Re-hooping for Large Bodice Designs

(This was first posted several years ago, obviously before the drop-waisted dresses we make now, but the info still applies.)

I routinely field questions from dressmakers with home embroidery machines about whether or not they can do large bodice designs that require one or more re-hoopings.  The answer is always, “Of course you can!!”

I have yet to find a design I can’t re-hoop, but I am honest with dressmakers about the complexity of re-hooping some designs.   In most cases, the dressmakers are game, so along with the split files I send detailed instructions written for their files complete with pictures.  Sometimes, when the design is big enough to need 4 re-hoopings or the design requires extreme precision to line up contiguous lines, then the dressmaker may send the fabric to me so I can do it in a big hoop on my commercial machine, but there have been brave, adventurous souls who still want to do it themselves…my kind of dressmakers!!

Do you need big hoops?  I have always assumed so since I have always had the mega-hoop for my Bernina and learned to use the Hoop-it-alls to expand my range, but I have had dressmakers use only their 4 x 4 inch hoops…that blew my mind, but they were determined!  And I do understand that determination…never occurred to me NOT do something because it did not fit into my hoop.  These were all done using my Bernina 200E:

Yes, each entire panel, edges and all, were done in the hoop with 1 re-hooping.

And my favorite of all time, my first, the one that was made all the more blissful by my ignorance!!!

molly by you.molly cape by you.

I re-hooped all  of these parts in the most convoluted, complicated way possible!  In fact, I had started on this (I learn by jumping in with both feet…or headfirst) before I went to take some lessons for my Bernina machine and software.  I was having trouble with the logic of the sleeve design, so I brought the file (as well as the front skirt panel) with me so the teacher could look at it.  She took one look at the size of the file and told me it could not be done…every time I tried to get her to focus on my question, she simply said what I wanted to do could NOT be done on my machine.  I finally whipped out the finished front panel (5 re-hoopings) to show her I could do it, I just had a question!!!  She had no answer.  Instead she asked me how I managed that front panel, but at that point my process was so twisted that I really could not articulate clearly.  It was a big sigh day.

My friend Kris is working on this dress:

Dressmaker & Embroiderer: Kristine Baker
Designer & Digitizer: Me (AD 6)

IMG_1693 by krispy_b2000.

Once the placement stitches are sewn onto the hooped stabilizers and the fabric is then lined up on the sticky stabilizer, the next thing to get stitched out is a long basting stitch around the design area.  This ensures that the fabric will not move or pull or come away from the sticky stabilizer.  I have also found that it helps eliminate any puckering. Some machines will add a basting outline with a push of a button. For others, this can be added to the embroidery files.

 

However, some velvet will very often be permanently marked by these stitches. Test a scrap by sewing and removing some basting stitches onto a scrap.I have found that crushed velvet can take it, but the shorter pile of regular velvet cannot always.

If your velvet cannot take a basting stitch, it is best to find ways to keep the fabric from shifting as it still can once the stitching starts even on the sticky back. I have a little stash of pins that I bent into curves to secure my fabric to the sticky back when I can’t use the basting stitches.)

I highly recommend you do a test stitch-out first.

Now, let’s understand your digitized files.

Bodice: This bodice design has been split into 4 sections. The black lines are the basting stitch reference lines in the stitch files.

kris curl bodice

Here are the 4 separate files:

bodice 1kris bodice 1 center bottom kris bodice bottom

right shoulderkris bodice right side left shoulder kris bodice left side

You will start with “bodice 1.” Below are the pics of the file and the placement lines in the file.

kris bodice 1  kris bodice 1 placement lines (This is not a separate file.)

Now, if this were me, I would have my fabric prepped and marked (not cut out to size yet). I would have the center line of the bodice marked as well as the line I wanted the top of the middle of the design to begin at.  The lines on the bodice would look like this:

judy curl bodice 1 placement lines center lineThis will correspond to the same lines in the file.

Now, once the hoop is ready, the placement lines in the first color (black in the file, but this could just be the first embroidery color you will be using) get stitched out onto the sticky stabilizer NOT on the fabric. You can stitch them onto your fabric if the fabric will not retain the needle marks, but as long as the interfacing is not removed, the lines will stay on the back for placing for the next file (the center line itself will be mostly covered by the stitching anyway). (For your test run, I would stitch all placement lines on the fabric.)

So, once the placement lines are stitched, place your fabric in the hoop, lining up your drawn line with the placement line.

Stitch out “bodice 1.”

Remove from the hoop and remove excess stabilizer. Be careful not to remove or pull on the first set of placement lines.

Re-hoop the sticky back and the tear away for the next part.

You will continue with “bodice left side.” Below is the pic of the file.

kris bodice left side   judy curl bodice 2 left shoulder placement lines(This is not a separate file.)

Stitch out the black placement lines.

