“Appliques and Patches”

If you own an embroidery machine, you may have a feature called “Design Applique” (Husqvarna Viking), “Applique Creator” (Pfaff) or “Applique” (Brother).  This feature allows you to create an original applique, or in my case, a patch that can be used anywhere.  I was asked to make some patches for my nephew’s wife who is currently making pre-school music teaching videos to support her music teaching business that has had to go from in-person classes to online learning.  She is teaching the concepts of loud (forte) and soft (piano) and needed some patches to put on her hand puppets.

The only difference between an applique and a patch is how you use it.  An applique stays on a base fabric as an embellishment and a patch is stitched out on stabilizer and then torn away from the stabilizer to be attached to a back pack, garment, towel or anything you want.  Each machine has a little different method of creating the applique, but they all do the same thing in the end.  The patches I made were made on the Brother Luminaire.

First, I had to look for some clip art of the symbols for forte (f) and piano (p).  Once I found what I was looking for, I scanned the images into my machine so it could convert the clip art into embroidery language (in this case, PES).  (On the Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking, this step would need to be done using the add-on software that is purchased separately from the machine.)

After finding the clip art I wanted, I put it into a Word document, printed it and then used the included magnets to attach the paper to the scanning hoop for the Brother.

Once the images were scanned, I chose my material and added fusible stabilizer to the back to give it body and strength once the patch was complete.  In this case, you do not want fabric to have a soft “hand”, so I chose a bottom weight cotton fabric and a heavy weight fusible cut away stabilizer.

This is a heavy cotton fabric. I used this for the front of all the patches.
I wanted the material to be rather stiff when the patch was complete so I used fusible stabilizer on the back of the fabric.
This fusible stabilizer gives the fabric a lot of body.

Once the stabilizer was fused to the back of the fabric, I put some tear away stabilizer in my hoop and was ready to start.

I created my patches by following the directions in my manual and changing the stitch out order to first stitch a placement line where I placed the top fabric and then a tack down line to secure the fabric. Next came the actual embroidery for the center of the patch.

After the placement stitch and the tack down stitch, I skipped to the embroidery design. I did not want the embroidery to show on the back of the patch.

Once the embroidery was done, I put a piece of felt on the back of my hoop, covering the placement line I had stitched out previously.  I ran another tack down stitch to attach the felt to the back of the patch and then removed the hoop from the machine so I could cut away the fabric on both sides of the hoop, close to the tack down stitching.

I added a small piece of felt to the back of the patch and stitched it down with another tack down stitch.
Once the felt was attached to the back, I trimmed both the front and back fabrics close to the tack down stitching. They are now ready for the finishing satin stitch around the edges.

Once the fabric was trimmed, I placed the embroidery hoop back on the machine and finished the patch with the satin stitching around the perimeter of the patch, catching both the front and back of the patch in the stitching.

This is the finished patch from the front….
…and from the back. They are now ready to be attached to the puppets’ chest.

The satin stitching on the outer edge tended to tear the stabilizer, so I did have to float a separate piece of tear away stabilizer under the back of the hoop, but it was very easy to remove.

The Brother machine also has an option to create an applique in the shape of the embroidery design used.

The patches are now on their way to being YouTube stars on the front of their new puppet friends. Happy Sewing!

The patches on the top row can be made by the Husqvarna Viking and the Pfaff. The bottom row is exclusive to Brother.

