In this article I’m focusing primarily on Designer’s Gallery Creator 3, which is the software that we use with our embroidery machine, but I expect other digitizing programs will at least behave similarly.
I went back and was looking at some of the earliest projects I made with our software, and as I was somewhat green, there were some obvious (at least now) things that would make the output much more clean. When you draw an area and close the outline, if you choose any option that creates stitches (line, fill, satin column, …) a green bow-tie (begin point) and a red bow-tie (end point) are automatically generated by the software. What is the relevance of these two points? Lets look at a flower (looks like something a 1st grader might draw, but I wanted to make this simple) that I just quickly drew for this discussion.
In the screen capture above, there are red dashed lines (indication of jump stitches) between the petals. The first petal that will stitch out is the upper left (which is controllable by the designer), leading around the petals clockwise. After the upper left petal is stitched (filled by control), the machine will leap from to the upper right petal, and begin stitching the second petal. The thread between the petals is still connected (unless you have one of the newer embroidery machines, that will clip the jump stitches for you), even though not stitched into the fabric between the petals. The red and green bow-ties I mentioned earlier are about to make more sense.
In the screen capture above, I clicked onto the upper left petal object, and it shows additional details, including the red and green bow-ties, even though they are a bit difficult to see when on top of each other.
Above you can see that I moved the red bow-tie to the small tip of the upper left petal, and by doing this, the red dashed line that was originally showing from the upper part of the left petal, is now drawn from the red bow-tie’s new location. So, the red bow-tie is important as this is where the machine shifts from the completed upper left petal, to the upper right petal (or whatever is next in your design). Now lets see what we can do to completely eliminate the red dashed line from the first petal to the second.
Ok, so by moving the green bow-tie on the upper right petal, down to the narrow tip of this petal, with it’s location basically against the red bow-tie of the first petal, there is no longer a jump stitch between these two petals.
Notice by moving the red bow-tie from the second petal down to the narrow point of it’s petal, we are prepping to remove the next jump stitch, which is going to the lower right petal. To finish the changes to the flower, so there are no jump stitches which looks better and requires less work to clean up, I moved the two bow-ties for the remaining petals so they were at the narrow point for their respective sections. This will allow the machine to stitch most efficiently, flowing from petal to petal, with no unnecessary movements or extra thread used.
The capture above is of a perfectly clean design, where there are no jump stitches. If you plan the order of what you are stitching, and utilize your control of the two bow-ties, you can make your projects as nice as possible. Just so you know, you can’t always get rid of every jump stitch, unless you change threads between every object!
Additionally, planning the order you stitch, when you have multiple objects with the same color, can save you a lot of thread changes, and time.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thank you for stopping by.
We own Designer’s Gallery Creator 3, which is a fairly new software we use to digitize what we want to embroider on our machine. We have a Baby Lock embroidery machine, but this software can save files in a range of formats, suitable for a wide audience of machines.
I have used graphics design programs for a very long time, and my first really good one that we purchased was Photoshop 2.5 (yep, it was current when we purchased it, so it’s been a long time). In many ways the new Creator software felt comfortable very quickly, as it almost seemed I was using some features from graphics design.
Ok, so I just wanted to lay a little background, but I’ll get on with the specifics. Recently, I was asked to create a couple of designs, and besides the graphical nature, also had some text that followed a curve. Creator has some built-in fonts (not including the True Type fonts that are also used by the rest of the computer), with a number of features to help the designer make some cool products, including text on a curve.
The fonts in this section of the program stitch out beautifully, but each has size restraints. Some may not work below 25mm, while another may go down to 7mm or even 5mm, as it’s smallest. Unfortunately, the font I chose, based on the size of my design, wouldn’t follow as tight of a curve as I needed.
To combat this, I ended up creating and rotating each letter, so it looked as if the text was just following the curve in my design. This is not a hard thing to accomplish, but can be a bit tedious. I’ve had more than a couple times where I got close to the end of the text, only to find the text going beyond the cutoff point. Then all of the letters must be shifted and adjusted, to again follow the curve of the design.
**Tip: During the above work, I got through about 8 – 10 letters and noticed each new letter had a more rough outline, compared to the original refined look when I started. I started digging in the setting to see if there was something I’d accidentally done to cause this issue. After going back and forth a couple times, I noticed one setting, Satin Density, was different on the beginning smooth letters compared to the most recent.
I decided to change the Satin Density setting from 9 to 4 on one of the rough letters, and sure enough, the letter was again the beautiful looking font. I went back through all of the text, and I noticed the first couple of letters had the Satin Density set at 4, where the next few were set at 5, and so on until it reached 9. As far as I know, I didn’t change any settings that would cause the non-static value in this field.
