“Embroidering Difficult Fabrics”

Each Christmas I make my family gifts that they have requested.  This year, my oldest niece decided she wanted to have some special holiday decorations for her new apartment that would be elegant.  We decided on pillows and a table runner that would coordinate.  The term elegant reminds me of velvet, but I decided instead to make her embroidered pillows and table runner out of faux suede since it will stand up to daily use better than velvet will, with less noticeable wear over time.  I was sure the product would be to her liking but I knew I would not have an easy time of it.  Here are some tips that might help you if you decide to work with your own difficult fabric.

First of all, the faux suede I used did not heal well, so I could not pin the fabric except in places that would not show on the finished project.  I pinned inside the seam allowance to mark the centers.    I could not mark on the fabric with any marking tools, so I lined up my design on the fabric using the plastic hoop templates I purchased from Husqvarna Viking.  I further lined up the template with a ruler to make sure I was accurate in my design placement.       Once I did this both horizontally and vertically, I taped the template to the fabric using embroidery tape.        I then hooped up some sticky backed cut away stabilizer in my hoop   and used a pin to score the paper so I could tear it away to expose the sticky surface.       I then laid the fabric in the hoop with the template still attached, lining up the horizontal and vertical cut outs with the nibs on the hoop.                I inserted the hoop into the machine, lined everything up, then gently removed the taped template and began stitching.   Once the design was finished   I cut away the excess stabilizer, leaving about a half inch around the entire design for long term stability.    (I embroidered a reindeer and a tree for the pillows and snowflakes for the table runner.)  Once I finished the embroidery, I was ready to square up the pillow, just like squaring up a quilt block.  I couldn’t mark anything, so I used my square up ruler plus another ruler to make sure I was square on the horizontal as well as on the vertical.   Since my square up ruler is 15.5” and I needed 17.5” I added another 1” wide ruler on each side for cutting.    Once everything was cut and the welt for around the edges was made, it was just a matter of assembly.   Working with difficult fabrics is very rewarding, but does take some thought and preparation.  (By the way, the designs I used come from a Pfaff collection called “Holiday Line Art”).