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Design your own decorative stitches with My Custom Stitch™

 

Hi, again! Glad you’re back to check out some more goodies on the Brother NQ3500D! I had so much fun yesterday playing with the Brother NQ3500D’s built-in decorative stitches. Today we’ll explore something new. Well, kinda new: Brother machines have sported the My Custom Stitch™ feature for many, many years now, yet it’s such an underused tool (or should I say, ‘toy’?).

I like to consider My Custom Stitch™ an advanced Etch-A-Sketch, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m dating myself by saying that!. With My Custom Stitch™, you can create your own stitch patterns by plotting points on a grid. The section devoted to it in the manual is quite small, but it really doesn’t need to be larger – it contains all the detail you need to begin designing your own stitch patterns. And among the accessories included with the NQ3500D is a set of paper grid sheets so you can sketch out your ideas with pencil and paper before teaching them to the machine.

Yesterday, I was looking for a specific stitch, and I couldn’t find it among the built-ins. One was close, but not exactly what I wanted, so I hand-drew my idea on one of the grids to remind myself of the first one I wanted to create today. And because I’m funny that way, I even dotted the points that I want to set…

Brother My Custom Stitch™ design grids
My first sketch of a simple design, ready to transfer to My Custom Stitch™

 

It’s playtime

So, let’s check out this cool feature! If you have a Brother sewing machine, there’s a good chance that you have this hidden gem. Why not polish your stitch designing skills by following along with me?

From the now-familiar sewing home screen, touch the pencil button along the bottom row to open up My Custom Stitch™. You’ll see this screen, or possibly a variation of it if you have a different model:

Brother NQ3500D My Custom Stitch™ screen
This is what the My Custom Stitch™ screen looks like… but don’t let it intimidate you!

This screen looks more complex than it is – but most of it is taken up with arrows! So rather than diving into a sea of technical explanations, let’s just enter the first point. Referencing the drawing on paper, I think I want to work horizontally rather than vertically – the button in the top left takes care of that. Next, I’ll use the arrows surrounding the set button to move the pencil on the grid up 7 points to match my drawing. When it’s in the right place, touching set places the stitch.

Still using the arrows, I’ll just keep moving the pencil and setting the stitches where I want them, continuing until I made one full repeat of my pattern. The top of the screen keeps track of how many stitches I set as well as the pencil’s current stitch point and its grid coordinate.

My Custom Stitch™ screen with stitch pattern
A simple stitch pattern already completed on My Custom Stitch™

I only needed to enter six stitch points for this pattern (some are top of each other, in the middle of the ‘y’) before it repeats itself. The Test button displays a preview of my creation.

Preview of My Custom Stitch™ creation
A preview of the My Custom Stitch™ stitch pattern shown as if continuously stitched.

My own creations from My Custom Stitch™

And here they’re tested out for real. Viewing from top to bottom, the first row is as I designed it, and the others are the result of making simple width and length adjustments. You can see that I’m really having fun with My Custom Stitch™!

Brother My Custom Stitch™ first try
The first of many My Custom Stitch™ creations to come!

I wanted to see what my first creation would look like with a heavier stitch, so I input the same stitch points again. This time, though, I used the triple stitch setting on all advancing stitches. You can’t see a difference on the editing screen except for the stitch count, but in my actual sew-out below, you can clearly see the weightier stitch version (5th row); it really shows off my pretty threads! And then I got carried away (who, me?) and created a few more. I tried a few of my own design, one from the machine manual, and a couple from the book My Custom Stitch™ by Barbara Skimin, published in 2002. That could be a toughie to find, but it’s still a great reference.

My Custom Stitch™ pattern creations
Getting carried away is easy with My Custom Stitch™. How many can you create?

Now, while My Custom Stitch™ isn’t new, though, I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty cool – Brother has added something new starting with the Q-Series: you can now edit existing built-in stitches as well as previous creations. So, of course I had to try it out. It’s very similar to creating your own stitch, without having to start from scratch. Again, I was impressed at how easy it really was to do.

There’s no need to worry about messing up the originals; your edited versions are saved as copies. You can save up to 15 custom stitch patterns to the machine’s internal memory, or as many as you like on a USB stick. And for the tecchies who just need to know: stitch patterns save as numbered .pmv files, which you may rename at your computer. Your computer won’t be able to open these files, but if you set up a folder for them, it’s a great place to store a growing collection. Just pop ’em on a USB stick when you want to play with them on your machine.

While we’re on the topic of saving stitches, of course I saved all my creations (okay, the ones I liked) so I could use them to finish off yesterday’s sampler. They don’t look like much on screen, but they sure stitched out pretty!

My Custom Stitch™ menu of "my" creations
Saved patterns don’t look very exciting – a good reason to make a stitched “bible” of all your stitches. They look so different on fabric!

