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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Embroidery Magazines

I love magazines with their fresh new ideas on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. I especially love magazines that focus in on my hobbies. There are several that I subscribe to that have helped me grow and learn in my sewing and machine embroidery hobby.

Designs In Machine Embroidery is published bi-monthly and is a wonderful resource to learn how to do various machine embroidery projects. It is a very well rounded magazine in that it features, fashion, home décor, quilting and craft projects. There is usually at least one free design download and of this writing all of the downloads are available at their website listed by volume. Nancy Zieman, Eileen Roche, and Rita Farro write regular columns. Full-sized paper templates are included as an insert in the middle of each magazine. I love all the many ideas that I get from this magazine. Both this magazine and Creative Machine Embroidery should be in each machine embroiderer’s sewing space.

Creative Machine Embroidery: Ideas, Inspirations & Techniques is published bi-monthly with lots of great ideas, tips, and embroidery basics for those who own any type home embroidery machine. Each issue usually has a section on embroidery products such as stabilizers, threads, or even a run down of the newest machines on the market. There are also several projects presented with step-by-step instructions. Embroidery designs are clearly identified and usually there is at least one design that you can download for free from the magazine website. Be aware though, that their free downloads are available for only a limited time. All advertisements in the magazine are geared towards machine embroidery and actually are a great way to keep up with the newest things happening in the machine embroidery field. This is an especially good magazine for a beginner to machine embroidery as many of the projects are doable by following the instructions and some practice. This magazine is a sister publication to Sew News magazine and at times they join forces to present sewing patterns using machine embroidery techniques.

Creative Expressions with Jenny Haskins is published four times a year. As this is an Australian publication, it can be difficult to get in the USA, but if you like Jenny Haskins’ way of combining quilting and machine embroidery it is well worth the hunt. I have found issues at my local Barnes & Noble and also on eBay. Full of lush beautiful illustrations, this magazine can transport you to a different era as you look through it and study the detail of the projects. Each magazine has several projects with instructions and full-sized paper template inserts in the middle of the magazine. There is a six-page reference section at the back of each magazine so you will know how to do each technique that is mentioned in the instructions. Some items are just photographed for inspiration, although I wish that at least minimal instructions could be given for those but I suppose the magazine would end up being a book.

For those who have never run into Jenny Haskins and her work, she is the diva of Australian quilting combined with embroidery. Through appliqué, embroidered motifs, decorative stitching, and quilting designs she creates the most awesome quilts. Now she has made many of her projects even easier with embroidery design cards for purchase that do a lot of the work for you. Several of the quilts hanging in my home have been influenced by Jenny Haskins.

Embroidery Journal: Inspiring Ideas for the Home Embroiderer & Professional Crafter. This magazine is published four times a year. Some issues seem to have a lot of good projects and then other issues seem to forget that this is a magazine for embroiderers—projects with not a bit of embroidery in them! I think those who would get the most use out of this magazine are those who have the following software: Monogram Wizard, Explorations, Buzz Tools, Drawings. There are software tutorials in every issue. As I don’t have any of these particular pieces of software this part of the magazine is a bit useless to me. I’ve found over the year that I have had a subscription that most of the free designs they may feature either have broken links or are only for particular sewing machine formats (I have no way to convert them), so many times I’ve been disappointed with this magazine and wouldn’t really recommend it unless you need the software tutorials.

BFC Creations-An Embroidery Link

I have been a frequent visitor to BFC Creations for a while now. What keeps me coming back are their many new designs sets (usually several new ones each week), their generosity with free sample designs, reasonable prices, frequent sales, and friendly customer service. They have many unusual themes in their designs and many of their embroidery design sets make completed scenes. They also have many three-dimensional bowls and matching doilies sets. I’m hoping one of these days to make a wall hanging from the Victorian wreath design that I purchased from them, but as every machine embroiderer knows—so many designs, so little time. This is definitely a site to bookmark for return visits as they are constantly updating their site.

KennyKreations-An Embroidery Link

KennyKreations is an embroidery link that I found through an embroidery magazine just a couple weeks ago. When I had a chance to check out their site, I was very impressed. They have some very beautiful projects on the site with all the coordinating embroidery designs. Their prices seem to be very reasonable and they also have free samples of designs to download. For a quilt project that I’m working on, I sewed out their rose appliqué sample design and was very impressed with how it sewed out at both its digitized size and when I enlarged it on my customizer. I’m looking forward to using this design in the border of my quilt, as it is just beautiful. I’m also looking forward to trying out their threadplay sample. I would highly suggest that you check out this embroidery design site and bookmark it so that you can continue going back to them.

