Friday, April 27, 2018

It's been eleven years, here's my best advice:


Eleven years ago today I received my first embroidery machine, and that turned out to be a life changing day! I have learned so much over the last 11 years, and from the beginning have done my best to share what I have learned with the embroidery community. 
Today I have one very important piece of advice to share:
This is YOUR responsibility, no one else's.

Yes, you may be ordering late at night on your phone before a coupon code expires, or ordering from work on your lunch break, so I understand the need to wait until you are sitting at the correct computer before you download. But do it ASAP. Here's why... life happens! Not just to you, but the people on the other side of the computer. 

In my time doing custom embroidery I have known digitizers who:
-had websites with download links that expire in a short time, and that setting was out of their control.
-as their business grew their original cheap shopping cart could no longer handle the increase in business and had to upgrade to something completely different, but previous customer records could not be imported over, so everyone started with a clean slate.
-had websites that completely crashed and they lost all customer records.
-had their entire home burn up in flames, including all aspects of their business.
-suffered from horrible illness or family tragedy
-passed away 

Those are all examples of unfortunate circumstances that could make it impossible for you to return to their site and download design files. But what about the possibility of exciting circumstances...
-a digitizer that has a new baby and wants to be an exclusively stay at home parent?
-a digitizer that has a new/different job opportunity open up?
-a digitizer that is ready to retire?

Aren't digitizers like the rest of us? Can't they change jobs, too? 
If a digitizer is no longer producing new designs and dedicating time to promoting themselves, it is generally not cost effective to continue maintaining a website. Sure, it's convenient for us if they do (we can always return to the site to download files or use their site as a search engine). But if sales don't exceed the costs of monthly hosting and bandwidth charges... there's no point in keeping the site open. No one should be expected to go into debt for OUR convenience.

Let's say you decide to close your custom embroidery business. But you have several customers that haven't picked up their products and you have to pay for a storage unit to keep those items until they do. Are you going to keep paying for the storage unit month after month waiting for them to come around when they should have picked it up right away in the first place?? No, of course not! That's absurd, right? 

Soooooooo.... can we take a little bit of personal responsibility and acknowledge that when we buy a design from a digitizer, even if they do allow you to return to your order history to download, that is a perk, not a guarantee? When you buy a design, you are not also receiving indefinite cloud storage from the digitizer. Get your design, back it up, and go actually stitch it out! :)

If I may be so bold to add one last thing that might help the digitizers who ARE still in business STAY in business -- buy the designs yourself. Follow the terms of use. Do NOT share files with anyone. 
And maybe, just maybe, consider happily paying full price for a design once in a while. ;) 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School bags

I took this picture Sunday night before going to sleep, all of our bags packed and ready for the first day of school!
Annaliese's backpack from last year (errr, two years ago!)  is still holding up, so I didn't have any monogramming to do for her.
Dashiell picked out this Spider-man backpack and lunchbox set. I knew I'd make a keychain type tag for his lunchbox.
We debated (at great length) WHERE the monogram should go on his backpack. Front and center didn't work because it would cover up the spider symbol.  He nixed every suggestion I made, and I physically couldn't do his suggestions. Boy, he was getting frustrated. Finally he said, "can you put it here?" and pointed to the little plastic sleeve for contact info. I said, "sure!"
NO JOKE this took less than five minutes. I hooped tearaway, sprayed adhesive, laid down a piece of black vinyl, stitched the monogram, trimmed the rectangle to proper size and slid it in. EASIEST bag monogramming job ever!

I was going to use ribbon for the tag on his lunchbox but realized the vinyl would be super cool. I just monogrammed a strip, folded it in half around a D-ring, and stitched it up on my sewing machine! We used 8CP Spidey font for his monogram
As I have done in the past, I bought a couple Publix shopping bags and monogrammed them to deliver school supplies in. I picked I2S Box Font Applique for the big monograms which made it easy to cover the printed logo. To make things simpler, I skipped the satin stitches and just made the applique raggy (yes, I admit I was doing this at 9pm on Sunday night). I love this print with the tiny owls!
I used Cinnamon Cake to add Mrs. Harvey's name:
And I used Jelly Bean to add Ms. Sperling's name:
I thought they turned out cute!

