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Monday, March 01, 2010

Machine Embroidery 101


Nothing creatively makes me happier than when I "get it."  In other words, when I am learning to do something new creatively, I am filled with apprehension and a feeling like maybe I can't do this, but then I force myself to sit down and jump right in, learning to use new software or new equipment or a new craft.  



I've been quilting for about 20 years, but embroidery?  - only by hand have I done any embroidery, until recently.  About 4 years ago, my Big Bear purchased for me a wonderful sewing machine - the Pfaff 2124.  I've made several quilts and a couple shirts and a dress for Sarah in that time, but the one element that intimidated me about the machine was the embroidery attachment and the software.  It stayed in its case for this entire 4 years.



In that time I have mastered Photoshop and learned a lot about web design, so 2 months ago I decided that it was time to suck-it-up and learn to use and enjoy the embroidery feature to my sewing machine.  So, I signed up for a class where I purchased the machine 4 years ago.  After that one class I felt more confident.  I came home, set up my sole Windows computer (We're a Mac family here), and played with the 4D Software, testing my hand at some of the sample exercises in the software and from the instruction books.



Sometimes I would just sit at my sewing machine and read the books and play with the software, but not sew anything.  There is always a learning curve while learning something new.  I am always relieved when I've crested that hump of frustration and no longer feel stressed about the process.



Although clumsily, I worked my way through a few embroidery samples.  Then I started working clumsily and slowly on my  mother's quilt top.  Then it happened - I ran out of bobbin thread mid-embroidery.  Oh crap.  Now what? I stopped the embroidery process.  I locked up.  You know that feeling you get in the back of your neck and your shoulders?  That rise of tension and pain that shoots through your muscles telling you to change the direction of your braintrack or suffer the consequences?  Well, that is exactly where I felt myself going - down the wrong track.  


I took a deep breath and thought about it for a moment.  If I take the hoop off the machine to change the bobbin, will I have lost my place on the embroidery?  I sure as heck hope not!  I had no choice.  So I took off the hoop, opened my bobbin case and changed the bobbin.  Then I said a little prayer as I re-attached my embroidery hoop.  Geezy - Peezy, if this doesn't work, I'm screwed.  I didn't want to start where the machine left off because it had already "pretended" to be embroidering without any bobbin thread for about 300 stitches before I realized it wasn't sewing. 


There is this wonderful button on my machine that lets me back up stitches.  The machine clunks backwards stitch by stitch until I stop it at the point where I think it still had bobbin thread.  I press the button to start the embroidery again, and low-and-behold the dang thing worked!!!  It was as if I had never had a problem.  Can you believe it?!!  I was so proud of myself (if I may say so myself), and I felt all the pressure in my neck and shoulders disappear and I went right back to working on Mom's quilt.  



The pictures in this post are of my mother's quilt that I am making for her.  She wanted this basket quilt and wanted embroidered flowers in every basket.  I had no choice, I had to learn the software and I had to learn how to use the embroidery attachment or risk feeling a failure and disappointing my mother.  I didn't want to do either. 


Sometimes you just have to suck-it-up and jump in and try new things.  It can be fun.  Not always easy, but fun nonetheless.  I made excuses for almost 4 years before I finally decided to learn how to use the embroidery feature on my machine. That is why I purchased it to begin with was because of the beautiful embroidery it was capable of creating.  Waiting 4 years to get the benefits from the machine is ridiculous.  I should have learned all of this years ago.



I'm not afraid of learning new things anymore like I used to be.  Confidence can be hard to come by sometimes, but if you don't try, you'll never know if you could have mastered that one thing that you really want to learn.  You can do it!  Dig in and learn something new this week.  Learn how to use a new software program or learn a new craft. 

Have you learned how to do something new recently?  I'd love to hear about it!




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