Machine Embroidery: Inspiration from Australian Artists—A Review

Machine Embroidery: Inspiration from Australian Artists by Kristen Dibbs. 1998 J. B. Fairfax Press, ISBN 1863433309, Soft cover, 96 pages, color photo illustrations.

This is a book for those of you who say to themselves, “I can’t do machine embroidery because I don’t have one of those fancy machines.” It is also a book of inspiration to those of you who do have ‘fancy’ computerized sewing machines, but want to push the envelope of what can be accomplished with just a straight or zig zag stitch. This book provides inspiration from eleven Australian fabric artists.

Even if these projects are not ‘your thing’, as you read and study the philosophy behind each person’s way of working with fabric and stitching their items, you can learn new ways of doing things. For the most part, the artists reviewed in this book only use a straight stitch or a zig zag stitch to accomplish their creative endeavors. You will rarely see any decorative stitches being used. As you will learn, even if you only have an old manual sewing machine, you too can make many of the same types of designs. You are urged to practice, plan, practice, and just do it.

The projects shown in this book do not come with instructions for recreating them or complete details about how to make them. Rather, they are illustrative of the artist’s philosophy of working, how they approach a project, how they plan and proceed with a project. Even if I never make a project like one in this book, I have found it to be an enlightening book. Whenever I read a sewing book that makes me go, “so that’s how it is done”, I’ve found to be worthwhile as I grow and learn as a sewer.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Latte Quilt – A Review

Latte Quilt by Kerrie Hay. 2003 Quilter’s Resource, Inc. Soft cover, ISBN 1889682195, 107 pages, full color photo illustrations. CD-ROM included with the designs for the quilt in the following formats: Artista version 1, 2, 3 .art, Deco & Brother .pes, Husqvarna .hus, Janome .sew, Pfaff .pcs. Also included are templates for accurate placement of designs.

Although this book is full of gorgeous photos, none of them compare to actually seeing this quilt in person. I have been privileged to do so at Super Stitch, my favorite Janome dealer, where they have had a Latte Quilt class. A finished example is hanging in the shop. When my husband saw the quilt he told me to buy the book, and when hubby tells me to buy a sewing book I am always most happy to obey! If you are ever close to North East, PA, stop in at Super Stitch to see the quilt and tell them Gail sent you!

Words can barely describe this quilt—WOW, awesome, fantastic, would come close. It is a tone on tone quilt. Each block is beautifully designed with embroidered lace type motifs combined with decorative stitching and quilting. This quilt is a labor of love and long-term commitment. With this book, you have all the instructions you need for making this quilt. The quilt is 91 ½” square with a center medallion, surrounded by 15 blocks and a pieced border. The central block is 22 ½” square and the surrounding blocks are 14” square. This quilt and is made with 3 3/8 yards of 60” quilters muslin and 6 3/8 yards of 60” Duchess satin. Not only is this quilt a labor of love, to make it as shown requires a financial commitment also as the whole quilt is dependent on machine embroidery to achieve the lacy effect and that involves over 20 spools of thread plus at least 20 bobbins worth of thread, besides all fabric and the other accessories needed.

There are a lot of detailed instructions and templates in the book for sewing up the various parts of the quilt. At the beginning of the book there are instructions for a matching pillow. At the end of the book is a gallery of photos for other applications of the designs but no instructions are given.

This quilt is your chance to make a wonderful quilt using all your machine embroidery knowledge, decorative stitches, beading, pin tucking, double and triple needlework. When you finish this quilt you will certainly have a sense of accomplishment and most likely a chance to win a prize at the fair! Myself, I think I will just try for making a pillow from the designs.

Contemporary Machine Embroidered Quilts – A Review

Contemporary Machine Embroidered Quilts: Innovative Techniques and Designs by Eileen Roche. 2004 Krause Books, Soft cover, ISBN 087349878x, 144 pages, full color photo illustrations of projects and color illustrations of techniques. Includes a CD-ROM with 14 large-format designs in the following formats: .pes, .art, .jef, .shv, .dst, .xxx.

