Free Webinar! 30-minute Infinity Scarf

We are kicking off the new year with another FREE webinar: 30-minute Infinity Scarf – Made with Sulky Water-Soluble Stabilizer.  In just one hour, learn a fun, fast, and fabulous technique with “infinite” possibilities – that’s completely free!  Plus: You choose what live date works best for you – or watch it on demand!

Free Webinar: 30-minute Infinity Scarf

Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Time: 2:00 PM EST

Date: Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Time: 7:00 PM EST

Featuring:

Ellen Osten, Sulky Director of Education
Patti Lee, Sulky VP of Consumer Relations

Do neither of those dates work for you?  No worries!  You can still sign up and watch at your own convenience – and don’t worry, it’s still free!

Free Webinar: 30-minute Infinity Scarf

  • How to make a one-of-a-kind infinity scarf on your sewing machine in less than an hour using Sulky Water Soluble Stabilizers
  • How to choose the right yarns and threads that work well together
  • Other ways to use these techniques to create beautiful things!

  • Downloadable step-by-step instructions for the scarf
  • Each step has pictures (For all of us visual learners)!
  • PLUS: A bonus discount for our upcoming Sulky Sensational Scarves – Certified Teacher Continuing Education Online Course
  • PLUS: A bonus Free Project for another scarf
  • Great trunk show from our upcoming Sulky Sensational Scarves Online Course
  • A chance to win the Sulky Sensational Scarves Online Course (a $199 value!)
  • If you watch on one of our LIVE dates, you’ll receive an exclusive web-special offer!

We hope you will join us!  Remember, if you can’t make our live dates, you can still sign up to watch at your convenience, plus learn all the great techniques, receive the downloadable instructions, and more!

 




Fill in the Blanks – Oh, the Possibilities!

Fill in the Blanks

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

Need a last-minute gift for a birthday or holiday, but there is no time for shopping?  Not to mention that your mind just goes blank?  That may not be a bad idea after all!

There are many pre-made “clean slates” perfect for embellishing with machine embroidery.  T-shirts, sweatshirts, and linens all come to mind – and all are easily found in many local stores.

Pillow

A plain white pillow case can easily be turned into a special holiday or wedding gift by releasing the hem,

embroidering a design, and re-stitching!

Design: #135 “Squiggle Flower #4” from Sulky Embroidery Club

Garments

A beautiful cashmere scarf would be well appreciated and, when monogrammed, becomes a lifetime treasure.

Original monogram design

Don’t limit garments to just t-shirts and sweatshirts – look at other items to add a fashion statement to.

Blouse design: Janes White Work from Graceful Embroidery; Sweatshirt: Eagle Head-Toile A8372 from Embroidery Library

Obviously, all pre-made items can be used as originally intended, but with a little creative thought, some items can be stitched together to quickly make larger gifts.

Hankerchief

A handkerchief can be embroidered and simply be an even more lovely and special handkerchief…

Design: Janes White Work from Graceful Embroidery

Or, a larger handkerchief could serve as a nightstand topper.

Stitching two or more together creates a table runner!

Design: “Pumpkin Scrolls” from Graceful Embroidery

Napkins

Napkins also make great gifts as is…

but, they too, can be seamed together – or in this case, butted up against each other to create larger table linens.

Most machines offer a variety of joining stitches, a stitch that will “bite” into one side of a straight line and then jump over and “bite” into the other side.

Large tablecloths can even be made from joining linen napkins – and the best part is that it can be made by embroidering a square at a time!

Designs Janet Sansom’s Georgia Collection

Helpful Hints

Now that you can see the potential in using blanks, both as they are meant to be, and, possibly, expanding original intentions, let’s explore a few helpful hints to ensure successful embroidering!

Since pre-made items come in a variety of fabrics, materials, shapes and thicknesses, there is no “one size fits all” advice.  However, it is safe to say that almost all pre-made items cannot, or should not, be secured directly in an embroidery hoop.  It might be due to its material – like this straw place mat.

Or due to its size or thickness, such as a pot holder.

Sulky to the rescue!

Fortunately, Sulky® has many choices in stabilizers to solve any dilemma that might occur during the hooping process.

There are two types of “sticky” stabilizers, which allow pre-made items to be secure in a hoop by firmly pressing it directly on to the hooped stabilizer:

Sticky+™

Sticky+™ is an easy-to-tear stabilizer, perfect behind larger designs and especially appliques.

It holds the pre-made item in place, yet easily peels away from the stitched area.  It is the first choice for most commercial embroiderers.

