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    Metallic thread on 3D Puff

    Original text by: Marina Belova  
    Not very long ago I've noticed a pretty-looking design embroidered on 3D Puff with a metallic thread. And I thought I could do it, too – there is seemingly no difference between embroidery threads, right? After all, in standard embroidery cases the difference is minimal. 
    Nothing of the kind. See, how ugly the result is: 

    At the beginning the embroidery runs smooth, then there are stitches missing, then everything is smooth again. And the reason for these gaps is not that the stitches in different embroidery segments lie in opposing directions and there aren't much overlaps — each of the contours equals one segment, and therefore, all of them are unidirectional. I don't understand what is the problem: the brand or the thread itself? 
    Do I need to change my needle (system, needlepoint, thickness etc.)?  Or do I need to change stitch parameters (density, carcass)?  Or, perhaps, I should change the filler (3D Puff)?  Those who have embroidered on 3D Puff, help me, please! 

    Density measurement units

    Original text by: Marina Belova 
    The subject that has always interested me is why digitizing software developers measure stitch density each in their own fashion. When changing a design editor, you never really know how the density will be measured this time. 
    For example, I've encountered such density measurements units: 
    SPI — the number of stitches per inch  The number of stitches per millimeter or centimeter  pts (pt, EP, Points) — the distance between stitches is determined by the number of the minimal movements of a Pantograf (10 pts = 1 mm). The more points are there, the lesser is the density.  mm — the distance between the stitches in millimeters.  Every time I had trouble grasping what are all these pts and SPI and converting them into millimeters I was used to, in order to understand, how many stitches were there. Here is a table I found in the Embroidery Network showing how the units of different density measurement systems correspond to each other. Sometimes you read an article somewhere on the internet and don't understand what's it all about and what figures the author used. 

    But trying to convert from stitches per mm (like in Stitch Era, for example) into ordinary mm will lead you in a pretty dance. The only ratio I've found is as follows: 5,1 stitches per 1 mm equals to density of 0.4 mm. Obviously, I'll have to calculate the values myself using proportions and go from there. 

    How to remove an embroidery design from the item

    Original text by: Marina Belova 
    I've come across a series of magazine articles on how to correct errors which are inevitable when you embroider something. It said many things, but it was the process of removing a bad quality embroidery designs from the item that intrigued me the most.
    I've been through removing the ready embroidery more that once and it has always been a problem. The first time when I encountered such a thing and what did it eventually cost me instantly sprang to my mind. After all, I did not have any instruments except scissors and tweezers back then. And I had to remove a large coat of arms from the velvet fabric. And every time when I needed to remove the embroidery design, I remembered of the specials instruments that can be bought online, and cursed everyone and their brother.
    Actually, a professional instrument for operations like this is called Peggy’s Stitch Eraser, and I remember every time that I haven't yet bought it.
    It rather reminds me of a hair clipper. The price is about 80 USD, which is not too much, and I hope to buy this magical device in the nearest future.
    The only thing you should need beside it are additional blades.
    The aforementioned device looks like that (the image was taken from the site of the manufacturer):

    But even if you don't have such a instrument, there should be a way of removing a bad embroidery. So I searched for an alternative for the lacking device and it turned out that situation is not that bad, and you just need to choose the best option:
    You can use a plain ripper. You can use a modeler's knife, like the X-Acto Knife, for example. But this is a matter of preferences. You can use an ordinary razor blade. You can use even a disposable razor, to shave off the threads on the wrong side. The sequence will be the same, whichever instrument you choose:
    1. Turn the item the wrong side up.
    2. In any case don't remover the stabilizer. It will protect the fabric from possible damage caused by the instrument.
    3. Place it on something like a darner (like the one there was once in every home, remember?).
    4. Cut off the threads on the wrong side.
    5. Remove the threads from the right side using tweezers.
    6. In any case, this process requires a great deal of carefulness so as no to get anything wrong.

    Embroidery on socks and mittens. My silly mistakes

    Original text by: Marina Belova 
    When it's getting colder everyone starts asking for embroidered socks, gloves and mittens. Perhaps, because the embroidery on the items of that kind still looks fresh and original. 
    Last year I received such an order and accepted it, to my own misfortune (I did not have any special hoops or devices). Well, I found trouble.
    How much I regretted my decision in the course of making the embroidery, I cannot possibly tell you without using the rude words. Logo embroidery design on socks and mittens turned out to be a real nightmare for me. I tried to fit the free arm into these items in the presence of a client, hoping to use the pocket frame. 
    At first, the client wanted me to embroider a nickname inside a filled rectangle. But having tried the mitten on, it dawned on me that it was hardly possible to embroider a full-fledged design on it, even if it did not contain many thousand stitches. So I suggested embroidering the text on a piece of cloth first and then sewing it onto the mittens. 
    This is the place where the client wanted the embroidery initially, and that turned out to be impossible, because of the inability to fit a pocket frame into a mitten up to the required point: 

    In the end we came to this arrangement: 

    It would be an understatement to say that it was difficult to fit a free arm into a hooped canvas mitten with a polyester padding — it fitted to a T and did not move at all: 

    I even had to remove the machine's protection cover in order to turn the mitten around somehow. I also had to stick a paper adhesive to all the movable part just in case: 

    In the end the mitten just barely turned around the arm. I had to help it with one hand, turning the mitten so as to follow the cap frame and slow down the embroidery speed holding the start button with the other in order for embroidery speed not to exceed 120 rpm. Even me helping the machine to turn the mitten around didn't keep the embroidery from shifting, so I had to take it off, remove the embroidery and start it all over. All this just for one stitch! 
    Eventually I managed to embroider all these mittens and the socks that followed or rather to sew the embroidery onto them, but it took me all day to do this. 

