I love cross stitch. But I am completely inept.
I have watched the YouTube videos. I have studied people moving those needles in and out. I purchased the right fabric. I can sew, machine embroider, hand embroider, knit, crochet, do hand quilting. I’m not afraid of stitching by hand. But for the love of all that is good, I cannot figure out how to cross stitch. I. Cannot. Do. It.
So I did the next best thing.
I found the most adorable designs (from Little House Needleworks on Etsy.)
Using Bernina Embroidery Software 8, I got the idea into my head that I could run a border of these gorgeous cross stitch patterns around the outside of a very simple tree skirt I was making.
But as always, it was not an easy task. Like Tina Turner, I never do anything nice and easy. I do it nice, and rough.
It starts with a scan of the pattern, which needs to be trimmed to the exact pattern size in some sort of graphics software. I’m used to working in Adobe, so that’s what I used. But Bernina’s software comes with Corel, so you can use that too. Then it gets imported into the Cross Stitch application in the software.
Now comes the tedious part. Every single stitch gets reconstructed with a click, and a color choice. If you look closely enough at the above image, you can see that some of it is filled in with color, and some of it still has the cross stitch symbols shown. It took me about an hour to get everything filled in for that design.
The next step is to move it into the embroidery program. The software then converts every click that you made in cross stitch into machine embroidery stitches. And it’s pretty magical. One moment it’s just a weird looking drawing, the next minute it’s stitches that my machine will understand.
And I am absolutely loving the way these turned out.
I still have a long way to go on this tree skirt, and each design from start to finish probably takes about three hours. Could someone do it by hand in that time? Maybe someone who knows what they’re doing. That would not be me, when it comes to cross stitch. But I am just so taken in by their charm and sweetness.
I hope you are tolerating this difficult holiday season.
I leave you with this December thought:
“Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”
How’s everyone doing out there?
I am not ashamed to say I had a rough summer. Between the pandemic, and a kid who’s still in the school system, I managed to fall while taking pictures. Hard. On my knee, but did a number on the ankle too.
Wound up in the ER, and x-rays were fine, but still healing. On top of that, I have the usual “You know, at your age…” health issues. But hard as I tried, I was not able to avoid going to a doctor until coronavirus is eradicated….as I had hoped. Who am I kidding?
So layer on top of that all the societal and natural disaster issues we’re facing and I made a decision:
TO PAINT MY FRONT DOOR CORAL.
Why? That’s a good question. I was all set to go with teal. And then I randomly saw a pic online of a coral front door. And I couldn’t get it out of my head. You need to know that my front door is a very dark, forest green. It has been that way for 18 years.
But it suddenly became my obsession. A primal scream, I think. I NEED A CORAL FRONT DOOR.
Since then I have discovered, to my surprise, that a front door that faces south should indeed be red or orange according to feng shui principles. Who knew. (Not me.) So, apparently, I did the right thing.
I used some paint called DecoArt. Find it here.
It was not my favorite. It went on kind of gloppy and was a semi-gloss. I’m generally a satin girl. And please note, that while I was doing this I was NEVER sure it was going to work. My only thought was that if I ruined the front door, we needed a new one anyway.
The first coat was pretty hideous. It was a lot of work just to get that far, and needed several hours to dry. I had to keep going back and smooth over places that wanted to drip. At this point, I was really torn. Give up now and paint it black? Or forge ahead and see where I end up. Anyone in their right mind would have hired a professional to salvage what they could.
I went for it.
Two more coats later.
My husband strolled by while I was in the process. “You’re making the front door pink?”
“IT’S NOT PINK, IT’S CORAL!”
He and my teenage son exchanged glances and backed away. They don’t really care.
But at least here’s where I get to the sewing part. Now I needed something to put on the door.
I have some black Kraft-tex, and so anyone who’s read this blog in the past, knows I love my Kraft-tex. I wanted a round doorhanger, but one that I could update seasonally. Or just when I got tired of it.
If you don’t know, cutting a perfect, professional-looking circle is hard. Really hard. So I use a rotary circle cutter from Olfa.
But the tool has a maximum circle size of about 8.5 inches. Not nearly as big as I wanted it.