If you don't own the Box Font alphabet set or number set,  they are on sale until Friday morning! You can read all the details on the I2S Facebook page, but in short -- it's because they are my favorite and we are celebrating my 1 year anniversary with I2S :) ENJOY!

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Day of School 2014

Well, the day finally arrived... my little man is in kindergarten, and my big girl is in fifth grade! How did this happen?!?
This is the one year that they will be at the same school, Dashiell's first year as a Springwood Owl, and Annaliese's last. I am so incredibly blessed that not only do they want to wear applique shirts to school, but they genuinely want to MATCH! Mommy is soaking it in and taking advantage as long as possible. :)
I knew I wanted to use owls, so when I saw Beau Mitchell Boutique's scholar owls at the beginning of summer, I knew they were it!  I added the text with I2S's Covered by Your Grace.
I used the Owl Scholar for Dashiell:
Out of all my aqua fabrics, he picked the chevron! I was surprised...
And the Owl Girl Scholar for Annaliese:
 I didn't really give Annaliese much of a choice on fabric, so thankfully she agreed with my vision, ha!
Here they are, ready to walk to their classrooms! They got lots of compliments on their shirts :)
They had a great first day and we anticipate an awesome year!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Expert Editing and More! (AG 2014 Part 2)

In my last blog post about Applique Getaway 2014, I mentioned that I taught a class, FONTastic! Expert Editing and More! It was a really fun experience. I said I would share some of what I taught in a second blog post. I cannot type word for word what I covered, but I will hit the highlights to show off this cute custom birthday shirt I made:
using elements from these designs from the Itch 2 Stitch:
I walked through the design editing process in both Embird Editor and Embrilliance Essentials, not only to help those who already own one of the programs, but to show their different strengths for those who want to purchase software so they could make a more informed decision. I picked these two programs because they are comparable in price AND they are the only two I am familiar with. Ha!
Spoiler alert: I love both programs for different reasons and can't really recommend one over the other -- I'm glad I have both! :)

I will briefly describe my process in each program, then at the end you can download my handout that goes into a bit more details. This is NOT an exhaustive review of everything these programs are capable of. I simply created a project to walk through that shows off the features I use the most. I also have several disclosures/disclaimers that I will put in detail at the bottom (I don't work for either Embird or Embrilliance, read and follow the Terms of Use for the designs you purchase, do not share your merged design files with other embroiderers, edit at your own risk). Ok, here we go!

I opened the 2 from the Football Varsity Applique Numbers set. I deleted the white stripes and laces
  • Embird: right click the white color box and select "delete" color
  • Embrilliance: expand the design, highlight the white step and delete
I merged in the Fishing Puppy Applique Design, then deleted the pole, string, and hook.
  • Embird: you can do the same as above, but with a multistep design if you aren't sure which color stops are which, you can right click a color box, select "separate all colors" to break the design into multiple elements. Then the thumbnails will make it clear what colors you should delete. Delete the pole/string/hook. Select all and rejoin those items back together. 
  • Embrilliance: expand the design, highlight the three steps and delete
I merged in the Birthday Dino Box Applique to borrow his party hat! Use the same steps as above to remove everything from the design EXCEPT the placement/tackdown/satin/dot for the hat. 