    I embroidered the socks using the pocket frame, too, and it turned out to be much easier for they were made of knitwear: 

    But the design was a standard one, not just plain stitching, and it was not so enjoyable either, for the pocket frame is too loose and the result was visibly pulled, and this despite me having stretched the socks to the limit in order to fit the arm into them: 

    Here is the result of my 'kitchen-table effort'. This is the instructive example of what one should not do, regarding the existing limits. 
    Gloves and mittens are in trend again this season. But by now I've become smarter and decided to buy a special hoop for this kind of embroidery, although there is no such thing for Velles. About the hoop I eventually bought and how much did it cost me, I'll better tell in a separate article, because, in my opinion, it's an interesting story, too. 

    Border alignment without hooping

    Original text by: Marina Belova 
    The ideas for machine embroidery and the methods for bringing them into life are everywhere around, the only thing you have to do is adopt them. Some time ago I was puzzled by a curious way of border alignment, but then I grasped what it was about: 
    Judging from the images shown, it turns out that this method does not require printing a template on paper, nor doing any measurements. 
    The supposed steps for doing the alignment, as I understand, are the following: 
    1. Hoop only a water soluble or a cutaway or a tearaway stabilizer if the look of the wrong side is not so important. 
    2. Before embroidering the design itself you first embroider a rectangular — a guide stitch for future alignment that must outline the embroidery accurately. This should be not a simple rectangle, but with the center marks, as on the picture below (marked with the red dotted line):

    3. Apparently, these marks help to position the next part of the embroidery properly. The rectangle is embroidered with the dark-colored thread so as to be visible through the fabric. 
    4. The fabric is stuck onto the stabilizer. You can do it in a number of ways including spraying it with temporary spray adhesive or using pins. 
    5. Embroider the design itself. 
    6. Then unhoop the stabilizer, but don't touch the wrong side just yet. 
    7. Hoop a new piece of a stabilizer. 
    8. Embroider the new rectangle. 
    9. Stick or pin the fabric onto the stabilizer. The main reference point is whether the sides of the outlined rectangle match. 
    10. Embroider the design. 
    11. And so on, until you won't embroider all that is needed. 
    12. In the end you remove all the excessive stitches and the stabilizer from the wrong side. 
    You should get something like this:

    Everything is rather simple, as usual. But in my opinion, this method is not commonplace. In general, it somewhat reminds the standard way of border alignment with the help of alignment crosses or lines, which I have already described, but looks much easier and requires only one thing: to neatly align the pieces against each other. And because the fabric is not hooped but placed on top instead, you do it more easily. 

    Embroidered Paper Towels

    A fun, unique decoration for a kitchen is to embroider on the first sheet of a roll of paper towels.  It is very easy to do, but looks difficult.  Here’s how:
    Unroll several sheets from the roll.  You can tear them off and tape back on the roll when done, or just leave them attached to the roll.  I left mine attached to the roll and unrolled enough so that the roll rested under the sewing arm out of the way.
    Cut a piece of cutaway backing stabilizer to be wider than the hoop all the way around and at least as wide and tall as the piece of paper towel.  Using spray adhesive (I like Madeira’s MSA 1000 because it works well but doesn’t smell bad), spray the backing and stick it to the back of the first sheet.  If you need more room to get the entire paper towel in the hoop, you can embroider on the second sheet so the first will be inside the hoop.  When finished, just discard the first (unembroidered) sheet.
    Hoop the backed paper towel in any hoop that fits the machine embroidery design.  I thought a magnetic hoop would be ideal, but did not have the right size for my design, so I used a round, regular hoop.  Pop it on the machine, and let it sew!  I slowed down the embroidery machine a bit, just in case.
    When finished, remove from the hoop and cut the backing to the same size as the sheet of paper towel.  I did not cut around the Catwoman machine embroidery design the way I would for garments.
    You may need to use more spray adhesive so the corners are stuck together before you hang it up.
    When I finished the design shown here, I was going to carefully iron the paper towel to remove the hoop marks, but was called away before I could do it.  By the next morning, the marks had disappeared all by themselves!

