What is the BLF format?

Posted by on October 31, 2010 | No Comments

Every Amazing Design collection/design comes with a multitude of machine formats, but also a BLF (a file unique to Amazing Designs and Designer’s Gallery). Do you know the importance of this format? How it benefits you? Why you should have it to your computer as well? Well, now you will.

The BLF contains both outline and stitch information, whereas most machine formats only contain raw stitch information. This distinction is extremely important if a consumer wants to properly edit a design.

To illustrate the difference between the two, we can use a simple segment shape like a circle as an example. BLF files contain high-level information that recognizes the actual shape of the segment as a circle; conversely a machine format does not contain any information to say that those stitches compose a circle. 

Most machine formats contain only the location of the stitch penetration points and commands that tell the machine when to stop, color change, trim, etc. With the BLF, a user can resize, deform, node edit the outline circle in any way, including creating a new shape from it.  When stitches are regenerated, they will be generated based on the new size/shape and will have the correct placement of stitches and density for that shape.

It will also retain any patterned fill that the original segment contained.  So, when working with or editing a BLF, stitches are regenerated when a segment is altered and are optimized for the new shape/size of that segment. The integrity of the design is not compromised.

Now, don’t you want to open your Amazing Designs software or Designer’s Gallery software and work with a BLF file?!

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Needle Knowledge!

Posted by on September 27, 2010 | No Comments

So, I know there are a variety of needles on the market — different brands, different sizes, different uses. But, what are the basics when it comes to needles; what is the anatomy of a needle?

Butt: Beveled end allows easy insertion in the needle bar
Shank: Household neeldes have a flat shank and allow perfect positioning of the needle in the sewing machine needle bar
Shoulder: Sloping area transitioning between the shank and the blade.
Blade: Needle size is determined by the blade diameter
Groove: Cradles and guides thread to the eye; may vary according to needle type
Scarf: Indentation above the eye that allows the bobbin hook to smoothly grab the thread under the throat plate to create a stitch; varies based on size of the needle
Eye: Hole through which the thread passes; size and shape vary based on needle type
Point and Tip: Penetrates material; length, shape and size vary according to needle types

For additional needle information and our source for this information, visit Schmetz.

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Don’t Forget to Backup Your Design Files!

Posted by on September 13, 2010 | No Comments

What fun would embroidery be without our computers? I love all the editing and cataloging capabilities software allows me. I love knowing that I can open “My Designs” folder and see all the glorious categories of designs I’ve “hoarded” over the years. And, I would be completely devistated if something happened to my computer and I lost everything!

This brings me to my point — don’t forget to backup your design files! There are several ways you can do this (they’re all easy and pain-free). You could burn your design files to a CD-RW (if you have a large collection, you may need to burn them to several CD-RW).

Another option is purchasing an external harddrive and backing up the files on it. An external harddrive works like a thumb drive, all you have to do is plug it into your USB port and drag-and-drop the files. They come in all different sizes, shapes, colors and storage capacity and are easy to find at your local electronics store, big-box store, or office supply store.  How easy is that?

Regardless of how you choose to backup you files, it is important to do so. You never know when you might spill a cup of coffee on your computer and zap everything. So, make a date of it (such as the first of the month) and backup your files reguarly!

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Sewing Machine Maintenance

Posted by on August 29, 2010 | No Comments

Diane Kron, expert stitcher and in-house project maker, write this about tuning up your sewing machine:

With the kids back at school, it’s time to get out the sewing machine and start on those projects that you have been thinking about.  Before you start to sew, here are a couple of easy maintenance tasks that you can do yourself to get your machine in good working order. Use canned air to blow the lint & dust from around the bobbin case, replace the needle and if you have the mechanical type of machine be sure to oil your machine as instructed by the manufacturer. If you have any other problems you should have it professionally serviced.

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Embroidery Problems…

Posted by on August 21, 2010 | No Comments

Recently, my embroidery machine and I were at war. I would start to sew a design and the thread would break about 10 stitches into it. After several failed attempts and as my furstration mounted, I tried other options.

I changed my bobbin, sprayed canned air into the bobbin case area to clean it out, and changed my needle and thread spool. The thread still broke!

I slowed my machine speed to the lowest setting… the thread still broke!

I changed the design, hoop and stabilizer… the thread still broke!

I changed my fabric and the design density setting on my embroidery machine… the thread still broke!

At this point, I had exhausted all possibilities and lugged the machine into work. Surely our technical team here could figure out what was going on! The called me within an hour in regards to my issues… I was embarassed. I had totally forgotten that I changed my presser foot height when I used the pearl and piping foot earlier in the week. I never set the foot height back and it was causing my machine to break threads! Ugh!

What a relieft! But, lesson learned… before lugging the machine to be fixed, make sure your setting are back to default for the entire machine!

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Hoop? Frame? It holds my fabric, right?!

