MTC Pixel Trace

In recent posts I’ve talked about using KNK cutters to cut fabrics for use in sewing machine applique projects.  This time I thought I’d do a brief explanation of how I use MTC Pixel Trace to get from a piece of paper with an image on it to the files I use to cut the fabric pieces.

The first step is to scan the image into the computer.  If you don’t have a scanner, you could take a photo of the image and transfer it to your computer.  I prefer to use a scanner because then I know that my scanned image is the same size as the original printed image.  Once the image is scanned, it can be saved as a raster file such as a JPG, a BMP, or a PNG for example.  Remember to keep track of where you have the file saved on your computer.

The next step is to open the file in the Pixel Trace function of MTC.  There are many options available in the Pixel Trace function that affect the success or failure of the trace. For example:  I had this image that I wanted to cut the pieces for use in a small wall hanging. (It doesn’t matter if you are preparing an image to be used to cut fabric or cardstock or both – the process is the same).  Here is the image I was working with

I wanted the center spiral to be red, the background of the spiral to be white, the inner ring to be green and the outer ring to be red.  Yes, the center looks like a peppermint candy.

I opened the image in the MTC Pixel Trace function.  Using the default settings this is what I saw:

The green circles indicate two areas where the lines are incomplete.  By increasing the Threshold to 200, the lines were now complete.  Remember to click on “Apply Changes” every time you change one of the values.

I Imported this version of the trace and proceeded to process it to create the separate parts I wanted.

First I selected the whole image.  Pixel Trace imports the whole image as one item.  Then I used the Break function to separate all of the parts.

It may be difficult to see but each piece of the image has a dotted line around it and the center of each of those pieces is indicated by a cross.  Notice that the computer has much more discerning “eyes” than we humans do and has traced each side of the lines of the image.  

In this case this works to my favor.  Since I want to separate the parts out, I can use one side of the traced line for one part and the other side of a different part.  I want the center spiral to be my first part placed on a circular background.  Thus I don’t need the curved wedge shaped pieces in between the legs of the spiral.  I can select the unwanted pieces and delete them.

While my spiral is selected, I can put it on it’s own layer and put that layer “to sleep” to more easily work with the other layers.

Then I can select each of the successive circles, putting them each on their own layer until I have the three different circles that I want  for my project.  There will be some lines that I do not use and will delete when I have created the layers that I want.  When there are two lines (the two from both sides of the original lines) I will usually pick the larger one and delete the smaller one.

When I have the layers I want and have changed the colors of the layers to reflect my color choices, I will order the layers so they are in sequence with the smallest on the top.  I chose to make the white, green, and red “rings” as complete circles rather than rings to avoid the possibility of spaces in between the rings.  This is what my completed file looks like.

That image was very easy to process.  Unfortunately, there are other images that require a bit more manipulation in order to get a file ready for cutting.  MTC has a large tool box of functions that will allow you to process most of the images you want to cut.  Here are a couple of examples of tools that you might find useful.

When this image was traced there was an internal part that needed to be dealt with.  The image was Broken and one of each of the outside and inside lines were selected and deleted.

That left two images that would have cut okay but could be problematic if they were moved or otherwise manipulated without making sure that both parts were selected.  The two pieces were selected and the Join function used to make them into one piece.

Images without internal parts can be traced without having two lines to deal with by using the Blackout feature in the Pixel Trace window.  For example

You can see that the blackout function ignores anything inside of the various images.  But for those images that are solid, it is a great option.  For the image that has an inside shape, it isn’t what you want to use.

There is another option for items that are traced and have the two lines like below

The item can be selected (without it being broken apart) and the Thin Paths function applied.

This will crate a new shape whose line is between the two traced lines.  More like a line you would draw if you were tracing the shape with a pencil.

Occasionally you will find drawings where the parts have gotten joined when the image is traced.  In the instance above you could break apart the traced images and if the inside lines were smaller than what you wanted you could add a shadow layer of any thickness  you want to increase the size.

