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Gallery Connection August ’09 – Project Advisor

Hi Everyone!

Last month we took our Stabilizer Quiz, “Which stabilizer were you?” They are all great and very much necessary! And that thought led me to think about the project types out there. There’s a lot available to use an embroidery machine on. And how do you do it? What changes when you go from a structured hat to an unstructured one? Maybe you just stick some stabilizer in either of them anyways, right? “The more the merrier,” right? Er, well not really.

For many reasons it’s good to use the right setup to do your embroidery.  Like what? Well puckers are obvious, but registration loss can be your choices not the design. It could even be your stabilizer. And your needle plays an important role. Not to mention your hooping technique.

So I’ve decided to include some snippets from my Project Advisor, included with Studio III to help you remember what to use on some of the more difficult items needing embroidery. The Basting recommendations are for use with an Auto-Baste feature such as the one in Studio or on many of today’s machines.

Where I present needle recommendations below, you can substitute an embroidery needle with a titanium embroidery anytime, and sizes 11 and 12 are interchangeable.

Have Fun!

-Brian

Canvas/Denim

Canvas, denim, twill, duck cloth and many so-called ‘pack cloths’ fit into this category. These are generally easy to embroider and don’t require a lot of stabilizer because the fabrics themselves are fairly stable. Be aware, however that many denims are now getting a little bit of Lycra added for stretch.

  • Backing: Cut away if it doesn’t detract from the product. Otherwise use Tear-away
  • Needle: size 14 ‘sharp’ or ‘jeans’
  • Hoop: Yes / Can Baste: yes / Suggest Basting: No (can leave unwanted holes and is not necessary)
  • If fabric is thin and you can’t use Cut-away: Fusible tear-away backing to be added.

Cotton/Poly/Lycra Knits

There are many variations of this blend on the market. Some have no polyester, whereas some are just poly / Lycra blends. This particular fabric group is usually made for workout clothing. If this is what you are doing, then also see the section on Lycra. If your intention is to have the fabric worn or used in a more relaxed state, such as with a skirt or loose-fitting top, then these instructions are more appropriate.

  • Backing: Cut away if you can, Self-adhesive acceptable
  • Needle: 11 Sharp with cutaway, 12 Ball/Universal for lesser stabilizer, but your design won’t be as ‘clean’. If your design is open and will allow the fabric to relax, this needle is preferred as it won’t cut the fibers of the knit. If fabric is thick, try a 14 Stretch needle.
  • Hoop: Not unless you’re careful! / Can baste: yes / Suggest basting: Yes (Or use spray adhesive)

Cotton/Polyester woven

Ordinary cotton, polyester, or blends embroider easily. If you are working with a heavy weight, also check out the instructions for Canvas/Denim. Since this category covers a broad range of fabrics, let’s just add that you don’t want to stretch the fabric itself. This will cause compensation problems; your colors may not register well. Always try to get the fabric stable before hooping it to eliminate this problem. When hooping, remember to make sure the stabilizer is ‘drum tight’ and that the fabric has no pull to the bias.

  • Backing: Tear-Away or Fusible
  • Needle: 12 Embroidery
  • Hoop: Yes / Can baste: yes / Suggest basting: No
  • If fabric has stretch: treat like a knit.

Fleece

Fleece is wonderful to embroider, but it is important to put a topping on fleece, as the pile will allow the stitches to sink in, causing the design details to get lost. Appliqués work great also, if you’re in the mood to do some digitizing. Note that most fleeces are stretchable in at least one direction, and this needs to be treated much differently.

  • Topping: Water-soluble self-adhesive
  • Backing: Tear-away self-adhesive
  • Needle: 12 Embroidery
  • Hoop: No / Can baste: yes / Suggest basting: yes
  • If fabric has more stretch: Add a soft cut-away.

Knits

Knits cover a broad range of fabrics, and generally require stabilizing top and bottom because the knit will distort as it sews. Many variations in fibers require different stabilizers, but the approach is the same; always take extra care in stabilizing. Thicker knits require more stabilization, unlike wovens. If you are looking for specific advice on knit shirts, check out the sections on Shirts: Golf and Sweatshirts. Note that if you use a stabilizer with adhesive, try a titanium needle, as the residue from the adhesive will not build up as easily on it.

  • Topping: Water-soluble self-adhesive
  • Backing: Cut away if you can, otherwise use Tear-away self-adhesive
  • Needle: 12 Ball, 12 Embroidery/Sharp for more detailed designs.
  • Hoop: No / Can baste: yes / Suggest basting: Yes
  • If fabric is thick, add a cut-away.

 

Leather/Vinyl

You can embroider on leather, vinyl, ultra suede, and similar ‘skins’ with good results. Designs with high density, however, are not desirable because the stitches can literally cut out the design. Although these fabrics are fairly thick, they can stretch, so stabilizing is required. Do not run a basting stitch on the leather because the holes left will be permanent. Many leathers are too heavy to hoop, and it will leave marks in the leather if you try, unless you line the hoop with something soft.