Sticky Fabri-Solvy™

Sticky Fabri-Solvy – a water soluble stabilizer that is perfect for projects where the back should look as nice as the right side of the project. Once again, the item is securely held for stitching, but after the excess stabilizer is gently pulled up from the fabric and cut-away, any remaining stabilizer disappears after rinsing.

On projects such as the potholder, matching bobbin (Sulky PolyLite™) and top (Sulky 40 wt. Rayon) thread color was used.  Compare the two potholder photos.  Hard to tell front from back, right? Hint: check out the hanging loop.  (TIP:  If you are giving a potholder that is going to be used and not just a decorative item, be sure to use only Sulky Cotton Threads for embroidery.  Cotton has a higher melting point than either rayon or polyester.)

Needle selection is dependent upon the material being embroidered, however, Topstitch needles are perfect for machine embroidering, especially since they can be found in larger gauges which are helpful of pre-made quilted items.

Heavy, thick items, such as the pot holder, was stitched with a 100/16 needle, while the bib was stitched with a 90/14 one.  For knits, use a Ballpoint embroidery needle in proper gauge for fabric weight.  (And a real plus for some of us – they’re easier to thread!)

Design positioning is also important on pre-made items.  Take the time to mark center design position on the item and then line up machine needle position to it.

Even though the sticky surface of the stabilizer will secure the item for stitching, if your machine offers the function of basting a box around the design, it is helpful to use it.  Not only will it secure a top stabilizer (Sulky Heat-Away Clear Film™ or Sulky Solvy™) if needed,

but a “fix box” also provides a visual of design placement prior to embroidering.  If your machine doesn’t have a fix feature, and you find you need more “sticky” to secure the “unhoopable” item, you can use Sulky KK 2000™ to add extra sticky to the stabilizer and/or the wrong side of the item.

Two suggestions that are universal when machine embroidering on pre-made items:

  1. Turn the speed of the embroidery machine down by at least half.
  2. Monitor the stitching process.  Many pre-made items, when hooped, present with a lot of extra fabric or parts, which could easily fall onto the stitching surface and get caught in the stitching process – possibly damaging the machine.

Build a stash of blanks by shopping sales to find quality “blank canvases” to keep on hand all year long!  I’m just saying…

“Blanks” may just become your new best friend!

Design: Sulky Embroidery Club’s 684 “Owl”

Featured designs are available on the following websites:

Show us how you #SewBetterWithSulky – follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and share your photos using hashtag #SewBetterWithSulky 🙂




The Very Best Way To Ruin Your Machine Embroidery Project

When I first started doing machine embroidery it was with a machine that I had borrowed from my mom. I didn’t take any classes and I didn’t read the manual that came with the machine (sound familiar?). I just started pushing button and trying things out.

Needless to say, almost everything I tried came out looking awful. So to give you a good laugh (and hopefully you can learn from my mistakes), here is my list of how to ruin your Machine Embroidery Project.

  1. Don’t change the needle. A dull needle that has already sewn several thousand stitches is one sure-fire way to ruin your project and cause you great frustration in the process. You could get a lot of thread breaks and thread shredding with an old needle. Using the wrong needle size for the thread and fabric you are using can also ruin your project. Schmetz has a great guide (check it out here) that gives you a guide for which needle is right for your project. Sulky also gives needle recommendations for our threads on sulky.com and on the end of many of the spools!
  2. Just use whatever thread you have laying around. Not all threads are the same. Shockingly, the thread you can get 3 spools for a dollar at the checkout of a big-box store is not going to be the same quality as the ENKA Certified Rayon that is sold by Sulky.
  3. Don’t do a test sew out.

    Picture courtesy of dzgns.com

    I know you paid good money for the embroidery blank, t-shirt, or bag that you are planning to embroider on. If you like messing up and having to re-buy your blanks, by all means, just go for it without testing the design, the stabilizers, or the positioning of the design on the item.

  4. Don’t use the right stabilizer. This is probably the best way to ruin an embroidery project. If you just throw any old stabilizer in, no matter what type of design you are stitching or what type of fabric you are stitching on, I can all but guarantee you will screw up the project. Need some proof? check out these pictures of designs that were not stabilized properly compared to the ones that were.

    Embroidery with the wrong stabilizers.

    Embroidery with the right stabilizer

     

    If you want to know the right kinds of stabilizer to use, check out the Sulky Stabilizer Selector Tool.
  5. Heck! Don’t use any stabilizer at all! Once again, it’s probably the quickest way to screw it all up.

