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  • Machine embroidery with a woolen thread: in search for ideas

    Original text by Marina Belova 
    I'm currently raking my brains about embroidery with a woolen thread, or, to be more precise, with an acrylic one — I want to embroider a very simple design on a pillow, black on the white-and-gold background. It will match the wallpaper and sofa in my room. Besides, if you embroider on wool with a woolen thread, the pillow will be agreeable to the touch, which is nice. Sadly, there is little information on embroidery with this type of thread, except the most basic one.
    It's not that I do not understand how to use it, but I still want to see how it looks in reality. Suddenly I have come across the Husqvarna Handlook Needlework design collection, which is imitating hand embroidery with woolen threads. The photos from this collection are very inspiring — they prompt you to try and embroider all of this yourself. And besides, it is always good for the brain to scrutinize someone else's design from every angle. 
    So I went through their files: took measures, counted stitched, chose a design and tried to create something like that myself. Judging from what I've seen, I've figured out that a design like this is based on a very simple principle — use of the motif stitches and satin stitches. The motif stitching, if I got it right, should resemble something like this: 

    I would never imagine anything like it for the woolen thread. All the basic principles of digitizing, like making longer stitches for thicker threads, are swept away by the length of connector stitches, which Husqvarna digitizers successfully use in their work. To see these nuances you need to study the works of other people, for there is always someone who knows more than you. I think I've already expanded this topic. 
    This is how my design looks: 

    My first sample with 1.5 mm long connector stitches turned out to be rather dense: 

    I reduced the density by increasing the connector stitch length to 2 mm, and got a much softer result: 

    It doesn't look very good, of course, but now it's clear that this technique requires another, simpler design and repeating of satin stitches several times at the same place is definitely unnecessary. I created a design: 

    Here it is already embroidered: 

    The result in not that bad, the only thing that disturbs me is that the connector stitches are visible between the repeating stitches, creating a so-called beaded border: But with a right type of the design everything will be good. Or you can hide this border by changing the angle of the connector stitches in relation to the next row of repeating stitches. But in this case the stitches should be done by hand, and I don't like the idea of it. 
    So I decided to return to the basics of the technique I set out to imitate. Having opened a book, I was surprised to see that the embroidery with woolen threads looks exactly the same as an ordinary one — satin stitches, running stitches, other decorative elements that are not available in machine embroidery. Although there is a similar stitch. It is called the Fly Stitch and is mostly used for small leaves. Below is the example taken from Trish Burr's book called Crewel and Surface Embroidery: 

    And then I got an idea of using 3 or 5 layers of satin stitches of low-density instead of motif stitches so that to avoid this border. For is will not make all the elements look better. 
    In order to try I created a design with 3 layers of stitches of 1.5 mm density: 

    Here's the sample — columns look monolithic. 

    I think that if one lowers density even more, to 2 mm, it will be a good imitation of hand embroidery. But the "border" technique will do for several kinds of designs. 
    Perhaps, someone will share their thoughts on embroidery with woolen threads? So we would not be reinventing the wheel. 
    Besides, today I found out that the tension of the acrylic thread should be increased. There won't be any breakages: everything looks splendid.
    But loose tensioning leads to "bird nesting". 

    Tearaway adhesive stabilizer

    Tearaway adhesive stabilizers are used for the embroidery designs on various fabrics. The main goal of a sticky stabilizer is the prevention of puckering; it is, perhaps, its only goal if you don’t count the ones that rampant imagination can conjure. Adhesive stabilizers vary in weight. The most lightweight stabilizers are intended for delicate fabrics (batiste, sateen, satin). Heavier stabilizers are used when working with such fabrics as drape cloth, linen, denim, etc.
    Tearaway adhesive stabilizer
    You can purchase black and white stabilizers in world As I’ve already said, they vary in weight: the higher the weight, the thicker and stronger the stabilizer. Stabilizers are similar to paper made from pressed fibers, they have one coarse and one smooth side covered with a layer of glue. The only difference between sticky and non-sticky stabilizers is the adhesive layer. It allows gluing fabric to the stabilizer with the help of an iron and nothing else.
    Weight is the main property of a stabilizer. It is measured in grams per m2. The greater the number, the denser the stabilizer. The figure may vary from 25 to 130 g/m2. The lightweight stabilizers are used with thin and delicate fabrics, whereas heavyweight stabilizers – with dense and thick ones.
    Composition: 50-70% cellulose and 25-30% synthetic fibers, also 100% rayon or 100% polyester.
    Stabilizers are often sold without any marking, and newbies get puzzled trying to figure out whether it is good for the fabric they've chosen or not. It is very easy to define stabilizer density by touch. Feel the material and take a cue from that. The stabilizer should not be much denser than your chosen fabric, otherwise, you’ll get a thick patch on the thin fabric.
    When buying an adhesive stabilizer, try and learn who produced it, how it is marked and what fabrics it is intended for. In case it's difficult for you to remember a wide variety of stabilizers, create a supplementary sheet for every one you own, fill in all the relevant information and attach a sample. This will help you to distinguish among the different types of stabilizers.
    Usage embroidery stabilizer.
    Sticky stabilizers are used when there is a high possibility of puckering during the embroidery, and no hooping restrictions apply.
    In order to attach the stabilizer, place the fabric with its wrong side facing up, and put the stabilizer on top of it with its sticky side facing fabric. With a hot iron glue the stabilizer to it. Hoop the “sandwich” with the right side of the fabric facing upward.