This is Eileen’s first book, but not her first entry into the world of machine embroidery. She founded the Designs In Machine Embroidery magazine in 1998, has made guest appearances on television sewing shows, and has designed for Amazing Designs.

The quilts in this book are not your grandmother’s quilts. They are all new, one of a kind contemporary quilts. The author shows you step by step how to make each and every quilt in the book including a beautiful wisteria quilt using the designs on the CD. The CD designs consist of 6 different wisteria sprays, 4 sets of leaves, 3 butterflies and a grasshopper. Mixing and matching the designs can lead you to a wonderful spring and summer quilt. If that project seems a little large to tackle at first, there is a simple pillow project or a smaller wall hanging to try. All told, there are 12 different projects.

For those projects that use designs not on the CD, the designs are clearly identified in case you would like to purchase them. Most of them are from Amazing Designs. The really nice thing about this book, is not only do you get lots of tips for using machine embroidery designs in your quilts, you will learn how to add appliqué and machine decorative stitching to enhance your quilts. The author shows how much more effective designs can be if they are joined by a satin stitch or combined with some appliqué. She encourages you to be creative with all the designs. At one point she shows how she achieved a certain effect with fabric pens when her design didn’t come out just right.

I would certainly recommend this book and when I finish a few other projects, I am hoping to try out the small wisteria wall hanging. I’m also happy to get a few more butterfly designs, as someday I want to make a butterfly quilt.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Embroidery Library – A Link

One of my favorite embroidery links is Embroidery Library. They have a massive amount of designs and the prices are great (as in not expensive). On a monthly basis they issue two new free designs. You can also sign up for their newsletter. I just got a newsletter the other day where they were introducing their new quilt designs—lots of them! I’ve seen embroidered quilt designs before, but never like these. Lots and lots of quilt designs, not only full blocks but also half blocks, matching stipple quilting and quilt labels.

Not only do they have an abundance of quilt designs, they have an abundance of floral, holiday, etc. designs. Just about anything you want, you can find. The design quality is superb.

This is a site you have to check out. Nothing in it for me but a chance to repay them for all the great free designs I’ve gotten from them.

Machine Embroidered Quilts – A Review

Machine Embroidered Quilts: Creating With Colorful Stitches by Jennifer Lokey. 2004 Martingale & Company (That Patchwork Place), Soft cover, ISBN 156477516x, 79 pages, full color photo illustrations, black and white or color diagrams and patterns.

This book is great for those who have a machine capable of doing machine embroidery and for those who don’t. Most of the projects in this book are shown with either embroidery or an appliqué option. With the different design variations, you should be able to jump to even more creative options on your own. There are nine quilt projects from simple to more complicated, but most designs should be doable by a sewer with average skills.

All the projects have clear instructions with full size pattern pieces for appliqué patterns, which is a plus for me, as I hate to resize patterns. The quilts shown come in all different size from wall hanging to full sized quilts. There is a cute baby quilt, a crazy quilt, log cabin, basket quilts and several others. All the machine embroidery designs are clearly identified by maker if you want to reproduce them, or the author tells you what size embroidery you need for the area so you can use one of your own designs.

This is certainly a recommended book and I’m glad I have it in my collection.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Machine Embroidery Makes the Quilt – A Book Review

Machine Embroidery Makes the Quilt by Patty Albin. 2004 C&T Publishing, Soft cover, ISBN 1571202668, 80 pages, full color photo illustrations. CD-ROM included with 26 machine embroidery designs in the following formats: .art, .csd, .dst, .exp, .hus, .jef, .pcs, .pes, .sew, .vip, .xxx. The book has 6 projects that utilize these designs.

This is a very inspirational book on machine embroidery combine with quilting. The embroidery designs that come on the CD are shown being used in several different ways, which can lead you into thinking of even more creative possibilities. You will also learn ways to incorporate machine embroidery designs into traditional quilt blocks.

The first chapter shows lots of different ways to use machine embroidery in quilts. Embroidery is shown replacing bows, appliqué (or being used to make machine appliqué), replicating hand embroidery and crocheting, replacing parts of the quilt block, etc. The clear illustrations really show off how to include machine embroidery into your quilt.

The next two chapters discuss embroidery designs, what to look for when purchasing designs and how to digitize and customize your own designs. You will learn how to take parts from several designs and combine them into a design that is perfect for use in your quilt.

