Stabilizer Tip: Use a Seam Ripper for Removal

I have found a quick and easy way to remove stabilizer without scissors. Use a seam ripper!

Find a seam ripper with a substantial head and handle. The teeny, tiny ones that come in a sewing kit don’t work as well.

  • If adhesive sprays were used on the fabric attached to the stabilizer, pull the fabric away from the stabilizer before using the seam ripper.
  • Clip a path into the stabilizer close to the embroidery edge to give the seam ripper a place to start.
  • Hold stabilizer taut with one hand and use the seam ripper with the other.
  • Make sure the prong with the red ball is down. It lets the seam ripper glide and prevents cutting into the fabric.
  • Be careful to not cut the edges of the embroidery stitches with the seam ripper. (If you do, a dab of fabric glue will help keep them from fraying.)
  • This technique works well on most any stabilizer with the exception of those with adhesive on one side.
  • The cutting edge of the seam ripper may gum up from adhesive sprays or even dry water soluble stabilizers. If so, use a non-acetone nail polish remover to wipe it away.


Treat Holders for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner. These little Halloween Treat Holders by Stitch Soup are so darn cute and just as easy to make! Plus, they are on sale until Oct. 31.

Start by hooping a piece of felt (no stabilizer needed!). Use the same color thread in the bobbin and stitch the first two colors, the eyes and the background image (I made mine the same color).

Fold a piece of netting or organza in half to make the treat pocket. If using organza, be sure to cut it on the bias so it has some stretch.

Tape the pocket material in place, lining up the folded edge with the top of the pocket guides.

Run the next set of stitches which tacks the pocket fabric in place. The pocket will stitch out just like an applique.

Trim both sides and bottom edges close to the stitches. Put the hoop back on the machine and run the final satin stitching.

When embroidery is finished, remove the felt from the hoop and trim close to the edges. I added dots to the eyes with a black permanent marker.

There is also a ghost in this set.

Velcro dots can be added to close the sides around the pocket if you like. For babies and those with food allergies, the pockets can hold cash, movie tickets, or whatever your fancy!

Here is the link again to the   Halloween Treat Holders – on sale now!




Better Embroidery: Keeping your Hoops Clean

I often see comments by embroiderers asking how to clean the sticky mess left by adhesive sprays from their embroidery hoops. My answer is, “Don’t spray adhesives in your hoop. Ever.”

If you are floating an item in the hoop (placing it on top of the stabilizer rather than hooped with stabilizer), spray the back of the item with a temporary spray adhesive and then position it on the stabilizer. Do the same for applique pieces.

Always spray away from your embroidery machine.

You can also use a glue stick on the stabilizer and then position the item you are embroidering.

School glue sticks, the purple kind, work well, don’t gum up your machine, and leave no residue.

Over time, non-sprayers will still get some sticky residue on their hoop from adhesive stabilizers and items that have been sprayed with adhesive and finger-pressed onto the stabilizer. When that happens, apply non-acetone nail polish remover to a cotton ball and wipe off the sticky areas of the hoop.

For the most part, prevention is the best practice. Just don’t spray in your hoop!


Pumpkin Placemat In the Hoop

You don’t have to have a big hoop to embroider big projects. This Pumpkin Placemat design by Kreative Kiwi has been digitized for a 5×7 hoop even though the finished product measures 10×10. How do they do that?

The key is to first embroider a side piece that gets added on to the main pumpkin as part of the embroidery process.

The design is a freestanding applique, meaning that the applique is a stand-alone piece just like freestanding lace. The pumpkin is embroidered on a fabric-type, water-soluble stabilizer. When rinsed away, the applique shape remains as the finished product – an adorable placemat.

The applique process for this placemat is double sided and reversible, much like this towel project, so use the same color thread in the bobbin so that the back looks as pretty as the front.

The only difference is that this project adds low-loft quilt batting on the back of the hoop between the stabilizer and backing fabric.

When the add-on piece is done, remove it from the hoop and remove the water-soluble stabilizer.

Hoop water-soluble stabilizer and stitch the main part of the pumpkin.

When prompted, after trimming the extra fabric and batting away from the tack-down stitching, butt the add-on piece up to the edge of the main pumpkin.

Make sure the edges that butt up against each other are trimmed very close to the tack-down stitching. Use a glue stick to hold the add-on piece in place.

