Friday, June 17, 2016

Entering the World of Embroidery Design Digitizing

Last year I got the crazy notion in my head that I needed an embroidery machine.  I didn't have any specific project in mind or anything like that I just figured I needed to expand my sewing machine collection to include an embroidery machine.  I started looking and soon realized that embroidery machines were expensive new.  So I turned to trusty Craigslist.  Every couple of days or so I would go out and see what was out there and while there were good deals there just wasn't that mother of all deals out there.

After a few weeks of this I moved on and didn't think about it until a couple months later when I on a whim decided to take a look again.  I couldn't believe it, there was an embroidery machine on there for $50.  I immediately said I had to have it.   And then I thought to myself why is this so cheap.  After a few back and forth messages with the seller I found the reason it was so cheap.  It wouldn't sew.  I was disappointed but decided to ask a few clarifying questions to see if I could figure out if it was a quick fix.  Well, my perseverance paid off.  Turns out after getting the machine home and doing some quick troubleshooting on my own I discovered the foot pedal was broken and that's why the machine wouldn't sew.  Score!  Now that I had the machine I started reading everything on embroidery and embroidery designs.

What I found is that I wanted to be able to create my own designs for embroidery similar to the flexibility that I have with my Silhouette Cameo.  I was able to do a bit of design creation in the native software that came with my machine but it didn't allow me to do everything I wanted.  So I started looking at digitizing software.

Man was there sticker shock there.  I couldn't believe how expensive these programs were.  I ended up trying about 10 different free trials and was overwhelmed.  I didn't understand at all what I was doing.

Enter  I signed up for the class Digitizing Machine Embroidery Designs with Cookie Gaynor.  This was exactly what I needed.  I ended up watching the first lesson of this class and then went back to some of the digitizing software I had downloaded previously and couldn't believe I was actually understanding this.  I was super excited!  After about a day of playing around with all the different software I ended up deciding on Embird.  I purchased Embird Studio and the Digitizing Tools plug in from Secrets of Embroidery.  After a lot of searching I found this site had the best prices.

In the class Cookie has us start by creating our own continuous design redwork.  This involves tracing the design with a series of clicks and switching back and forth between straight lines and curved lines.  After watching this I asked myself why wouldn't you just use the auto digitizing feature for something this simple.  I had a good picture to work from and there wasn't a ton of detail this should have been perfect for this right?  Wrong.  As you can see below this item wasn't going to have a continuous design and instead of being redwork this was a filled design.

So I set off to follow the instructions Cookie provides in the class.  Everything was going great until I went to retrace the initial line I did.  Embird kept thinking I was trying to edit previously placed stitches.  After having this happen 4 or 5 times I was getting really frustrated.  Especially when Cookie made it looked so easy.  After doing some searching in the program I found a setting under the nodes that allowed me to uncheck editing all nodes.  This made it so that only the last click I made was editable.  After making this change I cruised around the design.  This is what my finished design looked like.

I couldn't believe how easy it was once I had all the settings right in the program as well as knowing exactly how to digitize a redwork design.  The next step was to ensure it would stitch out in one continuous line.  To do this I used the stitch simulator in my embroidery software.  Once I verified it was going to stitch in one continuous it was time to bring it to my machine and stitch it out.

I used some light weight quilter's cotton with a medium weight stabilizer to test this out.  I used my small 4x4 hoop.

This was a super gratifying project and a perfect introduction into digitizing.  I am looking forward to finishing the rest of the class on and moving to creating my own designs!