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Getting Creative Machine Embroidery on the Market Tote

Yesterday, we quilted the main bag pieces of the mezzaluna market tote. It’s time to get creative  machine embroidery on the market tote!

Let’s take a minute to consider your quilted, but blank linen canvas.

I like to sketch out on paper what my creative embroidery will look like before I get started. Once I’m happy with my doodles, I transfer them to the linen using Trace ‘n Mark Air Erasable tool. I tend to use the lightest color I can see, and I try not to apply heat until I stitched over the marks. Sometimes heat can set the marks and it might be a challenge to remove them. That’s not a problem if you’ve covered the marks with stitches.

Once you’re happy with your sketched design, change to a machine embroidery needle and thread the machine with machine embroidery thread.

This thread has wonderful sheen and tends to sit up a bit on the fabric, rather than sinking down.
Make sure you have a full bobbin of bobbin thread and ever so slightly loosen the top tension.

Play around with your machine's built in stitches. The length and width come together to create interesting patterns on even the most basic built in stitches. Use a scrap of fabric to create a permanent record of the ones you like best and write the settings beside the sample.
Play around with your machine’s built in stitches. The length and width come together to create interesting patterns on even the most basic built in stitches. Use a scrap of fabric to create a permanent record of the ones you like best and write the settings beside the sample.

 

 

Use a practice piece of fabric and stitch stablizer to have fun playing with your machine’s built in stitches. This might be a time you’ll have to get your machine’s manual out to discover the stitches. I know, most of the time we’re joining A to B, and never consider all the cool tricks our machines can do.

So, go ahead, play with different colors of thread and stitches. You’re personalizing this. It’s all your own.

As you play, make a note of the stitch width and length of your stitch patterns, especially if you have to set these manually. Over time, you’ll have a reference of settings for creative machine embroidery stitches and you can use them again and again…

— think of it as a recipe book for stitches.

The TrueCut 360 cutter makes perfect circles an easy task.
The TrueCut 360 cutter makes perfect circles an easy task.

 

 

But, creative stitching wasn’t enough for me. Oh my, no. I decided to use some of the stitches on discovered on my machine to applique and embellish various sized circles.

I cut these out from scrap fabrics with the TrueCut 360 circle cutter. It’s like our high school math set compasses, but with a sharp blade that creates perfect circles. It’s so much faster and easier than tracing out circles and cutting them out with scissors.

I used a Sulky Tear-Easy stabilizer under each circle. Stabilizers help keep the machine embroidery from bunching up.

Stitch stabilizers are available in many forms — tear away, mist away, melt away to stay in place. I used a stabilizer that tears away easily from the edges of the circles. The material underneath the fabric applique helps give the bag a bit more body, which I like.

Hint: if little bits remain trapped under the embroidery stitches, they can be easily removed with a swipe or two of the Seam Fix seam ripper’s eraser end.

If you’re doing applique, play around with fabric shape placement, and pin or use a dab temporary fabric adhesive to base them to the linen. Stitch them down using your favorite stitches.
You’ll be doing this for both sides of the mezzaluna pieces.

Tear away the stabilizer from the appliqued pieces. Little bits can be easily removed with a tool like the Seam Fix seam ripper.
Tear away the stabilizer from the appliqued pieces. Little bits can be easily removed with a tool like the Seam Fix seam ripper.

 

 

Go slowly around your appliques, using your newly-discovered stitches. It helps to have a clear machine embroidery foot so you can see where you’re going. This process is fairly forgiving. Even if your bobbin runs out, you can usually go over a bald spot without out it being too noticeable — and even if it is, consider it a design decision.

After all, your design decisions should never be called mistakes, and creative machine embroidery will help your own mezzaluna market tote shine!

Nancy Devine is a self-confessed craft-crazed blogger. She is a regular contributor to A Needle Pulling Thread Magazine, one of the administrators for The Craft Café, a Facebook page devoted to the international sharing of the creative life, and a curator of an impressive collection of fabrics, notions and seam rippers. In her spare time, she wrangles dust bunnies and writes a blog called Nancy Dee Needleworks. Understandably, her house is a mess.

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