The embroidery finishes with satin stitching to join the two pieces and satin stitching around all of the remaining edges.

Cut away excess water-soluble stabilizer and remove the rest with a wet cloth.

Kreative Kiwi has several designs like this so you can make projects without any hoop limitations.

This weekend our Design Pop-up Store features all our Halloween Designs and Projects at a 70% discount!



Better Embroidery: Add Interfacing

Stabilizers support embroidery stitches but, sometimes, fabric needs a little bit of help too.

Adding a layer of fusible interfacing to the back of fabric before embroidering can help prevent puckering, particularly with lighter cotton fabrics. In applique, they provide additional support and prevent darker fabrics from showing through lighter colors.

The key is to use interfacing that is both fusible and lightweight. It should add support without affecting the drape of the fabric. It doesn’t need to be stiff. I have used the following Pellon interfacings successfully. Other brands have comparable products that should work equally well.

Pellon 911FF is a fusible featherweight. It is 90/10 polyester/rayon blend, so care is needed when ironing the back of the embroidery.

Shape-Flex, SF101, is a 100% cotton interfacing. It works well with most any base fabric, and is particularly nice for applique.

Both 911FF and SF101 are machine washable and dryable.

Ultra Weft 860F  is an 85/15 rayon/polyester blend. It is very soft and has a wonderful drape. As a dry-clean only product, I use it as a backing for light-colored linen embroideries that are framed.

Interfacing helps to support the fabric but is not a replacement for stabilizers. Stabilizers are still needed in embroidery to support stitching.



Double Sided Applique Towel

Start with a basic applique design like this design, part of the Elegant Applique Leaves collection from Oma’s Place.

The applique technique in itself is the same, except that when you apply fabric to tack down, add it to the back too! Refer back to this tutorial if needed for specific steps.

When stitching double-sided applique projects, be sure to use the same color thread in the bobbin.

Hoop and baste as usual. The placement stitch shows up on both the front and the back.

Secure applique fabric and tack it down.

Make sure that edges of the applique fabric on the back don’t turn under when the hoop is reattached.

Trim both front and back applique fabrics when prompted.

When trimming fabric on the back of the hoop, be sure to not push on the hooped stabilizer. Otherwise, finishing stitches may not register correctly.

Continue stitching as the design indicates, remove excess stabilizer, and you will have gorgeous embroidery on the front and back of your towel, blanket, or whatever it is that you want to create!

Better Embroidery: Pull Bobbin Thread to the Top

It is a really simple thing, but it makes a tremendous difference. Pulling bobbin thread to the top of the hoop before you begin embroidery gives you a beautiful finish with a lot less problems.

If you have ever had thread loops or tumbleweeds on the back of your embroidery or, worse yet, a thread snag that pulls a hole in the stabilizer, you know how frustrating it is. Sometimes, the project can’t even be saved.

By making a habit of pulling the bobbin thread to the top, thread tails stay out of the way and, hopefully, out of trouble.

Drop the needle into the hooped stabilizer and fabric and raise it back up. The embroidery thread loops around the bobbin thread so that when you pull on the embroidery thread, a loop of bobbin thread pulls to the top.

Sometimes, the embroidery thread pulls freely without bringing the bobbin thread to the surface. If that happens, hold the embroidery thread where it comes off of the spool to put a bit of tension on the pulling thread. The bobbin loop should easily pull to the surface.

Hook your embroidery scissors or machine stylus in the loop and pull it through. Hold both tails off to the side, keeping them out of the embroidery field until they are tied off and trimmed. Then begin embroidery.

The other benefit to pulling bobbin thread to the top is that it avoids getting tangled in jump stitches on the back of the embroidery. A floating bobbin thread tail can also cause jumbled stitches and uneven fills.

For projects made with freestanding lace like the candle embroidery, where the back of the item will show, pulling bobbin thread to the top makes finishing stitches much cleaner.

Whether the back of your design will show or not, making sure your stray bobbin thread sees the light of day makes for a better embroidery experience.

Embroidery Techniques: Applique

If you have never tried applique before, you should! Although it may look intimidating, applique is quite easy and a ton of fun.

Applique is the process of adding a layer of material, sometimes multiple layers of material, to a base fabric or item like a towel or sweatshirt.

