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    Which hand embroidery techniques are the easiest to imitate in machine embroidery?

    Original text by Marina Belova 
    I'm going to gather all the computerized machine techniques imitating hand embroidery (and not just the embroidery) known to me, in one article.
    In my opinion, this subject is rather popular and the clients often ask to copy something they've seen earlier. 
    I had an idea of doing it because not so long ago I imitated a hand-embroidered chain stitch on the ordinary embroidery machine — not everyone has the chain stitch machine. The desired effect was achieved by simple steps — I only needed to apply a motif stitch from the standard Wilcom library and select a suitable size. Everyone was satisfied with the result — quick, cheap and look-looking. Now the actress of one of the theaters in Moscow wears the embroidered dress onstage. 
    It turns out that if I count all the hand embroidery imitation techniques I'm familiar with, there will be a large number, and many of them I've already covered in my articles. 
    in its variety of techniques on various kinds of equipment, including special devices. 
    Pulled thread embroidery (Dresden work
    3. Filet — the many ways of creating it with the use of easy repetitive motifs are repeatedly described on the Web. 
    — the same FSL (or gimp lace) that people like and that was created very long ago to imitate the hand-made lace.
    Messiano and Zundt are the most successful in the field of creating the lace of this kind: 

    But the simpler technique is also widely known — satin stitches embroidered over the Tatami full grid, even a novice can manage:

    5. Crochet, which can be imitated by one or three standard motif stitches found in the library of almost every embroidery editor:

    6. Tatting, which is, basically, a kind of FSL, but I'll single it out. Criswell makes machine embroidery designs in this technique and does so successfully.

    7. Various hand embroidery stitch imitations:
    1) Back stitch. You can either find in your embroidery editor's library or create it yourself and use as a motif stitch:

    2) Stem stitch. Once again, you'll pick one from the library or create your own.

    3) Tambour stitch (also called chain stitch) — there is a standard motif stitch perfect for imitation in practically any editor: a triangle. And if there isn't one, it's not hard to create it yourself.

    4) Various motif stitches, which are used everywhere. There are so many types that you cannot count them.
    5) Applique in all its varieties, the subject which I addressed many times.
    6) Methods of using woolen threads, and not only them, to create satin stitches, where the stitch goes back and forth several times. Not every editor has this option.
    7) Cording
    8) Sewing on sequins
    9) Long-and-short stitch
    10) Trapunto
    11) Thick thread or cord couching
    I think I can remember more.
    It seems that machine embroidery is not so one-dimensional and simplistic in its artistic expression as people often claim it to be. After all, if one cares to think about it, machine embroidery was created exactly for this purpose: to make the manual work simpler and cheaper, and therefore, it can achieve a lot, too.

    Embroidery on netting

    Original text by: Marina Belova 
    Today I decided to check whether the high-quality embroidery on netting without using a stabilizer is possible. What kind of stabilizer do you need for the netting? Either water soluble film or other water soluble stabilizer. This means an extra cost, and not a small one; besides, you'll need to wash the embroidery afterward, which also complicates the matters. I also checked whether it was possible to embroider on such a delicate material as netting using any type of needle. I do not have SUK ball point needles, which do not cut through the yarn, only the standard
    R and SES ones. 
    I created a design: 

    Set the most ordinary density, 0.4mm. Put 2 edge runs of understitching under the satin columns. In my opinion, an underlay like this one allows for the satin columns to maintain their shape and work as a backbone, because the stitch has nothing to rely on within the particle, and it therefore creates the ugly ragged edges. 
    The reason for ragged edges is the large particle mesh size, so that some of the stitches fall first into one particle, then the other, and so on.
    And because the mesh particles are on different levels, the edges become ragged. I saw this method in the Italian embroidery when I was just beginning to embroider on netting. 
    I hooped the netting without the stabilizer. It was the ordinary netting — knit and quite stretchy. There are no difficulties in hooping the netting. I just place it on the inner ring of the hoop and cover it with the outer one, without tugging it in the hoop and other intricacies. The pressure caused by the outer ring is enough to pull it tight. The crucial thing is not to overstretch the netting, in order not to damage the mesh even before starting the embroidery. Otherwise, it will break during the embroidery under the pressure of the stitches pulling it, and very ugly-looking holes will appear along the perimeter. 

