Questions & Answers: Decorative Techniques

Here are some of our favorite decorative technique questions that we've gotten over the years. Maybe a few of these will help you too!

How do I machine embroider on a handkerchief. I am using super solvy but the stitches are so stiff even after soaking and rinsing that it can not be used for drying tears of joy. I just got a Baby Lock Elagio and I am just learning to sew. This handkerchief is for a wedding very soon. Please help! I have practiced so many times and nothing is working!

Okay, when you say you soaked it - how long for? We're talking about an hour - rinse, fill with water and soak again. Squish and squeeze. Rinse. Repeat as necessary. Because you're using dense stitching it's going to take twice as long as normal - and 5 times longer than you'd expect it too. I had made a 5 foot long x 1 foot wide scarf out of nothing but thread. 1000's of yards of thread. I used 8 layers of solvy. It took about 8 active hours to fully dissolve. I was so frustrated I wanted to scream! My bathtub took a long time to get de-solvied. But the thing is gorgeous - soft and flexible.

How do I prevent decorative ribbon fraying when I'm using it for craft projects?

Here's what I do: get a bottle of Fray Check - put it into an empty, clean nail polish bottle. Using the brush CAREFULLY run it along the edge of the ribbon. You'll leave a very thin edge of seam sealant that will stop the ribbon from fraying. It's important to brush it on only the edge - and the nail polish bottle is perfect for controlling that!

What method of dyeing yarn provides the best saturation of color?

I did some additional research as I haven't dyed yarn in a few years and found some amazing information. There's a terrific site that show you how to dye yarn with Kool-Aid. What a great idea. Just click here! I have simply GOT to try this...

I'm trying to make cording and apply it around a pillow without having the stitches show. Also when sewing the cording it seems to get twist. What am I doing wrong? I've cut the cording stripes on the bias, sewn the stripes onto cording, and basted the cording on to the pillow.

Use Rayon cording to make your piping. It's very, very soft, you can sew directly into it and it won't distort. This will allow you to secure your fabric over it very tightly. It sounds like you aren't clipping the curves enough. When you pin the pipping around the pillow, be SURE to put enough clips in the curve areas. If you don't do this, the pipping/cording will twist. Even though you've cut the fabric that covers the cording on the bias, you still need to clip the curves on the pipping fabric to enable it to sew into place cleanly.

When sewing appliques to clothing, how do you make tight curves look nice. When I make the fabric go in a curve it separates my stitches. Very annoying?

What you need to do is stop and start on curves. You'll be pivoting as you sew - stopping on the outside edge - needle down - and pivoting the fabric just slightly. You'll do this probably every 3-4 stitches to keep that satin stitch smooth. And never, ever pull that fabric as you're sewing. I promise it will distort. Just go slow and steady - relax, breathe. The more you practice, the easier it will get.

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