It is important to always sign and document your quilt for those who come after us and in the next chapter you will find several creative ways for making quilt labels that will coordinate with your quilt. After that comes a chapter on supplies for quilting such as appropriate stabilizers, threads and needles.

After those preliminaries, we come to the heart of the book: six different projects to make using your embroidery CD. Each of the projects makes a small wall hanging, but with a little creativity could be enlarged. Each project has complete supply lists, cutting list and assembly instructions. There are even thread orders shown in color in case you wish to change a color. You will find instructions for an Irish Chain quilt, a small crazy quilt, a bouquet of three-dimensional pansies, a redwork quilt, a double wedding ring and a miniature Baltimore album.

This is a wonderful book that I would highly recommend. I am looking to making several of the projects myself possibly as Mother’s Day gifts for two special ladies.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Appliqué Techniques—A Review

Jeanine Twigg’s Embroidery Machine Essentials: Appliqué Techniques, Companion Project Series book 4 by Mary Mulari. 2004 Krause Publications, Soft cover, ISBN 087349847X, 48 pages, full color illustrations. Containing creative appliqué techniques featuring a variety of edge treatments. Designs and techniques for use with Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, Simplicity, Singer and White embroidery machines. Includes a CD-ROM with 20 original embroidery designs.

Yet again another jam-packed idea filled book in this series. Mary Mulari is well known for her appliqué designs and has produced designs for Amazing Designs. Her expertise is self evident in this book. There are a lot of fresh ideas for using the included designs. Not every appliqué has to be sewn down with a satin stitch and she goes on to show in this book how attractive other finishes can be.

I used one of the designs in this book to decorate a T-shirt for my husband for Christmas. I took the steaming coffee cups design, added lettering with my customizer program, and in one hooping was able to stitch out a very appropriate design for him. It said “Instant Human, Just Add Coffee”. Perfect for the guy who needs a cup of coffee and a good hour to wake up in the morning!

The first chapter of the book deals with appliqué essentials and Mary’s philosophy about appliqué. Even while showing the essentials you see interesting examples of ways to appliqué such as a silk flower appliquéd to fabric using part of a design.

The second chapter covers traditional appliqué techniques. You will see what difference fabric choices can make, how to hoop the fabric and trim it, how to make templates, and how to make reverse appliqué. As most of the designs she demonstrates with don’t have the usual satin stitch edges, all her designs look fresh and interesting.

The third chapter shows lots of creative appliqué techniques with easy instructions. You will learn how to do allover stitch appliqué, raw-edge appliqué, frayed-edge appliqué, padded appliqué, three-dimensional appliqué, and the list goes on. There are lots of ideas for you to try and then to incorporate into your sewing projects.

The four chapter has you making all sorts of appliqué accents for that special touch. Appliqué some buttonhole covers for your favorite denim shirt to give it a bit of personality. Appliqué a pocket and sew it onto an apron. Use small appliqué designs to highlight a scarf. Mary encourages sewing out test samples before committing a design to a project. Then save those test designs for further projects. There is nothing better is a sewing room than bits and pieces that can be sewn together fast for a quick gift!

The last chapter is a showcase of the many projects she has made using her designs collections that are up for sale from various manufacturers. This showcase should give you lots of ideas on projects that you too can make whether from test stitch outs or sewn specifically for a project.

I really liked this book and highly recommend it. The designs that come with the book are unique and can be used in lots of ways. Mary Mulari’s enthusiasm for her work comes right through the pages. I only wish the book were longer with a lot more designs and ideas.

As far as I know, this is the last book in this series. I cannot find any information that any more books are in the works. It would seem like these six books would have covered everything a person would want to know about machine embroidery, but as I see what is going on in embroidery websites, I see a lot of three-dimensional lace projects, projects sewn completely in the hoop, doll clothes sewn in the hoop and other projects never dreamt of a few years ago. I hope Jeanine Twigg will continue adding books to this series as new innovations in machine embroidery comes about.

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Quilting Techniques—A Review

Jeanine Twigg’s Embroidery machine Essentials: Quilting Techniques, Companion Project Series Book 3 by Linda Turner Griepentrog. 2004 Krause Publications, Soft cover, ISBN 0873498461, 48 pages, full color illustrations. Designs and techniques for use with Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, Simplicity, Singer and White embroidery machines. Includes a CD-ROM with 12 complete projects, 20 exclusive designs, and 80 bonus stitch variations.

