by guest blogger Rita Wetzel
Whether you are new to embroidery, a long time embroiderer or somewhere in between, having basic supplies at your fingertips will minimize frustrations while working on your projects. For the most part, these basic supplies are readily available at retail shops, as well as, from online sources. Once you decide to invest in a machine and designs, be sure to compliment them with a good set of basic supplies.
The obvious is a working, well-maintained embroidery machine along with its bobbins and hoops. You will also need a computer and storage media, usually a USB drive, to download designs and transfer them to your machine.
Embroidery thread is typically 40 wt. In the past, rayon thread was popular because of its high shine and the multitude of colors. However, rayon can break during embroidering and it is not bleach resistant. More recently embroiderers have turned to polyester thread. It is stronger, launders well, and the color choices are vast. There are many specialty threads on the market too, including metallic, variegated, glow in the dark, and invisible.
Tip: Your machine may like some brands better than others. So, while your best friend may rave about one brand, you may have better results with a different one.
Bobbin thread, usually 60 wt, is lighter in weight. If the stitching on the back will not show, then matching the bobbin thread to the top is not necessary. Even though bobbin thread can be found in basic colors, white or black bobbin thread will suffice for most projects. Of course, there are some exceptions! For free standing lace designs, try to use a bobbin thread that closely matches the top thread or use the top thread in the bobbin. The same is true when using the embroidery machine to quilt a table runner, quilt, or other item.
Fabric by itself is not strong enough to hold the embroidery stitches so a stabilizer is used to provide support and strength to your fabric. Puckering and shifting designs are symptoms of stabilizer issues. Stabilizers can be found in white, cream, and black colors. Stabilizers are purchased on a roll, by the yard, or in pre-cut sheets. They come in different weights (light, medium, and heavy). While there are many types of stabilizers on the market, 3 basic stabilizers to keep on hand are: cutaway, tearaway, and wash away.
Cutaway stabilizers are frequently used for In The Hoop projects. They resist stretching and are machine washable.
Tearaway stabilizers are easily removed once the stitch out is completed.
Wash aways support the stitches during embroidery and is then washed out. Wash aways are commonly used for free standing lace designs and as toppers. When used as a topper the wash away stabilizer helps to keep stitches from sinking into fabrics with nap or pile.
Click here for an informative SweetPea YouTube video on stabilizers.
Embroidery and Applique Scissors
Embroidery scissors are small, curvy-tipped scissors that make cutting in small areas easy. Embroidery scissors with longer handles are helpful in cutting away excess thread, especially when the hoop is still on the machine.
Tip: When cutting jump stitches, hold the thread taut with a tweezers while cutting both ends of the jump stitch with your embroidery scissors or snips. This will give you a clean cut on both ends.
Appliqué scissors are also known as duckbill scissors. These are especially useful when cutting longer edges of appliqué. Use your small embroidery scissors to trim appliqué curves and small areas. Click here to view a SweetPea You Tube Video on trimming appliqué in the hoop.
The most common size of embroidery needles is 75/11. Look for needles that are specific for embroidery. They are designed to let your thread move smoothly through the eye during the stitch out. A smaller needle size may be needed for light weight fabrics and a larger needle size for heavier fabrics.
Painters tape or surgical tape will temporarily hold your fabric in place during the stitch
out, especially if you need a piece of fabric underneath the hoop. Temporary adhesive spray or glue can also be used but there is the potential of gumming up your thread or needle.
… so gather up your basic supplies, load your favorite Sweetpea design, and start stitching!