Guys, I’ve fallen down a deep rabbit hole of embroidery addiction. OK, so it’s nothing spectacular – just a few simple words or motifs but I love the magic that happens when you embroider clothes.
And though I’ve not been doing it for very long I have been doing some experimenting and working out what seems to work best. And because I reckon most of you are like me – keen or soon-to-be keen to embroiders of all the things – I thought these tips might be right up your street.
1. Think big, choose simple
Look, I think we all pretty much wouldn’t say no to some large scale embroidery. We want to make our work big. Bold. Epic.
Go big, or go home, right?
But the reality for most of us, or for me at least, is that there’s not a whole lot of time to embroider a masterpiece. So I’ve learnt that it’s best to keep it simple. A short message. A simple motif. Something achievable. I remind myself that I can always go on to embroider more if I want to do more/have the time/don’t become distracted by a shiny new project.
I do love the simplicity of a short message kind of gal. Two embroidery projects I’ve done are short messages – one reads ‘send coffee’ (my life motto) and the other reads ‘brunch ti amo’ (just a fact of life really).
Sure I could have aimed to embroider a whole garden – and that would have been awesome – but a simple slogan was just much more achievable given my relatively short patience and attention span.
2. Tools + light + time
It’s simple really, to get good results you need a mix of good tools, great conditions and time.
Your tools don’t need to be anything spectacular, just find what works best for you. So for me that means a rubber hoop (this is the one I bought is literally magic), sharp needles with big holes for thread (because I’m utterly useless at threading needles) and some decent thread.
I’ve also realised that good lighting is the key to a stress-free session, so I try to make sure I have lots of light.
And time is so key for me. Giving myself permission to spend time on a project and get it right really is important. I get a better quality make and also enjoy the project a heck of a lot more if I don’t feel like I’m rushing. But then again, I think we all know how I feel about mindfulness and sewing (like a whole post full here).
3. Try it out
When I was about to embroider the brunch tee I was half thinking I would add a pocket on the front and embroider over that. I could have just dived in, but I decided to try it out first using a pocket I pinned into place. I’m glad I did, because that little bit of trialling showed me that a pocket wasn’t for me, so I opted for something more subtle.
I’ve also been trialling out my stitches and motifs on a scrap piece of fabric. I like that it’s becoming a bit of a sampler in itself. I like trying our the different stitches in different threads to test what effect I like best.
4. Use interfacing for knits
If you want to embroider on jersey or stretch knits interfacing is the way forward. Basically it provides a stable base for your embroidery making it easy to work with and also preventing your stitches from stretching out or popping.
In this tee project I’ve used a lightweight woven interfacing with just enough weight to provide a base for the embroidery without effecting the drape.
Woven, iron-on interfacing works great for areas that don’t need to stretch, but if you want to embroider on an area that needs to stretch (like neckbands or cuffs) you might want to consider using a knit interfacing. It will give you the base you need, but allow the garment to stretch. Be warned though, the embroidery might stretch out in time or some of the stitches might snap with stretching.
You can buy interfacing at any good craft or sewing store.
5. (If you sew) Think about planning the embroidery at an early stage
If you’re a maker I think it makes a heck of a lot of sense to plan embroidery into the making stage. Embroidering over pockets, collars and hems can get pretty tricky (ask me how I know!) So if you can embroider these before you sew or even before you cut your pattern pieces then you’ll just have more control over the tension of the fabric and won’t have to worry about embroidering pockets shut.
With my Artemis coatagin (full deets on that make here) I really wanted to add this embroidery to the outside collar. Buttttt, I did this after I made the coatagin which made getting the right tension over the thick seams really difficult. If I’d have just planned it or before hand I wouldn’t have had such a problem.
Forward planning guys, it really is the answer.
I’ve also have a nice little collection of resources, including free patterns and easy-to-follow tutorials for all things embroidery, so do let me know if you’re interested in reading more. I know I can’t be the only one who’s been bitten by the embroidery bug!