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The Sewing Diaries – Embroidery Edition: Wk 3 – One App, Two App, Three App, Four….

2016 December 6

Dear Diary, Machine embroidery is amazing, and there is so much I still need to learn! I could probably go on for 8 or 9 weeks in a row – yikes! Anyhow, this is the last of this particular series, even though I think might have to write more soon since I have so many ideas.

This week has been one of amazement. (Like, out talking to myself out loud!) I can connect so many useful apps to the S9 sewing machine. And it was fun to relax upstairs while the machine worked in the basement – but more about that later… 

 

This week I’ve been so playing with four apps that connect (via Wifi) to the Skyline S9 sewing machine Janome has loaned me. In fact, I was learning so much in the AcuDesign app that I only embroidered one thing. My oldest is very excited about her new towel, though – so it’s a win! I believe the exact quote was “Wow! Mom! That’s A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!” (Thank you Skyline S9 and Janome for that! And more about my goof-up on the ears in the tutorial.)

There are 4 apps I’ve currently used, 3 free and one purchased. Of all of them, I have used AcuEdit the least so far. Instead, I used the Embroidery Editor on my computer. Now that I am more comfortable using the wifi capability and sending things back and forth I think it will be my go-to app for editing any designs I don’t edit in AcuDesign – or when I need to add lettering to a design.

Follow the Sewing Diaries:Embroidery Edition Series:

Embroidery: Week 1 – introduction to the Skyline S9 and overview & basic tips about machine embroidery

Embroidery: Week 2 – Machine Embroidered Drawstring Backpack Tutorial!

AcuDesign 

General Impression: This app does everything! You can buy designs or load free designs, edit them and then export the file or send them directly to the sewing machine. It is built to work with many embroidery machines + the Edge wifi cutter – not just the Skyline S9, and not just Janome brand. It is possible to combine designs, add text (with a purchased module) and remove/add stitching from your designs. It is available for use with Apple products and is $69.99 CDN or $50 US in the App Store.

I’m impressed by: 

  • It is really powerful. The Smart Stitch engine adjusts the density of your stitches when resizing your design. So if your design is very small (say, 1″) and you want to make it much larger (say, 5″) it will increase the stitch density and pattern to fit. That way you don’t lose quality!
  • My kids can use it – so it’s pretty straightforward and intuitive! Basically – tap to select, drag to move and use your thumb and forefinger to make a design larger or smaller. There are very specific buttons for moving around once stitch at a time as well if you need to be more accurate.
  • It has an undo (and redo) button with multiple levels. So, not to worry, you can always go back.
  • Resize your graphic to the hoop size automatically. Instead of guessing how large the design can be – then resizing and placing it yourself – just use one button!
  • Real-Time Simulation. Showing my daughter the “movie” of how her embroidery design would stitch out bought me 10-15 minutes of free time to make dinner! Plus, it’s fun to see how it works, complete with realistic sound. (Though you can turn it off if you’d like!)
  • It’s cute design! Love the cork board background and clothesline. It feels fun and crafty.
  • It’s bigger and does so much more than I thought. I’ve only scratched the surface of this app’s capabilities! It is so much more powerful, I’m sure you will hear from me again on this topic! You can also find more detail and videos on the Janome website.
The only thing that surprised me was the number of graphics that were for sale – even though it is mentioned in the app details. And they are mixed in with the Free ones – so sending my kids in to choose a Free design to work with was tricky when they could see the purchasable ones as well. That said, the pricing is reasonable, and I can see buying them once I get better at this – especially when they are designed by my favorite fabric designers. You can find Bonnie Christine and Bari J among them. (And you might need a tuna sandwich to sustain you while you acciedentally browse through your morning!)

AcuDesign Mini Tutorials:

Choose a Design: Tap on the design you like to move it into Editing Mode.

Choose a Hoop: Many different machines are listed. Choose your machine and choose the hoop you wish to use. In my case, the Skyline S9 is not in the app as yet, so I chose a SQ14 hoop from the MC 15000 folder.

Change Size, Rotate & Skew:  The photo below shows the handles/arrows you can grab to skew, rotate or size the design. It also shows what happens when you make the design too large. The light pink box indicates the largest size available within the hoop you have chosen.

Move the Design: Tap and Drag the design to move it around the hoop area.

Thread Colour: You can view all of the pre-set colours in the thread toolbox. Click the part of the design you wish to change on the clothesline and choose a new colour. Or, you can choose the colour itself from the list and then choose a new one. There are several pre-set lists of popular embroidery threads.

Change the Background: A handy way to view what your actual design will look like is to change the background fabric and colour. Choose from things like faux fur and knitted wool!

