Education & Instruction

Within this category will fall everything which relates to classes that I am or have taught, upcoming schedules, topics and answers to questions asked. You’ll also find all of the tutorials under this heading, though I tend toward technical which can be applied to all manner of things rather than tutorials for how to do a specific item.

Fitting Artwork To Sized Pieces

Posted by on Oct 2, 2016 in Education & Instruction, Project Review | Comments Off on Fitting Artwork To Sized Pieces

Fitting Artwork To Sized Pieces

In the Corvo Embroidered post, I mentioned 2 posts at least which were coming at you. This is one of them! Finally. Here I will detail how I went about making sure the finished embroidered piece was exactly sized and placed so that the pattern could then be assembled. Fortunately, this particular challenge was made significantly easier because I had a blank canvas to work on. Essentially, I had an entire cow hide that I could embroider on and then draw the cut lines to ensure everything was positioned perfectly. The next challenge, which you’ll eventually see, is doing the exact same process on a finished dress! But regardless of whether I’m dealing with a raw pattern piece or a finished garment, the first step is always to obtain accurate measurements. And I do mean ACCURATE!! Preferably with lots of pictures. I asked the pattern maker to send me a picture of her pattern pieces with a ruler next to the pieces. I also specified these shots MUST be straight on – no angles at all. If she had to stand on her table or put the pattern on the floor in order to get a straight on, no perspective-skewed full shot of the piece, then this is what had to be done. Fortunately, she very handily got me what I asked for and sent me this picture: From here, I had to scale the artwork to fit the known measurement in the picture – in this case, the ruler. I know that ruler is 18″ tall by 2″ wide. I have the CorelDraw graphic arts software, but Illustrator works fine too. I’m sure there are others out there, but which one particularly that you use doesn’t really matter. What is important is that you use something which allows you to scale the image until one section of it fits the target dimensions. What I did was draw a rectangle on the program’s drawing board sized to 18×2. Then I positioned that box overtop of the ruler and then literally just scaled the image until the image of the ruler was sized to exactly the target box. To confirm the sizing, there are 2 options and I did both because of the whole “measure twice, cut once” adage my engineer father taught me. First, I measured all the edges of the pattern piece as it appeared on my screen and compared those with the measurements that I asked the pattern maker to supply. Perfect! Then I printed out a tiled version of the artwork across multiple pages (this involved printing to PDF, then tile-printing that), taped the tiled pieces together and then re-measured everything. Again, perfect. Now it was time to fit the artwork to the piece. Essentially, this was easy. I dropped the artwork into the program’s window and scaled it to fit, positioning it exactly where the pattern maker had outlined. It required a little bit finesse, but I got it to fit like a glove. In the above, you can see a couple of purple outlines — these are the planned hoopings so I know how to digitize the artwork for multi-hoop piecing, and exactly where to place my join points. You can also see the planned embroidered goldwork edge that will frame the finished vest piece. Including this also allowed me to plan how to finish the artwork edging. Along the way, double check everything. Triple check even. This establishes good habits on that front so that when you move on to fitting artwork to finished, sewn garments you know everything is good to go by the time you actually...

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Easy Matching of Embroidered Pieces

Posted by on Nov 19, 2015 in Education & Instruction, Pipeline Update | Comments Off on Easy Matching of Embroidered Pieces

Easy Matching of Embroidered Pieces

There are a variety of different Block-Of-The-Month quilts available which are composed of individually embroidered squares. The example I’m using for this tutorial is the one from HoopSisters for their 2014 offering called Jacobean Journey. I’ve talked a bit about this here, but it’s mainly a color test. The first few months of blocks form the inner core and it’s pictured here while the second set is pictured here. I’ve now finished embroidering all the core blocks and I’m about to start embroidering/piecing all the border sets – starting with the inner. Before I proceed with more embroidering, I decided to assemble the core in its entirety. Above I’ve laid out the part that was already assembled and now I’m fitting the new squares into place following the diagram. Of course, Wedge my trusty Sewing Room Helper just has to be present to make sure I get everything right. I’ve already assembled about 20 some blocks before this point, and I’ve learned through trial and error how to line these things up for the best end result with minimal effort. As I’ve said before, I’m a lazy sewist but I’m also very demanding – so I want it as perfect as I can get it with the least amount of effort. Everything I do is therefore an experiment in figuring out the best way to do just this. I came up with a system that works really well for me, but it never really crossed my mind to share it. A friend was helping me assemble these, and in the time that I put together a series of 8 she was still struggling to put together the first pair. Rather let her continue the exercise in frustration, I showed her my process. She followed it and on the first try, near perfection! Suddenly it dawned on me that this might be something that would be worthwhile to share. So here it is, my method for joining embroidered quilt blocks. Step One. Identify the blocks that have to be joined and visually confirm that if these were aligned perfectly the design would look continuous. If your blocks have a basting stitch around them, and this one definitely does, I’d recommend removing it before starting. If you choose not to, that’s fine but make sure that you IGNORE the basting stitch when it comes to trimming and aligning the blocks. Again, IGNORE the basting stitch. It is not the edge of the block – the embroidered pattern is what defines the edges of the block. Step Two. With the blocks laying right sides together and oriented correctly, put a pin through the corner stitches on one block, then align the pin with the corner stitch on the next block. You’ll push the pin STRAIGHT through. This is an alignment pin, not a basting pin. Again, do NOT try to use this pin to secure the corner. Push the pin straight through. Step Two Continued. Repeat the process of pushing a pin straight through both blocks aligning the design together by matching the ends of the stitched design. You’ll do this along the entire length of the side to be sewn. Once you do this a few times you’ll find this is actually a very fast process. Again, push the pin straight through. Step Two Finished. When you’re done, it should look like this. See all the pins are straight up and down?  (for the most part) Before proceeding, especially when you’re first putting this into practice, you might want to double check the alignment by carefully opening the aligned blocks. The stitched design and fabric...