    I chose a standard rayon #40 thread right away. Polyester, in my opinion, is not good for netting. I may be wrong, though. 
    Below is the result of my first attempt, still in the hoop: 

    Numerous perforations along the perimeter and in the corners are visible right away, as well as  the underlay showing in several places: 


    Below is the photo of the netting already unhooped but not yet pressed. The pull is not critical and can be corrected by pressing: 

    After the pressing: 

    In my opinion, there exists a number of reasons for perforations: 
    High density  No stabilizer  Wrong type of needlepoint  As I cannot change the type of needlepoint, I decided to lower the density by 20% (it allowed me to save about 2000 stitches), and in order for the fill to look dense enough, I changed the thread from #40 to #30. Now I'll try to embroider again. 

    The holes along the perimeter and in the corners are still present. Maybe not so many. 
    The pull is not so bad: 

    After pressing the item some of the holes become less visible, but don't disappear completely: 

    But if you try, you try. Then I decided to embroider on the netting with large square mesh. I hooped it without a stabilizer as well: 

    But my attempt to embroider on the netting with a large mesh particle size (on nothing, as one may say) didn't work out. Thread kept breaking, and the embroidery became distorted: 

    That's why I decided to put a piece of thick water soluble stabilizer (80 microns) on top. Using thin stabilizer for this purpose is like flogging a dead horse. 

    I instantly realized that I cannot spare the stabilizer this time. This is what I got — like it had been embroidered on the ordinary fabric: 

    Almost no puckering: See the photo of this embroidery after washing and pressing below. An excellent sample. I thought it would look much worse: 

    Then I decided to try to embroider on the ordinary netting (like in the first 2 tests), but with the use of the thin water soluble film. But instead of placing it on top for cost reasons, I hooped it together with the netting, as required: 

    In this case, the advantages of using stabilizer are apparent — the result looks much better than the one without it: neat and tidy, without the underlay showing. I cannot say anything about perforations until I wash off the film: 

    Below is the photo of the already washed embroidery: 

    The pull is visible, of course, but I'll try to iron it out. The ironing goes smooth and without effort. And the most remarkable thing is the absence of the perforations along the perimeter. 

    It means that the needlepoint and high stitch density are not so much the reasons for perforations as using only one layer of thin water soluble stabilizer. Stabilizer is a great invention. Though too high a density is not good for embroidery. To put in a nutshell, my experience convinced me of the futility of not following the standard procedure, even for cost reasons. 
    Here you can read my article about embroidery on tulle netting. 


    How to embroider with two threads in one needle

    Original text by Marina Belova 
    I've long wanted to embroider with two threads in one needle, being mighty curious how the whole thing would turn out. So a couple of days ago I saw a video on Gunold's Youtube channel in which Debora Jones demonstrated the way of doing it and shared basic recommendations for those who are going to repeat it on their own machines. 
    Below are her recommendations to which I added a few things that could be guessed from the context: 
    Use standard #40 rayon or polyester threads.  A 90/14 needle has a large enough ear to accommodate both threads. The point type depends on the type of fabric, I suppose.  You should increase the thread tension to prevent looping.  And reduce the design's density by at least 20%.  The issue of underlay wasn't specified but the understitching was present, therefore, you'd better use it. I also think that the stitch length should be increased in relation to the standard one.  The important thing to remember is that a thread supply failure detector won't work in this case because the second thread will remain intact even if the first one snapped.  In my opinion, pull compensation needs to be increased substantially, for two threads will distort a design a great deal in spite of the reduced density.  What else one needs to do to master this not too complicated a skill, according to the video in question? Not much – to create a design in the way that was suggested and go to the machine: 
    So I threaded my needle with 2 threads: 

    Adjusted the tension – I had to tighten all the screws all the way in so that to prevent loops – and went to the machine: 

    Nevertheless, there were some loops during the embroidery of the twig (done with satins). The leaf is very puffy and looks like it had been embroidered with a multicolor thread made of 2 different strands (below on the right). Judging from the result, the stitch density could be reduced even more that by 20%. For reference, here is the same leaf embroidered with one thread at a time – each half with a different color. I used my standard density values (below on the left): 

    The most interesting aspects of this technique are: 
    You can choose the colors you like and not the ones in the multicolor palette.  You don't need to use (almost) any special tricks when digitizing in order to successfully mix the two colors.  This technique is excellent for the embroidery of flowers, leaves, hair (fur) and whenever you need things to look natural. 

