Fringe Puff In Action

Machine Embroidery Fringe Using Water-Soluble Thread Method

When I purchased my first spool of  water soluble thread I had already been tinkering with how to make fringe, using my embroidery machine. However, loading the water-soluble onto my bobbin really kicked it up a notch and from that came the machine embroidery Fringe Puff designs.

There are a few things you might want to avoid should as you improv your way through your own Fringe Puff art project.

First, I don’t recommend sewing my fringe designs directly onto any knit fabrics. Seems that when you release the fringe loops all the needle penetrations in the knit continue showing! There is a better way to deal with knit fabrics, which I’ll show you in a moment.

Second, my fringe designs are completely inappropriate on anything that will be worn or otherwise regularly accessible to unsupervised infants, toddlers or cats. While I have sequenced my designs to be as durable as possible, even steel eventually yields to irresistible forces. Sadly those three previously stated irresistible forces will, with time, unravel my designs as they suck, chew and tug on the delicate fringe. Now that you’ve been sufficiently warned, it’s time to try stitching your own Fringe Puff project at home. Key the music, please.

As you might have noted with the picture of the t-shirts, my Fringe Puffs are right cute when sewn and arranged in multiple colors. The same is true with Fringe Puff arrangements in all the same color, as well as, tone on tone projects. I embellished simple t-shirts, but you can make a whole variety of arrangements onto just about anything – just as long as you keep them away from small kids and cats of all sizes.

Fringe Puffs is a single design in three separate machine embroidery files.

  1. Use Design file name TONF01 to sew a single Fringe Puff, to create a single boutonnière or round out a pile of puffs for your project.
  2. File name TONF02 is an arrangement of 16 Fringe Puffs (inside a 4×4 hoop), should you opt for an entire orchestra of thread art music.
  3. Finally, file name TONF3 is an arrangement of a Fringe Puff Flower Head. With this latter design file, you will want to pay close attention should you want to stitch the flower, as it requires a slight change in procedure.

What’s more, should you decide your Fringe Puff project require stems for its flower heads, you many use either decorative stitches or purchased trim for the stems and vines to use with these fun designs.

Sew these designs onto two layers of water-soluble stabilizer. No fabric required!  You can of course sew these directly on the fabric, if you want – unless that fabric is knit.

  • Use water-soluble thread in the bobbin for color #1.
  • Use regular bobbin thread in the bobbin for color #2.

Use poly, rayons, cottons, metallics, variegated, etc embroidery threads in the top of the machine.

Loosen or tighten the top thread tension of your machine just a little, so the top thread will wrap around to the backside some – just not too much, as this gives a bit more length to your fringe. Yours should look similar to the illustration shown. This is the backside of the embroidery. Here I use black bobbin thread because I want to sew these onto something black. The white bobbin thread is water-soluble thread. The darker gray thread is embroidery thread. The lighter gray is the water-soluble stabilizer.

    1. Color 1 – Sews the fringe – use water soluble thread in the bobbin (If you use regular bobbin thread for Color #1, use a contrasting color to the bobbin thread than you will use for color #2).
    2. Once sewn, clip thread jumps on the front side.
    3. Color 2 – Sews the tack down to the fringe – use regular bobbin thread.
    4. Clip thread jumps on the front and backsides
    5. Cut these out out the water soluble stabilizer in little squares outside each fringe puff.

It is easier to sew these onto your project before the water soluble stabilizer is washed out

6. Once these designs are sewn onto the garment, put it in the sink to soak out the water-soluble thread and stabilizer.

Note: You will need to soak them in fresh water two to three times. I prefer to let them soak all night to get all of the water-soluble out from under all of those stitches

If sewing them onto garments, place a medium size rotary cutter mat or piece of cardboard inside the shirt or beneath the project.

Pin the individual puffs on using  straight pins at least 1 1/16thinches (2.7cm) in length, in order to catch both sides of the fringe puff.

Pin into the center open area only, creating a bridge to hold the puff in place.

Note: If you are sewing your Fringe Puffs onto knit fabrics, don’t forget to use ballpoint pins and needles.

I do not recommend sewing my fringe designs directly onto knit fabrics with your embroidery machine, because when the fringe loops are released the needle penetrations continue to show. Better to stitch as instructed above then stitch your finished puffs to the knit fabric.

Shown here sewing them on after the water soluble stabilizer has been washed out. But remember they are easier to sew onto the project before the water soluble stabilizer has been washed out.

Stitch them using free-motion stitching. Lower or cover the feed dogs, use a free-motion foot (I use my regular embroidery foot) and a straight stitch. Use the same color thread as the fringe puff. Move the fabric around to sew each one on. There is no need to turn the garment around with each one. Stitch around the outside edge of the center satin stitch two times. Unless there is a problem, keep each pin in place until you have sewn around it at least once. Cut the threads after sewing each one.

  • Note: If you are uncomfortable doing this on your garment, practice first by sewing some fringe puffs onto a scrap of similar fabric.
  • Hint: Articles with these designs stitched on will do best if washed and dried turned inside out.
  • Hint: If you sew these onto white natural fabric, use polyester or other colorfast threads in the top of the machine. White fabrics turn yellow over time. If you use colorfast threads they will not fade if you need to bleach the fabric.

In the illustrations shown, I use decorative trims for the flower stems. Depending on the trim you choose, stitch the trim on before sewing the fringe puffs. Do this with a straight or zigzag stitch using a thread that matches the color of the trim. The ends of the trims can be turned under and stitched down, knotted, fray checked, or any number of finishes that you desire.

See examples of my trims below.

“The most effective way to do it is just do it.” – Amelia Earhart

See my other fringe designs made without water-soluble thread.

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Laura Waterfield

If you have any words of wisdom to add, please email me. I am always open to learning new ideas and better ways to sew.

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Copyright © Laura M. Waterfield 2017