Sunday, February 7, 2016

I Toadally Love You - Digitized Frog (with all my lessons learned)

I am continuing on my path to gain digitizing skills!  What better time to work on an applique design than Valentine's Day, where "cute" and "punny" are everywhere and expected!

For embroidery digitizing, I use Embrilliance Stitch Artist.  Stitch Artist allows me to import an image to use as a reference over which I draw lines and add stitches.  In this post, I show you my initial effort as well as each test stitch and what I figured out.  I show them as "errors" but that is not as negative as it sounds:  I learn from my errors when I figure out how to fix them, just like everything in machine embroidery!  I share my notes here for my own use and for anyone else who finds this helpful.

I began with a design from Lettering Delights called Frogs and Kisses.  

I bought this set a couple of years ago when I made mini Valentines for my daughter's dolls.  You can see that post here.  I contacted LD to see if it was acceptable to use their purchased designs to digitize for personal use embroidery projects and was told yes!  I liked this set because the frogs were made of simple shapes.

I started by thinking in terms of which part of the frog I wanted the machine to stitch first, second, third, and so forth.  I decided I wanted it to stitch in this order: 

  1. fill on the legs
  2. large outer body as an applique
  3. belly as an applique
  4. facial features as fill
  5. arms as fill
  6. hearts as fill

I knew I would be using a purchased font since I have a few that would be fun for Valentine's Day. The one I used here was Loving from Applique Corner.  

I used the Draw with Points button and traced parts of the body in order according to my outline above, adding stitching after each addition.  

For the eyes, I used a feature of Stitch Artist 3 that removed the pupil from the center of the whites so that when the black stitched, it would only be going through only one layer.

This feature is the Cut/Subtract feature (Logical Subtract is what it is called when you hover over it.) To learn how to do this, I watched this video on Stitch Artist 3 Controls Part 2: (it is at 2:22 minutes in).  To summarize, for each eye, I created a large circle for the outer shape and two smaller circles for the inner shapes.  I selected the large circle and one smaller circle and clicked the Logical Substract button to make the donut shape above.  The remaining small circle becomes the pupil.  (I want to take a quick moment to thank Jeannie of the Scraps In My Life blog for piquing my interest in the SA3 controls!  Her recent Stitch Artist tutorials have given me a nice boost of confidence for trying some new things!)

I decided to add a little texture to the spots on his back.  This was done by selecting a pattern in the fill tab.  This pattern is Scales 2.

I did take care to check the order of things stitched so that like colors stitched together when possible and that everything was in the right order to get stitched properly, moving as needed on the Objects Pane.

After I digitized this, I did the first test stitch.  That's how I found my errors. 

My first error is also my on-going challenge:  how to digitize so that parts on top (like the arms) would not stitch over areas underneath (like the satin stitch around the belly and outer body).  That bump is a problem! 

The answer for me on this project:  when I draw with points to make the applique parts,  I do it twice. The first outline is for my position and tack-down stitches only.  That will allow the tack down to go all around the shape.  I don't want the satin stitch at this point.

To do that, I check the position and material boxes, but select 'none' for the border.  (I learned that I could do that from one of Brian's videos on the Briton Leap videos on Youtube).

Then, to do the satin stitching, I selected "Draw with Points" again, but this time, I skip the areas where the arms will stitch on top so that I won't get those bumps! The belly, for instance, is outlined in two parts: the semi-circular area that curves up under the smile and a second piece, the curve between the arms. The stitching I apply to those is done as 'satin border' (not as applique!)  I did the same for the outer body applique.

You can see on the object pane that the belly is an oval for applique (position and tack down only) and the satin stitching is in two pieces as satin border.

Second error I had was with the outline stitch that I did around the legs.

I originally thought of making the outline in a contrasting color.  Since I didn't do that and since the fill stitch pulled the outline away from the right leg, I just removed the outline.  I think that, if I had needed to keep the outline, the advice I got was to change the inclination so the stitches would pull in a different direction (making that note for future reference).

Third error was that the satin stitch on the outer body seemed too narrow.  I changed the width of the satin border for the outer body.  This was a bit of a guess but I changed it from 3.5mm to 4.0mm.  I made a mental note that I wanted to do a sample of several different widths for future reference!

I figured... since I was guessing and experimenting anyway... I would also try to see if I liked textured arms.  I needed a way to bring the arms a bit to the foreground and since I didn't have a green that was just a bit more saturated than the leg color,  I thought that maybe adding more detail to the arms would help.  This is Scales2.

Fourth error The smile was too narrow and didn't stand out enough.  I was trying to copy the artwork too much.  I made the smile line thicker; I just grabbed nodes and pulled them to make it wider.

Fifth error Also trying to copy the art work too much, I made the spots on his back too small.  I just grabbed nodes to enlarge those too.

Sixth error I altered my fabric and thread choices.  I made some simple changes to get a frog I liked better.

With changes made, I did a second test stitch.