Truthfully, I don’t want you to have to make the mistakes I made so, please, change your needle! Use good quality thread, and by all means, use the right stabilizer. If you aren’t sure what stabilizer to use, check out our Stabilizer Selector Tool. 

Happy Sewing!




The # 1 FAQ – What Stabilizer Do I Use? – Answered

The #1 Question: What Stabilizer Do I Use? – Answered!

When I asked Patti Lee, Vice President of Consumer Relations for Sulky of America, what is the number one question that people ask you; without hesitation, she said, “What stabilizer do I use?” Every day, all day it seems, Patti is answering this question.

As a result, we created the new….Sulky Stabilizer Selector Tool!

What stabilizer do I use seems like a pretty straightforward question, but the truth is, it’s an incredibly complicated one! The answer depends on what type of fabric you are stitching on and the technique you are using (Applique, Hand Embroidery, Monogramming). Depending on the type of fabric and the technique you are using, the Stabilizer Selector Tool on our website could give you any one of 2,278 different answers! Crazy right?

This tool took our team of experts here at Sulky over a year to put together. We wanted to be sure that you are getting the best information possible so you have great results. Our motto is “Create with Confidence”, after all.

Here is how the Stabilizer Selector Tool works:

First, pick a technique.  There are 34 techniques to choose from. You can choose anything from Applique to Sashiko; and Monogramming to Thread Sketching.

Next, pick your fabric. There are 69 to choose from (did you even know there were that many types of fabric? Me either!). These experts thought of it all. You can choose anything from Cashmere to Cotton, to Lightweight Knit and Hats!

 

Once you have your combination set, the suggested stabilizer (or stabilizers, as is often the case) pops up. They are listed by which ones should be a backing stabilizer, what should be a topping, and how many layers of each you will need.

sulky stabilizer selection tool

Sulky Stabilizer Selector Tool

Note: I wish I could tell you that using the stabilizer selector and following the suggestions gave you a 100 percent guarantee of perfect results every single time.  However, these are the absolute best suggestions that our experts can possibly give you with the limited information that is being asked; but let’s face it, there are other factors in machine embroidery that are also important for success. For example, all fabrics are not manufactured the same – there are different weights and quality. When is the last time you changed your needle? What kind of thread are you using? Are you hooping properly? Are you spending enough time with your embroidery machine, or is she getting jealous of the other machines in your sewing room, so she is forced to mess up while you aren’t looking, so you will only pay attention to her? (Please tell me my machine isn’t the only one that does this!)

In other words, here is the fine print: Though these results are based on the suggestions of our Experts, there are numerous possibilities that can be used for nearly all techniques/fabric combinations. We are confident you will experience great results with our suggestion, so go ahead and Select With Confidence!

The bottom line: If you use the Stabilizer Selector Tool and follow the suggestions, we are confident you will like what you see and it is certainly a great place to start, especially if you are doing a brand new sewing technique or sewing on a fabric that you have never used before. However, we always suggest that you test before you sew :).

If you want something for your actual sewing reference library on these recommendations, we have some dandies in recipe-format with pretty pictures to inspire you in this book.  It’s a great reference and would make a great gift, too.

Happy Sewing!




Sewing Hack: How to Extend a Wedge Ruler

Have you ever wanted to do a project but you didn’t have the perfect tool? I have to be honest, this happens to me all the time. I am not a gadget girl so I don’t have a ton of different rulers and tools in my sewing studio. More often than not, I find something on Pinterest or a free project in an email, but I don’t own the specialty tool that they are using in the instructions.

This recently happened to one of the blog readers. She wanted to make this Christmas Tree Skirt.

It’s one of the Free Projects on Sulky.com. (Check out all the free projects here)

This projects calls for the long version of the 9 or 10 degree wedge ruler. The one she had was only 12 inches long. (FYI – Here is where to get the long version that I used for the project)

The good news is for this particular ruler, I have a fix! If you have a wedge ruler that isn’t a long as you want it to be, this is how to still get the angle without rushing out to buy a new ruler.

The Fix!

Let’s say you have more strips sewn together than you have ruler.

Place the small end on the edge of the strip set and be sure you are lined up correctly.

Now take another ruler and line it up on one side of the wedge ruler the full length of the strip set.

Use a super fine point pen (I used a super fine FriXion® pen –  which disappears with the heat of an iron), to draw the line from the edge of the wedge ruler up to the end of the fabric.

sewing hack, wedge ruler

Move the ruler and draw down the edge of the wedge ruler to the bottom as well.

Do the same on the other side of the wedge ruler.

sewing hack

Now you can use your full length ruler and cut right on the lines you just drew and you have the perfect wedge as if your ruler were longer.

