Saturday, 24 September 2011

Freehand Machine Embroidery


While all the young people were off larging it at bars and discos, my Craft Club comrades and I spent Friday evening at a machine embroidery workshop. Because that's what cool people do. It was held at Sew Over It, a super cute sewing cafe that popped up recently down the road in Clapham, which I'd been itching to visit.


To machine embroider, start by drawing a little design and tracing it off. Squeeze a small embroidery hoop under the machine's needle and fit some calico to it. You can add a scrap of fabric if you want to applique, and position your tracing paper drawing on top. Our sewing machines were fitted with a special freehand embroidery foot, but if you're really careful I reckon you could get away without using any foot at all. Then off you go!

   

   

Don't worry about cutting the threads each time you finish a line - just move on and cut them all off at the end (along with the excess fabric if you're doing applique). A small stitch length is essential. The instructor told us that faster stitching is less jumpy, but for tricky bits I found it more accurate to stitch quite slowly. In any case, there's no point trying to be too neat as the machine has a life of its own and even experienced machine embroiderers go off the lines (or that's what I told myself, at least). The wiggly lines and imperfections add a certain je ne sais quoi!


And here is my finished effort. It's a cat, in case you couldn't tell! A kitty on its last legs... in fact, he probably can't even stand up anymore. Content, but falling apart. Awww...

[Soundtrack: 'Lilyputt' by Beth Jeans Houghton]

15 comments:

  1. Oh my god, I'm desperate to go to London just to visit this place.
    Although I love sewing, I'm really not the best at it but I've just started a fashion course at Uni and although it's a communication course, we have to take modules of design and technology so I am so jealous! xxx

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  2. That is so cute! Great first effort. I'm sure you all had fun learning freehand embroidery :)

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  3. Oh I would really love to learn machine embroidery - I tried it without a foot once and it was very jumpy..but maybe it is time to try again :)
    Also the cafe sounds a great idea!

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  4. I'm checking this on a train to norwich so alas cannot see the pics but am sure the cat is fabulous! But actually am commenting on the sewing soundtrack today - beth jeans houghton is awesome! Have you listened to dodecahedrons yet? Amazing! She gives a great live show too :-)

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  5. What a perfect Friday night!

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  6. Wish there was some place like that here in Texas! That sounds like a great way to spend a friday night!!

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  7. Oh, I love free embroidery, I think it looks great and I'm totally loving your cat!

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  8. Very cool! I reckon the best effects are to not do neat things, but things that lend themselves to scribbliness, because the machine does that. I free motion quilt a lot, which is the same thing, and often swap out the bobbin for a more interesting thread and work on the back.
    I think your little cat is adorable! She has a cartoony energy that really works :)

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  9. That looks great! I bet you had fun. I just picked up a hand embroidery book myself but I'm not yet daring enough to try machine embroidery :)

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  10. theslapdashsewist's doppelganger apparently lives in London!

    Julie

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  11. oh gosh! i tried freehand machine embroidery once but gave up after my machine decided to take charge and wouldn't listen to me... i guess i'll have to return to it and show it who's boss! practice practice practice!!!

    i love your kitty cat!!!

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  12. That must have been fun learning machine emroidery that way.

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  13. How fun! Especially since anything crafty/sewing-related is The Best Way to spend a Friday night, imho. ;) lol. I've dabbled a bit with freehand embroidery, but never got past doing lots of loop-the-loops and such. It looks like so much fun I may have to give it another go eventually! ;)

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  14. i wish one of the studios here in new york would do something like that! i've been trying to really dive in on embroidery but have yet to try using my machine to do it...i've only just finished my first project that even attempted hand embroidery, so it's all very new to me!

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