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Freestanding Machine Embroidery

Freestanding Machine Embroidery

These Popular Designs Offer Creative Opportunities to Embroiderers

Freestanding machine embroidery designs have been cleverly created to give lacy openwork patterns that do not require fabric and can be used in a variety of ways.

Freestanding machine embroidery patterns, (also known as freestanding lace) offer the machine embroiderer the opportunity to get especially creative. As well as providing beautiful lacy patterns and designs, which can be used to create luxury lace edgings or inserts, free-standing lace designs will work well if embroidered onto water-soluble stabilizer without fabric. When the designs are finished, the light lace pattern allows light to shine through the open work, making this a useful adornment for a variety of projects.

Freestanding machine embroidery patterns have been cleverly created so that the stitches overlock and hold together. This is extremely important as this ensures that when the lace design is worked on the water-soluble stabilizer, the stitching does not unravel.

The designs are stitched out in the hoop and then gently soaked in warm water until the water-soluble stabilizer dissolves and starts to disappear. This might entail a little gentle scrubbing to remove any residual stabilizer. The design should be laid flat to dry. If it curls slightly after drying, then it will benefit from lightly ironing (iron on the rear side and use steam if necessary).

Using Free Standing Embroidery Designs

There are many freestanding lace designs available, and these can be used to make doilies and coasters, lace tray covers and also large items such as tablecloths. Small motifs can be used for jewelry. Delicate lace designs can make a striking collar.

Freestanding lace can also be used for ‘in the hoop’ projects. An ‘in the hoop’ project is a project which is entirely stitches within the hoop of an embroidery machine. These often include little lace boxes, bowls, bookmarks and even purses. These are great projects for making something a little special and for exploring in more detail the opportunities that your embroidery machine brings.

Seasonal Decorations

Freestanding machine embroidery patterns can also be used to make interesting seasonal decorations. These include Valentine hearts, Easter bunnies and eggs, Halloween pumpkins and ghosts, and of course Christmas decorations. These patterns are stitched out in the hoop, and then when the water-soluble stabilizer has been removed, they are ready to hang and enjoy.

Where to Buy

There are many designs available. Some designers offer some free designs to allow you to try this technique before purchasing designs.

  • – Wide variety of designs including lace bowls
  • – Freestanding lace and crochet designs (including free crochet design and tutorial)
  • – Lots of designs including doilies

Have fun and experiment with freestanding lace. It brings a new dimension to your embroidery and allows plenty of scope for further creativity.

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All About Monogramming

All About Monogramming

A Look at the Classic Way to Personalize Just About Anything

The art of monogramming has been around for centuries, and today’s use is as much about personal expression as it is about identification.

It is a popular design element for wedding decorations, for personal stationary, and for jazzing up plain towels. It can be super traditional or have a little modern edge. Its design possibilities and potential use are limited only by your imagination. It is the monogram, and it is all yours. Here’s a look at facts and tidbits about your favorite way to personalize items.

History of Monogramming

Merriam-Webster defines a monogram as “a sign of identity usually formed of the combined initials of a name.” This basic definition lends itself to the original purpose of a monogram. What started as a strictly practical way of identifying personal belongings, monogramming has seen surges in popularity throughout the years. Check out these notable points in monogramming history:

  • Greeks and Romans used monograms to identify rulers on their coins.
  • In the Middle Ages, artists and artisans adapted the monogram as a way to sign and identify their work.
  • During the Victorian Period, high-class folks used monograms liberally as a way to symbolize their place in society.
  • Who can forget Laverne of the hit television show Laverne & Shirley, who proudly displayed her single-letter monogram on her shirts and sweaters?
  • In recent years, the trend has resurfaced not only on Laverne-style sweaters, but also with three-letter monograms on bags, personal stationary, and baby items.

Monogramming Etiquette

With the swelling popularity of using monograms and the special cases that arise when combining names, traditional monogramming etiquette is not quite as prevalent or required, today as it has been in the past. However, it can be helpful to keep in mind certain rules of monogramming before applying, or creating, your own.

  • The most common format is three letters representing the first, last, and middle names. The last name initial goes in the center and is in larger type. For example, the monogram for Sara Ellen Taylor would read: S T E.
  • For monograms printed in order of first, middle, and last name, the initials should be printed in the same size like this: SET.
  • Married monograms usually include the wife’s first name, the married last name, then the husband’s first name. So, if Sara Ellen Taylor marries Jeremy Luke Bryant, the monogram would look like this: S B J
  • Sara could also use her own married monogram incorporating her maiden name and new last name: S B T

Of course, these are just examples of traditional monogramming techniques. Many circumstances today require other monogramming formats, which is part of the fun. You get to create a look that is uniquely yours.

