Machine Embroidery on a Vest Part 2

To combine the design elements and size them to fit on the pattern, I loaded an image of my pattern pieces into Art Canvas in my Bernina Designer Plus software and then went straight through to the Embroidery Canvas so that I had the pattern pieces as a backdrop. This was easy because I had used Valentina software to draft my pattern, and was able to export a vector file of the pieces.

If you have an E pattern on a PDF, you could use the Windows Snipping Tool to make a jpeg to import. The PDF pattern pieces will probably be randomly placed to save paper when you are printing, so use edit bitmap to crop out the individual pieces and save them, so that you can rotate them and position them as you would like.

If you are working with a paper pattern, you could scan the pattern, but it is a lot of work to do the whole pattern and then line up all the pieces. You might just want to scan the areas that you plan to embroider.

It is a good idea to check that your pattern pieces have been loaded at actual size. I used the measure tool and checked several of the measurements to be sure. My pattern did not have seam allowances, so if yours has, remember to allow for them.

This is what my screen looked like after I had arranged the designs on the pattern.


I got a bit carried away, and didn’t end up doing this much embroidery, but at least I knew my designs would fit on the vest. The next thing was to see what I could fit into my hoops and make templates so I could position the designs on to the actual vest. Stay tuned for the next post.

Machine Embroidery on a vest Part 1

The top front embroideries.
The top front embroideries.

I’m working on a vest for a workshop I’m running in October, and as I haven’t posted for a long time, I thought I would share the process with you. There will be a few posts about this as I work through the process.

I was running out of ideas for things to put my embroideries on. There are only so many bags, towel toppers, table runners etc. that a person needs. I originally trained as a dressmaker/pattern maker so decided to revisit those skills and start making some garments with a view to embellishing them with machine embroidery. I decided to draft my own pattern and have discovered Valentina, an open source pattern making software. This software is not for the novice, you do have to know how to draft patterns, and have some understanding CAD type drawing programs. However the software is very poweful and is actively being worked on with the roadmap of new features looking very promising. The advantage of working on the computer to create my patterns is that I don’t have to have a wardobe full of blocks/slopers that become obsolete if I gain or lose weight. I can also use the same designs and simply enter someone elses measurements to create a pattern for them. Comment below if you would like to hear more about this software.

Rose PatternHaving made my pattern, I was now ready to decide on the embroidery. As usual I wanted to digitize a new design. The Antique Pattern Library has some wonderful old embroidery books available as PDF’s with a Creative Commons-Non Commercial-ShareAlike license. I found this design on the cover of Motifs Pour Boderies, a DMC publication. Using the Windows Snipping tool, I saved a .png copy to load into my digitizing software. I digitized various sections of the design so that I could re arrange them to suit the vest. I kept it simple by doing the whole design in satin fill. In the next post, I will talk about how I arranged the design and sized it to fit the vest pattern.

Design Placement Made Easy (with no software)

Getting the position of your embroideries correct can be a daunting task. Placing one design on a project is not so difficult, but when you want to combine several designs, it is easy to get it wrong. The issue is even more complicated if you are putting designs on to a garment. You don’t want your designs to dissappear under an arm, sit at an awkward angle, or draw attention to the wrong parts of your body.

Even when making flat projects, it is all too easy to work in the rectangular stitch area of our hoops, rather than arrange the designs in the most attractive layout for the project.

The best way to be sure your layout is how you would like it is to make templates of your designs and pin them to your project. You could then hoop up for each design and embroider the designs out one by one. However if you have a hoop that will cover more than one design, it would save a lot of time and stabiliser to embroider the designs in the one hooping. All you need to know now is how to place the designs in your machine.

Enter Eileen Roche and her new book “ Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons”


This easy to read book covers all the essential information someone starting out in machine embroidery needs. It is packed full of useful tips. Even those of us who have been embroidering for a while will learn something new. I particularly found her information on design placement very helpful and the book includes some tools to make the job so much easier. There were a few other tips I picked up about hooping also. I will need a second roll of painters masking tape now for my sewing room. (The other one is in my art trolley) I’m not going to let you in on all the secrets in her book though. You can click on the blog tour badge at the top right of the screen to learn more and buy it, or you can enter the competition at the end of this post and possibly win the signed copy Eileen generously donated. I am going to show you how I used the tools to get the placement of my designs into my sewing machine. This is just one use for the tools. The book covers many more uses.

You don’t need any computer software for this. In a later post I will show how the tool can be used with Bernina Designer Plus to layout designs.

As I mentioned before, you need to pin your templates on to your project in your preferred arrangement. The book tells you how to make templates if you do not have any for your design. I like to print my templates on tracing paper so that I can turn them over if I want to mirror image them. In the picture I have some printed on paper, so that you can see them better.

Templates positioned on project
Templates positioned on project

Next you need to mark the centre cross hairs, direction and whether or not the designs are mirror imaged. You can use a fabric marker, but Eileen’s target stickers make it so much easier. If you can see through your template, you can slide them under and press into place. If not, cut a hole in the centre of the template. Make sure the marks on the stickers line up with the cross hairs on your design and write MI on the sticker if the design is mirror imaged.

Target Sticker
Target Sticker

Now you can lay your hoop grid over the project, turning it to cover as many whole designs as you can. Any designs that do not fit in the stitch area of your hoop, including those that only partially fit, will have to be hooped seperately. If you do not have a hoop grid, lay your project in your hoop remembering to keep the designs within the stitch area. There are more hints about this in the book


Move your project to the hoop. I like to use a sticky stabiliser, or tearaway with basting spray so that I don’t have to worry whether the project fits in the hoop. Making sure your designs are still in the stitch area press the project on to the stabiliser.SAM_0421

Now for the placement. The Centering Ruler, Target Ruler and Angle Finder, that come with the book, will all help you get the information you need to place your designs in your machine. (If you don’t want the book, Eileen has tool kits available on her website )  If you have used target stickers, you can now remove your templates.

For each design you need to know how far the centre is from the cross hairs of your hoop. Measurements up and or to the right of the cross hairs will be positive. Measurements to the left and or down will be negative. Using either the Target ruler or the Centering ruler measure from the horizontal cross hair to the centre of the target sticker and again from the vertical cross hair, making sure your ruler stays parallel to the cross hairs. Record these measurements.


To find the angle you should rotate your design, lay the Angle finder over the design so that the centre hole is over the center of the sticker. Make sure the 0 degrees is pointing to the top of the hoop, and that the 0 to 180 degree line is parallel to the verical cross hair.


Holding the base of the Angle Finder steady rotate the top section until the red arrow points in the same direction as the arrow on the Target Sticker and the lines align with each other. The red arrow will be pointing to the angle you need to rotate your design.

Record this. Repeat these measurements for all the designs.

Now we can go to the machine. Open your first design and go to your editing screen. Mirror image the design if necessary. You should have somewhere on your machine that shows where the center of the design is in relation to the centre of the hoop. It should read 0,0 or x=0,y=0 as designs open in the center of the hoop by default. Move your design

until these numbers match the measurements you took.

Moving the design on your machine
Moving the design on your machine

Next you need to rotate the design by the measurement you took with the Angle Finder.

Rotating the design
Rotating the design

Continue adding your designs and poitioning them.

When you have all your designs in place, remove the target stickers and you are ready to embroider. You can add a basting stitch if you like.

Voilla! Your layout has been embroidered exactly where you want it. I used one of my metallic splendour designs here. I haven’t used metallic thread though. You can get this design for just $1.00 by clicking on the image below.


Embroidered design