Thursday, May 08, 2008

Embroidering on Small or Narrow Fabric

The banners I've been making are from a couple of kits by Jack Dempsey Designs, and because they're ready-made the manufacturers have left a minimal amount of fabric (1/4 inch seam allowance) on the sides to conserve fabric and keep costs down.

The first two banners had designs mainly in the center of the banner, so I used my smallest four inch hoop or an oval hoop. But the next one in the series, the American flag themed one, has stitching planned to the very edges of the banner. Impossible to hoop the fabric without covering the stitching area with so little extra fabric on the edges!

Here is the solution to that problem. Overlap the working fabric with some strips of scrap fabric and baste them together with the widest/longest zigzag on your machine. You want to overlap, not sew a conventional seam, so it'll be less bulk to fit in the hoop. This also gives the advantage of a temporary edge finish to minimize ravelling.

Here is my banner with strips of fabric from a thrift store sheet leftover from another project sewn on either side along the stitching area. The extra blank length of the banner is the backing for finishing it after the embroidery is done.

Here I've hooped the fabric. You can see the zigzag stitching. I'll just snip this out when I've finished the embroidery and I'll be able to re-use the scraps for the next banner (It's much more fun to be able to use a large hoop and see more of the design at once while I'm working). I did trim the scrap fabric on the back close to the machine stitching, so I won't have to worry about accidentally embroidering through both layers.

You can also use a similar technique for fabric that's too delicate to be put into the hoop on it's own. Hoop a piece of plain cotton, and trim out and hem a square hole in the center. Then baste the delicate piece to the hooped cotton over the empty space. You'll be able to hold your working fabric firmly without worrying about damage or hoop marks.

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