Joined the hoardes

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I’ve ventured into a new-for-me crafting area with the Brother Scan N Cut 2. Days spent with an aching back, tense neck and fingers permanently clenched in holding-the-cutting-knife-position are a thing of the past.  No more laboring strained over a mat with cutting knife and templates for me.

Automatic cutting machines have been around for quite a few years. The first ones just cut rudimentary proprietary images and were used predominantly by papercrafters. You can cut all sorts of materials with the newer ones and design your own images to cut. The industry has spawned  masses of folks making YouTube videos and selling cut files. Unfortunately, the whole living rurally thing means that YouTube videos chew up the monthly data allotment on satellite service. Not to mention the fact that surviving a YouTube video viewing often means enduring torturous tinny music. Don’t know why anyone thinks that’s a good idea. And, some of the folks selling cut files haven’t got a clue about copyright – you’ll find files for sale that you know the seller doesn’t own the image rights to and Pinterest boards full of “free” images that are not free – the owner of the image would really like to be paid for their work.  It’s a messy world out there.

All that said, here are my learnings. First, the machine is light. Set up is relatively easy. You can follow along with their picture instructions and go right out of the gate. The gotcha for most folks is blade depth setting.  Although Brother has recommended settings, some of them ruin your cutting mat by slicing right through it. Luckily, I’d browsed the internet and saw that warning before I set mine up. Brother recommends you do a small test cut often and every time you change your blade or the material being cut. They’ve built an easy test capability right into the machine.  Some new blades in their carrier arrive not calibrated, I had to turn mine around once as it was loose, and now it works beautifully at setting two for vinyl, pressure zero.  Some folks send their blades back, but I’m not a patient type.  I don’t plan to repeat all the detailed instructions as I found the Brother sheet easy to follow and recommend new folks use that. If you flick back an edge of vinyl and look at it’s depth – barely more than a hair – you know that you barely want the teeniest tip of a blade to show on your cutting tool – really, just a smidge past not there at all.

What I had seen and did not pay enough attention to, was that new mats can be too sticky. You place your item to be cut on their mat – a standard mat comes with the machine and should work on most items (again see those instructions, it won’t work on tissue – you’d need a light tack mat for that). The crumpled looking owl and samples above plus large bits of paper stuck to the mat are to let you know it wasn’t smooth sailing right out the door. Didn’t want to scare anyone off by putting these  images first. Getting the image off the mat took TONS of scraping – I didn’t think I was going to be able to for awhile – the effort almost rendered the image unusable and got paper bits on the sticky side of the viyl that also had to be picked off so it would stick. I cleaned the remaining bits off  the mat with a non-alcohol baby wipe and used the wipe to scrub at the map to make it less sticky.  This isn’t something Brother recommends, but many users do. I am so glad I started out with vinyl as card stock would have been worse to get off the ‘tacky’ standard mat and the cut pieces would have been unusable. It is better now.

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Being a thrifty sort,  with what some might call too many craft supplies, I worked to save both the lettering for the words and the label for the words by rolling as I peeled them off.  This gave me two labels from each small piece of vinyl as you can see below.  Another Internet tip that worked well for me was using Press N Seal instead of transfer tape ( it does not work as well sticking to heat transfer vinyl – HTV if you mess up and also cut the transfer sheet that comes with it – but that’s another post…). The machine arrives with all parts to get you started except that it does not come with any vinyl test sheets or transfer tape.

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I’m also using the free Brother cloud software-  Canvas (wish it were downloadable as people report the servers are unusable a lot depending on your area). I started using it before my machine arrived, so I was set to go with that 12 X 12 vinyl sheet full of labels and decals. You can load a picture (many formats accepted), SVG or Brother Cutting File (.FCM) and edit in the software to make your own cutting files with images any size (that fits on their mats – up to 12X12 standard included mat or optional 12X24).

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The owl artwork is from Urban Threads – they do allow people who have bought a machine embroidery design to use it in their own personal crafting (no sharing or selling of their images, a lot of folks get tattoos from them). Many machine embroidery design companies only allow you to stitch the designs they license to you – always best to check. I worked an image of it from my digitizing software in photo editing on the Mac then used the Brother Canvas to get my laptop decal cut file. The vinyl pictured is from a roll of Brother brand adhesive re-positional vinyl I bought at the same time as the machine. I’ve also bought and am happy with Oracal 631 and 651 vinyl.