So I approached my husband with the tool, and I told him what I wanted to do. He has a mill and a 3D printer. I wondered if he could help me find a way to get bigger circles.
He sniffed around the tool for a bit, while I went off to make dinner. An hour later he handed me an extender. Then he attached it.
He simply fitted it to the device, added a screw and bolt to hold it together and, like magic, I can now make circles about twice the size. It was amazing! And it worked perfectly. My new circle was somewhere near 18 ” acorss, almost the entire length of the Kraft-tex paper.
Now I just stitched my embroidery out and attached it with a single stitch to the the circle. I made slots so that I could switch out the seasonal part at any time.
I finished it up with a ribbon and hung it with a flourish.
I have no idea how anyone else is coping. I hope you are doing well.
I highly recommend doing something you’ve been afraid to do. (Let’s not get reckless here, I’m talking about painting a door, or a room, or yikes! a dresser.)
I didn’t know I needed this color in my life. Nor do I know how long I will want it. But it showed up at the right time for me.
Well, I finally broke my machine.
Actually, I’m not sure I did anything wrong. I just changed thread colors during an embroidery, started the machine up again and WHOA. Needle broke and gears of death appeared.
It’s all OK. I cleaned everything out and could only find 2 pieces of the needle. A tiny tip is missing. Normally I can set everything back to normal and just continue, but I think that little needle tip is scraping somewhere, so off to the tech we went.
Tech Update for Bernina 7 Series Owners
I chatted with my new tech for a while and told him about my machine issue. He asked me if I knew that we were not supposed to oil in the top reservoir any more.
I did not know that. I had heard some buzzing…questions from customers around the time the shop I previously worked for was closing. However, we had not received any definitive information from Bernina at that time.
So here’s the deal:
–If you own a 7 Series, DO NOT put oil in the red-ringed reservoir under the stitch plate.
–DO oil the two felt pads in the hook and around the outside of the hook.
It’s important to know about this change. If you purchased your machine longer than 6-7 months or so ago, you were likely taught to fill that red reservoir, and keep it filled.
The tech told me that too much oil was spreading, not only into the hook but also getting into the auto-thread cutter, and pieces of felt were working their way into the mix as well. I remember our tech at the store showing me how the machine looked with the thread cutter pulled out and oil getting on everything. At that time we had not heard the official “fix” from Bernina. Now it’s here.
With that resolved, I now have an embroidery design that’s not complete.
See those cute little flower buttons? They are supposed to be embroidery. Luckily, my “breakdown” occurred in a convenient place, and I think I can just add those flowers instead of embroidery. Not exactly perfect, but it’s effective and I think it will work.
I’ll share the rest of the project as I get further along.
I’m determined to THINK SPRING. It has to get here eventually, right?
In the meantime, of course I have another sewing machine that I can use to continue piecing my quilt project. And it won’t hurt for my larger machine to be in the spa for a bit.
I’ve been scrounging around on my machine embroidery sites looking for the most interesting projects and new ideas. I’ve found that with machine embroidery, there’s always a new way to do something that’s been around awhile, or an old way to do something very fresh.
We have snow on the ground here this April, but I just KNOW that spring will get here eventually. So I focused my search on all things inspirational for spring.
Although they always have new product, I found their Garden Party Lookbook to be charming and full of spring-like ideas. You’ll want to check out all their lookbooks. But the Garden Party book had an interesting technique (something I hadn’t seen before) for embroidering on straw hats.
They are featuring a strong graphic spring collection called Grow Love. These cute little flowers and butterflies would be great on jeans or anything denim. They also have their washaway stabilizers on sale through April 13. If you are someone who loves freestanding lace (which I’m thinking about for Halloween) now’s the time to stock up on Aquamesh.
So the big trend I’ve seen lately and it’s reflected quite a bit at Urban Threads is embroidery on garments everywhere. Jeans up and down the legs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, everything. This trend extends far beyond just the embroidery world. The newest Dolce and Cabbana runway collection is just loaded with over-sized, all-over embroidery. The kitschy-er, the better. Urban Threads has some great examples in their Fashion Look book. But it’s everywhere.