    Contrary to the theory

    Today I suddenly decided to check an assertion, which I read somewhere and took on faith, that the multidirectional filling stitches warp the embroidery so much that it is extremely difficult to take it under control. That's why such effects should be applied with care. 
    The same source (and not only that, for this is written in many other places) stated that the best complex fill is the one composed of unidirectional stitches, better horizontally oriented, because it allegedly warps the fabric less that the other and is easy to work with. This is the classical view on machine embroidery digitizing. It's not a coincidence that a vast number of designs is made with unidirectional stitches. 
    And though I have said a hundred times that you should not just believe in something, there never was a good time for checking it out. So, I fell for that bait, too. But I conducted an experiment of my own. 
    Out of leisure interest I made the simplest sequence possible: three circles with the contour made by three simple stitch lines. 

    This is a more realistic look: 

    The left circle has a fill composed of simple horizontally oriented tiles without any understitching or pull compensation + a plain contour. The edge of the fill and the contour coincide perfectly. The central circle is very much like the first one, except it has the understitching as well (full grid) and pull compensation (0.6 mm), and also stretch compensation (I trimmed away 2 or 3 stitches from the top and the bottom). The right circle is again pretty much the same as the left, but I changed the direction of stitches, having made them curvy by using the Liquid Effect, kept the pull compensation as in the second example, but discarded the stretch compensation to see what would happen if I did. 
    One should point out that Wilcom does the pull compensation in a rather strange way when creating the curve stitch effects. If a 0.6 mm compensation is very much visible with unidirectional stitches, in this case it is not clear if the editor does compensate these 0.6 mm, how and where: 

    However strange it looked on the screen, I nevertheless proceeded with the embroidery. I embroidered all of this in one hoop, using a sheet of printing paper as a stabilizer. Here is what I got: 

    If we look at every one of these pieces separately, we'll see that: 
    The left circle has a slight pull (on the right and left the fill does not reach the contour) and stretch (the edge of the fill on the top is beyond the contour).
    The central circle was embroidered almost without these defects:
    And the right circle with multidirectional stitches emerged nearly perfect. Whilst according to the theory they should have looked like this: 
    And this despite the fact that I did not do anything to prevent the stretching; as the for pull compensation, calculated by the editor according to my data, it was minimal. The only visible difference is that the fabric around the embroidery is puckered a bit more than it would around the standard fill. But this is not critical and can be easily corrected by ironing. It turns out that to create an embroidery design using this type of filling stitches is somewhat easier, but ironing and getting into shape will take a bit longer than usual. 
    As they say, you win some, you lose some. It turns out that the easiest method of getting a good result is not doing everything by book, but going outside the established framework. The fact that horizontal and vertical stitches are not the best ones in the context of embroidery deformation is known, perhaps, to every novice. And this example proves it once more. 

    Plans for organizing an ideal embroidery workspace

    Original text by: Marina Belova
    I dream of the times when I bring my embroidery workspace to an order. I want to make the working process comfortable and have everything I need ready to hand. That's why I've been reading on the issue and discovered a lot of interesting information.
    Many words have been written on how to organize your workspace, but here are the things I singled out and to try in the  nearest future.
    I liked the scheme by Frank Gawronsky in the Images magazine depicting how the tables should be arranged for such manipulations as hooping and giving the finishing touches to an item. Doing so will help to minimize the number of steps in your working process.

    But arranging tables is, of course, not enough. You need to always have the working instruments on them, too. Such as, for example, scissors for trimming away the stabilizer or marking tools or the hooping device — the object of dreams of every embroiderer.
    But what is also important for me is keeping all my threads in one place close to the machine so that they will be easy to find without opening all the boxes in search for the one bobbin you need. So, you need to create a threads database, even it is only a simple one. That is, actually, not so difficult to do.
    Several times I've come across an interesting suggestion: to cut the stabilizer according to the size of your hoop in advance. In my opinion, this recommendation is considerable for mass production, because it saves time which otherwise would be wasted on cutting the stabilizer before every hooping, allowing to simply take the prepared piece. But in my case, which is trying to use as little stabilizer as possible, it is more advantageous to use pieces of stabilizer beyond the size of the hoop. Therefore I just plan to make the stabilizer unreeling device to make the use of stabilizers more practical.
    I also dream of placing a needle change reference guide behind my embroidery machine so that to be sure which needle to use.
    And I also want to write a plan for the scheduled maintenance of my embroidery machine.
    I dream of installing the source of bright light above my workplace at last, to make everything visible so that I don't need to squint when threading a needle.
    One more curious recommendation that I cannot turn into reality is having the right kind of floor under the embroidery machine. Frank Gawronsky writes that the best floor on which the embroidery machine stands is a wooden one.
    I also cannot change the lack of space around my embroidery machine for such needs as thread change, service maintenance and framing (which needs about 90 cm of space around). The good thing is my machine being a compact one that can be moved around on tiny wheels. These wheels make the embroidery machine a bit too high for me, making the thread change not the easiest task either. The bed plate should be no higher than 70—80 cm, and mine is no less that 90.
    But it is possible to put the other things into action.
    After all, the hardest thing is not to have all this, but to bring all things in your workspace to an order so that the tools and threads and devices could be found in their proper places.
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