Posts Tagged ‘fusible’

The Final Steps for Professional Embroidery Results

We talk so much about planning embroidery and hooping fabric but we rarely discuss what to do with a project when we take it out of the hoop. Just like a golf swing, follow-through is important in embroidery.

Once the design is complete, remove the hoop from the machine. If you used a basting outline, remove it now from the wrong side. Also look for any thread tails that will interfere with stabilizer removal and trim them from the back.

If you’re using a standard hoop with a non-adhesive stabilizer, loosen the screw and release the inner ring, freeing the project from the hoop.

Hold cut-away stabilizer away from the fabric and trim the stabilizer about ¼” beyond the embroidery.

Examine the embroidery from the front. If there are puckers between solid areas of a design, or between two designs, slit the cut-away between the solid areas. This will relax the fabric in that area and most, if not all, puckers will iron away.

Use caution when ripping tear-away stabilizer to avoid distorting the fabric or the design. Hold the fabric while placing your thumbnail at the edge of the embroidery and gently tear the stabilizer at that point. If you used multiple layers of tear-away, remove them one layer at a time. The strength provided by the multiple layers during the stitching also gives added resistance in the tearing process.

Water soluble stabilizers should be removed exactly as stated on the packaging. With that being said, always, always, place the packaging inside the tube of stabilizer for future reference. When using water-soluble stabilizer, allow for the time it takes to wet and dry the fabric.

If your fabric is adhered to a tear-away adhesive stabilizer, place the entire hoop on a flat surface, right side up. Lift the fabric away from the adhesive outside of the embroidered area working your way around the entire design.

Flip the hoop over and gently puncture the stabilizer (with your thumbnail) along the edge of the embroidery. Any stabilizer remaining within the design will stay on the fabric.

Finally, it’s out of the hoop and the stabilizer is removed. Take a good look at the embroidery from the right side. Trim any thread remnants and pull away any topper that was applied. If any bobbin thread is showing on the right side, consider hiding it with a permanent fabric marker.

Press the embroidery from the wrong side on a fluffy towel to keep the stitches from flattening. Now, you’re really finished!

The Designs team recently attended the Sewing Expo in Puyallup, WA and brought home tons of information (have you seen what’s been happening on our Facebook page?) and a basket of goodies, including two of my favorite new tools – Lighted Tweezers & Magnifier and a Lighted Seam Ripper & Magnifier from our friends at Dalco Home Sew. Each tool features a LED light (never has to be replaced!) with a magnifying glass. Makes close-up work a breeze.

Tell me what your favorite embroidery tool/notion is and you could be a winner.


Last week we asked what your favorite embroidery blank is.  The winners of the towel blanks from are…Mary Haggenmaker and Paule-Marie!

Mary said, “My favorite embroidery work is done on kitchen towels. I have digitized several designs that have proven to be popular at the craft fairs I go to. I also digitized one for me. It is Grandma hanging out of a tree and she is definitely upset with the reindeer.”

Paule-Marie said, “I like towels and napkins. (yes there is an ulterior motive for them – I don’t have to worry about putting them in an embarrassing place!) I also like to use outlines and quilting designs to quilt my quilts.”

Congratulations, Mary and Paule-Marie!

Why I love the basting feature

I am a new fan of the basting feature. What’s to love? Two things, it firmly attaches the item to the stabilizer and is a fabulous alignment tool when mishaps occur.

If you’re hooping stabilizer and fabric, then attaching the fabric to the stabilizer with a basting stitch is probably not necessary. If you’re using adhesives or a magnetic hoop inserts such as Magna Hoop, then the basting feature is added security.

Regardless of what hoop you’re using there is always the possibility of trouble ahead. Trouble? What trouble? Well, let’s see, bird nesting, empty bobbin (I know the machine is supposed to tell you before that happens), fabric pops out of the hoop, thread gets tangles around the foot or stitched over the foot (oh yes, I have seen it all!). Regardless of what caused the trouble, often the next step is to remove the hoop from the machine before completing the design. And possibly, removing the fabric from the hoop. AAAAAAHHHH! Many times, when this happens, you scrap the project and start over.

But if a basting file was stitched first, you have a very good chance of getting everything aligned in the hoop.

