Posts Tagged ‘stabilizing’

7 Cool tips I learned while designing a t-shirt

A few weeks ago I shared some thoughts on a t-shirt revamp project. It’s definitely finished, photographed and worn many times. If you missed the June 22nd post click here. I thought I had a game plan but I think I learned that ‘game plan’ really means a place to start.

My initial plan included these materials:

Original color scheme

The final plan wound up featuring these materials:

I love the look of the delicate shades of pink with the print fabric

Seven cool things I learned along the way:

1. Stabilize the design area only with water soluble adhesive stabilizer when using Snap-Hoop. There’s no need to fill the entire Snap-Hoop frame with pricey stabilizer for this application because the squiggle designs has a very low stitch count.

Conserve stabilizer!

2. Add interest with print fabrics.
3. Two layers of cotton quilting fabric fused together make very pretty flowers.

What a simple way to update a plain tee!

4. The ‘organic’ look of raw edge appliqué gives a fresh, unstructured touch to a casual t-shirt.
5. Incorporating texture makes a simple design more interesting. The mix of stretch mesh fabric squiggles, the burn-out cotton t-shirt and the gentle wash of the soft floral cotton made for a winning combination.
6. Little hot-fix pearls add sheen without sparkle.
7. ‘Outsiders’ (those poor souls who don’t know how to sew/embroider) will never believe you made it. Poor things, they are missing so much and they think we are absolutely brilliant. If they only knew how simple some of this stuff is to create! Well, some of it is challenging but we don’t want to scare them away.
Look for the complete how-to in the September/October 2011 issue of Designs.

Here’s your assignment this week! 
Post a comment telling us what type of projects you’d like to see in the pages of Designs and you could be a winner of a very generous prize from this month’s sponsor:  Embroider This! 

Embroider This! is donating a $100 gift certificate to one lucky winner for use on the retail website: with no restrictions. 

The winner of a $25 shopping spree offered last week is Patty!  Patty posted her comment:
“I love my Brother Ult 2003 (I know it’s old but it does what I need to do right now).  My favorite feature is being able to do free motion at a steady speed by removing the foot pedal.  I dream of larger hoops and multi needles.”

Everyone needs a vacation

Yikes! Gloria from sent me a frantic email yesterday telling me the ship is going to sell out for the July 10, 2011 sailing. She said if you know anyone who wants to sail with us, they need to book soon. It’s been a long, hard winter for most of the US and I’ll bet most of you are ready for some fun.

My Stitching Sister, Marie Zinno and I can’t wait to hit the high seas and stitch with an ocean view. I know Marie really needs a vacation because her commercial embroidery business, Sew Creative, has been swamped with Spring sports orders. Last week, she stitched 90 hats on Monday, 133 team shirts on Tuesday, 60 umpire shirts on Wednesday, then had her usual orders of baby and wedding shower gifts, followed by 34 coaches’ left chest and sleeve embroidery. And her son is the second baseman for their high school team and her daughter plays lacrosse – both teams in full swing right now. She is in desperate need of a vacation. Does this sound like you?

I, on the other hand, just love the ocean. I love moving across the surface of the ocean whether that movement is powered by arms, legs, jets skis, water skis, an Evenrude outboard, a canvas sail or a large ship. I want to smell the salt air. I want to feel the ocean breeze. I want to enjoy the sun.

Oh wait, I don’t do the suntan thing anymore (so bad for you). So my next favorite thing to do besides play in the water is play in the sewing room! I couldn’t think of a better way to combine my two loves (water and sewing) without any danger.

And since we are only allowing a small number of students into the workshop, it will be a week of stitching heaven. Very personalized attention, we have over seven projects planned for the cruise. Attendees will use top-of-line Baby Lock machines – one student per machine. Students will be pampered with personal attention from our first mate, Gilligan (ok, he has a real name – Scott Goodman – but we’re going to make him wear that white hat and blue-white rugby shirt), a Baby Lock educator and Marie and I.

We’ll machine embroider on pashminas, terry cloth, waffle weave cotton, make a quilted purse, master continuous embroidery, stitch a lace t-shirt, create a charming pin cushion (bet you can’t just make one!) and more. So if you’ve been hankering for a vacation, join us! It will be delightful. Click here for more information or call Gloria at 888-719-7698. You can reach Gilligan, er, Scott at 866-429-3432.

If you want to join us and plan on bringing an embroidered terry cloth cover-up, here’s a few tips on stitching on that troublesome fabric.

Magnetic Hoops

Luscious towels are often impossible to hoop in standard tools with tear-away stabilizer. I opt for Magna-Hoop Jumbo. The industrial-strength magnets hold any towel with a strong grip – perfect for robes, hand or bath towels. Just hoop the towel with tear-away and machine embroider.

Standard Hoops

Perfect towels are achieved by using a trio of stabilizers when hooping in a standard hoop. The combination of an adhesive tear-away; a low-tack, iron-on tear-away and a water soluble film-type stabilizer tames the bulky nature of terry cloth and protects the easily damaged fibers.


Use the adhesive to avoid hooping the bulky towel and the low-tack, iron-on tear-away to protect the terry cloth’s loops from touching the sticky adhesive. The terry’s loops are often distorted when pulled away from the adhesive stabilizer so iron the low-tack stabilizer onto the back of the design area and finger press that to the sticky surface. Lastly, film-type water soluble stabilizer helps keep the embroidery thread from sinking into the lush fibers of the terry cloth.


Properly digitized machine embroidery fonts are critical to embroidering the perfect towel. You need a font that has been designed to hold down the nap of the terry cloth throughout the life of the towel to ensure luxurious results after repeated washings.

Water soluble toppers disappear when laundered leaving the terry’s loops to work their way through the embroidery. Double underlay on embroidery designs will permanently solve that problem. If you’re working with a design that you can not manipulate in digitizing software, use bridal tulle as a topper. Matching the tulle to the towel ensures the tulle to fade into the background but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how cleanly tulle rips away from satin stitches.

The combination of the right hoop, stabilizers and digitized fonts are the tools you need for successfully machine embroidery on terry cloth every time.

This week’s giveaway is sponsored by Discount Embroidery Blanks.  They are generously giving away a tote bag full of spa essential items just begging for your personal touch!  Leave a comment telling us why you need a vacation and you’ll be entered to win!

Last week we asked you about your favorite planning tips for machine embroidery.  The winner of the Magna Hoop is…Karin!  She said…

“I always lay out my item or garment, then audition the colors by laying the spools of thread out on top of the item in the order they’re called for. That way, I get to see if the colors all play nicely together and stand out or fade into the item.”

Congratulations, Karin!

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!

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!