Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rage Against the Machine

My embroidery machine that is - ha!

Speed surprised me with a new sewing/embroidery machine two Christmases go and I was thrilled!!  I had been coveting researching them for some time and desperately wanted to get my hands on one of my own before Sheep outgrew 'all things monogrammed,' if you know what I mean.  This was the Christmas before Snacks came on the scene, so I was in nesting overdrive that Christmas anyway.

Long story short, I ultimately bought a Viking Topaz 20 embroidery machine, which I am sure is a very good machine, but is certainly not the most popular brand around these parts.  In fact, I don't know anyone (other than the people at the Viking store in Joann's) that are embroidering on a Viking machine and when I purchased my machine, even the salesperson was learning about embroidering on them - grrr!  Needless to say, it means I am usually on my own trying to figure things out!

I do love being able to machine applique and embroidery - but it is almost always a frustrating experience for me.  It just seems like as soon as I solve one hiccup, a new one arrives to thwart me!  Whether its which needles to use, how to adjust a design, which stabilizer works best, why my thread keeps breaking or fraying - it's always something!  Sadly, I contribute to this frustration by always trying to create something that apparently either can't be done on my machine or with my current software.  At least I can admit it, right?!

The names on the art aprons for Sheep's birthday party stitched out so easily (thank you Lord) and so beautifully (thanks again!) that I was lulled into thinking that I was FINALLY getting the hang of it - AFTER TWO YEARS!!!  But my very next project, a baby shower gift, proved once again that I still have a lot to learn about the Viking Topaz 20 and 4D software - uugh!

Here are just a couple of today's problems AND my solutions, for those of you new to embroidery (I still consider myself new) or perhaps looking for tips to make your machine embroidery even better.  It seems to me that there is a real information void about 'how to' machine applique out there (which is very surprising to me actually), particularly using a Viking machine.  Thank goodness I have met some great gals that embroider who are always willing to share their experience with me.  I mean, Speed,  is always hopping on truck forums or motorcycle forums to find answers to his mechanical woes, but I haven't found a similar platform for my embroidery machine - so frustrating!

Problem # 1:  The burp cloths I purchased for embroidery are very loosely woven.  Yes,  I am aware that I could purchase other burp cloths, but now I have these and want to use them up before buying/trying a different brand.  Besides, they work fine as a burp cloth - they're just difficult to applique.  Mostly because the loose weave makes it almost impossible not to cut some of the threads on the burp cloth itself when you are trimming your applique.

My Solution:  I decided to lay down a layer of transparent, water-soluble film (buy it where you buy stabilizer.  Comes on a roll.) before even beginning my design.  Yes, it's now sandwiched between the burp cloth and the applique fabrics, but it should dissolve when washed and did keep me from accidentally snipping any of the fibers on the burp cloth itself - yay!

Problem #2:  I don't like to see the underside of the applique on the wrong side of the burpie.  In garments, I cover the underside with a thin, fusible mesh so that it's not scratchy for the wearer and it protects the stitching from accidentally being pulled or snagged.  But I don't want that mesh being seen on the back side of the burpie either.  Plus, it seems that when I grab for a burp cloth,  I don't have time to figure out which side to use.   Just sayin'.

My Solution:  OK.  So maybe I am a perfectionist, but still - I don't like exposed threads any more than I like raw edges or crooked seams - it's just how I was raised dammit :o)  I blame my mother . . . and she will smile when she reads this!  My solution for the last burp cloth I made was to actually 'line' it with a coordinating fabric, sewing three and a half sides with right sides together, then turning and top stitching over the opening.  It looked great, but it also took a lot of extra fabric.  I've also done a couple of burp cloths with fabric panels down the middle in the past, but I didn't embroider anything on them afterward for the same reason.  Today I combined the two ideas and simply cut a fabric panel to fit slightly wider than the width of my applique and applied it to the backside of the burp cloth using a zigzag stitch.  I used a coordinating thread for my bobbin so that you wouldn't really notice the stitching on the appliqued side.  I think they are my best idea for burp cloths yet!

Endless Slobber . . . Sometimes I crack myself up!!

Do you machine applique/embroider?  Do you own a Viking machine and/or have you used 4D software?  Even if you don't, I would love to hear about your tips and tricks for a perfect applique.  Maybe we'll start a forum ourveryownselves!


  1. I've never used home machines but I work with professional ones (Amaya XTs) and applique is always tricky.

    Love your solution for covering the stitching! New Follower

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I could only dream of a machine that didn't require 12 thread changes during an applique - sounds divine!!

  2. hm.. I am reached here by searching for calibration details of embroidery machines ... think it is right place for it and this site should be an encyclopedia for the embroidery business.

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