This by no means covers the whole magical function of MTC’s Pixel Trace.  For that you need to refer to Sandy McCauley’s excellent manuals which cover all of the tools in Pixel Trace in depth.

 

 

Ninth Row

For the third year, the shop where I work is participating in the Row by Row Experience. Each of the participating shops creates an original pattern that is 9 1/2 inches by 36 1/2 inches and offers patterns and kits to create the row.  This year the organizers have created an additional design which shops can purchase and make and sell kits for.  The ninth row design includes a cute little car. We have decided to prepare a limited number of kits for this design in which we will provide the car that has been cut from fabric using the Zing Air.

This is what our version of the Ninth Row will look like:

Materials Used:

Batik Fabric

Steam-A-Seam 2 Lite

Settings:

Machine used :  Zing Air, Blade: Fabric, Force: 80, Speed: 15, Passes: 2, Blade Height: 25 PIN

Instructions/Comments:

The car was designed and cut using Make the Cut software.

Since we wanted to add a little ‘zip’ to our version of the Ninth Row, we picked a bright, multi-colored Batik print for the car fabric.  This also makes each car just a little bit different.

Because the car is being included in a kit with fabric for the purchaser to applique onto the background, it was necessary to leave the protective paper liner on the Steam-A-Seam 2 Lite and to cut through the paper as well as the fabric.  This required a bit longer blade and a little more force than cutting the fabric with the fused Steam-A-Seam 2 Lite.

If you look at the first picture in this post you will see that when you look in the windows of the car, you can see part of a picture of “the” castle rock – the namesake of the town where the shop is located.  This was just a bit of whimsy in creating the sample row.  The kits will not contain this extra added feature.

 

Orbit Meets Fabric

I am fortunate to have gotten to play with a new ZING ORBIT!!!  It is a great cutter and the improvements and new features make it a delight to use.  Of course, without the super manual by Sandy McCauley, I would have been lost.  Because of the nature of my job at Sew-Ciety, I have been test cutting fabrics to be used as appliques in quilting projects. The Orbit has performed flawlessly.  Any difficulties I’ve encountered have been due to the old bugaboo “Operator Error”.

Here is a sample of the testing that I have done most recently

Okay, you can ignore the large red rectangle on the upper left.  That was an additional piece of fabric that had been placed there in case my settings for a similar piece on the upper right weren’t working.

Materials Used:

Cotton Batik Fabric

Cotton Quilting Fabric

Cotton Flannel

Lite Steam-A-Seam 2

Settings:

Machine used:  KNK Zing Orbit , Blade:  Fabric Blade, Speed: 10, Blade Offset: 0.75, Height:  20 PIN

Cotton Batik Fabric:  Force:  60, Passes: 1

Cotton Quilting Fabric (Green): Force:  75,  Passes:  1

Cotton Quilting Fabric (Pink):  Force:  65,  Passes:  2

Cotton Flannel (Both colors):  Force:  70, Passes:  2

Additional Information:

This is what the fabrics looked like before I did any cutting so you can relate the settings to the fabrics.

All of the fabrics had Lite Steam-A-Seam fused to the wrong side prior to being placed on the mat.  The mat is new and the blade is new also.  I was pleased to see that the adhesive on the mat did not ‘bond’ with the Steam-A-Seam and pull the Steam-A-Seam off of the fabric after cutting.  It is necessary to be sure that the Steam-A-Seam is securely fused to the fabric before placing the fabric on the mat.

I wanted to see if it made any difference when cutting the cotton quilting fabrics (green & pink) whether I used more or less force and one or two passes.  In this instance it worked equally well.  The Cotton Batik cuts very easily and is thinner than the Cotton Quilting fabric so the blade length setting is important when cutting different types of fabric.  The Cotton Flannels are thicker and need a blade length adjustment also.

The sizes of the hearts are (smallest to largest) 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, 1 inch, and 1 1/4 inches, and 1 1/2″ inches.  The stars are 1 inch.  I am intrigued that the 1/4″ hearts cut so perfectly.  That’s why I had to cut more of them up by the stars.

