Sunday, March 6, 2016

Prepping Fabric for Hand Embroidery - Redux

I originally posted this in 2011, and, in anticipation for today's release of The Splendid Sampler, I thought I'd re-share. I'd added some updated comments in blue.

So much to do and so little time!  A friend asked how do I prep my fabric for embroidery because I don't use a hoop so I thought this would be a good time to share.  The below instructions work for me, and I hope you find them useful for yourself!

If you are participating in a Block of the Month (BOM), prepare all your squares (plus one or two extra) ahead of time.  That way, when you are ready to transfer your new pattern, the squares are all ready to go!  I like to prep 1 or 2 extra squares in case something happens when I'm transferring the pattern.  If I don't need them, then I can use them afterwards for a quick project to give as a gift (like the Mug Rugs I made last month).

Embroidery 101: Prepping the Fabric

1. I love Kona Cotton (though I will use others if it suits the project). I always buy more than I need, wash it, label it, and set it somewhere safe. Note, not all white fabrics are equal so always ensure you have enough for a project because matching it later will be impossible.

I STILL love Kona cotton, but, for scrappy projects, I will mix and match my background.

2. When cutting, always cut slightly larger than needed to allow for edges shredding or a little distortion when embroidering. For Birdie (image above), my finished block is 8.5" square so I cut it into 10.5" square.

3. When pressing, I like to use Mary Ellen's Best Press to give the piece a little stiffness and a very smooth surface.  

And I still LOVE Mary Ellen's Best Press. It's light, does not leave residue on your iron or ironing board, and does not spot on the fabric.

4. I cut a piece of Pellon's lightest fusible interfacing about a half inch smaller than my fabric and fuse it to the wrong side. Several good tips to keep in mind:
  • Make sure your fabric has no lint or pet hair on it prior to fusing - it will show!
  • After I fuse, I let my fabric rest for a moment or two giving the interfacing time to cool/adhere.
  • JoAnn Fabrics sends out regular 40% off coupons so I buy my interfacing by the bolt.

5. Using my fabulous light box (also purchased with my 40% off coupon), I will transfer my design to my fabric.
  • Print pattern and cut any extra paper away from the design.
  • Tape pattern to the light box. To prevent the tape from permanently adhering to the box, I will apply the tape to my jeans first and then use it to tape the pattern down (fuzz on the tape prevents it from permanently sticking to my light box which causes a bumpy transfer surface later).
  • Tape the fabric to the light box (centering it using a ruler) and tape down with more "fuzzy" tape.
  • Trace pattern using color Pigma pens. I always trace the lines in the same color I will use to stitch because it guides me to color placement later and is covered by the floss.  Here is my February block for Birdie Stitches: 

6. After transferring the pattern, I will carefully remove the fabric from the box and peel off all the tape. Then I will press the fabric (no steam) to set the ink. 

I've had phenomenal success with these techniques and hope they help you, too. 


1 comment:

  1. Have you tried a fusible, water soluble sheet for the pattern transfer? C&T has a product ("Wash Away Applique Sheets"); so does Floriani ("Wet and Gone Fusible"). I happen to use the C&T product because it comes in 8.5"x11" sheets that *can go through your printer*!!!

    I've successfully (many times) used the C&T product to copy the embroidery design onto a sheet of their product (NO light box tracing!!), trim close to the design and then fuse the sheet onto the right side of my foundation fabric. Embroidery/embellish as desired. When done, rinse as directed .. or toss in the laundry if appropriate. The product absolutely dissolves in water, leaving only the embroidery behind.

    It positively cuts my prep time to virtually nothing, since I don't have to do manual tracing/drawing. The trade-off is that you *do* need to buy the product every time, since it's a one-time use. BUT .. the ease of getting right to the fun part of embroidering makes it worthwhile to me.

    So, I just thought I'd bring it to your attention, if you weren't aware of it. And no, I am not affiliated with the product; just a very happy camper! :-)


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