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Multi-position hooping

Back in my college floral design class, I was told that my designs were always too small. Nice, even beautiful sometimes, effectively incorporating the things we had learned, but still lacking in volume. "Try something for a big room," the instructor kept saying. It has recently come to my attention that I have this issue in embroidery as well.

I started testing my self-imposed limit when I began taking Bobbi Bullard's Craftsy class on Continuous Line Embroidery*. My first practice sample opened creative windows for me. I had been going through the motions, following the instructions, having success, but when I actually held in my hand the finished lo-ong string of embroidery, created with just a 5x7 (130x180) hoop, I guess a barrier in my mind went *snap*. "That was not hard at all."

Suddenly, I started to see potential in larger embroidery applications. I have spent time in phone support helping people find designs which fit their hoops (it's necessary, and there's nothing wrong with that!), and I have also begun to look past things that are bigger than my own hoop. I think there might be something wrong with that; at least in order to remain open to possibilities and challenges, I believe that looking past the very thing which could provide a new challenge may be counter-productive. In this case, I have and use Embrilliance software, so there's no good reason not to learn how to split embroidery with it.

Then, almost like an expansion pack to a tailored lesson on the subject, I received another nudge toward bigger embroidery. One of our StitchArtist Let's Learn this Together course participants recently asked whether StitchArtist could be used to stipple quilt blocks, saving hours of free-motion time. Well, I believed that it could, and started looking at how this might be accomplished. StitchArtist has a very simple to use stipple feature. Voila. But that's only the beginning -- what if the quilt block is 16"? Can that still be done with a hoop a quarter of the size?

Yes! In fact, stippled quilt blocks might be the perfect thing to start with if you're looking to do large embroidery. Why? They're quick to stitch, and often very geometric. I discovered that Embrilliance Essentials will split embroidery designs into multiple positions for your hoop. And though there are ways to control the split location (so that you don't split a face down the middle for example), I like to start with something simple and up the chances of success. A stippled quilt block fits that requirement. It's quick to stitch, and often is somewhat broken into geometric shapes already, so that when the software splits it, the split locations make total sense. For a beginner with StitchArtist, you'll find having Essentials to do the split will save you having to design the split and alignments yourself, and it can also be used as a way to learn to do it yourself.

Lisa Shaw wrote in her machine embroidery blog that once you start thinking beyond the hoop, your embroidery just gets bigger and bigger. Even when the hoops get bigger, too. Isn't that wonderful?

Now the only thing that I find still holds me in my tracks is the issue of continuously re-hooping. Fabrics needing to be aligned, and shifting while being hooped.... oh don't make me do it! Do you feel that way, too? I'm testing out some magnetic hoops to help me with that. They sure look a lot easier to use than the hoop that came with the machine. They're also on sale right now, as I mentioned in the previous post on hooping burlap gift bags. So, now is my time! Is it yours?


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