These past few weeks, while everyone was sheltering in place due to Covid-19, lots of creative groups popped up on Facebook. I joined 2 of them that both provided free embroidery patterns and I have been enjoying working on these so much! Sometimes I do get questions about embroidery so today I thought I could share how I approach embroidery. I am by no means an expert embroiderer and there are plenty of tutorials out there, if you want to check them out, but these are my hints and tips :).
To transfer embroidery patterns from paper to fabric you have a couple of options. My favorite is to use my lightbox and a water soluble marker: You simply place your pattern on the light box, tape it down if necessary, and trace it with a pencil or water soluble marker (my favorite way).
If you don’t have a lightbox, you can use a sunny window just as well, or even an upside down glass dish with a lightsource underneath.
Another method that I used recently and really liked was to use these Sulky transfer pens.
With these, you simply trace over your pattern, lay the paper upside down on your fabric, iron it with a hot iron, and your design is there! The great thing about this is that you can do multiple transfers from that one tracing. You might wonder why you would need to do multiples…..well, let me explain: When you have a little bouncy puppy who has just learned to jump onto the sofa and likes to come bounding in after playing in the mud, you might need to restart your embroidery. True story. I have proof in the shape of a half finished embroidery which I tried to wash but the mud refused to budge. So I need a second transfer….
One thing to note when you use the transfer pen and you lay your pattern upside down on your fabric is that you are reversing your pattern. So musical notes and words and letters won’t work. But I added my words separately afterwards and it was no big deal. You could probably reverse your printout on your computer and then you would have no issues at all.
After I transfer my pattern, I am ready to start embroidering, but before I place my fabric in a hoop ( mine is plastic and not too big. I find too big of a hoop bothersome), I cut a thin piece of batting to go behind my fabric. This does 2 things for me: I love the way the fabric handles AND if I “travel” with my thread, it doesn’t show on the front of my work:
Onto embroidery thread: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Sulky Cotton Petites! I was introduced to these a while back when I took a Sulky seminar and I am a convert! One strand of this 12 wt thread is the same as 2 strands of regular embroidery floss. It comes on these great snap spools that hold your ends of thread in place so they don’t unravel, and because they are on a spool, they don’t tangle either. Win, win, win, and win….are those too many wins? I don’t care. I love this stuff. The only thing I have found is that the variegated thread runs. I have let the company know and hope they are able to fix that issue. You can see in my angel embroidery that the red and blue/green variegated ran. I was able to rinse a lot of it out, but we don’t want that problem! Interestingly, the solid red that I used on the cross and other places did not show one sign of bleeding, so the problem is definitely with the variegated.
I also wanted to share how I keep my supplies organized: I bought one of those plastic bins at Michaels and organized all my thread in there ( by color family~how geeky am I?!) Isn’t that a gorgeous sight? I know that you can buy organizers specifically for thread spools but I like the fact that these bins are 1) cheap, and 2) they hold my glasses, scissors, needles, as well as my hug light and my embroidery and pattern.
I haven’t talked about needles yet. I use needles labeled “embroidery” but you should just use any needle that is sharp and has an eye large enough to accommodate your floss.
And finally, I want to talk a little bit about the actual stitching. I use a backstitch, which is what most people probably use. Some people like to hold their needle sideways and take a couple of stitches at a time. I find I don’t get nice stitches that way so I use what I call the “stab and stitch” method. One stitch goes down into the fabric, needle comes back up and I take the next stitch. Slow and poky maybe, but nice results. I also make my stitches smaller when ” rounding” things. So in the flower petals and the rounded letters I will take smaller stitches than in the straight walls of the houses or the flower stems.
I made a little short video to show you how I stitch:
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I hope you have found this helpful! Don’t hesitate to ask if something isn’t clear~ I am always happy to help!
Until next time~ Stay safe and happy creating!