Stitch Era - trouble shooting

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1 Introduction

Stitch Era embroidery software crashed on me fairly often, but I managed to reduce this. Also stitch generation can fail. The latter problem has a quite easy solution.

2 Program crashes and hangups

Since we wrote this section in 2011, time went by and the product has improved. However, there still can be crashes (most programs can crash) and we still strongly encourage users to turn off automatic generate since it puts a lot of strain on your PC's processing units. The program may sometimes enter infinite error loops with different types of mistakes: We encountered:

  • Vector our of bounds errors (e.g. the program tries to draw outside its window).
  • Access violations (don't know what kind of library or other program it tries to access). For these, the system usually recovers.
  • Out of memory errors, e.g. when selecting
  • Hanging up in tasks. However, some are processes are slow by nature. E.g., tracing a bitmap is a long process and we suggest waiting at least 10 minutes before killing the program.

In some cases, the program must be killed with the Windows task manager. This happened to us in several situations in older versions of Stitch Era, but always when moving/resizing stitching or combined stitching/vector objects in the work area.

Therefore:

  • Save before moving/resizing operations in complex drawings, although there is an automatic autosave that automatically will open the saved file after a crash.
  • Do not attempt operations while the program is calculating something. E.g. a vector trace from a bitmap.
  • If you can simplify artwork (both bitmap images and vector graphics) before you import. E.g. reduce the size of photographs or smooth very complex vector graphics. Also, when you vectorize a picture, use options that will simplify (e.g. reduced colors, fill holes, ignore small areas, smooth).
  • I strongly suggest to turn off automatic generate in the generate stitches pull-down menu (lightning button on top in the quick access bar). This will inhibit Stitch Era from generating new stitches after each change you make. Don't forget to manually reprocess all (CTRL-F9), or process the current object (F9) or to turn it back on later.
Process button/menu - turn off automatic generate

3 Program is very slow

If the program is very slow when you just deal with simple vector drawings or designs with few stitches, then your graphics accelerator may not be compatible with Stitch Era. You can remove all acceleration:

  • Menu File -> Options
  • Click on Preferences setup
  • In the popup menu, under Application -> Workspace -> Video card settings set Video hardware acceleration to 0.

This should disable your 3D acceleration card. You then can also try what happens with values of 1 or 2.

Quote from the Era17-9-2 manual (p2-23): “Video card Settings: These are important settings related with the performance of your display system. If you are using a good video card, you will want to set the Video hardware acceleration to the highest value to get faster screen redraws. It is also recommended to activate the Enhanced line drawing. Some video cards may be not fully compatible with OpenGL implementation, and you might experience abnormal screen redraw. Lower the Video hardware acceleration value. Set value to zero, if video card is totally incompatible with OpenGL.”

As we explained before, Stitch Era also will slow down when you try to manipulate Stitch sections that include thousands of stitches. Disable automatic Stitch generation ("lightning menu" shown in the screen capture above) and hit F9 to regenerate stitches.

4 Jump stitches are not cut

If we understand right, only certain embroidery formats will include "cut" instructions. In particular:

  • Brother PES does not include this information
  • Tajima DST does include the information, but color information will be lost.

Some machines, e.g. our Brother PR1050X require the DST/"Tajima" setting to be "on". If it is off, cuts will only be made before color/thread change.

Quote from the Manual (p. 220): "DST” Setting Specifies whether or not jumpstitches are cut. In addition, when using Tajima embroidery data (.dst), you can specify whether or not the thread is cut according to the specified number of jump codes.

5 Good vs. bad geometry

When you digitize complex "dirty bitmaps" you often may produce so-called incorrect geometry. Stitch Era only can handle polygons, i.e. areas that have a cleanly defined border and/or cleanly defined holes. Stitch sections that do not comply will have to be fixed manually.

The following picture (made with Illustrator) shows a bad geometry, i.e. there is an area (underneath the black cursor) where border lines cross, i.e. a same fill is defined by two different outlines which doesn't make sense.

Drawing showing bad geometry

Bad geometry is not easy to produce on purpose:

  • When you use the drawing tools, e.g. the Freehand tool, Stitch Era will not allow you to produce incorrect geometry.
  • Also, if you import an Illustrator graphic, the result will be fixed.
Bad geometry fixed. The area underneath the pointer is gone. Holes are ok

It's really just output from auto-digitalization that can go wrong. If that happens, you will have to untangle manually, you also can try simplification. To to so, select the vector plus another one (this can't be helped) and then Combing vectors (ribbon panel on top) and select Trim shapes

An other type of bad geometry concern overlapping direction lines, see the section below.

6 Invalid Main Reference and Missing direction line error messages

Sometimes, when you generate the stitches, you will get one or both of these messages:

Invalid Main Reference - Section Number N.
Error: Missing Direction Line. Section number N.