Happy Sewing!




Machine Embroidery Series: Cotton+Steel Thread & Embroidery Designs

Machine Embroidery Series

Cotton+Steel Thread by Sulky

& New Cotton+Steel Scout Embroidery Collection

pamela Cox headshot

 This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

 

When was the last time you really got excited over thread?  If the answer is “Not for quite a while.”, the new answer is “Right Now!”

Proudly announcing the newest addition to the Sulky Thread Family…

Name: Cotton+Steel Thread

Born: 2017

Weight: 50

Size: 660 yard spools

Proud Parents: Sulky and Cotton+Steel, a division of RJR Fabrics

Sulky recently teamed up with a wonderful, funky group of designers, Cotton+Steel, to bring their unique awareness of fabric color into the world of Sulky Thread!

Cotton+Steel 50 wt. Thread is made from 100% Egyptian grown, Extra-Long Staple cotton.  It is spun in Egypt, twisted, dyed and finished in Italy, with the final winding in Germany.  This intense, quality-controlled manufacturing process produces a thread that flows effortlessly through the mechanics of the sewing machine.

Intended usage of this quality thread is for general sewing; piecing, quilting and garment making, especially since the thread collection is color coordinated with Cotton+Steel’s fabric line of RJR Fabrics.

And then along came machine embroidery….

Normally, an “all-purpose thread” is not employed to stitch out beautiful machine embroidery designs. Why would we even want another thread?  Especially, when within our immediate Sulky collection, we can select from a variety of threads: diverse in fiber content, colors and weights.

Let’s start with the available colors, which are young and unique, not to mention that they coordinate with an entire line of Cotton+Steel fabrics! Cotton+Steel Thread is available in an amazing variety of 100 lush colors of subtle shade differences. Plus, its 50 wt. filament is slightly thinner than a 40 wt. and slightly thicker than a 60 wt.  In other words, it provides new options in how an embroidery will look.

My first thought was, “How does it compare to “accepted/standard” machine embroidery threads?” I did a test sample and would suggest you do the same, because, although I did try to document subtle differences through photographs, there is nothing like true, visual results to appreciate all the nuances of all the threads.

I keep my stitch-out samples for future references documenting stabilizer, needle size, fabric content, and, of course, thread type – including color numbers.

Green Flower Bird by Sulky Embroidery Club

Design #657 – Green Flower Bird from Sulky’s Embroidery Club was first stitched in Sulky 40 wt. Rayon on Osnaburg fabric, a coarsely-woven utility fabric. Most embroidery designs are digitized to accept this thread weight.

Trying to stay close to the same color scheme, the same design was stitched in Cotton+Steel 50 wt. Thread, under the exact same parameters (same fabric, stabilizer, machine speed and needle size).  It stitched out beautifully with not one mechanical issue.

While still providing full coverage, the finer thread filament allowed the rows of stitches to lay next to each other with less overlap.  Also, the design was lighter in touch.  Cotton+Steel Thread offers a patina finish versus the satin-shine of Rayon, while still providing all design details.

The final stitch-comparison incorporated Sulky 30 wt. Cotton Thread.

machine embroidery series

Some details, most notably in the feet, are lost when embroidering a design originally intended for a 40 wt. Rayon Thread in heavier weights. However, in exchange, a “hand-stitched” effect is gained by the appearance of the thread sinking into the fabric, a matted finish, and creating additional depth to many focal points.

After evaluating the sample stitch-outs, it was obvious that Cotton+Steel Thread is a perfect choice for machine embroidery on so many levels!

 

Cotton + Steel Scout Embroidery Collection

Cotton+Steel’s first ever embroidery collection contains an assortment of 31 darling embroidery designs, reminiscent of old school scout patches.

Available at: Embroidery Online

Cotton + Steel Thread by Sulky Scout Slimline Collection

This Cotton+Steel Thread by Sulky Slimline contains all the colors needed to stitch every design in the Scout Embroidery Collection. This kit contains 26 660 yd. spools of the 50 wt. Cotton+Steel Thread by Sulky.

Available at: Embroidery Online

 

Medium Lovebird – Scout Embroidery Collection by Cotton + Steel

The Medium Lovebird design #80141-04 was combined with Happy Daisy design #80141-1.

The digitized floral center, suggestive of a button, inspired skipping over these stitches and embellishing the embroidered petals with layered buttons.  The trendy thread colors cried out for an inspirational accent fabric!