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Simple Cross Stitch Gifts to Stitch

Simple Cross Stitch Gifts to Stitch

Simple and Low-Cost Stitching Projects for Giving

You don’t have to spend months stitching a gift for someone. Here are some suggestions for cross stitching a gift when you get an unexpected announcement.

Spring is the time of year when it’s common to find an unexpected graduation announcement, First Communion invitation or other special event notice in your mailbox. If you’re strapped for money or don’t have time to shop or make an elaborate gift, this can easily send you into a panic mode. However, if you’re a cross-stitcher, you can usually create a special homemade gift in time for the special spring occasion.

Stitching Bookmarks

Bookmarks are probably the easiest and quickest gifts you can make.

You can either make your own fabric by cutting it the size of a bookmark or buy an Aida (or linen) fabric bookmark ready to stitch. If you don’t live near a needlework shop, there are scores of free designs online you can find just by searching.

Keep your design simple because you have limited usable space and don’t want to cram too much into a small area. Again, your design can be as simple as the initials of a school or the person to whom you’re giving it. If it’s a religious gift (such as a First Communion), a simple cross is an excellent choice.

Stitch from the center of the design to make sure you don’t run out of a room, making sure your stitches are neat. Also, keep the back tidy and trimmed, as a bookmark is visible on both sides.

Photo-to-Chart Designs

If you don’t already have cross-stitch photo-to-chart software, it’s well worth the investment. Besides designing your own cross stitch patterns, you can convert any picture into a chart. The software pays for itself after you’ve used it countless times to make your own patterns.

Stitching Ideas for Graduation Gifts

  • School initials – It’s great to stitch an elaborate design of your favorite niece’s college logo, but that takes time. Instead, find something much simpler. For example, what are the initials of her school? If she went to the University of Texas, search online for an image of an orange “UT.” Then convert the picture into a pattern with your photo-to-chart software.
  • School mascot – Almost as simple as designing and stitching the letters “UT” is designing and stitching an orange Longhorn. Searching on Google will lead you to the familiar orange UT Longhorn. You can finish in less than a weekend.
  • Keep it Simple – Don’t design a chart any larger than about 3” x 5”. Also, limit your floss colors to a bare minimum. This eliminates the need for shopping. With all the shades of orange, you probably have a color in your stash that will work without having to go shopping. And, since the fabric isn’t large, chances are you have some Aida or Linen already at home.

Finishing Your Cross Stitch Piece

When framing your finished cross stitch, keep it simple. Rather than using a regular frame, explore other alternatives that are cheaper, as well as quick.

  • Embroidery hoop – Use the hoop you used to stitch as a frame. To add a decorative touch, just paste some trim around the hook. Or you could paint the hoop a color to coordinate with the design.
  • Crochet finishing – Single crochet around the edges. If you’ve cut your own bookmark from fabric, this is an excellent way to finish it off.

Besides saving money, you’ll bless your receiver, as most people love to receive homemade gifts. Not only are you offering a gift, but you’re also giving an heirloom that will be treasured for years to come.

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Cross Stitching Techniques

Cross Stitching Techniques

How to Stitch Using Different Tools and Methods

While some cross-stitchers prefer to use an embroidery stretcher frame or hoop, others use nothing. To find out what goes well for you, try different tools and methods.

The tools and methods being used to cross stitching are different. Remember this; what works for one stitcher, may not work for another one.

Stitching Methods

Stabbing method – Used frequently by beginners. The stabbing method is done by stabbing the needle in front of the cross stitch fabric and then pulling it through the different side, working in a row of half-stitches (/////), and then back (\\\\\\) to complete your Xs. If you prefer this method, it’s best to use a frame or hoop. Also, the stabbing method is a good choice when working vertical rows of stitchers.

Sewing method – The sewing method is only making each completed X at a time. It’s a better alternative if your colors are scattered. If you prefer to not to use a hoop or any other device that secures your fabric, then the stitching method works well. But if you’re a new stitcher, then it’s best not to use this way to stitch as the fabric can be twisted by the altering movement of your hands. An advantage is that you’re able to sew at a somewhat faster rate than the stabbing method.

Regardless of which approach you select, just always keep your Xs in the same direction. This means that the top thread of the X should slant in the similar direction, whether it’s (/) or (\). Lay your stitches as flat as tin soldiers so they will not appear distorted.

Hoop or Stretcher Frame?

That depends on what you’re stitching as well as what best suits you. There are various options which include hoops, embroider stretcher frames and Q-Snaps.

