Making Digitizing Easier - Unfinished Objects (UFOs)


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Wow, my first blog at

This week I will try to solve a problem that will be familiar to many of you - well, at least I hope that I'm not the only one here with lots of UFO's, those many UnFinished Objects in our closets.

My UFO's are a direct result of my addiction: I cannot pass a fabric store without entering it. And then for sure I will fall totally in love with one or more of the fabrics on display. I just can't help myself and I simply must buy that fabric. Right there and then the first problem arises already - how many yards to buy. And to know that, I first have to know what to make from the fabric. Well, my mind starts processing already and I buy enough fabric to be able to make a skirt and a blouse. So far so good.

When I'm home, I carefully unfold the fabric and hang it over the table. I start looking in fashion magazines to see if I can find a pattern that matches the idea that is already in my head. And somehow, I just can't find the right pattern. Not too much of a problem, because back in 1989/1990 I was in Fashion Academy and learned how to turn ideas into workable patterns. And with the Pre-Design Studio program I can now even draw my garment pattern in the computer and print it at actual size. So my mind keeps processing to invent the perfect pattern for that specific piece of fabric, and I decide that I will draw the pattern as soon as I'm totally sure what it's going to be.

Time passes, as there are so many other things to do too (working on my new tutorial, working on further development of the Pre-Design Studio software, answering emails from users of Pre-Design Studio and PE-Design / Palette, drawing patterns for our longarm pattern website), and before you know it, there's another fabric or quilt store on my way and the whole routine starts allover again.

More time passes, seasons change and suddenly that fabric is not suitable for the winter season, or summer season. And did you know that paper patterns can shrink over the years? The end of the story is a closet, looking like a fabric store, filled with UFO's.

So let's just do something about it! Basically it is very simple: take the fabric out of the box and "think" outside the box. That fabric you bought for that blouse? That blouse is not going to happen anymore. You have to make something else of it, for example a totebag.

getting started

And, why not combine fabric UFO's with embroidery samples? The pocket on one side of the totebag can be embellished with a large embroidery design, and the other side of the totebag is a perfect display for your embroidery tryouts.

Today, for this post, I turned my black suede blouse UFO into a totebag. On one side I used a design made for the chapter "Painting with Thread" of my new digitizing tutorial, as I needed a sample sewn on black. It's based on a watercolor painting I made in Fashion Academy.

embroidery on pocket

The other side are patches, representing my fabrics. I made the patch design in Pre-Design Studio: just a really simple line drawing, straight lines up and down and then crossing those lines from left to right and back.

it cannot be any easier to draw

Then, right in Pre-Design Studio, converted the lines to stitches and saved as DST. Opened in the machine and embroidered it a couple of times, using variegated thread. The design can't be any simpler and the variegated thread makes it look like a tweed woven fabric.

directly from Pre-Design Studio into machine

And now, a couple of hours later, the totebag is finished. And you know what the big advantage is of this project? It can hold a lot of UFO's...

One Finished Object

If, while reading this, you recognize the scenario, let me know what you do about your UFO's - do you have many projects that need finishing? And do you still like the fabric that you bought years ago?


Comments (12) -

This is so cool!  I love the purse.  I have a lot of UFOs too.  But they do have a tendency of coming up when I need inspiration.


I enjoyed your article about UFO's.  We all have some I am sure.  I am interested in learning more about your books.  I have PE-Design version 7 and would love to have a work book or something more to read to be able to use the software better.  Please let me know where to get the book.  Thank you.  Leigh

Loes, great to see you doing an Embroidery blog.  I'm used to seeing you on the APQS forum.  I'm looking forward to seeing your posts.  I love, love my PE-Design Studio (I got the upgrade).

Connie in VA

Loes-I was looking at your Pre-Design Studio software and found something interesting.

I did a blog on the Bean Stitch and the readers loved it.  Now I see that your software has the Bean Stitch in it.  Let people know about that because I think they will want to give this software a try!  So the free s/h on this software will be a great deal for people wanting to digitize.

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

Hi Connie, yes I'm so proud to be here!

Embroidery digitizing is sort of my "roots". Pre-Design was developed in 2001 to make embroidery digitizing easier. When we added the export to DXF format in 2006, it also made longarm pattern digitizing easier - and that is when Theo and I started exploring the quilting world and joined the APQS forum.

Leigh, information about my embroidery digitizing video tutorials (PE-Design CD-Books) can be found on">

There's one for PE Design / Palette version 6 with a free addendum to make it suitable with version 7.