OK, I was drawn to these lovely purple flowers in her sale bin. I need them along the hemline of a summer skirt. Wouldn’t that be lovely?
Kimberbell, if you’re not familiar, is a wholesale design distributor. Their store locator is actually pretty accurate so feel free to use that to find a dealer near you.
Their products are always cheerful and sometimes over the top for me, but I fell in love with the designs on Hello Sunshine quilt. The quilt itself is a bit much at the moment, but who can live without the charming bike design, the mason jars, the watermelon? Not me. I bought the collection and am already laying out something for a wall hanging for this spring/summer.
I recognize this list is not comprehensive, just a little tour to get your creative juices flowing about machine embroidery again. I hope you find something that inspires you to dust off that embroidery module and rev it up for spring!
It’s a chicken soup kind of day.
My son came home after his first few days of high school with a nasty cold. I’m not surprised. The place is a breeding ground for experimental teenage germs.
On top of that, the weather turned cooler today…for how long, I’ve no idea. But it’s cloudy and cool right now.
Furthermore, like everyone else in the sewing industry, I read Nancy Zieman’s latest blog with a heavy heart. Whether you watched her show or not, you know Nancy. You buy her notions or you attend Quilt Expo in Madison. I’ve learned many tips from Nancy along the way, but my favorite line was this: ” I sew at least one quilt a year for charity.” She never said “You should…” She told us what she did, and then she did it, among all the other wonderful charitable contributions she made within the industry (and outside of it).
So, yes, it’s a chicken soup kind of day.
While the soup bubbled away, I sat down with my laptop and organized some of the Halloween designs I want to make in the very near future.
I use Bernina Embroidery Software 8, and I’m planning on making tiny pillow-like ornaments to hang on my Halloween tree.
The designs I’m using came from urbanthreads.com, a favorite of mine for cute and/or spooky embroidery.
It’s hard to see the design in this shot but it is a single thread color of a cat. I used a feature that people rarely take advantage of in the ‘design” menu. Click on “background” and change the background color in the hoop.
Now you can actually see what the design will look like stitched out on dark grey or black fabric. In the prior shot, you can see where I added stitching in a square around the outside. Before I stitch that, I will add a square of fabric and a ribbon for hanging. I’m not stitching out today, but I promise to share when I do.
In this design, I’m stitching the profile of this cat, but it has multiple thread changes for each cat. For some reason, the.exp file I’m using has changed all the colors from shades of purple to random colors. I did not take the time to fix the thread colors on screen because I will just use the correct ones as I stitch out.
The important thing to note here is that on the side, in the color film, I used the “Sequence by Color” tool. This way, I’m able to stitch all the same colors at once instead of changing threads each time for each color on each cat. Whew!
It makes a big difference in the amount of time it takes to stitch out. Also, I will have to cut the jump stitches in between each thread change, as I have the thread moving around quite a bit.
Still, I have loaded all this onto my USB stick and am ready to stitch as soon as I prep some fabric, stabilizer and fabric for the backs of these cute little ornaments.
Can’t wait to get started, but I won’t have time for a couple of days.
My Halloween quilt is complete, and ready for its debut! Stay tuned. It may be early September, but it’s already time for a cool change.
I found these wonderful designs on Urbanthreads.com. I immediately thought of Valentine’s Day, although these were likely meant for the Christmas Season. I have not yet whip-stitched these together, but I love the look of them.
If you are not familiar with freestanding lace, a lot depends on the density of the designs and the stabilizer you use.
I used OESD Aquamesh, 2 layers for each piece. Each envelope has 3 pieces.
You can see the double layer of washaway stabilizer in the above photo. Each section of the envelope took at least an hour to stitch out, so be sure you start with a full bobbin, a well-oiled machine, a new needle and plenty of thread. I matched the bobbin thread to the top, using Isacord on everything.
There were two different envelope designs to choose from, one was roses, as shown above. The other was holly leaves, and I stitched that out in red. Both of the envelopes I stitched were about greeting card size.
But I do have a smaller size design that would be perfect for business cards or a gift card.
