Sunday, April 23, 2017

Monogrammed Straw Hat

We went to Sarasota, Florida for a spring break trip for work and I was struck by all the ladies who wore their pretty straw hats while shopping at St. Armand's Circle.  I knew I wanted my own before we went back to Sarasota.  I have done ball caps before so that was my previous hat experience, and I do have a tutorial on that on this blog that you can visit by clicking here, but following are my notes on embroidering on a straw hat.

As luck would have it, I found this sweet and simple straw hat at Walmart for just under $9.  I used my Embrilliance Essentials software to type in a font from Eight Paws and a Claw called Infinity at 3". This is a BX font.  In my Embrilliance software, I have the ability to adjust density, which I accessed by selecting the object, clicking on the stitch tab in the Properties Box, and sliding the satin density lever.  I wanted to add to the density since this font was not digitized for foam.  I have not done much in the way of experimenting here so if you have insights, I would love to see your notes!  I stayed a bit conservative on my adjustment just to keep it from getting crazy.  I moved the slider to 11%.  I knew my foam would match my thread exactly since I was using black, so I had a lot of margin for error! If I had been using a different color, I might have been more inclined to test this before stitching on my hat.

I printed off my monogram to see if the size looked right.

I hooped tearaway in my 5x7 hoop, extended the cross-hairs on my printout, and aligned the cross-hairs on my design with those on my stabilizer.  I taped it in place.

I use the thumbtack method to place my project so that the exact center of what will be my embroidery design is in the exact center of the hoop, instead of moving my needle to the center. I place three thumbtacks from the back, through the stabilizer and the paper print out.  I pick places that will be covered in stitches so that no holes would remain!

 I used a pen to circle the pin holes, just to make them easier to see.

I remove my paper print out, leaving behind the thumbtacks.

I pin my paper print out to my hat, making sure to align the vertical crosshair with the center back of the brim.

Then I place the hat and print out on the hooped stabilizer, carefully making sure that the thumbtacks go back in the EXACT holes that were made previously in the paper.  This is the key to the whole thing.

I pin the hat in place and remove the paper print out AND THE THUMBTACKS.  I squish the crown of the hat to get it (and the bow) out of the way of the embroidery machine.  I want my pins out of the way too so the needle won't chance a meeting with them!

I cut two pieces of 2mm embroidery foam a little bigger than my template.  SPECIAL NOTE:  I have thought this was just craft foam ever since I received it from World Weidner.  I said that in the cap tutorial as well.  It looked like craft foam just like the kind I have gotten at Walmart in the craft department.  There is a part of me that still wonders if it is simply craft foam because it is so much less expensive than the Sulky brand foam, but the company promotes it as "embroidery foam".  Kyla McCrary, so knowledgable and from one of the embroidery Facebook groups, has clued me in that regular craft foam is not good for embroidery machines.  For this reason, I have to alter my notes here to suggest that, washing or not, I will be using embroidery foam in the future and investigating from World Weidner if their product is as stated or simply just craft foam.

I let the machine stitch out the design.

I trim any jump stitches and then peel off the foam.

The tweezers help for little pieces. I tear off the tear away, making sure to get all the little bits.  This is the reason I didn't use spray textile adhesive.  Although the wrong side of the stitching is hidden by my neck, I want the back as clean as possible just for neatness.

Now...this is where I have to tell you something.  You may have noticed in my baseball cap tutorial that I used the tip of my iron to melt away an little raggedy bits of foam.  Well...and this is the confession part of this post, I got a clever idea to use my Plaid 2-in-1 Wood Burner so I could easily pinpoint just the edges and bits.  Apparently this tool heats roughly to the temperature of molten lava.  It melted my polyester thread a bit.  You can't see it by looking but there *might* have been a little smoking and I can feel it!  It didn't seem to ruin my hat at all, but DON'T DO THIS (said in my firmest parental voice).  I won't be doing it again. Next time, I will go back to using the iron (or more likely, I will keep my eyes peeled for something similar with a heat control).

