When I was in high school, we studied vectors in Math class. The simplest representation of a vector is an arrow going from one point to another point. It has a size or length (called the magnitude) and a direction.
These days, we see pictures on a computer and they can be either vector graphics or bitmaps.
A digital photograph is an example of a bitmap. It’s essentially a collection of dots, each dot having a color. Bitmaps are specified with a resolution – so many dots per inch or dpi. Most printers print with 300dpi. If you have a picture that is, say, 5″ x 3″ and it has 300dpi, if you were to try and print it at 10″ x 6″ it’s going to start looking “grainy”. Each dot has essentially grown to the size of 4 dots (2×2) and instead of having 300dpi, you only have 150dpi. (Having said that, printer technology has improved so much in recent years that it takes more than doubling the size of a photo for it to start looking grainy!) Bitmaps on the computer have file extensions such as .BMP and .JPG. You would use a program such as Adobe Photoshop, or the Paint program that comes with Windows, to make changes to a bitmap.
A computer generated line drawing in an example of a vector graphic. If you want to draw a line, you specify the start point and the end point. The computer program knows how to draw the line between these two points. It’s easy to move the start point or the end point, and the computer program just redraws the line. (If you want to draw a line in a bitmap editing program such as Adobe Photoshop, you still specify the start point and the end point, and Photoshop draws a bunch of dots between the points to create the line. But… if you want to move the start or end point, you need to erase the line and start again.)
A vector graphic file is usually a lot smaller than a bitmap file. Whereas a bitmap file contains information about every dot (what color it is and where it is), a vector file contains a bunch of coordinates and other information that the computer program uses to recreate the picture each time. Vector graphics can be created using programs like CorelDraw (which is included with the BERNINA Embroidery Software) and Adobe Illustrator (which is usually teamed up with Adobe Photoshop). The SVG files that are used with electronic cutting machines like the Silhouette Cameo and Brother Scan N Cut are vector graphic files. In fact, SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic.
So how does all this fit into the world of machine embroidery and why do you need to know about it?
In the world of machine embroidery, we talk about the “format” of a design. Each brand of embroidery machine works with a specific design format. It’s good to know that some of these formats are based on vectors – like vector graphics – and some are like bitmaps, but instead of dealing with dots to make up a picture, they deal with the stitches an embroidery machine needs to stitch to create a design.
As an example: the BERNINA Embroidery Software generates ART** files, which are vector files. (** specifies the version number of the software that was used to create the file.)
In order to use an ART** file in your BERNINA embroidery machine, it needs to be converted into an EXP file.
What’s the difference?
If I create an ART** file that contains a straight line of candlewicking stitches, I use the embroidery software to specify the start point and the end point of the line, and that I want it to be candlewicking. I can also specify the style of the candlewicking, the size of each stitch and the distance between each stitch.
To use the design in my embroidery machine, I convert it into an EXP file.
If I want to make the line longer, and keep the size and spacing of the candlewicking stitches the same, I can open up the ART** version of the design and easily make the changes. Moving either the start point or the end point will do the trick. I can also decided that instead of it being a line of candlewicking, I want it to be a line of satin stitch instead.
I can open up the EXP file in the BERNINA Embroidery Software. However, there’s a limited number of things I can do to the design because the EXP file contains stitches. It no longer knows about a line of candlewicking that is a certain size.
In the diagram below, I edited the line of candlewicking in the ART** file to tell it that I wanted the candlewicking stitches to have size = 0.25″ and spacing = 0.25″ instead of size = 0.5″ and spacing = 0.5″. I ended up with 16 smaller candlewicking stitches – rather than 8 larger stitches – which is exactly what I wanted.
When I opened the EXP file, the only thing I could do was select the stitches and specify a height of 0.25″ instead of 0.5″. The width adjusted proportionally. As you can see, the results are not very impressive!
The moral of this tale?
If you want to modify an embroidery design in your embroidery software, you want to make sure you’re editing a vector file and NOT a stitch file.
|Format||Vector or Stitch file||Machine Brand|
|VP3||Vector||Pfaff, Husqvarna Viking|
If you don’t have any software and want to resize an embroidery design, you can do that on most machines. However, stick to increasing or decreasing the size by no more than 10% so as to keep the design intact. Some machines are more intelligent than others when it comes to resizing designs so learn what your machine will do for you.
From 12:01am on July 14, 2017 until 11:59pm on July 16, 2017 enjoy 20% off the Vesica Pisces Collection aka Aliens Wearing Shades
Enter the promo code “A2Z-V” at the checkout.
Vesica Pisces Collection, $40.00
(Delivered as a digital download. Optional CD available at the checkout)
What I love about this collection… I had a friend helping me to stitch the original table runner and placemats for the Vesica Pisces Collection. She was taking one of the panels out of the hoop and she started laughing. I asked what she was laughing at. She said, “Come over here and take a look at this. It looks like an alien wearing sun glasses!” Can you see it?
Hence the nickname for the collection:
Aliens Wearing Shades!
BTW – I love the AURIfil variegated thread used for the candlewicking circles. Color #4653.
Another nickname might be “Looking through the letterbox”:
I’m talking about the kind of letterbox you find in England – basically a slot mounted in the front door, so that the mailman can post your mail right into your house.
Nicknames aside, The Vesica Pisces Collection has so much potential for spring and summer fun in the sun picnics. It’s entirely quilted in the hoop and the panels can be joined with or without sashing.
This quilt would look stunning with solid colored fabric for the background – to show up the gorgeous quilting that is more or less hidden on the patterned background fabric that I used. You could also use one of the wider panels without an appliqué shape and add a name using the alphabets built into your embroidery machine.
Did you know that the American football shape comes from a 3d vesica pisces? In honor of the Super Bowl a couple of years ago I created a football shape to use with the Vesica Pisces Collection. Stitch it up in your favorite team’s colors and you’ll be ready for the next Super Bowl!