I have just got back from my first ever free-hand machine embroidery session and totally loved it! I would encourage anyone to have a try – it was so therapeutic as there is no need to keep your lines straight – you just go with your instinct and let your thread and needle do the ‘painting’.
To help remember some of the key things I learnt today I thought it would be a good idea to jot down a few notes.
Here’s my darning foot, although not essential, it is a great tool as it stops your fabric riding up with the needle.
Before you start your embroidery you need to lower your feed dogs and make sure your presser foot is in its down position so the correct tension is applied to the thread. If you have a machine that has a stop / start button it is a good idea to attached your foot pedal so you have both hands free to move the fabric. Start each stitching group with your needle in the down position.
To get used to the feel of free hand / motion embroidery it’s important to practice your stitches by forming some shapes. If you have your fabric clamped in an embroidery hoop it helps to keep it taut (work into the ‘dip’ so your fabric is flat on your machine). Here’s my first piece of practice!
Although this may seem a bit backwards, I found the embroidery was easiest when I had my machine on max speed as it created lots of stitches. As I was in control of moving the fabric I could still slide the material at the speed I wanted but with the needle working faster shorter stitches were made.
The session I attended was great as Lara quickly encouraged you to moved onto creating a gorgeous butterfly brooch.
To give the butterfly brooch stability it was formed from 3 layers of felt. The butterfly shape was first cut out, attached to the top layer of felt with a double-sided fabric adhesive (e.g. Bondaweb) and then the outline was sewn.
The embroidery detail was added once the second layer of felt was attached before the outline was again sewn when the third layer was joined.
For the butterfly antenna Lara’s great tip was to use a florists flower stamen.
And before long a brooch clasp was attached and my first ever piece of free-hand / motion embroidery creation was finished! Awesome!
Our next challenge was to create either a picture or cushion cover panel – as you can see from the picture below I made a seaside canvas for my bathroom.
The process for creating my textile “work of art” went something like this:
Stabilise your background fabric with a medium weight interfacing (I used some Linen and F220 Vilene)
Iron some double-sided fabric adhesive onto the back of the fabrics you are going to use for the picture pieces – keep one side of the backing paper attached.
Draw your picture pieces onto the back of your fabric adhesive backing paper and cut out your shapes – Lara had some great templates which really helped.
Remove the backing paper and iron your picture pieces onto your fabric background to fix in place.
Add lots of detail with free hand embroidery – you can outline your pieces in loops, dots, zigzag as well as straight lines. One lady on the session made some fabulous flowers by adding lots of free-hand petal shapes which extended over the edge of her fabric flower pieces.
Add texture with lots of lovely stitches such as waves, pebbles etc. The next time I get my machine out I’m going to try a speckled effect – I think you do this by using an ‘invisible’ top thread and normal colour in your bobbin. To help the bobbin thread show through you increase the top threads tension.
Although I am a complete beginner I’m already hooked! Would love to hear any of your ‘top tips’ for free-hand / motion embroidery for things I can try out next!