Quilting is “my thing”. I love quilts and the whole quilting process, picking out colors, dreaming up combinations of fabrics, piecing it together, except for putting it together and quilting it. With the advent of machine embroidery with quilting designs this part of the process has become much easier for me. One of the best parts of this book is the CD-ROM with its 20 designs and all the variations. Most designs come in three different sizes for 4”, 5” and 6” blocks. Some of the designs come as a straight stitch design, triple stitch or a chain stitch design. A few of the designs are only for a 5” x 7” hoop or larger. Lots of designs possibilities on this CD.

There are 12 complete quilting projects on the CD also. They are pictured in the book, but you need the CD for the instructions on how to make the designs. There are few projects in the book proper. For the most part this book is full of ideas on using machine embroidery designs in your quilting. I will not review this book in chapter format like I usually do, as this book would be difficult to review that way. “The purpose of this book is to inspire you to use your embroidery machine for quilting” p.6. Many of her projects throughout the book purposely use embroidery designs that are not included on the CD to inspire you in how you can use other designs in quilting. I think she would have done better to use more examples using her embroidery designs that come with the book. But that is my personal opinion. I always like seeing optional ways of using designs I own than options for using designs that I don’t own.

I was personally disappointed with this book because I was hoping it would address in detail quilting a large quilt by machine. All her examples dealt with small quilted projects. Quilting by machine, especially using embroidery motifs, on a large bed size quilt is a whole other ball game. Trying to combine motifs into larger ones while dealing with the weight of the quilt is a topic that deserved some consideration and barely got a mention.

Although a bit disappointed with the book, I would recommend it for someone who is unfamiliar with quilting and the various options available with machine embroidery. It is also useful for the ideas presented, and there are many, but basically all short blurbs. The best feature for me was the embroidery and quilting motifs on the CD as I know I will be using them in many projects in the future.

I trust that this review has been helpful to you in deciding whether or not to purchase the book. I welcome all comments about the reviews I do or additional comments pro and con about how helpful the books have been to you.

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Fleece Techniques—A Review

Jeanine Twigg’s Embroidery Machine Essentials: Fleece Techniques, Companion Project Series Book 2 by Nancy Cornwell. 2002 Krause Publications, Soft cover, ISBN 0873495810, 48 pages, lots of full color illustrations. Includes a CD-ROM with 20 exclusive embroidery designs with 85 variations for embroidery on fleece. Designs and techniques for use with Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, Simplicity, Singer and White embroidery machines.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is so, then this book’s pictures are worth millions of words. Lavishly illustrated with variation after variation of designs and ways of doing things. Your mind won’t be able to help coming up with ideas and getting excited about the possibility of embroidering on fleece or anything else for that matter. I had never even sewn on fleece prior to getting this book, but after reading it, I was inspired to make a small fleece project and as time and health allows look forward to making more of them.

Nancy Cornwell is the sewing world’s diva of sewing on fleece. This book certainly shows her talent and knowledge with working with this material. Nancy herself says it best on p. 4 “…it’s fun to explore what happens when we use bits and pieces of designs to create entirely new designs and effects. Throughout the pages of this book I’ll show you how to look at embroidery designs not only ‘as intended,’ but for all the opportunities each design offers for fleece embellishment.” Although there are 20 ‘actual’ embroidery designs on the CD, by following the instructions in the book, you will see many more ways to use parts of the designs. As you look through the book think about not only what you can do with the included designs but also what you can do with the designs you already own. Don’t be stuck in a rut of thinking you always have to sew out a design in its entirety. Think about that one special element which will set off your project. Of course the designs can be sewn on more than just fleece. Just be sure to sew out test samples first in case an adjustment has to be made as these designs were digitized for use with fleece.

The first chapter is about embroidery essentials especially as they pertain to sewing and embroidering on fleece. If you are new to using fleece or have been having trouble embroidering on it, you should pay particular attention to this chapter.

The second chapter deals with appliqué on fleece. Because of fleeces properties such as not fraying, there are many more ways to appliqué with it than regular fraying fabric. Depending upon the look you want, you can sew out a regular appliqué, a blunt edge appliqué, reversible appliqué, trapunto, a textured design (no appliqué fabric), or a three dimensional appliqué. It is fun to work with fabric that you know won’t fray. There are even instructions for a freestanding double sided appliqué. All the projects and instructions use the included designs.

