Monday, March 30, 2015

Stitching Monograms with Embrilliance Essentials

I have loved having Embrilliance Essentials but I have been so surprised by the lack of great tutorials on the features of this program!  (I am used to papercrafting where there are so many bloggers and vloggers that every single function has multiple tutorials by the hoards of crafters eager to share!!)  I will say that the Embrilliance Essentials program has been fairly intuitive and, either because I have used Cricut Design Space and Adobe Illustrator or because it is just really easy to learn, the program has been a joy to use!  It has allowed me to use my one-needle machine, a Brother PE770, as a simple vehicle for stitch out while the software does all the heavy lifting (combining, spacing, previewing) for me!  I have had the machine and software for less than a month, and I have loved the ease of use!

One exception has been monograms!

One of the biggest benefits of using software with an embroidery machine is that I can place my design on a virtual hoop and combine multiple files, editing to add or remove elements.  With Embrilliance and bx file fonts, I can also type out text just like I do in Word or Excel programs in my office.  This means that spacing and alignment are done for me (and I still have the option to change and edit those elements).

For some reason (come to find out: many reasons), I was unable to get my monograms to look the way they were designed to look without using the pes files and importing them one letter at a time.  My 3-letter monograms were all center format and my 2-letter monograms were left format when I used the bx files.  I knew that was NOT how it was supposed to work!

So here are the secrets (well... probably not so-secret but I couldn't figure it out easily);  I wanted to share what I learned with you.  Paying it forward now since I have learned so much from my papercrafting-friends-turned-embroiderers I thought I would share what I have figured out in that same spirit in the event that it is helpful to someone else!

Step one and SUPER IMPORTANT:  After hitting the key to insert text, click the single line/monogram button to let the program know that this is a monogram!  Not doing this was my first mistake but no more!  This is actually in the manual so I should have known this!  (For a link to the Embrilliance manual, scroll down to the bottom of this post under Quick Links!)

I type in my letters as I want them to show up.  Now notice the drop down next to "Quick Style". I will use this to make my monogram automatically format, size, and space itself.  This works great for all kinds of monograms! I had been manually formatting my stacked monograms but no more!  This stacked monogram is from Rivermill.

I love how easy it is to make perfectly and automatically sized scrolly monograms like this one from Jolsons.  I can still scoot these letters closer so they overlap if I wish using the space lever.

Or this one from Lynnie Pinnie...

And this one from Stitchtopia that changes using the Quick Style button...

For two-letter monograms with different orientations, I have found that I need to use an uppercase letter with a lower case letter to let the program know which orientation goes where!  (Both of mine are from the same vendor, so results could vary with different designers!) In this case typing Ab will create the correct left and right formatting for this monogram from Designs by JuJu.  I must have seen this someplace, though I am not sure where!  This is one where I might want to scoot these letters closer together, again, using the space lever.

For this one by the same vendor, I used the same uppercase-lowercase format to enter the text in this way: Pm.

I had to reduce the space between them so they would fit together, but that was easily done with the space lever or by grabbing the green square for that letter (which isolates just that letter) and dragging it over to fit!

When using a regular font and just making it look like a two-letter monogram, I found that I didn't have to do anything special; just type in the uppercase letters, like this font called The Frog.  I picked a Quick Style to make the letters "Bridge Up."

I found this all worked well unless I was doing a circle monogram!!!  There is no Quick Syle for a circle.  If you do what I have described above (for most of the circle fonts in my collection), the closest you would get using your bx file would be this shape even though this is designed to be a CIRCLE monogram:

In order to use my bx font and have it format in the circular shape, I find that I need to enter my letters in this way:
lowercase left letter--uppercase middle format--number or symbol right letter
(for these particular letters, that would be aB3)

To know which numbers or symbols to use for the right format letter, I use this key:

Circle Monogram Key for Letter on the right
      A 1 N @
B 2 O #
C 3 P $
D 4 Q %
E 5 R ^
F 6 S &
G 7 T *
H 8 U (
I 9 V )
J 0 W _
K  -  X  + 
L  =  Y [
M ! Z ]

For another example, to do this one, I would enter aB* in the Text field to make this monogram from Rivermill:

This solution worked on most of my circle monograms.  I am not sure why I even tried numbers in the first place.  Must have seen that somewhere?  To find the symbols past number 9, I just started trying out all the keys on the top row and shift and then moved to other keys once those ran out until I found them to Z.

And to throw a wrench in.... this monogram from Embroidery Boutique worked the first time, in a circular shape, when I entered all caps, just as I wished they all did!!  In fact, when I put in my numeric "fix" for the right letter, it would only show the left and middle letters!  This means that not all circle monograms are the same!!  When I asked the folks at Embrilliance about this, they suggested contacting each font vendor and asking them!  (Yikes!)  Apparently, they are all supposed to do this!

So this isn't an exact science!  And I have found variance from vendor to vendor when it comes to circle monograms!

I hope this helps you!  I decided to blog about this because it was JUST EXACTLY what I was hoping to find when I was trying to figure this out and googling like crazy for answers!  If you have any great monogram tips using bx fonts in Embrilliance, please comment to share!  