  • Embroidery Hoops – Hoops are advised when doing most other forms of embroidery to maintain an even tension in your stitches. But, for stitching on Aida fabric, it’s not advisable because it can be hard to remove hoop marks. If you use a hoop, don’t hold the tension too tight, remembering to remove it before when you finish a stitching session. When you are working with linen, the lines come out easily when your fabric is stretched.
  • Stretching Frames – These come in an assortment of lengths and widths. Buy stretcher bars about an inch (or smaller) than your fabric size, leaving you to attach fabric to the outer support of the stretcher bars. When using stretcher frames, be sure to keep a uniform tension while sewing.
  • Q-Snaps – Most stitchers prefer this. Q-Snaps are plastic clamps that snap synchronically around your fabric creating a frame for stitching. They come in an assortment of sizes that you can mix and match. To secure extra cloth that can get in the way while stitcher, a hair clam works well.

Stitching using Hand

Many stitchers prefer to stitch holding their fabric “in hand”, not to using any hoop or stretcher frame. Most often, sewing in hand is preferred when stitching on linen.

Hold your cloth (with the right side on the inner side) to get to your stitching space. This protects the rolled edges from blemishes while stitching.

Stitching in hand is a great method if you have right tension. However, if you notice your stitches are puckering the fabric, then perhaps some kind of frame, hoop, or scroll rods would be better. Also, if you see your stitchers are opening up “holes” at the corners, it’s better to use a stretcher frame or hoop.

Experiment with all of these materials and methods to find out what works well for you. After all, cross stitching is a hobby that’s meant to relax yourself, so you need to be as comfortable as possible.

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Finding a Cross Stitch Pattern

Finding a Cross Stitch Pattern

Tips for Finding and Selecting Stitching Designs

Cross stitching is a popular hobby where much time is spent looking for patterns. Here are some tips for finding and selecting charts.

Along with stitching, selecting cross stitch patterns is a major part of cross stitching. When you first start stitching, it can be confusing if you don’t know how to choose a pattern that best suits your skills and interests.

Types of Cross Stitch Patterns

There are two basic kinds of cross stitch patterns or charts.

  • Stamped patterns – Stamped cross stitch patterns are ideal for beginning stitchers as there is no counting. Stitchers simply stitch over x/s, pre-stamped on fabric. Along with a stamped fabric, thread and instructions are included within a kit. Besides being easy to do, stamped cross stitch patterns use fewer colors than counted cross-stitch, as much of the design, such as background is already painted onto the fabric. Another advantage is you don’t need to a chart to know where to place stitches. Because everything is laid out and all you need to do is stitch over the x’s, mistakes are fewer, if at all. On the downside, it’s not as clear to determine which colors match because different shades can look almost identical. What’s more, it can be boring if you like more of a challenge.
  • Counted cross stitch patterns – Just as its name, counted cross stitch patterns are made by counting. Also easy, but somewhat more difficult than stamped cross stitching, counted cross stitch patterns are done on blank fabric. Using a chart (pattern) you count squares on an evenweave fabric, such as Aida or linen, to place stitches. Patterns can be simple, on one page or divided into several pages. Most stitchers prefer counted cross stitching because of the uniform look of the finished project. However, to work a counted cross stitch correctly, it’s imperative to miscount, as a mistake can throw off the entire project and then you’ll have to rip out and re-stitch.

Kits vs. Designs

Cross stitch kits come with complete cross-stitch materials such as chart, thread, fabric, and needle, as well as instructions. A disadvantage is that you’re stuck with the fabric in the kit. Also, sometimes there isn’t enough thread to allow for ripping because of mistakes. So, if you run out of thread, you’ll have to replace it.On the other hand, designs give you the liberty to select your fabric and floss. However, sometimes it’s hard to find all the floss you need.

Where to Find Patterns

Craft and needlework stores – Craft stores such as Joanne Fabrics, Michaels, AC Moore, and Hobby Lobby carry both kits and charts, as well as needed cross stitch supplies, including floss, needles and stitching aides. Some stores also have cross stitch books filled with designs and samplers.

Library books – Most libraries have cross stitch books with designs that you can easily reproduce on a copier machine.

Online cross stitch sites– Using your favorite search engine, search for patterns. An excellent source is one such as where you can join and print out models, ranging from simple to large designs.

Photo-to-chart software – By taking any photo you can convert a picture into a cross stitch design, using cross stitch photo-to-chart software such as Pattern Maker.

Finally, the internet provides numerous cross stitch message boards. One of the most significant advantages of engaging in cross stitch message boards is getting to know other stitchers. It’s here where stitchers can trade patterns, as well as find sources for patterns. What’s more, they gain helpful tips for stitching, as well as make cyber stitching friends worldwide.

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Machine Embroidery Tips

Machine Embroidery Tips

Design Considerations, Stabilizer Choices, and Hooping Techniques

With the right hooping and stabilizing techniques and the right design choice for a particular fabric, even a novice can achieve professional embroidery results.

