to you for “free” the have no right to do this!  Watermarked art would tell me that this person has no consideration for any rules, and they don’t understand how everything works – or they don’t care.  That may be a bit rough, but please don’t digitize designs with a watermark on it – that is meant to give you a clear message – so listen to it!.. Someone teaching a design that is still watermarked also tells me that the did not take any time to plan out their video – and if they didn’t take much time to plan out their video, then how is the video going to be useful to you as a learning tool?

Again I am not saying that all videos are bad on Youtube, there are some excellent, helpful and fun videos out there for digitizing.  I am saying that you need to use your embroidery brain when you are learning from some videos – if the person can’t complete the task at hand, then there are probably mistakes in their video that you don’t want to learn!

In conclusion…pay attention to what you are learning on Youtube videos – pay attention to the technique and skills shown to you.  If it doesn’t seem right, or the teacher can’t finish the task at hand, or there are some red flags, then move on to the next video.  Keep your embroidery skills safe by using the skills that you already have to figure out if the video is valid or will help you learn a new skill or method.

PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU WATCH.  Just because it’s on Youtube, doesn’t mean that a video is educational.  Pay attention and use your judgment and decide if the video is valid or not, do not blindly follow along with what you are seeing.

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Embroidery Webnars

Awesome!  We do have enough people interested in doing an embroidery Webinar for everyone!  We think this is such a good idea, that we are considering doing a bi-weekly or weekly webinar if people are interested.  We have had a huge response of followers on Youtube, we think that maybe we can do the lessons in a Webinar format, teach a skill and then save some time for questions at the end.

I would like to set up a class schedule, and we would love to do weekly classes!  We could also do weekly classes for beginners and another weekly class for advanced Embird Digitizing.

We are looking into what webinar software to buy, and which will be the most useful to everyone that wants to learn.    The problem so far is that they are pretty expensive!!  The one that I think will be the best of the best for all of us would be a tutorial style webinar – its more of a teaching oriented set up that we can still have the questions and answers, but we can also give you work to do – or embroidery designs to practice digitizing.  The tutorial style webinar also makes signing up easy, and the program is available on iPads and most phones.  That would mean we can give out the design at the beginning of the Class, and then you can take the class on your iPad or iPhone and work on the same design on your computer!

I would like to know what everyone this about this format and if they think that just a simple question and answer weekly will be fine, or do you want to actually take classes that are more involved and geared towards what you need to learn?

Let me know in the comments, and we will get everything going and get our first Class date set up for everyone to attend!

OML