You Mean I Need More Than 2 Stabilizers?

I think this is one of my most asked questions in class. Stabilizers have come a long way from the early days of using paper or coffee filters to stabilize fabrics in an embroidery hoop. That’s going way back in time! I’ve been sewing since I was a young child, but doing embroidery for the past 12 years. Times have changed, even from when I started, and those changes are wonderful for those of us who do home embroidery. The quality of stabilizers is amazing and when you use the proper stabilizer for your project, the outcome is beautiful. You can take a plain piece of fabric or linen and make a high end style pillow that would cost you up to $100 from a home decor boutique store. Your cost? The price of a yard of fabric, your embroidery supplies, and your creative imagination.  You can design a kitchen tea towel and personalize it to give as a gift. You can embroider a beautiful monogram on a set of towels for a lovely wedding gift. All these projects use a different stabilizer to make them look professional.

There are two main things to remember. If the fabric stretches, use a cutaway stabilizer. If it doesn’t stretch, you can use a tearaway. That’s your starting point. If you keep that in mind, most of your problems are solved.

Let’s look at Tearaway stabilizers, of which there are many. There is light to medium weight tearaway which can be used on designs that are not overly dense, or they can be used to “float” under another stabilizer when a design has more than 10,000 stitches.

Another one is the “sticky back” tearaway. Floriani makes one called Perfect Stick. This particular stabilizer is half water based and half fiber based. This means that the portion under the stitches will stay even if the rest is washed away. I like this one for a lot of things like embroidery on quilting fabric, tea towels, small terry kitchen towels, etc. This stabilizer, as I understand,  has a silicone base so it won’t gum up your needle. RNK Distributing makes this and many other stabilizers under the brand names of Floriani and Jenny Haskins. They also have one called Wet n Stick. With this stabilizer, you dampen the stabilizer once it is hooped, and a little water activates the sticky quality. Then “float” and stick down the item to be embroidered. This one is great for heavier towels. Once you are done stitching, dampen the back of the stabilizer and it will activate the water property again, so it will peel away and tear away easily. Again, it is half water soluble and half fiber.

You can also get iron on tearaway that you fuse to the back of the fabric, then hoop fabric and stabilizer as one.  For the most part, it is always best if you can hoop the stabilizer and the fabric together. But… there are times when hooping the fabric is not good for a variety of reasons, like a quality towel or velvet which could get “hoop burn”. Or the fabric is too delicate, so floating is the best option. Floriani has a sheet inside the tube of each stabilizer roll  that tells you how to use that particular one.

Stretch fabric like T-shirts, knits, sweatshirts and some cottons need a cutaway stabilizer. A prime example is a T-shirt with lots of stretch. This needs No Show Mesh cutaway. It comes in fusible and non fusible. Several companies make this type,  but I happen to like Floriani because it comes in 3 color options, white, beige and black. I generally use beige or black depending on the fabric color. Because you cut it away about 1/8th inch to 1/4th inch  from the outside edge of the design, the beige doesn’t show through the light colored T-shirts.

You can also get a cutaway that looks like tearaway, but can’t be torn. This one is great for heavy sweatshirts, or jackets and will hold a large design with a heavy stitch count. This same cutaway is great to use behind a design that you want to turn into a decor picture in a frame or wall hanging.

There’s one more to talk about. water soluble stabilizers. These are great to use for Free Standing Lace (FSL), or for embroidery on organza, or sheer fabrics that you don’t want a stabilizer to show on the back. I like the kind that looks like funny fabric or cheese cloth. It’s sturdy and one or two layers can hold a LOT of stitches. Sulky also makes a heavy weight plastic or opaque looking stabilizer that is also good for FSL. There is another kind that looks like Saran Wrap. This is a “topper” that you put on top of your design to hold down the nap while stitching out your design.  Sulky calls it a stabilizer, but it is not to be used for holding stitches. The light or medium weight is to be used only as a topper. You pull it off and if you have any little nooks and crannies that you need to get out, a wet cue tip will do the trick. There is also a topper that you melt off with a dry iron. Follow instructions carefully to know how to use it properly. Floriani  calls theirs Heat N Gone

One of my favorite things to do is embroidery on towels. Below is a You Tube video with some excellent instructions on stabilizing terry or velour towels. The educator is Ellen Olsten and she is wonderful. I had the pleasure of meeting her when she came to our store, Expert Sewing Center, with a Sulky sit n sew event.  Watch and enjoy!

