I am Angela and I love to sew. I started sewing as a child and by the time I was a teenager I was wearing the very latest fashions to go out in. All me-made. I am passionate about reducing the amount of textiles sent to landfill, and encourage you to repurpose fabrics and clothes I started this blog in order to have a way in which to pass on my gained knowledge, and my professional knowledge to you, Sewing is empowering, you can save money by making items, make money by selling then, You can pass your knowledge on to others. What is there not to love? Interestingly I am a direct descendant of the Flemish weavers who came over to England in the 1300's. I find that fascinating especially as most of my family from as far back as I can trace are somehow involved in the manufacturing of fabric . . I have a degree in tailoring with a special interest in WW2 fashion.

Saturday 20 January 2018

Let's talk some more about Machine Embroidery

Talking about machine embroidery 


Machine Emboidery, embroidery stabiliser, ,Hong Kong seams, Bias binding foot, pressing, 

Machine embroidery is such a massive subject that I will be coming back to it frequently.
In this post I wanted to talk more about it because I know that some of you are still undecided if an embroidery machine is something you will use.
I will be honest and say that Embroidery machines are only as complicated as you want them to be. They come with designs built into them so you are ready to go as soon as you take it out of the box. Furthermore if you are reading this then you have enough computer knowledge to download and use designs off the internet too. You may then want to further your new passion and create your own designs using specialised software - more about that later.

In this post I am making a dress and simple unlined jacket in black cotton, but you will excuse me for not going into detail about the construction of these garments as there are plenty of instructions elsewhere on my blog and the instructions inside the pattern are excellent too. If you do want more detailed information then please let me know.

My embroidery machine is the Brother Innov-is 800E  but there is a choice of other embroidery machines depending on if you want a stand alone Embroidery only machine or a machine which does normal sewing AND embroidery. This might be a good choice if you only have space for one machine
Take a  look at the range of Brother sewing machines at Jaycotts Don't forget that the very knowledgeable staff are on hand to guide you through the process of choosing the correct machine to suit your needs and pocket.  Brother machines come with aftercare and tuition should you want it.

You will also need a basic supply of accessories including thread, needles, stabilisers and so on which we will discuss  a bit further down the post.
Your new embroidery machine can seem daunting at first but I hope to show you some useful tips to get you started. Whatever you do please don't be afraid of it! These machines are very clever, they are designed for domestic use and they won't let you do anything wrong, so you are very unlikely to make a mistake and break it. If something does go wrong for example your needle is in the up position when it should be down, or your thread breaks the machine will tell you exactly what the problem is.
I strongly advise you keeping your manual next to you at all times when you are sewing so that you have it to refer to.

To start off, plug your machine in and take a look at some of the inbuilt designs. The design you have chosen will appear in an LCD window which gives you all the information you need to enable you you sew the design.
The green cross on the picture shows where the machine is up to in the embroidery , on the top left it shows how many stitches the design takes to stitch out, how many stitches you have sewn already, the total time the design takes to sew and the time spent sewing it already. It tells me I am using my second colour in the sequence and shows a diagram of the shape being sewn in that colour, it shows too the next threads in the sequence.
The icon at the very bottom allows you to go back or forwards a chosen number of stitches, and there are many other functions once you get used to the machine. For example it is simple to rotate the design, to mirror it or to make it larger or smaller. This is so easy to do on the touchscreen LCD display
In case you are wondering how to transfer designs from your computer to your embroidery machine, this is easily done with a USB stick. The manual explains how to do it, but I will go over it in a future post

I am not going to talk too much about construction of this lovely dress and jacket NewLook Dress and Jacket , but I will give you some tips for altering the pattern slightly. For example I wanted a short sleeve in the dress. Cutting a sleeve pattern was easy in this case as when I came to compare the dress and the jacket patterns I found that the armscye was exactly the same in both garments so all I needed to do was to shorten the sleeve in order to use it for the dress

Once you get the embroidery bug, and you will - you might want to create your own designs. The PE Design 10 software for Brother embroidery machines is fabulous. the good news is that as with all Brother products there is expert tuition available to help you. I have just taken advantage of this and have recently spent a day learning more about this incredible software.
The software deserves a post all to itself, so watch out for a blog post in the future. This software enables you to do so much more and combined with your embroidery machine you have literally thousands of designs at your fingertips. You can create your own designs, monogram, applique and more, the possibilities are endless. The software comes with a comprehensive manual which is also available to use on your computer as you plan your project

