Specialty Needles for Embroidery

Posted by on June 29, 2010 | No Comments

Debbie Cleek, one of our talented sewists, has these suggestions for use specialty needles when embroidering. And, don’t forget that when you buy 2 needle packs, you get one FREE at Sewing and Craft Club!

For most of your embroidery, using 40 wt. threads, either rayon, polyester, cotton or acrylic you will use an embroidery needle. These needles have a larger eye and allow smooth thread flow AT the higher speeds used for embroidery. The most common size used is a 75/11. However, embroidery needles are also available in sizes 80/12 and 90/14. Embroidery needles are also available with a titanium coating. These needles do not heat up as much from the friction during embroidery which makes them a great choice when using spray adhesives and sticky stabilizers.

Metallic threads can be tricky to work and without the right needle it can quickly turn into a nightmare. Metallic needles have a larger, specially coated eye coupled with a large groove in the shaft. These things are critical to reducing the friction when working with metallic threads. These threads do add a striking touch to your embroidery so don’t avoid them, just be sure to have the proper needle and slow the sewing speed down as well.

Beautiful embroidery can also be achieved using a wing needle. Wing needles are primarily used for heirloom sewing and with the right design can add an heirloom touch to your machine embroidery. There are a couple things to keep in mind when selecting a design to stitch with a wing needle. First, make sure the design is a simple outline stitch design, fill stitch designs do not work well with a wing needle and should be avoided. To achieve the maximum benefit of the wing needle its best if the design uses a bean stitch or similar stitch where the needle will pass through the same point more than once. This will allow the wing needle to create a nice opening at the stitch point giving the design a nice heirloom look. As you would with any specialty technique, be sure to slow the sewing speed down on your machine.

A twin needle yields beautiful results when sewing decorative stitches built into most machines but, don’t stop there. With machine embroidery, even a basic shape with a basic running stitch will have pizzazz when stitched with a twin needle. Expand your creative horizons by trying some basic motif stitches. When trying various stitches, be sure to slow the sewing speed of your machine. Remember, slow and steady sets the pace!


3-D Embroidery

Posted by on June 27, 2010 | No Comments

Embroidering on craft foam isn’t the easiest thing to stitch on. Don’t let the foam get to you as it tears or disappears into the needle hole. Here are some tips for craft foam embroidery:

• The tearing is caused by lots of needle punches, so select a design with less density and long stitches

• Stabilize the foam with a permanent stabilizer and adhere it to the back — don’t use heat re-movable stabilizer (heat will melt the foam!)

• A sharp needle is a must, 70/10 if using Rayon embroidery thead

• Adjust your machine tension to the lightest possible (while still allowing it to stitch) to help reduce the stress on the foam


Must Have Stabilizers

Posted by on June 25, 2010 | No Comments

Words of embroidery wisdom from Debbie Cleek:

With all the stabilizers available selecting the proper stabilizer can be confusing.  Many of stabilizers come in black and white, adhesive and non-adhesive, heavy and light weight.  As your embroidery skills grow and you experiment with new techniques so will your stabilizer collection.    The stabilizers listed below are great ones to get you started and you will find they are stabilizers that you will not want be without.

Cut-Away Soft – This stabilizer is good for heavy duty projects and great for sweatshirts.  It is a cut-way stabilizer which means the excess stabilizer around the outside of the design will be cut away while the stabilizer will remain behind the design to support it through many washings.  When using this stabilizer, you can hoop it with the item to be stitched or hoop the stabilizer by itself and float the item on top of the stabilizer.

No-Show Mesh – This stabilizer is perfect for baby’s items and linens; items that will be laundered but do not require a heavy stabilizer.  This is a permanent stabilizer that will not wash out when laundered.  After embroidering, trim the excess stabilizer leaving approximately ¼” around the outer edge of the design.  This stabilizer will be soft and gentle on a baby’s skin.  It is also light enough so it will not leave a stabilizer shadow on your linens and home décor items.

Tear-Away Firm – This is great stabilizer to use for denim, canvas, corduroy, and other heavier fabrics.  It also works great for craft projects like embroidered note cards.  This stabilizer provides just enough support for the stitching to help prevent puckering, tunneling and distortion with designs of all stitch counts.  It also tears away easily after stitching making it the perfect choice for stitched note and greeting cards.  After stitching, the excess is torn away.  The stabilizer left behind will soften and wash away after multiple washings.

