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Bags & Embroidery - Part 3 - Adding Free Motion Machine Embroidery

Today we are back with another guest post from Karen to share with you! This one is part 3, adding free motion machine embroidery! Over to you Karen:


For this project I am making the Snazzy Slouch.  I haven't made it before but it has been on my To Do List for a while, and it has those great exterior pockets for decorating.  I am using recycled denim for mine, so I skipped the fusible interfacing to keep it less bulky and more slouchy.

The Snazzy Slouch

I always wanted to try free motion machine embroidery when I was a teenager, but back then my machine could not drop it's feed dogs.  It needs to do this to enable you to 'draw' freehand onto your fabric.  Here is an early attempt of mine!

Karen's early attempt at free motion embroidery
Poppy Treffry got me back into it.  She runs courses down in Cornwall here in the u.k. but as I couldn't get to one I bought her books instead.  "Free & Easy Stitch Style" and Freehand Machine Embroidery - Learning to draw with your sewing machine take you through all the steps to get you going and give projects to try.   Alternatively you may be able to find a course locally or on-line.

Free and Easy Stitch Style
In a nutshell it goes like this;

a) Thread your machine with normal thread.  (I like to use Gutermanns All Purpose in black)

b) Fill your bobbin with a different colour (I like to use grey)

c) Fit your Embroidery/Darning foot.  This is basically a ring on a spring, and will vary according to your machine but here is the Janome version.


d) Fit a new needle appropriate to your fabric (I'm recycling denim so using a Jeans needle) or an Embroidery needle

e) Drop your feed dogs (you may have to check your machine manual for this) and you are ready to start!

If your background fabric is a bit limp I like to use some woven fusible interfacing like Pellon SF101 or Vilene G700 to back it.  When it comes to manoeuvring your fabric, you have a couple of options available;

1) You can mount your fabric onto an Embroidery Hoop so the fabric is taut across the bottom, not the top as it would be for hand embroidery.  My wooden tambour frames would not fit under the foot easily so I invested in these ones from Madeira which are slimmer and simple to use.  You hold the frame and move it, keeping your design the right way up.  It takes practice! 




2) Or you can invest in a pair of Quilter's Gloves.  I bought a pair by Nancy Odom with "Gripper dots along the fingers and palm to give full hand surface control" from my local Quilting shop.  You lay your hands flat either side of the needle, hold the fabric taut and move it around. 

Quilters Gloves

Use whichever method feels best BUT KEEP YOUR FINGERS AWAY FROM THE NEEDLE!  Once you have more experience you may manage without either.  Generally speaking you can put your foot flat to the floor and max out the speed, as the size of the stitches will entirely depend on the speed you move the fabric, not the speed of the needle.  Here are some lilies I added to a plain black skirt, just some rough lines around the edges to fix them in place, then lines following the creases in the petats and scribbled stamens.

Lillies by Karen

Remember the applique design needs to be reversed before you trace it onto Bondaweb (Wonderunder)!  Fuse the bottom layer first (i.e. the stems) and stitch, then add each consecutive layer. I like to go around the outside a couple of times to secure the piece, then do the details and shading.  You can trace the shading lines on with a Frixion pen and go over them until you feel more confidant.  I keep my design on tracing paper and use tweezers to position the pieces underneath it.  


I actually love how the stitching looks without the applique, as you can see on the reverse.  I may try that another time for a real sketchbook look.

Once I had finished my pocket designs, I carried on with the assembly following Christine's instructions.  I pieced the whole bag out of 2 pairs of jeans in slightly different colours, and made a 'Jazzy Strap'.

Jazzy Strap



Thank you so much Karen. You can read more of Karen's posts over at Sew What's New HERE and visit Karen on Instagram - @auntystitches You can find the Emma Pattern HERE!

Happy Sewing! :)


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