Sunday, November 25, 2012

Organizing Embroidery Files - Part 1

Today's post is the first of a two-part series about working with machine embroidery files.  If you're here for the sewing, I recommend skipping this post. 

Series Introduction

I'm going to pack a bunch of information into 2 parts.

Part 1 - Extracting files & Eliminating extra "nested" folders
This will highlight the 2 free programs I use and show a few screenshots on how to use them

Part 2 - Removing unnecessary file formats and My File Organization
This involves using built in Windows Explorer tools and my preference for directory and file structure

I know there are lots of ways to tackle unzipping and organizing your embroidery files, and that there are even tools you can buy to help.  I'm going to share the methods I prefer to use.  They're free, fairly efficient and should work on Windows XP/Vista/7.  If you have other methods or tips, please share your comments!  Also, it is tough to add enough details to be helpful without getting too in the weeds.  If there's anything you have a question about, please feel free to ask.

Disclaimer: There is potentially a risk to your computer when you download files and programs.  Please be responsible and make sure you use trusted sources, have an antivirus program installed, and scan any executable files before opening them.  Additionally, I have no vested interested in, or responsibility for, any tool I mention.

Extracting multiple zipped files

Since I tend to buy more than one file at a time, often from more than one site, my downloads folder ends up looking like this:

As you can see, there are multiple files, from multiple designers, all zipped.  My operating system automatically stores all my downloads into a single folder (named "Embroidery Downloads" for this post).  I used to right click on each zipped folder and select the "Extract All" option, choosing to extract it into the same folder it was originally downloaded to.  I got tired of doing this, especially when I had--literally--hundreds of files to unzip.  I knew there had to be a way to unzip them more easily.

Enter my solution:  a free program called "Extract Now".  I've been using it for a few months and love it.  I use it for more than just my embroidery files too.  It allows me to drag and drop all the files I want to extract, and outputs them to wherever I specify (though I still have them extracted back to my download folder). 

If you don't want to try this program, or read about it, skip ahead to the next section.  Otherwise, here is a quick demonstration of how to use it (after downloading and installing it).  First, double click on the shortcut to open up the program.  A window will open up that looks like this:

I like my folders to be unzipped back to the Downloads folder, so I change the settings to allow for that.  Click on the "Settings" button, and select the "Destination" tab.  Select the second option, "Automatically extract archives to:" and click "OK".  You don't have to change the information in the box (where it says {ArchiveFolder}\{ArchiveName}), just leave that.

Next, open up your download folder, and position it so that you can see both the ExtractNow program, and your zipped files.  Select all the files you want to unzip (you can use CTRL + A to select all the files in the folder or hold down Shift while selecting multiple files with your mouse).  Drag them over to the ExtractNow window and let go of your mouse button and you should see something like this:

The files to be unzipped are all displayed now in ExtractNow.  Click on the "Extract" button in the bottom right.

The program will show you the status as the files are unzipped and let you know if there are any errors.  If you realize you have more files to unzip, select the "Clear" button and drag more files over.  Otherwise, you can go ahead and close ExtractNow.

I like to verify the folders have been unzipped before I delete them.  It may be a bit tough to see in this picture, but I highlighted the unzipped folders, looked at the bottom left to see how many items were selected, then highlighted the zipped folders and made sure it was the same number.  If so, a quick press of the delete key and those extra zipped folders are removed to the Recycle Bin.

Eliminating "Nested" Folders

Once you have your folder unzipped, it's time to pull out the good stuff.  I'll cover deleting unnecessary formats (both the files and folder) next week.  This section shows how I use another free program to remove extra, "nested" folders.  If you're not sure what I mean by this, here are a couple pictures to illustrate.  When I open up one of the folders that I just unzipped, like this cute Pocahontas design from LynniePinnie, I don't see the design files.

Nope, I see another folder.  Hmm, double-clicking on that folder brings up these results:

There they are (in the folders for each size).  If you look at the file path at the top of the window, you can see it shows:
Embroidery Downloads > LP-Pocahontas > LP-Pocahontas

The designs are in a folder that's nested inside another folder with the same name.  This happens with files from several of my favorite digitizers and I don't want to click through extra folders each time I go to open a design.  My solution was to download a free program called Level Zap.  This will move all the files up one level, and remove the extra folder name.

After downloading and installing it, it's easy to use.  You just right-click on the extra folder (in this case, the second LP-Pocahontas folder), and select "Move content up and Zap"

It's the same effect as copying all the subfolders, navigating up one level, pasting them, and deleting the now-empty folder.  I prefer this method, and there's a confirmation before "zapping".

The end results:

Looking at the file path, you can see that there is one less folder and all is right with the world once again.

I hope this helped at least one person (it sure does take an awful lot of time to make these step by steps!).  Don't forget to tune in next Sunday for the second half--it'll be a good one, with an awesome, time-saving tip or three.  Or sometime before then if you want to see the pretty stuff I make :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Back With a Vengeance!

Hopefully I can live up to the hype I created for myself in the post title.  I do have a half dozen projects to share and 3 tutorials/tips related to machine embroidery.  If I can balance family,work and sewing/blogging the way I hope to, I should be posting more frequently for a bit :)

On to the good stuff.  It's a bit belated, but I want to share the shirt I made for Danielle for Halloween (sadly, Samuel never got one).  Here's my little "Candy Corn Cutie".

Yeah, it was that warm in October!

I know of at least 3 sites that have a version of this design, including Stitch On Time, but I was feeling adventuresome and decided to save a couple pounds by making my own design using files I already had.  I used:
I did a little bit of resizing/rotating of the little candy corns, but other than that it was really just layering the different bits together.  Here's what the mashup looked like in Embird:

The candy corn design from the Peace, Love, Candy Corn was actually the first t-shirt I embroidered for Danielle, two years ago.  I didn't get any great pictures of the design, but I had a lot of fun looking at pictures of her a few years ago and I'm going to include one anyways.

Look how little she was!

And, not to be left out, here's Samuel, in his non-embroidered shirt.  I don't feel too bad, I think he's pretty cute, even in a plain shirt :)

He picked himself out a
Samuel-sized pumpkin

I'll be back tomorrow--our Sunday mornings are filled with church, but that's followed up with my second favorite part of the day--naptime!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cowboy Meets Princess

Halloween was a simple affair at our house--I made Danielle a princess dress out of a satin remnant and thrifted tablecloth (plus some pink sparkly tulle) and Samuel wore clothes from his dresser, with a cowboy hat added to make it a costume.  Definitely not the type of costume effort I normally do, but it was what worked for our family this year.
Samuel does NOT stand still, as you can see

I was going to crochet Samuel a hat, and maybe some boots, using this pattern from Etsy, but decided it was too much to attempt 3 days before Halloween and went with the store-bought hat.  I did make Danielle's wand, though, in all it's tacky goodness.

I may not get around to making bows, but at least
my ribbon stash is getting some use!

I used the instructions from Tangled Happy to crochet the stars and make the wand. I gave away quite a bit of my yarn stash so I didn't have the right pink to crochet the stars, so I ended up just embellishing white stars with pink.  Oh, and sewed on about 100 silver beads, just to make it look magical.  My daughter was thrilled with it, and she used her magic wand to turn everyone giving her candy into princesses :) We had quite the night, hope you did too!
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