Despite that, I love how this finished up!

List of links and resources from this post:

  • My baseball cap tutorial on this blog:  click here.
  • Floppy hat with bow from Walmart (I got mine at the store):  click here.
  • Embrilliance Essentials embroidery software:  click here.
  • Embroidery foam from World Weidner (this is what I used but until I find out if it is true embroidery foam, I will be using Sulky brand foam from here on out):  click here for the World Weidner.  Sulky makes verified embroidery foam.  
  • Infinity font by 8 Claws and a Paw (website is no longer available but they are on Etsy)
  • I used polyester thread by Metro and tear away from World Weidner.  I used an Organ titanium embroidery needle (size 75/11 sharp).  
  • I got the idea for what I call "The Thumbtack Method" from a class I took on Craftsy by Lisa Shaw called Big Embroidery with a Small Hoop.  I highly recommend this class.  She uses this method for aligning designs but it took it past that and now I use this method most of the time for centering my projects on my hoop. She recently blogged about this if you are not quite ready for a class but are hungry for a little more: click here.
Thank you for checking my post today.  To see all my embroidery projects with my notes, my resources, links to videos, and other handy embroidery info, check out my Embroidery page on my blog or click here.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Personalized Wrist Strap Key Fobs

These are my notes on making personalized wrist strap key fobs.  These are made by using an embroidery machine to stitch on ribbon, then attaching the ribbon to cotton webbing using a sewing machine.  The ends are finished and made into a loop with hardware using a pair of rubber-tipped crimper pliers. The embroidery stitches are completely hidden.  

Step 1:  Add text.
I start by opening Embrilliance Essentials embroidery software and adding text.  This is Caleb by Stitchopia in 1/2".  I chose this size because I am using 7/8" ribbon.

Step 2:  Add a basting box.
After adding the text, I add a basting box (under the utilty tab, baste design).  For more info on how to do this, check out the Quick Tips #4 video from Embrilliance.  

The reason I do this now instead of at the end to encompass all the lettering together is that I will be turning the text diagonally but the basting box works on the x-y axis.  It will grow to the size of the hoop!  I need my basting boxes to stay close to the text so that they can provide a placement guide for my ribbon and to provide even stress on the ribbon so that the text stitches without pulling the ribbon.

Step 3:  Copy text.
I drag a box around the name and its basting box and group them together by clicking the edit tab and then "group" in the drop-down box.  This magically holds the two together.  Then, while they are still selected, I copy and paste twice.  I pull them off the original to have three.  (Extra thing here:  I pull them off in the order I want them to stitch so the top one will be the last to stitch so I scoot it to the far right.  The next will be second to stitch so I scoot it in the middle.  My original will be the first to stitch so it stays on the far left.  If this doesn't make clear sense now, no worries.  We will double-check stitch order later.)

Step 4:  Set the length.
I know I want my text to be repeated evenly over a space of 7-1/2".  That is a length that fits diagonally in my 5x7 hoop and that works perfectly for my wrist fob. (My wrist strap will be 12" long before being joined with hardware).

I move the first and last "Nadia boxes" so that from the left edge of the first letter to the right edge of the last letter of the last box is 7-1/2".  (I think it helps to move the first box to a grid line.  I just eyeball it using the grid to get close.  When I drag a box to include all three text groups (or CTRL and A to select them all), I can double check the length.  I want it close to 7-1/2.  The arrow on the screenshot below confirms that the length is correct.

Step 5:  Automatic spacing.
While they are all still selected, I click the Align and Distribute button.  I click the Distribute tab.  I make sure that both center boxes are selected and I click the box for "EXTENT of SELECTION".  This will keep the length the same, even though it is longer than my hoop. I click Apply.  My "Nadia boxes" are perfectly spaced!