Fabric: Drill Cloth – a utility fabric much like canvas but of lighter weight

Stabilizer: Sulky Soft ’n Sheer™

Needle Size:  110/16 Topstitch

Cotton+Steel Thread colors:  Bird: 1046, 0640, 1119, 1296 and 0505

Flower: (center colors omitted) 1037 and 0567

 

Owl – Scout Embroidery Collection by Cotton + Steel

I loved the outlined Owl #80141-15, and pictured it on napkin corners.  Wanting a bit of color, design #80141-09 Cactus & Owl was chosen.  The cactus framed the owl perfectly. However, not wanting too many owls, the small owl perched on the cactus was omitted.

Fabric: Pre-made linen/polyester blend napkin

Stabilizer: Sulky Soft ’n Sheer

Needle Size:  70/10 Sharps for Fix Box

80/12 Topstitch for embroidery design

Cotton+Steel Thread colors:  1131 – Owl   1156,1815 and 1082 – Cactus

 

Medium Mustang – Scout Embroidery Collection by Cotton + Steel

I knew my granddaughter would love this graphic, Mustang design #80141-02, embroidered on a sweatshirt for her riding classes. Since I had only embroidered on woven fabrics with Cotton+Steel Threads, I thought it would be good to try a knit!  Stitching went flawlessly!

Fabric: Pre-made 50 cotton/50 polyester medium-weight sweatshirt

Stabilizer: Sulky Sticky+ ™

Sulky Solvy

Needle Size:  90/14 Ball Point Embroidery Needle

Cotton+Steel Thread colors:  1229,1295 and 1005

 

Sulky Cotton+Steel Thread truly inspires the use of color and, at times, may be the preferable choice for an application just as all the other members of the Sulky Thread family are.

One thing is certain: Sulky’s Cotton+Steel Thread has already earned a well-deserved place in our necessarily diverse Embroidery Thread Collections.




Machine Embroidery Series: Sulky Specialty Threads

Sulky Specialty Threads

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

We have been exploring all types of Sulky Thread in our last few blog segments and have learned about individual properties and potential usage for 40 wt. Rayon, 60 wt. PolyLite™, 40 wt. PolyDeco™, and 12 wt. and 30 wt. Cotton Thread  (including Sulky Cotton Blendables® Thread) !  We have also been exposed to the creative possibilities of stitching, or accenting, an embroidery design in one of the many threads from the Sulky Metallic Family:  Original, Sliver™ and Holoshimmer™.  Now, we will talk about the other Sulky Specialty Threads!

Believe it or not… Sulky still has more types of thread that will quickly become a welcomed supplement to your thread collection!

Did you even know that light-activated thread exists?Sulky Specialty ThreadsAnd that it really does glow in the dark??

Sulky Specialty Threads

Sulky Glowy™ Thread is available in six pastel colors…

Well, until darkness sets in!  That’s when areas stitched with this specialty thread will simply glow!

The glow will last 15-20 minutes, depending upon how much prior exposure to light it had received.  The “glowing” property will persist through repeated washings as well!

The obvious usage for Sulky Glowy would be for spooky Halloween items. However, what about using it on a T-shirt that your child will wear to the July 4th fireworks?  The holiday evening starts off with the sun setting, but shortly turns to complete darkness as the fireworks start.  Your child begins the evening of fun wearing a cute T-shirt embroidered in pastel colors. Once the darkness settles in, their shirt becomes a reassuring way to quickly spot your child among their group of friends!

A small Glowy design can also offer a sense of nearness for a young child who is having trouble falling asleep. Embroider a pillow case with a cute design using Glowy simply with just a single star or a little heart.  It may be just the thing a young child needs in order to relax and help remind them that you are always nearby.

Sulky Polyester Invisible Thread

It is a great idea to have Sulky Invisible Thread, available in both clear and smoke, readily on hand. It is a very fine, flexible, polyester thread which can be used both as the top and bobbin thread (wind the bobbin slowly and only about half full). It is softer and much more heat tolerant than nylon counterparts; it will not melt with normal ironing through the polyester setting.  (Irons vary in temperature, so test first.)

Sulky Invisible Thread fulfills needs of stitching in the ditch, invisible appliqué and “hand-look” quilting/stippling, whether these applications are done on a regular sewing machine or as an “in-the-hoop” project on an embroidery machine.

Please remember that Sulky ’s priority is to have informed, satisfied consumers.  Therefore, Sulky offers a “Resources” tab on their website at http://www.sulky.com/resources/
So much information is immediately available to answer your questions and to offer sewing hints.  However, if you still have a unique situation, you can go to the “Ask the Experts” page at www.sulky.com/faq/ or send an email to info@sulky.com.