First, make a note of the stitch number when the snafu occurred. Write it down. Also write down the location and rotation of the design.

Fix the problem. Reattach the hoop to the machine. If the needle is centered over the last stitch, you might be in good shape. Travel back through the design a few stitches and see if the needle is centered over the stitches. If so, advance to the last stitch and complete the design.

If not, go to the first stitch of the design – the basting stitches. Travel through the basting stitches and watch where the foot is located in reference to the stitched outline.

Rehoop the fabric to align the foot with the stitched outline or rotate the design and continue the process. The real proof is when you travel around the corner of the basting line. The basting file is a square or rectangle and as long as the needle is centered over one horizontal and one vertical line, your design will be aligned.

If you’re using a flat magnetic hoop it’s so simple to realign the fabric. Just lift the top frame and slide the fabric into the proper position.

Once you’ve confirmed the needle is aligned with the basting line, advance to the last stitch and complete the design.

Basting outlines are like auto insurance, you can drive without it but if you have an accident you’re really in trouble.

What’s your favorite machine feature?

 Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a $100.00 shopping spree to Embroidery Library! Thank you, Embroidery Library for sponsoring this weeks giveaway!

Last week we asked you what your favorite “Nancy technique” was.  The winner of the Designer Necklines is…Susan Cira!

“Hard to pick my favorite “Nancy’s Hint” but I’ll pick how to pivot & slide a pants pattern to make them longer. I’m taller than average & the main reason I originally learned to sew was to have slacks that were long enough. I was doing it wrong until Nancy showed the easy way.”

Congratulations, Susan!

Want to see more of these techniques in action? Join me on the West Coast for a Stitching Sister event at AAA Sewing & Vacuum Ctr. in Torrance, CA. My sister, Marie, and I tackle 55 techniques over two days. Call 310-791-1190 or click here for more information

25 Little Steps Lead to Perfection

Sometimes I rush through an embroidery project and don’t take the time to think through each step of the process. Often, this is how mistakes are made. Print this checklist and keep it by your machine as a reminder of the 25 little steps you should take to ensure your embroidery comes out beautifully.

1. Change your needle

2. Use a full sheet of stabilizer not a pieced, taped, glued piece.

3. Clean your bobbin case.

4. Insert a new bobbin.

5. Check your hoop and remove any sticky residue.

6. Select the design and hoop.

7. Print template(s) of the design(s).

8. Place the templates on the garment/item and slide target stickers under the crosshairs.

9. Shoot a digital image of the templates in place in case they become separated from the fabric during the embroidery process.

10. Lay the selected threads on the fabric and view the combination.

11. Stitch a sample of the design on similar (weight, fiber and color) fabric.

12. Listen to the machine. Trouble often lurks around the corner but you can hear it coming your way before disaster strikes. By now, you should be familiar with the machine’s cyclical hum so if you hear something out of the ordinary, stop the machine and investigate.

13. Take a hard look at the test sample and determine if any changes are needed. The fabric should lay flat, outlines should match up, fabric should not bleed through the design (unless specifically digitized for that look) and the colors should be pleasing.

14. Hoop the fabric with stabilizer (if possible). Run your finger across the hooped fabric and make sure it doesn’t snowplow (form ridges in front of your finger). If it does, rehoop and get the fabric taut.

15. Review the template on the hooped fabric and make sure all portions of the design are within the sewing field.

16. Firmly hold the hoop at the attachment and right side of the hoop and slide the hoop onto the machine.

17. Select the design verifying the selection with the template.

18. Place the thread in sequential order on a thread stand or on the machine table.

19. Rotate the design if necessary and position the needle over the template/target sticker’s crosshair.

20. Check the area behind the machine and move any item that could obstruct the movement of the hoop.

21. Remove the template/target sticker and add a topper if required.

22. If your machine has a baste (or fix) feature, use it now.

23. Stitch the design, rethreading as needed.

24. Remove the hoop from the machine, turn the hoop over and clip the basting thread from the wrong side (this protects the fabric).

25. Release the fabric from the hoop, remove any hoop marks by pressing and trim the excess stabilizer.

In Step 13, I mentioned ‘the colors should look pleasing.’ Such an objective statement! As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so tell me what color combinations you find ‘pleasing’?