I decided I really did not like my experimental arm texture so that became the Seventh error but it was an easy one to change back to the Tatami pattern to match the legs.

I also decided that the hearts needed something to make them stand out.  This was an Eighth error that was solved by making duplicates of each and changing the copies from fill to satin border and making sure they stitched AFTER the filled hearts.

I changed the font to make it a little thicker.  This was another experiment.  The font is a BX font from Applique Corner called Loving.  I selected each part of the font (I did it in sections so I could place it as I needed and have it in two colors.

To each section, I increased the pull comp by 5 points.

I decided to test stitch only the font, the hearts, and the new arms with satin body outlines. This was the third test stitch.

I was happy with the outlined hearts and new arms but decided to dial back the pull comp on the font from 5pt to 3pt.  I loved the thicker font on letters like the heart-shaped Os but not on the curly letters, especially the Ys.

My test towel really helped me to learn and to try things with the software that were new to me!  It was the best use of a 75¢ small towel!!

I was ready for the final stitch out on my kitchen towel!  I used the same inexpensive kind of towel, prewashed (like my applique fabrics), but I added a fabric band to the bottom.  To see how I add a fabric band, check out my tutorial on making burp cloths here.

I took what I learned on this and tried another one of the Lettering Delights frogs.

This time, I added texture to all the limbs and I really liked it.  I also used a font from Stitchtopia called Daphne.  The test stitch out was done on vinyl floated over vilene.  

I am happy to report that this little guy took only a fraction of the time that the first one took because I was able to apply what I had learned!

I learned so much from these frogs today!  I also stitched out my jumping frog on a onesie!  (Onesie tutorial coming soon!)

List of links in this post (none of these are affiliate links; they are all direct links):

  • Embrilliance Stitch Artist- click here.
  • Lettering Delights Frogs and Kisses Graphic Set- click here.
  • How to Cut/Subtract in Stitch Artist 3:  click here (it is at 2:22 minutes in on the video).
  • How to digitize an applique shape without a satin stitch in Stitch Artist 1, part 3 Applique:  click here (it is at 58 seconds from the beginning).
  • Font from Applique Corner called Loving:  click here.
  • Diaper cloth tutorial for how to add fabric ends to the towel:  click here.
  • Font from Stitchtopia called Daphne:  click here.
  • Scraps In My Life blog for Stitch Artist tutorials:  click here.  (You may need to scroll; she is also a papercrafter and has all kinds of posts!)

To see all of my other notes on machine embroidery, check out my Embroidery page or click here.

To see my papercraft projects, a number of which feature Valentine projects, check out my Paper Gallery or click here.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Digitizing Hearts for Valentine Sewing

One of the first really great font digitizers that I found when I started embroidering was Stitchtopia! A few months ago, I bought a font that is perfect for Valentine's Day from Stitchtopia, called Hope. This is a font with alternate letters and some of those letters have hearts!  (There is a Hope 1 and a Hope 2 so there are lots of choices of letters with swirls and  hearts, as well as simple letters to place between fancy ones).   I wanted to practice some things I had figured out after re-watching Embrilliance Stitch Artist videos and this font gave me some ideas.  I decided to fill in the hearts with color!

I also wanted to add some tiny hearts to make a bit of a composition for a cosmetic-style bag for which I just found a great video tutorial!  The bag features an easy zipper installation and a flat bottom.  Put together, I ended up with a little Valentine bag for my sweet daughter, which will be the "wrapping" for her Valentine gift she will get next month.

For this project, I used my embroidery machine, my sewing machine, Embrilliance Essentials and Embrilliance Stitch Artist (embroidery software), in addition to the Stitchopia Hope 1 font..

Step 1:  I wanted a background heart that would guide my composition.  It won't show in the finished design but it will give a placement guide to fit the other shapes in.  I clicked the Merge Design button to open the Shape Library to find a heart.

I selected this one.

The heart appears like this on the virtual hoop.  I sized it to fit the hoop.

Step 2:  I added my font.  I clicked the "Create Letters" button to access the BX fonts that I have loaded to my Embrilliance software.  I type these in using my keyboard all at once (that is the benefit of using Essentials and bx fonts!!)  

I decided that all the letters I needed were in Hope 1.  I selected the alternate lower case "p" and the alternate lower case "r".  Stitchtopia files that contain alternate letters always include a key to instruct as to which characters are mapped to the alternates and a guidesheet.  This makes it easy to pick my letters.

In the case of the letters I chose using the key, Pi@e$ was simply typed in the Properties text box to get this combination that used these two hearts.  I used the spacing sliders to connect the letters so that they appear as connected script.

With the text selected, I clicked the "Center Designs in Hoop" and "Fit to Hoop" buttons to size and place the text.  

Step 3:  I created a fill behind the text hearts.   I did this by selecting the Create button to access the Stitch Artist tools.  I used the "Draw With Points" button to outline the heart on the inside edge of the heart.  I close the shape by selecting "Open/Close 

The first time I tried this, I placed the points just inside the satin stitching of the letter....thinking that I would avoid too much overlap... forgetting that most hidden stitches are removed by the program.

