Puffy Foam

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Puffy Foam is used in embroidery to pad stitching to give a three dimensional look. Sulky produce packs of this foam in 2mm and 3mm thicknesses. You need to use foam that tears easily. Not all foam sheets will work. Possible uses for this technique are lettering on hats, decorative projects and artworks including wall hangings.
Recently I shared a link on the Machine Embroidery and Digitizing Facebook Page to an article published by Wilcom on digitizing for Puffy Foam. I remembered doing a Puffy Foam design some time ago and thought I would share my experience and provide some additional tips.

Chinese Symbol for Peace stitched using Puffy Foam

Chinese Symbol for Peace stitched using Puffy Foam

I chose A chinese symbol, because traditionally they are created using a paintbrush, and therefore the individual parts don’t have blunt ends. Normal lettering has blunt ends, and as explained in the Wilcom article these are areas where the foam might poke out unless you digitize some covering stitches.
For those of you who are using the Bernina software, I set the Satin Stitch Spacing (density) to 0.23 (the default is 4). This is nearly twice as dense as normal. I made sure Satin Stitch was selected (not Satin Special) so that there were no needle penetrations in the middle of the design,  and I deselected the underlay.

Stitch settings for Puffy Foam

Stitch settings for Puffy Foam

I was not in Artistic Mode and I had view Needle Points selected. As you can see some of the areas of the design were too wide for normal satin and the software has replaced the stitches with jump stitches and needle points. I decided to use the reshape tool to change the angle of the stitching to fix this problem. I also kept an eye out to avoid any long stitches forming along the outline of the object.

Unwanted needle points and jump stitches

Unwanted needle points and jump stitches

Changed Angle Changed Angle

I set two underlays. For the the first underlay I chose ZigZag and changed the stitch length to 8. This eliminated any needle penetrations in the middle of the foam. The second undelay I chose was Edge walk. This was to add additional needle penetrations around the edges to help with tearing away the excess foam on completion, and to help with achieving a neat edge.

Underlay Settings

Underlay Settings

Next I checked my stitch order to minimise jump stitches. I then moved my start and end positions to put any remaining jump stitches in places where objects were close enough so that they wouldn’t show. In other projects I may choose to put the jump stitches where they are easy to trim, and depending on your machine you may get the machine to trim the jump stitches for you.
As a result of the above processes, the software has now put travel stitches running under the satin stitch.

Unwanted Travel stitches

Unwanted Travel stitches

As Travel on Edges is not available for Satin Fill, these have to be moved manually. I went into edit mode, (press”E” on your keyboard) And left clicked and dragged these stitches to the edges. (see my video on Manually Moving and Deleting stitches on YouTube for more info on moving stitches).
You can digitise a placement outline if you like, but I chose to use the basting stitch on my machine as a guide to where to lay the foam.

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