Help Interface: This part of the app was really useful. Tap on the help button and then tap on the section you need help with for a description of how to use it.

Export a Design: There are many types of files that can be exported or imported into this app. Choose which one you need and then Tap “Export”. I chose to save mine to my Dropbox folder.

An Hour in the Life of the Skyline S9

(ie. How to Embroider using AcuDesign, AcuSetter and AcuMonitor)

Prep: Choose your design & edit it in AcuDesign, use the features mentioned in the mini tutorials above. My oldest changed the colour of the wings I had chosen. (I thought the pink wings looked amazing, but apparently not!) Check out how much difference the new colours make, it’s a totally different design!
      1. Open the saved Design. My unicorn was saved under the Imported Files section. Check out how realistic the stitches look!
      2. Select the Hoop size. Choose your machine and choose the hoop you wish to use. In my case, the Skyline S9 is not in the app as yet, so I chose a SQ14 hoop from the MC 15000 folder.
      3. Size the Design by Hand or Automatically. Use your thumb and forefinger to make the design larger or smaller. You can also choose the hoop button to automatically resize the image to fit the hoop.
      4. Find the Correct Embroidery Thread. The list of thread colours is listed under the thread toolbox. You can change the thread options to match your brand of embroidery thread.
      5. Remove Small Stitches. There is an automatic button that will remove stitches smaller than .4 mm. This helps to prevent skipped stitches or a broken thread that needs re-threading.
      6. Upload the Design. When the Janome Skyline S9 is turned on you can directly connect to it and send the design straight to the machine. Otherwise, you can save it. (See Exporting a Design in the Mini Tutorials above.)
      7. Check it out! The design is on the machine and ready to stitch. And it was so painless to get it there. Love wifi!
      8. Fill the Bobbin. Since this design takes about an hour to stitch, I made sure to fill a new bobbin to start with. I also checked that my needle was still sharp and changed it to a brand new one.
      9. Hoop the fabric. In my case, a towel! I hooped the stabilizer, then used the magnetic clips to attach the towel on top. I also added a clear stabilizer topper. (More about the topper in week 1.
      10. AcuSetter app. I wrote about this specifically in week 2 of these Diaries. This time, though it didn’t work so well because the little black lines on the hoop were covered up becuase I did not hoop the towel. This is a rare occurrence since most of the time fabrics would be in the hoop and lining it up would be easy. I ended up hacking it by matching and drawing the marks on my towel. Not great for accuracy – but for this project it wasn’t critical. (Also, I didn’t need to use the app, it would have been fine to use the design as I had it straight from AcuDesign.)
      11. Connect AcuMonitor. This real-time monitor shows you what the machine is doing so you can walk away! It has a nice sound that chimes when you are needed to change thread colours. It will also stop to let you know if the thread breaks, or something goes wrong.
      12. Stitch your design.
      13. Check with AcuMonitor. (Read, go relax!) Since the design takes about 1 hour to stitch, this promotes good exercise while I go up and down the stairs to change thread! I do love being able to do things while it is working. I did make sure to pin up the extra towel so it wouldn’t jam the machine, and double-check that everything else was working properly first.
      14. Embroidery in Progress.
      15. Finished Project! Unfortunately in the process of changing the bobbin, I bumped the top of the design (newbie mistake), so the ears don’t quite line up on the final pass. That’ll teach me not to mess with the placement! Plus, I may have needed more/different stabilizer. I’m chalking it up to the learning curve.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about machine embroidery! I know I have, and I’m excited to continue to play with it and get better at it. (Read: Christmas presents here I come!)
Don’t forget – there are six more Sewing Diaries posts on Getting to Know your New Machine! Lots of tips and tricks for sewing different types of common fabrics and techniques on any machine.
How do you feel about Machine Embroidery? Love it, Hate it – find it confusing?
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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Hélène Martin permalink
    December 6, 2016

    Wow, that’s cool, I had no idea apps and sewing machines were talking these days!!

    • December 7, 2016

      Hi Hélèlene! It’s amazing how they interact – very fun :) I didn’t realize it either until just recently!

  2. Lisa permalink
    April 8, 2017

    I have the Skyline S9. How do you use the RE 20a hoop in AcuDesign?

    • April 10, 2017

      Hi Lisa. Since AcuDesign does not have the Skyline S9 hoops programmed I Googled the sizes of the included hoops to find one similar to the RE20a. – Sorry, don’t recall which one off the top of my head. Once the design is back to the machine, I use the AcuSetter App to make sure it’s in place for embroidering. Hope that helps!

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