The third chapter has you quilting on fleece. You will see stippling, more appliqué ideas, trapunto, quilting lines as designs. I am looking forward to using the stippled flower design in a quilt project.

The next two chapters shows some innovative techniques. Three of the designs are ‘nested’ designs (the same design inside a progressively larger design). You will learn how to use nested designs to make fleece chenille. Sew out the entire design for an echo quilting effect, or sew out just parts of the design for the size star, flower or heart that you want to use for your project. You will also learn how to make three-dimensional designs such as a flower to sew on a hat or scarf. Combine elements of one design with parts of another, and you have a whole new design. Take parts of one design, rotate them and recombine with the rest of the design for yet another look. By the time you have read these chapters and studied the pictures in them, you will never look at embroidery designs the same way again. Depending on the fabric you are using and the parts of an embroidery design, you can create wonderful effects.

I highly recommend this book even if you have no intention of ever sewing on fleece. The designs and each of the segments of the designs are well worth the money, but even more important is how this book can get your creative juices running when you see the possibilities all your designs have. For those on limited budgets, this book can help you increase your design base just by learning how to create new designs from old ones.

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Basic Techniques—A Review

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Basic Techniques Companion Project Series by Jeanine Twigg. 2002 Krause Publications, Soft cover, ISBN 0873495802, 48 pages. Full color illustrations. CD-ROM included with 20 exclusive Embroidery Designs. Designs and techniques for use with Babylock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna/Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, simplicity and Singer embroidery machines.

Just one look through this book, and I felt like slapping myself in the head and saying, “why didn’t I think of that?” Although this book deals with basic techniques, it goes beyond the basics and shows just how many different ways you can use a design. The included designs are ones you will probably use again and again and are worth the price of the book itself.

The first chapter is a quick overview of machine embroidery essentials, then on to the second chapter on appliqué. When pressed for time in making a project, appliqué can speed things up by not requiring so many stitches to sew out along with all the thread changes that can take up time. Instead of completely stitching out a flower, appliqué one on. This chapter shows the two ways to make appliqué templates for use with your embroidery machine. Then there are the different appliqué techniques: satin stitch, blanket stitch, sheer appliqué, outline appliqué, and reverse appliqué. I tend to be visually oriented and once I see something done I can comprehend the possibilities. Seeing how one design can be used for satin stitch appliqué or a sheer overlay opening some real design possibilities. Instructions for doing each of the techniques are included using the designs that came with the book.

Chapter three is about quilting. Now you are seeing some of the same designs that were used for appliqué, being used as quilting motifs. Imagine the possibilities of making an appliqué quilt with matching quilting motifs! Two methods of quilting are explained and also a type of trapunto quilting and fleece quilting, instructions again using the included designs. If you haven’t figured it out yet, these designs are extremely versatile.

The next chapter is all about various forms of cutwork embroidery on the machine. Not only is there explanations and instructions for the technique, it continues on with other forms of cutwork. How about sheer cutwork, which instead of empty space, leaves a layer of sheer organdy? Or a layered cutwork technique that has layers of different colored sheer fabric within the same design. There are lots of possibilities and inspiration for the cutwork fan.

Chapter five describes how to make three dimensional designs, how to texture fleece, making fringed flowers, double needle designs and using your designs with mixed media such as watercolors. I have not yet tried the fringing method. I know it works as I have seen samples of it, but hard to believe it can be done with a sewing machine!

Chapter six is about combining and editing designs. Learn how to rotate, flip, mirror image, add and subtract designs to make your own creation. You will need a machine that has on board editing, or software that allows you to do it, or make yourself some templates to accurately place your designs. Lots of ideas are given for combining designs all using the designs off of the CD. Just imagine the possibilities when combined with the designs you own.

Chapter seven is a gallery of ideas showing sewn out projects with some basic instructions on completing the projects. Unlike the first two books in this series, the project gallery includes only projects featuring embroidery designs from the included CD.

In the appendix are the included CD designs details. Each design shows each thread stop individually so you can plan which part of the design you will want to use. For example: the blanket stitch circle design has 11 different segments because there are actually five circles within the circle designs. These allow you different sized circles for appliqué projects or use all of them at once in a project.

I hope this review has been helpful to you. I believe you would find this book helpful in learning some basic techniques. You will also find the included designs are extremely versatile and are worth the cost of the book by themselves.

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.