Getting Older

A friend of mine wasn’t too thrilled about her birthday today. My attitude about birthdays has always been that getting older is better than the alternative. It gave me an idea for a design. I quickly realized that the saying needed a graphic. After I played with it a bit, I also decided that the saying was a little long. Here’s what I finally decided on.

Tombstone with "Getting old is hell but it could be worse" written on it.

I found the tombstone online as a public domain graphic. I looked through OFL fonts online for something simple, since the letters are pretty small. I ended up with Rawline, available at FontLibrary. For the fire letters, I used Dark Garden, also available at FontLibrary. I wanted something wrinkly for “OLD”, but couldn’t find a free font I liked. I used the Jellee Roman font I used for my Flower Font. (I’m working on the 5×7 letters, by the way, and also on adding non-English characters. If you have suggestions, please leave a comment.)

I installed the fonts on my computer, then used a graphics program (I like PhotoShop, but there are some free ones that would work as well) to add the text to the graphic. I could have used the text tool in Generations to add the text, but I wanted to practice digitizing.

Windows Disply window showing two stacked monitorsI actually learned quite a bit from this exercise. First, after a lot of struggling and searching for my mouse cursor, it dawned on me that I could tell the computer that my graphics tablet (see Graphics Tablet) was below my main monitor and not to the side. Now I can move naturally between monitors and never lose my mouse. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s incredibly important.

The next thing that dawned on me was that it was easier for me to press the button on the stylus with my thumb instead of my finger. This also made things easier because the stylus wiggles less and I have to redo less frequently. Probably everyone else in the world already figured these two things out, but if you haven’t it can make a big difference in your work environment.

So — on to the digitizing. The tombstone is triple run throughout. I’ve found that it’s best to draw a few lines and merge them instead drawing the whole thing at once. The “OLD” is just like the flower font, except it’s only one motif. The gray text started out as running stitch, but Liz, one of my testers — I HAVE TESTERS! I feel so professional! — said it needed to be a satin stitch instead. Generations makes it easy to change a running stitch into a satin border. The only disadvantage of using the satin border is that you can’t adjust the angle of the stitches. However, it’s been my experience that if the stitches are wonky, it’s because the original line was wonky and it’s easy to correct by adjusting the line. I had to adjust the spacing of the letters a bit since the satin stitch was wider than the triple run.

The satin border has a setting where you can specify the angle of the stitches to the drawn line. It defaults to 90. I thought it would be interesting to see how it looked with a different angle since the letters are an italic font, but I couldn’t get this feature to work. I don’t know if I misunderstood the purpose of the setting or if it just isn’t working. I guess it’s time to visit the manual. If you have any knowledge of this, leave me a comment.

Stitchout of file.Liz also said the final ‘e’ didn’t completely stitch out in the running stitch file. I have no idea what caused that. I guess I’ll be doing a test myself tonight. It’s possible that using Facebook Messenger isn’t the best way to share files.

The fire letters were the hardest to do. I used the create freehand area tool to trace the edges of the letters. I got about half way through the H and it refused to take another point. I thought at first that the area was too complicated, but I eventually discovered that the area tool won’t accept a point that causes the area to cross itself.

Satin stitch vs. complex fillI used satin stitch for these letters because I wanted them to look more like flames. I like the way the satin stitches go different directions. I think a variegated thread would also be interesting.




Many thanks to Liz Szabo and Brinda Tillery for testing this file for me.

Here is a link to the files in exp, jef, pes and vp3. Drop me a note if you need other formats and I’ll see what I can do. You are welcome to use these file to make objects for personal use or for sale. You may not resell or distribute the embroidery files. I strongly suggest you do a test stitch out first.

I removed the link because, just as I suspected, the 4×4 file was awful.  The corrected versions are available on The Ins and Outs of Digitizing.

Dropbox may ask you to create an account or sign in, but there’s a ‘no thanks’ link that will let you proceed to the download.

Please leave a comment if you find a problem with any of the files so I can make corrections.


Categories: Text

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1 reply

  1. Thanks for the design, the words are so true. Your digitizing instructions are very helpful and I try to take them into account in my software


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