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    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. 

    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.

    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. 
    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

    Types of stabilizers in machine embroidery.

    There are two types of stabilizers: toppings and backings.
    A top stabilizer (topping) is used to prevent stitches from sinking into loosely spun and textured fabrics. Use a top stabilizer when embroidering on knitwear, velvet or velour to help stitches to stay in place. A top stabilizer won't prevent fabric from puckering. For this purpose, use backing.  For laces, the backing is used as a base fabric.
    Machine embroidery stabilizers (interfacing, etc.) in our shop.
    Backings are special, primarily non-woven materials, that provide support and stabilize the fabric during the embroidery, prevent creasing, distortion, and stretch. They are put under the fabric being embroidered.
    There are several types of backings: tearaway, adhesive, cutaway, water-soluble, heat-away.
    Tearaway stabilizers
    Tearaway stabilizers usually consist of paper of varying density (thickness).
    Tearaway stabilizers are good for most natural fabrics and give only a temporary support. This kind of stabilizer is easily removed and can be successfully used in cases where the wrong side will be seen (towels, plaids, scarfs and so on). It is also widely used with non-transparent fabrics of fair colors, with thick and densely woven fabrics made of natural fibers (denim, for example). Not recommended for any kinds of knits.
    Adhesive stabilizers
    These are glued to the wrong side of the item, thus giving it stability.
    There are several types of adhesives:
    An ordinary adhesive stabilizer with glue on one side. The item is attached to it with an iron.
    Adhesive paper with a sticky side covered with a protective layer. This paper is necessary when embroidering tricky fabrics: velvet, cashmere, leather, which are better not to be hooped. And also for the items that are hard to hoop: collars, cuffs, small details.
    An adhesive paper is placed in the hoop with a sticky side facing up, then the protective layer the size of the embroidery area is removed, and the item is placed on top. Having embroidered the item, tear the paper away. Example: FILMOPLAST®.
    Cutaway stabilizers
    Cutaway stabilizers (backings) are used for stabilizing highly stretchable fabrics and provide constant support during the embroidery. One needs them to embroider a machine embroidery design with a lot of stitches, in order to avoid fabric distortion, preventing the appearance of bulges or concavities (the effect stays even after several washes).
    A cutaway stabilizer is always thicker than a tearaway. It consists of a non-woven fabric made of long fibers on the basis of polyester or rayon. The way the fibers are arranged in a stabilizer defines its purpose.
    If the fibers are mainly single-oriented, it stretches and tears in this one direction. Therefore, to stabilize the fabric properly you need to use 2 layers of backing, positioning them perpendicularly. There are backings of varying density.
    Bonding short fibers (polyester, rayon, cellulose) together by solvent treatment, you'll get a non-woven fabric of high quality, which is soft like a tearaway stabilizer, has a smooth surface and does not stretch in any direction. This stabilizer can be of varying density and just one layer of it is sufficient. It is considered the best embroidery stabilizer because it does not add extra volume to the embroidery and does not show through the fabric.
    Among the cutaway stabilizers, one should note spunbond – a thin, very soft material that resembles a waffle. USA Poly Mesh or No Show Mesh stabilizers. This kind of backing is good because it does not stretch at all, providing support all the time, and is not visible through the fabric. It comes in various colors and densities. It is used for knits.
    Solvent stabilizers
    Solvent stabilizers include a water-soluble fabric-like stabilizer and a water-soluble film of varying density. They are used for stabilizing the embroidery when it is necessary to remove the backing without traces. For example, organza, transparent fabrics, FSL, and cutwork.
    Water-soluble stabilizers come in two varieties: textile interfacing materials and films
    100% polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) stabilizers Both are dissolved in water. Time of dissolution depends on the temperature of water. Approximate valued by Gunold:
    20 °C about 3 min 25 °C about 2 min 30 °C about 1 min 40 °C about 15 sec In real life, water-solubles are not so easily removed, and it takes more than one round to get rid of it completely.
    The intended purpose of a water-soluble film depends on its thickness:
    Thin (20 microns) Used as toppings for lightweight fabrics.
    Medium (35 microns) are used for textured fabrics (velour with and without pile, velvet, fur and loop fabrics). When embroidering small details and letters on textured fabrics the film should be placed on top for better results.
    Dense (80 microns) are used as a base fabric for so-called 3D embroidery, FSL, chevrons, cutwork, and as a stabilizer for the fabrics where the wrong side should look good, also for transparent fabrics.
    Heat-away stabilizers
    They are used when it is necessary to stabilize the fabric, which shouldn't get wet and you need to remove the backing leftovers. They can be successfully used for creating FSL, as well as water-soluble film. They are removed with a very hot iron (no less than 120°) through the paper. Under no circumstances should steam be used with fusible stabilizers.
    Upper stabilizers (toppings)
    These are necessary to prevent the stitches from sinking into the pile, loops, fur and other materials of that kind, also with loosely-knitted fabrics. Gelatin-based toppings are widely known because they can be easily solved in water. This is what is called a water-soluble film.
    There are two types of water-soluble film: thin and thick (dense). Thin film is used practically with everything, thick one – only with high piles.
    Next kind of stabilizers is a fusible stabilizer. They are used in cases when the fabric cannot be washed, and therefore, the use of water-soluble film is not possible.
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