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Embroidery Machine Overheating

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in Education & Instruction | Comments Off on Embroidery Machine Overheating

Embroidery Machine Overheating

I know I’m not the only creative person out there who likes to push the limits. Having worked in a sewing machine retail store, I was initially quite shocked to learn that many of my customers owned several embroidery machines – often the same model. When I first started, I thought this was a little odd. Now? Not so much. Why might someone want multiple embroidery machines? (1) While one is embroidering something, I can still sew. Yes, I *could* get away with having my second machine as a small non-embroidery machine, but … I *could* drive a Yugo and still get where I want to go. Ew. No. I have two different consumer level embroidery machines, and I personally chose 2 different machines. I have my Viking Diamond and my Pfaff Creative Performance. The Creative Performance can do things that my Diamond cannot – like custom created stitches. Yes, I’ve actually created a machine sewn stitch based off of a picture in a Renaissance clothing book. So depending on what I want to do, one machine or the other is available at all times. (2) If I need to, both machines can be embroidering something. Large quilt projects, like the HoopSister’s 2014 Block of the Month Quilt entitled Jacobean Journey (pictured below) leap to mind as the perfect candidate for multiple machine work. I’m doing the queen size version, and I *could* spend weeks collectively as I sit at one machine waiting for it to finish to I can put another block on. OR I could bust out both machines and have them both go to town. Yes, that sounds much more reasonable to me. (3) Now this last one is the entire reason for this post, and I’ve never heard anyone mention it in the years that I worked at the store but I’m sure I can’t be the only one. Consumer embroidery machines get what I like to call “tired”. Once a machine gets “tired”, literally the only option which I’ve discovered works is to shut it all down and walk away. Let the machine “rest.” What signifies when a machine is tired? Well, one of a variety of things. The nicest one is that it literally just stops working. The lights are on, but nobody is home. The machine is completely unresponsive. This is definitely “tired” and so it needs to “rest” overnight. Other signifiers include suddenly near constant thread snarls and/or breakage. I’ve even had tired machines skip entire sections of a color, like a marathon runner taking a cheat shortcut and then dashing across the finish line like everything is fine. How long does it take for my machines to get tired? I’ve learned that largely depends on the heat in the room. The hotter it is, the faster they get tired. Usually, I can have anywhere from 4 to 6 hours of constant stitch time before they get too tired to continue. Yup, I said 4 to 6 HOURS of CONSTANT stitching. Perhaps that’s why nobody ever mentioned this problem. But I like to push limits, and I hit this one almost immediately with my first machine. I made a tunic with heavy embroidery around the edges of the large bell sleeves and along the lower edge. This was one of the early designs, back when they were made dense and bullet proof. Designs have gotten better over the years, but this design took roughly 5 hours to stitch out a single one. There are dozens of them stacked together to get the effect I wanted. If I attempted to do 2...

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Sample Board Teaching – Best Stitch For Sewing In Elastic

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015 in Education & Instruction | Comments Off on Sample Board Teaching – Best Stitch For Sewing In Elastic

