dabbling in diy

Posts tagged ‘tips’

Embroidering with metallic thread

I needed something to wear to a gold themed New Years party, but as gold is not my style, I really didn’t own anything gold to wear. Enter the leftover gold thread from the candles and a freestanding lace Raven Mask from awesome Urban Threads and I was in business.

Except ha ha ha gold is a metallic thread, my most favoritest kind of thread! There was thread breakage a plenty for this project, but by the end the breaks were significantly fewer and further between. So here are my tips on working with the pretty shiny threads.

1. Use a metallic thread needle. This is a no brainer, I wouldn’t even try it without.
2. Reduce your machine’s speed. I figured this out partway through the project and it really did help.
3. Put your bobbin of thread in a cup or glass instead of on the machine’s spool holder. I saw this tip while googling for metallic thread help and figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. I ended up using a small shot glass and it worked well.
4. Increase the distance between the bobbin and the thread intake to the machine. This gives more room for any twists and kinks to unravel before they get into the machine where they are likely to cause breakage. With my bobbin in the little shot glass it was easy to move it around and I ended up setting it down on the table next to the machine.
5. Use the right kind of stabilizer. As this is a lace project, a soluble stabilizer is needed. I first tried using a lightweight Solvy, but the metallic thread just shredded it without mercy. Then I switched to a stronger non-woven stabilizer and that worked much better.

This was also my first freestanding lace project and so I wasn’t sure how to play the bobbin thread. Each half of the mask was stitched separately and for the first half I wound a bobbin of the gold thread. Then, because I like to experiment, I used regular bobbin thread for the other half. From the front I don’t think the white bobbin thread is super obvious and I do have to say it did seem a little less scratchy against my face than the other gold bobbin thread side. I didn’t end up adding the beak, the mask alone was enough for me.

Overall this was a nice rewarding project. It was quick and easy enough compared to the pretty fantastic result and I did get a lot of compliments on it. And it would be even easier in regular thread!


Día de Muertos epic candle adventure – Part 2

As promised, here is a list of learnings from the wrapped candle project.

Dense designs with lots of stitches and intricate designs with lots of colors take a long time to stitch. Be aware before signing up to do a lot of them!

Up until this candle project I had only done relatively simple designs with few colours. I was in for a big shock when we stitched out the candle design for the first time and it took around two and a half hours!

Hooping is the foundation and must be done properly for a successful stitch-out

As we got to the last couple of colors of that first stitching, we realized the color alignment was really off. We were running into all kinds of problems because of it. Because this design is so dense in certain places, having the alignment off meant stitches were going where they were not supposed to be and where there were already lots of stitches and this is a recipe for thread breakage amongst other problems. We realized the design had shifted because we hadn’t hooped it very well. Unfortunately hooping is something I only got better at with practice. In a way, it’s nice that this project involved stitching out the same design over and over again, because it was easy to see the improvements in the stitch-out as I got better at hooping. Also on the topic of hooping, the original project instructions call for spray adhesive, but I didn’t find that it was necessary if the fabric was hooped properly.

I also want to add that it helps to be generous with your fabric. If the fabric is cut too closely to the hoop, it will have a greater chance of shifting or, even worse, slipping out of the hoop. So definitely allow for a good couple of inches of extra fabric around the outside of the hoop like in the photo above.

Trim jump stitches as you go

This may seem pretty obvious, but with a design like this that takes so long to stitch out and has so many color changes it can be tempting to not take the extra time. Also, with such an intricate design, certain colors required the hoop be removed from the machine to trim the jumps properly. With some of the really detailed and complex colors it was even best to trim the jump stitches as they occurred by pausing the machine after every jump stitch. I hear some fancy embroidery machines out there will do that automatically, but my Brother PE-770 is not one of them.

Have a lot of bobbins and bobbin thread on standby

This design needed 2 to 3 bobbin changes, depending on how full the first bobbin was in the beginning. That’s a lot of bobbin winding and spools of bobbin thread! With a big project like this, it’s best to keep a good supply on hand so you don’t get held up halfway through and have to stop.

Metallic threads are a force to be reckoned with

Dealing with metallic threads deserves a post of its own, but for this design in particular I did learn that it’s important to pay attention to the design you are working on and see if metallics are a good fit. My friend was adamant about doing the gold thread for the yellow in this design, and while it does look awesome, I don’t think it’s ideal. In this design, the gold was one of the last colors to be stitched, meaning there were already a lot of stitches down making thick areas that the metallic thread had to pierce through. That is an invitation for thread breakage and there were definitely some worrisome noises coming from the machine at certain parts!

Overall this project was a great experience and I learned so much!

Machine embroidery tip

It turns out that 8.5″x11″ rectangles of fabric fit great in my 5″x7″ hoop and are also the perfect size to fit in a binder. So what I did was take some plain woven fabric from my stash (that I know I will never use) and cut it all up into 8.5″x11″ pieces. Now I have a stack ready to use for any embroidery design test stitch-outs and experiments, and afterwards they go into a binder for easy organization and future reference.