Learning New Software Tip

When learning a new program I always hunt for the “undo” button. It usually looks like an arrow pointing to the left, normally located at the top, and it’s in almost every program I have whether it’s embroidery related or not. If I happen to get in a place I didn’t mean to be in a program, I click the “undo” button until I get back to familiar territory (or at least where I started). It helps knowing I have multiple “undo’s” at my disposal and takes some of the fear out of making a mistake. Consequently, I get less frustrated, wind up playing more AND learning more quickly in the program. Try it next time you find yourself some place you didn’t want to be in a program. Let me know how it works for you. =)

Bonnie Welsh

What stabilizer or needle should I use for my embroidery?

Did you know that DensityWorks by Designer’s Gallery has a Project Advisor built right into the program? Did you also know that Studio III has the same Project Advisor built into it? What does the Project Advisor do you say? Well, you choose the type of fabric you’re going to embroider and then it will give recommendations as to which stabilizer to use, what needle type and size to use, the best thread Lose Weight Exercise to use, and even some hooping tips. To access the Project Advisor, simply click on the Project Advisor icon as shown in the DensityWorks screen shot above (Studio III’s Project Advisor icon looks the same on its main page) and make your selections as to what fabric type you’ll be using for your project. The program will then make recommendations for you as to what you need to use for your supplies. Enjoy! =)

Bonnie Welsh
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

New! Needle Keeper

Not sure when to throw your machine needle away? Maybe you’ve thrown one away needlessly because you didn’t remember what size was in the machine? Are your packages of needles just tossed around in a drawer or accessory box and you’re not sure what sizes you really have? I’ve designed a clever Needle Keeper to organize your machine needles, keep track of hours used, as well as know which one is in your machine. Clear vinyl pockets hold the needle packages in place. Place the “In Use” Marker in the pocket of the size in use. All of this in a tidy booklet that can be sewn in the 4×4 hoop! This in-the-hoop project comes with fully illustrated instructions and color chart.

Bonnie Welsh
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Machine Doesn’t Recognize My Design

Question:  What do I do when my machine won’t recognize the design on my flash stick or floppy?  I can see the design from the computer–so what’s going on?

Answer:  There are a few things you should check. 

1.  Make sure that the flash stick you’re using is not too large (memory-wise) that your machine can’t read it.  Some machines can read a 4 gig while others need 2 gig or less. 

2.  Make sure the design isn’t too large for your machine’s capability.  Find out the machine’s sewing field which isn’t necessarily the same as its largest hoop.  Repositionable hoops exceed a machine’s actual “sewing field”.  A sewing field is what the machine can embroider without repositioning the hoop or splitting a design.  To check the size of the design, turn off the 3D mode in your software so you can see jump stitches.  Sometimes I’ve seen a design that would fit in the hoop but there was just one stitch (maybe caused by a stray jump stitch) outside the hoop and that just won’t work.  This is a case where one stitch can make a big difference. 

3.  Make sure that the design is not zipped and for some machines (those using a floppy) not even in a folder.  Some machines need the design to just be on the flash stick (or floppy) without being in any folder whatsoever. 

4.  Make sure you’ve got the correct stitch file format on your flash stick for your particular machine.  We all get in a hurry sometimes—especially during seasonal sewing “crunch time”.  =) 

5.  If everything else is fine and seems in order, you might need to reformat your flash stick.  Sometimes they just need a good cleaning for everything to work properly.  Make sure you’ve saved everything from your flash stick prior to reformatting though as this step will erase everything on the flash stick.  Happy sewing!

Bonnie Welsh
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Demystifying In-the-Hoop Projects

In-the-hoop projects are very similar in many ways to appliqué designs done in the hoop.  Both have a placement stitching line, a tack down line, followed normally by detailing and a satin stitch outline.  Depending upon the design, there may be only one set of placement and tack down lines or there may be a few sets of them—but they are similar.  From my experience working in a store, I’ve seen many people avoid appliqué and/or in-the-hoop projects simply because they think they might be too difficult for them.  So let’s demystify some of those steps. 

First, tutorials are included with in-the-hoop projects giving you step-by-step instructions by most if not all digitizers.  If you take it one step at a time you’d be surprised how simple and fun they can be.  The added benefit of an in-the-hoop project is that once it’s out of the hoop, generally it’s all done.  It’s a quick way to get a feeling of accomplishment pulling a finished project out of the hoop–great for those of you who don’t have a lot of time to sew.

In-the-hoop projects start off with a “placement” stitch.  It really doesn’t matter what color of thread you use for the placement stitch.  The placement stitch won’t show in the completed project because it will be covered by other stitches.  It’s just a stitch to give you a visual of where to place the material (the instructions will tell you what type of material to place down, i.e., fabric, batting, etc.).  The machine will automatically stop allowing you time to put your material down just like it stops for any other color change.  That’s why the digitizer made this placement line a different color—so the machine will know when to stop.

