Interfacing fusing instructions

It’s important to use the correct combination of temperature / moisture / pressing motion / pressing time / cooling time for the specific product, to get a good lasting fuse.

Pellon products listing
download product pdf for instructions.

Vilene Vlieseline products listing
click on product name for instructions.
Product name printed on selvedge.

Small interfacing companies
These often have no on-line information, so keep the packaging for the instructions.

If you have to use interfacing without instructions, use a 2-dot iron, press for 10-15 seconds, and make samples by pressing dry, with steam, and with a damp pressing cloth, to see which works best.

Choosing interfacing

There are hundreds of big company and small specialist company interfacings.
Most of us experiment a bit and then choose a small range of ones used in the types of item we usually make.

If you have not used a particular fabric-interfacing combination before, do make a sample to check that the result has the ‘hand’ you want. Does it feel and hang as you want it to ? How well will it stand up to stretching ? to compression ? Would you prefer to use a lighter or heavier, thinner or thicker, softer or stiffer product ? The answers will depend on your personal style, as well as on what you are making.

Fusibles are much loved by people who wear structured clothes, crisp blouses and tailoring. My style is soft and casual, so for clothes I just use interfacing at specific points where fabric needs extra support. I prefer sew-in for clothes, and mainly use fusible for bags.

In the UK, MacCulloch & Wallis probably has the widest selection of tailoring support materials.

Choosing and applying fusible interfacing when making clothes

If you just want the minimum basics, here’s a photo tutorial from Tilly and the Buttons.

More specialised detail about choosing and using in this photo tutorial from I Love Fabric.

Video class from Linda Lee at Craftsy/Bluprint (not free).

Using fusible fleece in bag making

If, like me, you don’t find those tutorials very helpful when it comes to using fusible fleece, here’s a specialised photo tutorial from Sacotin.
You can fuse fleece/foam without crushing it, if the iron is not too hot. And press from the fleece/foam side, by using a pressing cloth.
She recommends using 2 layers, a ‘regular’ interfacing (not batting, fleece, foam) before the fusible fleece. So try light and medium, woven and non-woven fusible, and see which gives the effect you want.

If you would like a stiffer result, here’s a video from Australian bag pattern designer Nicole Mallalieu, showing the result of using ‘pelmet’ interfacing as the extra layer with fusible fleece.
Note for Pellon users :
Vilene/Vlieseline S320 is a light-weight, soft and flexible fusible ‘pelmet’ interfacing.
Vilene/Vlieseline H640 is fusible volume fleece.

Bosal and ByAnnie are companies with specialist products for bagmaking.

Fusing is easy enough, but not a quick process if you want a good result !

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Links available March 2019

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Start using an embroidery machine – editing designs

There are 2 groups of software tools which can help with your embroidering. They are for :
– knowing what designs you have.
– editing to change designs.

If you have a big collection of designs on your computer and no longer know what they all are, Bernina ARTlink is a free download for Windows with design information, placement, and printing, plus simple editing tools.
Convert It, Mac, not free, no editing except change thread colours, does the same on a Mac.
Not necessary if you have editing software, which includes these tools, but very useful for keeping track of what you have if you don’t want to go as far as editing yourself. (I transferred a big collection of designs from a PC with embroidery software to a Mac without. Until I got Convert It, Mac I just had a big collection of numbered unknowns. It’s marvellous to be able to see them all again, as well as see complete colour lists and print full size templates.)

Changing designs on a machine

Do you find yourself wanting to change a design ? Entirely optional but it can be fun. The most likely changes are :
– adjust the size,
– add lettering.

You can do both of those on modern mid-price embroidery machines, without needing separate embroidery software.
On lower-mid-price machines you can edit single designs (re-size, rotate, flip) and produce text, directly on the machine. Design and text have to be stitched out separately.
Upper-mid-price machines also have simple options for combining, so you can group several designs, or design and text, in one hooping.

Though be aware – on a machine with a small screen you can’t see the fine detail of your changes.
To see the fine detail of designs, there are a couple of options :
a. embroidery machine with a large screen, convenient but expensive – basic embroidery software costs much less !
b. embroidery machine with small screen, plus computer, embroidery software, and a way of transferring designs from computer to machine :
– usb stick (or card on older machines).
– usb cable direct from computer to machine – many mid-price machines have this option.
– wi-fi on some top-of-the-line (TOL) machines.

Levels of embroidery software

If your embroidery machine does not have any design changing tools, or you want to see more than is on a small screen, and for more control over design changes – you do need a computer and embroidery software.

An embroidery ‘format’ (e.g. .jef, .pes, .vip) is the language used to give instructions to the machine, and sadly each machine company has its own way of doing things.
It is essential to know which format(s) your machine understands.
Get software which can input and output this format !
Single designs are sold on-line in individual formats, design DVDs usually include all the common formats.