Each piece gets rinsed in warm water. Some people recommend filling the sink and letting the lace soak. That will work, but I usually keep the warm water running and rinse it thoroughly until all the stabilizer has dissolved.
The design needs to dry overnight, and I use a piece of florist’s styrofoam as a base, and flatten each design and pin in place. This prevents any curling as they dry.
After that, it’s just a whip stitch to assemble the front and the back, and then the top to the back.
I had the most fun searching for just the right button for each of envelopes. I plan to make a few more…I want the rose design in red. (Shhhhh…I think that’s part of this year’s Valentine’s Day gift.)
The scarf will also have to be gently washed and stretched flat to dry. That way it will hold the shape.
If you enjoy designs from Urban Threads, you’ll get a kick out of their new holiday Look Book.
They also have their own line of fabric from Spoonflower now.
I actually have created my own fabric on Spoonflower with some of my black and white photography. But I’ll have to save that for another post once I come up with how I’m going to use the fabric!
I love one-of-a-kind.
If it hasn’t been done before, I’m in. Even if it has been done before, but it can be done slightly differently, I’m in.
What I’m not really interested in doing is creating exactly what someone else has already created. Let’s be honest, here. Nothing under the sun is really new any more. We all receive our inspiration from someone, or something, or some technique. Original ideas come from many places, but they almost always require inspiration from somewhere, and we all learn from one another.
That’s OK. As long as it’s new to you. I don’t judge people who take a pattern and re-create it exactly as the book dictates. That’s how we learn. We aren’t all designers. I’m not…at least I don’t get paid to be one.
But my favorite projects come to me like a whirlwind, and I have all to do to scribble them down before they disappear. The end product is not always exactly what I had planned, but I know when I have a starting point.
My challenge: To create a project based on some digitized rulers created in Artwork Canvas within Bernina Embroidery Software 8.
I started with the 3 black ruler shapes, wondering how to place them in an interesting project.
I knew I wanted to use a sewing theme, and I also wanted to incorporate Amanda Murphy’s Sewing Room embroidery designs. I thought they were cute and fresh. (See the link below).
Sitting at the computer one day, I had an idea. I don’t ever design on a computer. It’s just not fast enough to capture the idea before I talk myself out of it.
So I grabbed the back of the closest sheet of paper and scribbled out this initial design.
I thought I’d make a table runner, with all the embroidery designs lined up in a row. I thought about adding buttons scattered around the design, since the theme has thread spools, scissors , rulers, etc.
I didn’t have any fabric at home that was close to my reach that was in the right shape to hold all the designs.
So I stitched a number of half fatquarters together (fat-eighths). I think they were leftover from this project.
And I printed out some templates to see if I was getting close to my original thought.
I began embroidery, and once the embroidery was complete, a friend at work (hey Bobbie!) asked if I was making another valance…this time for my sewing room. (You can check out the last time I made a valance here.)
I had actually been thinking of it as a table runner, but when she said valance, I suddenly saw that too!
I continued with the quilting which for some reason was a part of the original scribble and I couldn’t depart from it. Here are a few of the detail shots.
I’m sure you can see why I wanted to use Amanda Murphy’s embroideries…but it actually works pretty well with the digitized rulers.
Here’s what it looks like complete. It’s quilted all over using a walking foot, and the back is turned down to form a rod pocket.
It will be at the shop for a while, but I can’t wait to hang it on the window in my sewing room. I moved the random-sized buttons to the middle to give it a look of continuity. I love the Barbie-style dresses.
You can make the rulers if you attend Bernina’s November Software Inspiration class at your local dealer. And if you don’t have software, I’m sure you can find a measuring tape embroidery or replace it with another design. The point is not to make the same valance I made, (although you certainly are welcome to do that) but to make it your own! Have fun with the idea, and create something new and original for your own home.
Is it really mid-October?
Will this election ever be over?
Like the whole country, I feel like I have had enough. And when I’ve had enough of anything, I turn to sewing. Usually, I find something completely new to occupy my mind…an outlet to create something I haven’t before. But the past few weeks have been spent mainly finishing projects, working, taking walks, and finding mindless sewing work from time to time to de-stress.
