If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time-Billy Joel

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Friday, 3 May 2013

Hints and Tips 6 - Preparing your fabric for successful embroidery

We all need to know that when we start an embroidery and then remove it from the hoop that it is going to meet our expectations. I will go through the steps that I follow

1.     Starching the fabric

I feel that starching the fabric is equivalent to adding at least one layer of stabilizer to your embroidery hoop. If you are going to embroider a large amount of cotton fabric and you know that you are going to cut it into 15 inch squares for example then you can starch your fabric in bulk with a liquid or powdered laundry starch, dry, press and roll up ready to use. I am never that organized so I just use some starch as I go. There are quite a few starches available and these are some that I use. Try them out to see which one you prefer. The Crisp starch I use mainly for heirloom sewing. The middle one used to be my go to spray starch but it was sold at one of our discount stores that closed down so I am a bit sad about that.


Spray the starch onto your fabric and then turn your fabric over and press from  the other side. That way the starch gets drawn in to the threads giving you a much better result. Repeat the process three or four times each time alternating the side you spray and the side you then press. Make sure your iron is clean before you start pressing.


2.    Iron on interfacing

If I am going to do  an embroidery that I am going to put into a quilt  or a design with lots of areas that will need stabilizer to be pulled out  I will use iron in interfacing, the type you use for dressmaking. I only use a very light weight non woven iron on interfacing and I apply that after I have starched and pressed the fabric.


3.    Hooping the fabric and stabilizer

After I have prepared my fabric I hoop one layer of medium tear away stabilizer. I use the medium stabilizer for just about everything. If I think the design may be a little too dense I will float another layer of stabilizer underneath the hoop and more often than not this is just a piece of stabilizer that I have taken from my rubbish bin that has been removed from a design that has already been unhooped.


4.    Embroidery and tension

I have always lowered my tension when embroidering designs no matter which design it is. I send the design to the machine and my first step after bringing the design up in the machine is to lower the tension. I may tweak it a little as I begin to embroider but on the whole I reduce the tension by one half of its original setting on my Janome machines. I do not change the tensions on my 10 needle machine. This also goes a long way in achieving good results.

5.    Pressing

If you think you need to press your quilt block/ design etc you can use a towel with the embroidery face down but I also use silicon baking paper and put that over the embroidery and then press on that. This does flatten  the embroidery down a little but you do not get shiny embroideries.




  1. Great ideas. Is it possible to print it off somehow?? Thanks for all the hard work you do.

  2. Hi Roxanne, I have just out a printer friendly button up at the top of my blog page. I will write a little tutorial on how to use it in the next blog post