No need to start with full-scope embroidery software. Most software is modular, so you can start simple and add more tools if you find you want them.

For some you can download a free manual so you can get an idea of how you would get on with it. Or look for ‘independent / 3rd party’ tutorials and videos – often much easier to understand than the official manual !
It is good if you can get a free try-out, to check both if the software runs on your system and if you enjoy using it.

I think there are 4 main levels of software, though different companies include different combinations of tools.
Very briefly :
1. free software :
– can re-size/rotate/flip designs but not usually add text,
– show a complete colour sequence chart,
– print full size templates to use for design placement.
– print fabric cutting patterns if needed for appliqué and in-the-hoop.
Designs are at real size or larger on the computer screen, so you can see what you are doing.
2. using low level software :
– you can also add text and combine designs in real size,
– perhaps choose between constant stitch count or constant stitch density when changing size,
– or remove hidden stitches when combined designs overlap.
3. with mid-level software :
– you can extract parts of a design,
– even alter individual stitches,
– do extra editing tasks such as :
– – split large designs for multiple hooping,
– – run a stitching simulator to check how your design works out, or the steps of an in-the-hoop design.
4. you need top level software :
– if you also want to do ‘digitising’, to make your own designs rather than adapting designs made by other people. Choose between auto-digitising (give the software an image and it produces the embroidery instructions), or manual digitising (you control the details).
[I’m talking about software for amateurs, there’s another level of complexity for professional embroidery designers, see e.g. Wilcom.]

Software from embroidery machine companies

Most embroidery machine companies have their own design editing software, though it is not essential to use it for their machines. May be given free with machine purchase.
Some of these work with several embroidery formats, some only work with the format used on that company’s machines.

Babylock Creator, Windows only.
Babylock Embroidery Works, Windows and Mac.
Babylock Palette, Windows only.
Bernina Toolbox, Windows and Mac.
Bernina Embroidery Software 8, Windows, or a Mac running Boot Camp.
Brother PE-Design, Windows only.
Husqvarna/Pfaff/Singer/Viking Premier+2, Windows and Mac. Premier+2 has a free download version which does simple editing and colour changes. Also iOS app for TOL Pfaff machine.
Janome/Elna Digitizer, Windows only. Also iOS apps for TOL Janome machine.

Independent embroidery software

‘Machine Independent’ editing software works with most embroidery formats.

Several companies offer embroidery software for Windows.
A well-known one is Embird, advanced modules include photostitch, cross stitch, manual digitising.
Wilcom Hatch includes both auto-digitising and manual digitising, for Windows, or a Mac running Boot Camp.
Embrilliance runs on both Windows and Mac, advanced modules for manual digitising only.

Stitch Buddy is for Mac and iOS, no digitising.
DRAWings Snap is for Mac and iOS, no digitising.
From a tablet or phone, you have to export your changed design to a computer for transferring it to your embroidery machine (unless you have a very expensive TOL machine with wi-fi).
I haven’t used these and don’t know about software for other tablets and phones, as I prefer a bigger screen for editing.

Ultimately you may want to digitise your own designs. Either auto-digitising (easier – give the software an image and it produces the embroidery instructions), frowned on for quality by purists. Or manual digitising (with more control over the details).
Some software can produce instructions for cutting machines to cut fabric shapes.
Although I love machine embroidery and often change a design a bit, I’ve never felt any desire to do digitising (I have done auto-digitising once !), so I’m not the right person to give advice.

So, in summary, use free software for simple design changes (re-size / rotate / flip, change colours, no text) and printouts : Bernina ARTlink or Wilcom TrueSizer for Windows, Premier+2 for Mac.
If you want more editing functions, such as adding text, or combining designs, then software from the machine companies is more expensive than from the independents.

For digitising, the top level of software from most companies will do that. I don’t know about all the software, but for digitising on a Mac I think the choice is : Embrilliance Stitch Artist (manual digitising), Premier+2 Extra (simple auto), Premier+2 Ultra (auto and manual) (they all work with enough formats to be usable with most machines, but do check).

There are so many attractive ready-made embroidery designs, there’s no need to make your own.
But modern machines and software do make it easy and fun to make changes to designs if you want to.

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Other posts in this group on using an embroidery machine :
Choosing an embroidery machine
Starter basics
Designs from the internet, more techniques

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Choosing a basic embroidery machine

Even the simplest machine that controls embroidering in a hoop is more expensive than a basic sewing machine. They’re more complex, and the success of an embroidery design depends on the accuracy it’s sewn out with, which comes at a price.
But you don’t need a high-end machine. You can do most embroidery stitching techniques on a machine costing much less than $1000.