Step 6: Turn diagonally.
Again, while they are all still selected, we will group them together (Edit tab, Group).  Grab the blue dot and turn the line of boxes diagonally.  I just eyeball it.  Then I click the Center-Designs-In-Hoop button.

Step 7:  Double-check stitch order.
I want to be sure that my embroidery machine will stitch the bottom left, then the middle, then the upper right, and not is some weird mixed up order, making unnecessary, crazy, extra jumps.  I just click each object in the object pane and watch what gets highlighted with handles on the virtual hoop. Since I was mindful of this in Step 3, it is correct.  If yours is not correct, simply select an incorrect one in the Object Pane and right click, selecting 'move earlier' or 'more later' to scoot them into correct order.

(You can't take a screen shot of this so I took a snapshot to show the selections when you select an object and then right click.  These allow you to move objects in a different order.  You can also drag, but I tend to get confused when they all look alike!)

Step 8:  Move the boxes to stitch first.
Our goal is to have boxes that stitch a placement stitch, then another set of boxes that stitch the ribbon down, then the actual lettering will stitch.  With that said, the first thing to do is to move the basting boxes to stitch first, but still in the order of lower left, middle, upper right. These boxes will be our placement stitches! I just select one, right click, and select 'move earlier' to place it correctly.  The screenshot below shows that now all the basting boxes are first, then the text objects are later.

Step 9:  Add three more boxes.
This is a step that I could skip and just use the repeat step button on my embroidery machine.  But for the sake of doing it in the software, these are the ribbon tackdown boxes.  I simply copy each basting box and it shows up at the end.

Again, I right click each and move to stitch right after the first three boxes.  While doing each one, I also change color.  This will force my machine to stop after the first three boxes stitch so I can place my ribbon before the next three stitch.

The software portion is complete!  I save my file and transfer it to a USB and move it to my embroidery machine.

I hoop tearaway stabilizer on my 5x7 hoop.

I stitch the first color step, the ribbon placement boxes.  For you smart thinkers, use thread that matches your ribbon.  For us dummies, we will suffer the consequences.  Haha.

Place the grosgrain ribbon.  I cut off about 13" or 14" of 7/8" wide ribbon.  I will trim it down to 12" size once it is all stitched. Normally I would use a textile spray adhesive but something nudged me to use this painters tape and it worked great.  I carefully centered over the boxes.  If I had used matching thread, I could have used a light box to ensure that the ribbon was placed correctly, but with the black, I could see right through it.

Next, I stitched the next color step, the basting boxes to hold the ribbon in place and to offer even tension on the ribbon to prevent pulling of the embroidery.

I removed the hoop, removed the tape, removed the basting stitches and tore the ribbon from the tearaway stabilizer.

I used my tiny pointed Kai scissors to cut jump threads.

The ribbon looks a little wavy despite the boxes but that irons right out and it lies perfectly flat.

I use Steam A Seam tape to fuse the ribbon to my cotton webbing instead of pinning in place.

I place thread in my sewing machine's bobbin that matches my cotton webbing and top thread that matches the edge of the ribbon.  I just stitch with a straight stitch.

the back is perfectly clean with no embroidery back stitches showing and even the straight stitches are hidden in the texture of the webbing because they match.

I trim each side so that the total length is 12".

I fit the webbing into the hardware and clamp down using special pliers.  I got this hardware from Brees on Etsy.  The crimper pliers were from the same shop.

 I slide on a split ring for keys and it's done!

The black strap fob above used Stitchtopia's Classic Style font.  

The small one on top is two layers of ribbon on black webbing with no embroidery.
The second one down with keys attached is black ribbon with white edging sewn onto black cotton webbing.  The font is Stitchtopia Classic Style.
The third one is fabric that was starched and folded and sewn onto cotton webbing.  The font is Itch2Stitch Pinky Swear.
The fourth one down is black grosgrain ribbon sewn to nylon webbing.  The font is Itch2Stitch Pinky Swear.  The tiny shamrocks are from Amazing Designs.
The bottom one is the one from this tutorial.  Font is Stitchtopia's Caleb.

