How to Rescale a Single Embroidery Design and Make a Snazzy Pillow

comments (0) December 27th, 2008     

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JenniferStern Jennifer Stern, contributor
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Here is my finished bolster...its a little lumpy because I just stuffed it with what I had. Use the same measurements for the pillow and circles to make a shaped filler!
I think the embroidery pulls all the colors in the fabric together.
Here is my single design, rescaled into three different sizes.
Here is my finished bolster...its a little lumpy because I just stuffed it with what I had. Use the same measurements for the pillow and circles to make a shaped filler!

Here is my finished bolster...it's a little lumpy because I just stuffed it with what I had. Use the same measurements for the pillow and circles to make a shaped filler!

Photo: Jen Stern
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You can really change the look of an embroidery design by changing the size of it. Sizing a design used to require lots of expensive software, but now some of the newer embroidery machines have this wonder feature built right in! But before you start enlarging or reducing a design, there are two terms that you need to know. Resize and rescale are the two words that sewing machine companies use to describe size-altering function. Resize typically means that you can change the size of a design but not the stitch count. This feature has been available on embroidery machines for years. Traditionally you can change the size 20% (bigger or smaller). The problem with this type of resize feature is that the density of the design gets screwed up. If you reduce the size of the design, the stitches can bunch up and distort, while making it larger can cause the fill stitches to become too sparse. It's really a great way to adjust the density of a design...not the size.

Rescale, on the other hand, is resize that really works! I love that sewing machine companies have finally added this feature to their embroidery machines. You can actually enlarge or reduce a design by a specific percentage and the machine will calculate a new number of stitches that is appropriate for the size. Check your manual to see if you have this feature...if you do, check it out. I played with a built-in flower, changing the size a few times. If your machine does not have this feature, it's easy to get it without breaking the bank! Buzz Tools offers BuzzSize, an inexpensive resizing program that adjusts density. You can download a free 21-day trial version to see if it's something you will use. They also have all sorts of tutorials and tips for getting the most out of your trial version.

I was really inspired by a pillow I saw in my favorite store, Anthropologie. I wasn't in a fashion mood when I made a quick stop on a Christmas shopping spree, so I ventured into the home wonderland side of the store. I spied this bolster pillow that was simply made of three strips of fabric with a sprinkle of embroidery. The design embroidered on the pillow was the same one, in a few different sizes. I decided that this would be the perfect project to kick off the New Year with! I love using the same design in multiple sizes because you don't have to worry about finding designs that "work" together or coordinate.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Three coordinating 1/4-yard cuts of fabric (not fat quarters)
  • Sewing machine or serger to construct the pillow
  • One embroidery design, in a few different sizes
  • Embroidery machine and supplies, including stabilizer appropriate for your fabric/design
  • Embroidery threads to go with your fabric (I picked one color that pulled the fabrics together)
  • 505 Temporary Adhesive Spray
  • 25-inch x 32-inch rectangle of warm cotton batting
  • All-purpose thread

I wanted to design a pillow that would add some color to my sage green couch, so I chose blues to a shade of green that coordinates but is not the same color. If you're working with your stash, cut one 9-inch piece across the width of three different fabrics.

three fabrics
Feel free to mix batiks with prints, metallics and solids!

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