Retrieving My Custom Stitch™ patterns from either your machine or the USB stick is as easy as selecting other stitches on the NQ3500D: from the sewing home screen, touch the drawing icon next to the pencil, choose the source (machine or USB stick) and folder (bPocket is the default but I renamed mine just to see if the machine would read it – it did), and choose your stitch. Touch ‘Set’ and you’re ready to sew, with all of the regular stitch editing options of the built-in decorative stitches. So now it’s time to fill in the last few blank spots on the sampler we began yesterday.

Can you spot ‘my’ stitches in the final piece? Some of them are kinda tricky; I think I was over-exuberant yesterday and didn’t leave myself as much room as I thought!

My Custom Stitch™ patterns added to sampler
Yesterday’s stitch panel, topped up with some My Custom Stitch™ creations

I really had fun playing with My Custom Stitch™, and I know I’ll be looking at anything patterned with new eyes. I might even take a second look at some of the hand embroidery stitches I’ve dismissed in the past because I don’t have the patience to hand sew.

I hope that if you have a Brother machine, or plan on getting one, you’ve been inspired to check out My Custom Stitch™ and maybe design some stitch patterns of your own. It’s amazingly easy, and even a tiny bit addictive!

Please join me tomorrow as I try my hardest to settle on the top 10 practical sewing features of the Brother NQ3500D… As I’ve been playing over the last few days, I’ve been keeping a list of the things I like best, and, um… it’s gotten to be quite a long list. Narrowing it down to just 10 will be the challenge. I’ll do my best, but you won’t be upset if I sneak a few extras in there, will you?

 

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3:  Playing with the Brother NQ3500D’s built-in decorative stitches

Liana Kirkey is an educator and self-professed gadget-girl with 35 years experience in the retail sewing industry. Her favorite sewing playground includes embroidery machines, digitizing software, machine accessories and presser feet. She currently works full-time at That Sewing Place in Newmarket, Ontario.

10 Comments

  1. Interesting read. thanks for posting. if you are looking for the custom stitch examples from Brother then I’ve found some on the USA site. you do need to sign up to access these pages though. Go to inspiration, projects, free sewing and embroidery. then search for “stitches”

    • Hey, Angela – this isn’t a new article, but it’s really gratifying to know that it is still being read! I really appreciate your mention of where to find some custom stitch examples. When I followed your path in, I found reference to a couple of the pages from one of Brother’s user manuals showing the same process. I also just Googled “Brother custom stitches” and came up with a number of hits for tutorials, videos and how-to’s as well as the above article (go figure, LOL), so if you like playing with stitch creation and design, try Googling, too. There’s so much out there to play with, and so little time to play, sigh…

  2. Quilting Tangent

    Pretty sitches, nice feature this machine has.

    • You’re right – the built-in selection is lovely, and the ability to create my own stitches promises hours of exploring and experimenting. As with most people, I like “getting my own way”. My Custom Stitch makes sure that I can! Love it!

  3. Margaret Graczyk

    I love how the NQ3500D “found” the stitch you were looking for. The way you explained the process made it easier for me to “see” it in my mind’s eye and it made a lot more sense in the telling of it. This was a good explanation of the procedure 🙂

    • Me too! It’s so cool when you can create what you need on the fly! I’m glad that my description worked for you, and I hope that you have a Brother machine with My Custom Stitch so that you can play with it soon, while the pictures are still fresh in your mind.

  4. Pammie R

    Looks like fun!

    • Oh, Pammie – you have no idea how many hours I was lost in just playing with this cool feature! Fun is just the beginning!

  5. Karen

    I have a Brother NX-650Q that has the custom stitch although I have not used it much. My model can only save 10 patterns and there is no USB feature. I had to get out my manual to see if I can choose triple stitching and I can. Yeah! There are additional patterns on the Brother website that have the coordinates provided and I’ve used a couple of those. I have trouble sewing a decorative stitch in a nice line when the pattern is too wide. Everything moves so much, especially if the needle needs to go back and forward again, and add in going to the sides. Love the patterns you created. I should learn to use that feature and make use of it. Thanks for the post.

    • Hi, Karen – the NX650Q is a fantastic machine and was around in various incarnations for a long time – the proof of a good machine! Your machine is equipped with a sideways feeding system, which is engaged on some of the decorative stitches. These are probably the stitches you are struggling with. You are right – so much seems to be happening with these stitches that they can be a challenge to guide. I find that making a reference line (either with a basting stitch or a fabric marking pen) to follow helps. But it’s kind of line driving on the road – you don’t want to drive on the line – you just want to stay parallel to it. Yes, the fabric will move sideways (and the feed dogs make an intimidating clicking sound as they work), but just keep your eyes on the line, and concentrate on letting the machine feed the fabric though – you just want to stop it from twisting. It takes a bit of practise, but you’ll get the hang of it! And… many of those extra large stitches also have a large/Small option to play with, too.
      And, LOL… you made me Google more stitch patterns, but I couldn’t find the ones you mentioned. Darn!

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