Line up the placement lines from Part #1 on the fabric piece with the new black lines. Use the points where the lines cross as your center points for each placement. Finish stitching part 2.

Remove from the hoop and remove excess stabilizer. Be careful not to remove or pull on the first set of placement lines. Re-hoop the sticky back and the tear away for the next part.

Part #3: You will continue with “bodice right side.” Below is the pic of the file.

kris bodice right side  judy curl bodice 3 right shoulder placement lines(This is not a separate file.)

Stitch out the black placement lines.

Line up the placement lines from Part #2 on the fabric piece with the new black lines. Use the points where the lines cross as your center points for each placement.

Finish stitching part 3.

Part #3 is finished. Remove from the hoop and remove excess stabilizer. Be careful not to remove or pull on the first set of placement lines.

Part #4: You will continue with “bodice bottom.” Below is the pic of the file.
kris bodice bottom  bottom bodice 1 placement lines

Stitch out the black placement lines.

Line up the placement lines from Part #3 on the fabric piece with the new black lines. Use the points where the lines cross as your center points for each placement.

Finish stitching part 4.

Part #4 is finished.

Remove from the hoop and remove excess stabilizer. Remove placement line threads.

Et, voila!
IMG_1693 by krispy_b2000.

As I stated above, I highly recommend doing a test stitch out.  Perhaps there are superwomen dressmakers who can do this right the first time, but weirdness happens!

Many thanks to the dressmakers who send me pics of their re-hooped confections!

Dressmaker & Embroiderer: Molly Lafayette
Designer & Digitizer: Me (AD 12 )

Molly Lafayette 1, AD 12 by you.

Dressmaker & Embroiderer: Judy Poole
Designer, Digitizer: Me  ( AD 11)

Judy Poole AD 11 by you.

Dressmaker & Embroiderer: Judy Poole
Designer, Digitizer: Me  ( AD 4)

Judy Poole front by you.

Dressmaker & Embroiderer: Lisa Horn
Designer, Digitizer: Me  (Revised AD 6: Curls)

DSCF4530 by you.

Dressmaker & Embroiderer: Mary Reilly
Designer, Digitizer: Me  (Scrollwork Neckline 5)

Mary Reilly finished bodice 1 by you.

You can see these dresses and more in the Taoknitter Arts Customer Creations gallery.

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Embroidery Heaven

See this beautiful thing?
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Maggie’s eyes say it all…

This is Gina’s embroidery…that I did…on a friend’s commercial machine.
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I am in heaven…the clarity of the stitches… the speed, the ginormous hoop…the amount of work I got done in one day…the speed….the speed…oohhhh, I am in heaven!
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 I am in love with that machine.  We have done a couple of school dresses, and our new school account is designed with this machine in mind.  And while I do have to interrupt my hermithood to go use this machine, it is SO worth it.
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The bodice embroidery is on this incredible, plush purple velvet (I have not run the lint roller over it in the pic so it looks…well…linty). Interesting stitching issue to solve…I knew that the stitches were going to sink into the velvet so I tried a couple of things. First, I knew that I would have to use a topper to help keep the stitches up. Gina sent along a relatively thick plastic topper (what brand is it, Gina?)…not a solvy, but it ripped fairly easily. I had also digitized in a pretty dense underlay thinking that it would help the top stitches stand up and out, but the test stitch-out ended up dipping, diving, and waving like a bad trip!!! So, I made the underlay very sparse, stabilized the back of the velvet with 2 layers of decorbond, and used 2 layers of the topper. Mission accomplished…clean-up still in progress.

The embroidery on the lavender fabric is for the sleeves. No topper needed. What you see has not been ironed yet…and there is no puckering! Another reason to love this machine!!!!

So, I will finish the front panels, back skirt, and crowns and ship it all back to Gina for assembly for her daughter.  I am liking being the embroidery lady…have 2 more to stitch-out for my 2 in current production…

This was all digitized using my Bernina Designer Plus V5 software. Converts easily into the format needed for the commercial machine.

Digitizing & Insomnia

It is late…dammit. Earlier today on into the evening I was so tired I could barely function. But I did not allow myself to take a nap so that I would sleep well. Made no difference as I am obviously not sleeping. I fully understand how folks become psychotic maniacs when sleep eludes them.

But, instead of going postal, I have been amusing myself by digitizing. I have a friend for whom I am going to embroider the fabric for her wedding dress. We have been looking at embroidery collections, but I have not seen anything that is as fine and wonderful as it should be for her. So, I digitized something for her to give her an idea of what we can do.

Here is just an idea of how we can cover the fabric.
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Here is the basic digitized piece in a wreath of three.
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Just for the hell of it, I tried the auto digitize function in my software function again…not really sure why as it never works well, and sure enough it did not. I keep waiting for the day that my EXPENSIVE software will do all the work for me…not holding my breath, tho’. It’s ok. I love doing the digitizing myself.

