Nov 09 13
As I’ve been working to get my 4 long borders stitched, it occurs to me that all of us have things we do all the time to save time or to create an effect and we should be sharing this stuff. So, today I’m going to blog about a couple of tips that help me. First up, aren’t you always looking for ways to save time in your sewing room? We all have so many ideas of projects we’d love to create, and coming up with the time to do them is the hard part. One thing that kind of drives me nuts are thread stops in embroidery where you need to swap thread colors. Don’t get me wrong…I am a total thread lover and I get my kicks having lots of different thread colors in all my pieces, but if there isn’t a good reason to change colors, I don’t want to take the time. So, when I’m stitching out placement outlines for applique shapes, there’s no way that I’m going to swap out my thread color for every new applique shape. The way I get around it is that I chose a thread color that matches (or nearly matches) my background fabric color, and then I stitch ALL my placement outlines in that 1 color. Here’s an example and you’ll have to look hard to see all the outlines:
My second tip is also in the above photo. Do you see how I’m fusing a curved stem inside those stem outlines? There’s no need to cut out curved stems. The stem in this design is 1/4 inch thick, so if you simply cut 1/4 inch strips on the bias, they will bend/curve into whatever shape you’d like, and this will save fabric. These babies are easy to cut as below:
My next tip has to do with creating an effect. When you set up your machine into embroidery mode, it will have a default tension setting. The tension setting in embroidery is set so that the bobbin tension is a bit higher than the top needle tension and this is to ensure that bobbin thread does not show on the top of the embroidery. But, just like in free motion embroidery, you can mess around with the tension settings to create effects that matter to you. When I stitch motifs like the grapevine curly-cue below, I want that grapevine to be more protuberant, so I lower my top tension by 2 notches (i.e. from my default setting of 4.0 to 3.6) and this allows my top thread to protrude out a bit. Think of how this grapevine will look once I quilt just outside it with invisible thread…ooh-la-la:
(By the way, the same thing is true for the internal fill design inside those leaves.) Could you also use heavier embroidery thread to make that grapevine curley-cue pop out a bit more? You betcha! If you’re thinking about getting into machine embroidery applique but you’re kind of on the fence about it, check out the before and after pictures below. This “before shot” shows the applique shapes fused into place for the center portion of this border design:
…and this “after shot” shows the contribution that thread makes:
Now it’s time to turn the tables…what are your favorite machine embroidery tips?
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