Hydro Melt Topping – This is a must have stabilizer when embroidering anything with a nap such as towels, fleece blankets and velvets.  This stabilizer holds the nap down and prevents it from poking through the stitching.  When stitching heavier knits it also prevents the stitching from sinking down into the knit.  It is very easy to use, simply hoop your item as would normally and layer a piece of this stabilizer on top to cover the design area.  When your design is finished, tear away the excess from the outside edge of the design, the remainder washes away when laundered.

Press -Away Topping – This stabilizer is perfect for times when you need to use a wash away stabilizer but cannot get the item wet.  It works just like Hydro Melt with the exception of the need to wash it away.  Hoop your item as you would normally and layer a piece of this stabilizer on top to cover the design area.  When your design is finished, tear away the excess from the outside edge of the design, the remainder is removed by pressing with a medium to hot iron.  This is also great for red work and open work designs like Sashiko.  You can press away the stabilizer and not have the time delay of rinsing and drying the piece before continuing with your project. 

You can find these stabilizers at Amazing Designs or Sew and Craft Club.


Embroidery Collections On Sale NOW!

Posted by on June 24, 2010 | No Comments

Summer Embroidery Sale — Up to 70% OFF MSRP — now through July 31, 2010!

Once Upon a Time by Sewing With Nancy — 40 designs, now only $29.99
Fashion Embellishments II by Eileen Roche — 24 coordinating designs, now only $19.99
Cap it Off — 20 designs, now only $12.99
Kids’ Toys — 20 designs, now only $9.99
The Perfect Dress — 20 designs, now only $29.00
Being a Kid is Fun — 20 designs, now only $19.99

Once Upon A Time    Fashion Embellishments    Cap it Off

Kids Toys                The Perfect Dress             Being a Kid is Fun

*Click on the images above to go to see the entire collection!



Embroidering on Silk…

Posted by on June 23, 2010 | No Comments

I love to embroidery on fabrics out of the ordinary. The textures and results that you can achieve are amazing and well worth the effort. Here are some tips for embroidering on silk:

• select a lightweight design from Amazing Designs or reduce the density of a design with DensityWorks

• use a 40-wt. polyester thread for the best results, rayon thread is a good second option

• a sharp needle is a must, metallic needles are commonly used when embroidering on silk; do not use large or dull needles as they will tear the fabric

• stabilize the silk with a light- to mediumweight stabilizer that is NON adhesive-backed

• when embroidering, use the smallest hoop possible to prevent distortion and pulling the fabric, and be careful to avoid hoop burn

Happy stitching!


July 4th Embroidery Designs

Posted by on June 21, 2010 | No Comments

It’s not too late to make embroidered kitchen or bath towels for July 4th! Amazing Designs has the perfect designs for your ready-to-embroider items. With no editing needed, you can layout a cute apron, towel, or t-shirt and be ready to rock this Independence Day AND Labor Day!

American Originals Collection

American Spirit Collection


Sew a Child’s Toy Tote

Posted by on June 20, 2010 | No Comments

This fun one-day project makes an out-of-this world tote for toys, books and more.  Uses the Blast Off embroidery design collection (ADC-116).


Click here to download the FREE project instructions!


A Fabric “Nap”?!

Posted by on June 19, 2010 | No Comments

My friend, Jan Page, wants to share this information about fabric “nap”:

Did you know that some fabrics such as corduroy, minky, and velvet have a “nap”?  The nap, or pile, of the fabric needs to all go the same direction when you’re working on a project. If the nap of the fabric isn’t all heading the same way, the colors of the fabric will appear to be different, when they’re really all the same. 

With most napped fabrics you can feel which way the nap is running if you’re in doubt. Run your hand parallel to the selvage in one direction, then in the opposite direction. You’ll feel the difference–and you want all of your pieces to feel like they’re running the same way when you’re finished.

On the back of most pattern envelopes you’ll find the amount of fabric needed if you’re using one with a nap–it’s usually just a little more. The pattern piece layout will also be different, so be sure to look for the “With Nap” layout.