When I first noticed the difference in what I was seeing on the computer screen, I thought it might just be the software displaying a lower resolution version to save resources. After I found the changing values for the Satin Density, I was glad I hadn’t spent the time to stitch out the design, only to see a range of differing letter refinement.
If you have Creator, and use the built-in fonts (or add-ins that you’ve purchased), keep an eye on the basic look of the chosen font, just in case this isn’t an isolated issue. It took a little extra time to go back into each letter and adjust this setting, but I’d much rather do that rather than spin my wheels generating a design I can’t use, wasting thread and whatever fabric/item on which you are embroidering.
I hope this article is helpful and might save you some time. Thanks for stopping by, and please let me know if you have any question or comments.
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A couple of weeks ago I was going through some stuff in my shop and I found an older style Hock iron (O-1 steel) that I purchased around 1990. I was still really green relating to hand planes at that point, but I knew I wanted to learn how to both sharpen well and setup a plane to work like I’d seen from some experienced guys. I hadn’t ever used any of the Hock tools before, at the time when I purchased the iron, but there was something about their products that led me to believe it was a good buy. Boy, I was a good judge of character (at least about the Hock tools, lol)!
Ok, fast forward some 26 years later and I was completely surprised that I still had that iron. For some reason I thought I’d sold one of my old planes, with that iron in it, and that it was long gone! What a nice surprise it was still around.
I checked the edge on the Hock iron and it wasn’t even close to being sharp, so I used my usual sharpening techniques, with my 1000-grit Shapton Glass-stone and my 8000-grit Norton water-stone. A couple of minutes later (O-1 is one of the fastest steels to sharpen, yet this iron holds it’s edge a long time) it was razor sharp, and ready to take it’s rightful place in my oldest Bailey #3 hand plane.
The iron that I’ve had in the old Bailey was from 1892, and was a laminated piece. It always held an edge extremely well, which satisfied me greatly. After swapping the old Stanley iron for this much younger, but older-styled Hock iron, I of course had to test the replacement and see how it compared.
In the last 26 years, I’ve made a number of wooden hand planes, and purchased all of their irons from Hock. Each of these thicker irons performed exceptionally well, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to notice much of a difference between the two irons for my #3. I took some shavings on a number of different boards, from hard Maple, Purple Heart, Cherry, Oak… and I was truly amazed at the superior surface the Hock iron provided.
I was totally blown away! I’ve always thought the old laminated Stanley irons were as good or better than anything else out there, but it is obvious my perception was a bit off.
I felt the need to share my results with anyone who might be interested in reading it, so others could also benefit from my experiment. Of course, this was not conducted in a true scientific environment, or using scientific protocols, nor does it indicate all others will get the same results as I did. Even though the new products Hock is currently making may be slightly different than the older version I posses, Hock’s quality control is good, and will still present you with an equally high quality O-1 iron.
You can check out quite a few of the Hock lineup of irons and other tools, if you click on the Highland Woodworking link on my page.
Thank you for stopping by to check out this article. I hope this information is beneficial. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Ok, sorry again for the lack of recent posts, but my last post hopefully informed everyone as to why I’ve been away from the site.
I bought some more material for knife blades, even though it wasn’t quite as thick, and had a different “feature”. The blanks I bought had some holes in them, and the location of the holes presented an issue, where I would need to either make the tang much more narrow or include a section of a hole. I decided on the latter, which had some positive aspect (stronger), and not quite negative, but I suppose challenging (tang shape other than rectangular adds some extra work) aspect to it.
As I do regularly now, I placed the tang of a blade on the inside of one half of the handle, and trace around the tang with a pencil. As this batch of knives is a little bit smaller than the most recent knife I wrote about (here, in case you haven’t yet read about it), the tang isn’t as wide. Both the width of the tang, as well as the shape (with the small portion of a circle), changed my work strategy a bit. On the last knife, the tang was wide enough to comfortably use the standard iron in my Lie-Nielsen No. 71 (Large Router Plane) to excavate the waste wood, and providing a flat and level “floor” which the tang rests upon.
The smaller tang on the current knives is too narrow to effectively use the No. 71, unless I was to shift to one of the small blades made for the Lie-Nielsen No. 271 (Small Router Plane), but I currently only have the 3/32″ Pointed Tip blade which wouldn’t really be very efficient. They do offer a 1/4″ Square Tip blade, and with the area nearest the hole/circle pinching in to even more narrow width, it would still fit nicely.
