Newbie Adventures in Embroidery

I mentioned a while back that I finally indulged in a sewing machine with embroidery capabilities. This was mostly for Lulu and her insane lace trim, but I thought it’d be fun to learn how to do other things like making patches and such. Almost six months later, I finally got around to turning on my machine for the first time!

To break in my machine, I did a couple test runs of a Superman logo for a 1970s hotpants Supergirl commission. I purchased the logo off of Etsy, and it was pretty simple to transfer to my machine. Once I unzipped the file, I dragged it to the desktop on my Mac. After plugging my laptop to my machine, it was pretty simple to drag it to the machine’s drive and transfer the file. The machine came pre-installed with a bobbin of white embroidery thread, so all I had to do was put my embroidery thread in for the needle and let it go to work!

IMG_2772

I did 2 initial test runs of this project on scrap fabric before moving on to the real thing. With my initial run, I mixed up the order of the thread, but it wound up working out anyway since I didn’t like the 2″ size.

For my second run, I went with a 3.5″ logo. This time, I got the colors in the correct order and was overall pretty pleased with how it turned out. No problems whatsoever!

IMG_2779

It was only when I got started with my commission that things started going awry. As soon as it started, the white bobbin thread was the only thing showing. Okay, no big deal. I threaded the bobbin incorrectly. Easy fix.

Then the bobbin not only ran out of thread, but it created a huge knot on the wrong side of the project. Okay, deep breaths. Snip away all the extra threads, re-thread the bobbin, and install everything correctly this time.

At this point, my stabilizer was perforated and wonky, but I was also concerned about re-hooping my fabric and hitting the wrong place. So I snapped the hoop back in place and hoped for the best. While the final product turned out fine, it’s not quite as awesome as my second test run.

IMG_2775

So here are my main take-aways from this first dive into machine embroidery:

  • While I wouldn’t call the embroidery interface intuitive, it’s pretty easy to use once you figure out where all the buttons are and what all the symbols mean. I had to stop in the middle of my final project, but once I figured out how to jump to different steps in the embroidery process, I was able to finish pretty quickly. Thanks, user manual!
  • Stabilizers are your friend! This fabric is a medium weight twill with a touch of stretch to it. I used a cut-away Sulky stabilizer that I had on hand for this project. I do need to pick up a can of basting spray ASAP though. I think that would have helped with my final logo.
  • When in trouble, double check threading. Most of my final issues were due to user error.

And here are a couple of resources I found super helpful:

  • BurleySew: Lots of video tutorials on working specifically with the Brother SE400.
  • Embroidery Library: Some great tips and tricks on embroidery, including information on which stabilizers to use with different types of fabric! They’ve also recently released severalĀ video tutorials.

Have you done any machine embroidery before? How did you like it?

Advertisements

Life According to Instagram: March 2015

Another month from 2015 is officially in the past! I’m both excited and super anxious about that. We’re now about 2 months out from some of the big cons in the Dallas area, but that means I only have 2 months to finish up costumes for myself and others! I’m going to binge watch ALL THE SHOWS and sew like a demon this weekend :P.

instagram post

1. Texas (my part of it, anyway) got its last winter freak out this year a little late. We got a full 4″ of legit snow in March! Winter for us is normally a few days of ice, so real snow is a special treat. Thor loved it! Once he got used to stepping on it, he started sprinting circles around the yard nonstop.

2. I finished Belle in time for All-Con! It’s definitely not perfect, but I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

3. Speaking of All-Con, I definitely enjoyed it more than last year. Having con friends makes a huge difference, especially at chill cons like this one. Also, Calliopunk and I are now making this a thing for ALL of our costumes (but especially when we get around to doing Rat Queens).

4. I made a couple of improvements to my craft room this month, including installing a curtain rod above my craft table to hold my butcher/tracing paper. It makes drafting and tracing so much more convenient.

5. I finally snagged an embroidery machine! This was definitely a “treat yo-self” indulgence after I got my tax refund šŸ˜› It’s a Brother SE400 combo sewing/embroidery machine. I like the idea of having it available as a backup sewing machine if my Singer Stylist flukes out on me at some point. Hopefully I’ll get time to play with for more than 10 minutes soon!

6. Last week, I travelled to Portland for the Association of College and Research Libraries Conference. The trip was a blast and I learned so much. I don’t talk about it much online, but I struggle with my desire (or lack thereof) to stay in my current profession. I don’t know if it’s burnout or what. I’ve been working in this field for about a decade, and now that I’m approaching 30, I’m wondering what the next step is for me. Work conferences are a good way to get excited about my career again, and ACRL is one of the best conferences I’ve attended in years. Plus, meetingĀ G. Willow Wilson (the writer for Ms. Marvel) is basically the highlight of my nerdy life at the moment. I’m just kicking myself for not getting photos of the cherry blossoms while I was in Portland!

Are you on Instagram? Let’s be friends!