Monday, November 5, 2007

How It's Made

I am creating embroidery panels to go on the pillows for the couch. I thought I might share with you today, the process of hand embroidery.

For my first pillow, I have chosen a floral quilt pattern, I am only going to use the rose block. I have many old embroidery transfer patterns, some dating back to the 1930's. These patterns are not easy to come by. E-bay is a good source, and occasionally you can find them at estate sales. Because I don't want to use my original pattern, I make a copy using tracing paper, and a heat transfer pencil.
I secure the pattern to a smooth surface. My sewing table top is tile, so I use a large square birch wood panel that I purchased at Home Depot. I use clips to hold it in place so that it does not move around during tracing.
Once the pattern is secure, I place the tracing paper over it. This pattern is large, so I had to tape two pieces of paper together. I use tiny pieces of transparent tape to attach the tracing paper to the pattern. It is very important that it does not move during the tracing process so it has to be taped in place, but I use as small and as few pieces necessary to avoid damaging my pattern.Next comes the tracing. You want to be sure to make a dark moderate line, not too thin, not too thick. If the line is too light or thin, it will be difficult to transfer it to the fabric. If is is too thick and heavy, it will "bleed" under the heat of the iron, and the line will look fuzzy.

I start tracing in the middle and work my way out, this way, I do not drag my hand across the lines, causing the pencil to smear. It took me just over an hour to tape and trace this particular pattern. After tracing it is time to transfer the pattern to the fabric. It is crucial that the fabric and pattern do not move during this step. I pin the fabric directly to the ironing board pad using straight pins with the little glass heads. Then I use painters tape to attach the tracing to the fabric. The iron must be very hot to melt the pencil markings to the fabric, you need to keep this in mind when choosing a fabric to embroider. I let my iron heat up on its highest setting (linen) for at least 5 minutes before I begin, don't use the automatic shut off kind of iron for this job. Place the iron on the pattern and press down very hard, for a 10 second count. Move the iron to the next section and repeat until the entire pattern has been pressed. Do not slide the iron back and forth as you do while ironing clothes, simply press, pick-up, press, and so on....Also, do not use the steam feature, it does not make the process any faster and you can burn yourself on the steam that billows out while you are holding the iron down. Yeap, been there, done that....OUCH! I usually press the pattern twice to make sure I have a good strong lines. You can nearly go blind trying to embroider a faint barely visible line. Uhumm, been there, done that, too.

Don't worry if the pattern double prints some I have found that this transfer pencil will wash out. As long as you can find a definite line as a guide it won't be a problem. If there is a lot of double printing and you can not distinguish which line to use, then my friend, you have to start over.....don't ask me if I have done that.....GRRRRR!!!

OK , so the hard part is finished!! Now you can focus on the fun stuff. Choosing colors and stitching:) I have found it useful to keep a notebook documenting the pattern and the thread choices I make for each part, each color has an identifying number. In case I would like to duplicate the piece at a later time, I don't have to rack my brain trying to remember what colors I picked.

I taught myself to hand embroider using the book you see on the table, A-Z of embroidery stitches, I can't recommend it enough. It is has lots of photographs and very easy step-by-step instructions.

Last step is to place the printed fabric in an embroidery hoop, find a nice comfy chair, place a good cuppa within easy reach and start stitching!! I made good progress on this piece during the weekend. I am hoping to have it completed and the Rooster embroidery panel started by tomorrow. So, I guess I better quit yapping and get busy. Hope you enjoyed my "How It's Made" session. Please come back around to view the finished product.

Blessing #5- Having the tools to make what my heart desires.


Mary said...

Hi Rhonda, thanks for the tutorial -- I can't wait to see the finished pillow! Could you please email me with your mailing address for the PIF gift exchange?

ShabbyInTheCity said...

Impressive! I love redwork. Will you have some in the craft fair?

Esther Sunday said...

Great tips! I can't wait to see the finished project - the pattern is lucious.

Sweet Cottage Dreams said...

Hi Rhonda- thank you for your kind words left for Mr. Doogs..I will let you all know the results.

Love the embroidery and thanks for the tips. Now, where do you find the transfer paper that you copied the pattern on?

I buy patterns from Vicki over at Pattern Bee (link on my sidebar). Have you been there? She has great repo's. Sweet.

Cannot wait to see the pillow. Oh, BTW, caught up on your the silver and curtains! xo,Becky

bj said...

Oh...I can hardly wait to see the finished products. I am soooo not crafy and am in total awe of anyone that can do these pretty things.
hugs, bj

Dana said...

Wow! that looks so intricate I can't wait to see it when it's finished Your drapes look great by the way.

Kathleen Grace said...

Thank you for the tutorial, I haven't embroidered in years and this kind of makes me want to pick it up again. I will be anxious to see the finished pillow:>)

Michelle said...

Thanks for the book recommendation~I need that! Can't wait to see the finished product.

Nunnie's Attic said...

Rhonda in all of the years I have been reading step-by-step instructions, this was the first time I was ever able to understand it completely the first time around! You should teach a class or something.

I can't wait to see it when it's all done. And did you say ROOSTER panel?? I'm on pins and needles (get it, hardy har har!)


Cherry's Jubilee said...

Hello there! Wanted to say I love your drapes! I have several to finish myself. I am half way there. Your vignette is lovely...thank-you for the tutorial! Love how you right your gratitude down....cherry

Sweet Remembrance said...

Thanks for the tutorial...
Can't wait to see the finished project!

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Rhonda, What a great lesson! I have such bad eyesight, I probably wouldn't be able to do that! Can't wait to see it finished.
p.s. anywhere near Madison?

Kari & Kijsa said...

OH! Such a great pattern...can't wait to see it when it's all done!

Happy stiching!

kari and kijsa

Cottage Contessa said...

This is something I would really love to learn to do, so thank you so very much for sharing this! The finished product will no doubt be gorgeous!
Amanda (aka Cottage Contessa)

JANET said...

Should turn out beautifully! I used to do this too.

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