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Please check out some of my past blogs. I try to make them informative and educational. It is my delight to help people to enjoy and learn. Sewing has been a passion of mine since I was a young child.  There is a blog on threads, or one on needles, or ideas for gifts and more.  Also check out my creative links. These are businesses I do business with. They are all good quality companies.

Until next time…. Happy sewing!

 

 

 

 

 

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Tips & Tricks #1

This blog is going to be a mix of tips from various sources and things I’ve discovered in my years of sewing. I will be doing this periodically  so as not to overwhelm you with too much information.

The one thing I found to be true is, work with the best tools you can if you want a quality product in the end. Your project will only be as good as your weakest product in your project.

One stabilizer does not fit all situations!!! Check out my blog on how to use stabilizers for the best outcome of machine embroidery.

The old adage … Measure twice (or 3 times to be sure) and cut once. It also helps to read the instructions over before your start your project. (:-)

If you want to make a quilt that will be an heirloom to hand down, be sure to use good quality cotton fabric from a quilt store locally or online. Don’t go for cheap fabric, as it won’t last. Use cheaper fabric for projects that will be considered “disposable” in time.

Check your tension and make sure that your threads are sewing evenly through your fabric. Especially when quilting through two layers of fabric and batting. You may need to loosen the tension or tighten it depending on your machine and thread. Make a sample sandwich and test on that before starting on the real quilt.

Always use good quality threads for any sewing project but particularly for quilting and embroidery.  Again, you are only as good as your weakest link. Don’t let that weak link be thread that shreds or breaks all the time. I personally like Aurafil for sewing and piecing and King Tut by Superior threads, or Sulky 30w for  machine quilting.

Don’t forget to start with a new Quilting needle, preferably 90/14, when you start machine quilting a new quilt. The same goes for embroidery, a new embroidery needle will make the project go smoother.

If your thread keeps shredding or breaking, try this; Change your needle, re-thread the top thread and reset your bobbin. Most times this will take care of the problem. If it doesn’t, clean out your machine. Another thing you can do is take a cotton ball and rub it against the bobbin case, throat plate or even the needle to see if there is a burr that could cause breakage or shredding.

I am constantly saying to my students, they spend thousands of dollars on these beautiful new sewing/embroidery machines that do everything imaginable, then scrimp on supplies. Good machines need good thread, needles and fabric to run efficiently.

Periodically, I’ll be giving you more blogs with tips. If you have a neat tip I can pass on, I’m sure my readers would enjoy hearing it. One reader commented on the blog about metallic thread. She said she uses Floriani metallic and has no trouble with breakage. Nice tip!

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Be sure to check out past blogs to see some interesting articles about sewing, embroidery and quilting.

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO SEE PAST BLOGS OR CLICK ON THE “PAST BLOGS” LINK ON THE RIGHT.

 

 

The “How To” of T-Shirt Quilts

jessica-t-shirt-1Ever wanted to do something with all those t-shirts your kids get from school, sporting events, or dance recitals? How about all the ones your brother, husband, or sister have that they just can’t get rid of. Here’s the perfect solution to save those memories and make something that they will cherish for a long time.

T-shirts are tricky to work with. They are very stretchy and not conducive to behaving when trying to sew them like quilter’s cotton. Consequently you have to back them with a permanent iron on interfacing to make them stable. My procedure is to cut the design from the front or back of the t-shirt as large as you can get it. For adult t-shirts you will probably need to cut as much as possible or more, so as not to lose any of the design. Eventually you will cut the finished block to 12.5″  You can cut children’s sizes accordingly. Next,  I recommend using Pellon lightweight or medium weight interfacing that is ironed on the back of the block/design. Another great product to work with is Pellon Wisper Weft. It works the same way as shirt weight interfacing and is just as stable to tame the t-shirt stretch. The light weight interfacing is a softer hand and will show more old fashioned quilting puffiness. Medium weight interfacing gives a flatter look. Whisper Weft is between the two. Continue reading “The “How To” of T-Shirt Quilts”