This is one  design I chose. I wanted to increase the size without stretching the stitches, the software keeps everything in proportion so that I could make the design larger whilst keeping the design just as dense.
It was easy to alter the curve  so that it complemented my dress shape. It was also very easy to drop my finished design onto a memory stick and transfer it to my Embroidery machine.
There will be much more to come about this incredible product, there are so many functions which I want to tell you about, it really does deserve a post all to itself!

I have cut my dress out and marked the position of the darts but not stitched them as the fabric needs to be flat. I have also used a ruler and tailors chalk and marked the centre front. These lines will be used to position the embroidery so that it is dead centre and level.

There is a grid for your hoop which you use to position your embroidery.
You need to stabilise your fabric or it will pucker as you embroider it and spoil the effect. I always advise doing a test run to make sure that your chosen stabiliser is firm enough for your fabric and the  design. 
Your stabiliser is crucial and you need a supply of various types. More about them in a minute 

You also need Embroidery thread. You may start by just using a few colours but in my opinion boxes of thread are much better as then you have a good selection for your project. There are individual threads you can buy of course but I like this Brother box of embroidery thread It contains most of the colours that Brother use in their designs.

You will also need Bobbin thread , I suggest filling several bobbins when you have some spare time so that you never have to stop to fill a new bobbin part way through your project.

Embroidery needless are a must. You will need a couple of different Embroidery needles Some for normal embroidery and metallic ones if you intend to sew with metallic thread. Embroidery needles have a different shaped eye to ordinary sewing needles to accommodate the embroidery thread. The eye is larger which helps avoid friction and therefore reduces the risk of your thread fraying or snapping.

One of your stabilisers should be this Gunold easy tear stabiliser This is hooped with the fabric and is great for most woven fabrics. It tears away very easily when you have finished your embroidery.
It also comes in an iron on version Gunold iron on Stabiliser which again is a medium weight.

Another very useful stabiliser is Filmoplast self adhesive stabiliser. This is useful when you cannot fit your entire fabric into your embroidery frame. I had this happen when making my dress because the neckline did not reach the edge of my frame, son this stabiliser was perfect. It tears away after embroidery.
You may need water soluble stabiliser if you intend to make free standing lace. Other stabilisers are available but these are enough to begin with.
Always make sure that your stabiliser is enough to support your fabric and do a test piece before you start your garment.
Stretch or jersey fabrics can be used for embroidery and I have used them successfully but I would start with a medium weight woven fabric so that you are not put off as you need to stabilise the fabric so that it does not stretch at all during embroidery and this can be a touch challenging at first with some knits.

Other threads available are Brother Country threads, which you should request details of from Jaycotts. These are lovely as they have a mat finish and look lovely on heirloom sewing. I like them on blouses and bed linen too.
Brother has a large range of beautiful Embroidery Threads

Other threads you may like to try are Madeira Potpourri which has a lovely little speckle in it
And  they do a range of Madeira Variegated threads which I also like.

This is an example of the variegated and potpourri threads. the effect is more pronounced in larger areas, I was experimenting with colours on my normal sewing machine.

Going back to the dress. The pattern has a bound neckline but I do prefer a facing. These are easy to make,just draw around the paper pattern neckline at the front and back and mark a curved line from the shoulder to the front (and back) and then cut out your facing. These need interfacing. Do choose a good quality interfacing such as Vilene stretch lightweight interfacing cheap ones will spoil your garment.

Before we start any embroidery it is a good idea to mark the position of the darts on the back of the fabric . I have used a combination of chalk lines and a tailors tack at the dart point, this will help me to position my embroidery in the frame. Don't stitch the dart yet as the fabric needs to be flat.

Again, with my chalk and a ruler I marked the exact position of where I want my embroidery to go, and I marked vertical and horizontal grain lines so that I can ensure that my design is perfectly aligned.
Earlier in the post I showed you my design being altered by using my PE Design 10 software, what I didn't tell you is that there is a ruler function so you can make a note of the design size before you send it to your memory stick. If it is the wrong size for your project you can amend it. This measurement is important to know as it ensures that your embroidery design is the correct size.