I moved the hat over on top of the puppy and rotated it
  • Embird: select the "rotate mode" button in left toolbar to free rotate the object
  • Embrilliance: click on the little blue dot in the upper right corner of selected object and drag it to rotate
In Embird only, I adjusted the pull compensation of the puppy so the satin stitch width of the puppy matched the satin stitch width of the hat. I separated all colors of the puppy, selected just the satin stitch steps and went up to Edit -> Pull Compensation. Entering positive values increases pull compensation (makes it thicker) and negative values makes it thinner. I usually start with something like 0.2 or 0.3, undoing and trying again until it looks just right!
(It is my understanding you can adjust pull compensation in Embrilliance, but you have to own Enthusiast, too, which I do not have at this time) 

To make the puppy a bit more girly I added a heart to the collar. I first merged in the Love Bug Ladybug Applique then deleted everything but one little heart
  • Embird: select the love bug design. Then down in the lower right panel, click on one of the pink pink elements. In the workspace the item selected will turn red. I checked to make sure I had the right cheek heart highlighted, then right-click and select "delete all items except this one". BOOM the whole design is gone except for that little heart! 
  • Embrilliance: expand the design, highlight the pink step that contains two hearts and copy/paste. Now deleted the entire ladybug design, what you will have left is a new object that is just the hearts. To separate the hearts, you will watch it in stitch simulator, and add a color stop between the hearts. Then you can delete the left heart leaving behind the right heart. 
I reflected the heart so it was tilting the way I wanted
  • Embird: click the "mirror horizontally" button
  • Embrilliance: click the "flip horizontally" button
I removed the overlapped satin stitches from the designs elements that were being covered by a different applique design. 
  • Embird: I started with the dog/hat first. We do NOT want to mess with the placement and tackdown stitches, so on the bottom object click on the satin stitch step and select "hide all colors except this one". Then select the two overlapped applique objects and go to Edit -> Mask. This will remove the satin stitches that are under other stitches, but now we want to remove the stitches that will also be covered by fabric. Hide all colors of the top design, and then use the Freehand Select Mode to lasso the unwanted stitches. Click the split button, which will break those stitches out into it's own object, and delete it. Now join everything together and your little dog will have a fun party hat attached!
    Put the dog where you want on top of  the applique 2 and do that process of removing overlapped stitches again. 
  • Embrilliance: Position the dog/hat/heart exactly where you want on top of the 2. Assign "applique position" or "applique material" to each color of the placement/tackdown steps of all the applique elements. Then click the "remove hidden stitches" button and BOOM they are gone! Watch this Embrilliance video to see it in action: Remove Hidden Stitches
I recolored the design so my preview image in software would match as best as possible the threads I would actually choose at the machine. 
  • Embird: right click a color box in the upper right panel for a whole bunch of options, but most likely you will "select color from catalog" to change each color as needed
  • Embrilliance: click the color box in the lower right panel to select a new color. 
Last, I added the name using the 1.5" size of Twinkle Star
  • Embird: merge in the individual letter files. I rearranged the stitch order of the letters as needed by dragging and dropping them in the upper right hand panel. I roughly placed them where I wanted in a straight line, selected them all and used the "align" button to make more exact changes (align bottoms so they are perfectly straight, with the exception of the y that dangles below the baseline -- in that case you select a different letter like the n and the y, and align tops). Select all the letters, join them, then drag into position. 
  • Embrilliance: install the BX file that comes in the zip (assuming the digitizer includes it). Click the A button to create a lettering object, type the name, select the font and BOOM there it is! Drag into position.
In both cases since it was the same font/name/hoop, the name was too wide for the hoop, so I had to resize. Both programs you can either drag the design to the final size you want, you can adjust the size by typing in a percentage change, or adjust size by typing in an exact dimension. In Embird it is very important that if you attempt to resize and do not like the results, UNDO and try again from the original. Embird recalculates stitches with each change you make, and that can introduce errors with a cumulative negative effect. (Embrilliance does not recalculate stitches until you save, so you can play until your heart's content.)

Select everything and be sure it is centered in your hoop and still fits the hoop dimensions.
FINALLY Save As a new design name! Now sew!