Do you have certain colors you always seem to be using or does your taste change with the seasons and trends? If so, what are you current top picks? Share your comment with us and you’ll entered to win Machine Embroidery with Confidence by Nancy Zieman and a set of Robison-Anton threads in the colors Mandarin YLW, Coral and Van Gogh Bl.

Last week we asked if you had a  funny story to share about purchases you’ve made.  We have two lucky winners to announce this week as SewAZ Embroidery Designs graciously donated two $50 shopping sprees.  The winners are…Marsha Nelson and Melissa.

marsha nelson said…
“I bought a thingamajig to turn spaghetti straps. Dumb!  I don’t wear spaghetti straps. That would be scary. No one I know wears spaghetti straps. It must have been on sale. You know how we all are about sales. Thanks for all the great give-aways and all the creative tips.”

Melissa said…
“My biggest downfall to this day is when patterns are on sale for a buck each at Joann Fabric. I can not let that sale pass by. Can I tell you how many dupes I’ve bought? And I don’t even like to sew clothes in the first place!!!”

Congratulations Marsha and Melissa.  SewAZ will contact you next week with your coupon codes!

2011 Project Gratitude

Our web czar, Amanda Griffin, sent an email request last week to everyone in the office asking for donations to send to a troop of soldiers as part of the drive. The request was simple, small treats and snacks, to carry in their pockets, laundry detergent, magazines, etc.

The employees here at Designs got together and put together a great haul to send over.  You can see more pics in our Facebook album.  You can visit to find out how to send your own package. 

As I read the email, I wished there was something I could embroider for every one of the platoon members. That’s a tall order – 102. If it were shirts or caps, well, I don’t think I would ever reach that number in a timely fashion. But I remembered Quilting Arts’ artist trading cards drive a few years back and thought maybe that’s the right canvas for a message to our soldiers. I thought, “Gee, such a tiny canvas, surely I can get 125 of them done in a week” (ok, maybe two). And if I were stationed overseas, I think I would take great pleasure in holding something beautiful in my hand, something colorful, soft, but firm and alive with texture. I imagine their life is one of gritty fabrics, hard metal (cold or searing hot) and unforgiving rock. Their world is monochromatic: shades of sand, like the camo uniforms they live in.

As I write this, I feel very inadequate to talk about their service and assume what they would enjoy. My father served in Korea and rarely spoke about his experience and I have other family members who served in World War II. I am just a few years too young to have any classmates who served in Vietman but I remember the toll that war took on our nation and I’m living through this one. I am humbled by their service, their commitment and continued support. Many of you have family members over there right now. Know that these gratitude cards are just a tiny expression of gratitude for what our soldiers do for our country and our freedom. They are not political statements, they are meant to bring a moment of joy to a lonely soldier in a far away land. Join me in the drive. Here’s how:

Dowload the gratitude card designs (there are 10). Fuse fabric to a stiff stabilizer.

Embroider the quilting stitches, message and decorative motif.

Stitch the running outline. Place a second piece of fabric (stiffened or not), wrong side to the back of the hooped fabric, under the hoop.

Stitch the tackdown and final satin outline.

 Remove from hoop and trim as close to the satin stitched edge as possible.

You may want to stitch more than one card in the hoop since they are small: 2 ½” x 3 ¼”. It’s my hope that the soldiers would slip them into their wallet as a reminder of our gratitude.

You can of course, transform these tiny canvases into works of art. The 10 designs that I created are just a stepping stone for your creativity. Add anything you’d like to them, fabrics, small trims, journaling, paint, glitter and the like. But think of the recipient – mostly male with limited storage areas. I’m keeping my gratitude cards flat with the hope they’ll fit in a wallet.

Can’t wait to see if you’ll join us in this drive. Just ship to Project Gratitude, Designs in Machine Embroidery, 2517 Manana Dr., Dallas, TX 75220. We’ll handle the shipping to our servicemen and women.  If you have any questions, email us at

The holiday wrapping paper is put away, and the last remnants of the holiday cookies are but crumbs…New Years has come and gone. Gym memberships sky rocket this time of year as many make their New Year resolutions. Have you made yours? Are you sticking with it? Let us know by posting a comment and you’ll be entered to win a set of Black and White Dots Stitchable Notecards.