Useful links:

There are some I see in Facebook groups who are frightened to set up and use their machines – or who tried once or a few times, had issues and gave up.  You need to be willing to experiment and even be willing to lose some material to the learning process. If you can do that – it’s a pretty nifty piece of equipment to have in the craft arsenal. I have so many things lined up to make – the cake carrier is just in progress, I’m on my way for some indoor and outdoor signs, HTV on t-Shirts, more laptop decals for the nieces – I just need more hours in the day!

 

Embroidering Baby Outfits

UT Ireland

Still stitchin for my favorite little mister. Pick up the baby bodysuits in a four pack, so I tend to do up a few at a time. I did a run with Urban Threads designs, you’ll see I’m obviously a fan. This design is their Passport to Ireland.

UT Bunny friend

And this is the bunny from their Friends Border with a bit of grass from an Embroidery Library design.

UT Lonely Robot

In December, I’d shipped off the UT Lonely Robot and was rewarded with this happy shot.Charlie UT lonely robot

Had also sent off UT’s Free MonsterUT free monster

and Hedgie from the Friends border.

Charlie's Hedgie

If you’ve made it this far, I’ll now reward you with the best shot of me I’ve taken in years – very happy great aunt Maggie with cuddly little Charlie 🙂 .Version 2

He’s stylish in his UT Devilish Heart onsie.

I’d given details and pictures of how I embroider on baby bodysuits in this post. I have one more onsie from the last four pack to stitch, so it’s back to the machine I go!

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City, be sure to stop by and say hello.

Spiffing up the Kitchen

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Stitching on towels is one of the easier things you can tackle with an embroidery machine. The material is flat ,so it hoops easily and you’re rewarded with a customized decoration of your choice that’s also useful 🙂

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You might think – if you follow this blog – that I’d have stitched on everything in my home that’s not nailed down by now. But, I’m coming up to 10 years here and I’d never made a set of kitchen Christmas towels for me! They’ve all been gifts. The set is on Food Network Ombre towels and the design is BirdBrain’s redwork stitched in cotton quilting thread. In truth, the towels are a bit thinner terrycloth than I thought they’d be given the ‘regular’ price (but you can usually find them on sale plus discounts). 

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This fun set in red and green is to match my sister’s Christmas decorating colors. Urban Threads designs stitched in Rayon 40 threads. Love how they came out – so cheery!

Next post up will be some holiday bath towel gifts.

For a Little Mister

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There’s a new little nephew in the extended family and I’m continuing to get a few gifts for him onto the machine. This design is from Urban Threads, edited a tad. 

Although the design looks simple, I’ve decided onsies are the bane of my existence. To machine embroider this, you’re actually tugging open the crotch and using all sorts of clips to hold it back, then stitching very very slowly so you can gently push back the clips (that don’t hang on to the hoop edges well) as the embroidery gets closer to them. Centering the design on the onsie when working this way is more than a pain in the butt and exercise in frustration!

The easier way is to open up a side seam (and then tape the heck out of it). I did this for his birthday shirt. Had to rip open the side plus arm seams to hoop it. I didn’t love the new re-serged seam – my threads felt a bit rougher than what the item was originally sewn with. So, I’d adopted the wrestling with a onsie approach for the next few items.

IMG_9908-1I’d edited an appliqué number with the little appliqué elephant design (from Bunnycup) and added the ‘I’m One’ in my software. My thinking is he can wear it throughout the year as the first thing people ask when they see a little guy is “How old is he?”

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His mom loves muted colors – this green and greys are her favorites. Loved the sweet little elf design from Urban Threads.

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His mom also loves elephants and when I’d shown her a few designs to pick from, immediately landed on this one from Embroidery Library.  If you have a choice, zip front hoodies are a breeze to hoop compare to the itty tees and onsies. Took a break from Little Mister stitching to do up some holiday towels, stay tuned to hear about those next.

