Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What is Lace (FSL)?

You've heard a lot about Lace - maybe you've seen it before - but you're still not quite sure what Lace is?

Lace - or full name "Free Standing Lace" (FSL) - in English "freestanding lace" - is embroidered lace. As the name already explains, it is freestanding top. Unlike ordinary machine embroidery, these files are not embroidered on fabric but can stand alone afterwards.

One-colored motifs in lace are gladly offered and these lace parts can be wonderfully used as a hanger. In the window, on a branch, as a Mobilé or flower plug or on a Christmas tree - Lace embroidery always looks very classy. But there are also multi-colored lace embroidery, which then look even more charming.

Precisely because they look so noble, have you perhaps had a certain respect for these files? You do not dare to get into this type of machine embroidery, because that's certainly very complicated?
These thoughts are completely unnecessary, because Lace is basically very easy to embroider - you only need the right material - and that's not much.

All you need for lace embroidery is water-soluble fleece and embroidery thread. The fleece should be one water-soluble stabeliser not the foil that you put on high-pile fabrics (terry, velvet, fleece, etc.). The foil is not because you can not really put it in the frame - on the one hand, because the embroidery needle would only perforate the foil.

The water-soluble fabric fleece has properties of a fabric and can therefore be easily clamped in the frame. There are thinner water-soluble fleece and also stronger. I usually use the thinner one and take it mostly twice.

Embroider the procedure for Lace:

You tighten the water-soluble fleece (possibly double - depending on which fleece you own) drummelfest in the frame. As a bobbin thread you also use embroidery thread for lace embroidery - in the same color as your upper thread - so that the embroidery looks nice from both sides afterwards. Then you start sticking.

Experience has shown that a multiple grid is first embroidered and then the contour and decorative stitches on the grid follow. There are also lace motifs that have no grid, but are free between the connected contours and decorative stitches.

When the machine is done with embroidering, you take the frame out of the machine - and the embroidered fleece out of the frame. Now you cut out the motif with a generous border.
Now the whole embroidery is soaked in water. Add water to a bowl or washbasin - lukewarm water has proven its worth - but it also works with cold water. Leave the embroidery in the water for a few minutes (about 5 - 10 min.) Until the whole embroidery fleece has dissolved. Very fine lace embroidery can also be washed lying on a grid or Abseihsieb lying.

Then use a towel to dab the embroidery dry and let it dry completely in an airy place. Depending on the subject, the dry embroidery can still be ironed, which you should preferably do between two towels, so that the embroidery yarn does not get the full heat of the iron.

Some motifs, such as flowers or leaves you need not necessarily iron, because that gives the motif a certain naturalness (flowers and leaves are not just flat ...)

Your freestanding top is ready ... and you can now process the motifs (hang them up, make a mobilé out of it or plug it in ...)
As you can see in this post, embroidering Lace is not that hard at all - it's a lot of fun, and it greatly enhances the possibilities of using your embroidery machine for wonderful decoration.
Try it out now. Beautiful Lace Files you will find here.

If you have any further questions about Lace embroidery, please contact us via the contact form.
If you want to share your experience with Lace files, feel free to do so here in the comments section.

Machine embroidery, a small introduction

A little introduction to machine embroidery

You own a sewing machine with an embroidery module or an embroidery machine? You intend to get one and do not know exactly what it takes to get started with embroidery? Here I have put together a little introduction to machine embroidery to show you the basics.

As a basic equipment you need in any case:

  • embroidery threads
  • bobbin thread
  • stabilizers
  • needles

embroidery thread

Yes, for beautiful embroidery results you should resort to embroidery threads. Sewing threads are not as good for machine embroidery because they are coarser / stronger than embroidery threads. Also, the embroidery designs that you can buy are usually designed for machine embroidery threads.

You get embroidery threads in many designs. One of the most common is probably viscose (rayon), which is a very fine, soft yarn with a natural shine. Yarns in viscose are usually a bit more expensive.

Next there are the polyester yarns. They're made of synthetic fibers and not as soft as viscose yarns, but they're not any worse. They like to have a higher gloss than the other embroidery yarns. But are more robust and good for heavier embroidery. Since the production is less expensive, the polyester yarns are usually cheaper to buy. Also, there are the polyester yarns in even more gaudy colors (e.g., neon).

Then there are fancy yarns, e.g. metallic yarns which should be stitched with special needles, or Frosted Matt yarns, which have a ceramic content in the yarn and thus conjure up a completely different embroidery surface.

... and where can I get embroidery threads?

The yarns you get from different manufacturers, as an example here are the best known ones: Madeira, Marathon, Gütermann, FuFu, Brildor, Amann etc.

Which yarn is the right one for you can only be found out by yourself. Again and again I hear that certain machine types with one or the other yarn can not cope - I personally can not confirm that, I have two embroidery machines from different manufacturers and use for both of my (various) embroidery threads. However, I never reach for "cheap yarn" - with such yarns you never know how long they were stored for example ... and that may have unattractive consequences. Too long stored yarns can become brittle and then the thread breaks constantly, which is very frustrating.

During production the machines are always adjusted with a certain type of yarn - depending on the machine manufacturer. Find out which yarn your machine has been adjusted with, if you find the handle to other yarns too unsafe, or do not buy a whole box of twine - offered by many yarn manufacturers - but try out single cones.