List of links and resource info shared in this post:
  • Embrilliance Essentials embroidery software:  click here.
  • Stitchtopia Caleb font:  click here.
  • Embrilliance Quick Tips video on adding basting boxes:  click here.
  • 7/8" grosgrain ribbon, 1" cotton webbing, and Steam A Seam fusible tape were from Joann Fabrics.
  • Fob hardware with rings:  click here.  They sell the hardware for 1" and 1-1/4".  I used the 1" for this project.
  • Crimper pliers:  click here.
  • Stitchtopia Classic Style font:  click here
  • Itch2Stitch Pinky Swear:  click here.
  • Tiny shamrock:  click here.
Thank you for checking my blog post today!  To see a gallery of my other projects and tutorials, a linked list of resources, and information for machine embroidery, check out my Embroidery page on this blog, or click here.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

fruBlomgren MugRugs - Mix and Match Designs with Embrillance

I recently "found" a new digitizer on the Brilliant Embrilliance Facebook group.  Around Christmas, Marianne of fruBlomgren on Etsy began promoting some caroling 3D angel files made with Stitch Artist.  As a Stitch Artist user, I was excited for her and intrigued. Her angels were unique and again, I began thinking of new options. Then she began sharing more designs as she created them. I was enchanted by the whimsical and folk-style designs, unlike really anything else I have seen on my happy online embroidery-shopping scavenger hunts. For some of my favorite of her designs, she credits the artist Stefanie Muehlbergen of KittieKatStudio on Etsy, who allowed her to digitize her original creations.

As much as I loved these images, and really loved that they were so different and wanted to find a way to use them, I was drawing a blank until Marianne recently posted her version of the mugrug, an in-the-hoop embroidery project.  Hers was cloud-shaped and it came with a bird!  Or is it an egg?  I knew instantly that I would finally stitch out her designs on a stack of her mugrugs, which I really needed for my family room coffee table.

I chose a gray base fabric, a fleece, from my stash and teal thread for the edges to make them coordinate with the fabrics in the room.  I used my Embrilliance Essentials software to merge, mirror, and resize-to-fit her designs into her mugrug shape, as well as to add text on a couple.

I imported the plain mugrug that I purchased from the fruBlomgren shop, which she calls the "neutral" one.  

I had decided on four designs that I wanted to use.  This one is the angel.  Although she does have a flat angel file, I purchased Angelina, a design that she shows stuffed.  To use this design, I had to simply delete the last step, the outline that is normally used to sew the front, embroidered fabric to the plain back.  I also used the lasso tool in Embrilliance Enthusiast to remove some of the stitches of her cloud so that she would fit into the shape.

The key to inserting the design into the mugrug form is to look at the the Objects pane, select the angel design, and slip it in between the applique material sewing step and the next to last step that tacks down the back piece of fabric.  I do that by selecting the angel and dragging her to the right spot.

You can see from the Objects pane above that the machine will stitch (1:1) the cloud shape to show the applique position, then it will stitch again (1:2) to tack down the fabric, then it will stitch (2) the angel design, then it will stitch (3:1) the cloud shape again, then it will end with the (3:2) satin stitch all around in the shape of the cloud.  
 To prep, I saved my design and transferred it to my thumb drive, cut two pieces of base fabric about the size of my hoop, hooped my 5x7 hoop with Vilene (fibrous water soluble stabilizer -- NOT the filmy topper kind of WSS).  I printed my design in Embrilliance.

On designs like this with a number of short color changes, I like to use Embrilliance's Stitch Simulator and take a few notes so that my print out is a true guide and I know exactly what each little icon is.

I selected a palette of threads.  I wanted to make these mugrugs look like they are all part of a set.  I tried to do that by keeping the size and shape the same, keeping the base fabric and outside thread the same, and by using the same palette of colors within the different designs whenever possible.

