Friday Flashback – Beautiful Bugs – New Free Design

Welcome back to another Friday Flashback, taking a look back at some of my favourite classic collections.

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This week I am focusing on the Beautiful Bugs collection.

This collection began with me seeing a gorgeous set of artwork. You may not know this, but not many digitizers create their own artwork.  There is a different skill involved in creating beautiful stitches and designs that translate well into thread, and that of creating the artwork.  Each skill is equally valuable, and as stitch artists, we go to a lot of trouble to create a great working relationship with the artists we work with.

However, back to the artwork. I saw these beautiful flower designs with faces, and could not resist them, I purchased and downloaded them onto my computer, and immediately got caught up in life.  That same week, my parents came from another state to visit me, and my gorgeous 6 month old daughter Emma was admitted to hospital with Pneumonia. I spent the next 5 days at the hospital with an incredibly sick child, whilst my parents took care of the other two kids.  During the evening and night whilst Emma slept, I could not sleep, and sat up in the hospital room with the beeping of the monitors playing with these designs.

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I think my favourite part of the Beautiful Bug designs are their chubby cheeks. As you can see with the picture of Emma at this age, she had those same cheeks.

This was the first collection that I ever created using the applique technique. Although the software that I used at the time would create applique as a one step, I was never a fan of doing things this way, and needed the control of manually designing this.  I had some gorgeous scraps of fabric that were perfect for this, and for me one of my favourite things about embroidery is being able to go through the scrap basket.

The first thing that I made with the Beautiful Bug designs were little shirts for the girls. I wanted something sweet and spring like, and we always got plenty of compliments on these t-shirts.

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Next I got creative with fridge magnets. I love using the embroidery machine to create things that you would not think of creating with the embroidery machine.  By stitching the design onto felt, and using a sticky magnet sheet, you can create a strong bond, perfect for fridge magnets.

Initially I attempted to keep these magnets at the top of the fridge, so they would remain pristine and would hold notes for me. However the kids loved these, and they soon migrated to child height for playing.

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The same year I created fridge magnets for the mothers for mother’s day, and I have also created a gorgeous quilt with the designs, perfect for a baby’s cot.

Initially we gave away a 3 part flower design HERE as a freebie with the Beautiful Bug designs. As a thank you to all of our loyal customers, for the next week we are also offering the single flower desgin as a free download.  Simply click HERE to collect your copy.

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Thank you for taking this trip down memory lane with me, I hope you have enjoyed looking at this collection, and that it has inspired you to stitch for a loved one.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

The best laid plans….. and how I ended up in hospital instead of at a Craft Show!

I am a huge planner. If you ask my hubby it is probably one of the things he likes both most and least about me.

I had a great plan for this month. I was going to Toowoomba to do the Craft Alive Show, then teaching a class, dashing back to Canberra for Valentine’s Day, then off to Sydney for another Craft Alive Show, before coming home and getting heaps of work done.  I had meals prepped for when I was away, the calendar was up to date so nobody would miss out on anything.

All of that fell apart!

As many of you know, Australia had a heat wave a few weeks ago, and that happened to be when I was in Toowoomba. Whilst the family were sweltering through the heat wave in Canberra, I was struggling through it in Toowoomba.  Unfortunately, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and after a lifetime of never having an issue with health, or dehydration, I ended up dehydrated and quite ill.   I loved the Craft Alive Show, and had such a wonderful time meeting everybody, however when I got back to the hotel on Sunday night, it was in extreme agony, and I was having trouble drinking or eating anything.

I persevered onto the class on Monday – thank heavens their regular teacher was there as well, and fully assisted me, as I was near fainting the entire time – and got 400kms down the road on the journey home that evening.

On Tuesday I arrived home for a lovely dinner hubby had prepared (that I could not eat), and we both agreed something was wrong physically.

On Wednesday I got an appointment with the doctor, assuming that they would give me something to fix me, and the car would be packed by Wednesday evening for Sydney on Thursday. Instead I was sent for an immediate CT scan and blood work, after which they rushed me to hospital with a massive gallstone and inflamed gallbladder.

After lots of tests and doses of antibiotics, on Friday evening I was well enough that they were finally able to operate on me. 5 days later I am sitting at my desk in very little pain, with 5 keyhole marks on my belly (I attempted to get surgery upgraded with lap band and a tummy tuck but they wouldn’t do it), wondering where the week went.

I think the worst of it all though is just how long it has taken me to sit at the computer again, and how mushy my mind feels (hopefully from the anaesthetic).

I am so blessed and lucky to have a wonderful hubby and children (who are doing all of the cooking and cleaning for the next few weeks) – hubby just took two days of carers leave for me to make sure I was ok at home, and is now calling each hour to make sure I am ok, and not lifting anything. Having said that, their planning or lack of it is driving me batty!

So next week when you hear I am seeking medical care, it is from hubby and kids not writing a meal plan, not any real illness. 😉

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

Friday Flashback – Cameron’s Zoo – New Free Download

Welcome back to another Friday Flashback, taking a peak inside some of my classic collections.

This week I am focusing on the Cameron’s Zoo collection.

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This collection began with Cameron’s love of animals. All of his favourite books involved animals, and he would absolutely love making the noises of each animal.

As soon as I saw the artwork for these designs, I knew Cameron would love the designs, and that I could make some great stuff for his bedroom (we were just moving him into a “big boy” bed).

Creating the designs came together very easily. There are six animals in the collection, combined with names, balloons and bananas. To give maximum flexibility.

The first item I created with these designs was a fleecy jumper for Cameron.  We did the monkey, as we called him our little monkey, and he loved wearing it around.

For this collection I wanted to create something that Cameron could really use. So the first item I created with the designs was a felt book.

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The felt book is one of the easiest things you can create. All you need are multiple pieces of felt.  You embroider, use AppliWonder Double sided bonding web to fuse the felt together, and then use a hole punch to punch 3 holes in the felt and binding clips to hold together.  Cameron and I would sit down each afternoon and look at each of the pages of the book, repeat the name of the animal, and then make the animal sounds.

Once I had made the book, it was a quick step to pitch a 3 part series to the machine embroidery magazine. We created a growth chart to go on the wall and keep track of your child’s growth, and a fantastic footstool.

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One of my memories in creating these articles for publication was the trouble that I had with my machine at the time. The photography for the article was amazing, however I spent a lot of years with my feet on that footstool looking at how horrible the stitching had turned out.  Naturally the issues with the stitching didn’t happen until I was on the last design, and because of the deadline I was on, I didn’t have time to fix it.

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The kids loved the footstool (still do even after I re-covered it). I still get a request a couple of times a week for one of them to sit on the footstool at my feet for a little extra attention.

Back when this collection came out, we gave away the Bananas design as a freebie. As a thank you to all of our loyal customers, for the next week we are also offering the elephant design, as well as the elephant word design as a free download.  Simply click HERE to collect your copy.

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Over the years, I have given the zoo book as a gift to a young child. They also make a great item to sell at any type of craft stall.  The growth chart does take a little more time to complete, however if you are after a special gift for a child, then this may be a great one for you.

Thank you for taking this trip down memory lane with me, I hope you have enjoyed looking at this collection, and that it has inspired you to stitch for a loved one.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

How do you choose your colours?

What type of stitcher are you? Do you go with gut instinct to select your threads for embroidery, or do you agonise over the decision, second guessing your choices?

Whatever type of stitcher you are, we all know that choosing the right colour of embroidery thread can make or break your design!

Personally, I am a safe person. If you pay attention to what I stitch out, you will see a lot of colours that I know go well together, and seem to work, being used over and over again.

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I have fallen in love with this palette of copper and teal from Pinterest, and have already added a stock of Copper Thread to my specialty threads.  Now I just need the perfect designs.

 

As a digitiser, the worst part of my job is to make colour guides. I feel like I am telling you what colours you HAVE to use (and I truly don’t ever want to do that).  For me one of the greatest parts of my job is seeing other people’s interpretations of what the designs should be, and how they are used in different people’s homes.

Many psychologists and designers have developed scientific ways of selecting colours, and whilst there are a couple of simple rules to make colour selection easier, gut instinct can never be ignored.

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I would not think of using this blue and green together, but how amazing does this image look.  I am planning a new set of “On The Tiles” – this may be the colour palette

 

Studies have shown that it takes us as customers approximately 30 seconds to evaluate a design. To increase our chances of people liking our work, selecting appealing colours is important.

Many patterns call out for certain hues—skin, leaves, fruit and so on. That doesn’t mean your colours are chosen for you. With thousands of colours of embroidery thread available, the choice can be quite overwhelming.

The science of choosing colours.

One of the simplest scientific ways of selecting threads, is to use the Thread Manufacturers colour card guide, and a colour wheel available as a download from the internet, or from most art supply stores.

Using the Colour Wheel

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I downloaded this colour wheel from Pinterest, and love the descriptions at the bottom as well.

 

There are many technical terms for colours and their variations, but you should be aware of some of the basics. The simplest tool to select colours is the colour wheel. Colour wheels can be simple or complex, but they all do one thing; they take a variety of colours and put them in groups that blend into each other.

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Cool and warm colours are a bit of a joke in our house, ever since I refused to let hubby purchase a black leather jacket as he has a creamy beige skin tone, and needed a warm colour to suit him (he now loves his Brown leather jacket)

 

Complementary colours for embroidery threads

Complementary colours are the easiest to work with. Using a particular base material? Find the colour on a colour wheel. The complimentary colour is right straight across the wheel. That will be the hue of your applique. This method works beautifully. Use it to make the most eye-catching designs.

 

Most colours include shades that genuinely work well together. Use a colour wheel to get them, just by seeing where they fall on the colour wheel. Complementary colours are the safest colour schemes to choose since they are two colours directly across each other on the colour wheel.

Analogous colours: neighbours on the colour wheel

Analogous colours are more detailed than complementary colours. They are three colours next to each other on a colour wheel. For example, three colours of yellow could be yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange.

You can combine analogous colours, but it helps to add in a complementary colour also. With one of the yellows, it would be nice to add a purple, the complementary colour will work well!

Triadic colours: adding a little contrast

Triadic colours are colours equally spaced on the colour wheel. Many triadic colours schemes can be used purposefully to produce a slight contrast, almost like a split-complementary colour scheme, yet remaining balanced. Red, yellow and blue are the most notable example of triadic colours.

Now the fun part: choosing creative embroidery thread colours!

The fun starts when you find variations on the basics. Instead of using a “true” version of a colour, maybe you can use a shade lighter or darker. Take the triadic colours of red, yellow, and blue, but use different strengths.

Another part of choosing colours is the colour temperature. It can make a significant difference in your design.  For example, blues/greens are considered “cool” and reds/oranges as seen as “warm.” Each colour has warms and cools which can be found with the help of a colour wheel. The next shade towards blue or red will determine if it is the warm or cool tone. Keeping colours warm or all cool can help your embroidery designs look fantastic.

Embroidery thread colours, the “non-scientific” way!

Yes, colour wheels and colour schemes are a good starting point. Ultimately, you must “feel” the colours you want. Colour grouping starts with complimentary colours, but then you need to take it to the next level. Go with your gut and add a few more shades.

Check out boards on Pinterest, such as the link I have here, on colour trends to see different colours placed together in inspiring formations.

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After all the technical terms and working hard to select colour schemes, now you will discover the “unscientific” secret to choosing colours of embroidery threads.

Find colour groupings in a design you like, something that has been found and put together already. Use your thread chart, and match up the colours, noting which thread comes closest to the existing design.