One thing I wanted to point out at my machine -- remember how we did not change the placement and tackdown stitches and only deleted the overlapped satin stitches? Well this is what it looks like at the machine when you finish the 2: 
Trim those jumps and then run the placement stitch for the dog: 
The fabric is going to overlap. Sometimes that is ok sometimes, not. For example, when I laid the yellow fabric on top, the stripes show through!
I did not want stripes running through my dog, so I carefully trimmed away the parts of the 2 that would be covered by the dog fabric: 
And now I'm ready to continue on. That added extra step at the machine really helps the overall product look like it was digitized that way instead of merged. 
Special thanks to Whimsical Fabric for donating the lovely fabrics I used on this shirt! 

I *think* that accurately summarizes everything, but it is very hard to type it all out. I hope someday to record some new how-to videos, but that is still a ways off as I transition to a new computer. 

You can download a pdf of the handout we distributed at AG. Again, it is not word for word, but it does include images of the buttons I clicked for each step of the process.

And lastly, my disclosures/disclaimers:
I bought Embird Editor myself 7 years ago because my mother-in-law basically required me to before she gave me my embroidery machine, and I have used it basically every day since. Embrilliance Essentials and AlphaTricks Publisher were complimentary (as an employee of The Itch 2 Stitch) so I could create BX files for our fonts, and I've used it for 6 months. I am not an employee of either Embird or Embrilliance and I did not receiving kickbacks from either for teaching the class. I'm simply a fellow embroiderer showing off what you can do with good editing software. 

I used I2S designs and fonts in my class... and that's primarily because I was at AG with my boss! But I also have her permission to pick apart her designs to come up with something new. And that brings me to my first disclaimer -- please read the terms of use for the designs you buy and be sure to follow them. For the most part digitizers don't mind if you do design editing for personal use. But there are some who explicitly state "You may not use our designs or any parts of our designs to create a new design  for your own use."  Make sure you can abide by the TOU before purchasing. 

Assume the TOU for the original designs allow you to sell final products, then you could do something like take an apple from one digitizer's designs, borrow some eyes from a second design, pluck some sunglasses off of a third design and add "School is Cool" using a font to make a custom design to stitch on a shirt for your kid or for a customer. But you CANNOT share or sell that design file to another embroiderer. You did not digitize any part of that merged design, and therefore do not have the rights to distribute the design to anyone else. If a friend a couple states away wants to make one too... she would have to buy all the designs and merge it herself. 

And finally... as soon as you open a design in software to resize, rearrange stitch order, delete elements, add elements, adjust pull compensation... you have basically voided the warranty so to speak. A digitizer cannot guarantee a proper stitchout once you have modified the original file. So edit at your own risk!! I am very confident in Embird's abilities to edit designs, but that's because I have put it to the test and been pleased with the results. Do not take my word for it! Test your first merge jobs on scraps before putting it on a valuable blank. 

Ok, now, go have fun! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Applique Getaway 2014!! (Part 1)

It's hard to believe Applique Getaway 2014 was three weeks ago already! Like last year I combined my attendance at the conference with a long family road trip. We've been home for a week now, I'm basically caught up with my I2S work after vacationing for two weeks (you really should check out all the cuteness Cristy digitized while I was gone), and I'm ready to share my AG experience! Like last year's post, I'm writing this as my personal diary entry about my experience. However, since I taught a class this year, I'm going to talk about the details of what I covered there in a second post. Here we go!

My journey to Frisco got off to a rocky start. We were supposed to leave Thursday morning at 5am, but between midnight and 2am my son threw up three times. :(  I got ZERO sleep worrying about what in the world I should do... drive by myself and leave sick kiddo at home with daddy, ruining ALL of our plans for the trip? Get in the car anyway not sure if it was a fluke or did we all have a stomach bug? Either way I HAD to go, I was teaching!! I felt nauseous (but it was just nerves).
He woke up chipper and ready to go see Grandmama, so I decided to "lay out the fleece" so to speak -- if no one threw up in the morning we would leave at noon.
We said goodbye to my husband and pulled out, making it to Baton Rouge in seven hours, only making one stop. Unfortunately Dashiell threw up again, but it was in the parking lot of the rest stop, so YAY for that! And then he threw up again in the middle of the night at the hotel (NOT fun). So yet another restless night for mommy...

