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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Commercial Embroidery Machine

I have gotten some very nice compliments on the embroidery for Shaylah…and a couple of questions, observations, and a bit of advice that I am going to explore.  I have tried to answer some of the questions in the comments.

Marlene wrote:

Hi, Anne.  I always enjoy looking at your work and creativity.  Your new design is gorgeous – as usual.  *-)

And am I hearing the kching of “how can I afford my own commercial machine” bouncing through your head?  ROFL 

With regard to your statement under the last picture about underlay issues (and a decision to back off the underlay), have you tried using both edge run together with double zigzag?  The edge run would reduce the push/pull factor of the satin stitches, keeping the columns uniform, and the double zigzag would help lift the satin stitches off the fabric.  If you’ve not tried that combination before, it might be worth looking into.  A closer density of the double zigzag stitching may allow you to lessen the density of the
satin stitches and still achieve great coverage.  Keep up the good work!

She’s got me!  How I would love to have this machine!!!  My hermithood would be complete!  Hermit Extraordinaire!!

And I am going to explore the the idea of the double zig-zag…I included this here for other digitizers exploring their craft.  Thank you very much, Marlene.

My friend’s commercial machine is a Toyota…info for this next comment.

What size hoop did you use? Have you seen the Toyota machine with the 1.2m x 0.45m hoop? I’m fascinated by that possibility (just not by the pricetag….), after sitting for many hours over the Bernina megahoop shifting it up and down the notches, not to mention rehooping! I’ve heard the Toyota actually stitches slower than the Bernina, just doen’t need all the thread changes, rehooping etc. How did you think they compared? Though it sounds like you need the Toyota like me!!!

All the best

Mary

The hoop I used was the 14×19.5 inches… this is the biggest sewing field that this machine has.  A wide center front panel might still require one re-hooping, but this would be cake on this machine!  This Toyota machine stitches MUCH faster than the Bernina…I have the 200E…I love it dearly and the test stitch out for Shaylah’s design looked just as good as the Toyota.  BUT, my Bernina can in no way compete with the speed…if I get anywhere near this speed on the Bernina, the threads break constantly, the machine bounces, and the motor gets way too hot. 

I actually dreamed last night that I had one of these machines in my dungeon…in my own space…shower not needed for operation.  Aahh.

Yeah, well…

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!

Embroidering in the Hoop-it-all

Couple of folks have expressed interest in how I did the Rose of Tralee sash in the Hoop-it-all so here goes.

Here is the digitized front sash. I used Bernina Designer Plus Version 5. (You can read my opinion about this software here…it is near the bottom of the post.) In the center, running left to right, there is a black line. This is a line of long stitches I added to mark the long center of the design, a center that would not change when I split the design. There are also 3 red crosses: 1 after the flower, 1 on the bottom of the “g”, and 1 above the “r” in “Tralee.” These reference stitches were digitized to stitch out first.
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Below you can see the crosses more clearly and a bit of the stitches for the applique process.
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The important thing to remember about the HIA is that although it affords you a larger stitching field, the embroidery machine is still only able to compute in its own sewing fields, the largest being the mega hoop. But, in order to use the HIA, you cannot use the mega hoop because mega hoop designs are automatically split and as that stitch out progresses you are asked to move the mega hoop to different positions that the machine recognizes because of the construction of the mega hoop, something you cannot do with the HIA. So, I used the large oval hoop as a reference to split the design for the HIA.

Here is a pic of the entire front sash as I begin splitting .
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The HIA Super Giant-long hoop has a vertical sewing field of about 21 inches… this front sash was a bit over that, so first I stitched out the flower in the oval hoop and then began using the HIA. In order to split this design into separate files, I copy what I need out of the original full front sash file and create new files, 4 in all for this front sash. Here’s the flower with 1 red reference cross and a shortened black center reference line. This black line works in 2 ways: 1) all the split parts of the design are centered on the same line so that I can line up the parts in the oval hoop manually on the center line of the grid; and 2) before I lay my fabric down on the HIA sticky stabilizer when I begin the rest of the sash, I run this line without thread so it punches holes in the sticky stabilizer for a reference line that I can align my marked fabric with. This line is not stitched out onto the fabric.
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After the flower was finished, I attached the sticky stabilizer to the HIA, opened the next design (the beginning of the words), tightened the hoop into the correct placement on my machine, and punched the black and red reference lines in the stabilizer by, again, running the machine with no thread. Then, I lined up the center of the fabric (that already has the flower) and the first red cross that was stitched out (in white thread onto the flower portion) with the lines punched into the stabilizer. You can see the red cross in the pic above and then vaguely in the pic below centered on the broken blue center line at the top of the hoop above the “R.” I then centered the rest of the fabric onto the center line of the stabilizer (which matched the center lines of the design files), threaded the machine and off I went.
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The stitch out above includes another red reference cross which sits in the crook of the bottom of the “g.” (Cannot really see it here.) This was stitched out in white onto the fabric in the design above so that when I was moving the hoop to the new position for the next design, I could line up my designs by using the cross as reference points for my needle. I do this by advancing the stitches on the Bernina computer screen to find the appropriate stitch, and then move the HIA until the needle pierces a corresponding needle-point. Then I tighten the HIA into place, and the next portion begins. Sometimes I did use the knob on the machine that shifts the design in the hoop by tiny increments to get it lined up horizontally.
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I repeated the process for the back of the sash, though it was more involved because of the overlaps. I still used the reference lines, but this one involved more movement up and down of the hoop. The parts of this design were numbered from left to right as follows: 4,1,5,2,6,3,7. We did decide finally that the back sash would only include the first 5 parts so I numbered these as 3,1,4,2,5. This all fit in the hoop. But there was another challenge…this design stitched out by moving the hoop down then up then down two then up 1…damn. So, here is what I did- I attached the fabric onto the sticky stabilizer and then stitched out the reference line & crosses (in white) as follows: 1) the short, straight black line at the far left which marked the top of the design and the first red cross; 2) then I opened each design in the finished order you see below so I could line up the first cross to then stitch out the second cross. When I was done, I had the reference crosses stitched out in the appropriate places on the fabric. Then I started over and began stitching out the actual designs, beginning with designs 1 and 2 which were the green vines and then 3, 4, & 5 which were the flowers. And it was so easy because everything was already lined up!
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I hope this was clear. If not, please ask questions. It is good for me to have to articulate this.