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Bits from Brian – Sept 2010

By now you’ve heard that we have a new embroidery machine to drool over! The Baby Lock Enterprise – a 10 needle embroidering powerhouse! And it has a huge new hoop: 14” square, sewn in two parts.

This new hoop reminds me of a time “long ago” and a story that’s as relevant today as it was then…

It’s 2002 and I’d just launched my programs SizeWorks and DensityWorks. And with that launch, I had a lot of interaction with customers and educators as I was travelling and teaching the new software. As revolutionary as DensityWorks was (and is) it was also the easiest thing to run. Because it was so easy to use (Just push the “All” button) people needed an explanation of the benefits and a demonstration of what could be accomplished. It was so easy that it seemed hard to understand. But once I showed it, everyone understood, and DensityWorks is a great success to this day.

But I should have learned my lesson, and I’m sorry I didn’t.

See, I thought that if it was so cool to make a program do so much with one button, how could I top that? What could possibly be easier than pushing One Button to make the program do something so awesome??? With hubris bred of success, I thought I’d do even more for the embroidering community. I wanted to tackle the HARDEST embroidery problem that existed and make it RUN AUTOMATICALLY; without even one button click.

                So I did some research, and some thinking. At the time, there were a number of machines that had small embroidery fields, but also had available multi-position hoops. If a digitizer made a design in multiple parts, the design could be sewn in those bigger hoops, and you could get a bigger design out of the machine. It was limiting though, because the design had to be split for that particular hoop. (Or digitized specifically for it.)

                On the internet, there were classes on “Design Splitting,” a clunky manual process for dividing designs. And there were even multiple-day workshops with classes on doing it. Later, and to this day, other companies have sold tools to help with the manual process of design splitting.

                But again, I wanted something revolutionary. So I made HoopWorks. Now, that simple statement belies how hard it actually was to make it. It was the invention that drove the inventor to the brink of madness. And I was quite burned out when it was done. In fitful splashes of inspiration and coding nightmares, sewing designs in my mind backwards, around the clock for a few weeks, using caffeine stimulants, and with much hair pulling, the birth of the invention was finally over. I wrote the patent for it and then refused to look at a computer for over a month!

                I sent the new program to my editors up at Designer’s Gallery, and went to bed. When I got up, I had a telephone message and it was that they “Wondered what the program was for? What did it do?”

                Imagine my shock. Of course, I had forgotten to explain it. And it was somewhat of a letdown to have to explain it. But ok…

I told them, “Get a design that won’t fit on a particular machine, but might almost fit in a multi-position hoop.”  They did that. I said, “Open the program and select that hoop, which is something you have to do only once unless you have multiple hoops.”

“Okay,” they said.

“Now, I said, use Studio to select the large design, and then run HoopWorks.”

They ran HoopWorks and said, “Okay we did that, now what?”

I said, “That’s it, save the design. It’s ready to sew.”


“It’s split to be run as two files in that hoop. Just run the first design, labeled ‘1’ and it will finish up with a basting stitch. Then run the second design, which starts with exactly the same basting stitch, which ensures your designs are aligned.”

“So how do we split it?” they asked.

“No, you don’t understand. It’s already split.”

“We didn’t click anything.”

“You don’t have to. It does it without you even clicking the mouse. If you want to see the two designs before you save them, click the tree on the left and you can see the individual pieces that were split automatically.”

“Oh wow!”

“By the way, it will also reduce using SizeWorks technology to fit a 6” x 9” design into a 4” x 7” multi-position hoop.”

“That’s amazing. What will we have to teach?”

“How about the fact that hoop size no longer restricts Baby Lock owners from sewing something large? No more manual file splitting classes. No more frustration!”

Well, that program was very successful for a time, but I always have been asked, “How do I use it?” Well, I suppose that because I designed it originally for multiple-position hoops, that question seemed odd. But I soon learned that people wanted to go beyond even what multiple-position hoops could do. They wanted to use their largest hoop and tile the design to get REALLY LARGE. So I put out instructions, and then even made the program split horizontally and vertically, literally breaking a design down into multiple tiles.

There was a downside though, and that is alignment. If you’re hooping that many times, alignment is difficult. Many could do it, but many could not. Even with the basting stitches, you need some skill with your hooping technique and using your machine.

                Then as the wonderful machine manufacturers developed the machines with ever larger embroidery fields, the need for HoopWorks seemed to slow down a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it still sells and has a wonderful following. But for awhile it felt like my invention was no longer necessary in the mainstream. But then there was resurgence in the availability of multi-position hoops. So you DO want to sew bigger, and even bigger than the biggest machines we have today!

                See, multi-position hoops take all the headache of alignment out of the equation. No re-hooping! Just turn the hoop around and keep on stitchin’. I like it. And now, we have the Enterprise with its gigantic 14” hoop, and guess what? My little brainstorm from 2002 is as relevant as ever! Because HoopWorks is still the easiest-to-use embroidery program in the world. Once that hoop is in the program and selected, splitting the file for it is automatic.

                So now I’m a happy camper again. BIG is BACK! Look forward to an update on HoopWorks which will have the new hoop programmed into it. (I’m writing this in advance, so I can’t promise the date.) And as usual, it will be a no-charge update for my current HoopWorks customers.

So, I’ll say it again, “BIG is BACK.” I like that. And you will to!

Happy Stitching!



Posted in Brian's Articles and News 9 years, 8 months ago at 9:34 pm.


2 Replies

  1. Hi i have the enterprise but my software of choice is viking 4D,is your Hoop-works a stand alone or do i need something like Pes design to use it?how about any of your other programs are they stand alone’s?
    Thank you

  2. HoopWorks is stand-alone and available from the Designer’s Gallery website:
    You can check out the whole line there!

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