The next morning he seemed ok, didn't even remember taking a bath in the middle of the night. We decided to press on to Frisco and get to MY MOM whom I was desperate to see at that point. We pulled into my aunt and uncle's house, immediately took Dashiell to the walk in clinic five minutes away (no waiting at 5pm on Friday) found out very quickly he had an ear infection, got antibiotics, and then I left both kids in the care of my mom and dashed over to the Embassy Suites. Almost right away I found my dear friend Kaycee and I think I started crying when I hugged her. Whew! I made it!

I was supposed to arrive by 4pm as a volunteer to help set up, but by the time I rolled in after 6pm, most of the set up work was done and several attendees had already gone through early registration. You can see some ladies putting the finishing touches on their booths here:
There in the middle of the picture is a pooped Janay who got to meet Lori of Happytown Applique and Johnnie Lee of Little Darlings. So fun to meet internet friends! :) Unfortunately I was so tired from running on adreneline and caffeine that I didn't get a real picture of us together. (This pic courtesy of Tobye of Just Sew Pretty).

Cristy's booth for The Itch 2 Stitch was already done. Later we did add a few things that I had brought along with me, but I didn't get any pictures of the table after that. Phooey.
I found Cristy, met her husband Chad (he sends me my paycheck stub so he's pretty important, ha!) and got settled in my room. Honestly, I don't remember much of what else happened other than going out to dinner with a huge group of volunteers and digitizers! It was yummy and fun even though I was in a daze. Special thanks to Tracy for sharing this big group picture!
I got back to my room, got my final thoughts together for my class the next day, and CRASHED.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early to get our room set up for our class: FONTastic! Expert Editing and More!
Even though I had been nervous to the point of nausea weeks prior, the morning of I was quite calm. I'm so thankful for the hundreds of friends I had praying for me! See how I'm not freaking out?
Our class was in the first time slot of AG, and we were put in the largest room. The capacity was 180 and they brought in more chairs! The room was full and deep and kind of intimidating:
But everything went really well. I walked through the process of creating a merged design in both Embird Editor and Embrilliance Essentials. I showed how to take elements from these designs:
To make this!
(More details about that project in a separate post)

I talked non-stop for 1 hour and 45 minutes, ha! :)
We had lots of vendors that donated door prizes:
So many in fact that we didn't have time to call individual names! So we put business cards under 36 seats and surprised the class at the end. That was fun. :) We did draw names for the bigger prizes like a gift certificate to I2S and a copy of Embrilliance Essentials.
Whew! After that experience I had to decompress.

I ate lunch at the registration desk with several other volunteers:
I didn't end up attending any other classes Saturday. The one I was most interested in (taught by Sheila of Savvy Stitches and Marisa of AKA Applique) was right after mine, and by the time I regained some strength and checked the schedule again... it was almost over! The rest of the day I really just wandered around, visiting with people and browsing the vendor booths. So much to look at! I spent quite a bit of time in All Stitched Up by Angela's booth and left with lots of fun fabric.
The meet and greet that night was nice (and tasty!) The photobooth was a fun idea, and I love this picture of me with several digitizers and assistants (L->R Kaycee, Lyndsie, Whitney, Susan, Jodie, ME, Tobye, Rachel, Sara Ann, Janna):
Kaycee and I also got to chat with Sheila and Marissa! (OH and Shawn... who was gracious to answer all my questions about running Embird on a Mac, which is next up on my to do list).
Afterward I went out to dinner with some of my favorite people: Kaycee, Janna, Sara Ann, Cristy and Chad, Rachel and Jose. Nice relaxing evening, no pictures though!

