Okay readers, I am all fired up and my studio is spotless and ready to go. There isn’t even a chipmunk in my studio (my facebook friends will understand this comment). After attending Birds of a Feather, and then Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, and then spending a lot of time getting rid of a chipmunk and cleaning my studio, it was some time before I was able to start using the explosion of inspiration that filled my head and heart for the future after such inspiring quilting events and spending the MAQF with my friend Mei-Ling who also inspired me.
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So to continue the Machine Embroidery pointers…I decided I really have to finish and publish my book on Surface Design and Embellishment, which includes among other things both in-the-hoop embroidery and free motion embroidery, to say all I want to say. But I did want to give you a little list of things to research on your own and to think about.
- Learn about stabilizers..there are lots of them out there and they all do different things. Sometimes you need more than one at once.
- It is possible to remove machine embroidery that messes up without damaging your fabric sometimes, but not always. I got a little electric trimmer for this purpose and it works most of the times if the fabric on which the embroidery is placed is sturdy enough.
- If you are using a commercial design, and you have digitizing software, such as Bernina’s, it’s a very good idea to load it into the software and take a good look at how it is stitched. You can often correct the designers mistakes, resize it, choose different fills, and make different thread selections before you use it…do this to a copy, not the original…and then do a stitchout before placing it on your main project.
- Realize that free motion thread painting is also a good option, but requires practice and understanding of thread density and how that affects your fabrics. This requires its own blog post (and chapter in my book).
- Even decorative stitching available on your machine just to go on that beautiful new blouse you are making often requires proper stabilizing and thread to fabric considerations.
- You can use decorative stitches within a pictorial wall hanging or to enhance applique and pieced projects. It’s very exciting and there is much to learn and try out.
- This kind of work takes time, thread, stabilizers, and practice but the results can be really rewarding.
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Use what you already know how to do in interesting ways and spend some of your precious time learning and practicing. One excellent idea that some quilters have suggested is to make simple utility, charity, and baby quilts for your learning and practicing. I think this is a wonderful idea, but you DO need to do SOME simple practice you are going to throw away or put into your reference notebooks. I do suggest you don’t let the practicing and learning take over all your sewing and quilting time though. Make yourself make that masterpiece quilt or important project. It’s all about balance in the studio, but be brave!
Suggested project: Steps to a tree wall-hanging with birds and flowers. With this wall-hanging, either find a coloring book tree or draw a simple tree and choose by the look you want what techniques, fabrics, and threads to use. For instance, 1. Make the background: the background could be pieced, appli-pieced (or pieceliqued..same thing), or painted or all of them to get the background you want. 2. Make the large part of the tree trunk and large limbs…use appliqued woody fabric, couched on yarn, or paint, then free motion couch or embroider the small twiggy parts of the tree. 3. Add the leaves…use free motion machine embroidery, appliqued leaves, or digitize leaf sections you embroider on black netting with washaway stabilizer and applique in place. 4. Add the birds and flowers…use commercial embroidery for in-the-hoop embroidery machines, sizing appropriately, or applique by hand, or paint and then applique. 5. Sandwich and quilt…use monofil polyester to in-the-ditch and around-the appliques stabilizing, then either quilt using your walking foot or free motion stitch the quilt, block, square, and bind. Please send me a photo to include in a blog post if you make a wall hanging inspired by this idea.