Archive for April, 2012

Embroidery Trends: Stitching on Fabric

We Love French Knots has a great little roundup of the popular trend of embroidering directly on fabric designs. It’s an easy way to start stitching without a pattern, or add some fun embellishment to a pretty piece of fabric.

Go check out more examples on her post!

Tutorial – Stitching A Patch On Fabric

Love the new Science patch, but don’t feel like messing with the whole “in the hoop” patch thing?

Adding a patch to something doesn’t mean you have to stitch it out and then add it on after the fact. If you can hoop your object, why not treat your patch just like an applique design? Even better, if you need to lighten it up a bit (like for a tee), just make it a regular old design!

Check out this tutorial on the basics of stitching a patch design directly onto fabric. You’ll be rocking your new nerdy tee in no time.

Tips For Embroidering On 5 Types Of Tricky Fabric

Once a beginner has moved past the phase of embroidering each and every tea towel they come across, it might then seem time to experiment on different fabrics. Most fabrics will handle all kinds of embroidery with ease, but certain tricky fabrics have been known to cause all kinds of headaches for stitchers.

Does that mean you avoid them all together? No! You just need to know a few tips on how to deal with these tricky types, and the results are totally worth it for all the different effects these fabrics can bring to your projects. So, here are five notorious offenders who are known to misbehave when placed under an embroidery machine, and how to deal with them.



A lovely, sheer fabric, stitching on organza can give your design a wonderful floating effect. Because of it’s airy nature, some things should be kept in mind when you stitch on it:

  • – Choose a design with minimal seams, as they may be visible through the textile.
  • – Use the smallest gauge needle available to you, to make the smallest holes possible.
  • – The best stabilizer to use with polyester or nylon organza is heavy-weight, water-soluble stabilizer.
  • – Lighter designs allow the fabric to drape better, and the organza can also be reversible when stitching designs with matching thread in the top and bobbin.



A sturdy waterproof fabric perfect for outdoor projects, Nylon can be annoyingly slippery, shifting in your hoop and adding puckers to your fabric. Try these tips to prevent it:

  • -Spray your stabilizer with temporary spray adhesive and smooth your nylon over it.
  • – To keep the nylon from pulling away from the sides of the hoop, add Wonder Tape to the sides of the inner hoop, but not to the corners.
  • – Finally add pieces of rubber shelf mat to the bottom sides of the inner hoop, on top of the Wonder Tape. Your hoop won’t be going anywhere now!
  • – Sturdier sport nylon is able to handle light to medium fill designs. If working with ripstop nylon, use designs that have light fills.
  • – Medium weight cutaway stabilizer with work best with most types of Nylon.



A wonderfully light and flexible fabric great for everything from workout clothes or ballerina princesses, but it’s stretchy properties can make it very pucker prone.  Check out these tips to make your design come out wrinkle free:

  • – Try using a ball-point needle. Ball-point needles have points that are more rounded than embroidery or sewing needles, so they’ll push the fibers to the side when forming the stitches.
  • – Choose a design that has open areas with simple fills. If you choose a complex design with layering, shading, or highlighting, chances are it’ll be not only too heavy, but also get misshapen.
  • – When hooping, it’s best to stretch the spandex so it replicates the level of stretch the garment will have while it’s worn. I know, this is often counter to the rule ” don’t tug on your hooped fabric”, but in this case, it’s needed.
  • – Don’t over stretch the fabric, or your design will pucker once the fabric is relaxed.
  • – As spandex is often used for garments, we recommend a No Show Mesh cutaway stabilizer, as it hides well behind the sleek, form-fitting material but gives enough strength for your stitches.



There are different kinds of silk out there, and each can use different kinds of designs. A good example of different silk weights are Charmeuse, Shantung, and Dupioni silk. Follow these tips for each type to get your best results:

  • -Use a 75/11 sharp needle. Needles with a rounded tip (embroidery, ballpoint, stretch) are likely to tear the delicate fabric and leave visible perforations.
  • -Light silk like charmeuse calls for a very light design such as toile, scribbles or redwork. You don’t want anything with fills or heavy satins.
  • -On light silk, you can use tear-away stabilizer, as cutaway stabilizer would show behind the translucent fabric.
  • -On medium weight silk like Dupioni, you can use light to medium designs, but make sure your design will allow your fabric to drape a bit.
  • -Shantung or decorator silk  is of a medium-to-heavy weight, and is able to handle medium-to-complex designs.
  • -For Dupioni or Shantung, you can use medium weight cutaway stabilizer. Lightly spray it with temporary adhesive and smooth the silk over the stabilizer before tightly hooping them together.


