Discussing machine embroidery · New Designs

Does the perfect embroidery design exist?

Working on my new heirloom collection which celebrates the birth of a son, Archie, to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, again I am reminded of the limitations of my embroidery software and the compromises I have to make! With examples from this new collection, let me explain by answering a few questions, based on queries you have asked over the years and questions I daily ask myself as I digitise.

Why do your designs have so many jump stitches?

Look at the new designs in the Bundle of Joy collection. My designs have an open style of embroidery, not a series of dense fill patterns, so it is impossible to have everything linking to avoid jumps. I love adding little flowers to fill in the gaps and these need jump stitches.Although jump stitches can be annoying, I regard them as necessary for my style of digitising.

Why do you use both Wilcom EmbroiderySuite e4 and Husqvarna Premier+2 software packages for the creation of your designs?

I use a combination of features within both software packages to make sure that my designs are of the greatest quality, as this enables me to double check each design.

Why do some of your colours repeat several times in a design?

That is inevitable as some elements like the scrolls finish underneath the flowers which have the same colours. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that repetition of colour is better than introducing too many colours into the embroidery.

How do you decide which hoops to use for the creation of each design?

Some digitisers create the same designs for several sizes of hoops which makes using a combination of designs impossible. I prepare all my collections so that designs from any set will stitch out perfectly alongside each other.

What are the Outline alignment stitches (OAS) that you use?

Designs with OAS have “-S” at the end of their name. These special stitches enable the positioning of designs accurately, as well as showing the outline, which can be very useful in determining exactly where it should be placed. Place your stabiliser in your hoop, not your fabric. Then stitch out your first colour way (RED) which is an outline of running stitches. The fabric is attached with temporary adhesive, tacking or pins. Placing it correctly is so much easier using this outline on the stabiliser. With most fabrics you will be able to see or feel the stitches beneath. I have added an outline of stitches to secure your fabric in position just in case your machine will not do it for you. This is the second set of OAS (BLUE) After that providing the alignment is correct you can finish off your embroidery. However the real benefits of this system becomes evident when you have to position a second design next to the first. That is how the OAS work and although you may have other methods to align your designs many of my customers love this unique method which is exclusive to Graceful Embroidery. Both sets of OAS are shown in the image below on the left.

To find out more read this previous blog

How can I change a design? Should I resize your designs?

I do not advise resizing too much if at all, as some of the quality of the design is always lost. It works better for some types of embroidery but due to the delicate nature of some of my designs you must be careful. However I encourage you to play with my designs. Just by deleting one colour way within a design can give you a different look. Likewise restitching a colour can give depth to the design, especially smaller features like flowers centres. In the design below, GFE-BDJ-2-16, the oval frame and the OAS have been removed. More complicated editing will need to be done in your embroidery software.

Why do some designs not show the correct thread colours?

My designs are finished off in the VP3 format and then converted to all the other available formats. Some formats hold more information than others. The older VIP and HUS formats do not contain as much detail for the design, so I would encourage you not to use them any more if your machine reads the VP3 format. Unfortunately the DST format and some others are not capable to displaying the colours accurately. Interestingly when I view the prepared files of each format for a design set, the Bernina formats, ARTv3 and ARTv6 are the largest files followed by the PES format.

I have noticed that the stitch count in your accompanying PDF’s does not match the stitch count when I open up a design on my machine or in my software? Please explain why this happens.

This is an interesting one and something I noticed a long time ago because I work on both my PC and a laptop. I would add the stitch counts to a PDF on one and see that they did not agree with the other computer. My theory on this one is that each computer screen is slightly different. You may recall that when you set up your software and calibrated the screen you measured the grid. It can be quite difficult to be very precise, so maybe that effects the stitch count. I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.

There is a little applique heart in the collection. I have used tulle in this photo but it needed to be a tiny bit darker.

Every now and then I notice that my machine does not cut a jump stitch in a design. What is going on? Is this an error?

Even though I carefully add each jump stitch and trim I notice that sometimes they do not register in the finished design. This is very obvious when I create the images of the designs. I do double check and it seems that not every one is “remembered” during conversion. My apologies for when this happens.

What are your favourite types of design shapes?

I prefer the asymmetrical ones as they are much more versatile and natural looking. They are perfect for linking two or more designs. This design (GFE-BDJ-2-15) below is my one of my favourites in the collection, so far.

Look how well it makes a perfect border. I love the overall shape.

Some of your designs are very similar. Is that really necessary?

My aim has always been to offer as many designs as possible. The first set in all my collections contains the elements of the collection and these little designs can be used as links as well as add-ons to the larger designs. I believe that you can never have too many designs to work with.

So is there such a thing as a perfect design?

I have to say probably not! There is probably always room for further tweeking and I have to decide when I should stop editing and making further adjustments. As a perfectionist this can be quite difficult.

Many of your Heirloom designs use several whites, ivories and cream threads. Would it not be quicker to stitch them out in just one colour?

The photo above shows a stitch out in one colour. It is pretty but it lacks something I feel. I love experimenting with subtle shades of thread and I prefer to add some depth to my embroidery with several different shades. The finished result I believe is more “alive” and makes the various type of stitches more visible. Notice that the petals in the daisy on the right below, are embroidered here in cream and ivory.

I love your designs but I need inspiration on how to use them.

My Group Forum is the place to be inspired and find out how others are using my designs, to ask questions and get my members newsletter. The biggest inspiration comes each year in September as I share the annual competition entries. Every year I am blown away but what the members create. As a member of my Group Forum you will have access to monthly freebies and so much more. You are warmly invited to join us:

The Graceful Embroidery Group Forum

You have created several design collections recently that were suitable for embroidering out on net to make lace. Are the designs in the Bundle of Joy suitable for this?

Oh yes they are. I did not plan it that way, but suspect that many of my designs will stitch out well on tulle. Above you can see a finished section of GFE-BDJ-2-11 which is an endless border design. Below is GFE-BDJ-2-21, which I embroidered out on tulle too, using wash away stabiliser. After it was finished I tidied up the back before removing the wash away stabiliser.

This protects the tulle from being snipped by accident. I trimmed around the scallops successfully. Compare the same design stitched on tulle in one colour and in various colours on silk dupion. Create a length of lace by repeating this design.

There are two versions of this type of designs for lace edging in Bundle of Joy 2 for 5″ x 7″ hoops. Just imagine what you can I do with these designs, but if you use colours remember that they change a little when you wash out the stabiliser.

What is the hardest part of creating designs?

Knowing when to stop creating more designs within each set and collection, so I can move on to the next collection!

I have enjoyed the challenge of creating designs for the Bundle of Joy collection and today I am releasing the first two sets and look forward to finishing the remaining three in the weeks ahead. Although I initially created them for Christening gowns and other items for baby, they are also suitable so much more including bridal embroidery. I anticipate you all surprising me with some incredible embroidery projects using these designs.

Check out all the designs so far in the Bundle of Joy collection

If you have enjoyed me answering these questions, email me with your suggestions for another similar blog.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

2 thoughts on “Does the perfect embroidery design exist?

  1. Hi Hazel, Your designs that you stitched out on netting are so beautiful and delicate . Anyone can now embroider your designs on any netting or organza used for a wedding to create an original and stunningly beautiful item to be cherished for generations just like the vintage hand embroidered items of the past. I really enjoyed your tips on stitching a design more than once for shading purposes and using pastel shades of color to not only enhance but add a very special touch to bring out certain elements of the design to the forefront. Have you tried embroidering any of your designs on a layered netting and organza combination to attain a different effect?

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