Posts Tagged ‘knits’

Working with Prints – It’s all about Color and Scale

Combining embroidery with patterned fabric is challenging but here are a few tips for a successful outcome.

• Add a plain fabric as the base for the embroidery.
• Take your color cues from the printed fabric.
• Differentiate the scale of the embroidery

In this tunic, I selected a base fabric (manufacturer unknown) that matches one of the colors in Valorie Wells Free Spirit Jenaveve Linen print. Notice it contrasts in color and value from the background of the print and defines the embroidered area.

Use the colors in the fabric as your guide for selecting threads. I selected a dark, very dark, brown thread that pops off of the medium value plain fabric. That same dark brown thread is also the same shade as the background of the print creating a unified schematic.

Rarely is it a good idea to introduce another color scheme when balancing embroidery with a large scale print. Of course, you want the embroidery to be visible so select threads the same color as the print but of a different value. It’s the contrast between the base fabric and the thread that makes the embroidery visible.

Now select the embroidery design. Make sure its one that coordinates in style with the large print yet contrasts in scale. If the main fabric in the garment is a large print, then stitch a simple, medium-sized, repeating design. Large prints draw the eye across the fabric while the embroidery here frames the face and adds a touch of texture on an otherwise flat surface. Audition different sizes of designs – too small and the embroidery will be completely overpowered by the large scale print. Too large and the embroidery will battle with the large scale print for center stage.

But what about small scale prints? Apply the same principals keeping the focus on the embroidery, not the print. I made this jacket (Indygo Junction Midtown Trench) with Ty Pennington’s Impressions sateen fabric, Kimono, in taupe.

Way too busy of a print to splash embroidery across, I opted for a black collar washed with open, airy embroidery designs.

I selected black for the collar because black is the smallest element in the Kimono print. Next, I used taupe and silver thread to stitch the embroidery. The threads coordinate with the fabric and most certainly separate from the black base letting me achieve my ever present number one goal – let the embroidery be seen! The large designs, built-in on the Brother Quattro, do not fight with the Kimono print, rather they complement it very well.

I enjoyed making both of these garments and learned quite a bit about working with luscious, printed fabrics – both large and small! It’s always good to stretch your creativity and get out of your comfort zone.

So tell me, have you noticed all of the large scale prints in the quilt shops now? Do you love them, or do you prefer more subdued fabrics? Leave a comment and you’ll have a chance to win an Embroidery Tool Kit – my favorite set of tools! Can’t stitch without the Angle Finder and new target rulers! You’ll love it too.

The winner of Stipple Butterflies is…Mary Kvam!

“I just bought a Babylock Embroidery Professional which is totally new to me. My goal is to learn how to use it and to make a small picture to start with to show off to my husband for bragging rights! I just love colorful butterflies and was planning experimenting with different designs.”

Congratulations, Mary!

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!

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!