I don’t presently have a 1/4″ Square Tip blade, for my No. 71, so it was time to improvise. I recall seeing an old home-made tool, that used a small block of wood for its body, and a narrow chisel as the blade, to create a router plane. I quickly went through my off-cuts and found a small piece of white oak (this could have been a section of 2 x 4, or other softwood, as well), and an old Stanley chisel. I made sure the chosen chisel would fit into the tang recess areas, and then compared the chisel’s dimensions with my drill bits, and made sure the bit was just slightly smaller than the chisel. On a regular router plane, the blade is made from an “L” shaped piece of steel, and the cutting portion of the blade is held so there is a clearance angle between the heal of the blade and the work surface. Knowing this, I held the chisel I planned to use as my router plane’s blade, and when I saw a similar clearance, I set my adjustable angle gauge so it mimicked the angle of the chisel’s shaft. I held the angle gauge up against the side of the oak body, making sure to pay attention to where the blade would come through, which I wanted to have just behind the leading edge of the body. After determining where the blade would exit, I again used the angle gauge to locate the entry point for the blade, and the drill bit. Before I started drilling, I placed the angle gauge off to the side of the entry point, so I could use it as a visual guide to make sure I drilled the hole at the correct angle, similar to what Peter Galbert does when drilling into his Windsor seat blanks.
With the hole drilled (which is the basic path the chisel will follow), I used the same chisel planned as the blade, to remove some of the excess wood, but also used some narrow Japanese chisels to speed up the process. I worked mostly from the top side of the body, but as it got closer to coming through the bottom of the body, I sighted in a few well placed strikes with my most narrow Japanese chisel, to create an opening much closer to the size of the chisel. This helped prevent the wood breaking out, when the main chisel first came through the sole, and the location of the smaller chisel cuts made sure I didn’t create a loose fit. The chisel/blade will only advance with a firm strike, which gives me confidence the “blade” won’t shift either in or out, during use.
After I had the blade all the way through, I traced out an area surrounding the blade, which I removed so it wouldn’t jam up as quickly.
Using the new tool
After I chiseled away bulk wood in the tang-waste area of the knife handle, I used this new tool to make sure all of the tang area was the same depth. When I shifted to the second half of the knife handle, I decided to see if I could get the tool to behave decently, with it already set to full depth. I simply rotated the whole tool up on it’s leading edge, which raised the cutter away from the wood. I slowly pivoted the tool down until it was lightly cutting, and went over the whole tang area. I pivoted the tool’s sole down closer to the work, removing material until even again, and repeated until I was at final depth. This made for a fairly rapid process, without the need to stop and change the projection of the blade.
While this purpose-made tool worked decently, I still prefer the blade presentation the adjustable metal router planes provide, as I noticed more chattering on my new tool. One thing I did, after I was finishing up, was to take another similarly small chisel and use it as a scraper. I held it almost vertical, then tilt it slightly towards myself (around 15 degrees), making sure the flat back of the chisel was facing me, and pull this “scraper” towards me, to take super-controlled “cuts”. You really don’t need to create a hook on a chisel’s cutting edge that you put into use as a scraper, and I think you’ll find it amazing just how much control you have, and how fine the resulting surface is. One must, and this is for both the router plane build as well as when using it for scraping: make sure your chisel is sharp! It truly makes all the difference.
Thank you for stopping by to check out the article, and I hope you will find the information useful. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
This post is solely to share why I’ve been absent. Unfortunately, even when one is retired, life’s responsibilities are still chewing on you and that’s exactly what played at least a part. My son moved to West Virginia, and with him moving out of a condo we own, it was finally time to go through all of the items that were stored in the second bedroom. And did I mention this condo is on the 3rd floor, AND there is no elevator?? With the nice Texas heat, and my continued rehab from my last back surgery, and it took quite a bit longer prepping the condo to the point where we could lease it. First time in a long time that we are again empty nesters, so neither of my “assistants” were around to run the loads up and down the stairs or simply to give me a hand. The condo is now prepped and the next lease is just about to begin, so hopefully this will get me closer to being regular in my writing again!! For those that haven’t noticed my previous posts where I shared my InstaGram account @LeeLairdWoodworking as well as my Twitter account @LeeLairdWW, you can always check these to see if I’ve posted anything, as I can sometimes post a quickie on one of these even if I don’t have time to write a full article.
I have an almost complete post regarding making a useful tool, so please check back later this afternoon or evening. I’ll do my best to have the article up shortly.
Thank you for stopping by.