But after my test stitch out, you can see that it was a mistake to do that.  There is a gap between the fill stitch and the satin stitch of the font. 

The rendering on the screen and on paper are not ever exactly like it is on fabric and I knew that but I wasn't really using that knowledge!  So I went back and pulled those points out to move them to the other side of the satin stitching, making the heart bigger and hopefully filling the gap!

I wanted to avoid those gaps I got on my test stitch out!!  I made the same adjustment on the bottom heart.

And I also did one other thing... I adjusted the density of the font that I had added previously.  I hated to do that because I adore the way that Stitchtopia fonts stitch out all by themselves, but I wanted to make sure that those gaps were gone and if the fill stitched under the font, I wanted to be sure it wouldn't show!  I need to do some kind of experiments on this, but today I just picked this out of the air and went with 9%.  I was able to do this by selecting my font in the objects pane and then selecting 'stitch' in the properties pane and moving the slider from 0% to 9%.  Again, was was just a guess based on absolutely nothing.    (Adjusting the density is another feature of Embrilliance Essentials!)

I am not even sure that this was absolutely necessary, but I share this with you in the case that it is helpful.  I really loved the result of the more dense letters with the filled hearts.  

I will show you more about the differences in my test stitch outs in step 7.  

Step 4:  I added small hearts I digitized.  I used the same heart from the library that I used at the start of the process, but sized them down to be accents.  I just copied and pasted and used the large outline to guide the placement.  I highlighted each one at a time and added fill by selecting the fill button.

Step 5:  Change stitch order and reduce jumps.  I moved the hearts around a bit on the objects pane (by selecting each and right clicking and selecting the "move earlier" direction) so that they would stitch in order around the composition and not in the haphazard order I placed them on the virtual hoop!  Then, I changed the stop and start points on all the hearts to reduce jumps as much as possible. Although I knew I would still have jumps, I did not want them to go through the font since the hearts would stitch first and if I waited to trim the jumps, I didn't want them trapped under the stitches of the font. To do this, I just moved the red and green bowties (the stops and starts).  

Step 6:  Remove the background.  Since I no longer needed the large heart outline now that my design has been placed, I selected it on the object pane and clicked delete.

Step 7:  Test stitch out.  I have already partially shared this above but this is the difference between my first test and my second (after I made my changes with the points and the font density).

The first test stitch out showed me my giant mistake of the gap between the fill and the font, but it also showed me that I didn't like the black-on-white so I switched to a white-on-black.  I also made teeny changes to the tiny hearts.  Because they were elongated a bit, they looked like they had an extra stitch at the bottom to me, so I made them squattier.  

Step 8:  Sew up the pouch.  I used a video tutorial from the Missouri Star Quilt Company to sew this super, super easy project.  This is not an in-the-hoop pouch, but rather a pouch sewn on a sewing machine.  The tutorial tells you everything to do, including how to sew in a zipper and how to square the bottom so that the pouch is self-standing.  It is completely customizable in size and you can add any fabrics and even trims!  I added my embroidery to the black fabric before it was sewn on the others so that the wrong side of the stitching is hidden inside.

I trimmed down my fused, pieced front and back bag pieces to 10-1/4" across by 8" down.  I started with a base piece that was roughly 25" by 9".  I only mention that because you can really make these any size so I was just trying to accommodate my embroidery while making a bag large enough to put small gifts inside!

I added the zipper and sewed it according to the tutorial.

This is unconstructed in that it is not truly lined as the face pieces are sewn onto the back of the batting-fused lining, but the inside is still fun.  Unlike her tutorial, I did serge all my inside seams. This bag took just minutes to make-- so incredibly fast and easy!

It finished at 9-1/4" across.

Step 9:  Zipper Pull Charms:  I beaded rocailles and glass beads on headpins and added charms with split rings.

I used half of a circle-and-bar closure and joined that to the zipper's pull with a split ring.  These were just things from my stash.  When my daughter was tiny I used to make her jewelry with clay beads I bought.  She had necklaces for every color of outfit and for every occasion so it was fun to pull those out again.

This is the finished pouch...ready to be filled with fun Valentine gifts!

List of links used in this post (none of these are affiliate links; they are all direct links):

  • Stitchtopia Hope 1 font in 1", 2", 3" size:  click here.  When you select which file format you would like when purchasing, you will also get the BX file format at no additional cost included with the download!  
  • Embrilliance Essentials:  click here.
  • Embrilliance Stitch Artist:  click here.
  • Video tutorial for the pouch sewn on the sewing machine:  click here.

Thank you for looking at my post!  I have tons of projects in my Gallery that include papercraft, sewing, and baking including these VALENTINE projects:  

But wait! There's more! Click 'older posts' above!

But wait!  There's more!  Click 'older posts' above!