My Top Mistakes That Make You Look Like a Newbie, Part 2

I guess no one wants to look dumb in front of friends, family or even strangers.  The interesting thing about machine embroidery is that many of the things that make you and I cringe, are not often seen by a non-embroidery person.  If a jump stitch between the dot and the base of an "i" is not cut, most people would never see it even though it is in front of their eyes. 

(BTW - attention all digitizers, please make it easier for us to cut that  jump.  You could start the "i" at the top traveling to the bottom and THEN dot the "i" leaving a cut easier to manage while improving the look of the letter at the same time.)

I have more thoughts for the digitizers - like create a "space" before you create a punctuation mark so we can cut there as well - HOWEVER, this is a blog about Newbie mistakes 

There are so many facets to embroidery that a newbie can be a little overwhelmed by them all.  I have news for the newbie, some of us who are more 'seasoned' are a bit overwhelmed too, we have to remember all these details someone taught us!  Time and again someone says something to me and I have an "Oh yeah, I forgot that" moment. (Remember, gray is the new blond!) Furthermore, if all you do is football jackets all day long and then someone wants a delicate flower on chiffon, I think you have to do some readjustment of your thought process. 

So, what is the next thing a newbie needs to know?  While a lot depends on what you want to do, some items are universal.  Here are my next avoidable mistakes:

•·         Failure to do the "discovery sew" (my name for the 'sewout')

Imagine Dockers or Versace creating an outfit without doing a lot of test designs?  (btw - did you know both of them have lines at Zappos??) They want the fit, quality and most of all their name on only the finest.  People appreciate that and are absolutely willing to pay for it - a lot! 

Why would you want a lesser amount of pride in your work?  Whether or not you sell your items, won't you want to see your work displayed at their home, t-shirt or other placement and be proud of what you did? 

Every project begins with a discovery sew and that consists of ingredients exactly (or near as possible) like the finished project will be.  If you do a discovery sew of an old, used and well worn towel but plan to put it on a new extra plush velour towels, you are still going to be in for a surprise.  Accept nothing but the best for your work. 

As noted in my last blog, I have used a really well-known, nationally sold thread that was causing me a great deal of difficulty.  Finally, determining that it was the thread causing my issues took me about one whole year of frustration.  In the determination of knowing that the polyester 40 weight thread was NOT the same as the Rayon 40 weight thread, was a bit of a surprise to me.  I figured 40 weight was 40 weight!  I don't specifically note the name of the thread but you may email me via my profile (click on my name at the end of this blog) will put you in the area to write an email to me for that information.  Interestingly, I forgot to mention that if you have a 'bullet-proof' design, you can actually use that thread successfully. 

No wonder we have so much trouble remembering everything we need to know. 

However, you can use CatalogXpress to make notes about the thread - warnings where not to use it and recommendations as to where it will be an advantage.


  • Speaking of CatalogXpress, that is my next newbie mistake to AVOID like the bubonic plague.

There are so many things that newbies need to know about designs, but this one is the base for all the others.  Before you start to collect designs, make sure you have a good software program to keep them (I am careful when using this word - - - ) organized. 

There are a few software programs like it, but IMHO it was the first, the leader and still the best software of its type on the market.  You can read about the superior qualities of CX in my blog that starts with this link

Trying to get organized when you are already collecting designs at a rapid click can be daunting.  I suggest you try the software to be sure that you will be comfortable and it is user friendly (when was the last time you heard that term???)  Well, CatalogXpress is user friendly; if you currently use personal computers or the Mac machines you will feel comfortable very quickly. 

Make sure the software you test has a trial period and be careful to go over the features one by one.  As I said, I have given a tutorial for the CX and possibly you can find one for the other software too.  Even if you are computer savvy, you can expect to spend some time getting to know your software.   Remember that software is created by programmers who probably don't sew (much less embroider) a lot.  BTW, if you are interested to know the difference between sewing and embroidery, you can check this link. They don't have a lot in common beyond the needle and thread. . . . .

CX does many things, but be aware, like the similar products, it does NOT digitize.  Digitizing software STARTS at about $600 to $800 but  you won't be doing much with that sort of capability.  A fairly good one will be around $1,500 and the quality seekers pay $5,000.  A professional digitizing software package is around $10,000 to $30,000.   When I see someone in the Forum saying they are a newbie and want to digitize, I try to tell them to consider having someone do it - the fees are nominal considering what a good digitizer needs to know - and put that off until you understand what makes embroidery - - - well, embroidery. 

Pulleease, you don't believe all the commercials on TV, do you??  Do you really think you will look 10 years younger with a $50 jar of cream?  Maybe, but only if you are 35 and look like you are 65 to begin with.  Auto digitizing comes under this umbrella of daisies and dreams.  If you look at them with a critical eye, you will see no detail, only 3 or 4 colors and a cartoon like image that is fun for a 3 year old but little else.  If you want to spend money, I am happy to assist you but I won't let you buy a program that is overpriced and has a significantly steep learning curve. BTW, you better know design, color palates, composition and anatomy really well too.

I have so many things I want to share with you all.  Making a mistake is an opportunity to learn.  I don't have enough hours in the day to make all the mistakes possible.  Share one with us while you are here right now!  If you want assistance with putting one together, email me (click on my name below) and let's talk.   I have a dozen books with all sorts of ideas of what to do, I need to know what to do when the embroidery machine is eating my project! 

Comments (3) -

I am very curious about the thread - I rarely use rayon so I am always using a different thread than what most designs were digitized for.  thanks!

my e-mail is

A design can be edited to move jumps.  If you have a software program that includes editing.  I use Designer's Gallery Custom Works.  I came with my EM.

Newbies - "Bullet-Proof" means a design is so dense and stiff that it would appear a bullet could not penetrate it.  If I have such a design, I enlarge it a bit on the EM so the stitch count remains the same but the coverage spreads out over a slightly larger area.

All of the above are things you discover and fix when you test stitch a new design.

I am glad that Pattiann added this information.  I have had bronchitis for the last 12 days and know that at least 8 to 10 are ahead of me.  My longest bronchitis was 30 days - it is a long lasting issue for me.

Giving little tips is just what this blog is all about.  This is a prime example of taking the information to the next level.  There is much to remember grasshopper and we all want to look as professional as we are able.  

Making newbie mistakes is for the uninformed.  Keep learning, especially here at AnnTheGran.  People are knowledgable and very helpful.  This community is excellent, organized and caring.  What more could you ask for?

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

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