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SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf

As some may have seen from the TFR Secret Santa thread, I have started on the path of becoming a machine embroidery master so that I can produce ridiculous in-joke patches for the masses.

This thread serves to document my continuing decent into madness, as well as for people to post ideas of stupid things that would be funny to put on range bags.

First things first:

What is machine embroidery? How does it differ from just normal (hand) embroidery?


Hand embroidery is where you hold a hoop of fabric in your hand and poke it a bunch with thread to make pretty designs. You're able to create a lot of cool poo poo but it takes forever and you look like a nerd.

Machine embroidery uses a computerized machine that is similar to, if not also, a sewing machine. This means you design what you want on the computer and then put it on the machine and it mostly automatically stitches it out for you while you sip on frozen margaritas in your hammock. Occasionally jumping out of it in a panic because the stitching sound slightly changed and you think your machine is ripping itself apart because of a thrown stitch.

My Equipment
I'm definitely entry level so I picked up a Brother SE-400 from Amazon. It's both a sewing machine and an embroidery machine which is handy. The reason I went with this machine is that Brother's are highly regarded, and my mother has owned two of their models and has been very happy with them. Plus, when I have issues I can call her and show her what it felt like all those times I had to help her using "the google".

Here is my machine immediately after I unboxed it and set it up.



Sewing
So the machine comes reloaded with simple designs and a bunch of fonts you can write text with. It's designed so you can put cutesy little things on pillows and add initials to baby clothes and such. I used some of these to test the machine out and I was pleased with the results.



Oh a heart that's pretty cool but I think it's missing something.



There we go. Test complete!

Digitizing

So putting flowers and hears and poo poo is cool but I don't care about any of that. I want to make ridiculous goatse patches and things so it's time to figure out how to do that.

The end result I needed for the machine was a .PES file. That file basically contains a huge series of points that tell the machine where to stab the thread. It also contain what order to do them, the color they should be, and when to start/stop certain sections. Doesn't sound hard, right? I haven't seen an embroidery file over 100Kb. They are tiny because they just aren't that complex.

Originally, I was thinking I could vectorize the image and convert that into stitch data. Using InkScape, an opensource and amazingly polished Adobe Illustrator alternative, I pretty easily figured out how to vectorize the image, and could save it in a variety of formats. I found a website called SVG2Stitch or something along those lines, and it did a pretty decent job of converting my lines into stitch data, but the problem was that I could adjust the stitches at all after the fact. Think of it like rendering text in photoshop. Before you render text, you can edit it as text, and it knows what it is. After you render the text, it treats it as a bunch of pixels. That's more or less what happened to my line data when put through the website. So it was unfortunately not very usable. The only part surviving from this attempt was the grass on the patch.

Here is a picture of that patch file being stitched on my moms embroiderer. Hers is crazy nice and very fast. At this point I didn't own a machine yet and I was still dabbling in if this was possible and something I wanted to do at all.



As you can see from the patch it made, the border is anemic and even shittier than the photo gives it credit for. The eyebrow on the frog is also wimpy. The eyes are tiny garbage. The way the background is stitched is out of order and theres a thread that runs under it and make a visible line across half the patch. The text isn't too bad but it needs to be denser. Also something to note is that the fill stitch in this design is diagonal, that later is changed to horizontal.

At this point, I decided I needed some actual digitzing software to do this. It's hard to find a complete list of software that does what I need it to do, because most people stick with premade embroidery patterns, and when they say they want to "edit a pattern" they are referring to increasing the size, decreasing the size, changing the colors, or copying and pasting a few premade patterns together. Nothing like what we want to do.

Well after some research, it looks like the big software packages people recommend is Brother's PE Design, Huskvarna's Software (the name eludes me atm), SewWhat Pro & Sew Art, and Embird. I was able to locate an old copy of PE Design, and tried the trials of Embird and SewWhat Pro. Out of the three, I really liked the interface of Embird, but the older PE Design software was rock solid and seemed to do everything I needed. So I stuck with that mostly. Embird seems to have a ton of functionality, but I didn't want to spend all the time needed to figure it out. If I keep this up, I will almost certainly be buying it or SewWhat Pro.

