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Instructions for Making a patch in PCD.

These instructions assume you know enough about digitizing a design to be able to accomplish the steps necessary to make a patch. You will need to know the basics in Pfaff Creative Design (PCD) software, and have had some experience sewing out embroidery designs. Also, these instructions are for using PCD for the Mac. PC-based systems might be different.

In these lessons, I sometimes refer to a software package called Flutter Whumper, which is a digitizing software developed and used as an aid to PCD. It expedites the outlining process, the trace tools are MUCH better than PCD. If you don't know about Flutter Whumper, "hop" on over to Wabbit Wanch and ask the great carrot about his software. You'll be glad you did!

  • Making a patch is much like applique work. Almost any design can be made into a patch. Some would be more complicated than others, but you don't have to be limited to a round, square of octagon shaped design. If the design has an outside border as a region and you can "see" it, you can create it! Learn to look at the regions in your design and what the possibilities are. Use your creativity and you will soon see how simple this is!

  • The major difference between a patch and an embroidery design is the creation of an outside satin border that allows the design to be cut away from the fabric.

  • Once the basic design is completed, there are three additional elements of the design which takes it to a patch. These are:

    1. An outline or "cutting" stitch - set to provide a guideline for cutting away the fabric,

    2. A wide Zig Zag Stitch, on top of the cutting stitch - provides a foundation, or underlay, for the satin border, making it stand out and making a sturdier patch.

    3. The final satin border.

    In order to create the final satin border, you will need to create an outline of the area where the satin stitches are to be placed. This satin stitch outline is different from the cutting outline mentioned above in that it creates the basis for the A Fill, then disappears once the area is filled.
  • Hooping and stabilizers - The heavier the stabilizer, the better for patches. They tend to be very dense, and a good heavy tear away stabilizer which leaves little or no fraying is the best.

    I hoop the material and stabilizer together, although you can hoop the stabilizer and use an adhesive spray or sticky stabilizer to join the fabric. If you do this, clean your needle often and check to make sure the needle is tightly attached . The density of a patch design and using adhesives often result in the needle coming loose and breaking.

  • Fabric - Use a heavy duty broad cloth to embroider the patch, preferably the color of the outside border of the design. If you have a black fabric and a white border , you will inevitably have black "strays" showing through. Best to stick with a fabric that matches the color of your border and make the fills on your design more dense to cover the fabric. You need a sturdy cloth for the design.

  • Density - Patches are much denser than designs created for a knit or light-weight fabric. Regions must overlap. There should be no blank spaces or material showing through . For fills on the inside of the design, I set the stitch density at 0.20 - 0.33 . This would equate to 2.5 or higher in Flutter Whumper. For a stitch density cross reference in Flutter Whumper, see page 55 of the Flutter Whumper Pro Manual.

    On the outside satin border, set the stitch density to 0.16 - 0.18. This is a tight satin and cuts the stabilizer well.

  • Stitch WIDTH, for the Satin Border - The satin stitched outside border needs to be fairly wide, at least 4-6 mm. If you go down to 2 - 3 mm, its too hard to cut the material close enough to get the satin to overlap. This means that your two outlines created to make the A Fill needs to be at least 4 - 6 mm apart.
  • To Set stitches in PCD -

    Find the area where you want to begin setting stitches by selecting the "Show only this Color" option.

  • Click on that color in the side bar twice. A dialog box will come up which will allow you to click on the option to "Show only this Color". Then, hit either the END or HOME key on your computer's keyboard. That will take you to the portion of the design (either the beginning or ending stitch in the pattern). If you want to set stitches at the beginning of that portion of the design, hit the HOME key. If you want to set stitches at the end of that portion of the design, hit the END key. You can use the forward or backward arrows on your keyboard to select a stitch anywhere else in the design, if necessary.

1. Select the SET STITCH option from the TOOLS menu. You will see a strange line coming from the stitch in that portion of the design to your mouse.