After placing the material over the placement line, the second step is normally a “tack down” stitch.  The tack down stitch will hold down that material in place so it doesn’t shift.  After the tack down is complete, you’ll want to take the hoop out of the machine but not the material out of the hoop and trim very closely to the stitching.  (Again, the color of the thread doesn’t matter as the color change is there so that the machine would know when to stop so you can trim.)  Once you’ve trimmed the material, you’ll place the hoop back into the machine to complete the design.  More often than not, you’ll be given instructions at some point to wind a bobbin with matching thread for the top as well as bobbin for a satin stitch which can be seen on both sides.

Depending upon the in-the-hoop project, I like to use a wash away stabilizer.  When the design is complete I can either throw it in the wash or use a stencil cutter to melt away the stabilizer giving the satin stitch edge a clean and tidy finish.  Tear away stabilizers have a tendency to leave little pokies of stabilizer bits sticking out from the satin stitching when pulled away.  (Tip:  If this has happened to you, use a “cover up” pen matching the color you used on the satin stitching and color the pokies.)

Would you like to try an in-the-hoop project just for fun?  I’ve uploaded a FREE simple Luggage Spotter project for you to try (shown in picture above).  It only takes 2, 6” pieces of fabric, 1, 6” piece of batting, embroidery thread, and a ¼” wide elastic head band (or shoe string) to complete the project.  Complete step-by-step instructions with photos are included.  Should you have any questions along the way, just let me know and I’ll try to get you past the hump.  Be forewarned though–they’re addictive.  So if you’d like more in-the-hoop projects, please check out all the Luggage Spotters with velcro closures and matching Luggage Tags

Every in-the-hoop project will have some similarities.  Some will be more involved than others but they’ll all have a placement line, tack down stitches, and then your final embroidery detailing.

For more fun, easy to complete in-the-hoop projects, please visit my site at:

Sew Inspired by Bonnie


Bonnie Welsh
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Shopping for Software

Question:  What software should I get for embroidery?  Digitizing?  Editing?  What’s the difference? 

Answer:  I’ve been asked that question a lot over the years.  My standard reply is, “It really depends upon what you’d like to do.”  That may seem like over simplification but it’s true.  You need to stop and think about how you do embroidery or what you’d like to be able to do with embroidery.  Think about those times you were sewing something out and you said to yourself, “if only this design were ________” and fill in the blank.  Or do you find yourself unable to locate the design you want to sew out at all?  There are two basic types of software available for embroidery:  editing software and digitizing software.  So let’s take a look at both so you can make a more sound decision as to what you want or need.

Editing software is designed to take an existing embroidery design (also known as a stitch file) and change it up.  Editing software works with stitch files and not image files–this is important to remember.  Maybe you want to resize it, add lettering, change the colors, omit colors, cut it apart to use only a section of the design, change the density because it’s too stiff, color sort, or convert from one format to another.  These are all editing features.  You’re taking an existing design and changing it up to fit your needs and to personalize it.  An editing program’s strength is in editing a design from wherever you happen to get it.  It is capable of reading various stitch file types no matter where you picked up the design.  I like to refer to editing software as multi-lingual.  =)

Digitizing software is designed to create designs from scratch–that’s to say create a design from an image (scanned image, clipart or a drawing).  Images are not stitch files.  Images have no sewing information in them.  A digitizing program enables you to create a design with various types of stitches, i.e., satin stitch, run stitch, and various types of fills.  The act of creating a design from an image is called digitizing.  While digitizing programs have editing capabilities as well, they do best editing designs that were created within the program itself.  Their strength is in creating designs from scratch and then manipulating that newly created design to whatever you want.  Digitizing programs are not as good at manipulating designs from other sources–that’s not their main focus or strength.  That’s not to say it can’t be done–just usually not as easily nor as well.

Here’s another little tid-bit.  I’ve found through teaching both types of programs over the years that editing software is normally easier to learn and master than digitizing software.  Editing software is considerably easier on the pocketbook than digitizing software as well.

So if you’re wanting to just manipulate existing designs from your stash to create something new or to personalize–go with an editing software.  If you’re wanting to create designs from scratch (images) and willing to spend the time to learn the craft of digitizing, then you’d want to look at digitizing software.

Hope that gives you a little more insight when it’s time for you to go shopping for software to make a sound decision as to which type would best fit your needs.

Bonnie Welsh
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Baby Lock Designer’s Gallery Tutorials

Celebrate the Grand Opening Sale of Sew Inspired by Bonnie with 30% off a cute range of new designs, clever in the hoop projects and tutorials until the end of September 2010. Bonnie has a suite of tutorials for the Designers Gallery Software, sold exclusively by Babylock. If you own this software, and wish to be able to do more with it, check out these tutorials as they will be sure to help.