Sunday, January 31, 2016

iScrapbook: Divided Photos

I love the look of a photo segmented into several "frames" on a scrapbook page. Join me as I show you a few tricks so that your iScrapbook pages have this same elegant feature!

Thanks for spending some time with me! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Adventures in Stitch Artist: Using an SVG for Applique

As a paper crafter, I have a very large collection of SVG images. I have a number that I return to over and over again---they just make me happy. And, I am even happier since Stitch Artist 2 and 3 allow me to "upscale" these images to machiine embroidery and applique! 

One of my favorite SVG images for spring is this umberella from Lettering Delights' Garden Showers Collection:

Join me as I re-create this file for applique...

In StitchArtist, I selected CREATE > VECTOR.

A new window appeared, allowing me to navigate to the SVG file that I wanted to use. 
Hint: at first I could not select my SVG files--they appeared in a light gray. Duh! I had not selected VECTOR in CREATE! Starting over, selecting VECTOR allowed me access to my SVG files. 
So, I selected FILE > OPEN.

Ta da! My umbrella is now in my hoop as a set of lines, ready for me to designate the stitches. 
And the OBJECTS menu shows three distinct objects to this design. 

The Embrilliance manual gives fantastic advice about using VECTOR images for digitizing. Read and heed! Not all SVGs are as easy to use as this one....experience speaks here! One example of an SVG that is not this easy to use is the SVG image that opens as a series of line segments, rather than a closed outline. It can be used, but require a lot of clean-up and working with the nodes. In other words, more time and effort! 

In preparing to create my applique, I decided to look at the "anatomy" of this design. In other words, I looked at each OBJECT to decide if I was going to use it as applique or embroidery. 

The first object is the outline of the entire umbrella. This layer is at the very back of the design...the furthest from my hand if I were to reach and touch it. Adding fabric to this layer would add a stiffness to my applique, not necessarily desired. I think this layer is better served as embroidery embellishment. 

The second object is one of the canopies. It is the layer that has the decorative edge. In paper crafting I would want to cut the whole thing (pasting all those circles is tedious!) In fabric crafting, I can add a similar embellishment with stitches. That means this object may go away! 

The third object is the other canopy. It is simple and clean; I think it will cut beautifully on my Explore. This layer seems to lend itself to fabric applique. Sold! This will be the canopy to my umbrella! 

Not wanting to use the second object, I decided to delete it. I decided to begin with the layer that would be furthest from my hand....essentially the background layer. 

The only parts of this object that I want to use are the handle and the topper (circled). In my opinion, the best use of this layer is as guidelines for the column stitch (see arrows) This satin column will give some movement to the design and is fairly simple to place. 

First, I made sure that I could see the sitches in my design. The "EYE" is gray---I'm good to go! 

From the tools....

I selected COLUMN from the DRAW TOOLS. The COLUMN STITCH highlighted and I went to work.

To insert the COLUMN stitch, there is a rhythm. I understand it by thinking in terms of odd and even numbers when inserting the nodes. Node #1 is the first inserted. #2 is across the area from it. # 3 is on "the same side" as #1. In other words, all odd numbers lay on the same side; even opposite. I inserted nodes following the handle, up into the canopy area for a little overlap. Right click to set stitches.

The initial stitches...I have a handle! Now to adjust the BEZIER handles to get smooth curves and straight lines!

Look at the green number 1. I want to make this a straight area, rather than one with a bump. To do this I CLICK to select the NODE. It turns black. 
Next, I right click to get the dropdown menu:

I select the appropriate action, which in this case was LINE. 
Finally, I completed the knob at the top of the umbrella. 

I like to organize as I go. So, I selected the handle and the knob and moved their position in the OBJECTS menu by dragging them to the selected spot.

To create the applique canopy is easy! 

I selected the OBJECT (it is the outline--no stitches yet!)

After making sure the OBJECT was selected, I chose the STITCH TOOL > APPLIQUE to add the stitches.