Do you need a resolution you can stick to? Join our campaign—Project Gratitude! We are asking everyone to stitch a Gratitude Card for the troops. We talked about cleaning out our sewing space last week. I bet everyone has a stash of scraps perfect for this project.

Last week we asked you about getting ready for the new year.  The winner of the Embroidery Headquarters Hoop Stand is…Beth!

“I get a renewed sense of energy in my sewing room every time I complete a project!  It makes me feel great to see a final product, and gives me energy to tackle another one (perhaps even one more difficult than what I just finished). 

I also get a feeling of renewal with each change of the season – when Christmas is over, I know I won’t finish that project to display this time, so I can put it away and pull out the Valentine’s project.  Same thing in mid-February – time to work on Easter projects!”

Congratulations, Beth!

Stitching on Knits

A few weeks ago, we received many comments requesting information on stitching on knits. Well, knits is a pretty large category! So I’ll give you some general guidelines on stabilizing t-shirt knits.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogEliminate the Stretch

The number one goal of hooping and stabilizing knits is to eliminate the stretch during the embroidery process. My favorite stabilizer for knits is a permanent cut-away, polymesh stabilizer. Polymesh is strong, translucent and comfortable next to the skin. Since it’s a cut-away, its permanent properties will provide stability to the embroidery throughout the life of the knit fabric. This is an important feature since knit fabrics are not as durable as wovens.

I prefer to adhere the polymesh to the knit by using a temporary spray adhesive or selecting a fusible polymesh. Cut the stabilizer large enough to extend beyond the hoop’s dimensions. Hoop the knit with the stabilizer firmly fused or adhered to the design area. When you run your finger along the knit fabric, it should not separate from the polymesh. If it does, take the time to fuse it properly.

Toppers help keep the edges of an embroidery design crisp. Use a lightweight water soluble stabilizer that will be easy to remove.

Design Selection

Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogHeavy, dense embroidery designs will appear to be ‘bullet proof’ on most knit fabrics. Test your embroidery design on a similar knit fabric and give it this test. Roll the embroidered knit fabric onto itself, jellyroll style. If the embroidery appears stiff and boxy, the design is too dense. Reduce the density in embroidery software.

Proper underlay is key to beautiful embroidery on knit fabrics. Inadequate underlay will not provide the foundation required for the stretchy knit fibers. Don’t skimp on underlay to reduce the stitch count. Instead, adjust the density of the fill stitches to space the stitches further apart resulting in less stitches.

Delicate running stitch outlines can sink into knits so avoid these fragile stitches if possible.


When stitching on knits, I like to use caution and set up as many safety nets as possible. Hoop the entire knit fabric in a standard hoop, Magna-Hoop or Snap-Hoop. Use the machine’s basting feature and add a topper. Stitch the design in polyester thread (as most knits launder easily, polyester thread is colorfast and very durable).

After the embroidery is complete, remove the basting stitches from the back. The stabilizer will protect the knit from the seam ripper. If you used a fusible polymesh, press the fabric from the wrong side to reactive the adhesive. Gently release and trim the excess polymesh from the fabric. Leave at least ½” stabilizer around the embroidery. Press the stabilizer from the back to adhere it again to the fabric. Let cool.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogWe love embroidering on blanks! There’s always the last minute gifts needed for baby showers, house warming gifts, hostess gifts or birthdays. Nothing is easier or more heartfelt than stitching a blank for someone special. Let’s be honest– no one needs to know it didn’t take you hours to stitch! We want to know what your favorite embroidery blanks are. How do you jazz them up and make them extra special?

Leave a comment on the above topic and you’ll be entered into our drawing to win Contemporary Machine-Embroidered Fashions!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Last week we asked…Who do you know in your life that would do cartwheels to have a machine? What would they make? The winner of the $25.00 coupon on is…Danyl!

“My daughters would love to have a machine so that they could make anything they wanted. Right now they have to share mine and are only allowed to use it with my supervision.”

Congratulations, Danyl!