My two daughters are in a local competitive dance team. Last year, I designed a quick graphic in Adobe Illustrator CC to be placed over a team photo, and the dance instructor liked it so much that she asked if they could use it as their official logo. I was over the moon excited!
I had my friend, Kent Simmons, over at the studio one night and he digitized my logo using Designer's Gallery MasterWorks III. I had never used this software before so I wanted someone here with prior experience to help me with it. After sitting down alongside him, I quickly realized that the software is actually really easy to use. I saved my logo as a JPG and we imported it into the program. We were able to choose the style of stitches for each portion of the design, the size of the finished design and thread colors, etc.
Then the fun (or should I say, work?) really began! The 17 blank jackets were delivered at the studio and over a period of a few weeks (we weren't running the machine full time) we embroidered one after another. The logo has a little over 32,000 stitches, so even running at full speed, it took about an hour for each jacket to embroider (not counting the time for hooping the jacket, thread color changes and removing stabilizers at the end). This is what we started with:
Another time, I began to experience a few thread breaks, which became more and more frequent as the job continued. When I got to stitching the pink portion, I noticed right away that the bobbin thread was showing through to the top. I consulted my Unity manual and quickly found out that it was due to loose tension on my bobbin case. I called my trusty rep again, and she told me I needed to switch to the "alternate bobbin case" (what? I didn't even now there was such a thing!) Again, calmly, she talked me through where to find the case, how to remove the existing case and replace it with the new one, and back up the stitches enough so that it would cover up the goofed up part. The jacket turned out beautiful and you would never guess there was any bobbin thread showing through to the top.
When all was said & done, this was the outcome, and I couldn't be happier. There are 16 little girls (and 1 dance instructor) with some pretty amazing-looking jackets!
- Design software: Adobe Illustrator CC
- Digitizing software: Designer's Gallery MasterWorks III
- Embroidery Machine: Baby Lock Unity
- Embroidery Thread: Madeira Rayon Thread 1001 (white) and 1110 (medium rose)
- Bobbin Thread: Clear Glide Poly Class 15 Pre-Wound Bobbins (I used 1 bobbin per jacket)
- Top Stabilizer: Hydro Melt Water Soluble Embroidery Topping by Baby Lock
- Bottom Stabilizers: 2.0 oz. Cut-Away Soft Medium Embroidery Stabilizer and 1.8 oz Tear-Away Heavy embroider Stabilizer, both by Baby Lock
- If you are embroidering on a finished product (jackets, dresses, towels, etc.) always test out your embroidery design on a scrap of fabric before moving on to the finished product. We found out that one of our letters hadn't digitized properly so we had to quickly go back to the digitizing software to fix the issue. We were thankful to have caught this error before we started the jackets.
- The order in which we placed our items on the hoop is as follows: 1 layer of Tear-Away Stabilizer, 1 layer of Cut-Away Stabilizer, Jacket (right side up), 1 layer of Wash-Away (Solvy). After embroidery is complete, you can remove the Solvy by hand and any spots that don't tear out easily, you can spritz with a little water and it will dissolve away. On the inside, you can easily tear the edges off the tear-away stabilizer, but don't try to tear if it doesn't want to tear easily... you don't want the threads to bust. Lastly, use embroidery scissors to cut your Cut-Away stabilizer about 1/4" to 1/2" away from the outer edges of the embroidery... be careful not to cut through your finished piece!
- Always start each project with a full bobbin, unless you know for a fact you can get 2 or more from each bobbin. You want to avoid changing bobbin thread in the middle of your job (believe me!).
- If doing multiple pieces, like we did, change out your machine's needle after 2 or 3 projects to avoid any issues with dull needles.
- Use high quality threads. We love Madeira!
- Keep your machine's manual handy. You'll be surprised at how much you can troubleshoot on your own just by looking it up on there!
A few of our "tiny dancers" taking a snack break between routines: