Posted on 8 Comments

Are you stable enough for machine embroidery?

Are you stable enough for machine embroidery?

Are you stable enough for machine embroidery? That’s the question my hubby put to me recently and while we weren’t necessarily talking about machine embroidery or even fabric art, in general, before I could think of a good comeback he quipped, “Don’t be too hasty in answering, ’cause you may be mistaken.”

We dined separately that night. He supped in utter solitude, choking down a three-cheese & mushroom omelet, atop a bed of fresh spinach leaves, with slices of avocado and tomato topped with hollandaise sauce, and a nice glass of Merlot, while I heartily enjoyed a PBJ, of my own creation, and a glass of milk, which I ended up “sharing” with my cat, when I turned my back for one lousy second. Anyway, that’ll teach him!

Still, his impertinent question stuck in my head like that peanut butter did the roof of my mouth, for after conversing with some of you out there I gotta ask, “Are you stable enough for machine embroidery?” I know. I get it. It shows through the front side. It’s too bulky. It’s too scratchy. It’s too stiff. It’s too much for my tu-tu. I’ve heard it all. I’ve said it all at one time or another. You may have even quoted me…or I you… when it comes to stabilizers. You’re welcome…and thank you.

But here’s the ugly truth: It’s almost impossible to be too stable for machine embroidery. Still, can you do it and still be stylish. I’d bet my hubby’s pink, plaid polyester short-sleeve shirt on it…unless you’d like to just take it off my hands, ’cause for thirty years I’ve not been able to get rid of it. It always finds its way home. Anyway, you’ve just gotta know a few tricks…to remain stable, that is.

If any of you have started out to sew my stuff – be it one of my free embroidery designs or something you purchased – with the motto, “I don’t need no stinkin’ stabilizer!”, then you, my friend, may have been mistaken…maybe…just possibly. Yes, I know who you are. I’ve read your emails and comments, which is why I’m writing you now to let you know that you too can be stable enough for machine embroidery, with no one being the wiser.

He is risen! Easter Banner
My Easter Banner project has all 3 stabilizers. It’s smooth like it should be.

There’s a lot of stabilizers out there, with each serving it’s own unique purpose. I wish I could tell you to go buy a bolt of such-n-such, perch it upon your stash for ready access, and you and your embroidery would be rock-solid stable. Sadly, that’s just not how it works, ’cause it seems for every which way there is, someone’s invented a stabilizer for sewing. Go figure. Now, it may be possible to have a competition to see who dies with the most stabilizer, but I don’t think it would be a particularly interesting race or nearly as much fun as one involving fabric. As such, I’ll throw out a few for you.

Too Lazy Pile of of Shame
Too Lazy Pile of of Shame – No ShirTailor. UGH!

If there’s stabilizer that’s saved my bacon more times than I can remember – and made me look good in the process – it’s ShirTailor. It won’t solve all your stability issues – sewing or otherwise – but it’s a good stabilizer to keep on hand for machine embroidery projects.

I first encountered ShirTailor years ago when I finally relented to my hubby’s request for some hand-tailored dress shirts. The stuff does a beautiful job of keeping the shape of cuffs and collars. I found the more stable ShirTailor makes a better project. Sadly, he reneged on his promise to part with his beloved pink, plaid polyester short-sleeve shirt and I vowed not to stitch another cuff or collar while that thing lived. At least he keeps it hidden from sight in the dark recesses of his closet, like the little troll that it is. He keeps threatening that it will be in style again, one day. Yeah, right.

Our Whole Life Banner Series - Grandchildren
Our Whole Life Banner Series – Grandchildren

I’m partial to the fusible ShirTailor, because once I’ve ironed it to the back of my fabric I can be half asleep at the embroidery machine and I’m pretty much golden, so long as I start with a new needle and a bit more as you’ll read below. I’ve tried going ShirTailor-less on occasion only to discover I’d sacrificed my precious fabric, threads and time to another article on the “too lazy pile of shame”. See that picture up there?

While it’s possible to steam and iron out most of the puckering from my lapse of judgment, I know from that point on the project will always be one of my “unruly children” in need of perpetual supervision, lest it embarrass me publicly, for which it may one day rue the day. It’s simply true what they say, You’ve got to get ’em ironed out and stable early on if you ever want to take ’em out in public. Regrettably, it’s a lesson I learned too late with my hubby. Fortunately for him, I have bad taste in men – no wait, that’s not true!

Sadly, you can’t get all this kind of wonderful without a little more help. You know what I mean? In the case of these banner projects two additional “stabilizers” were the extra oomph I needed to get the their winner’s circle finish.

After the ShirTailor got fused to the back of the fabric, I followed up with a layer of Quilter’s Dream 80/20 Fusible batting. Techinically, QD is not a stabilizer and actually contributes to the push & pull of the fabric within the hoop. However, because QD adds loft to those parts of the fabric that aren’t otherwise stitched down, it gives the finished project a taunt, smooth look, just like that face lift you promised yourself on your fiftieth.

Of course, if your thing is embroidering clothes, unless you’re embellishing a lined jacket or hat, quilt batting isn’t going to be part of your project. On the other hand, if you’re embellishing pillows, shams, quilts and wall hanging, you want to consider adding Quilter’s Dream Fusible batting to your arsenal.

Finally, because three seems to be a magical number, the third stabilizer I typically use is a layer of soft tear-away on the bottom under the Quilter’s Dream or, if you’re making a wearable project, then under the ShirTailor. Once the project is secured in the hoop, the tear-away stabilizer minimizes the push & pull of the fabric and any batting you might use. Of course, once your project is sewn, you removed the tear-away from around the design and all you’re left with is ShirTailor and batting or just ShirTailor. It’s not necessary to remove all the tiny areas of tear away because it is not going to show through the front anyway.

Our Whole Life Banner Series – All 3 stabilizers and it’s perfectly smooth

The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that you don’t get to this level of beautiful without adding a few extra layers to the base. Sorry ladies but we all know it’s true. Same goes for machine embroidery.

I think perhaps I’ve said enough. At least for today, as we’ve all got more important things to do. Cooking? Heavens no! That’s what TV dinners are for. Still, I’ll leave you with one thought. Before you embark on that next great project or you simply want to road test some of those free embroidery designs you’ve been adding to your stash, do yourself a favor and test your stabilizers. If not my approach, then experiment with your own. Don’t just go blithefully into the night singing, “I don’t need no stinkin’ stabilizer.” We all need a little stablizer(-ing) now and then.

Everyone can use a bit of stabilizer(-ing) now and then.
Everyone can use a bit of stabilizer(-ing) now and then.

P.S. Check back soon for my next new embroidery design release.

Written by Albert W. Waterfield (because my writing skills are not nearly as creative as his)
Edited by Laura M. Waterfield




Posted on 2 Comments

Bad Girls II – Variegated Threads in the Real World

Monogram Potpourri No. 3 with monogram

Flying Geese, Flying Geese Circles, Variegated threads sample

Circle Geese and Mariner’s Compass Using Two Different Variegated ThreadsI was asked for examples of designs that do well with variegated threads. That inquiry inspired this post.

Generally, any Quiltering (quilting), Redwork, or Bluework designs work well with variegated threads as shown above with the Circle Geese around the Mariner’s Compass. It’s when you get into satin stitches and solid fills that variegated threads become problematic, as these bad girls show their unpredictability.

Summer’s Gold Quiltering Designs came out beautifully with this orange => yellow variegated thread. If you’re into quilting (or quiltering as I’ve come to think of it when using an embroidery machine), the variegated thread can add a new dimension to your project.

Sunflowers, Machine Embroidery, Variegated threads, floral
Summer’s Gold Quiltering Designs in Variegated Threads

Some variegated threads do okay with satin stitches as shown below. However, most variegated threads  stripe when used with satin stitches. I got lucky with this dark to light green variegated used to stitch the leaves. The rule of thumb in using variegated with stain stitches is test sew, before committing to your project. I know that sound pretty straight forward but I have a rainbow of Post-its littering my sewing room to remind me of that very thing.

I used variegated green in all of the Monogram Potpourri designs but because the leaves are so small it worked out perfectly in creating the illusion of varying light upon my leaves.

Monogram Potpourri No. 3 with monogram - Close Up
The inset image shows how the variegated thread “shows off its light.” – Monogram Potpourri No. 3 with monogram – Close Up

Although this Hardanger Squared design has a lot of satin stitches it did well with this particular multi-colored variegated, principally because the colors in the thread has short segments, allowing for a higher rate color turnover through satin stitch sequences.

Hardanger, Variegated thread, Hardanger Square, Machine Embroidery, Hardanger Machine Embroidery
Hardanger Squared – Hardanger Machine Embroidery – in Variegated Thread of Purples, Greens & Blues

Using the same variegated thread for the satin stitches, as shown above, this Illusions design below looks good – interesting even – but at the cost of losing some of it’s illusionary effect. As a consequence, I’ve put it in my What If pile, with a note to try sewing it with an ombre thread, just to see how how the thread shading affects the illusionary effects of the design

Illusions, Machine Embroidery, Variegated threads
Illusions Machine Embroidery in Variegated Threads

These two designs are from our Nutz N Boltz collection and these all look great with variegated threads

NutzNBoltz, machine embroidery, optical illusions, small motifs, variegated thread
Nutz N Boltz in Variegated Threads
NutzNBoltz, machine embroidery, optical illusions, small motifs, variegated thread
Nutz N Boltz in Variegated Threads

 

As you can see, variegated threads are a mystery as to how they will turn out when going from one design to another. That’s why is is important to test sew them in various  stitch forms to see how they are going to show up when sewn onto your particular project. That’s where my Thread Sampler Designs come in.

My Thread Sampler Designs  will simplify your variegated thread life.  They are for hoop sizes 4 inch to 8×11 inches. These are easy to sew reference sheets for yourself of your variegated thread stash. They will help you determine which threads best fit your project before sewing it. It takes a lot of the guess work out. You’ll be glad you went through the exercise making Thread Samplers.

Simplify your Variegated Thread life

Learn more about the Thread Sampler Designs

To purchase Thread Sampler Designs Only $1.49 for all hoop sizes

If you’ve come up with a project and thread combination that knocks your socks off, I hope you’ll share.

 



Posted on 2 Comments

Sewing Machine LED Lighting

I wish I had her hair.

What a godsend! The addition of these lights is an amazing addition to your machine and sewing pleasure. To experience it is to believe it!

If your machine doesn’t have LED lights under the head  or not enough of them, you can easily add them with this kit. I endorse this product because I have it and it has greatly improved my visual acuity while sewing. I can clearly see what is going on on the right side of the needle.

As I have gotten older I found it more and more difficult to see clearly what I was sewing under the head of the machine. My hubby purchased one of these kits for me.

Continue reading Sewing Machine LED Lighting

Posted on Leave a comment

Queen of New York – My 26-Inch New York Beauty Dress Project

I saw a red dress on-line this style with a huge Mandela printed on it. “What a great idea”, I thought.

At 26 inches across, the New York Beauty design was the natural choice – a generally round design and made the HNQ (Hoop N’ Quilt) method – it couldn’t be simpler or less risky to put onto my dress.

So, I went about zig zag sewing the NY Beauty pieces together creating this great big appliqué. I was afraid the extra fabric associated with an appliqué this large would be too heavy on the side of this light weight cotton gauze dress. Using wss (water-soluble stabilizer), the appliqué turned out not to be so heavy after all and draped nicely.

Working from my ironing board I pinned, and then hand-basted the appliqué to the dress, working from the center of the design out towards the points.

Continue reading Queen of New York – My 26-Inch New York Beauty Dress Project