The other part of my testing was that I was cutting from Sure Cuts A Lot which, again, I would have been floundering without the excellent information and instruction from the User Manual by Sandy.  Thanks, Sandy, for all your help!!

 

 

Parked Ticked

That’s right – Parked Ticket, not Parking Ticket.  In the accounting system used by the store where I work, there is the ability to ‘run a tab’ for customers while they are in classes and need to purchase supplies.  The system’s name for those ‘tabs’ is Parked Tickets.  It is a very handy feature to have.  Unfortunately, with several employees working at any one time and customers asking different ones to add items to a Parked Ticket for them, we sometimes ended up with multiple Parked Tickets for the same person on the same day.

The owner wanted something to remind both customers and employees that a customer had a Parked Ticket in the system.  She thought if we had some kind of a token that we gave to the customer when we created a Parked Ticket that it would remind all of us that one existed.  She asked me if I could make something on my “magic cutter” – my KNK Force.  This is what we ended up with.

Materials Used:

Cardstock

Copy Paper

Laminating Sleeves

Settings :

Machine:  KNK Force, Blade:  Standard Material Blade (red cap),  Passes:  1, Blade Tensions:  2 – 2 1/2 (depending on cardstock),  Cutting Depth:  40 – 65 (depending on cardstock), Cutting Speed:  25, Blade Offset:  Red Blade,  Overcut:  38

Information:

Car shapes were created in Make the Cut.  The cars were cut out of cardstock and a ‘sign’ pasted on one side.  They were then laminated so they would have a rectangular shape, be all the same size, and would be more durable than just cardstock.  A hole is punched into one corner so they can hang on a hook by each of the cash registers.  When a Parking Ticket is started for a customer, they are handed one of these ‘reminders’ and their name is written on it with a dry erase marker so it can be identified in case of a mix-up.  When they check out, the employee knows to look for the Parked Ticket instead of starting a new ticket and can erase the name and return the car to the parking lot (the hook by the register).  So far it has worked well and both customers and employees find it helpful.  And, I enjoy finding ways to make creative and helpful things with my Force.

 

Embroidered Valentines

It is almost Valentine’s Day. When I needed to come up with a project for one of the classes I teach at the sewing/quilt store where I work, I decided to combine my hobbies again and make Valentine cards that used both the cutter and the embroidery machine.

This is the end result.

Materials Used:

Cardstock – red, pink, and white

Felt squares

Cotton Fabrics

Batting

Soft-n-Stable (a foam batting)

Embroidery Threads

Double-sided tape

Tear Away Stabilizer

Red Cap Standard Material Blade

Rotary Cutter with Pinking Blade

Settings:

KNK Force  Blade: Red Cap

Cardstock:Blade Tension – 2, Passes – 1, Cutting Depth – 60-65 depending on thickness of cardstock, Blade Offset – red cap blade, Overcut – .38

Scrapbook Paper: Blade Tension – 1.5, Passes – 1, Cutting Depth – 35, Blade Offset – red cap blade, Overcut – .38

Husqvarna/Viking EPIC Embroidery Machine

Information:

Kits were prepared that contained three cardstock blanks.  Two of the blanks had heart openings cut into the front of the card.   The third card had a square of felt to be embroidered and sewn to the front.  An extra piece of card stock was included in the kit to be glued over the inside of the front of the card to hide the stitching.  Each kit contained an envelope that was cut from Valentine themed scrapbook paper.  The envelopes were folded with the printed side to the inside and the plain white side to the outside.

The embroidered felt square was embroidered, trimmed with the rotary cutter with the pinking blade and then stitched to the front of the card with a long straight stitch.  The two cards with the hearts were embroidered and as the last step of the embroidery, the prepared card blank was positioned over the embroidery and stitched to the fabric in the embroidery hoop.

Card blanks and felt squares were available in red, pink, and white.