FREE Christmas Koala design
Who is the person behind Avasa Embroidery?
I have spent most of my life in South Australia, and my husband Tharrow, grew up in the USA. Around 2 years ago we became gray’ish’ nomads travelling between South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland for around 10 months of the year with a 19ft Caravan towed by a very thirsty Landcruiser. Between the two of us, we have 4 children (3 girls and a boy) who are all now in their 30’s with families of their own.
We lost our beloved Golden Retriever and Devon Rex cat, both at the age of 14, during the last 12 months, and although it would have been much easier to travel ‘dogless’, we just couldn’t do it. So the caravan is now ruled by a couple of adult Havanese girls named Penny and Winnie.
What is the connection with assistance dogs Sarah?
I had become very ill in 2014 which meant I could no longer work or care for myself completely. Tharrow became my full time carer and because of this, also had to stop working. Our dream had always been to travel Australia but having several health issues, I just couldn’t see how this would be possible. A friend said that I should consider an Assistance Dog. I had never heard of them before, so I did my research and thought one might benefit me, and possibly even allow us to travel. We purchased my AD Crosby from his breeder in early 2016.
How did you get into embroidering for assistance dogs?
When I got Crosby, there were very few Australian made Assistance Dog patches, and most of the ones available from the USA said ‘Service’ instead of Assistance dog and/or they often cost 5 times more than the patches to ship them here.
My friend Trisha gifted me her unused Brother Galaxie 3000 embroidery machine (dubbed Miss Galaxie), and a passion was born. I began by making basic patches for Crosby. I could only use the built in fonts and frames, but somehow I made it work for Crosby’s 1st vest. I posted a couple of photos on an Australian Assistance Dog Facebook page, and several friends asked me to make them patches. Then people started asking where they had got them from and they handed my details out.
In the meantime, through Crosby’s breeder and several trainers, I got involved with an organisation that trains AD’s for children with Autism. They supplied the fabric and paid for the thread, and I made the vests and patches that they required for free.
What made you start digitizing your own designs?
I realised that there was this process called digitising because the people and organisations that contacted me for embroidery had logos and I couldn’t make them! I found a company to digitise them, but I was running a very tired single needle machine and Miss Galaxie did not appreciate designs made for an industrial machine. Sometimes they had to be returned for editing 3 times!
So did my research on digitising programs and found Hatch Embroidery Digitizer. After hearing from a couple of friends that had other programs, but never seemed to use them, the 30 day free trial with full features was the clincher for me. And the fact that it was Aussie :).
How did you go with Hatch?
Within days I was manually designing patches of my own. OK, I admit, when I look back at some of them now, I often wonder how they stitched out, but that was my embroidery learning curve. I had only had a machine for a few months and I was learning about stabilisers, pull compensation (that one still trips me up occasionally!), fonts to use, hooping, etc. It took less than a week and I was hooked on Hatch Embroidery Digitizer and knew I wanted to buy it. The FlexPay option made it affordable for me.
Machine embroidery has truly changed my life, but learning to use the Hatch Embroidery software has enriched it to the point that I once again feel that I can contribute to the community.
Is Miss Galaxie still around?
Around January 2016, Miss Galaxie was very worn out. I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess at the stitch count I had added in the preceding 6 months, but she was the most amazing workhorse! We had her repaired, but it was an expensive exercise, and she still struggled to do the type of embroidery that I required of her. I couldn’t afford another machine with the size of hoop that I needed on a very limited income.
Fate stepped in when I posted on a camping page about wanting to make custom t-shirts for my husband and me. A beautiful lady called Sharon joking asked me to make a funny one for her. I said I would have loved to, but my poor machine was not running well enough.
Unbeknown to me, Sharon secretly investigated the charity work that I was doing, and then wrote to Brother Australia in the hope that they could help. It was a week before Mother’s Day last year when Sharon, Tharrow, Judy (Sew Many Stitches NSW) and Mel (Brother rep for NSW and ACT), presented me with a brand new Brother NV2600 sewing and embroidery machine! My husband had kept it a total secret from me for over 4 weeks! Avasa (which means ‘My Home’) Crafts and Embroidery was born, and it really was quite by accident. Not something I imagined would ever happen.
How is Avasa Embroidery going?
As I was able to offer 100% custom designs, orders came thick and way too fast through my Avasa Facebook page, so I recently ceased making vests altogether and concentrated on designing and producing custom made patches. To that end, I opened an Etsy shop and listed only 30 Assistance/Service Dog patches but I guess the word got out because I specialise in one-off custom designed patches. I have now designed 100’s of themed patches from New Years Eve, Veteran’s Day, Easter and a Disney inspired working dog patch for a handler who actually works in the Walt Disney office.
Funnily enough, what got me started designing was that only American patches were available here and yet now, 90% of my Etsy shop customers are from the USA, with the last 10% made up from Australia, Germany, Canada and the UK.
Which charity organisations do you work with?
While my Etsy shop averages around 60 orders a month, the proceeds are used to help causes that are close to my heart. I have several Assistance Dog training organisations that I supply with patches but with Hatch Embroidery, I have also been able to contribute to various veteran support organisations including Hearts for Heroes and Heroes on the Homefront, fundraising items for several animal rescues, and most recently, for the Australian Farmers Drought Relief.
I hope in the near future to be selling my embroidery designs on Etsy too. I have thousands of designs to list, I’m just struggling with writing the instructions to accompany the designs.
What are your favourite tools in Hatch Embroidery?
I think my favourite feature of the Hatch software would be the reshape tool as it allows me to make the smallest of changes wherever I want to. I have recently taught myself to use the Branching tool though, and it fast becoming one of my favourites too.
What advice would you offer for newbies?
If anyone is worried that it will be too difficult to learn, don’t be! Everything I have learnt about the program, I learned by just doing. One of medical conditions is classed as an Acquired Brain Injury, so while I can still read perfectly, my ability to comprehend instructions is out the window! To learn these days I have to either do it or watch it being done! I confess, I have never read any of the Hatch User Guide but it really hasn’t been an issue! So much of the program is self-explanatory.
The best piece of advice I can offer for newbies and not-so-newbies to machine embroidery would be, learn to digitise!
This cute Christmas Koala design from Sarah design is available for download.
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