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Add Embroidery to Projects

Add Embroidery to Projects

Innovative Ideas to Make Gifts of Art Out of Store-Bought Items

Take something ordinary and make it extraordinary. Simply add a little embroidery.

Embroidery doesn’t have to be done on particular canvases or pre-marked kit cloths. Any simple item can be personalized with a touch of embroidery. It makes one-of-a-kind items, and it gives gifts a special touch that makes them stand out.

Choose store items that have a canvas-like material, and that isn’t too busy so that the embroidery can stand out. Free form designs are a very popular trend right now, so don’t be afraid to give it a try. Draw an image using a fabric marker by freehand, or use transfer paper that can be bought at any craft store to trace an appropriate picture.

Great Items to Embroider

  • Shirts—T-shirts and polos work best. Embroidery design of about 3 x 3 inches on the upper left-hand front of the first is the common place for it.
  • Sweatshirts—Be a little careful here. Some sweatshirt material is bulky and tends to bunch. Cotton blend materials that are not very thick work well.
  • Bags—Bags, backpacks, and purses made of canvas lend themselves so well to original design. Choose plain bags. The design can be stitched right onto the bag. Especially good are “photo” bags, where clear plastic pockets are sewn onto the sides. Stitch a design to fit the pouch, and it’s easily converted to a walking art gallery.
  • Shoes—This is not as difficult as it may sound, and the results can be breath-taking. As long as the shoe is made of a fabric material, it is the perfect candidate for embroidery. Do not use leather, vinyl, plastic, or anything that would leave a hole if poked with a needle. Choose stitches that won’t be bumpy on the inside of the shoe, as that would cause discomfort.
  • Hats—Cloth hats, floppy hats, and tops of baseball caps are all candidates for embellishment. Center the design in front, or make a border that goes all the way around.
  • Aprons— Only cloth aprons should be used. Plain aprons ready for decoration are available in many places, including the Embroidered Clothes Store. Choose colors that match the recipient’s kitchen.
  • Towels—Everyone needs towels, and they are easily customizable—just choose colors that match the recipient’s bathroom or kitchen. A simple monogram that complements a bathroom embroidered onto the hand towel band is quick to do and makes an elegant gift.

Great Stitches to Use

Stitch choice isn’t very limited when doing these kinds of projects, but do keep in mind that the items will get a good deal of wear. Choose floss and stitches that will hold up to wear and tear. Some good choices are the satin stitch (especially padded satin), pinhead stitch (very sturdy), and cross-stitch (it crosses over itself, and that makes it quite durable.)

One last thing to remember–don’t use long stitches–they can pull under the stress of everyday use, and these pieces will be so unique and gorgeous, their owners will want to use them all the time.

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Getting Out Stains in Needlework

Getting Out Stains in Needlework

Tips for Cleaning and Removing Stains from Embroidery Fabric

Although it’s frustrating to discover a stain on your hard-labored needlework, you can remove even stubborn stains if you know what works.

Nothing is more frustrating to an embroiderer or cross stitcher than discovering that the piece they’ve labored on for months has been blemished with an ugly stain. However, with a few stain removal tricks, you can remove even stubborn stains from your needlework.

As soon as you spot a stain, you need to get it out it immediately—the older the stain, the more challenging it is to remove. By washing away fresh stains with cool water, you can usually get rid of it before it does permanent damage.

Removing Common Stains

  • Blood stains—Again, if you act quickly enough, you can remove blood from you fabric by rinsing it with cool water. However, your saliva is an even better stain remover. Saturate the stain with as much saliva as you can produce until all the blood is removed. Then thoroughly wash your fabric in cold water. You can also use hydrogen peroxide. First, test it on a scrap piece of fabric. Then dab it on the bloodstain and rinse. What’s more, a mixture of table salt (about 85%) and water also works.
  • Ink stains—Dry cleaning solvents have proven effective with ink stains. Hairspray is effective, too. However, for stubborn stains, you may want to use a dry cleaning service.
  • Coffee and tea stains—Apply a dab of diluted shampoo (without perfumes or conditioners) to the stain, as well as liquid dish washing detergent (mixed with some white vinegar.) Then rinse well, blot and dry.
  • Mildew—First, hand wash your fabric with detergent and bleach. Then gently rub a mixture of lemon juice and salt into the stain. Rinse with white vinegar. Be careful not to store your pieces in warm places, in the first place, as mildew thrives in humidity.

How to Salvage Stained Needlework

If all else fails, then you don’t have much choice but to toss your fabric. However, before throwing the entire needlework away, consider how you could hide the stain. For example, if your stain is part of what could have been a blue-skied background, you could stitch over it with blue floss, using the half stitch. Or, you could also cut away the stained area. Some stitchers have made original greeting cards by using a portion of their stitched pieces.

Preventative Care for Your Needlework

Most importantly, learn how you can keep your fabric clean, as well as prevent staining. When stitching, always see to it that your hands are clean. If traveling in a car, it’s a good idea to have baby wipes available to clean your hands regularly. And, of course, keep food and drinks away from your stitching.

When you’re finished with your project, wash it in a mild detergent and then lie it out, flat, near a sunny window, to dry, on a clean white towel. (Never use a clothes dryer.) After it’s dry, you may iron it, but use care. Secure a white towel under your piece (face side up), and then cover your needlework with a second soft cloth and lightly steam iron.

If you’re not ready to finish it off, make sure you store it safely in an air-tight container, so there’s less chance of mildew. Do not use Ziploc bags as plastic won’t keep out air.

The more you take precautions with your work, the less you’ll have to worry about stain removal. But if you do manage to pick up a stain, take heart. You can usually remove it you know what to use and have lots of patience.

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Machine Embroidery – A Book Review

Machine Embroidery – A Book Review
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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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Design Your Own Cross Stitch

Design Your Own Cross Stitch

Create a Customized Needlework Pattern

Here is a way to take your favorite verse and create a cross-stitch pattern of your very own.


Designing Your Own Cross-Stitch Pattern

Materials Needed:

Find the verse you would like to cross-stitch. You can look online if you don’t have a favorite. We will use the verse below for our sample.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

If you want a long verse like the example, the cross-stitch fabric needs to have a very small weave. If you use a short verse, you can use a larger weave.

Type the verse on your computer. Alter the font style and size according to your needs. Be careful about making the font too intricate for your first time. When you have the verse centered and formatted just right, go ahead and print it. You may need to print several times, altering the size as you go.

On the package of your cross-stitch fabric, it tells you how many stitches per inch. This is very important to remember.

Next, you are going to print graph paper onto the tracing paper. There is a free site on the web for making graph paper. Simply click here for that site. It will let you set up the graph paper for large or small-weave fabric. This is when you use the number from the package of cross stitch fabric. The stitches per inch correlate with the squares per inch. Once you have your graph paper set up, print. This may also take several tries to get it just right.

Lay the tracing paper graph over the printed verse. Trace the entire verse onto the graph paper. Fill in any of the blocks with an X that is completely within the font. Any block that is half of the font should be filled with a / in the direction the font goes. You now have a pattern for your verse. You can do the same thing with borders and flowers to enhance your verse. Use color to shade in the different areas. Experiment and have fun with seeing how far you can take it. Check out free clip art for ideas.

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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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