List of Links Shared in This Post:
  • Embrilliance Manual- click here
  • Rivermill Textured Circle 3-letter Monogram:  click here.
  • Rivermill Mini Thin Circle Monogram:  click here.
  • Designs by JuJu Elegant Swirls Diamond Monogram:  click here.
  • Rivermill Boys Stacked Monogram:  click here.
  • Rivermill 4" Circle monogram (shown above with a diamond quick style in Embrilliance):  click here.
  • Embroidery Boutique Chevron Circle Monogram:  click here.
  • Jolsons Interlocking Floss Stitch:  click here.
  • Lynnie Pinnie Swirly Monogram Font:  click here.
  • Stitchtopia Bailey:  click here.
  • Embroidery First The Frog:  click here.
  • Designs by JuJu Adorn Duo:  click here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

See ya later, Alligator: Baby Gift Set and My New Obsession

After many years of wanting one, I finally took the plunge and got an embroidery machine earlier this month!  What sealed the deal for me, aside from finding a great price and convincing my husband that this would be a better delayed birthday gift than what he had planned for me, was the fact that several of my very creative paper-crafting friends have the same model and are so generous with sources for the best products and best prices for all the supplies, tools, and files I would need.  Two of my "enablers" and mentors in this are Susan of Creations by Suebella 4U and Danita of Danita's Designs.  (If you are looking for great tutorials for machine embroidery, be sure to check out Susan's blog!)  Secondarily, a number of us recently bought this or similar machines and so we are all learning at about the same time.  Still others are getting back into machine embroidery as a result of the enthusiasm for it in our group.  The excitement has been contagious!  I have loved seeing their projects online and it inspired me to step it up and stop "practicing" so that I could make something gift-worthy for the newest baby in our family!

The machine I have is a one-needle, embroidery-only, 5x7 hoop model:  Brother PE770.  I have fallen in love with it!  I spent my first couple of days with it just going through the manual, learning how to thread it, how to thread the bobbin, how to move objects on the hoop, how to flip and rotate objects.  Then I took some great advice and got Embrilliance Essentials and learned how to combine images, how to install alphabets with bx files, how to move and center objects, how to change the stitch order of projects.  This software allows the user to print out the final design to size, along with a list of thread colors.  It allows the user to watch the stitch-out on the computer so that all the color changes make sense.  It has been such an important part of machine ownership that I cannot imagine not having the software and highly recommend this for even the newest of  beginners -- like me!  I found it tremendously easy to learn.  And it was affordable!

I decided to make a gift set that included a burp cloth, a bib, and little teddy bear.

The base of this burp cloth is a Gerber brand cloth diaper from Target.  I tweaked a tutorial I found on Notes from the Patch to dress it up a bit before embroidering on it.

For the embroidery design, I used Lynnie Pinnie's Circle Stripe applique frame.  I love this design because it allows the use of three fabrics and I wanted to combine a number of prints in this gift set.  (And through the end of the month, there is a great sale going on there!)  I used a circle monogram:  River Mill's Circle 3-Letter Monogram.  The tiny alligator at the bottom is a filled design, Lynnie Pinnie's Mini Alligator.  I used two sheets of Totally Stable tear away stabilizer on the hoop, floated the diaper, and used water soluble stabilizer as a topper.

The bib was super fast because I used a plain, vinyl-backed, terry cloth bib from Walmart as a base.  The alligator is Lynnie Pinnie's Applique Alligator and the lettering is Lynnie's Type A Lower Case.  I hooped two sheets of tear away stabilizer and floated the bib on the hoop.  I used water soluble stabilizer (WSS) as a topper.

The bear was made completely by the embroidery machine!  This was so fast and easy!  The file is GG Designs' Bubba Bear ITH.  The fleece gets floated over tear away that is hooped and topped with WSS.  Adding lettering and another tiny alligator was so easy with the software!  The tiny text was 8 Claws and a Paw's Jane Doe Mini and is only 1/4"!

The lesson I learned on this project was to use care to give plenty of contrast between thread and fabric!  Next time I will!

I made a tag for the outside of the package using Lynnie Pinnie's Circle Alligator Frame plus I added the same text used on the bib and a buttonhole from Applique Momma (free design) so that ribbon could be threaded through it.  I fused canvas to the fabric using Heat N Bond Lite and then hooped only water soluble stabilizer.  Next time, I will fuse to cut away stabilizer (instead of canvas) and also use tear away on the bottom, as the WSS started to rip away while stitching and small fibers from the canvas poked out on the edges a bit.

I love how it looks on the package and what an easy way to decorate the gift box!

Lastly, I made a card.

This was so easy using Cricut cartridge Crocs Rule for the critters and Artbooking for the frame. Because I had read in the Facebook Cricut groups that there were some glitches in Design Space today, I used my cartridges and my Expression for this card.   I cut the frame at 5" (H) and then used the center point feature to make the circle bigger.  Then I used a contrasting paper and cut two nested circles for the inside border.  The croc was cut at 4" (H).  I inked him in green to give him a little dimension and interest and popped up his snout and the frame.  The little bird was from the same cartridge, cut at 1" (H).  

Quick Links:
For all embroidery projects, I used pre-wound bobbins, Metro Embroidery Thread, individual stabilizers as detailed above, Sewer's Aid, Organ Titanium Embroidery Needles.
For my card, I used a Cricut Expression.

Thank you for checking my blog post today and for letting me share this with you!

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