Re: My first embroidery and Q for Jim

Pat Bryant

Try using a 50 weight thread.  Sometimes these people who put this stuff together in machines and in the information that comes with the machine, "assume" that you and I know as much as they do.  The built in fonts are provided for an "average" weight thread, needle and fabric.  What is your fabric isn't what they consider "average"? 
Here's a little exercises...  pull 1 thread from your fabric you intend to stitch on.  Now take place 2 lengths of the thread you intend to use side by side... Which is thicker?  No, it's not unfair that you use 2 lengths of the thread you intend to use.  Your machine uses 2 strands to make a stitch.  So, which is thicker?  If the strand from the fabric is thicker than both strands of thread, you'll need less stabilizer.  If the strand from the fabric is smaller than both strands of thread, you're going to need more stabilizer.
Why?  Consider this.  Your machine creates a stitch by the needle taking the thread down to the bobbin area.  The hook drags the bobbin thread around until it "hooks" the top thread and kind of loops them together.  As the needle rises, the threads are pulled to the top and the stitches are locked BETWEEN the layers of the fabric.  (Here's another little tidbit, the top tension controls what the stitch looks like below the fabric, while the bobbin case has more to do with how the top looks.)
Now, since embroidery packs so many stitches into one small area, (take a look at those strands of thread again), it's not logical that we should expect them to lock between the layers of the fabric so the stitches are pulled towards the bottom.  If the fabric (with it's stabilizer) isn't thick enough, these threads will lock together where ever there is the smallest amount of room for that to happen.  When there are enough of these "knots" that completely fill the area, the knots will start pushing your stitches around... 
So, those built in patterns (or lettering) are optimized for "best case scenario".   You will, over time, learn how to create "best case scenario" as you go along!  This is done by experimentation by you and others who have dealt with this before.  It's done by layering stabilizer; yes, that's exactly what those extra layers of stabilizer do, they stabilize the fabric for that perfect sandwich of fabric versus thread. 
Ever have trouble with your machine after it comes back from the shop?  It sewed perfectly for them, but it isn't stitching as well on your fabric?  Makes me crazy when this happens.  The easy solution is that you take a piece of your fabric into the store with you and politely ask them to adjust the machine for that fabric.  In extreme knit fabrics it may be necessary to return the machine to the store to have them balance tension for regular fabrics (if you don't know how to do it yourself). 
Hope this helps.

In a message dated 7/2/2014 9:00:46 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, janome12000@... writes:
Thanks Pat—that’s good to know if I ever do any digitizing, but this font was one of the built in ones, Micro Something—Gothic? clean block letters but small, not Monogram size. They are about 3/8-1/2 inch tall (caps and tall letters); lower case are a tiny bit larger than 1/4”. So I’m guessing that since it was a built-in, it is somehow optimized in terms of stitches?

Cheers, Sarah

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The other noteworthy point I would make is that the smaller the lettering
the LESS thread you need to make it look good. You want more stitches in
your larger lettering for sure, but, the tendency is to think that more
stitches will make smaller lettering look good, when it is in fact, just the


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