2. Use your mouse to go to the first place you want the stitch to begin. You will see the long strange line being dragged to where you want the stitch to be placed. Click the mouse and it will set the stitch at that point. Continue your placement in the design, clicking the mouse everywhere you want a stitch to be set. If you wish to change colors, set a couple of stitches, highlight them and select another color in the color bar to change the color of that portion of the design. If the stitch needs to be realigned or corrected for a curve, etc, select the TOOLS menu and MOVE. You can move the stitch with the mouse, or by using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

  • Setting the outline for the satin stitch border -
  • setting the first line of stitches -

    When you have the inside of your design complete, set a line of stitches, approximately 2-3mm in stitch length around the design, overlapping the inside of the design by at least 2-3 mm, or more. It is VERY IMPORTANT you have this first set of stitches overlapping the design enough so the final satin border will grab the design and not tear away from the inside.

    Make sure this outline has a separate color designation than the rest of your stitches. Once this set of stitches is complete , I do a Copy, Paste, change the color and Resize the pattern size to create the second (outside) set of stitches.

    Once this row of stitches are set - Save this file. Also, I save this first set of stitches in a separate file, to be used later for the set of stitches used for the "cutting" outline, when the patch is being sewn out.

  • Instructions for saving this as a separate file:

    1. Select "Show only this Color", to bring up only the set of stitches in the outline.

    2. Under the EDIT Menu, Select ALL. This will highlight all the stitches.

    3. Under the FILE Menu, select NEW. This will open a new file (Make sure you have saved this complete file first).

    4. From the EDIT Menu, select PASTE and it will paste a copy of the set of stitches to a new file.

    5. Rename this file, something such as Outline, etc. so you can easily locate it later. You will be using this set of stitches to prepare a second set of stitches, approximately 4 - 6 mm wider, which will become the final outside set of stitches, and the complete outline for the satin border.

  • creating the second line of stitches, or outside of the satin border outline-

    1. Use the "Show Only This Color" option to highlight only the first set of stitches for the satin border outline.

    2. Select the HOME key to take you to the beginning of the satin stitch outline.

    3. From the EDIT menu, SELECT ALL stitches and the entire row of stitches will be highlighted.

    4. If you have not already done so, using the STITCH LENGTH option, from the TOOLS menu, set the stitch length for these stitches to 2 - 3 mm. This will provide an even basis for your satin stitches.

    5. With the stitches still highlighted, and making sure you are on the HOME stitch, choose COPY from the EDIT menu.

    6. Hit the HOME key again and the stitches will no longer be highlighted and you will be at the beginning of your set of stitches.

    7. From the EDIT Menu, select PASTE. PCD will paste an exact copy of your stitches around this outline. The stitches will be pasted exactly on top of the other stitches and will not be visible. If the stitches appear outside of the outline, you have done something wrong. Always make sure you copy and paste the stitches from the same stitch point, either END or HOME.

**NOTE* These first steps can also be used to copy and paste an outline on a pattern where you want two or three rows of outline stitches. If you want another row of stitches, for a triple outline, hit the HOME key again, select EDIT, then PASTE and you will paste another row. You can continue to do this for as many rows of outline stitches you want.

8. Very Important - While the stitches are still highlighted, BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE, click on a unique color selection in the color bar. Hit the ESCAPE button on your computer, and you will see a set of duplicate stitches, only in another color. Doing this allows you to manipulate these stitches to make the second set of stitches.

9. Using whatever color you selected for item 9, above, Click on that color in the color bar and use the dialog box to "Show only this Color". PCD will bring up that set of stitches. Now you are ready to resize them and create your second set of stitches.

10. With this unique color selected, under EDIT, choose SELECT ALL. This will highlight all the stitches.

11. Under the TOOLS menu, select New Pattern Size.

12. In the dialog box, make sure the proportions box is checked , and add at least 4 mm to the length and width of the size definition shown. This will increase the size of the last set of stitches by 4mm and you will have another, outside border to your outline.

13. Under the EDIT MENU, SELECT ALL and then choose FLIP ORDER from the tools menu. This flips the order of the beginning and ending of these stitches and allows a good A FILL. If this is not done, you will end up with some really weird looking stitches when you try to do the A FILL.