When you start with your new hobby machine embroidery, the "addictive factor" will come soon and embroidery thread is a material that you really need. In order to save a little, it is advisable to look for larger cones - no small spools. If you do not know how to reel off big cones because your machine does not have a cone holder, have a look at Elfenidee / Blog Spoolholder, you'll get a little guide on how to make a conical holder yourself with simple means.

Bobbin thread

When embroidering you use a very fine, white or black yarn as bobbin thread. This is available on big cones, as well as wound up as "bobbins". When buying bobbins, make sure the bobbin size matches the machine - and if the machine has a bobbin thread monitor, it may not work with the bobbins or may not work properly.

I have 10000 m bobbin thread and I spool my bobbins myself. That is cheaper and I always have my original spool for the bobbin thread. For unwinding large cones, I use the self-made spool holder.

Stabilizers for machine embroidery

The right stabilizer is probably the biggest science in machine embroidery. Yes, you need the stabilizer, because it is the stabilization for your embroidery. There are countless stabilizers... tear-off stabilizer, cutting stabilizer, water-soluble, self-adhesive, lay-up stabilizer, soft, rigid ... and a few more.

It always depends on what kind of fabric you want to embroider. Woven or knitted fabric (jersey)? A sturdy fabric, or rather a fine one? Woven fabrics are a bit more uncomplicated for embroidery because they are better to clamp in the hoop. Jersey and other stretchy fabrics are a little trickier to treat because some parts of the embroidery can be displaced and the edges of different colors don't match properly any more. The embroidery may "move away".

For starters, it is therefore advisable to get a few pieces of different stabilizers so that you can test a bit. Water solulbe film (Avalon) is required for fabrics such as terry or velvet, so that the loops or the pile does not get through the embroidery. This stabilizer is a thin film (or thin fabric) that is placed on the top of the fabric to be embroidered and later would be washed out.

Self-adhesive stabilizers are often used for knitwear. You just clamp the stabilizer in the hoop - the adhesive surface upwards - removes the protective paper and stick on the fabric to be embroidered. With stretchable fabrics, there is the advantage that the fabric does not warp as it is stretched. The disadvantage here will be the needle must repeatedly pierce through the adhesive layer and thus impurities on the needle and might get in the machine - but for this purpose recently special "anti-glue needles" are available. Self-adhesive stabilizers are not necessarily the cheapest.

There is also the alternative to use temporary adhesive sprays on ordinary tear-off stabilizer. They do not hold as strong as self-adhesive stabilizers, but enough to keep jersey on the stabilizer. Make sure that you do not spray near the machine, as otherwise it could lead to sticking to the machine.

Needles for machine embroidery

The needles are also important in machine embroidery.

There are special embroidery needles for machines (for example, embroidery needles, metallic yarn needles, anti-glue needles, leather needles, etc.), but also the universal needles have proven themselves.

It is always important that needles are changed in time, because worn or possibly minimally bent needles have a considerable influence on the embroidery result.

Yarn size and needle size should always match! You will find comparison charts at most yarn manufacturers.

For fine embroidery (fine, small fonts, for example), it is recommended to use thinner needles - but then also thinner embroidery thread.

Embroidery threads are available in various thicknesses. The most common thickness is 40. For this yarn size, most embroidery needles and universal needles are designed.
To embroider leather requires special practice, as the leather is slightly perforated and then erupts the whole embroidery.

Now you have learned a little about the basic materials - now I would like to come to the clamping of the embroidery ... and then you can start already.


Clamping the fabric and the stabilizer is an essential part of embroidering, as it influences the subsequent embroidery directly. In Germany we say it should be "trommelfest", means: as tight as a drumhead.

Inelastic materials are relatively easy to clamp. You put them on the embroidery stabilizer and tie them together in the hoop.

It is different with elastic materials. The knits of the knitted fabric should not be stretched, but the fabric should still be smoothly clamped in the hoop. Here many embroiderers work with adhesive stabilizers.

Terry, velvet and pile fabrics should not be clamped in the hoop. It would produce unsightly frame prints that are barely to get out of the fabric. These fabrics can also be brought into the embroidery hoop with adhesive stabilizer / spray - or you can work with a saddle stitch.

For some machine types, saddle stitches are included in the machines - or you look at the embroidery design shops to get some.

Basic to the whole fixture is the fabric should not warp or move during the embroidery process.

...another hint for beginners

Sometimes it is necessary to reinforce for example very fine, thin fabrics with two or even three layers of stabilizer in order to obtain a clean embroidery result - but this is always individually dependent. If you have any specific questions, don't be afraid to ask them in my Facebook group Elfenidee - Embroidery and Upcycling. There are always specialists who will be glad to help you, or write directly to me and I will gladly help you.

Even if the machines are set by the manufacturer to a certain upper thread tension, it may happen that the upper thread tension for embroidery of certain motives has to be readjusted. For your help: When you look on the backside of the embroidery about a third of the upper thread should be visible.

These are the most important conditions that you need for embroidering with machine. Of course, there are always special cases where other conditions have to be considered. If you should face such a problem, then feel free to ask.

And now - have great pleasure in embroidering with your machine.


Beate from the Elfenidee

Monday, March 12, 2018

Why is a stabilizer so important for machine embroidery?

You also come across explanations on machine embroidery again and again to use the note "the right / corresponding" embroidery fleece, or "well stabilize the embroidery" ...

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What is an ITH embroidery file?

The community of enthusiastic embroiderers is steadily increasing ... and repeatedly appears in the forums the question "What is actually an ITH embroidery file?" on.