To illustrate the general way that these were made...
The machine stitched the placement (1st outline of the cloud).  I placed my fabric and allowed the machine to repeat that design (the 2nd stitching of the cloud design) to tack down the fabric.

Once it was done, I removed the hoop from the machine (NOT unhooping the fabric!) and trimmed close to the stitching, like you do for an applique or for making a patch.

I returned the hoop to the machine and allowed the decorative design to stitch out completely.

There were a couple of long stitches that were the result of my lassoing off part of her cloud in Enthusiast.  I made sure to snip those because I wanted no threads below my eventual satin stitch that will be the outline of the mugrug.

I removed the hoop from the machine while keeping the fabric hooped....

...I flipped the hoop over to the backside.

I placed my second piece of fabric base right on top and pinned it in place from the front.

Then, the cloud shape was stitched a 3rd time.  This time to hold the back fabric in place.  The back fabric covers all the backside stitches.

I removed the hoop again (and again NOT unhooping the fabric!) and trimmed close to the stitching.

The hoop was placed back on the machine and this time the cloud outline was stitched using a heavy satin stitch.  This is the outline of the mugrug.

 The hoop is removed and the front and back are done.

I could have used matching bobbin thread so that the back of the outlining satin stitch was a bit prettier.  I slacked on that!

 I trimmed the vilene stabilizer close to the outline stitches, careful not to cut so close as to nick a stitch!  I use warm water and my finger to dissolve the vilene just on the outside edge of the satin stitching to avoid getting the whole project wet.

I allowed the edges to dry, which only tool a few minutes.

 These are my four coasters with details...

This is Frau Blau and Ede from fluBlomgren.
Free tiny text font can be found at   
(I triple stitched the lettering so it wouldn't get lost in the pile.)
Her expression is hilarious to me.  The cat doesn't seem too happy either.  I added "Frau Blau is" to play on her name, Mrs. Blue,  and because I just love that look on her face.  There is an option to have the face filled in.  I was trying to make it fast, but I would have preferred that for the set as a whole. Next time!

This is Angelina angel from fluBlomgren.  I used metallic organza for the wings and glitter dot for the cloud.  The hair is metallic gold thread from Robison Anton.  It was so much fun for me to use these kinds of fabrics.  So often, applique is all cotton.  I like that this project allowed me to think outside the cotton print box!

This bird is on the file with the mugrug itself.  I simply copied and pasted it and used the mirror image key in Embrilliance  so they would face each other.  I did make the one on the right a little shorter.  

This mermaid is simply my favorite.  I have a little mermaid collection and used to try to find unusual ones or kitschy ones or whimsical ones whenever we went to the beach for a vacation.  She fits all three descriptions.  In the information about the file on Etsy, we are told that mermaid in German is meerfrau so her name, Frau Meer is a little play on that.  This is fruBlomgren's Frau Meer.  She is also in a separate file sitting on a rock.  That one is on my wishlist.  I don't know if it's the "Mimi makeup" or the blue "parts" but I just love this character.  

I was so happy with my little mugrug collection. I think they will be cute on my family room coffee table.  I am not sure if they will be used for hot mugs or just enjoyed.  I do think this project is gift-worthy, as I usually give away everything I make...but I'm keeping this one!

List of Links on this Blog Post:

  • fruBlomgren embroidery design shop on Etsy:  click here.  
  • KittieKatStudio gallery of paper, paper mache, and clay original works on Etsy:  click here.
  • fruBlomgren's cloud-shaped mugrug with applique bird:  click here.
  • fruBlomgren's Angelina angel:  click here.
  • fruBlomgren's Frau Blau and Ede:  click here.
  • Free Tiny Text font by Lisa Shaw:  click here
  • fruBlomgren's Frau Meer:  click here
Thank you for checking my blog post today.  To see all my Embroidery projects, resources, tutorials, and links, check out my Embroidery Page on this blog, or click here.

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

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