14. If you need to realign this set of stitches to the first, Select "Show only this Color" and while the stitches are highlighted, select MOVE in the tools menu and hold down your mouse while moving the set of stitches in place.


15. Once you are satisfied with the satin border outline, you can change the color of the second row of stitches to match the first row. Select that color by clicking on it in the color bar, use "Show only this Color" to highlight the stitches, and click on the color in the color bar which was designated to the first set of stitches. This changes the color to match the first part of the outline.

This is important to do because if you try to do an A Fill in PCD with a different color for the inside of the outline and the outside of the outline, you will be left with outside stitches that will not automatically be deleted and you will have to manually delete them.

16. Be sure to SAVE your file.

The picture to the left is what your completed satin border outline would look like. You will be using this outline to do an A Fill.

  • Doing the A Fill to create the satin border -

    1. If it is not already loaded, load your design file in PCD. Click on the color of the satin stitch outline and select the "Show this color only" from the dialog box to bring up the outline. Hit the ESCAPE button on the keyboard to show the design.

    2. From the TOOLS menu, select Fill in Stitch.

    3. From the dialog box, select A Fill. Make sure neither the Base Stitch nor Center Stitch boxes are checked. If they are, un-check them. Change the stitch density to 0.16 - 0.18. Click OK.

    4. You will see an icon for your mouse (instead of an arrow). Go to the beginning of the outline, HOME. While holding down the SHIFT key on the keyboard, use the forward arrow on your keyboard to highlight the full inside first line of stitches, stopping before you get to the jump stitch that takes you to the outside line of stitches.

5. With the line of stitches highlighted, hit the RETURN key on your keyboard. The stitches should remain highlighted. Let go of the SHIFT key. **Note* If you do not hit the RETURN key after each line is defined for an A Fill, the fill will not be completed.

6. Use the forward arrow on your keyboard to walk to the first stitch in the outside portion of the outline. HOLD DOWN the SHIFT key and use the forward arrow to select all the stitches in the outside of the outline. You will notice the stitches are going in an opposite direction to the first line of stitches.

7. Once you are at the last stitch, release the SHIFT key and hit the RETURN key. Your outline will be satin filled and the stitches will remain highlighted. A dialog box will appear that asks you if you wish to ACCEPT STITCHES.

NOTE** - Sometimes, doing an A Fill in PCD as described above results in a strange or awkward angle on some of the stitches. If you have angled or odd corners on your design, it is best to fill them in a section at a time, which produces a smoother border. You can find out how to fill individual sections by looking in the PCD Reference Guide which came with your software, beginning on page 41.

8. If these stitches look really weird, or if you get an "X" design, that means that you did not Flip the Order of the stitches for the outside outline as described above. You can go back and Flip the Order of the last row of stitches. The stitches need to be moving in opposite directions for PCD to a proper A Fill.

9. Assuming the stitches are acceptable, select ACCEPT STITCHES in the dialog box and your satin stitches will show, no longer highlighted. Go HOME and set 2 or 3 locking stitches and then go to the END and set locking stitches.

10. BE SURE to SAVE your file.

  • Setting the Zig Zag stitches -

    1. Go to the beginning of your satin outside border by using "Show only this Color " , and hitting the HOME key. That should take you to the beginning of the satin border.

    2. Set a row of wide Zig Zag stitches. Select "set stitch" from the menu. Use your mouse to go to the first place you want the Zig Zag to begin, click the mouse and it will set the stitch. Continue around the design by going from the outside to the inside of the width of the border all the way around, clicking the mouse everywhere you want a stitch to be.

    Make sure the Zig Zag stitches are being set to sew before the satin stitches. Do them as you would an underlay stitch, in opposite directions of the satin stitch.

    SAVE your FILE!

  • Setting the outline stitch that will be used as a cutting guide -

    This set of stitches needs to be placed within 25 - 50% of the width of the satin border, in from the outside edge of the design. This is the stitch you will be cutting next to, and you want the satin to overlap it, to hide it in the completed design. This is where you will use your embroidery scissors and cut away the fabric, as close to the outline as possible.