Sunday morning we repeated our class, this time in a smaller room with a smaller crowd (about 100?). The way the room was set up I had to stand in the middle at the podium. That was different, facing the screen with everyone else instead of being up front and facing them. I kind of liked it better. 
I'm thankful for this picture because the gal right in the middle gave me my favorite memory of the weekend:
After showing a particular feature of Embrilliance she gasped out loud and exclaimed "That was worth the price of the whole weekend!" :)

After that class we did a bit of packing and reorganizing. I snagged Lyndsie and Kaycee for a quick picture, I just adore these two women!
Cristy, Janna and I headed over to the photo booth in our matching tee shirts. This is The Itch 2 Stitch team! I L-O-V-E working with these girls! Cristy digitizes fabulous designs, Janna brings them to life with her always beautiful combination of fabrics and threads, and then I... well I do a bunch of technical stuff to help get the files online. Ha! I love it!
I joined a group of volunteers for lunch (it was nice to meet some new faces) but I had to skedaddle to my volunteer job before the food arrived.... I helped in Lyndsie's class, where she demonstrated how she digitizes an applique design (a cowgirl cutie that will be coming soon to Lynnie Pinnie).
It had the same effect as last year -- I'm in total awe of what our fabulous digitizers provide for us and it confirmed yet again that *I* do not want to be a digitizer! (I'm much happier working for one!)

When class was over I walked down with Lyndsie to the main room, where everyone was congregating for the door prizes to be given away. At some point she called all the presenters to the stage. I was not expecting that. It was neat to get a stage view of the whole room though. I didn't take this picture (used with permission from Applique Getaway), but it gives the scope of the whole thing (click to enlarge):
Alas, I did NOT win the grand prize (Janome MB-4). Oh well...

I helped the crew of All Stitched Up by Angela pack up their booth and hugged goodbye to many dear friends.

Then the icing on the cake... I got to meet a very special little guy. Lyndsie and I ran up to her room so I could see her son Jacoby. Last year she was VERY pregnant with him at Applique Getaway. And I gave her a gift of monthly milestone bibs using her Ninja Number designs. Well out of all the bazillions of things she had to remember, she thought to pack his 10 months bib so we could get a picture in person! Neat, huh?!
This charming little boy is so adorable, but he had NO interest in being in my arms, he desperately wanted his mommy who he hadn't seen much of for 48 hours. I'm impressed Lyndsie got this shot before he jumped out of my arms back to her. :)

And with that, Applique Getaway was over! It was such a wonderful experience. I really enjoyed teaching, and if they will have me back, I plan to teach again. I think next year I will teach Embird and Embrilliance as two separate classes instead of cramming them both into one time slot. If you happened to attend either of my sessions and have any feedback to offer, I'd love to hear it! You can email me at stitchedbyjanay @

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bubble Buckies for the Birthday Girl

My niece turned two last week. When I asked if there was any special theme for her celebration, her mommy said that Gabriella really liked Bubble Guppies. It's amazing how fast you can get out of the realm of toddler shows because I know nothing about Bubble Guppies, ha! But I had a cute mermaid design in my stash, so I put together this for her to wear. Once completed, when Gabriella saw it she exclaimed "Bubble Buckies!" so apparently it was a win!
The applique 2 is from Happytown's Swanky Numbers Applique set. The mermaid cutie was from The Applique Club, and I added her name with DBJJ's Ruby font. Using Embrilliance Essentials it was so easy to remove hidden stitches from the overlapped appliques and curve the text around the 2.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Applique Monogrammed Tank Top

A little friend of mine had a birthday party today. This is the most last minute gift I think I have ever made... I hit start on my machine at 1:05 and party started at 2:00 :) It had to be sweet and simple, so I picked a one fabric applique (her initial) with her name!
I used I2S Wacky Applique font for the A. This is a really chunky font that shows off the fabric. I've had this cute fabric sitting in my stash for a while, just waiting to be used for a little girl who LOVES pink! I added her name with Jelly Bean.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Monogrammed Beach Towels

My daughter's two special friends both had birthdays recently. It's growing challenging coming up with new ideas for these girls.... We've done so many things over the past 7 years! This year we opted for monogrammed beach towels and sunglasses cases:
I used the 3.5" size of I2S One Thing for the towels:
And the 1" size for their names on the sunglasses cases:





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