Locate the "N" stitch section through the object manager or right-click on the message to edit. (Read Stitch Era - interface features for working with a design if you are not familiar with this tool.

Direction lines that are ambiguous mean trouble, i.e. Stitch Era will not able to figure in which direction to put the stitches. More precisely:

  1. Direction points must not sit on top of each other
  2. Direction lines must not cross

6.1 Manual fixing of direction line problems

Direction lines marked by yellow dots will tell Stitch Era in which direction it has to orient the stitches it will (or did) generate. Below is a picture of a small digitized letter with problems. As you can see, some of the direction lines overlap in the lower part of the W , e.g., one that is close to the cross-hair pointer.

Now which direction should the stitch go ? Left or right .... too confusing. To fix that, grab one of the yellow controls at the end of the direction line and drag it away.

Invalid main reference

The picture below shows direction lines that are ok. As you can see, Stitch Era was able to generate the stitches.

Fixed direction lines

After you fixed these, you may have to generate the stitches again, depending on your settings. Hit F9 or the yellow lighting button on top.

Extra tips:

  • It can be tricky to grab this little yellow dot since they may sit at the same spot as dots that define the shape. Zoom in a lot ! You also may read Stitch Era - vector graphics in order to get a feel for node manipulation.
  • Shape nodes can be sneaky. On can hide on top of another one or underneath a direction line. Make sure to find and kill these in your vector graphics, else the stitch section and the stitches generators may become confused.
  • Also (unless you put them there for a reason), you should remove small holes. There is no way to remove individual holes. The only way (I figured out) to do this is to paint a patch of the same color on top and then Combine vectors->Add.

6.2 Dealing with cut lines

Cut lines divide a stitch section into subsections and are represented by two violet little squares ("blue" in the manual). It allows filling the subsections in different ways.

Cut line also can influence the orientation of stitches, e.g. also can act as direction lines. To do so, click on a violet node and a yellow dot appear. Clicking now on the yellow dot will make the line a combi cut/direction line. The blue square will have some yellow in it.

Moving cut lines within areas where stitch creation fails, can help.

So far, I did not figure out how to remove a cut line :(

6.3 Automatic fixing

If you see a mess like in the picture, it must be fixed. Do so by hand (e.g. dealing with bad direction and cut lines is a bit tedious. Some versions, e.g. liberty plus include an autocomplete feature. Others do not :(

Messy section

Note: The bluish/pink nodes are so-called cut lines that will divide a section and create some sort of subsection. In the picture above the cut lines don't make much sense to me.

Instead of repairing all the stitch directions, I rather suggest one of the following strategies:

  • Simplifying the area by removing area shape nodes or using automatic trim through the combine vectors menu and digitizing again
  • Removing and moving stitch directions.
  • The fastest strategy to try first if your version allows it: Right-click (context menu) and select AutoComplete. This will rebuild direction lines and entry/exit points, but you may loose information, e.g. cut lines will be gone which is normally not a problem...

7 Cannot see the stitches

There might be three issues:

  • Stitches are hidden from viewing: Tick the red Embroider icon on top right (CTRL-F2)
  • Stitches are not yet generated because you disable automatic stitch generation as suggested above: Hit CTRL-F9 (regenerate all) or press the lightning button F9 (generate)
  • Direction lines are bad, i.e. the stitches were not generated for a particular section since it was badly positioned. See above.

8 Acces violation

There can be more than cause but the underlying problem is similar: Stitch Era can not get access to a file.

(1) Some files may have been deleted or not correctly installed because of your anti-virus program. If the message happens systematically you should look into this. That means: Reinstall the program while the anti-virus is disabled. In addition, you should clean the registry with a help program. See Stitch Era support for more details.

(2) We encounter this message from time to time. It seems that stitch era looses file connexion when using a screen saver and/or a network drive. It might be safer to (a) disable automatic screen saving and (b) using local drives only.

Workaround: Always hit CTRL-S after each major step, then kill the program, restart it and reload the file again.

9 Suggestions for improvements of the Stitch Era software

I'll write these down here ....

Vectors
  • Trimming (smoothing) for a single vector (currently one needs to select more than one)
  • Smoothing parameters like in vector drawing program. Currently one has to click more than once in order to strengthen the smoothing. Also, there is no aggressive smoothing as in the vectorizing tool.
  • Sort vectors by color
  • In vector art, selecting an object should show the selected color in the pull down and side palettes. Currently it's difficult to know what color is selected. Other suggestion: Display some vector properties in the object inspector.
  • Color management for vectors. One ought to be able to "add color to palette" in the context menu. Don't know since there are few numbers, but there must be a way
  • There should vector color palettes for each major thread make (would be *much* easier)
  • Be able to remove a single hole
Stitch sections
  • Photo-Stitch: Be able to embroider color by color for CMY, instead of having to change threads for each section (if there are more than one photo-stitch sections of course).