Here's the third version and nth revision of the patch loaded into PE Design. You can see all the different stitch points and how they're connected pretty easily.

This is before I re-digitized it properly. It has the old border (but still thicker than the patch above) as well as the stupid eyes and eyebrow on the frog.

So the problem with that design is that if I want to increase the stitch density, my only option is to manually place additional stitches, which is garbage. I'm not doing that.

So I opened up the original MSPaint drawing and drew over it using the PE Design tools for stitching and rebuilt it from scratch, except the grass, which was salvageable as is.

Now that I had actual objects I could play with, I could experiment with stitch density, stitch size, letter placement, stitch order, entry/exit points, etc. It was well worth the duplicate effort.

Here are a few of my different tests. There are more than this, but it's all there was at the time. I also didn't finish a lot of them. Normally, after the machine stitches the whole design, I go in by hand and cut away the connecting threads between all the parts. On some I didn't bother as I was only testing certain parts. On one I didn't even bother stitching the grass.



The machine is also somewhat loud, and I often question the thickness of my apartment walls. So I rolled a table into my HVAC closet with an extension cord and setup shop in there. With the help of a USB extension cable I can load new design into it without moving it! It adds 3 walls between it and my neighbors, so if they could hear it, I doubt they can now.


Problems
So there have been lots of issues along the way. Mostly mechanical. I think the root of the issues is that I'm stitching this onto nylon, which is somewhat stretchy and really thin. That makes it particularly difficult to stitch on because it tends to follow the needle up and down and it scrunches up a bit from the force of the stitches.

All fabric does this to some degree, so you use what is called a "stabilizer" under/over/both with the fabric in the hoop to give it strength and something for the machine to stitch to better. Then, when you're done embroidering you remove the stabilizer away. There are tear away, cut away, and wash away stabilizers. I did most of my tests on cut away because it was cheap. However, for production I switched to wash away. So after stitching is complete, I just run it under water and then let it dry. All that's left is thread and fabric.

My plague at the moment is that while stitching in the yellow background fill, it will occasionally skip a loop from the bobbin or something and it fucks up the entire patch. It causes it to loop on the top and bottom of the patch in the best case, and in the worst case, it shuts off the machine from jamming. Once I had it get wrapped around the bobbin and rip the bobbin out of its case on the bottom. Luckily there does not seem to be any permanent damage but the memory of the sound it made keeps me awake at night.

To combat this I've tried using more stabilizer, both above and below the fabric. I've also adjusted the tension on the top thread every which way. Finally, I've tried replacing the needle a few times. Embroidery machines are to needles as 22 pistols are to ammo. They all kind of have the particular type they like. I think part of the issue is my replacement needles are slightly different than what it came with, and maybe my machine doesn't like them. I'm still working with this hypothesis because I've tried almost everything else I can think of and it doesn't seem to have any effect.

Finishing

So just as a gun isn't complete after it's parts are assembled, neither is a patch after being stitched. After being pulled out from under the machine, there are still little connecting threads between all the letters of the same color. The machine automatically cuts the thread when going between colors, but not between different objects of the same color. This can be mostly mitigated by better digitization, but I'm not there with my skill level yet. I also think Embird has a lot of options for it, but again, I haven't figured that all out yet. For the time being, I just go at it with my tiny pair of Gingher scissors which have a badass stork on them. Look at these things.


So that usually takes about 20 minutes of exacting work to get done. A wrong move can cut a fill stitch inadvertently and couple of those will noticeably effect the patch.

After that I go over the edges with a wood burning pencil with a blade installed on it. This melts/cuts the nylon away from the black edging and gives the patch a mostly-professional looking finish.

Finally, I need to add velcro to the back. I haven't done this yet but it should be pretty straight forward. I just have to sew a piece of velcro on the back. I've got my moms old sewing machine from the 80's so I'll be using that one to do that so I don't have to gently caress with converting the SE400 back and forth between sewing and embroidery mode.


