Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stretchy Stitching - A tutorial-ette

I have really enjoyed embroidering vintage designs on little onesies this summer - about twenty in the last six months, or so. It seems that it is the baby season for many in my world!

I have learned a lot and improved my technique (and the quality of the results), and a few of you have asked me to share the process, so I put together a few tips.

This is what I have found that works for me. I am sure there are other ways that may be better, easier, more polished, but that is one of the best things about the internet, we can keep learning as we go!

This little lightning bug was in a coloring book and is the first motif that I have used that is not from the 'Story Book Trims' that Martha shared. It is a simple design that I thought would work well for demonstration.

These are the raw materials. The floss is not the floss I used. These were handy and added color to the photos...

I have been using "Totally Stable" iron-on tear away stabilizer. I picked it up at a thrift store, but I have seen it at Jo-Ann's etc. The instructions are very confusing to me and I think they are geared more to machine embroidery, so I just developed my own process. (honestly, I think wax paper would work, but I haven't tried it)

I cut a piece of the Stable that is a little wider than the hoop and 10 or 12 inches long, so that I can get more use from it. This photo shows the onesie wrong side out. The Stable goes under the fabric that I am stitching on.

I use a non-adjusting hoop, because I don't have an adjustable one that is small enough for the tiny shirts. I don't push it down all the way, because that stretches the fabric. An adjustable hoop might be easier to work with, but I get along with this one pretty well.

For the small motifs, I have been using two strands of floss in most areas and one strand for really tiny details. To minimize knots, I double a single strand.

I pull the first stitch through the loop in the end of the thread to avoid the need for a knot.

I use the back stitch, mostly. I poke the needle up through the fabric and pull it through...

...then poke it back down. This allows me to be place the needle very precisely. Since these designs are so small, it still goes pretty fast. The first few stitches kind of anchor the fabric to the stabilizer, so you may need to use your thumb to hold the fabric as you bring the needle up for the first stitch or two.
When I am finished with a color (or at the end of the thread), I make a knot very close to the last stitch and then weave the needle through several other stitches to anchor it. Then I trim the tail end very close.
This is the wrong side, after I am finished stitching. (You can see the holes from previous projects in the stabilizer.)

The needle holes perforate the stabilizer, somewhat, but I put my thumbnail along the stitching end to tear against to prevent pulling and distorting the fabric.

After I tear around the outside, I use pointed scissors to try to tear away as much as possible. In areas with a lot of dense stitches, sometimes a little bit is left.

Ready for the next one!

Please let me know if you have questions. When I write processes or procedures at work, I usually ask someone to read through it and see if it makes sense, but The Mister has gone up to bed already, and the kitties are not interested in helping me!


Martha said...

You did a perfect job! I've never attempted to do a tutorial, but I appreciate them so much when other bloggers take the time to prepare them. I like the "no knot" to start and the stick-stab needle method -- that makes a lot of sense. I have wanted to try this ever since I saw yours, and now I can take advantage of the tricks you've already learned. THANKS!

Iron Needles said...

Haha! I am thinking of the Mister proofing the tutorial. That will get me through my morning...

Iron Needles said...

Also...very good tutorial. I know it to be good because I almost ran out and bought some floss and onesies. Then I remembered that's your job. Mine is to do...other stuff.

Gaynell said...

Good job on the tutorial...and the pictures are great, too. It reminded me that in the move, I found some embroidery "things" that I will save for you. Maybe take them to Colorado and you can pick them up during your next visit!

Allie said...

Wonderful tutorial Jan! I love your method of starting and am going to do that starting tonight. I hate knots. I've never seen that done before - how clever! Thank you!

Lynne said...

I too like the start without a knot. I'm going to try it on the project I brought with me to the cabin! Now I just need to get started ... :)

Nice tutorial!