5 Tips for Expanding your Embroidery Expertise
Start an Idea Folder
I keep an Idea folder in My Documents on my computer. I have five subfolders in the Idea folder – Tops, Bottoms, Accessories, Quilts and Home Décor. As I browse on the web, I grab a screen shot of something that inspires me – a sweater, handbag, jeans, etc. I save the screen shot in the appropriate folder and then when I’m working on a new project, I flip through the images. These images help me explore embroidery layouts, interesting color combinations, proportion and scale. I might incorporate a sleeve treatment from one blouse and a collar from another into my finished project. The finished item usually has little resemblance to its original inspiration. And that’s okay with me; my Idea folders provide inspiration and get me going on a new venture.
Don’t Think Project – Think Technique
There’s so much to learn when you focus on technique and not the finished project. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves when we create a project that includes techniques or steps that are new to us. So take the pressure off and explore the technique. Use scrap fabrics – materials you wouldn’t mind tossing – and delve into a technique that’s been troubling you such as free-standing lace or reverse applique. After 60-90 minutes, you’ll have it nailed! Then move onto a new project that showcases your newly-mastered technique.
Reinvent an Old Technique
I’m seeing yo-yos on tons of ready-wear today in retail stores. But for heavens sakes, I’m not going to make yo-yos by hand! Really, ‘hand’ is a four-letter word in my book! But yo-yo’s are so easy to make on an embroidery machine. Here’s a link to a really great tutorial over at Threads. http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4693/yo-yos-by-the-hoopful Jennifer Stern shares how to digitize a yo-yo but you can also do it right at the machine with built-in stitches. Most embroidery machines have built-in frames. Just select a basting circle that’s twice the diameter of the finished yo-yo. Next, select a circle (straight stitch, shorter stitch length). Center the two circles over each other. Enlarge the second circle (shorter stitch length) just a bit – about 5 mm. Load as many of the yo-yos into a hoop as you can fit. Hoop the fabric – no need for stabilizer, these are just running stitches. Once stitched, trim the circles. Pull the thread tail on the inner circle to gather the yo-yo. Voila – instant yo-yos!
Take a Class
There’s nothing more inspirational than taking a class from a seasoned professional and connecting with other passionate embroiderers. Sometimes, just walking into the classroom is enough to rev your engines. After all, embroiderers usually wear gorgeous embroidered clothing. Go with an open mind, the required supplies and an upbeat attitude. You’ll feel so confident when you’re back in your own studio working on your own.
Participate in a Challenge
Some people work better with deadlines. I know I do, I wouldn’t complete ANYTHING unless it had a deadline attached. Visit your local sewing machine dealer and/or quilt shop and see what kind of local challenges are scheduled. Or go to Google and search for quilt contests. Many quilt competitions have a digital embroidery division.
Here’s one that’s going on right now and every entry is a winner. Go to your favorite sewing machine dealer or independent thread shop and ask to join the Iris Thread Challenge. You’ll receive a free 600 yd. spool of Iris embroidery thread, one evaluation form (you’ll be the judge in this challenge!) and a link to download a free Anita Goodesign embroidery designs. This challenge will help you see the difference in different thread brands.
We’re giving away an Embroidery Tool Kit this week! A comprehensive kit, The Embroidery Tool Kit combines my favorite tools with some new essentials never before offered. Whether you are facing hooping challenges or complex design placement, this kit has the tools to guarantee success. I mention the yo-yos up above being a blast from the past. We used to make them by hand and it would take forever. Now simply make them using your embroidery machine and you’ll have a hoop full in no time. What “old school” techniques have you resurrected from the past? Or what techniques have you really wanted to but haven’t yet? Let us know by posting a comment and you’ll be entered into our drawing!
And the winner of Teddy, The Amazing Huggable Stitchable Bear is…Kelly!
Kelly “I am always taking a little here and a little there. I am working on bridal and groom say hankies right now.”