The Finished Product (minus velcro)



Future Plans/Ideas
-I want to use this to embroider little logos for all my gun socks so I can tell what's what in my safe with relative ease.
-Making some ammo-can pillows is within the realm of possibility, but would also require sewing and stuffing a pillow.
-I'd like to eventually sell some patches to you guys and others and help recoup some of my expenses with this. I'm pretty sure we've all seen the same 5 or 6 patches at every gun show booth for the last decade, so it would be fun to mix it up with something beyond "Guns & Coffee" and "Don't Tread on Me" patches.


Well that's all I've got time to type out tonight. I'm sure I skipped some important stuff that I was blocking from memory.

Questions? Comments? Ideas? Post Away!

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colt45andashove
Nov 24, 2003
a13ean's bitch

No questions, but this is a pretty drat cool idea and an informative post. I'm looking forward to see what else you make. There was some goon on here many years ago that made custom patches, and I always thought it would be cool to have some made, but that person doesn't seem to be around anymore.

Butch Cassidy
Jul 28, 2010



Yo, Parts Kit, toss the man your boltse.cx file.

Herr Tog
Jun 18, 2011



Grimey Drawer

so do i pay you if I put that on a shirt?

SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf

God no. I would only take money for my patches to cover my materials and part of my time. I'm not trying to turn profits or anything.

I didn't make the drawing and I'm not sure who did, but I think you're good to put it on a shirt. I have a vectorized version if you'd like it for that endeavor.

The Eyes Have It
Feb 9, 2008

Third Eye Sees All
...snookums

Reading that has a lot of similarities to running my laser cutter - it's not nearly so much a "does all the work at the push of a button" as it is a power tool that is good at one particular thing, and needs you to prep/maintain/feed/cleanup/etc all around that one particular thing.

right arm
Oct 29, 2011



stitch barnacle jim's long rear end face

ZebraBlade
Mar 26, 2010

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

My range bag is urning for a dickbutt patch.

My (ex)mother-in-law was all sorts of sewing and quilting crazy so she had 3 of these embroidery machines going loving constantly. If a dumb hillbilly lady can figure that poo poo out on her own I can't wait to see what someone with a IQ over 50 can do with it.

Bummey
May 26, 2004

you are a filth wizard, friend only to the grumpig and the rattata


neat

Gray Stormy
Dec 19, 2006



Ive worked with a place to have some custom PVC patches made, but I vastly prefer embroidered ones.

Ive sewn a fair bit of my own gear in the past, but I got really tired of shredding needles so I have stopped. Now you have me wanting to look for an embroidery machine.

Parts Kit
Jun 9, 2006

durr
i have a hole in my head
durr


Butch Cassidy posted:

Yo, Parts Kit, toss the man your boltse.cx file.


I uh may be getting in touch with you on the government get out REEEEEE patches later. Got a hat somewhere that has a velcro spot for a patch but never saw one that would be right before now.

ed: if you want to get a little fancy with your computer setup you can get something like a raspberry pi or beaglebone black and network it so that it serves the file from your desktop. I'm doing that currently with an old laptop and my cnc machine so I don't have to walk all over the drat place when I inevitably forget my thumb drive. This assumes that the software is compatible with linux though, the cnc files are just text files that get run through a usb server program so that's super easy.

Parts Kit fucked around with this message at 22:05 on Dec 17, 2015

Herr Tog
Jun 18, 2011



Grimey Drawer

SpartanIV posted:

God no. I would only take money for my patches to cover my materials and part of my time. I'm not trying to turn profits or anything.

I didn't make the drawing and I'm not sure who did, but I think you're good to put it on a shirt. I have a vectorized version if you'd like it for that endeavor.

sweet and yes please.

bulletsponge13
Apr 28, 2010


Please tell me you can make this. I will PayPal you monies.

http://i.imgur.com/VzkIXqM.jpg

stealie72
Jan 10, 2007

Their eyes locked and suddenly there was the sound of breaking glass.


I have a north face logo on the back of my fleece that desperately needs to be covered up with a boltse.cx patch. Just saying.

SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf

bulletsponge13 posted:

Please tell me you can make this. I will PayPal you monies.

http://i.imgur.com/VzkIXqM.jpg

This is probably too intricate of work to be made into a stitched patch. At least for me at my current level of skill and complexity of equipment.

I think the boltse.cx is doable though.