Faux Fur

Faux fur is fantastic for projects in need of a little extra fuzz, but embroidering on it can be a real nightmare without the proper prep. To get your design to come out crisp and clean and to keep your stitches from sinking into the fur, try these tips:

  • -Choose your design carefully. Bold, solid filled designs will work well on faux fur, but light stitching designs will simply sink into the fluff and disappear.
  • -Use medium-weight (2 oz.) cutaway stabilizer. If you look at the back of your fur, you’ll probably see it’s a knit fabric that’s somewhat flexible. It will need the firm support that a cutaway stabilizer can provide.
  • -The fur on the area to be embroidered should be no longer than 1/4 inch. If yours is shaggier than that, give it a little trim with your scissors.
  • -Faux fur is, well, furry, and it needs to be pressed into a smooth surface in order for your embroidery to look top-notch. Press down that fuzz with heavyweight water soluble stabilizer as a topping, something like Sulky Ultra Solvy.
  • -When your design is done stitching, tear away the water-soluble stabilizer from the edges of the embroidery. You might find it helpful to use tweezers to remove smaller pieces of topping, and then soak the rest in warm water to completely remove all the rest of the stabilizer.

Give these tips a try the next time you hoop up one of these tricky fabrics, and you’ll find they were misunderstood all along. You can embroider on almost any fabric, as long as you know what kind of designs, needle, and stabilizer you need to get the job done well.

These tips were re-posted with permission from our buds at Embroidery Library and their awesome series Kenny’s Korner. Go check out their page to get tips on stitching on all kinds of fabrics, as well as dealing with common machine headaches. It’s a great place to start if you’re  having any kinds of problems with your machine!

Dark Dimensional Threads

Anatomical heart pendant

Miniature skull embroidery in split stitch

Silk Ribcage miniature embroidery pendant

A little embroidery eye candy spotted in our flickr group to both inspire your threads and perhaps give you a sweet stitchy reminder of your own mortality. Just what you need on a Wednesday morning, right?

Mother Eagle embroiders these gorgeous pieces that use the dimension of the thread to eerie effect. What’s especially impressive is how tiny these pieces are, most no bigger than your thumb. Her detail is fantastic and the texture of everything is just delicious.

Want more dark inspiration over your morning coffee? Go check out her flickr page.

Free designs for Hackerspaces!

Ever heard of hackerspaces? They’re cool places that have been popping up all over the world where you can rent time on specialized equipment and generally join a band of merry makers who make all kinds of things. As well as things like welding, robotics, and general industry, hackerspaces are starting to support crafters too! And we’d love to see them support stitchers of the mechanical variety as well…

So Hackerspaces, take note! – We’re offering some FREE designs to any hackerspace hosting a machine, so newbies can try out some awesome designs on a hosted machine. We’ve got all kinds of geektastic designs coming out this week to celebrate. This is a sneak peek of the designs coming out this week!

So! Got a hackerspace near you, but no machine? Tell em to pick one up so you can try your hand at machine embroidery! All they need to do is contact us at with the name & location of their hackerspace and their preferred format for their embroidery machine and we’ll set them up with some awesome designs.  We’re happy to support crafty hackerspaces as best we can, because we think machine embroidery is pretty awesome and hope everyone gets a chance to give it a try.

Check out more details over on MAKE!

*Note – the title on Make is a bit misleading. These are not free designs on our website, but may be included in the pack for hackerspaces*

DIY Thread House Numbers

Here’s a cool tutorial idea that you can make with stuff you probably already have around the house, especially thread (wink wink).

Some nails and thread create this cool 3D effect. How neat would this look with variegated colors? Get the full tutorial over on our humble a{bowe}d.

Times Embroidered Logo

Amazing embroidered NY Times logo done by artist Jacob Magraw for their latest women’s issue. There’s a great interview over on the Times. It’s particularly fascinating because the artist does not typically work in embroidery, so it’s a whole new medium for him. Not bad for a first try, eh?