Nan's Nappies

Monday, June 18, 2012

How My Machine Embroidery Is Done

I really didn't have a clue as to how to do machine embroidery and applique' when I got my machine.  I knew you used a computerized sewing machine, bought some designs, and hooped the material.  But I really knew nothing else.  I just knew that I loved the results I had seen.

I purchased my machine and took lessons.  Then I started embroidering.  I thought my first attempts were wonderful but experience certainly helps and I'm still learning.  As with so many things, the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know.  Technique varies according to what is being embroidered but I've show the basic steps in this post.

In addition to purchasing the machine, I purchased threads.  I now own almost 100 colors and always see more that I want.  Then I needed several different types of stabilizer and many designs!  I've lost count of the designs I own and am always buying more.  I would estimate that I now have at least 500 designs and maybe more.  And then there was another big purchase, software.  I have a program that allows me to change the colors, size, shape, and eventually digitize some of my own designs.  I can then put everything together as the customer has requested, make it into a jpeg image and e-mail it to the customer to see if they like the design before I stitch it.

I just finished some cute towels for a client.  She owns her own basket making business and also teaches classes.  She gave me her business card so I could see her logo.  I searched for basket designs for her and she chose one.  I then added her logo.  She ordered towels and had them sent to me. She wanted some with her logo and some without to give as gifts to fellow basket weavers. Let me show you step by step how I embroidered her towels.

The first thing I do with almost all items is wash them.  Towels are usually 100% cotton so there can be some shrinkage.  Then I mark the towels to show exactly where I want the embroidery to be placed.  Then pen I use is temporary and will disappear when sprayed with water or if just left alone for several days.  

 Next, I turn the towels over and spray them with some temporary adhesive and place a piece of stabilizer on the back.  For these towels I chose a stabilizer which will tear away easily and the remainder will wash away.

 Now I'm ready to place the towels in the hoop.  I was able to use a medium size hoop for this design. 

 I have to be very careful to get the towel into the hoop so the design will be straight.

After I get it into the hoop, I lay a grid on top to check my marks and be sure the towels  are straight.

With towels or any material with a deep pile, I apply another stabilizer on top of the towel.  This allows the stitches to lay on top of the pile.  This stabilizer dissolves totally when wet.

 When the design was chosen, I used the software to match the colors with threads colors that I own.  This particular design uses 11 different colors so I line them up in the order in which they will be used.

 Now it's time to attach the hoop to my machine.

 The machine stops after each thread color is completed and I then change threads.  In the above picture, it is stitching with the third thread color.

 Thread #4

 Thread #5

 Thread #6  Some threads stitch for 6 minutes in this design, others stitch for 1 minute.

 Each thread starts to add dimension, detail and depth to the design.

 Thread #7

 Periodically I stop and cut threads.  I call them connector threads.  As the machine moves from one area to the next, it just draws the thread with it.  You don't want all of those connector threads on top of the design.

 Thread #8 , the roses.

 Thread #9, the  outlines of the roses.

 Thread # 10 is the petal of the black eyed susan, and thread #11 is the center of those flowers. It takes 33 minutes of actual stitching to complete the
15, 609 stitches in the design.  With thread changes and some trimming it will take around 1 hour to complete this towel.

 I remove the towel from the hoop and look at the back.  There are many threads to trim.  I have tiny little scissors with sharp points to get under those threads.

I also look at the front and trim any remaining threads. Now it's time to put the towels back into the washer.  When they are wet, I turn them over to the back to see if any more stabilizer needs to be removed.  To me, it is easier to remove it when it is wet.

Here are the finished towels.  The thread will retain it's pretty color through many, many washings.  They can even be bleached without taking the color out of the thread.

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