Saturday, May 1, 2010

Embroidery tutorial corrections

Corrections! I just noticed that I did not list DMC 80 wt tatting thread as an option for use with size 12 needles. You can use this thread with size 12 or size 14 needles, at 12 stitches per inch.

Personally, I rarely use tatting thread for machine embroidery, but many of my students love the way the thicker threads look, they feel it looks more like "hand-made" stitches, so I do feature it in the tutorial.

Also, if you have an "industrial" Willcox & Gibbs chain stitch sewing machine you may be able to do even less than 12 stitches per inch, and experiment with thicker threads and bigger needles. If you do try thicker threads, you may need to also use thicker fabrics and/or heavy stabilizers.

If you choose to use a stabilizer, use either a water soluble, or a leave in stabilizer. Many people who have tried tear aways, have found that the tearing process sometimes pulls the stitches out.

How to do embroidery using a Willcox & Gibbs chain stitch sewing machine

After 2 long years, I have finally finished this project!
This is a complete tutorial with step by step photos on how to do embroidery using a chain stitch sewing machine.
All of the items in the tutorial were created on a automatic tension Willcox & Gibbs chain stitch treadle sewing machine, that is almost 100 years old!
You can also use these instructions with other chain stitch sewing machines, though no matter which brand or model of machine you use, I personally recommend using a treadle as it leaves both hands free to guide and control the fabric, and you can also go very slowly with a treadle which is important for accuracy with intricate designs. Electric machines tend to go too fast, and hand cranks leave only one hand free to guide the fabric. Both can cause frustration and/or inferior results.
You can view and download the instructions as an Adobe PDF from here:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Threads for Embroidery

I received several e-mails recently about threads to use with a Willcox & Gibbs
chain stitch sewing machine for decorative embroidery work.
Here is a list of threads I recommend:
  • . DMC 30 wt or 50 wt cotton machine embroidery thread
  • . DMC size 80 cotton tatting thread
  • . Coats 50 wt machine quilting thread in cotton
  • . Coats 40 wt trilobal polyester machine embroidery thread
  • . Coats 40 wt rayon machine embroidery thread
  • . Sulky 30 wt cotton quilting thread
  • . Sulky 40 wt rayon machine embroidery thread
The list is not in any particular order. Use whatever you can find, and
experiment until you get results that please you.
I will note that the trilobal poly thread gives a very dainty tiny stitch
that is super shiny. I don't think it looks quite right for red work. The
rayons can also look too shiny. I'd recommend the cotton threads for red
work on cotton fabric, and save the shiny threads for other projects.
Be careful when buying big cones of embroidery or quilting thread as they
may not fit on the W&G spool pin. You may need a separate thread stand
with them.
Also make sure the spool says "machine" on it not "hand". Hand
embroidery or quilting thread is not suitable for machine use. Yes, the
tatting thread works despite it not being machine thread, but it often
requires rewinding by hand on to a old, empty spool. Something about the way
they wind it doesn't always work right on a machine.
Don't try to use metallic thread on a W&G it just makes a nasty thread jam.
Keep a scalpel and tweezers handy when trying out new threads in case of a
jam. Also ALWAYS test on scraps to make sure the chosen thread will work for
your design and fabric.