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Attach the darning foot to your machine. It prevents skipped stitches and holds the fabric against the throatplate. High quality machine embroidery thread is recommended as well as rayon or metallic threads to add luster and sheen. On some machines, top and bobbin thread can be the same. On others, a better stitch is obtained by using cotton or monofilament nylon on the bobbin. Sewing machine needle must be new. Metafil, embroidery needle, and Schmetz 130/705 HE work best. If you don't own a darning foot, freehand embroidery is possible with a spring darning needle. Because this needle is sold with a universal 12/80 needle attached to the spring, change needle to one suitable for embroidery.
Decrease upper tension two or three numbers lower, to eliminate bobbin thread from pulling to the top side. Lower feed dog. If this is not possible on your machine, cover the feed dog so that it will not interfere with you directing the fabric. Freehand embroidery is much easier if you can create a flatbed around your machine.
Fabric must be stabilized in a hoop to prevent puckering, stitch skipping and thread breaking. Put the fabric in a hoop and pull fabric taut. Place the fabric in the hoop so that the fabric lies against the machine.
Set the machine for straight stitch. Lower the presser foot. Take one stitch and pull the bobbin thread up to the right side. Securely hold onto upper and lower thread as you begin stitching. Take several stitches in the same spot. Trim beginning threads so that they will not get caught in your work.
Your first stitches will seem awkward without the feed dog. Resting elbows on table, hold embroidery hoop in fingers and move hoop with gentle, fluid motions. Use fast speed on machine for best coverage.
Experiment on a bit of scrap fabric before beginning on the final fabric. Move hoop up and down, sideways, and diagonal. Create scallops, tiny circles, and large circles before determining the final pattern you will use.
You might also like to experiment with a zig zag stitch 3 mm wide. Moving the hoop from side to side is great for filling in areas with color.
If bobbin thread shows, decrease top tension or switch to same color bobbin thread. If the top thread breaks or shreds, top tension may be too tight. Check the fabric in hoop. It must be "tight as a drum." If your threads tangle and jam up, check to make sure you have lowered your presser foot, easily overlooked in freehand embroidery.
If you like to embellish, you will love Wrapped in FabriquéTM, a new book by Glenda Sparling, the source for all this information on freehand embroidery, as well as many more embellishment techniques. This book is extremely well written, with easy to follow numbered steps and very clear illustrations. Available for $24.95 plus $5 postage from Ranita Corporation, P.O. Box 5698, Eugene, OR 97405-0698, Phone: 541-344-0422; Fax 541-344-3944;
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