“Creating Stitches”

Many of you who own a Pfaff or a top of the line Brother have a feature called “Stitch Creator” (Pfaff) or “My Custom Stitch” (Brother).  For most customers, this is probably one of the most intimidating features on the machine, but if you take some time to play with it, I think you will find it one of your favorite features.  On both machines, you are able to create your own decorative stitch which you can stitch out and/or save and use as part of a larger sequence.  This is perfect for those of you who have an artistic propensity and can picture a stitch in your head.  It is a simple plotting program for the machine, placing stitches on an X and Y axis.  Make the stitches small enough and you will even be able to create the look of curves!  For those of us who are more technician than artist (that’s me!) you can also use this feature to edit existing stitches on the machine and make them unique to your project.  Again, once the stitch is changed you may stitch it out or save it to use again and again.  The Pfaff machines allow you to put any stitch into “Stitch Creator” except buttonholes and those stitches that are over 9mm in width.  The Brother machines allow you to edit selected stitches which you will see once you are in the “My Custom Stitch” feature.  Whether you want to create a whole new stitch or edit an existing one, grab your manual and give this feature a try!

On my Creative Icon I enter the feature by choosing Stitch Creator. On other machine models, this may be a button or icon near the Sequence Creator, the feature I talked about in last week’s blog.
This is the decorative stitch I have chosen to edit.
I decided to remove the stitches that make up the middle pattern. I followed the directions on the screen and in my manual and….
…this is how it looks with the middle stitches removed. Once I am ready to sew the pattern…
…I press “OK” and the machine moves the stitches to the sewing mode, ready for me to stitch out.
On my Brother Luminaire, I enter the feature by pressing this icon.
Once in the “My Custom Stitch” feature, choose the decorative stitches the machine will allow you to edit.
I chose to use a stitch from the second category of choices.
I chose this stitch and, once again, decided to edit out the middle section.
This is how the stitch looked before editing.
By following the on screen icons and the directions in my owner’s manual, I removed the zig-zag stitches in the center of the decorative stitch.
This is my new edited stitch.

The above pictures give you just a cursory glimpse of this great feature.  Both machines give options such as mirror imaging and even triple stitches rather than just a single stitch. This video may help those of you who own Pfaff machines.  Though it is made to explain the Creative 3.0, the feature works the same on any machine that has it.  I did not find a video to help the Brother owners, but you may find that the above video may help you too, it just shows different icons than on your machine. Happy Sewing!

“Programming/Sequencing Tips”

There is such a variety of stitches on the machines today that it’s often difficult to make a choice, but don’t forget you can create your own program (Husqvarna Viking), pattern (Brother) or sequence (Pfaff) of stitches with ease.  Most machines that are computerized machines have the ability to create a series of different decorative stitches anywhere from 50 – 99 stitches long, strung together the way you think they look best.  You can use lettering and/or decorative stitches together in these creations and use them as a border, as your own created embroidered fabric or even for just something as mundane as putting a name into clothing when staying at summer camp (those were the days, weren’t they?)

If you haven’t given this feature on your machine a try in a while, you may want to take some time to experiment and see what you come up with.  If you create something you really like, remember to save it into your machine’s memory.  Every machine that can program/sequence has a least one memory space.  The further up the machine line you go, the more memory space you get.  If you have forgotten how to access the programming/sequencing feature on your machine, refer to your owner’s manual.  In fact, you may want to keep the manual handy if you are a little rusty with this feature, since there are usually quite a few choices you can make for your creation. 

The Husqvarna Viking machines will all have a place that says PROG to get into programming.
Pfaff machines allow you to enter Sequencing mode with the term Sequence Creator or with a button on the machine that has an A, then a heart, then the letter B.
Brother machines give you the option to create a pattern once you have chosen character decorative stitches. You will find an icon that is a group of stars followed by a single star. The single star puts the machine into programming mode.

Every machine will allow you to change the length and width of your chosen stitch, which can sometimes make quite a difference in the look of your creation.  You will also have a mirror image feature and most machines have the ability to duplicate.  Remember, while duplicating, make the changes to the original stitch first then duplicate it.  The changes will be duplicated with the stitch and you will not have to make the same changes to the same stitch over and over.  Also, don’t forget to use the multi-directional stitches on your machine if you have them.  They can create patterns that appear to step up or down and can create some very pleasing effects.  Lastly, remember to add a Stop or a Stop and Snip to your program/sequence.  If you forget this step, you will be creating a border that will stitch out indefinitely.