    You have a couple of choices here on how to create the "cutting" outline.

    1. You can hand punch the stitches, or

    2. You can use the stitches set for the satin outline, if you saved it as a separate file. With some resizing and placement, it can become this portion of the design.

    3. Flutter Whumper users can simply trace the outside of the design to create these stitches. A trace in FW is an outline.

  • To use the outline previously created in PCD, you will be INSERTING a file into your existing design:

    1. With your design file loaded, make sure you are at the location in the design where you want the "cutting" outline to begin. This will be PRIOR to your Zig Zag Stitch and AFTER the last region of the inside of your design. Select the unique color for the satin border, or the Zig Zag stitch, if there is a different color designation.

    2. Hit the HOME key to take you to the beginning of the Zig Zag stitch

    3. From the FILE menu, select INSERT FILE. PCD will ask for a location and a file name.

    4. Locate and select the file used previously for the first set of stitches in the satin stitch outline. The file will be inserted. BEFORE you do anything else, while the stitches are still highlighted, change the color of the stitches, by clicking on a unique color in the color bar. This set of stitches needs to be a unique color so the sewing machine will stop after sewing out the "cutting" outline.

    5. Once the color is defined and while the stitches are still highlighted, select MOVE from the tools menu and move the stitches in place, aligning them around the outside of the design, but inside the satin border.

    Since this set of stitches was digitized to be approx 2 mm less than the outside of the design, they will be INSIDE the final stitches of your original design.

    6. From the tools menu, select NEW PATTERN SIZE. Make sure the proportions box is checked in the dialog box, and set the pattern size to be 2 mm LARGER in length and width. Click OK.

    The "cutting" outline should now be placed within the appropriate area. If you need to move the stitches, you can realign and move them using the "Show only this Color" option , highlighting, and using the MOVE option from the TOOLS menu.

    7. Click on the SORT COLORS option in the TOOLS menu to ensure the sequence of the final 3 steps in a patch:

  • FIRST: the "cutting" outline,
  • THEN: the Zig Zag, and
  • LAST: the satin border.

Save the file and send it to the machine for a test sew.

  • Sewing it out and making a patch -
  • Hoop the stabilizer and fabric.
  • Sew out the design to the area of the "cutting" outline.
  • When the machine stops for the designated color change after the "cutting" outline has been sewn, remove the hoop from the embroidery unit.
  • DO NOT remove the material or design from the hoop.
  • DO NOT turn off the machine.
  • Using your embroidery scissors, cut away the FABRIC ONLY. Cut as close as possible, around the outline. I use the curved embroidery scissors, they seem to work best.
  • DO NOT cut the stabilizer!
  • Reposition the hoop on the embroidery unit and sew out the Zig Zag stitch and the final satin border.
  • Remove the hoop from the machine.

    Depending on the stabilizer used and the density of the satin stitches, the design should basically "fall out" of the hoop at this point and you should have a fairly clean applique, or patch. You may need to tear away any remaining stabilizer from the patch.


    Making color changes are really beneficial, especially when you first start to digitize in PCD. It enables you to easily correct mistakes or change the design, if necessary by using the "show only this color" option.

    I always save a file containing only the outside satin border outline, in case I have to change the stitches. Remember, once you do an A FILL the outline for the border will disappear and you will no longer have the outline!

    For those of you who do not have an extended keyboard, use the designated Function Keys to find HOME and END.

    If you double click on a color in the color bar in PCD and the "Show Only this Color" option is not highlighted in the window, it means that color has not yet been used.

    To view the colors that have been used in your design, select the Sort Colors option from the tool bar menu. It will display the colors that have been used and their current sewing order.

    Make sure you set 2 -3 locking stitches at the beginning and end of each region. Sometimes I fray check the stitches on the outside of the satin where it starts and ends.

    I have been told felt is good to use for patches as it doesn't fray, but I have never tried it.

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