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Embroidery Part 2: Education is the Key

I had to leave the Cayman Islands to do some research on a story I wanted to write and was staying near Edinburg, Scotland. Before I departed I found that there were embroidery classes to be had in the area where I had my lodgings. So, I took my embroidery machine with me.

I went to the lessons and sat for hours learning the basics of the machine (from turning it on to utilising the most popular of its features). I had already read the manual (a recommendation of mine to anyone who owns a machine.) Don’t be intimidated by the size of the manual; it makes for interesting reading and got me really excited about using the machine. Just draw a warm bubble bath (you really need a warm one in Scotland), and start reading! I, therefore, already knew a lot of the first class’ instruction.

You may think it was a waste of my time to take these lessons, but not so. I was able to use my time to ask more in-depth questions and expand on my knowledge while others were learning how to thread the needle. However, if you are one of the ones that need to learn the most basic ‘basics’ then you may want to inquire about taking the classes for a second, or third time. This will help you out with expanding your knowledge once you do know how to operate the machine.

NEVER think that a question is dumb or has been asked ad nauseum and no one wants to hear you ask it. The chances are, if you are wondering, then at least one other person is, too, and will benefit from your asking.

The teacher had a basic lesson on stabilisers as well, and I purchased a sampling of several that they offered at a store I found in Edinburgh (for a small fortune!). I made a ‘stabiliser’ booklet, cut a swatch of each one, listed the name brand, type and what it could be used for.

This is really helpful as you learn more and more about them, and can add to your booklet and lists, plus when I put away the pieces of stabiliser and was trying to figure out (by feel) which ones they were, I could refer back to the booklet for help.

I come by being cheap honestly, and so I have tried many tricks to save money by scrimping and saving and reusing everything! You can save your thread snips to create fabric out of it. I have used empty thread cones to dry 3D free standing lace ornaments on and, most of all, I save stabiliser pieces.

If I can piece a sheet of stabiliser for some projects I will! Sometimes this works, and other times it will fail on you every time. The trick is knowing why you are using the stabiliser. The actual purpose of the stabiliser in each project is the key to knowing how much or how little you can actually get away with!

For example, if you are doing a design on a t-shirt, then you would need an intact piece of soft cut-away stabiliser to actually be the strong, unmoving foundation for the stretchy knit fabric. However, if you are embroidering a name on a ribbon, or are embroidering on top of dense or fuzzy fabric, then smaller piece of water-soluble stabiliser (floated on top) will keep the stitches from sinking into the project .

You can also stitch wss (water soluble stabiliser) together with water soluble thread in top and in the bobbin to create a larger piece you can reuse for smaller free standing lace or other in the hoop projects which call for wss.

Whilst I used the Singer Futura CE-250 Embroidery machine there are many other manufacturers especially Brother. If you go to you will some excellent reviews of these machines.


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