I hope the Thread Blogs have provided you with practical information about lots of different threads, and when one type might prove to be more beneficial over another. But my greater hope is that you have become inspired to “paint” your machine embroidery creations in more than one palette!

Sulky Embroidery Club

Design from Sulky Embroidery Club




Machine Embroidery Series: Metallic Thread

Specialty Threads: Metallic Thread

Specialty Threads: Metallic Thread

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

 

If you have been following the Sulky Blog about “Thread”, hopefully you agree that one of the most important elements needed for stitching exquisite machine embroidery is to have a variety of Sulky Threads on hand to select from!

There is really not a single “perfect thread”, but rather “perfect choices” for different applications. For example, 60 wt. PolyLite is best for lettering, while Sulky 40 wt. Rayon reflects the luster of silk thread. 40 wt. PolyDeco is bleachable, while Sulky Cotton Threads mimic hand-stitching.  All have their necessary place in our thread chest!

Let’s add to our thread chest by exploring why “Specialty Threads”, beginning with Sulky Metallic Thread, must also be readily on-hand.

Sometimes, especially around the holidays, we want to add a bit of “sparkle” to a chosen design. However, the notion of even LOOKING at a spool of metallic thread will generate thoughts equivalent to fingernails on a chalk board!

Yeah! Not Happening!!

 

Sulky has found the solution to allow the terms “metallic” and “user-friendly” to be featured in the same sentence by offering various Metallic thread types – meaning one type is sure to meet your needs.

Specialty Threads: Metallic Thread

  • First, Sulky Original Metallic Thread is created by twisting and bonding a fine metallic foil around a strong polyester core to create an exceptionally smooth, strong, and pliable thread.

  • Second, Sulky Sliver Metallic Thread is a thin, flat, ribbon-like foil laminated with polyester. It vividly reflects light.
  • Finally, Sulky Holoshimmer™ Metallic Thread is also a thin, flat, ribbon-like, foil that is laminated with polyester. However, the difference is that the foil is holographic. The thread filament reflects light differently under different conditions!

Sulky Metallic Threads easily add the ultimate sparkle to any imagined project, including….

A satin top designed for a winter holiday party:

 

I accented with Graceful Embroidery snowflake designs. I used individual snowflakes and several different silvers and whites in Sulky Holoshimmer Metallic Thread, Sulky Sliver™ Metallic Thread, and 40 wt. Rayon Thread.

A pulled-thread place-mat:

Using Sulky Original Metallic Thread to outline every number as well as each corner-flourish featured in Graceful Embroidery‘s “12 Days of Christmas” collection, adds a touch of festivity to the holiday table setting.

Finally, a tote bag:

Sulky Holoshimmer and Sliver Metallics add the “attitude” to a fun bag; perfect for 4th of July events, and every day to follow!

“Fleur de Grunge” designs by Graceful Embroidery. Graceful Embroidery Designs are available at  www.gracefulembroidery.com

To easily and successfully stitch designs in metallic thread, use a Schmetz® 90/14 Topstitch or 90/14 Metallic Needle and reduce the speed of the sewing machine at least by half.

Although it’s always important to make sure that any type of thread comes off the spool in the proper direction (refer to Thread Applied to Machine Embroidery) this is especially true when stitching with metallic thread.

The photo shows how the wrong spool position can cause the thread to come off the spool in tight twists, which could cause it to twist back into itself or eventually break.

The thread in this photo correctly spirals off the spool in a loose wave, and feeds into the machine in a straight line.

The thread should come off the spool flat and remain flat throughout the path into the thread tensions (at least as flat as possible).

One way to insure proper feed-direction for metallic threads is to use “The Thread Director” or  Thread Director 2, which are both now available at many locations, including on the Sulky website.

This device allows the thread to unwind flat, eliminating any twisting, which might cause thread breakage.

Sulky now has The Thread Director 2 – a new and improved Thread Director that holds TWO spools at the same time for added flexibility and creativity!

How about blending Sulky thread types to stitch your embroidered designs in an “originally special” fashion?

Thread a Sulky 40 wt. Rayon and a Sliver™ Metallic (#8040 Opalescent) into the sewing machine following the machine’s manual for “twin-needle” threading. However, put both threads through the single eye of a Schmetz® 100/16 Topstitch Needle. As seen in the photo, just a hint of sparkle radiates throughout this beautiful Sulky Embroidery Club’s butterfly design #1181.

This embroidery design can be found as a free download at www.sulkyembclub.com.