Spending more money on a sewing machine gets you more stitches plus some useful tools like needle up-down. Not so true for an embroidery machine. Spending more on an embroidery machine does get you some more built-in designs, but the number is still small compared to the huge numbers of designs anyone can download from the internet. You can do all embroidery techniques on a basic machine with a 4×4 hoop. Paying more for an embroidery machine gets you a bigger hoop – so you can embroider a larger area. At mid-price you can also do some editing/designing on the machine.

It can be exciting looking at machines which do amazing things, but there’s no point buying a machine which stays in the box. So step away from the thrills and find out how to use the machine you’re thinking about. Start with a machine that gives you an ‘I could do this’ feeling. Beginners may find it easier to start with a basic machine – if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be confusing to find your way to the essentials among all the options on a more expensive machine.

Hoop size is a consideration. The biggest hoops can be quite difficult to hoop smoothly. I suggest you don’t go bigger until you’re sure machine embroidery is something you enjoy, and you know what you like making. So the main choice is between 4″x4″(100x100mm) as the biggest hoop, or about 7″x5″(180x130mm). (Those are the sizes of the biggest embroidery area you can sew in that hoop, the hoops themselves are quite a bit larger.) Cut out pieces of paper these sizes, to look at and hold against what you might embroider on. What are you dreaming of stitching ?

Are you the sort of person who is happy to use designs made by other people, or do you think you will quite soon want to make small changes to designs, such as changing the size or adding names and messages ?
Cheaper option, if you’re comfortable using a computer – use a basic embroidery machine plus your computer with basic embroidery software, often free.
More expensive – a machine on which you can do simple editing direct :
– On lower-mid-price machines you can edit single designs (re-size, rotate, flip), and produce simple text. On these machines, you stitch design and text in separate steps.
– Mid-price machines also have simple options for combining – so you can stitch design and text in a single hooping.
– Upper-price machines have a bigger screen so you can see more detail about your changes.

Other thoughts :
– do you want a machine with Disney copyright designs ?
– do you need a machine which does both sewing and embroidery, or an embroidery-only machine ?
– which brand has the most helpful local dealer ?
If you can’t get to a machine dealer :
– can you find internet videos on how to use this or a similar machine ? depends a bit on how good the presenter is, but do you think you would be comfortable with using it ?
– you can probably find a manual to download, but they’re not always easy to understand. (I read manuals, but whoever wrote the manual for my machine does not think the way I do, happily there are better videos.)

Machines to move on to perhaps

Machines for professional embroiders have several needles each threaded with a different colour. So they can automatically change thread colour, which greatly speeds the stitch out.

Single-needle machines :
Basic machines – all embroidery stitching techniques are possible.
Lower mid-price machines – bigger hoop, edit single designs or text on the machine.
Mid-price machines – also combine designs.
Upper price machines – big screen.
Top-of-line – jumbo hoop, wi-fi, auto-digitising. . . no ’embroidery only’ machines at this price level.

When you’re familiar with embroidering, and find you enjoy doing your own editing on the machine, you may want to get a big screen machine so you can see clearly what you are doing.
These machines are generally more expensive, but you don’t have to go all the way to a top-of-line machine to get a big screen.

Though if you’re excited by new technology there are some hugely expensive combo sewing+embroidery machines which provide many special tools.
Do you need one of these to do beautiful or fun embroidery ? – not at all. Will you ever need one ? – quite unlikely. The embellishment and designing they do can easily be done away from a machine.

‘Top of the line’ machines can use ‘jumbo’ hoops, and each year the new models can do yet more amazing things. Currently (mid 2018) :
– cut out fabric shapes for appliqué, paint, add crystals (Bernina with optional tools)
– auto-digitise on the machine (BabyLock, Brother)
– develop a design and transfer to the machine using apps on a tablet or phone and wi-fi (Janome , Pfaff)

These machines are for experienced sewists who love exploring new and complex technology in their sewing. Are you this type of person ? These machines are not necessary for the rest of us, we may not even enjoy using one. I suspect most beginners would find it difficult to know where to start.

I was thinking of getting a TOL machine, then I watched some videos and realised I would be unhappy if I had to use one. I’m more a hands-on person, I’m not a target customer for a machine where everything is done on a screen or using wi-fi. For sewing, I love my basic workhorse ‘real buttons’ machine. For embroidery, I choose a mid-price embroidery-only machine for the hoop size, and I know enough to enjoy playing with designs on it. I’ve found I prefer to add other types of embellishment away from my machine, and to do my design editing using embroidery software on a big-screen computer.

But it is fun to know about these super-powers machines, and they do look marvellous 😀

Do you love personalising or embellishing what you make ? Happily you can do many beautiful and fun things with a very basic embroidery machine. There’s such a wealth of embroidery designs available, having an embroidery machine can be a rich source of pleasure 😀

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Other posts in this group on using an embroidery machine :
Starter basics
Designs from the internet, more techniques
Altering designs yourself

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