Filed Under: Tips & Techniques

Washing Your Quilt

Posted by on June 17, 2010 | No Comments

Calling all quilters, including those that have made a quilt or two but still don’t consider yourself a quilter, here is a tip from national recognized Eleanor Burns on washing your quilt:

I love to wash my antique quilts.  Antiques can smell so musty, and I just love for them to have that fresh, clean fragrance.  The first thing I take into consideration is the age of the quilt and determine if it has ever been washed before.  You have to be very careful when washing them so that they retain their color and don’t run.  I have never had much luck on very old stains so for that reason, I hardly ever buy a quilt that I know won’t come clean.

I used to wash my quilts in a big metal wash tub but it took two of us to handle a wet quilt!   Now, I just love my Maytag washing machine.  It has a special hand wash cycle and extra large drum that is great for washing quilts. 

The first thing to do is run cold water in the machine, put in the soap and then the quilt to soak.   If it looks at all like it is going to run (the water may turn colors) I take it right out and I don’t let it dry without taking care of the dye bleed.   Grandma’s Quilt Soap works well on fresh stains and you can try that if the fabric runs before it is dry.   The soap I use is called Orvus.  This is a very gentle detergent that is pure sodium lauryl sulfate.  It is sold in quilt shops as Quilt Soap, but can also be found at livestock supply stores.  There is a product on the market that is used by people who dye their own fabrics called Retayne.   This product fixes or sets dyes on cotton to prevent color bleeding during washing.  You may find Retayne at your local quilt shop or it can be purchased online.  Follow the directions carefully when you use it. 

After the washing cycle, very carefully lift the quilt in bunches out of the washer.  You don’t want to stretch the quilt while it is wet because it can break the quilting stitches.  I put mine in the dryer on tumble only (no heat) until it is nearly dry.  Then I take it outside, lay a sheet on the grass and spread the quilt over it.  At this time, you may want to reshape the quilt.  Lay another sheet over the top of it to prevent direct sunlight from fading the fabrics.  I never wash the quilts I show because I want them to have that crisp, new look. 

For those of us who love quilts, the subject of washing them is sometimes cause for concern.  We want our treasures to be taken care of in the best way possible so that they last a long time and we can pass them on to our families.

Happy Quilting!



Adding Fireworks to Your Summer Embroidery

Posted by on June 15, 2010 | No Comments

An embroidery enthusiast, Debbie Cleek, has this to share for adding fireworks to your summer embroidery:

Summer is on our heels and the temperature will soon be rising. The smell of fresh grilled foods will fill the air and family and friends will gather with more regularity. So, while you are updating your summer table décor, making family reunion shirts, or just making something fun for the local fireworks display, keep this one thing in mind: specialty threads are not just for Christmas! With this in mind, I thought I would share with you some of the ways I like to use specialty threads and embellishments this time of year.

• How grand would the Star Spangled Banner be without the rocket’s red glare? I am thinking that rocket would fall pretty flat. Keep that in mind as you are adding firecracker designs to your napkins. Use a little metallic thread in some small accent areas and those firecrackers will POP!

• One of my all-time favorite threads is the Glow-in-the-Dark thread. Ever since my kids were little, I have searched for items I could either make or embellish with glow-in-the-dark lightening bugs and twinkling stars in a night sky. I remember making bug nets out of window screen; that was all the rage! Do they still do that?

• Sometimes, you just run out of time and can’t get the sewing and embroidery done that you would really like. But, you really want to update your look from last year. No problem! pull out last year’s stuff, get out your Hot Fix Crystal applicator wand and Bling It! This is the quickest, easiest way I can think of to add new life to old dreary embroidery. To make it super easy, you can purchase crystals in themed assortments like patriotic. There are also a number of templates available to help in more complicated shapes.

Here’s a Handy Hint: Keep the large flat tip on your crystal applicator. This makes it easy to work with a variety of sizes at one time. You can place the crystals with a pair of tweezers and hold the flat tip of the applicator on the top to melt the glue and set the crystal!

Enjoy the summer holidays and cherish the time with your family. I hope these tips help to add fireworks to your summer holidays and family gatherings. Happy grilling and happy embroidering!


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