After I sent off the pics to my friend, sleep was still nowhere to be found, so I did a couple more.

This was fun.
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This was complicated, and if decide to use it somehow, I must go back in and clean up a few things.
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Maybe the next time I can’t sleep I will go embroider these in the sewing dungeon.

More fun

More playing with the Bernina Designer Plus Version 5 software. I am having such a blast! And learning so much as well.

So I have this shape: Susan designed it, I digitized it (that adventure here).
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After I digitized the piece of lace Susan designed, I began to really look at more complicated designs and realized that many (most?) are really not so complicated after all. (Is that a big, “DUH!!!”?? I slapped MY forehead!!) They are composed of one or two “building blocks” and manipulating them gives you a unique design. So, using more of the amazing buttons (functions) built into the software, I began playing. The design above gave me the lace below:
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A tiny edit and then addition gave me this:
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Then I looked at some of the celtic knot collections that I have acquired and messed with a triskele knot to get this:
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And THEN, I digitized a free clip art knot design I had, put it in the wreath tool, and got this:
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Removed some stitches, but as Susan pointed out to me, this would look much better if the design did not still look as if it was 5 separate chunks. I need to change the knot to connect them all. Told Susan SHE gets to redo the original line design for me. Criticise me, will you? I’ll put you to work!

Putting my money where my mouth is

No, no, no…I am not referring to the “Busy bee” post. No apologies for presenting an opinion and a general critique of Irish dance dress design. Another day I will expound upon the lack of any critical review of most aspects of Irish dance. Touchy bunch, we Irish.

This post has finally percolated through my brain after experimenting with a few things in my Bernina Designer Plus, Version 5, embroidery software. I was inspired by a fellow Bernina user that I “met” in an internet group. Her name is CJ and she is the author/owner of The Wandering Quilter. I have learned much on her website. One day recently, I was exploring her blog and found this treasure about making free-standing lace. I was in awe, and I had found a new challenge…lace-making…and learning to digitize free-standing lace designs. My computer has been getting a work out.

I have stated on my blog, on the Celtic Flame ID dressmakers board, and in a couple of Yahoo groups (IDD, BerninaArtista, etc) that I:
#1 – Love this software in general
&
#2 – Hate parts of it specifically. I dislike the parts that are supposed to make life as a digitizer easier such as the auto-digitizer, magic wand and auto-split functions. I find them not intuitive and usually useless.

So, the past couple of days I have taught myself to digitize lace. Fun, fun. This morning I asked Susan (my Feisdress partner) to give me something that I could turn into lace. I love what we have done, but I have decided that this particular design would be better suited to being stitched onto fabric or net. When I applied the principles of digitizing free-standing lace to this design, too much of what I did changed the basic look, so it evolved into an exercise in using two of the functions I dislike: auto-digitizer and the magic wand.

Let me say here, that I fully understand how the auto-digitizer and magic wand functions work. They must work very well for most folks or they would not exist. I usually try them when first digitizing a new design, but I always erase it and do it myself. I have documented my attempts at using them today…and I learned a few things. I took pics as I went along.

This is a section of the whole design Susan sent me. It is the approximate length of the mega-hoop. Pretty, isn’t it? (Please do not copy this design as it belongs to Susan.)
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This is the basic unit in a jpg format.
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And this is the result of the auto-digitizer. Yuck.  This rather bizarre organization is one of the dead give-aways that a digitizer chose the “easy” way.
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Now I realize it is a computer program and it reads the lines as they are…I expect to clean up the clarity of edges. But what is happening at the line junctions is unacceptable. Susan has sent me designs in an emf format in the past. We did some research and thought this might help the software better read the sequence of lines, but we have not had any better success.

Here is the magic wand at work. Double yuck.
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Here I changed the angle of the satin stitch that the magic wand generated, but in a design like this, there is always going to be a section that is wrong.
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So, before I scrapped the whole thing, I changed the original jpg. Using Paint, I separated the design at the appropriate junctures.

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Then, I tried auto-digitizer again and got this. Better, but still not right.
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So, I ungrouped the design and deleted the part that did not work.
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I fixed all the curliques. The area of each junction needed fixing mostly because my jpg edit was not as careful as it could have been, but also because I wanted them to overlap, not simply butt up against one another.
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Then I digitized the big curl myself, and voila!
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I did this whole thing below here myself before I did my experiments above.
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Now that I have explored further and found a way to use the auto-digitizer, I could use it in the future. It is a tool I could use for parts, not the whole thing.  However, it is not a quick solution.  In fact, it might even be more inefficient because I have to re-check everything and make adjustments.

So have I changed an opinion? Yes…sort of.   Auto-digitizer can be used and manipulated. Magic wand? No, still not magic for me.

Thanks for the inspiration, CJ!