Have fun experimenting with all the wonderful Metallic Threads available from Sulky; and, please, share your experiences and projects! That’s how we all learn!

Sulky, of course, offers other “specialty” threads that inspire creativity, which we’ll explore in a future blog.




Is Cotton Thread a Good Choice for Machine Embroidery?

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

 

Cotton Thread and Machine Embroidery

Rumor has it that synthetic threads are the best threads to use for machine embroidery.  They flow through the machine’s mechanics effortlessly, plus they reflect light and shine just like an angel’s halo!  I must admit; this rumor is all true.  These threads ARE perfect for machine embroidery!

However, there is also a rumor floating around that you should stay away from cotton thread because it will only bring embroidery heartache. And well, this rumor is so NOT TRUE! Sulky® Cotton threads are often the “preferred” thread for many embroidered projects, and for several reasons:

Sulky® Cotton thread is available in over 130 colors (AND 126 Blendables), allowing subtle transitions within design elements. Cotton thread in general adds visibility and additional depth to any stitching pattern. These threads are available in 30 wt., which is ¹/³ thicker than 40 wt. thread and even a heavier 12 wt. filament.

Sulky’s Embroidery Club Design #1090 – Heartscroll – Free Dowload

Sulky® Cotton thread is also available in several variegated or multi-colored themes.  This thread blends color themes or shades, adding a new level of interest to any embroidered element.

Embroidery Library’s Collection: Vintage Jacobean Wings ‘n Things – Large File # 537275 Available on their website at: www.emblibrary.com

Sulky® Cotton thread provides more of a hand-stitched effect than its rayon or polyester colleagues if, for no other reason, than most hand embroidered designs are stitched in a cotton floss.  However, the thicker cotton filament appears to “sink” into natural fabrics giving the appearance of thread fibers intertwining with fabric fibers.

Sabrina Design Set by Janet Sansom – Available at: www.embroiderystash.com

Napped fabrics, especially suede cloth, provide a wonderful canvas to showcase designs stitched in cotton thread.

Sulky’s Embroidery Club Design #875 – Dogwood – Available at: www.sulkyembclub.com

Now….

Rumor also has it that Cotton Thread breaks during machine embroidering……oh, I hate when that happens!! Another false rumor once a proven, quality thread is used.

Sulky® only uses longer cotton staple fibers to twist into their quality cotton thread.  Those longer twisted filaments offer less “break points”.

 

Take the time to read and compare information provided on spool caps.  Just like the mandated information found on fabric bolt ends, thread companies must disclose content, care and, if proud of filament length, they will state “long staple”.  It does make a difference!

In all fairness, the most common reason that any thread breaks is due to friction! Between the speed of the machine and the frequency that a needle must penetrate into the fabric, often in the same area, heat is produced, creating weak points on any thread.  Synthetic threads are man-made and can withstand higher friction, or heat, before breaking. However, this is not to say that the natural cotton thread cannot be successfully incorporated for machine embroidery.

After insuring that a quality, Sulky® Cotton thread is threaded into the machine, my next suggestion, even if you do nothing else, is to simply turn the speed of the embroidery machine down- at least by half -to reduce friction!

A Top-stitch needle is often the best choice when embroidering designs in cotton thread. Top-stitch needles have the large eye necessary for thicker thread to easily pass through…

Plus, it is available in larger gauges than regular embroidery needles.  Larger needle gauges are often helpful when embroidering in cotton thread on heavier fabrics such as denim or duck-cloth.

Most rumors are based on a bit of truth, but by the time the rumor is re-told, usually the “negatives” are spun out of control. A negative truth about Cotton thread is that it does produce lint during the stitching process.  However, personally, the machine-embroidered final project stitched in cotton thread far outweighs any slight inconvenience of the lint by-product.

The “extra steps” I take when stitching with cotton is simply to clean the lint off the presser foot during thread color changes.

Keep a small piece of painter’s tape handy to pick up any small pieces of lint that might have fallen onto the fabric surface.

Once a cotton stitched design has been completed, it is always a good idea to clean out the bobbin casing of the machine.

(For purposes of being able to see the lint in the photo, I have gathered the lint into a ball and left it in the general area the fuzzy particles were found.)

 

When I stated that often the “negatives” are spun out of control, this is a prime example.  Yes, the machine casing area should be cleaned, however, another truth is that we all should probably be cleaning our machines more often than we actual do, regardless of the thread type!

Do keep in mind that machine embroidery designs are normally digitized to accept a 40 wt. thread.  This is not to say that the 30 wt. cotton thread cannot be substituted.