    After the embroidery is completed, carefully tear away the stabilizer along the edges. Tearaway adhesive stabilizers are also noted for being easy to remove from the wrong side of the fabric after the work has been completed.

    If the stabilizer does not tear, it is not a tearaway, but a cutaway. A tearaway adhesive stabilizer should tear easily in all directions. When purchasing a stabilizer, give preference to those that tear more easily. They will make your job easier.
    It’s better not to use tearaway adhesive stabilizers when doing Walk Stitch or Run Stitch because they are hard to remove from the wrong side. If, for one reason or another, you had to use a stabilizer, tear it away gently on completion, so as not to damage the stitch lines.
    Storage rules.
    Store the carefully folded stabilizers in a plastic bag where the sun cannot reach them. Bear in mind that the stabilizer’s adhesive layer may deteriorate in the course of time, and therefore, do not buy the three years supply. Keep to the minimum. Try not to crease the stabilizer, because this will damage its adhesive properties.

    Sewing tutorial: an eco friendly bag with a Rooster

    Sewing tutorial: an eco-friendly bag with a Rooster
    This is another one of the tutorials presented at the Mlyn exhibition in Minsk. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to sew an eco-friendly bag with a reverse appliqué (Rooster). And not just a simple appliqué, but a quilted one, too.

    Sewing a Rooster eco bag. Materials:
    Unbleached linen fabric For the bag: 2 pieces, 30 x 35 cm each For the handles: 2 pieces, 7 x 60 cm each (or 1 piece, 7 x120 cm) For the lining: 2 pieces of calico, 32 x 30 cm plus 1 piece, 18 x 18 cm – for the pocket Colored strips of fabric 24 cm long for the appliqué (the width may vary: 2.5 or 3 or 3.5 cm) Sewing threads, erasable pen, zigzag scissors. Sewing a Rooster eco-friendly bag. The working process:
    For the decoration, we’ll be using a raw edge reverse appliqué. You can use any outline drawing of a rooster size 20 x 20 cm. Print it and cut out the pattern.
    Stitch the strips of fabric together to make a quilt: one after the other, alternating between different colors, until you get a piece 24 x 24 cm in size.

    Place the front part of your bag on top of the quilt and secure it with pins.

    Trace the design onto the fabric with an erasable pen. Make sure that the design isn’t bigger than the quilted area. Sew along the outline with a decorative stitch.

    Using your zigzag scissors, make a hole in the outlined area and cut it close to the outline.

    Use the resulting piece to create your eco-bag.

    Original text by Olga Milovanova

    Machine embroidery converters: comparison

    Converters is a small but pleasant bonus from the embroidery software manufacturers. A converter is a small app that allows users to watch, scale and save machine embroidery files in a variety of formats. Besides the aforementioned functions, some of them have additional options.
    For example, they allow you start/finish the embroidery designs, remove the short stitches and change colors. Some apps even have a simple in-built stitch editor.
    Judging from the information on the official websites, all converters also include a stitch generator that is a part of their "older brothers" – machine embroidery editors. This feature enables the apps to recognize not only the machine embroidery files but also the native ones. That is, the converter is able to open an object file that was created in the embroidery editor by the same manufacturer. An inbuilt stitch generator will recount the stitches every time you make some changes.
    Not all converters are alike. I use converters a lot because I often work with the ready files. Sometimes it is more convenient to use more than one. Looking back at my article on how to choose machine embroidery software I decided to write a review for every converter that can be downloaded and/or tried for free.
    To make everything I said more clear, I suggest you consult these:
    Download the trial version of the Wilcom TrueSizer converter here. Register and use the Ambassador on the official website.  Register and download My Editor on the official website or  Download a free trial version of MelcoSizer. Download TESViewer for free on the official website or  Register and download an old Coats EDV converter, My Editor analog with fewer possibilities. The last two are based on WingsXP.  In the table below you can see the parameters I used to compare converters. 

    The conclusion offers itself when you look at the software capabilities. No explanation needed. A lesser known free MyEditor converter outshines all the others. Bravo. However, MelcoSizer comes a close second. 
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