Like magic! I have stitches! I adjusted the specifics of my applique:
BORDER : Blanket

Almost done! I want to add a decorative border at the bottom of the canopy. I decided to use the DRAW WITH POINTS and MOTIF STITCH:

A new menu appears beneath the OBJECTS. 
I want to ADD motifs to the design, so I select ADD. 
Lo and behold---another window with a hugs selection of motifs. 
I like the highlighted one, so I clicked OK.

I added points to the points (sorry!) 

Right click to set.

And then, as before, I used the BEZIER handles to adjust the curves and lines. 

I wanted the motif to be positioned more like the scallops on the original file. I selected the line and then used the green box to move the line to the bottom of the scallops. (You can see if you enlarge the picture!). 

One more thing to clean up my applique: I deleted the green object LINE (position 1:1). I only used it for a guide in drawing the handle. It serves no useful purpose in this embroidery.

With a few custom touches and a little rearranging, I am done! 

That was fun! Thanks for joining me on this adventure! 
Until next time...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Stitch Artist Adventures: Creating Eyes with the Contour 2 Stitch

This little guy has generated a lot of questions! Okay....his eyes have generated the questions! 

They were super easy, and the effect is "mesmerizing!" 
So what's the trick (I hear you!)...

For this technique I used:
shapes from the Embrilliance Library
the column stitch (Contour 2)
the run stitch
and the fill stitch. 

Join me as I take you on the adventure of using these tools in Stitch Artist:

Until next time!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Stitch Artist Adventures: First Efforts With Applique--Decision, Design and Export as SVG

I am slowly but surely playing with the amazing features of StitchArtist 3. This week I wanted to create an applique and share my adventure with you. And what an adventure it has been!

I have to admit, I am not new to machine embroidery nor applique. In some ways that is a hindrance!
For example, I do not like to start with basics---no circles or squares with names for me! When I opened the SA library I realized that I could borrow a technique from paper crafting and use different shapes for my applique! And the adventure began.

First, I did a "Google" search on punch art. Wow! Too many ideas! Overload!

Some of the images had the shapes that I would need to recreate, like this little lamb....

Others just took a little imagination to see the shapes in the finished product. I finally decided on this little fish. Hmmm....looks like a heart for the fins, circle for the body and eyes and a crescent for the tummy. Size won't really matter because it's going to be my fish in the end! I took a screen capture of the little guys, just so I wouldn't forget their cuteness and it was off to SA 3! 

I opened the SA and selected the CREATE toggle (#!). I then imported my IMAGE onto the page (#2) I grabbed the green block in the center of the image and moved it outside of my hoop. I will not be using the photo for digitizing, just for reference. 

From the toolbar, I selected  LIBRARY: EMBRILLIANCE OUTLINES (of shapes)--I know the perfect ones will be waiting! 

From the HEARTS library, I chose the heart that I liked the best and brought it onto my page.   I returned to the LIBRARY and selected the circle from SHAPES 1.

These two shapes are basic to my design, so I will move them outside of my hoop. They are listed under objects 1; to make sure I know what is the basic I double clicked on the name and typed "Basics" in the box. No, I will have no doubt as to which shapes I have selected. If my design called for more, they would all be contained under OBJECT 1: Basics. 

The objects in the "Basics" will not be used themselves, they are simply for copy and paste. If something were to go wrong in the final product, you've saved yourself some effort by not having to locate the shapes again!

In the creation of an applique, it is important to know which part to lay onto the background fabric first. Perhaps the easiest way to think about it the objects that are furthest from your hand if you were to try and touch the object will be first on the background. In this case, the fins should be first, but I want to create one more shape...the fish's tummy! 

Please understand, my technique may not be exact. But it makes sense to me! In my mind, it is just easier to place all of the design objects in the correct order in the end by digitizing in this way, now. 

This new design is going to contain the elements of the fish's belly. 

I highlighted OBJECT 2 and renamed it "Belly" 

Next, I copied and pasted two circles into the OBJECTS2: BELLY from my "Basics". 
Looking at the belly of the fish in the image I placed one circle on top of the other.  I selected both circles.

From the tool bar, I clicked on the CREATE toggle to turn it off. I selected
ALIGN AND DISTRIBUTE. A new window opened and I chose ALIGN > LEFT > APPLY. 
Back to the CREATE feature!