Pat,  about the bean stitch: you are absolutely right: a bean stitch adds dimension, extra shine and it is a super stitch. I have had so much fun during the months we have been working on it. It has been my private toy for months, and now we have released Pre-Design Studio everyone can start playing with it. You have some great examples in your blog!

Watching your embroidery machine sew a pattern, you just drew seconds earlier is so wonderful. I really can't describe that feeling - you're just sitting there at your machine looking in awe...

Well, everyone just has to try it.">Watch the videos and download the trial version. Draw something in Pre-Design Studio, convert to stitches, choose bean stitch, save on a USB stick and take into your embroidery machine.


Leigh - Based on your comment, Loes has kindly offered to allow us to carry her digitizing tutorials as well, so you can expect to see them available on our site in a few days.

Great introductory post, Loes! Keep in mind all you readers that English is Loes' second (third?) language and that I hardly had to do any editing of this post. If I only I were quite so fluent in my other languages...

I love the "lady" pattern you stitched out.

UFOs? what are those? hahahah I have soooo many USFs it is not funny. I love your ideas. Turn them into something else.

If I am dead set on making a certain project, no matter how long it sits, I put all the fabric, notions, etc for that project along with a note on what the project is in a bag and hang it in my "to do" closet. Needless to say, my to do closet is FULL. I will have to rethink my projects now.

thanks for the great tip.

BTW is that pattern available?

cme   8^)

Hi cme,

Sounds very organized Smile - Thanks for the tip.

Rethinking projects is not always possible of course, as some projects cannot be turned it into something else.

My oldest UFO (sorry Beamishboy if this isn't english at all)  is 12 years old - oh my gosh, now that I write this down, I will have to finish it this year!  

It's a mini quilt of 9 quilt blocks. The 4 corner blocks and the center block are embroidered. All blocks are sewn together already. I only have to cut backing fabric and batting, and then quilt the 4 empty blocks and make a binding. How hard can that be...

All I have to do is take a photo of the project. Open that photo as a background in Pre-Design Studio, trace the embroidered quilt blocks on the photo to make matching quilt patterns, convert the pattern in Pre-Design Studio to stitches, save on a USB stick and put into my Quattro machine to start quilting those 4 blocks. I think the whole process is quicker than writing this comment.

It's Saturday now, a great day to do what I wrote above.

Oh, cme you asked if the pattern is available: the fashion design is an exclusive design  which will be included in my new PE-Design 8 CDBook, plus video instructions how to digitize designs like that Smile

Have to go now: got a project to finish...


I love soft ware, so I buy allmost  every thing  the companys make. Ive had your drawing programe for about three or four years. Its great  thank you.  Laura Cannon,  Payson AZ.


Thanks for the compliment.

Did you try the new Pre-Design Studio already? You'll love it! You can turn drawings made in Pre-Design Studio into stitches and directly take the resulting DST design into your machine!

As you already have Pre-Design, you don't need to buy the full version: there's a special upgrade offer for you.

Speaking of turning into stitches and my oldest UFO: I Have Finished the miniquilt I wrote about in my previous comment!  

spray basted top batting and" width="400" height="300" />

I spray-basted top, batting and backing fabric together.

digitizing quilt patterns in Pre-Design" width="399" height="389" />

I made 4 quilt patterns in">Pre-Design Studio, chose File > Convert to Stitches, chose a Bean stitch, saved on a USB.

border hoop - clamp" width="400" height="300" />

Embroidered the blocks, using the wonderful border hoop (clamp-system) of my Brother Quattro. Finally finished the border and the mini-quilt is ready!

One Finished" width="400" height="300" />

It's amazing what blogging at AnnTheGran does for me!


jackiepurdy 1/20/2009 11:24:11 AM

I have the pe design for brother is the pre design better for the bean stich, I dont seem to have that in my brother software


The beanstitch in Pre-Design Studio is just SUPER. You can enter any stitch length (3 mm is a nice stitch size for redwork)  and the beauty of the stitch in Pre-Design Studio is that it automatically adjusts it's own stitch length in little curls and sharp corners:

Small round details won't become edgy. The lines will sew once, with the chosen stitch type (bean stitch or normal running stitch), in a continuous path, as long as you drew a continuous path.

Bean stitch quality in Pre-Design" width="400" height="300" />

In PE-Design version 7 and later you also have a bean stitch, called Triple Stitch (this will not adjust its stitch length).

You'll love">Pre-Design Studio!


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