I also want to digitize the "Good times with friends" that's a bunch of bullets holding hands. I can't find the file though. If someone has it, please post it for me.

In embroidery news: I think my issues are related to the needle I'm using. I've got 100 Organ brand embroidery needles waiting for me in the front apartment office but they changed their hours so I have to wait until tomorrow to get them

aioli is just mayo
Aug 14, 2003

He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah . But whoever is forced by necessity, neither desiring it nor transgressing its limit, there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful


https://i.imgur.com/ip4o7KC.jpg

That's too complex to make a patch, isn't it?

SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf

Rigel posted:

https://i.imgur.com/ip4o7KC.jpg

That's too complex to make a patch, isn't it?

Well you could do the snake and the ball gag, but I doubt you could get the detail in the eyebrow and expression that really sells it.

Also, I'd forgotten I already bought 100 of these Organ needles to give to my mom for Christmas so I opened that box up and she's getting the one in the office now

Hopefully this fixes my issues with it nesting and looping on the bottom.

Parts Kit
Jun 9, 2006

durr
i have a hole in my head
durr


Rigel posted:

https://i.imgur.com/ip4o7KC.jpg

That's too complex to make a patch, isn't it?
All those spots and poo poo could be removed pretty easily in photoshop, and the expression could be exaggerated a bit so it's more clear.

ed: next week once I have some free time I'll finish squaring up my cnc machine and we can add rude engravings to this list.

Parts Kit fucked around with this message at 01:16 on Dec 19, 2015

king of the bongo
Apr 26, 2008

If you're brown, GET DOWN!


Rigel posted:

https://i.imgur.com/ip4o7KC.jpg

That's too complex to make a patch, isn't it?

Track one of these down
http://tamarasantibanez.com/2014/2014/08/31/please-tread-on-me/

SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf


Looking at this, their fill stitch for the background is much more dense than mine. I wonder if that's part of my issue.....

In any case, the new needle seems to have fixed the majority of the issues I was having, and it just finished stitching patch #6

Kennebago
Nov 12, 2007

van de schande is bevrijd
hij die met walkuren rijd


This thread is TFR as gently caress.

Parts Kit
Jun 9, 2006

durr
i have a hole in my head
durr


While we are at it now would be a good time to make our own goofy as gently caress stuff so we aren't just pulling random poo poo off imgur.

Which also reminds me I need to finish up that vector of the rat's big black cocks so he can get something made with it.

SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf

Herr Tog posted:

sweet and yes please.

Here is the vector file. There's no yellow background or border. It's just the text, frog, and grass lines.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0jAT4PTp6tud2dGWkFnOE9vMkk/view?usp=sharing


In other news, I just had my first patch with 0 stitching errors

SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf

So I'm trying to figure out how to attach the velcro without having stitching going all over the design. The widest velcro I could find was 2", and the patches are about 2.5", so I can't just go around all the edges.

Here's what I've come up with currently. Two stitches down the sides right next to the black border. It holds well, but you can pull the patch away from the velcro. Not sure if anyone has a problem with that or not? It seems like it would hold well for general use, but I'd be kind of worried about it snagging on something.




I'm thinking I should move the velcro up to the top border and stitch it on three sides.

Any thoughts?

Bummey
May 26, 2004

you are a filth wizard, friend only to the grumpig and the rattata


Why not use a larger velcro panel and stitch all four sides?

Butch Cassidy
Jul 28, 2010



SpartanIV posted:

The widest velcro I could find was 2", and the patches are about 2.5", so I can't just go around all the edges.

E: And stitching on three side should work fine. and you can advertise the open bottom as a discreet document pocket

SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf

The first totally complete patch!








Parts Kit
Jun 9, 2006

durr
i have a hole in my head
durr


Nice. Another option would be to use two pieces going perpendicular to the direction you're already going, sewn on their outer 3 sides. Since they won't be sewn in the middle you really will have a pocket too.

ed: hey here's a poo poo load of 3" wide.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...sr_1_33&sr=8-33

Parts Kit fucked around with this message at 02:58 on Dec 21, 2015

smax
Nov 9, 2009



A suggestion: Set up an Amazon wish list with any supplies you need. I know I'd pitch in for some thread or velcro.