    Image processing in Pattern Maker

    The process of creating Cross Stitch designs in the Pattern Maker software can be based on the image that you've created or found on the Web. Learning how to load an image into the editor will be your first step towards creation of the design. 
    Working with images is a pretty complex subject, so during this lesson, probably, some additional questions will arise that we don't cover here. We'll try to answer them in our next articles. 
    1. Open your editor, move the cursor over the File — Import Images and select one of the suggested options in the drop down list: 

    Import Into New Pattern — import the image into the new document. 
    Import Into Current Pattern — import the image into the current document. 
    If you have an open document with an unsaved project, it's better to choose the first option. Otherwise, when importing the image, your previous work will be lost. 
    2. At the next stage, the Image Improrting Wizard will suggest choosing a way of importing the image. To choose one of the options check the box to the left of the name. 

    Use an existing image — you can use the image stored on your hard drive or some other device. Click Browse and select the image in the window that opens. 
    Scan a photo — when choosing this option the Scan button will become active, and you will be able to launch an image scanning program. 
    Use the image on the clipboard — use the image from the clipboard. 
    Having figured out how to load images, click on Next and move to the next step. 
    A footnote: 
    The format — Pattern Maker recognized bitmap and vector image formats. The main bitmap formats you are going to encounter are *.bmp, *.jpg, *.gif, and vector ones are *.emf, *.wmf, *.eps. What do the words "bitmap" and "vector" mean we'll explain in our next articles. Meanwhile, you should remember that the file name consists of two parts: the name of the file and its format. The format is a sequence of characters added to the name and intended for recognition. 
    The software recognizes the following formats: *.bmp, *.jpg, *.tif, *.gif, *.pcx, *.wmf, *.emf*.eps, *.tga, *.png, *.ras, *.pct, *.pcd 
    Clipboard — the part of RAM memory where data in various formats can be temporarily stored for further copying or moving them to the other applications or to another part of the same application. 
    To send an image to the clipboard just open it with any image viewer and press PrtScn. As a result, everything that you just saw on the screen, will go to the clipboard. 
    HOTKEYS 
    To make a snapshot of the screen: PrtScn.  To copy selected objects to the clipboard: Ctrl+C, Ctrl+Ins.  To cut selected objects and move them to the clipboard: Ctrl+X, Shift+Del.  To paste from the clipboard: Ctrl+V, Shift+Ins.  3. At this stage, you'll define how the software will process your image. 

    Convert the image into full cross stitches — the whole image will be converted into full cross stitches. 
    Include image as an underlay for tracing — to use this image as a background for the further manual image conversion. 
    The choice between the two options suggests that after completing the import the cross stitch version will appear on your desktop as well as the original image. 
    Make your choice and on Next, to proceed to the following step. 
    4. Tone and color corrections. They are necessary for correcting the minor image flaws. At this stage the Image Importing Wizard will suggest process the graphics image, to change its saturation, brightness, change colors, crop the image, cutting off all the unnecessary bits. 
    Before we go into details I want you to notice that the adjustment sliders are now at level 0. Dragging any one of them to the left, you will be decreasing the parameter value, and moving it to the right — increasing it. 

    Brightness  Contrast  Saturation  Hue  Cropping — trimming the unnecessary bits around the edges. This tool is essentially scissors that cut along the perimeter.  Choose the Crop tool, hover your cursor over one of the image corners, left-click and hold, then drag it to the opposite corner. Having selected a rectangular area, release the hold and click on Crop. 
    After having completed the cropping, click on Next. 
    5. This step will be useful to you only if your image is covered with a grid. 

    For convenience, the cross stitch chart is covered with 10x10 grid. To specify the size of this grid click on Grid Tool. In the Mark Spacing field specify the number of crosses between the points 1, 2 and 3. Move your cursor over the upper left corner of the 10x10 square of the loaded picture (1) and left-click. Repeat the operation with the upper right (2) and the lower right (3) corners. Click Align Grid for confirmation. 
    Show Grid — show the grid.
    Mark Spacing — the distance between the corners of the grid. It defines the number of crosses between points 1, 2 and 3. The default number of crosses between these two points is 10. The maximum number is 1000. 
    Click on Align Grid to apply. 
    Undo Alignment — reverse all the changes. 
    Usually, the grid is used for processing designs in hand cross stitch embroidery. If you want to alter your image without using the grid, skip this step by clicking on Next. 
    6. At this stage, you can select those areas of the image that don't need to be converted into cross stitch. 

    Before choosing the are you can adjust the Magic Wand sensitivity. 
    Select the Magic Wand tool, left-click on the colored area of the imported image, which you want to exclude: To select several areas at once press and hold Shift on the keyboard. Tool Sensitivity instrument is used to change the Magic Wand color sensitivity. Having selected all the areas, click on Next. 
    A footnote: 
    This part is not entirely covered in the English version of the user guide, as is everything concerning colors. Therefore, you'll find some explanations and recommendations on the Magic Wand adjustment below. 
    To explain how this tool works we'll use the color wheel. 