Bouquet of Flowers Collection by Graceful Embroidery – Available at: www.gracefulembroidery.com

The thicker filament will make the design heavier and more dense. Some details will be less evident.

In comparing the two stitch-outs, the 40 wt. on the left allows a hint of the foundation fabric to show in the centers of the white flowers, the thinner white petals Also, there is a bit more detail in the outline of the top yellow petals and the stamen.

Remember, if wanting the embroidery to be in a silky contrast to the fabric, choosing Rayon or Polyester thread makes sense.  However, if the desired outcome is to mimic more of a “hand stitched” appeal, then Sulky® Cotton thread is your only choice!

 




Thread Applied to Machine Embroidery

Thread Applied to Machine Embroidery

pamela Cox headshot

This series is written by guest blogger, Pamela Cox. Pamela is an expert embroiderer, designer, digitizer and all around wonderful girl! We are so happy to have her contributing to the Sulky Blog!

Crayons, oil paints, water-colors, and even chalk are ways in which an artist expresses creativity.

Thread articulates individual creativity when machine embroidering!

Just as all artists look for “quality” raw materials in creating their next masterpiece, so should a seamstress, quilter or a machine embroidery enthusiast.

But what defines “quality” in thread?

  • One that is strong, smooth (not fuzzy), consistent in thickness, and resists tangles

thread applied to machine embroidery

  • One that is made from long, tightly twisted staple or filament fibers

 

  • Finally, one that offers multiple colors (hues) in various shades of lightness and darkness (value). Subtle graded colors, may not seem necessary, but they can dramatically enhance a design.

Having a thread chart in hand when deciding on colors for a design makes the small investment of purchasing the chart well worth it.  Not only can you identify the colors you already have, but it is easy to visualize complimentary colors vs. subtle change colors vs. contrasting ones!

Sulky is a proven name brand that is synonymous with quality.  Sulky offers a wealth of thread options in both fiber content and thread weight, allowing choices of solid colors, metallic textures or blendable tones.

It is important to understand that higher numbers equal a finer thread filament.  In other words, a 60 wt. polyester thread is thinner, finer, and more light-weight than a 40 wt. polyester thread, which is just opposite of what our logical minds would lead us to believe.  The thread weight number is found on the spool’s end cap.  The filament content will also be found there, much like the label on the end of a fabric bolt.

It is also extremely important to understand how the thread is wound on the spool because it should be unwound in the same direction to avoid tangles (most noticeable when hand-stitching) and breakage.  Cross-wound spools (thread crosses over itself diagonally as the spool is wound) work best if the thread comes off the top of the spool.  Stacked spools (the thread is wound in an even spiral, not crossing over the other threads) works best if thread unwinds off the side of the spool.

thread machine embroidery

Bottom line, if you are having problems with thread breakage or not getting proper tension results, try turning the spool direction and re-thread your machine.

If one truly wants to master an art, knowledge is the key.  So, we will continue to explore Sulky threads learning how various thread weights and styles effect the same design as well as learning how to combine different thread types within the same design.

In the meantime, check out Sulky’s website…….www.sulky.com.

There is so much useful information to be found in the Resource tab including a free guide to download about Thread & Needles!

 

Just a few Fun Facts to take with you:

  • Thread has a “shelf life”.  Buying anything larger than Sulky’s 850-yard spool could result in wasteful over-spending because it may take 10 to 20 years to use it all and lesser quality threads will deteriorate with exposure to sun and heat.
  • One 250-yard spool of Sulky 40wt. Rayon thread can create 44,000 stitches, while an 850 yard spool can create 156,000 stitches!
  • Thread weight matters! A 30wt. thread is 1/3 times stronger, heavier, and denser than a 40wt. thread.
  • Sulky 40wt. Rayon, the most popular thread used in machine embroidery, is available in 283 solid colors and 55 variegated combinations.
  • Most machine embroidery designs are digitized with the intended stitch-out done in a 40wt. thread. It is important to read design directions to replicate the digitizer’s intentions.
  • Most sewing machines are calibrated to use 40wt. thread for built-in, decorative stitches. If using a different thread, experiment to find the perfect ratio of stitch length, width, and tension!
  • Sulky Invisible Thread is 100% polyester.  Translation?…. it does not melt with normal ironing through the cotton setting, nor will it break down in the dryer through repeated care cycles.
  • When changing thread on a sewing machine, do not pull the thread back out of the machine to re-wind on the spool. Instead, cut the thread by the spool and pull it through the machine in the same direction the machine is threaded.  Modern tension disks are so precise that thread should only travel in the proper direction through them.