Sample Board Teaching – Best Stitch For Sewing In Elastic

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Sample Board Teaching post. After reading a fellow sewing blogger, I was inspired to pick on this particular sample. What stitch is used to sew elastic directly onto a material? Why? While I can use a straight stitch (because I’m sewing over already stretched elastic, the straight stitch won’t break during use), I don’t recommend it because there is no width to a straight stitch. I’d have to sew multiple rows in order to adequately tack down the elastic so it doesn’t roll or pull out. For those who know me or have this blog, you know that I consider myself a Lazy Sewist — I want the best result for the least effort. Sewing multiple lines of stitches when other options are available and look better too boot? Definitely too much work! heh. I could use a zig zag-stitch. That has width. That aughta work, right? Yes, it gets the job done, but look below. It’s not a particularly pretty end result. Why? Because a zig-zag stitch only penetrates the fabric at the opposite sides of the stitch width. See in the illustration below, I’ve circled where the needle goes through the material. This means that the thread between these points of penetration is literally just floating around over the fabric. In this instance, when the stretched elastic is relaxed then those floating stitches also relax, providing zero guidance for the fabric. The end result is a rather ugly bunched up line of material that is attached to the elastic. I’ve done far too many otherwise gorgeous projects which end up being “meh” because the details like this go awry. So now I’ve put in lots of hours and I’m not happy with the result. Is anything better than this? You betcha! The 3-step zig-zag. This has become one of the my favorite stitches! Unlike the true zig-zag, this stitch gives tons of support to the fabrics being joined and it has the benefit of usually not pulling as badly. If you’ve ever sewn a zig-zag and get the fabric tunneling up underneath the stitch, this is what I mean by “pulling badly”. The 3-step is so useful because it’s actually composed of 3 small diagonal stitches, enabling it to have the width of a zig-zig but still provide stability of a straight stitch. Because there are no large sections of unsewn material, there is none of that sloppiness illustrate above to be found in this stitch. This means that when the elastic is relaxed and the fabric is allowed to bunch up, the end result is a controlled distribution of that resulting gather. Notice the difference in the look of this gathered elasticized waistband. Wow! It’s gorgeous — smooth, controlled, evenly distributed. Even the folds in the fabric look relaxed and flowing, rather than scrunched and tortured. For attaching elastic directly to your material, nothing beats this stitch! It’s easy, fast and looks great. The Trifecta! *woot* It’s one of the fundamental stitches that you’ll find on even the most basic of machines which can do a zig-zag. If your machine has a visual selection of stitches, the 3-step zig-zag looks like the true zig-zag except it has 3 tiny stitches visible. Like this: Give it a test! On some machines this stitch width can also be adjusted for using on those narrow 1/4″ elastics. Try this for yourself. See which end result you like or suits your project’s needs best. Experiment! Until next time, Happy Sewing! – Dravon   — This is just one of the tips/tricks that I share during my Basic Mechanical Machine Mastery...

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Easy Emulated Pleats

Posted by on Feb 12, 2015 in Education & Instruction | Comments Off on Easy Emulated Pleats

Easy Emulated Pleats

For those who like making Renaissance clothing, specifically 16th century clothing, there is a distinctive “look” on shirts that characterizes much of the earlier half of century. That look is the pleated shirt or smock. The pattern for this shirt is available here if you’re interested. During the years I was making lots of these shirts, I developed what I eventually dubbed my 5-Step Method for Easy Emulated Pleats. It’s quick, easy, simple and effective. I now use it quite extensively for all of my historical stuff, and I can even document the end result. Since this blog doesn’t Feature products, I decided to do a post which points you to the FREE PDF downloaded tutorial which takes you through the process and even has several pages of educational materials for those interested. It’s got lots of pictures not only of the process but also of my reference portraits, pointing out what I see when I examine primary sources like period art. I’ve been a pleat kick recently. The last PDF pattern added here was a pleated purse which includes all the different types of pleats and how to make them. This reminded me that I had done this tutorial on the emulated pleats but it didn’t get reposted after I transitioned my website to this blog format. So here it is. Enjoy! Until next time, Happy Sewing! –...

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Embroidery Color Blending Oopsie

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Education & Instruction | Comments Off on Embroidery Color Blending Oopsie

Embroidery Color Blending Oopsie

It’s always fun to take classes, especially from teachers who explain things clearly!! This past weekend I took a workshop taught by the owner of Balboa Threadworks on blending colors within embroidery digitizing. In that class, I had an A-HA! moment. Last month I was working with a coral fabric, trying to put a red name on it hoping for the name to pop. Alas, no popping. In fact, the name practically vanished! I was puzzled as to why. I could see that it DID, but didn’t know WHY. I found out why in this class. Red blend with red. As soon as the teacher said this, the problem project immediately popped into my mind and I knew (finally) what the problem was. It didn’t matter how fat or big or pure red I tried to make the letters, red will always blend with reds. In this case, the red thread just blended with all the red that made up the coral base fabric — making the name sort of fade into the background rather than standing out. According to the color theory the teacher used in class, I’d want a color on the opposite side of the color wheel if I wanted the name to just screamingly pop out. That would be *consults wheel* a color in the turquoise range or family. Well, it certainly does stand out more. Not sure it’s prettier, but it is more visible. Lesson learned! When I’m embroidering, I’ll have to actively take the colors within base fabric into consideration when I’m choosing the colors of the thread – and also be aware of the mix of colors within the thread. I’m currently working on digitizing artwork with lots of shading, so beyond finally figuring what last month’s nagging oopsie was, everything that I learned in this workshop will be directly applied to the upcoming project. The class couldn’t have been better timed! I’ll share the progress as I go and maybe my mistakes will help you understand something better. If so, I’d love to hear it! Experience may be the best teacher, but she sure is a witch. Be sure to like the post and share it on your Facebook or Twitter! Until we meet again, Happy Sewing! – Dravon    ...

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