This is where having your manual handy will help you remember the different icons that give you your choices on changing length, width, mirror image, delete, duplicate, etc.
Remember to long touch those icons that have a check or multiple dots, like the icon for width on my machine that says 8.4. The extra dots below the zig zag give other options for changes to the stitch.
The Brother machine gives more options for editing if you open the edit window, which in this picture is on the far right, already opened.
Husqvarn Viking machines use a heart icon to save your program.
Pfaff also uses a heart icon or a heart with an arrow for saving your sequence.
Brother either uses the word “Memory” or the icon of a pocket for saving your pattern.
Adding a Stop is optional. Stop command gives you a program/pattern/sequence. No Stop added at the end of your creation = a border.

 Finally, if you have an embroidery machine that allows you to use the sewing stitches while you are in the Embroidery Mode, you must enter your Programming/Sequencing through the Embroidery Mode.  Sewing stitches and embroidery stitches are in two different languages.  Programming/Sequencing in Embroidery mode allows the machine to translate into the language it needs to stitch out your creation in the hoop.  Happy Sewing!

“Have You Seen These Posts?”

I have been so busy making face masks, zippered bags to keep them in while in the car (you never know when you’ll need a new mask while you’re out and about) and other projects pertaining to COVID-19 that I have not been keeping up with my sewing Facebook pages for Husqvarna Viking and Pfaff.  I thought you might be in the same boat, so I made a point of catching up today and wanted to share a variety of projects they have posted that you might want to take a look at and try.

Since there are many machines in both lines, the posts are geared towards a variety of skill levels and machine features.  Since there is only one site address, you will need to scroll through the posts.  Because of this I have given you some posting dates that may speak to you.  Remember, you can access these Facebook pages anytime, even if you don’t have a Facebook account, through the Husqvarna Viking or Pfaff websites.  You will find the link at the bottom of each site’s home page under the title “Connect”.  Have a wonderful week and Happy Sewing!

Husqvarna Viking

June 3, 2020 –   Laptop Case Project

June 1, 2020 –   Thread Painting – put those free motion quilting skills to good use!

May 27, 2020 –   Embroidering your own coloring book

Pfaff

June 1, 2020 –   Tutorial on Double Ribbon Stitches

May 27, 2020 –  Creative Icon – Tutorial on the use of the Design Placement feature of the Sew Notice App.

May 26, 2020 –   Use of elastic with Ribbon Stitches to create a pencil holder

“Did You Know?”

Today’s sewing machines use the metric system for all of their measurements and displays.  Sometimes that information can be a little difficult to translate since, in this country, the metric system is not as common as it is around the world.  You can use a metric ruler or other measuring methods to help, but what about the numbers displayed for your stitch length?  The numbers used for stitch width are clear.  They give a direct metric measurement of how wide the stitch is, but what about the numbers used to identify the stitch length?  Those numbers are not as straight forward.

First, let’s be clear:  all stitches cannot be sewed at all stitch lengths or widths.  Sometimes a limit will be put on a particular stitch because it is not able to be formed correctly if it goes outside a set of parameters.  When you reach the maximum or minimum length or width for a stitch, your machine will not allow you to go any further, which it may signal to you with the sound of a click or beep.  This is especially true when working with decorative stitches.  They can skew easily and are usually confined to very narrow parameters.  For normal straight stitches, these restrictions don’t apply because a straight line of stitches are not prone to being skewed.  The following are the straight stitch length equivalents from millimeters (mm) to stitches per inch.

1 mm stitch length = 24 stitches per inch

2 mm stitch length = 13 stitches per inch

3 mm stitch length = 9 stitches per inch

4 mm stitch length = 6 stitches per inch

5 mm stitch length = 5 stitches per inch

6 mm stitch length = 4 stitches per inch

I hope this helps with your next project.  Happy Sewing!

