Creative articles about embroidery

The secret life of the Chrystal Work Tool

bangle 1Blue morphed bangle


When Bernina released their cutwork software I immediately saw that it offered a new and exciting way of using  embroidery machines. I am not quite sure why, but when asked to write a review for a magazine, I decided to use it to cut flower shapes out of cat food pouches. I must have been feeding my cats at the time! So here is my cat food pouch garland of lights!


Cat food pouches light garland



Flower  lights around a plant

When the Paint Work tool and software was released once again I saw this as another new embroidery adventure and will write about this in a future blog.

However, I could not really see using Crystals in my work so rather dismissed the Chrystal Work tool. Then I saw a demonstration of how this tool and software worked and had my eyes opened to its potential. It is actually a ‘hole punch tool’ that can punch four different sizes of holes in a pattern that you create within the software.

So my imagination took over!Take a closer look at these first trials. Not a Chrystal to be seen but patterns of small holes!


Holes punched, embroidery added then cut out with cutwork tool

bangle 1

Embroidery edge added

close up of crystal work tool punching holes

Crystal work tool punching holes in a pattern created in Bernina Design works Software.

The first challenge was a technical one. What could I actually punch holes in as the tool is designed to punch a design in a plastic sheet similar to stencil film? I quickly discovered what didn’t work including felt! Some hours later I had come to the conclusion that the fabric being punched need to be:-

a)  not too thick,

b) the stiffer the better,

c) held very securely within the hoop.

I discovered that I had some curtain buckram and bonded fine hand painted silk to each side. I hooped a double layer of tearaway stabiliser and designed in the software a tack down line of straight stitch to securely attach my fabric sandwich to the stabiliser.

fabric sandwich stitched to stabaliser

Fabric sandwich stitched to stabiliser

After stitching I turned my sandwich over and carefully cutaway the stabiliser so that the Chrystal Work tool had less thickness to punch through.

stabliser cut away.

Stabiliser cut away

The hoop went back on the machine to punch the holes and then to cutout the final shape with the cutwork tool.


Straight bangle cut out

I then hooped a double layer of watersouble stabiliser, stitched a placement line and placed my cut fabric sandwich on it, and stitched the satin outlines.

close up rectangular bangle

Satin outlines stitched.

bangles ready have clasps attached. Blue one used morphing feature in V7 Bernina software

Bangles ready to have closures put on.

Being able to punch small holes in an exact pattern opens up all sorts of possibilities. The holes do not have to remain empty, things can thread through them, or alternative materials can be put behind them to show through. Experimenting takes time but always produces new ideas and it is this adventure that I really enjoy!

So with Christmas nearly over I can start exploring some new ideas including combining the use of the Paintwork tool with the Chrystal work and cutwork tools in a design so all the features of Design works are used as well as embroidery created in Designer Plus V7.

One Word of  Caution– the Chrystal Work tool is designed to punch holes in a plastic stencil type sheet. I am asking it to punch holes in more challenging materials and therefore I do risk blunting the punches more quickly. However spare sets of spare punches are available through your Bernina dealer.

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  • Doris Brechbuehl EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    Dear Carolyn – are you talking about the cutwork tool or the crystal work tool – I am not sure to understand the headline of your article correctly, it seems to be misleading.

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