Posted by on August 13, 2010 | No Comments

Which is right when it comes to embroidery — hoop or frame? BOTH! Both terms are used interchangeably when talking about the two pieces of plastic or wood that hold your stabilizer and/or fabric taut during machine embroidery.

So, don’t let anyone fool you, one does not refer to the inside or outside, one is not larger than the other and one is not more correct.

Ellure/Emore - Hoop and Grid (5" x 7") - Baby Lock AccessoriesWhile we’re talking about hooping, here are a few tips to help you out:
• Use the smallest frame possible for your design
• Try to keep your hoops clean and prevent sticky build-up from occurring (if it does happen, use some hoop cleaner to get it off — not heavy solvents that could weaken the frame’s material)
• Preshrink your fabric to help prevent puckering
• Use proper hooping technique: hoop your item(s), adjust your hoop tension with the screw(s), un-hoop then re-hoop your item(s)

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Get Perfect Stitching…

Posted by on July 17, 2010 | No Comments

…start with the right thread. As a newer sewist and embroiderer, I can use all the tips I can get. Recently, I stumbled across this book, Threads Guidebook — The Story Unwinds by Nancy Zieman.

Threads Guidebook Book—The Story UnwindsAvoid devastating results by knowing what threads to choose for each specific project. Using Nancy’s guide, you’ll learn:

• Why fiber content, weight, and ply are critical in selecting thread
• What types of thread are available and how to choose one for your project

Plus, get helpful charts and a trouble shooting guide with great tips — only $7.99 (at Nancy’s Notions)!

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Monogramming DO’s!

Posted by on May 29, 2010 | No Comments

Worried about monogramming your project wrong? Well, have no fear, here are some quick tips.

Single Monogram:
Generally a single monogram has the first initial of the last name in the middle, flanked by the first initial of the first name on the left and the first initial of the middle name on the right. And, the first initial of the last name is slightly larger than the other two.
For example: Jennifer Nancy Erikson becomes JEN

Couple Monogram:
Again, use the first initial of the couple’s last name in the center, slightly larger than the other two letters. Then, place the first initial of her first name to the left and the first initial of his first name to the right.
For example: Anna Finnigan and Nathan Finnigan become AFN

Single Letter Initial:
Today a single initial is very fashionable on almost anything. But, what initial do you use? If the item to be embroidered is a woman’s accessory – hand bag, bath robe, jewelry, etc, then use the first initial of her name.
If the item to be embroidered is unisex or for a married couple – towel, napkins, pillow, etc, then use the first initial of their last name.

Man’s Shirt Monogram:
If you’re going to monogram a man’s cuff or collar, then use the first initial of their first, middle, and last names in order and all at the same height.
For example: James Kirby Wilson becomes JKW

Modern Monogram:
Today the traditional rules are often forgotten, in place of modern layouts and different ways of mixing up the letters to make them unique and beautiful. Overlapping letters, initials inside another, stacked vertically, or with the last named spelled out are becoming increasingly popular.

And, the best part, none of these unique and fun monograms are wrong!

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Is Your Emboridery Outline Off?

Posted by on May 25, 2010 | No Comments

One of the frequently asked questions the Amazing Designs support team is asked is: The outline to my emboridery design if off, why is this?

Likely causes include inadequate stabilization and improper hooping. If the design stitches properly on a stable fabric using a cutaway stabilizer, then check your hooping and stabilizer type. Please verify that you are using the correct type and weight of stabilizer for your fabric and stitch count and ensuring that your fabric & stabilizer are hooped tight enough. If you were to flick your fabric & stabilizer it should thump like a drum. If it does not make this sound, re-hoop it so that the fabric is more taut. Make sure not to pull on the fabric so hard that it will pucker once it is no longer taut in the hoop. A brief breakdown of stabilizer and fabric follows:

  • Cut Away Stabilizer (weights will vary)- Knits (t-shirts, sweatshirts), loosely woven fabrics, fleece, leather, vinyl or afghans
  • Tear Away Stabilizer (weights will vary)-for designs on stable fabrics. Use multiple layers is needed for higher stitch count designs.
  • Wash Away Topping- to put on top of high pile fabrics such as terry cloth, to smooth out the fabric for embroidery
  • Wash Away Stabilizers- for free standing embroidery and fabrics where no stabilizer should be seen after the design is complete
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Embroidery Thread…What? Why?

Posted by on April 13, 2010 | No Comments

When embroidering, it is important to use the correct thread in your bobbin and needle — yes, it does make a difference.

You need to use machine embroidery thread in your needle. Embroidery thread comes in different sizes and materials, but the most popular is a 40wt. or 30wt. rayon thread. Check out Madeira embroidery thread for some options.

As for your bobbin, use the recommended bobbin thread for your machine brand for all purpose embroidery. If you choose to use a pre-wound bobbin, be sure to check your machine brand recommended pre-wounds before purchasing.

What are the consequences for not using the right thread? Your machine thread may break more often, not fill correctly, the pull compensation could be off and you machine could skip stitches. Bottom line — thread choice is critical!

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