“Display Screen Calibration”

If you own a Husqvarna Viking or Pfaff machine with an interactive display screen that uses a stylus, you may find that the screen can become a little less responsive over time.  This may just mean it is losing its calibration.  You will usually find it easy to tell if you are having an issue with calibration by the way the machine is responding to the touch of your stylus.  For example, when you touch the display screen with the stylus, the machine does not answer the command or when you touch something in one place on the screen, something unexpected happens on another part of the screen.   Before you assume you need to take your machine in for repair, try calibrating the machine yourself.  If it’s been awhile since you took your “Sewing Machine Basics” class, you may want to grab your owner’s manual to remember how to get into your Settings Menu.  It’s usually an icon that looks like some tools or gears on the Pfaffs and is usually found on the Husqvarna Vikings with a tool icon found after touching your machine’s “gem” (the Sapphire, Topaz, Ruby or Diamond).  Once you are into the Settings Menu, go to the Screen Settings or the Machine Settings page, depending on your machine.  This page usually allows you to change the lighting settings, the screen saver and the lock screen features of your machine, among other options.  On that page you will find the “Touch Screen Adjust” or the “Screen Calibration” area.  Once you choose this area, you will be given a screen that has crosses on it (usually three to five, depending upon the machine).  Touch each cross, in the center with your stylus, just the way you plan to touch your display screen.  This gives the machine the chance to learn how you use the stylus and will help the machine interpret your touch.  Once you have completed touching all the crosses, you should be able to use the display screen with no other issues. 

My Designer Diamond Royale uses a stylus to interact with the display screen.
Since my machine is part of the “gem” series of machines, I need to touch the diamond to access the Settings Menu.
Once I touch the diamond, the Settings Menu icon appears.
In my Settings Menu, I find the calibration ability on the last page, the Screen and Light Settings page.
Once I touch the “Touch Screen Adjust”…..
…the machine begins the calibration process. Make sure you touch each cross in the center.
The calibration usually ends with a cross in the center of your display screen.
Once you have finished the calibration, you are good to go, so touch “OK” on the Husqvarna Vikings or the “green check mark” on the Pfaffs to exit the Setting Menu and continue your project.

I usually do this, even if I’m not having any issues, about twice a year.  It helps the machine stay calibrated and saves me the frustration of a machine that doesn’t respond to my input!  I hope you find this tip helpful.  Happy sewing!

“The Valuable Dual Feed”

For anyone who sews, a dual feed, or what used to be called a walking foot, is a very valuable tool to have.    For many years, the only sewing machines that came standard with a dual feed were the machines in the Pfaff line.  In recent years, more and more machines have begun to come with an attached dual feed system, but many still use an optional foot for the job.  For the most part, no matter what you sew, a dual feed can be used pretty much all the time for straight piecing, as long as your fabric moves under the foot well (for example, silky materials can sometimes snag more on a dual feed foot).  The foot or system’s job is to keep multiple layers of fabric from shifting against one another as they move through the feed teeth under the presser foot (the feed teeth are the metal teeth that grab the fabric from the underside as you’re sewing).   Without a dual feed foot or system, the bottom fabric layer tends to get pulled along by the feed teeth underneath the fabric faster than the top layer of material gets fed against the presser foot.  This results in an overhang of fabric at the end of the seam.  This is especially bad if you happen to be sewing a fabric that has a stripe, plaid or pattern that needs to match precisely or if you are sewing two pieces of fabric that have seams that must match up exactly.  Dual feed capability is important whether you are sewing garments, quilts or home décor. 

My dual feed feet through the years. From left: 1994 Walking foot from Husqvarna Viking, 2015 Interchangeable Dual Feed foot from Husqvarna Viking, 2019 Muvit dual feed foot from Brother.
The dual feed system or IDT on my 2019 Pfaff. The black piece at the back of the presser foot feeds fabric from the top at the same rate as the feed teeth feed from the bottom. This feature does not detach from the machine, but can be disengaged if it’s not needed.

