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8 essential tips for embroidering free standing lace

 

This week on QUILTsocial I’m using THE Dream Machine 2 from Brother to make a sweet Easter door banner. I’ll start by sharing some great tips for making free standing lace (FSL) with your embroidery machine.

I have to be honest with you, up until last month I’d never even heard of FSL, but one day I stumbled upon a FSL design while researching embroidery designs online and I was intrigued.

I downloaded these super cute FSL bookmark designs and tried to embroider one, but it went HORRIBLY wrong!! My stabilizer ripped, my threads broke, and I figured that I might need some professional help!

So I emailed Brother educator Lynn Swanson and asked if she had any tips for doing free standing lace embroidery. She obviously knows what she’s talking about because my next attempt was very successful, so I asked if I could share her great tips with you here!

 

THE Dream Machine 2
THE Dream Machine 2

 

TIP 1

Choose a design that says it is either for “free standing lace” or “FSL”. When you’re looking online, the design will say that it’s appropriate for FSL. Regular embroidery designs are made so that the fabric keeps the design together. No fabric and the threads will just unravel. FSL designs are stitched in a way that the thread keeps the design together.

 

The free standing lace bookmark design
The free standing lace bookmark design

 

TIP 2  use the correct thread

Make sure to use the thread type the design calls for – if it calls for cotton thread make sure to use cotton and not rayon. Lynn says that she has used 30 weight and also up to 50 weight depending on what the pattern calls for – but don’t substitute rayon if the pattern suggests cotton. She’s also used rayon thread and some metallic thread if the pattern calls for it.

 

Rayon threads
Rayon threads

 

TIP 3  stabilizer

Lynn says that she’d had the best results usings heavy duty water-soluble stabilizer. She likes Sulky Ultra Solvy but has also used Brother water soluble stabilizer.

 

Sulky Ultra Solvy stabilizer
Sulky Ultra Solvy stabilizer

 

TIP 4  needles

Lynn likes to use a 75/11 sharp or ultra sharp needle. You want to have a narrow (thin) needle because when the needle perforates the stabilizer so you want as small a hole as possible.

 

75/11 sharp needles
75/11 sharp needles

 

TIP 5  hooping

Make sure you hoop the stabilizer tightly, tighter than if you were stabilizing fabric.

 

Hoop very tightly
Hoop very tightly

 

The base stitching for the free standing lace embroidery is what keeps it all together when the stabilizer is removed. As you can see THE Dream Machine 2, first stitches the whole background (green) in a criss-cross pattern and then the design is stitched on top.

 

The base stitching
The base stitching

 

With the addition of more thread colors, the design is coming to life!

 

Adding more layers of stitching
Adding more layers of stitching

 

Here’s the original bookmark, and a second one that was increased in size before stitching.

 

The free standing lace bookmarks
The free standing lace bookmarks

 

TIP 6  trimming

Trim away the excess stabilizer around the bookmarks as close a possible without clipping any of the threads.

 

Trim away excess stabilizer
Trim away excess stabilizer

 

TIP 7  soak in warm water

Fill a bowl with warm water and lay the design in it. It sure doesn’t take long for the stabilizer to dissolve away!

 

Soaking in the hot water
Soaking in the hot water

 

TIP 8  drying

Once the stabilizer is dissolved remove the design and lay it on a thick towel to dry.

 

Drying on a towel
Drying on a towel

 

Now that my bookmarks are dry, they can be used to keep my spot in my next great read! And wouldn’t these be cute presents?

There are FSL designs available for ornaments and houses, doilies and more! Just type in “FSL” on your favorite embroidery design website to see what’s available.

Tomorrow we’re going to start working on our Easter project – see you then!

 

The finished bookmark
The finished bookmark

 

 

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: 3 steps to preview your embroidery design on your selected fabric

I have been designing and publishing quilt patterns for the last 16 years under the business name Fairfield Road Designs. My patterns range from fusible applique and piecing to felted wool applique and punchneedle. You can see all of patterns on my website www.fairfieldroaddesigns.com.

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