  • Backing: self-adhesive tear-away
  • Needle: Leather, 14
  • Hoop: No / Can baste: No / Suggest basting: No

Linen

Linen sews out like most cotton or polyester fabrics. Some is dry-clean, however, so consider this when selecting stabilizer. If you are creating heirloom designs on linen, consider starching the fabric. This will add a built-in stabilizer that can provide a better result when using a wing needle. Also, the starch will allow for a lighter stabilizer; one that tears away very easily will distort the fabric less when it is removed.

  • Backing: Tear away or Water-soluble self adhesive.
  • Needle: 12 Embroidery unless the design calls for otherwise.
  • Hoop: Yes / Can baste: yes / Suggest basting: Yes

Lycra

Lycra and other ‘super-stretch’ fabrics can be surprisingly easy. The difficulty lies in approximating the amount of stretch the fabric will endure, because that’s the amount of stretch that gets applied during the stabilizing process. If you want to embroider in the stretched state, you can, but you will want to hoop it. The assumption here is that you will be wearing the Lycra stretched, and it will need to stretch even more as you move.

  • Backing: Soft Cut-Away or self-adhesive tear-away.
  •  Needle: 12 Stretch
  • Hoop: Depends / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: Yes

Micro-fiber fabrics

Micro-fiber fabrics are the latest darlings of the fashion industry. They have some wonderful properties, but they can be very hard on sewing machines. Because the fibers are so close together, the needle has difficulty penetrating the fabric. This causes the fabric to stretch as it is sewn, creating difficulty with embroidery. It is generally a good idea to slightly over-stabilize, and these are no exception. Also, adding a topping is a good idea because some of these fabrics have a texture that can allow the stitches to sink in, losing design detail. We always recommend a needle designed for micro-fibers, but in so doing, you may lose some thread-handling success. It can be a trade-off and will depend somewhat on the specific fabric you’ve chosen. If the right needle is not available, get the sharpest one you can. Leather and Jeans needles are also very sharp.

  • Topping; Water-soluble
  • Backing: Self-adhesive tear-away
  • Needle: 12-14 Micro-fiber
  • Hoop: Normally / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: No

Quilted material

Quilted material is easy to embroider because in a sense it is already stable.

  • Backing: None, or Tear-away if snagging seems likely
  • Needle: 12 Embroidery
  • Hoop: Yes / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: No

Satin/Acetate

Satin sews easily and is easily stabilized. It is not a good idea to try and hoop this fabric as it is slippery. You can also leave a hoop burn on the fabric. So if you hoop it, add something soft as a buffer between the fabric and the hoop. Muslin generally works.

If your satin is made of acetate, remember that water will leave spots, so we don’t advise water-soluble stabilizer, and check your iron or press to make sure it is dry before pressing. Also, heat can be a problem with acetate, so double check to see if you can iron the fabric safely if you’re considering fusible stabilizer!

  • Backing: Cut-away or Self-adhesive or fusible tear-away stabilizer
  • Needle: 12 Embroidery, Sharp or Micro-fiber
  • Hoop: No / Can baste: Yes /
  • Suggest basting: No

Silk

Silk, in all its variations, is wonderful to embroider, but use a sharp needle. Remember that silk threads work best with silk fabric, and also the silk can cut weaker threads, such as rayon, if it is on a garment that will get a lot of movement. Some silk will need to be dry-cleaned. Make sure the thread used for the design can also be dry-cleaned. A thicker, looser woven silk may need to have a topping.

  • Topping: None/Heat-Away.
  • Backing: Tear-away
  • Needle: 12 Titanium, Sharp, Micro fiber
  • Hoop: Yes / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: No

Velvet / Raised Nap

Velvet can be difficult, but yields wonderful results! Like other fabrics with a pile, the stitches can be pulled down into the fabric resulting in a loss of design detail. Because of this, velvet requires a topping, but be careful in deciding which one to use. Some velvets are dry-clean only, others don’t like heat. Always test your process first! Note that hooping velvet will damage the fabric. If the pile is really high, you can use an electric razor and shave it down to an embroider-able height.

  • Topping: Heat or water-soluble
  • Backing: Cut-away or Tear-away
  • Needle:12 Embroidery
  • Hoop: No / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: Yes

Wool

Wool is wonderful to embroider, but be careful if it has a pile or a stretch. Wools today are blended with many other fabrics, so this will require some attention. Remember that most wool is not washable, so check before selecting your stabilizer.

Some wools can be hooped, and if this is the case, then use a tear-away stabilizer, and tightly hoop both the fabric and the stabilizer together. If your wool cannot be hooped, or if your wool will stretch, then don’t hoop it, rather, stick it.

  • Topping; None
  • Backing: Soft Cut-away or Self-adhesive tear-away
  • Needle:12 Embroidery
  • Hoop: No / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: No

Hat, structured

Hats that are structured have stabilizer built-in. You may not have to use much stabilizer, if any. The trouble is hooping; the hat won’t press into the frame easily. There are metal frames made for some machines, and this helps, but it is still difficult. Also, alignment takes practice. We recommend using one of the non-hooping techniques if you don’t have a special frame. Note that if you use a stabilizer with adhesive, try a titanium needle, as the residue from the adhesive will not build up as easily on it.

