Easy Centering Tool

Whether hooping or floating, centering items in the hoop is always a challenge. There is one tool that is a tremendous help. Every embroiderer should have one and they cost mere pennies!

A flat head thumb tack can be your best friend when it comes to finding that center point on the item you are embroidering. Mark centering crosshairs on your hooped stabilizer.

Push a flat head thumb tack through the stabilizer from the back at the point where the crosshairs intersect.

Mark the crosshairs on the item you are embroidering where you want your design to be stitched.

Place the hoop on a flat surface and carefully position the item to be embroidered on top of the hoop with the thumb tack poking through the center of the crosshairs.

Place a piece of foam or a piece of dense sponge over the point of the thumb tack to hold it in place. Carefully adjust the fabric so that the crosshairs on the fabric line up with those on the stabilizer.

Feel through the fabric and center the fabric crosshair on the centering mark ridges on the hoop. When in position, secure the fabric to the stabilizer with a glue stick. Remove the thumb tack.

When everything is in place, baste the fabric to the stabilizer and embroider as desired.

What is your favorite way to center fabric for embroidery?

Bunny Pull Toy Shirt

Everybody would enjoy a shirt embroidered with this adorable design! It is from the Easter Applique set from SewAZ Embroidery.

Turn the shirt inside out and add a fusible tear away stabilizer to the inside of the front of the shirt.

Hoop a cutaway stabilizer and mark the centering crosshairs.

Turn the shirt right side out and mark crosshairs on it where the embroidery will go.

Float the shirt in the hoop, centering the design. Baste it to the stabilizer and continue the applique until each piece has been tacked down and trimmed. I used Minky for the applique pieces.

Sidenote: the Minky is soft and fuzzy but makes a mess. If you don’t feel like cleaning up a ton of lint, use fleece instead.

Add a water soluble topper before finishing the satin stitching around the edges, and baste it in place. That will keep the thread from sinking into the Minky.

Run the finishing satin stitches. I opted to not use fill stitches in the wheels.

When embroidery is finished, clip basting stitches and remove the topper. Carefully trim away the cutaway stabilizer close to the stitching, then tear the tearaway to remove it.

You now have a cute shirt to wear to your Easter egg hunt!


Stabilizer Sized to Fit

Sometimes, the stabilizer on hand is not wide enough for today’s ever growing hoop sizes. What do you do in a pinch? Fuse pieces together!

A recent project required a medium weight cutaway in my 8×10 magnetic frame. The stabilizer on hand was only 8.5  inches wide, not quite wide enough to hoop properly, so I spliced three pieces together.

Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 is a wonderful tool. It contains a somewhat temporary adhesive. It has a release paper that, when removed, can be finger pressed to a fabric (or stabilizer) and pieces can be adjusted before fusing permanently.

I cut two pieces of stabilizer long enough to fit in my magnetic hoop. I fused a piece of Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 to each long edge of the stabilizer and removed the protective paper.

Cut two strips from the other piece of stabilizer. Each will be added to either long side of the main piece. Overlap edges on the right side and fuse in place.

Do the same for the left side.

The stabilizer is now wide enough to be properly hooped.

Even though each long side has a two-layered edge, you can see from the back of the stabilizer that they are outside of the area of embroidery. They did not add any bulk or bumps under the stitching.

Stabilizer was trimmed away, just as if had been one solid piece.

Monogrammed Fleece Blanket

Fleece blankets are nice, but the first time you use them, they are NICE! Add an embroidered monogram and they are a REALLY NICE gift!

The Vintage Heirloom Monograms 2 collection by Hatched in Africa is perfect for this gift.

Chose two yards each of an anti-pill fleece print and a coordinating solid.

Pin both layers, wrong sides together, on a flat surface.

Trim away selvages and square up ends.

Hoop a medium weight soft cutaway stabilizer. Remove pins from one corner of the fleece print and position it in the hoop where the monogram will stitch. Hold the fleece in place on the stabilizer using a glue stick. Be sure to keep the solid colored layer out of the embroidery field.

Lay a water soluble topper over the design area and run a basting stitch to hold it in place before embroidering the monogram letter. The topper prevents stitches from sinking into the fleece.

When embroidery is finished, trim the stabilizer, snip basting stitches, and tear away the water soluble topper. Edge finish the blanket using a serger or a blanket stitch from your embroidery machine.


Clipping Text Jump Stitches

Clipping those tiny jump stitches in text, especially small text, can be a real nuisance, but what a difference it makes. People may not notice if you do, but if you don’t, everyone will notice!

I used the Tiny Alright font by Oma’s Place for the wording on the Lucky Shamrock project. The areas of most concern are the jumps between words and between the dot and the letter I.

Most of the time, I will use my curved embroidery scissors to trim thread jumps. They get under the threads quite nicely and trim pretty close to the embroidery.

When space is tight, a pair of tweezers helps to lift threads when trimming. In hindsight, because the fabric upon which I embroidered the wording was textured, using an embroidery topper may have made the lettering look even better.