Gorgonzola Cheese
Feb 20, 2007
Gorgonzola's revenge!

Yes. Yessssssssss.

This thread.


Yessssssssss

SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf

Parts Kit posted:

Nice. Another option would be to use two pieces going perpendicular to the direction you're already going, sewn on their outer 3 sides. Since they won't be sewn in the middle you really will have a pocket too.

ed: hey here's a poo poo load of 3" wide.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...sr_1_33&sr=8-33

How did I not loving find this, gently caress. I ordered my 2" strips off amazon even and specifically looked for 2.5" and 3" strips. gently caress.

Also, I tried 2 pieces perpendicular and it did not work well on my tests. It's probably mostly my skill level of sewing, but the velcro would stretch and move while I was trying to sew it. I tried using pins to hold them in place but it didn't help much. I think if I could have sewn it with the velcro side up it would have worked fine, but I have to sew it velcro side down so that I can see where I'm sewing in relation to the patch border.


smax posted:

A suggestion: Set up an Amazon wish list with any supplies you need. I know I'd pitch in for some thread or velcro.

I appreciate the generosity but minus the 3" velcro I've got everything I need already. I can, and have, bought thread and cloth locally at JoAnn's because with coupons I can get it cheaper than online. Most of my expenses have been startup costs, like the machine itself, nice embroidery scissors, extra bobbins, a bulk pack of needles, etc. It's stuff that will basically last me forever. The actual materials for the patches are pretty minor by comparison. Embroidery thread is kind of expensive but so far I haven't even finished off a spool of yellow yet, and I must have used about 40 patches worth of it now. I've already got a second spool of yellow and black ready to go just in case.




Finally, let me introduce the MVP of tonight. My mothers old Kenmore sewing machine from the 80's. This machine made pretty much all my Halloween costumes growing up, and it's a loving beast of a machine. It's all metal internals cannot be stopped by any mortal fabric. Since I've got my Brother setup for embroidering and I don't want to gently caress with swapping it back and forth, I'm using this one for the velcro.


and don't judge my pyramid of drying dishes in the back there. I made a pie for our works Christmas party and it required a lot of mixing.

Parts Kit
Jun 9, 2006

durr
i have a hole in my head
durr


SpartanIV posted:

How did I not loving find this, gently caress. I ordered my 2" strips off amazon even and specifically looked for 2.5" and 3" strips. gently caress.
It's buried pretty good, that was like the third time I looked after getting a couple results on ebay.

Your setup is really neat by the way.

king of the bongo
Apr 26, 2008

If you're brown, GET DOWN!


SpartanIV posted:

How did I not loving find this, gently caress. I ordered my 2" strips off amazon even and specifically looked for 2.5" and 3" strips. gently caress.
http://www.amazon.com/inch-Velcro-B...MBVHB5T45MX2EBS

Parts Kit
Jun 9, 2006

durr
i have a hole in my head
durr


There is 6" too.

Thanks to TFR's ability to give me ADD I've now got my Singer 201k out and running.

SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf


That's exactly what I would like but it's heinously expensive. I just bought the 3" velcro because the price dropped 25% over the last 2 hours. So I'm getting what I need at like $0.75 (including shipping) a foot instead of $2 (without shipping) a foot for the 4" version.


Parts Kit posted:

There is 6" too.

Thanks to TFR's ability to give me ADD I've now got my Singer 201k out and running.

Post pics

Parts Kit
Jun 9, 2006

durr
i have a hole in my head
durr


super lovely cell phone pic ahoy

Butch Cassidy
Jul 28, 2010



My father's uncle worked for the Singer plant in Manchester. Don't start reminding me how cool it would be to track down one from his era for my wife.

Parts Kit
Jun 9, 2006

durr
i have a hole in my head
durr


Try ebay, that's where I got it. There are people who rebuild them and list them there.

SpartanIvy
May 18, 2007


Hair Elf

That's a pretty nice looking machine. Does it sew well?

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Parts Kit
Jun 9, 2006

durr
i have a hole in my head
durr


It runs well, but I am a total newbie and have very little idea of what I'm doing.

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