The next step truly was trial and error. I wanted to make an elipse for the belly of the fish; that is why I overlapped the circles. So....after many attempts...and many undos....

With both objects selected I went to the PATH toolbar and chose RECREATE. It is easiest to see the new shape under OBJECTS 2: Belly.  Now I can delete the lower circle! 

The easiest way is by selecting the object from the objects window! Once select (and double checked onscreen---delete!

Drawing of belly complete! On to the fins!

Double click on the OBJECTS pane that is new and name it "Fins."
Copy the heart in the "Basics" and past it 3 times into "Fins."

When all was said an done, I deleted two of the hearts and resized the one to my liking. I then copied and pasted to more into position, rotating as necessary. 

Uh oh!!!! I discovered that when I cut and pasted my two additional hearts onto the page I ended up with 2 additional OBJECT lines named fins.  I guess I could leave them..... 

But why? What else can SA do? 

Select all three of the "Fins". From the menu select CREATE > DESIGN > COMBINE DESIGNS. 

The drawing of the fish is now complete. It is time to assign stitches! 

For each object I selected the APPLIQUE stitch from the STITCH TOOLS.


The settings I used were the following: 

I do plan on using my Cricut Explore to cut this fabric. However, until I am happy with the size of the design I will not select PRE-CUT or PREVENT USER CHANGES. I learned this the hard way! 
And I learned something else...the hard way, please read to the end! 

When I finished setting my stitches this is what I saw: 

Oops! Fins need to go behind the belly! But because I have the parts of my design arranged as I do, this fix is easy!

Select the OBJECTS: Fins. Drag it above Belly until you see a blue line appear. Drop it there. 

Much better! Now to assign colors so that the parts will stitch appropriately! Save both the working file and the embroidery file!

Move from the CREATE area to the SIZING. When I have my 
applique sized as desired, I take a screen capture. The circled width and length is 
VERY important in Cricut Design Space when importing an SVG.

I completed the design by adding merging a design file I had previously created called "Eyes" and adding some bubbles. 

Time to save the SVG file....

1. Select the first Applique Position (it is the running stitch).
2. A new window opens. Select APPLIQUE. 
3. Select the words SAVE ALL.
A new window opens. 
4. Name the file and select SAVE

There you have an SVG file for a digital cutter! Be forwarded if you use a Cricut---it imports BIG! The screen shot with measurements done above will be your very best friend! 

In the design process, what would I have done differently? I learned at the very end it is important to size your applique outline before adding the stitches. I was unable to go back and add PRE-CUT or PREVENT USER CHANGES without redoing all of the stitches, colors, etc. 

On to cutting the pieces! 

I imported the SVG into Cricut Design Space per manufacturer's instructions. 
But, Oh my! 
It was HUGE! Not the size indicated in my screen capture. 

I opened the screen capture with measurements and selected the edit tab in DS. With a little help from my calculator, I adjusted the sizing of the SVG.

I then colored the sections so that I could cut the parts from the correct fabric. 

Ready to cut! 
I applied Steam a Seam lite to the fabric, removed the paper and placed the iron-on against the cutting mat. I then used the default fabric setting. 

My sweet Explore makes this so very simple and very precise!

Finally ready to sew! I love my MC 15000! I use the iPad app, Acudesign with Dropbox to wirelessly transfer the stitch file to my machine. 

There he is! Hoop and foot selected....Uh oh...I forgot to sort colors! Oh well, next time! 

I stitched the little guy by the color changes on my machine...first was the placement stitches for one of the fins (remember, I forgot to color sort :-()

It is really exciting to place the cut fabric and have it fit perfectly within the placement stitches.

After placing the fabric, I removed the hoop from the machine, taking care not to dislodge the upper hoop or the fabric. I then used my mini-iron to heat set the fusible web. Gotta be careful to not touch the plastic hoop!

Worked my way through the color changes! Here he is:

I love him! And I think I'm loving my Stitch Artist Software! 

I've been asked to talk about the eyes; that I'll save for another day! 
Until next time,