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That may go against colour theory “rules”, but if you like it, then go with it.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at Colour.  Unit next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

Free Project & Tutorial – Stumpwork

On Friday I went back in time and showed you one of my favourite techniques (but really, that is like asking which kid I like best – I love them all) – Stumpwork.

Feedback from many of you is that you have never had the opportunity to try this technique, so I would like to take the time to walk you through how to create this amazing 3d art, with your embroidery machine, and we are going to demonstrate with the special freebie that is available for another week – the Scotch Thistle (collect yours HERE)

Requirements

  • Base Fabric – I have used a white homespun, however for a special look, you could easily use anything from a hessian to a silk
  • Organza
  • Embroidery Threads, I have used 2 shades of green, and 3 shades of mauve
  • 18 gauge flexible wire
  • Clear drying glue or fray stopper
  • Stabiliser – I use TearClean©
  • Sharp, Curved Tip Embroidery Snips for trimming embroidery
  • Acid Free Masking tape
  • Upholstery needle for inserting wire

Instructions

  1. Hoop your fabric and TearClean stabiliser together in the hoop
  2. Load the Scotch Thistle Main Design onto your machine
  3. Stitch out the design in it’s entirety – don’t worry about the thistle stitching over and over itself, change the colours when required, and this will give the texture to the flower.
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  4. Once the embroidery is complete, remove the design from the hoop, and press with a warm iron.
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  5. Remove any of the excess stabiliser
  6. Once the excess stabiliser has been removed, take the fray stopper or glue, and run a small bead around the base of the flower that will be trimmed (this will keep all of the loops from coming apart)
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  7. Once the fray stopper is dry, take your curved tip embroidery snips and from the back, cut at the TOP of the flower. Turn the design over, and gently “fluff” the flower/s up.
  8. You can now leave this base of the design, and begin the leaves.
  9. Hoop together organza and stabiliser (TearClean is fine for this, as all hint of the stabiliser will be removed before the project is complete.
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  10. Stitch out the first colour of the embroidery (or according to your colour guide). When the machine tells you to change colours, it is really telling you to perform another action. For the sake of this design, the entire design will be completed in the one colour.
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  11. In this particular design, the second colour is going to show us where to place the wire.
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  12. Cut a piece of wire approximately 3 inches longer than the piece you are embroidering, and lay it over the guide given in the previous step. Stitch out the 3rd colour to tack down this wire. It is at this stage where you can also make any changes to the wire placement, so don’t worry too much about getting this right first time.
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  13. Once your wire is in the correct position, stitch out the 4th colour, which is going to fully cover the wire.
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  14. Finally, stitch the satin border around the leaf to complete.
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  15. Remove the design from the hoop, and gently pull away all of the excess stabiliser.
  16. Using either a pair of sharp scissors, or a heat wand, trim around the leaf so that there is no organza showing.
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  17. Use the Upholstery needle to create a hole to insert the wire into.
  18. Flip the design over to the back, and use the Acid Free Masking tape to tape the wire to the project.
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You are now ready to frame your project. (I recommend a shadow box frame that will allow the 3d elements of this design to shine).

I hope you have all enjoyed this project, and I would love to see pictures as you complete.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

 

 

Friday Flashback – Stumpwork – Free Download

Welcome back to another Friday Flashback, taking a great look at some of my classic collections.

This week I am focusing on the Stumpwork collection.

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This collection began because my next door neighbour at the time (Rhonda), has an incredible talent for creating beautiful hand embroidery. I would sit there watching her work these gorgeous stumpwork designs, thinking I wish I could do that, whilst at the same time knowing that I never would spend that much time on hand work.

I have very strong memories of sitting at my desk in early 2006, looking at a couple of classic stumpwork designs, and thinking of how I could re-create this for machine embroidery enthusiasts.

I finally came up with a way to create this type of stitching (only to see 11 years later that the major software companies are now including this feature with their software). Firstly we had to stitch the basic, flat part of the design.  From there, we would create an outline of where to place the thin flexible wire, tack it down with an open zig zag, and once it was secure, finish off with a beautiful satin stitch to completely cover the wire.  I could only think of a couple of designs to do in this particular method, so I also decided to incorporate the “fluffy” designs into this collection.