If you are using a dual feed presser foot, remember to lower the presser foot pressure before you start to sew.  Usually the directions that come with the foot give you a specific level of presser foot pressure to use for your specific machine.  Changing this pressure is an important step that helps the foot perform its function with your fabric.  If you have an attached dual feed system that never detaches from your machine, you will generally not have to adjust your presser foot pressure.  The stitches automatically set themselves with the presser foot pressure needed to sew successfully with the dual feed system working.

Included below are some Youtube videos that may help you learn about the foot or get reacquainted with the foot you bought years ago.  If you have any questions about the correct dual feed foot for your older machine, contact Bonny and Frank and they will be happy to help you.  Happy sewing!

Pfaff’s IDT System operation

Husqvarna Viking Walking foot

Husqvarna Viking Interchangeable Dual Feed Foot

“Decorative Stitches and Stabilizer”

Many times, the use of stabilizers is equated only with machine embroidery.  Stabilizers are for machine embroidery, but they should also be used anytime your project will be using decorative stitches.  Stabilizers do just what their name suggests:  stabilize the fabric.  There are as many different types and weights of stabilizers as there are projects, so when purchasing a type of stabilizer, it is most economical to purchase the type you will tend to use the most.  For example, if you will be using the stabilizer for decorative stitches on or around quilt blocks you will want to use a light weight stabilizer that is a cut away, such as a no-show mesh.  This will stay with the quilt after the stitching is finished and will become a part of the finished quilt.  If you are using the stabilizer in a project made from a fairly hearty woven material, it may be just fine to use a water soluble stabilizer that will disappear when exposed to water.

 I do not recommend using a tear away stabilizer of any kind if you are using it for decorative stitches.  Decorative stitches often distort when tear away stabilizer is removed.  Also, since tear away stabilizer is usually more like paper in texture, the stitches often don’t seat themselves as well into the fabric as when a cut away is used.  Decorative stitches tend to go back and forth and/or side to side which puts a lot of stress on the thread and the fabric.  Using a stabilizer that stays under the decorative stitches especially if the project will see frequent laundering, is best for the long term good looks of the stitching.

Along with the stabilizer, consider using starch or a starch alternative such as “Best Press” to give the fabric even more stability before stitching.  If your fabric has a tendency to slip under your presser foot, you may want to consider using a temporary spray adhesive, such as Sulky’s “KK2000” to hold the stabilizer and the fabric together securely.  It is important that any temporary spray adhesive be sprayed on the stabilizer and not the fabric.  Some adhesives can leave a stain that will not come out if they are sprayed directly onto the fabric.

Lastly, when starting your line of decorative stitches, make sure to hold both the top and bobbin threads, with your fingers or under the presser foot, for the first two to three stitches.  This will eliminate the chance of developing a bird’s nest of thread on the underside of the fabric at the beginning of the pattern.  Slowing your machine’s speed will also help to ensure your decorative stitches look their very best.  Happy Sewing!

“It’s My Tension Again?”

Many times, when a machine is having trouble with its stitch quality, people think they need to adjust the top tension on their sewing machine.  They are sure that will make everything better.  Before you reach for the tension dial, let me give you some things to check first that you may not have thought about. 

First and foremost, make sure you have threaded your machine properly.  I know it sounds like a “no brainer” but I can’t tell you the number of times a machine has had a problem and the owner swore the machine was threaded correctly only to discover it was not.  The bobbin tension and upper thread tension work as a team to create the stitch and if one of those team members is not in the correct position, things are not going to get better the longer you sew!  Even if you think all is well, but there is a stitch quality problem, take out the bobbin and top thread and start again.  A bobbin that is in backwards will produce some pretty strange results and even skipping one area in the upper thread path will cause chaos for your machine.