  • Backing: Self-adhesive tear-away
  • Needle: 14 Titanium or Sharp
  • Hoop: No / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: No

Hat, unstructured

Hats that are not structured require a little extra stabilization. They are less difficult to embroider than structured hats (using a flat frame or hoop), but can still be difficult. As with structured hats, the trouble is hooping; the hat won’t press into the frame easily. There are metal frames made for some machines, and this helps, but it is still difficult. Also, alignment takes practice. We recommend using one of the non-hooping techniques if you don’t have a special frame. Note that if you use a stabilizer with adhesive, try a titanium needle, as the residue from the adhesive will not build up as easily on it.

  • Backing: Cut-away + spray adhesive
  • Needle: 12 Titanium or Sharp
  • Hoop: No / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: No

Hosiery

Hosiery, stockings, etc. can be embroidered! This project is unusual because we actually stretch the material for a change! If you have a very small hoop, that works best. Be very careful not to get other parts of the stocking caught! (It will probably happen the first time you try this type of embroidery.) If you do not have a small enough hoop to stretch the fabric into, try using a non-hooping technique. The embroidery is usually done by making a ‘well’ and sewing in it. This means you will have to babysit very actively.

  • Topping: Water-soluble
  • Backing: Self-adhesive water-soluble
  • Needle: 12 Ball
  • Hoop: Yes / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: No

Lace embroidery

Using lace designs is easy if you use net, tulle or organza as a foundation. Some lace designs are made be embroidering directly on Water-soluble Mesh stabilizer. Typically, cotton thread is used.

Note that the creator of the design will have instructions. Techniques differ greatly depending on the design.

  • Topping: None
  • Backing: Water-soluble Mesh
  • Needle: 12 Embroidery
  • Hoop: Yes / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: No

Metal plate/Punch

Metal work or copper-punch is neat if you have a design digitized for it. Remember that every ‘stitch’ will leave a hole when you are digitizing for this process. Because of this, the density filters are not advised – you do not want to modify the design since it was probably digitized for this type of work. Since it is unlikely that your metal plate will be hoop-able, put some self-adhesive stabilizer in the hoop and expose just enough stickiness to be sure that your metal won’t shift. Alternately, hoop a light paper, then add some double-sided tape around the edges which will hold the plate in place. When you’re done, release the stabilizer from the hoop and have some solvent on hand to remove the adhesive that’s left behind, if any. If you do this carefully, you’ll have no bends in your metal!

  • Backing: None
  • Needle: 18 universal (or Ball) Do not use a sharp, as it won’t ‘punch’.
  • Hoop: No / Can baste: No / Suggest basting: No

Shirt: Golf (pique knit)

The typical sports shirt is made of a very breathable fabric known as a pique knit. This fabric also moves easily over the body. What this also means is that it will gather while embroidering if you’re not careful to keep it stable! Although it is not likely to stretch much, pique knit wants to be treated as if it would. Relax the fabric as much as possible before stabilizing. You may also want to lower your tension slightly. (Only slightly). If you have a bunch of shirts to do, practice on a sample first. 

  • Topping: Water-soluble self-adhesive
  • Backing: Cut-away, Fusible, Soft cut-away
  • Needle: 12 Embroidery
  • Hoop: No / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: Yes

Shirt: Sweatshirt

Sweatshirt or jersey material can be difficult because of its tendency to shrink under the tension of embroidery. Due to this, stabilization is very important. Do not attempt to pull the fabric tight in the hoop as this makes the problem very bad. Just make sure that the stabilizer is tightly hooped, with the fabric well-adhered to it in a ‘relaxed’ state.

  • Topping: Water-soluble self-adhesive
  • Backing: Fusible, Soft cut-away, adhered with spray adhesive
  • Needle: 14 Embroidery, not Sharp. Heavier needle as these can ‘pull’ on you while embroidering and deflect the needle.
  • Hoop: Yes / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: Yes

Towel, Bath

Bath towels are very heavy; the result of which is that designs may lose some detail. However, towels are fairly easy to embroider. You can even make a two-sided towel by matching your bobbin thread.

  • Topping: Water-soluble mesh
  • Backing: Cut-away or for 2-sided: Water-soluble Mesh, preferably with some volatile spray adhesive
  • Needle: 14 Embroidery
  • Hoop: Yes / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: Yes

Towel, Tea

Tea towels are not as heavy as bath towels and the odds are that you can hoop them. Linen tea towels have no pile, allowing for less stabilization and no required topping. Terry towels are more like bath towels, requiring topping to prevent stitches being pulled into the pile, so use the bath towel instructions.

  • Backing: Tear-away
  • Needle: 12 Embroidery
  • Hoop: Yes / Can baste: Yes / Suggest basting: No
  • If fabric is thin: Water-soluble self-adhesive stabilizer

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Posted in Brian's Articles and News 8 years, 4 months ago at 1:11 am.

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