This is my completed embroidery still in the hoop. You can still just about see the chalk lines marking my grain lines and the tailors tacks marking the points of my darts. You can also see where my neckline does not reach the edge of the hoop, and  the thread left behind when the embroidery machine moves from one area to another. These threads need to be trimmed away.
We now need to remove the embroidery from the hoop and tear away the stabiliser. The small pieces inside the various parts of the design can easily be picked out with tweezers.
When you press it out the embroidery face down on a soft towel and use a pressing cloth, otherwise the design will flatten.

This is the finished dress - with sleeves, and with a row of embelishing done on my regular sewing machine around the edges of the sleeves.

If you remember I cut facings for the neckline instead of using a binding. In order to turn any facing to the wrong side you need to clip the curves. You can either cut out little triangles of fabric as on the left or, and this is the only time I use them, you can use pinking shears. Cut close to your stitching but not through it. This works best on woven fabrics which do not fray very much .

Another important step is to understitch the facings. Do this after you have inserted the zipper. Simply press the facing upwards and stitch the seam to the facing only. Press the facing to the wrong side again. Your under stitching will only show on the wrong side of your garment and will prevent the facing from rolling out during wear.

I chose a different design for the front of the jacket but used the same colours. You can of course choose your own design.

Do you purchase ready made bias binding? Please don't, it's so easy to make your own and it will be of a much higher quality too.  Because my jacket is unlined I needed  to make the inside look attractive. I debated Hong Kong seams but thought them unnecessary on such a small garment So I opted for edging the hem and the facing with a pretty binding to match my Embroidery.
All you need is a Bias binding maker and an iron. For small jobs like this I use a Mini steam iron and a sleeve board it saves getting the large ironing board out .
Do you know how to cut your fabric on the bias? Fold the (straightened)  edge of the fabric to the selvedge forming a triangle, and press the crease. This line is the true Bias and you measure strips in the required width along this line and cut them , joining them as necessary to make a strip the length needed.
Then pass the end through the bias tape maker and pin the end to your ironing board. Pull the tool and press the binding as it emerges. It's quicker than going out to buy some and you will always have the colour you want.

This is my facing edged with my hand made binding. Don't you think it pretty?

I did the same with the hem, edging it with my binding and I think it just lifts the jacket
The final thing I did was to add three black hooks and eyes to close the jacket front.

This is the jacket nearing completion. I am still trying to decide if it needs small shoulder pads inserting. If it does, I will make some very small ones out of an oval of thin wadding folded over and covered with my fabric.

If you like my blog and found it helpful would you please leave me some feedback? It takes me a couple of days to write each blog post which is often longer than it took to make the item so I would really like some positive comments! I  do not make any money from my blog so it would be extremely rewarding to read some positive feedback

All of the items on this post can be ordered directly from the link highlighted on each product.
Alternatively there is a Contact Jaycotts form
Or you can telephone them on 01244 394099
Or you can visit them, the Address is here and whilst you are on their page do request a copy of the latest free catalogue and sign up for email alerts so that you are the first to hear about special offers, new blog posts and new products.

Please do not hesitate to contact Jaycotts for more information on any of their products or to book a " test drive" and try out their beautiful machines.

Finally, thank you to this lady for her lovely comment, this was sent to Jaycotts.

Re Angela's Blog on Machine Embroidery - Not sure how else to get in touch as I don't blog myself. She asked for response to her latest - please let her know that I very much appreciate her time and trouble in sharing her expertise and knowledge with other like-minded sewers. I am in my 70's and have sewn almost as long as I can remember, but I am still learning! I have an embroidery machine which I love to use, but haven't yet embroidered on any clothing for myself - but am now inspired to try it. It gives others confidence to 'have a go' when others share what they have achieved and the photos are a great help. I particularly like the ideas of making pretty binding to use on unlined garments, and making your own facings. Please let Angela know I really look forward to reading her blogs and admire her generosity in sharing her ideas and techniques. Very best regards to all at Jaycotts. From A S

Subscribe to SewAngelicThreads by Email