Here is a little gallery of images showing some of the things I’ve been working on.
In late September, I attended training at the Creative Center at Bernina. They are introducing some new products and I am excited about them.
Bernina 700 Embroidery Machine
Without a doubt, one of the coolest machines Bernina has introduced in a while. It has all the same features as the 790, with these new features:
- Pinpoint Placement – you’ll never have to worry about hooping something crooked again. (This is cool…and easy.)
- Thread Away – Never stitch over those loose threads.
- Programmable jump stitch cutting – it will cut jump stitches as small as 1 mm…no more cutting those tiny jump stitches!
- Multiple Spool Holder – Put all the threads for a design in one place.
- 320 designs included
- 18 alphabets (I love them.)
- New Monogram Alphabet with ornaments (gorgeous!)
Honestly, I loved this machine. The engineers definitely had heart to heart conversations with actual people who embroider. Everything we could have asked for is right here. LOVE!
Bernina Embroidery Software 8
The improvements to the software are worth the upgrade. Even if you don’t use some of the main new features, just the improvements to existing features is worthwhile. For instance, when choosing your hoops, now you tell the software what machine you have and it will only display hoops for that machine. Remember when you had to scroll that long list just to find your hoop? Not any more. Also, for newbies, you can turn on labels for all the icons..how helpful is that in learning the software?? (Very, for those who are not familiar.)
- New! Color Photostitch – This is a vast improvement on Photosnap which was pretty particular in the types of images that would work.
- 3D Globe Effect – Great graphic effect.
- Alternating Pattern Fills
- One-click Auto Digitizing – Simplified and made easier to use.
- Quilt Layouts
- Automatic Quilt Backgrounds
- 3D fonts
I spend a lot of time in software, so for those of you who use the software a great deal, it’s completely worth the cost to upgrade. For those of you who use it only occasionally, only you can decide if you need these new features. It is still a very familiar layout, with colors moved to the bottom.
If you are someone who has held out from upgrading for a few versions, especially if you have been holding out with version 5 or 6, now is the time to move up. Version 7 was a big change, and was a very user friendly upgrade. It made the software much easier to use. Software 8 builds on that.
That’s all I have for the moment, with a few new ideas brewing. More to come, as always!
I have long thought that someone needs to create a place where we can all share news and ideas about machine embroidery. All the information seems so scattered online.
It’s a lot of work to find out what designs are new out there on all the different sites and to see some inspiration.
So I thought that once in awhile, I might put together a bunch of links to things that are new, or hot, or just inspirational in machine embroidery. I come across things regularly in my online travels, so I thought it would be fun to share…even if I haven’t had time to stitch some of it out yet.
I’ve seen this in a number of places, and by now most of you are familiar with the chalkboard fabric out there. It’s easy enough to purchase at your local quilt shop or hobby shop.
Embroideryonline.com has some great new chalkboard floral designs. These are next on my list of embroideries to try.
Machine Cross Stitch:
Here’s something else that’s fun. I made a few cross stitch designs last Halloween and loved it. I think the cross stitch look for the holidays is charming. Here’s a peek at my previous Halloween post.
But I found a site that specializes in machine embroidery cross stitch. They have designs for all occasions. They are appropriately named machinecrossstitch.com.
Again, on my list to do. I am intrigued by the possibilities.
New Releases as of May:
This is obviously not a complete list, but I hope to be able to build on this list every time I publish a Machine Embroidery News blog. So many times I have wished that someone would organize all this info for me. So now I’m doing it, and sharing it with you. And I’ll update it as often as I can.
embroideryonline.com (new releases)
emblibrary.com (new releases)
urbanthreads.com (new releases)
amazingdesigns.com (new releases)
I prefer to stay with major digitizers until I have some idea of the quality, but I am happy to publicize the place where you purchase your designs if you want to share.
In fact, if you have something you’d like to see with regard to machine embroidery, feel free to leave me a message in the comment bubble at the top of the post. I’d love to hear what you want to see more of in machine embroidery…whether it’s in the hoop, freestanding, contemporary or all of the above. Let me know, and I’ll try to do a little homework on it for next time.
For now, happy stitching!