Color stops are built into the design not just for changing colors, but for pausing which allows for adding fabric, trimming fabric, embellishing, and final edge stitching. I am going to applique on a towel to show you how it works.

This design is part of the Elegant Applique Leaves collection from Oma’s Place.

Hoop a fabric-type water soluble stabilizer. Crease the towel to mark the center. Spray the back of the towel with temporary spray adhesive and finger press it into place in the hoop.

Never spray in your hoop. Spray the back of the fabric and then apply it to the stabilizer or fabric in the hoop.

Run a basting stitch. That secures the towel to the stabilizer and (especially with plaid or checked items) shows you that the item is aligned properly and not crooked in the hoop.

The next color stop is a placement stitch. It shows where to place the applique fabric and how large it needs to be.

Either spray the back of the applique fabric with temporary spray adhesive or use an adhesive stick (purple school glue works well) inside the placement stitches.

When applying adhesive glue and finger pressing applique fabric in the hoop, be sure the hoop is on a flat surface. Pushing on hooped stabilizer loosens it and will knock design alignment off.

Finger press the applique fabric in the hoop and run the next stitch, the tackdown. It tacks the applique fabric to the base fabric.

Remove the hoop from the machine and trim away applique fabric close to the tackdown stitches.

When trimming is done, reattach the hoop.

Run the next color stop. In this design, it created swirly embellishments inside the leaf.

Run the remaining color stops to add decorative stitches around the outside and satin stitching to cover edges of the applique fabric.

Take everything out of the hoop, clip basting stitches, and trim away excess stabilizer close to the applique stitching. Launder or simply wipe the edges of the remaining stabilizer to remove it. Your towel is now ready to enjoy!






Better Embroidery: Baste it!

Sometimes, the simplest thing can make a big difference in your embroidery projects. Running basting stitches before the embroidery sequence is one of them.

Basting stitches help to secure the fabric, or object upon which you are embroidering, to the stabilizer. That keeps everything from shifting and putting off registration so that every component of the embroidery design is aligned properly.

When basting, a rectangle is loosely stitched around the outermost edges of the embroidery design, like this one from the autumn candle project. It appears a little crooked in this photo because it was taken out of the hoop after embroidery finished. 

You can use whatever thread color that stitches first in the embroidery design to create your basting stitch. When embroidery is finished, simply clip every third or fourth stitch and they pull right out.

Many embroidery machines have a basting feature built in, so check your manual if you are not sure. On my machine, it is called the fix stitch. When touched, it adds the basting stitch at the beginning of the other color stops in the embroidery file.

If your machine does not have a built-in basting function, check out these free basting files you can download for your embroidery machine.

Whether you hoop the base fabric with the stabilizer, float the fabric in the hoop, add batting to quilt in the hoop, or float an additional stabilizer beneath the hoop, the basting stitch will become your new embroidery best friend! 


Light it Up With Embroidery

With the right combination of materials and stabilizer, you can embroider on almost anything – even candles!

Battery operated candles
Leaf and acorn designs from Autumn Scrolls
Pumpkin design from Forever Fall
Organza to match the candle color
Water-soluble fabric-type stabilizer
75/11 embroidery needle

Start by hooping two layers of organza and a layer of fabric-type water soluble stabilizer.

Most embroidery machines have a basting function. Run a basting stitch to secure layers of organza and stabilizer in the hoop.

Load the embroidery designs into your machine and stitch them out. I combined multiple designs in one hooping. The pumpkin design contained multiple jump stitches. Be sure to trim between jump stitches as you go.

Periodically remove the hoop between jump stitches and trim them on the back of the embroidery too. Otherwise, it is harder to trim jump stitches after they have been embroidered upon.

When embroidery is finished, remove everything from the hoop and trim each basic shape. Rinse away the fabric-type water soluble stabilizer according the manufacturer’s directions, blot with a paper towel, and let it dry overnight.

I like to rinse just enough away to make the stabilizer disappear but not soak it to remove all of the stabilizer. Keeping some stabilizer in the organza makes it easier to do the final trim and gives the piece a bit of body.

When completely dry, trim away organza close to the embroidery edges being careful to not clip into the designs.

Spread glue on the back of the embroidery and along the edges. Press the embroidery in place on the candle, making sure edges remain flat until they are dry. Add batteries and enjoy!