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Thursday, March 03, 2005

More Embroidery Machine Essentials – A Review

More Embroidery Machine Essentials: How to Customize, Edit and Create Decorative Designs byJeanine Twigg. 2003 Krause Publications, ISBN 0873494393, Soft cover, 128 pages. Lots of full color illustrations, includes CD-ROM with 10 exclusive designs. Hints and tips for software success, gallery of ideas from industry experts. Designs and techniques for use with Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, Simplicity, singer and White Embroidery machines.

I wish I had had this book when I had a digitizer program for my machine. I was constantly frustrated in my attempts to use the program and because of my work schedule at the time I couldn’t attend classes at my dealer’s shop. Finally in frustration I sold the program on eBay and now wish I hadn’t.

This book encourages you first of all to get to know your embroidery sewing machine. In the first chapter, it gives a review of the essential things you need to know to embroider well. There are also some placement pointers, which using your own design can make clothes and household items into unique objects.

Chapter two talks about the on screen editing and customizing that is possible with many of the newer embroidery machines. This is a short chapter as most machines are limited in how much editing can be done on screen.

Chapter three discusses the basics of the different available software. Where once machine embroiderers were limited to designs and software manufactured by their sewing machine brand, now there is a wide-open field of possibilities that seems to grow every day. Now, even independent companies sell individual designs and software. This chapter presents a synopsis of the different types of software, and the basics of what most programs do and how to save files (an art in itself once you have collected several 100 embroidery designs!).

Chapter four is all about customizing, stitch editing and resizing. “Customizing is all about personalization—the combining and modifying of decorative designs”. With customizing software, if you want a design a little bigger or smaller, facing a different way, or combining with another design to make a larger design, you just press a few buttons and presto it is done! I love my customizing software for combining designs. You can lay out many designs for say, a larger floral wreath, on your computer screen save the design or make changes (without having to sew out each design to see if it will work) and print out templates for accurate positioning on your fabric. This chapter also discusses stitch editing which is not included in all customizing software, but that is one of the nice things about reading this book prior to buying software, you will have a better idea of what you want, what you need and of course what you can afford. At the end of the chapter are exercises to do to practice with your software using the designs found on the CD that is included with the book.

Chapter five is about digitizing. As a general rule of thumb, most digitizer software programs will be more expensive than a customizer program. With a digitizer program, and appropriate graphics, you will be able to make your own embroidery designs in the size and colors that you want. Depending on the program, you will also be to take designs, and split them apart so that you use only one portion of a design. You will learn about how to plan your digitizing, what kind of graphic images you need, and what kind of stitch options you will be working with. There are all sorts little things you need to know when digitizing your own designs and this chapter gives you a good overview of them.

The next chapter encompasses specialty software that you can purchase. There is cataloging software available to keep all your computer designs in special folders depending on their topics and with gallery views so that you can easily find what you are looking for. Do you like to do counted cross-stitch but don’t have time to stitch up all the charts you want to? There is software to convert designs to cross-stitch. Want to sew out actual pictures such as the face of a grandchild? There is software to help you do that too. Learn about lettering programs to add personalization and saying to your designs.

Chapter 7 is all about converting a design from one sewing machine format to another. Have you found a design that you really like but it isn’t in a form your sewing machine recognizes? Depending on your software you may be able to convert the designs into ones you can use. Not all software programs have this capability; so if this is important to you, check to be sure that the program you purchase can do this.

Chapter 8 contains pages of inspirational designs by different sewing machine manufacturers and individual designers. These designs show you what is possible with your machine and a little creativity.

This book comes with several appendices. One gives some good guidance on setting up design categories in your computer using major categories and subcategories. Voice of experience here—from your first design on your computer, save them in logical folders and categories or else you will waste a lot of sewing time hunting for the design. Another appendix has lots of sayings that combined with your lettering programs and designs can make a cute total design.

I would certainly recommend this book either as a helper to making that important decision of what kind of software you may want to go with your embroidery machine or as a helper at your elbow while you are learning how to use your new software.

I hope that you have found this review helpful. Coming soon reviews of the companion project series of books and a review of my favorite on line embroidery links.

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