    Remember system of coordinates you've learned at school. You can define the location of any point in space if you know its projections onto the X, Y, and Z axes. Now imagine that our space is the color space and that any point in this space can be defined if we know its RGB values.
    Thus, knowing the locations of any two points in space, we can calculate the distance between them. The distance in color space is the similarity between these two points, and the shorter is the distance, the more alike they are. Excluding points of any color depends on two things: on the color of the point selected with MW tool and Tool Sensitivity options. 
    The options determine how similar is the point we're going to exclude, to the one that is selected in each of the color channels or in all of them at the same time. 
    Having adjusted the tool and clicked on one of the points in your image you'll define what color will be excluded from image processing. 
    When doing the adjustments we recommend not to do one component at a time — it's too complicated — but use the All slider instead: it will measure the similarity between the points that will be excluded and the one selected without any deviations from that particular color. 
    7. This step in image processing will allow you to select the least significant area of your image and specify how many percents of your palette you'll allot to it. If you are processing a portrait, where the colors of the face and clothing are the most important, and the background is a unified dark area, you can mark the face and the clothing as the significant color areas. 

    Choose the Foreground tool, move your cursor over it and, holding the left button, outline the perimeter of the selected area. If there is more than one significant image area, press and hold Shift, and continue selecting. Having finished, specify how many percents of the color palette you'll allot to this area. Click on Next and proceed to the next step. 
    8. A new window — and we're close to completion. Now we need to figure out the size of our image. 

    Select the size for the new design — define the width (W) and height (H) of the design. There are three ways of doing that. To choose one of the options listed below, check the box to the left of the name. 
    Size specified in — select which measurement units will be used: inches or millimeters. Select the desirable size in the W by H field. Setting just the width value will be sufficient, after that the software will automatically rescale the image. 
    If you want to enter the arbitrary values of width and height, deselect the Preserve aspect ratio parameter. You should bear in mind that entering the arbitrary values of width and height you may distort the image. 
    Size specified in stitches — determine the size of the design in stitches. Like the first time, it is sufficient to set the width value. 
    Size corresponding to the selection region — measuring the size of a randomly selected area. 
    The next group of options: 
    Preserve aspect ratio — keep the existing aspect ratio when changing the image size. 
    Square Stitch — the stitches that have a square shape. Untick to determine the size of the cross stitch in the Stitch Size window on the left. By default the cross is square-shaped and its size is determined by the #14 canvas (which means 14 crossed per inch). 
    Pay attention to the fact that changing the size of the design in stitches you automatically change its size in inches or cm. 
    Having set all the necessary parameters, click on Next. 
    9. Defining the color scheme. It's impossible to picture the embroidery without threads. Besides, it is advisable to select the color scheme in advance. There are lots of manufacturers that produce the threads for both the hand and the machine embroidery. Originally the Pattern Maker was aimed at hand Cross Stitch embroidery — perhaps that is the reason for mouline threads predominance in the selection. 

    Color Palette to Use — all the colors available. There are three ways of choosing a palette. To choose an appropriate one tick the box to the left of the name. 
    Use the color of this floss/thread type — use a palette from the given list of manufacturers/according to the thread type. 
    Use the colors in this palette file — use a palette stored on your computer. 
    Use only the colors already in the palette — use the color palette loaded previously. 
    Having figured out how to choose your color schemes, let's proceed to the next option. 
    Maximum Number of Colors to Use — allows determining the number of colors desirable for image processing. Press Advanced to adjust the color sensitivity. 
    Keep all colors already in the palette — use all the colors from the loaded palette. If you have already used some color palette before processing the image and choose this option, only the colors from it will be used. 
    Having decided which palette you're going to use, click on Next and proceed to the next step. 
    10. This is all, in a nutshell. The process of loading the image into the editor with the help of the Wizard is now complete. 

    The editor makes you aware of it and suggests clicking on Import for completion to see the result of the work you have just done, which will be displayed on the screen. If you are not satisfied with the result, click on Back and correct the mistakes. The Back button will allow you to return to any of the image processing stages listed above. 
    If you're satisfied with what you can see on the screen, you can easily finish the process of importing the image by hitting the Close button. 
    Now it's time for us to say goodbye. See you in our next articles! 
    Original text by Lisa Prass
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