In my experience, the needle causes more than its fair share of issues in the sewing machine.  A dull, bent or burred needle can cause a whole plethora of issues that changing tensions just will not fix.  I start every project with a new needle, no exceptions.  A new needle is about $1.00.  My project material, time and energy are worth much more to me than that.  Even if I have just replaced the needle with a brand new one and it causes me trouble:  out she goes!  For this reason, I tend to use regular universal needles for my everyday sewing.  They are reasonably priced and tend to last about six to eight hours, which is about what my project tends to need.  Remember, that six to eight hours is actual sewing time, not the amount of time the machine is turned on or the time it takes you to finish a project.  A project that requires a lot of detail work can actually have a surprisingly small amount of machine time.  If you have a machine that allows you to track your time, set the timer and see what I mean (you will find this in the Settings Menu if your machine has this capability).

Next, make sure you are using a good quality thread.  Less expensive threads tend to have irregular areas or small “nubs” in the thread that create problems as they go through the tension disks.  The type of thread; be it cotton, polyester, a combination thread or a specialty thread, doesn’t really matter.  What matters is the quality.  If you got a great deal on thread and paid only $1.00-$2.00 per spool, you can just assume that you did not really get as great a deal as you may think.  Some bargin threads may not even be able to go through a machine’s tension disks without breaking due to their lack of strength.  Just ask me how I know this!  Once you understand value versus price, you will steer clear of the bargin threads and only use high quality thread for your projects.

Lastly, make sure your presser foot pressure is correctly set for the material you are using.  Having the pressure too high can cause the fabric to feed too slowly and having the pressure too loose can cause the fabric to barely feed at all.  If you have a Husqvarna Viking, make sure you refer to the Sewing Advisor for all the correct settings.  If you have a Pfaff, you can check your machine under “i” for information.  Other makes of machines will usually have some type of information in the owner’s manual to help sort out the best presser foot pressure for the type of material you are using.

I hope these ideas are of help to you the next time you feel you need to reach for the tension dial on your machine.  If you really do have a tension issue, head on over to Sewing Mastery and look up your machine to see if Sarah Snuggerud has a video showing what you need to do.  This particular video comes from the series for the Pfaff Performance 5.2. 

Happy Sewing!

“Embroidery Hoop Anatomy”

I am a visual/kinesthetic learner.  Put simply; I need to see and do in order to learn.  When I first started machine embroidery, I had a hard time remembering that the hoop area I saw was not the hoop area I would get to use.  Maybe you have also had trouble reconciling the inside of the hoop you see versus the inside area of the hoop you get to use.  Let me break it down for you.

For my example I am using the 120 x 120 mm square hoop.
The 120 x 120mm hoop is often referred to as the 4″ x 4″ hoop, but it’s really a little bigger than that. The 120 x 120mm hoop measures 4 9/13″ x 4 9/13″. If you want a true 4″ x 4″ hoop, try the 100 x 100mm hoop.
For this explanation, I traced the inside of the 120 x 120mm hoop to demonstrate the inner area. The hoop size refers to the inside area of the hoop.
Though this is supposed to be a square hoop, the inner area doesn’t look very square, does it?
There are four nibs on each hoop; one on each of the sides and one on the top and bottom. These nibs allow you to center your fabric to place the design just where you want it.
If I draw a line vertically and horizontally from these nibs, they create a center point. Still doesn’t look very square.
Once I draw the allowances for the embroidery foot, you can now see an exact square. This is the actual area you have available for the embroidery design. This area measures 4 9/13″ x 4 9/13″.

The embroidery foot needs room to move around the hoop, thus the allowance of 1/4″ on three sides and the 1.25″ on the top. When you purchase a design or use one from the built in designs on your machine, you will notice the size is never as large as the stated hoop size. This is done to allow you to use the positioning feature on your machine, placing the design exactly where you want it. If you are looking for the most exact measurements, remember to use everything in metric. The conversion to inches leaves a little “fudge factor” just because they are not the same measurement systems. I hope this makes the embroidery hoop a little easier to understand. Happy Sewing!