I am a lucky quilter. I readily acknowledge this. I am a Bernina National Artisan and the happy recipient of a loaner machine — an artista 730e. I love the things it does that my Bernina 820 does not.
As a quilter, I spend my sewing time working on quilts and quilt-related projects. Yes, I learned to sew by making garments, but who has time to hem pants and replace buttons, much less learn machine embroidery? Me, apparently.
My husband loves to camp. Recently, when he realized a lifelong dream and purchased a motorcycle, he began looking at his camping gear in a new way. He began to attend BMW rallies with his brother, toting all of his gear on his bike. He traded his folding camp chair for a Kermit chair, well-known to motorcycle camping enthusiasts. He exchanged his camp towel (an old bath towel) for a new high-tech microfiber towel. Then came the request. “My chair and towel look like everyone else’s. Could you put my name on them for me?” I thought quickly. Sharpie pen? Fabric paint and a hand-cut stencil? Ahhh. I could use my 730e to machine embroider whatever he needed. I could use machine embroidery to help him farkle.
I learned some important things through this process and I want to share them along with a few project details.
After much discussion, we decided to embroider my husband’s first name. I wanted to use my monogram designs, and so I campaigned for three simple letters. However, many of the campers don’t know his last name; they just know him as Eric. And the font was important, of course. After much back-and-forth with e-mail, PDF font samples, and help from patient and generous friends, we settled on a design.
Font: The Bernina embroidery software I used allowed me to import True Type fonts. I went to ITCFonts.com and found the perfect fonts: ITC Rennie Mackintosh Std Bold and ITC Rennie Mackintosh Ornaments. Click, purchase, download. Check. By rotating and resizing, I was able to lay out the design exactly as we wanted it to look.
Stabilizer: I used a tear-away for both the chair back and the towel. The towel had no real loops, and so I did not need that clear topping to prevent the loops from being caught and the design from sinking too far down.
The Back of the Design: I didn’t really care if the back of the name showed on the towel. Who would see it? I cared very much about the wrong side of the stitching showing on the back of the chair. My husband had the perfect solution. He had a patch he saved from one of the two coast-to-coast bicycle trips he made with Wandering Wheels. We both loved the irony of a bicycle patch on a chair used at motorcycle rallies. I sewed the patch on the back of the chair over the wrong side of the embroidery. Problem solved! You can see a faint line of stitching around the name on the chair.
This project took longer than I wanted it to, but I learned a lot about machine embroidery in the process. I loved using the technology I had on hand. I am mesmerized by the 730e as the embroidery module moves the hoop in perfect synchronization with the needle to form a perfect design. I must admit that I’m looking around the house for other things that need to be embroidered. I had fun. Maybe I’ll work on quilts next week.