 

The first couple of designs I created in this method were the 4 Australiana designs. I began with the gum leaves, and remember having a lot of trouble finding the correct colours for gum leaves.  It’s not until you really take a long look at a gum leaf that you see the detail of the colours involved in leaves, I had to find a thread colour that was comprised of a little blue, green, silver all together for the design to really work.

Once the base was completed, I went on to create each individual leaf for the 3d effect, working on a base of organza and tear away.

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When it came to creating the gorgeous “fluffy” designs from the Banksia, Gum Flower, and Wattle, these designs involve a lot of stitching over and over, to give the fluffy effect. I changed the colours between layers to give extra dimension and colour.  To stop the threads from pulling out, you need to use a small amount of clear adhesive or fray stopper on the back of the design before cutting.  I then cut from the back of the design, and pulled the threads through to the front.

This was my first cover on Machine Embroidery Magazine. I carried that thing around for weeks, so thrilled at how the project had turned out.  My mother still has her copy of this issue that she shows to friends.

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I have had these designs framed (you really need a shadow box frame) to do these justice, and have had them hanging in my home for the past 11 years. The Australiana designs really are my favourites from this collection, however next in the line of my favourites would be the scotch thistle design.  My friend Rita (who is Scottish), asked me to make this one for her, and she still has it framed in her bathroom after all these years.

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You can download the free butterfly design from our freebie page, however as an extra treat, I am giving all of my newsletter readers the chance to download the Scotch Thistle Design as a freebie for the next week. You will find the Thistle Design HERE.

Thank you for taking this walk down memory lane with me.  Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

Thankful Thursday – Week 12

And finally, we are at the end of the Thankful Thursday collection.

This weeks design is now HERE, and can be downloaded for the next two weeks.

Savour life and all it’s magic.

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Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

Crusin’ Towards Toowoomba

I love a sunburnt country – Dorothea MacKellar (1908)

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of drought and flooding rains,
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me.

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Today has been a really long day in the car.

I began the day at 5am and have made my way up as far as Moree. The drive up is actually really interesting, and in some ways (definitely not all), I am sorry the kids and Edward are not with me to share the experience.

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The most frustrating part of the day must be my GPS. I got all the way go Gooloogong, where I was gold to turn right, and then I spent an hour driving in another direction, only to end up back at Goologong.  But other than that, the trip has been uneventful.

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I am not a huge advocate of Kindle Audible. I listened to an entire book today whilst I was driving up, and it keep me interested, and awake the entire day.

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Tomorrow I will make the last part of my journey to Toowoomba, ready to set up for the CraftAlive Toowoomba show. My car is overflowing with lovely treats and specials to share with stitchers from Queensland.

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If you are near Toowoomba this weekend, come and see us at the Clive Berghofer Recreation Centre.

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Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day. Julie.

Friday Flashback – includes Freebie Design

Welcome to a new segment that I am very happy to bring you. The Friday Flashback.

Each week I am going to show you one of my classic designs, letting you know the story behind the design, projects that I have made using the designs, and giving you a freebie.

This week, I am beginning with my first every design collection. The Snakes & Ladders Quilt Collection.

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This collection was the first thing I ever digitised for sale, and was created when Cameron was a baby, and I was pregnant with the girls. The only chair that was comfortable in the entire house was my office chair, and I was inspired to make something that the kids could roll around the floor on, whilst possibly doing a little learning at the same time.

I began with a picture of a snakes and ladders game, and began digitising. Remember that this was 12 years ago now, and the software available was a lot different and more basic than what we now have.

One of the things that I learnt as I created this collection was the way the stitch direction affects the fabric it is being stitched on. Many of the snakes are created with fill styles that wrap around the snake, and in some instances this really sucked in the fabric.  This taught me to use multiple layers of stabiliser (including one on the top for dense designs, and also the benefits of using a layer of wadding or pellum behind the design to give the design something to form over.

