Tools Of The Trade 2

Learn some of our “quick tips” we use to complete our embroidery designs here at Anita Goodesign.

Last month we gave you a special section that put together 10 tips of the 10 most frequently asked questions we get asked from all over the country. When our team of educators teach events, we get asked every question imaginable. But we also get to teach classes with customers who have a wide range of experience and have a lot of advice of their own to offer. This month I’m going to share with you my top ten favorite tips that I have been given from people at our Embroidery Parties. These pointers will surely help you sew full seam ahead!


1. Properly Removing Stitches

As you embroider and sew, you will always find reasons to remove stitches, whether its because it stitched wrong, you didn’t like the color, or because you need to take out the overlocking stitches in a garment. The most common mistake we see at events is people removing stitches from the top. Follow these quick tips to remove stitches with ease.

Always take the hoop out of your machine and flip it over to remove the bobbin stitches from the back. This helps out a lot because you don’t have to worry about accidentally cutting and ruining your fabric by taking them out from the top.

It also makes the top stitches practically fall out, making removal that much easier!

2. Technique To Trimming Appliqué

Trimming appliqué can sometimes be tedious and seem to take quite some time. There are a few tips and tricks when it comes to trimming appliqué that should help you speed things up!

Always pull the fabric to keep it taut as you are cutting it, the blade of sharp scissors will slice right through it very quickly. However be careful not to pull too tight and rip it.

Using curved tip scissors helps cut appliqué without nicking the base fabric and is handy for getting into tight corners.

Some designs will stitch out embroidery on the appliqué before it does a finishing stitch around the outside. If this is the case, trim the appliqué after the embroidery and before the finishing stitch to prevent the fabric from pulling inside the tackdown stitch.

Never leave more than an 1/8” of fabric sticking out past the tack down stitch. The finishing stitches usually will not cover more of an allowance than that. Some require even closer cutting.

3. Cleaning Freestanding Edges

When using tear away stabilizer on freestanding objects that have a satin stitch edge, you will notice that some of the fibers tend to stick through and give a very unclean look to your finished design. Here are some tips on cleaning up your project!

Tear away will leave some fibers sticking out past the final satin stitch which can easily be cleaned up. Using a lighter, quickly run the flame around the entire edge of the freestanding project and you will see them shrink up and disappear. Do this in a safe place and make sure you take proper safety precautions when trying this.

For any additional stabilizer showing through the satin stitch, a quilt marker that matches closely to your thread is a great way to finish cleaning up your design!

4. Needles We Use On Our Designs

There are so many needles and variations out there that it can be overwhelming to know which one is right for your project. At Anita Goodesign there are only a few types that we use for all of our projects.

With 99% of the designs we run, we use a 75/11 universal needle. We rarely create projects that will require other types of needles, however if you are using fabrics and materials that we don’t, you may need to switch.

We even run our metallic threads on 75/11 universal needles, however if you are having issues, an 80/12 metallic needle has a bigger eye on it that allows the thread to move easier through the eye.

There are a lot of other types of needles out there for various purposes, sharp needles are great if you are having trouble getting through several layers of embroidery, 100/16 jean or leather needles are also handy on very tough fabrics. 90/14 universal needles are also very popular but can leave larger needle holes in your design than a 75/11 universal.

5. Properly Using Spray Adhesive

Spray adhesive is a great tool to use when it comes to sewing and embroidery. Improper use, however, can stain certain fabrics and gunk up your machine. Use these tips to make sure your spray adhesive is helping you and not setting you back.

Always spray your adhesive on the fabric you are about to put down itself. Apply your adhesive away from your machine and in a well ventilated area. We like spraying in a box down and away from the machine so overspray doesn’t get everywhere.

Spraying adhesive directly on the design where the fabric is going can get overspray on top of other fabric and embroidery around it. Spraying it near or on a project that is in your machine will cause the overspray to clog the machine up and it will not perform properly.

6. Stabilizer We Use With Garments

There are lots of stabilizers that can be used on garments. If you are just starting out, you may have noticed that hooping a garment and stabilizer at the same time can be difficult. This is an easy tip to make sure your stabilizer is on straight and is completely hooped with your garment.

When trying to hoop an entire garment that can fit in a hoop without taking out the overlocking stitches, and placing the stabilizer in the hoop at the same time can be challenging. We prefer using an iron on no-show mesh stabilizer. This allows you to flip the garment inside out to iron on the stabilizer, making it and the shirt move as one when you go to hoop them together. Make sure the stabilizer you are ironing on is large enough and in the right spot on the garment to be hooped completely.

7. When To Wind Your Bobbin

Winding bobbins gives a finished appearance when it comes to freestanding items, or items that will be seen from all sides. Here are some useful tips on when you should be winding your bobbin to match the top thread and why.

Almost all home embroidery machines come with a spot to wind your bobbin. We do this so the top thread will match the back thread on free standing projects that you can see from both sides.

Always be aware of your thread weights when winding bobbins. If you are using a manufactured wound bobbin they are usually a thinner 60-90 weight thread than the typical 40 or 50 weight top thread used by embroidery machines (Floriani poly threads are 40 weight). An example is if I am using a white manufactured wound bobbin and a white top thread, the white top embroidery thread will be thicker, making the thread coverage look different between the front and back.

8. Properly Hooping Stabilizer

Your stabilizer is the foundation of your design, and the one thing that keeps your entire project hooped while you stitch out. The last thing you want is things shifting or the project popping out of the hoop because it wasn’t inserted correctly. Use these tips to make sure your stabilizer is hooped properly every time!

A properly hooped stabilizer will be nice and taut like the head of a drum without any wrinkles in it. We usually hoop the stabilizer, tighten the hoop, then pull the excess stabilizer gently around the hoop to pull out any wrinkles.

A loosely hooped stabilizer can cause all sorts of problems. It can cause the design to shift and pull unintentionally when it stitches, causing the design to not line up properly. Worst case, the design can pop entirely out of the hoop if its too loose.

9. Using Printed Templates

Sometimes its very difficult to know how your finished design is going to look when you stitch it out on something. At Anita Goodesign, we use templates that print to scale to make sure our designs get stitched exactly where you want them to!

To print a template you can use any embroidery software to open it up. Make sure you print actual size or scale 100%. This will make the print the same size as what you are going to stitch out.

After you print, trim the excess paper around the image and highlight the cross-hairs with a marker. These cross-hairs show you where the center is. Next visually place it where you like on your garment.

Put two pins through the center of the cross-hair marking your vertical and horizontal center. Next, hoop your garment in the center of the hoop using the centering notches on your hoop. This means when you load the design on your machine, it will stitch out exactly where you want it.

Once complete, your design would have stitched out exactly where you intended it to, eliminating the guess work as to how it will look once complete!

10. When To Trim Excess Fabric

There are a lot of times when you may have excess fabric from finished appliqué or folded fabric that may not appear to not need trimming. Sometimes its hanging off to the side or you know the excess will be covered by additional fabric. These tips explain why trimming excess fabric is necessary and when.

If the fabric is not the final part of your seam allowance, you should always trim for a few reasons. Above you can see there is an excess fabric border hanging in the seam allowance. However it still has another border to do that will go over that excess.

Since we use placement stitches to show where to place fabrics, not trimming this excess can cause the presser foot to go under the excess fabric which will sew that excess to the presser foot and potentially pull your design out of the hoop.

As a good rule of thumb, the only time it is okay to leave excess fabric is when it is in the seam allowance and not overlapping any other future seam allowances. Also there are times where the excess may be under additional appliqué. If the excess is a darker fabric than the one being put down, it can cast a shadow through it.