Although machine embroidery appears fairly straightforward – the machine does most of the work – it is important to realize that proper hooping and stabilizing, and proper design choice are necessary to achieve professional-looking results on any fabric.

Choosing the Right Design for the Fabric and Project

Many embroiderers forget that some designs work better than others on certain types of fabric. This can be particularly troublesome when doing custom embroidery for a client who has a specific idea in mind. Still, choosing an appropriate design for the fabric and application can make a huge difference in the quality of the finished project.

As a general rule, lighter-weight fabrics and fabrics that need to drape require lighter, more open designs to avoid drooping and puckering. Fabrics with a high nap, like thick towels, require more dense designs so that the stitches don’t get lost in the fabric. Sturdier fabrics and projects that don’t require the fabric to drape offer more flexibility about design choice.

Uses for Different Types of Stabilizer

The many varieties of stabilizer can be intimidating at first, but each has a purpose. Weaker fabrics require a sturdier stabilizer.

  • The lightweight water soluble stabilizer is used as a “topper” on fleece, terry, and other high-nap fabrics. The water-soluble topper helps the stitches sit easily on top of the nap and keeps individual threads and loops from poking through the embroidery.
  • The heavyweight water soluble stabilizer is used for freestanding lace, translucent fabrics (like organza), and projects where the back of the embroidery will also be visible. In these cases, it is essential that no stabilizer show at all.
  • Tearaway stabilizer is available in light, medium, and heavyweights. Tearaway also comes in wet and stick and peel and stick varieties. Woven fabrics with a light, open designs work well with tearaway stabilizer. Sticky stabilizers are good for very thick fabrics that are hard to hoop. When using a sticky stabilizer, it is important to clean the needle with alcohol if it starts to get sticky while sewing.
  • Cutaway stabilizer comes in light, medium, and heavy weights as well as fusible (iron-on) varieties. Cutaway stabilizers are good for knit fabrics like stretchy t-shirts, thin fabrics or fabrics with a loose weave, and for more dense designs on woven fabrics. Cutaway stabilizer is very sturdy and helps the design keep its shape even through repeated washing and use.

Proper Hooping Technique

Hooping the fabric properly may be one of the hardest skills for new embroiderers to master. Many embroiderers like to hoop sticky stabilizer and then adhere the fabric to the stabilizer without actually hooping the fabric. This is a shortcut and in some cases (very thick fabrics that can’t be hooped) it is necessary, but for the best results, fabric and stabilizer should be hooped together.

Even on low-end home embroidery machines, the needle may puncture the fabric ten times per second or more. This causes tremendous strain on the fabric and may lead to the fabric shifting or stretching during embroidery. When the stabilizer and fabric are hooped together, stretching and shifting are minimized and all stitches land where they are supposed to.

Ironically, thicker fabrics like bath towels and sweatshirts are the most difficult to hoop, but these same fabrics need to be hooped the most. When using a sticky stabilizer on very thick fabric, the bottom of the fabric will be held in place by the stabilizer, but the top of the fabric may still shift causing parts of the design not to line up properly.

For the best results on most fabrics, use a sticky stabilizer, a fusible stabilizer, or spray the stabilizer with temporary adhesive and attach to the fabric. Open the top hoop wide enough to accommodate the fabric and stabilizer together. Place the bottom hoop on a non-slip surface (rubber shelf liner is inexpensive and works well for this purpose). Place the fabric/stabilizer combo on top of the bottom hoop. Place the top hoop on top and slide the fabric as necessary to align the horizontal and vertical axes with the hoop. Firmly press the top hoop into place without stretching the fabric. Tighten the top hoop as much as possible. The fabric should be taut and sound like a drum when thumped. Never try to stretch or shift the fabric after it is hooped. If there are loose spots, remove the top hoop and start over.

For slippery fabrics like nylon, place small strips of rubber shelf liner or double-sided tape around the sides (not the corners) of the bottom hoop before hooping the fabric. This will keep the fabric from slipping during embroidery.

Choosing the Right Needle for the Fabric

Using the right needle is almost as important as using the right stabilizer. For most fabrics, a medium-sized (75/11 or 90/14) embroidery, universal, or sharp needle will work well. More delicate fabrics require a smaller needle. For stretchy fabrics, always use a ball-point needle to avoid runs in the fabric around the design. For specialty applications like leather and denim, use a special needle that is designed for that purpose. There are also special needles for thicker threads and metallic threads that will minimize thread breakage and shredding.

Embroidery is a wonderful way to personalize just about anything and can be a most rewarding hobby. Mastering techniques like proper hooping and stabilizing, knowing the characteristics of the specific fabric and making wise choices about designs, stabilizer, and needles can make the difference between a headache, heartbreak, and overwhelming pride.

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