I personal have made 4 copies of this quilt. It is a fantastic gift for anyone having a child (I personally like to save it for the 2nd or 3rd birthday present).  Both my brother and sisters children have this quilt, as well as giving one to my sister-in-law for her children.  The quilt itself can be laid over the back of a couch when not being played with, and is great for snuggling under whilst watching TV in the middle of winter.

The Snakes & Ladders quilt collection was also the focus of the first article that I wrote for Machine Embroidery Magazine that used my own designs. I can still remember the sense of achievement of seeing the magazine come out.  Edward immediately went out and purchased a frame so that we could frame the issue, which is still in my office today.

Over the years many things have improved in the digitising world, and having said that, this quilt is still a sentimental favourite. I often receive pictures from people who have made the quilt, and a couple of sewing groups have created this quilt as a class project (great for this purpose, as because the designs are only 4×4”, they can be achieved with any machine).

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Sew Simple Phillip with their Snakes and Ladders Class quilt on display

 

Initially the freebie that was included with the snakes and ladders design was the dice, however when I moved over to my new website last year, it appears to have been left out. You can now access the free snakes and ladders dice HERE.

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I hope you have enjoyed this look at this classic collection.  If you are looking for a great gift for a young child, this could be the project for you.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ week.  Julie.

 

Embroidery on Weird Fabrics

Weird Fabric Wednesday – how to embroidery on straw placemats or hats.

Did you know that you can embroider on difficult fabrics, such as a straw hat or placemats?

It’s really quite easy. The trick is all in preparing the surface for embroidery.

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machine embroidery on placemat

I purchased these beautiful placemats from the reject shop ($10 for a set of 4, with 4 matching coasters). I fell in love with the placemats for a summer/spring outlook, and had to try them on my new collection – WreathsWreaths are a collection of 12 different Wreath blocks, showing off the best of summer/spring foliage.  Change the look of the designs just by using different threads, for an Autumn/Winter look.

You need to consider a couple of different road blocks when you are looking at embroidering on difficult fabrics. If you take into consider the following factors, your embroidery will turn out perfectly every time.

Hooping/Stabiliser

The first thing to realise is that you are not going to be able to hoop in a traditional manner. Even if the hat/placemat was not too thick to fit into the hoop, the hoop marks would destroy the weave on the straw.  Because of this, we need to look at alternatives.  The best alternative in this particular case is to use a sticky backed wash away stabiliser (such as WetAway Sticky).  This stabiliser is hooped, and then the item is placed on top of the stabiliser to adhere for embroidery.  There are many different types of sticky stabilisers out there on the market, however I love the WetAway Sticky for this application as it doesn’t “gum up” the needle, and the first time the placemats are washed/rinsed, all evidence of stabiliser will be removed from the back.

Speed Kills

Embroidery on this particular type of fabric/medium will take longer than normal embroidery. Turn the speed on your machine down to the LOWEST setting.  The stitches need to form over an uneven surface, and that can take extra time.  Using the lowest setting will allow the machine the opportunity to form the nicest stitch.

Presser Foot Height

A heavy fabric is another place that you will need to alter the presser foot height option on your machine. I find that I need to bring the height up to 2.5mm to fully make room for this thick fabric.

Thread

Think about how your item will be used. In this instance, my placemats are going to be used daily, probably washed weekly, and placed out in the sun to dry.  The best thread to use in this circumstance is Polyester.  The other joy of Polyester thread is it’s strength, and I find the strength a really great positive when I am stitching through a difficult fabric.

Needle

Keep it sharp. You need a really sharp needle to work its way through the layers of straw on these placemats or hats.  One of the many reasons I love the Organ PD needles is because of how long lasting they are.  I try and use an Organ PD needle that is near the end of it’s life.  This way it is still a sharp needle, that is incredibly strong, however I don’t feel bad about throwing it away after I finish the project.