Tracing Paper Transfer

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So If you thought stitching in the corners was strange (see earlier post) wait till you see the weird way I transfer designs for embroidery on dark fabric!

In addition to making embroidery kits I also create fine art embroidery pieces. They start with hand dyed fabrics that are boro stitched onto a base fabric. I get really frustrated with tracing pencils that need to be washed out or fade as you work. I really don’t want to take the fabric out of the hoop if I can help it and I don’t like the idea of wetting the embroidery. I worry that the tension of the stitches may be messed with and that the sheen of the mercerized DMC embroidery floss will be dulled. This also saves me a step because I am already using tracing paper to draw out my designs. I can get a rough idea of the placement of the design because the tracing paper is not completely opaque. It helps if you can get the fabric and paper tight in the hoop so that the paper doesn’t rip as you work. I keep a tape dispenser next to me as I work to patch holes as I am stitching.

This method works best with simple stitches like back stitch. I have done some satin stitch over tracing paper but it is tricky getting the paper out from under the threads. I then use the outline to do more stitching on top.

For me the fun part comes when I get to rip all the paper off. I am guessing if you enjoy embroidery as much as I do that you may enjoy the tedious detailed process of ripping out the paper. I rip all the big pieces with my fingers and then go back over the stitches with fine point tweezers.

When a knot is not a knot

If there is one thing that every stitcher needs to know it is when a knot is not really a knot. Nine times out of ten you just have a loop and not an actual knot. Use these steps to pop the loop out.

Starting stitches in the corners

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This is my crazy lady embroidery tip. You may have seen me doing this in the Getting Started video and thought how strange?

I make two knots at the end of each section of embroidery floss before I start to stitch. I run my needle through the extra corners of my fabric from front to back. and then run my needle under the back stitches to secure the thread. I know this looks odd but it is the way I was taught embroidery when I was in college. I was told not to have knots in the back of my embroidery. This method also leaves less loose threads to deal with on the back of your hoop. If you see any loose threads get dragged up with your needle when you are stitching grab the section on stitches from the back with your fingernails and tug. This should hopefully pull the stray thread back out of the fabric. Do this as soon as you see a loose thread come though don’t wait until you have finished stitching. If it won’t pull through you can cut it very close to the fabric.

When using the start in the corner method don’t pull it too tight so that the fabric tries to wrap around behind the hoop. You can hold the fabric corner in place so that it is not pulled too tight. But if it starts getting in your way or if you have finished you piece you can cut the threads on the backside of the corner. See the Finishing the back section of the website for more info.

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Pattern tracing with Frixion pen

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I got this tip from superstar embroidery diva Sarah K Benning. She draws her images directly on to her fabric with a Frixion gell pen. You can also use it to trace a printed pattern onto your fabric. I use a light box but you can also tape your fabric and pattern up to window glass.

Other embroidery tracing pens or pencils are designed to erase in the air or with water. The amazing thing about the pen is that the ink disappears with heat. The pen has a soft plastic nub on the end that is an eraser. It is designed to disappear with the heat of the friction of the plastic eraser on paper. BUT it also works with other sources of heat like a hot iron or a clothes dryer. Pretty cool huh?

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I was a little nervous about the ink disappearing entirely . Especially if I was working on an embroidery for several days. So I did a little experiment.

As you can see each day I wrote the date on a piece of cloth and then applied my hot iron to it. Was curious to see if the later dates would have difficulty erasing. But I am pleased as punch that everything disappeared entirely! The trick is to make sure you heat the entire surface fully. If you have a lot of stitches on top of the ink you need to hold the iron over that section to allow the heat to get through the layers completely.

Fiber Art Wall Hangings

So yes Rikrack is all about embroidery and embroidery kits But… I just can’t help myself. I look at all the pretty fiber things on Instagram and I came down with a bad case of fiber envy. I follow so many amazing fiber artists (future blog post) I just need to get my fingers in a pile of yarns, threads, fabrics, pompoms and tassels. I don’t actually weave but I lust after all the beautiful fringy fluffy tapestries I see on Insta. So I came up with my own version using my stash of yarns and hand dyed fabrics.

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If you are in the Richmond VA area on Saturday June 1st come by Ten Thousand Villages in Carytown for a popup. I will be bringing all my wall hangings including a couple of brand new super crazy big guys.

Can’t make it? No problem you can also find them in my Etsy shop.