Another Halloween Mug Rug off the Machine

UT Vampire mug rug

This cutie is two Urban Threads designs, the corner webbing and the lil vamp.  He is one of their sketchy designs and the outline is not meant to match up (really, no excuses here, check it out http://www.urbanthreads.com/products.aspx?productid=UT1356 their dark charcoal is on the outside of the outline all along the bottom edge plus has those gaps – it’s supposed to be that way, sketchy). Emphasizing this as there’ll be someone who think the embroidering is off. I get a lot of their sketchy designs as I’m a fan of the look. My vamp has a blue cape to call out the blue of the witch hat in the border. Mentioned a few posts back, that the ITH mug rug is from Stickbaer, edited, and that I changed it to use a backing with an opening in a seam in the center back so the edges don’t show any of my horrid hand stitching. Too hot to be outside here today, so it’s back to the machine for me!

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City – check it out, most folks are out and about not hiding inside from the glaring sun.

More Stocking Cheerfulness

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Continuing to stitch a few more Christmas items. I was really pleased with the fleece plus cuff combo on the Charlie stocking (and it was so well received by his mom!) that I’m determined to do a bunch in this style. As with the Charlie stocking, an iron on polymesh backs the cotton cuff, cut away stabilizer – with even more temporary spray adhesive – anchors the center stocking designs and Sulky rayon threads are used throughout.

Stickbaer

Tatjana at Stickbaer does wonderful appliqué and in the hoop designs. I’d purchased one of her in the hoop (ITH) Christmas stocking designs and, although it can go to 14 inches long, decided not to use the ITH part of the design. My stockings tend to be about 18 inches long and I like that look.  A tad more space between the bird and the holly matches the slightly longer stocking. Her appliqués stitch perfectly with a nice satin edge that covers all your trimming. Heat n Bond Lite was bonded to the appliqué pieces – and temporary spray adhesive applied to their backs – before they were used in the embroidery. UT Snowstorm close

Urban Threads‘ Snowstorm Santa just makes me smile. I love happy Santas and this one is so perfect, I want to put him everywhere! The word Believe is edited out of their Believe Santa design – it fits beautifully with both. Did use a floater of water soluble stabilizer on top of the fleece to prevent the threads from sinking too far into the fleece – and it worked. I’d thought I might have to stitch this design twice to get it to show up on the fluffy fleece, but the one time was all that was needed – yea!

Back to the machine to stitch even more cheer. Saving the names for last, then I’ll sort who gets which.

Halloween Mug Rugs

EL Haunting Ghosts mug rug
Been in a “do a Christmas project – do a different project – do a Christmas project” mode (really, you don’t want to be sick of looking at Christmas images before December 1st!).
EL Shake Bones mug rug
This ‘in-between’ project is some quick stitching mug rugs. I love mug rugs for the little splash of season or holiday they can bring – yet they don’t take space or have the weight or require the effort to put up that other decorations might. Simple and cheerful, a fun little gift for a friend or for me 🙂 .
EL Halloween mug rugs
I tend to go for sets, two, four or six – you get the picture. The center designs are from Embroidery Library, their Shake your Bones and Haunting Ghosts vintage designs.
EL Shake cup
The in the hoop (ITH) mug rug pattern is the Easter Mug Rugs from Stickbaer, edited. I often create my own, moving the border size to better highlight the design, but I had Stickbaer’s as I loved her appliqués for the hen and bunnies and dropping her outline in meant less time fussing with the digitizing program. I don’t sell or that would be a no no, both her and Embroidery Library’s terms of use let you edit designs – some companies specify that you may not – even for your own ‘not for sale’ project, I try to avoid those companies.

Chris's mug rug

After doing a fairy mug rug for a friend, (Embroidery Library’s sprite for the fairy and their bramble quilting used on the side piece, Five Star Fonts edited wave quilting under the fairy) I realized I should never attempt designs where hand stitched closures may show. (Showing the digitized version as I didn’t nab a shot before heading out to the post office). My hand stitching is not something to rave about. Some folks do the envelope or overlapping back style. It takes twice as much fabric for a back, but is neat all around. I decided the easiest was to make the back an inch longer, cut it down the center and stitch it together with an opening that is now in the middle of the bottom piece – so my ugly hand stitching won’t show and I can choose to use iron on seam tape to close it up. Takes just a moment for the extra step but what a difference in my final mug rug. With this black back, not such a big deal – but with my friend’s mug rug I used some beautiful quilting fabric for the back and I get a little stingy if I’m using the expensive stuff – hate to use twice as much if I don’t have to.

Mug rug back

More projects – plus a trip in for machine service – on the schedule. Time to log off and get cracking again 🙂