Lucky Shamrock

Get ready for Saint Patrick’s Day with this crazy patch shamrock project, and you can download the wording that goes with it for free!

The Crazy Shamrock by Molly Mine can be stitched on a shirt, towel, wall hanging, table runner, or popped in a frame.

I used a linen blend fabric and backed it with ShapeFlex interfacing. Placement lines stitch out showing where each applique piece will go.

Each fabric is tacked down

and trimmed.

When all of the fabrics have been placed, tacked, and trimmed, the decorative stitching is added. You can either mix up colours of the decorative stitches (each one has a different colour assigned for customizing)or, like I did, make them all one color.

For the wording, I used the Tiny Alright font by Oma’s Place. You can download the saying to add to your design here.

I am going to pop this in a frame and display it all year!

Another Useful Cutting Tool

Scissors are standard tool of our trade. There is another handy cutting tool you should add to your collection, especially if you like to create cutwork: a buttonhole cutter.

In addition to creating openings for buttons, buttonhole cutters easily cut through fabric and stabilizer without compromising the effectiveness of the stabilizer.

In places where the cut area is extremely small, it can be very difficult to snip the fabric so that you can trim close to the stitch line. That was the case with the cutwork towel project using Heirloom Cutwork 2 by Ace Points Embroidery.

Cutting through the layers of fabric and stabilizer allow room to get your scissors in a position to trim.

Once the cutaway is complete, add a “bandage” made with sticky water soluble stabilizer over the holes to keep the hooped stabilizer snug and stitching alignment registered properly.

Continue stitching for beautiful cutwork that was easy to cut!

What is your favorite cutting tool?

Easy Heirloom Cutwork

Before the invention of the embroidery machine, it was pretty labor intensive to create cutwork by hand. Although it may look complicated, if you can stitch applique, you can easily  create cutwork on your machine.

With applique, you are adding fabric. In cutwork, you are cutting fabric away. Both have placement stitches that show you where to add or cut away fabric and both have finishing stitches to secure the cut edges.

The design is from Heirloom Cutwork 2 by Ace Points Embroidery. I hooped two layers of water soluble stabilizer with an heirloom linen towel.

It’s hard to see, but the first color stitches the placement line for the cutout area.

Carefully cut away fabric inside the stitches without cutting the stabilizer. If you do cut the stabilizer, you can always make a water soluble bandage to fix it.

Continue stitching.  All of the windows will be stitched on the water soluble stabilizer, just like a freestanding lace. Satin stitching will enclose all cut edges. Continue with the rest of the embroidery to add the flowers and leaves.

When finished,  carefully trim stabilizer close to the design and rinse the rest away. Let the towel air dry and then press for beautiful (and easy) cutwork!

Wrangling Water Soluble Wrinkles

There are so many fantastic uses for water soluble fabric type stabilizer, particularly when you are stitching in the hoop projects and freestanding applique projects.

But have you ever come home from the store and get your stabilizer out of the bag only to find it looking like this? I have even bought it by the bolt and had it wrapped like this. Wrinkles upon wrinkles. Now what?

Wrinkles are bad for both stabilizer and fabric. Stabilizer is the foundation for good embroidery. If it has wrinkles in it, the design can shift and registration will be off, possibly ruining your project.

Even though fabric type water soluble stabilizers appear rather delicate, pulling on them won’t release the wrinkles.

Believe it or not, you can iron fabric type water soluble stabilizer!

Be sure to use a medium-warm iron without steam. Even the slightest drop of moisture will disintegrate the stabilizer. If you have been using steam just prior to ironing fabric type water solubles, use the iron on another fabric first to be sure the steam has completely ceased.

Gently press the wrinkles from the stabilizer. It will be perfectly flat and ready to hoop for more successful embroidery projects.

Embroidery Pops on Black

Embroider bright colors on a back background and you have a project that pops.

Finding true black fabrics are key to bump up the contrast. Kona makes a 100% cotton broadcloth that is a bit heavier than normal quilting cottons.  If your black fabric is on the thin side, you may want to add interfacing. Shape Flex is a good choice and it is available in black.

Applique, like these trendy tulips by Blue Stitch Sky, provides more real estate to contrast with the black background.

Thicker lacy designs, like this one from the paisley quilt collection by C-Some-Stitches, are really beautiful when embroidered on black.

The bullion rose doily by Ace Points  would make a stunning decorative pillow. Even though it is a freestanding lace design, it could be stitched on fabric.

This flower monogram, by Dainty Stitches, jumps off of the fabric, almost glowing against a crisp back background.

Softer designs, like the multi-colored Rippled Butterfies by Ace Points

and the tonal floral mandala from Kreations by Kara, look quite dimensional.

Designs like the Khokhloma neck ornament by Art Embroidery can give, even a standard t-shirt, a touch of elegance.

Stitching any of these designs with a 30-weight cotton thread will separate the embroidery from the fabric even more.