Christmas,  Machine Embroidery,  Machine Embroidery Series

Machine Embroidery Series – Velvet

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!


Picture Christmas represented by a fabric… would be a rich, elegant fabric, yet soft to the touch, bringing joy when caressed. Only velvet can fulfill all these wishes!

Originally made from silk, velvet is now manufactured from synthetic fibers bringing price points down without sacrificing the deep nap or the soft-flowing drape of the cloth.  Check “care instructions” found at the end of the bolt as most velvets do require dry cleaning.


Velvet should never be directly secured in the machine embroidery hoop. Stabilizers have never played a more important role in machine embroidery than right now. Sulky® provides several products which all work equally well.


Within the range of stabilizers, the common denominator is to always hoop the stabilizer as “tight as a drum” and then secure the velvet directly to the stabilizer in the appropriate manner. Because of the deep nap, Velvet will require the use of a top stabilizer to tamp down the thickness, and allow the embroidered stitches to sit “on top” rather than sinking into the richness of the fabric.


Sulky® offers two choices, one washes away, Solvy™, while the other is removed by the heat of the iron, Heat-Away Clear Film™. The bad news is that most velvet is not washable nor should it come in direct contact with a hot iron.  The good news is that both these stabilizers are easily torn from embroidered edges.


When applying the top stabilizer, either place pins close to the inside of the frame keeping them out of the path of the stitching; or machine baste or “fix” the fabric to the stabilizer – a feature found on many embroidery machines.  If basting, we recommend using a small gauge Microtex needle (70/10) and a fine thread (60 wt.).


This will require changing needles from the basting to the embroidery phase, but this extra step will eliminate any unnecessarily large holes from showing around the design. Sulky® Soft ’n Sheer™ is very light-weight; truly, as the name implies.


Yet it is very durable. If a bit of stabilizer is left behind, it will not affect the feel or drape of any fabric. After securing the stabilizer, lightly spray the wrong side of the velvet with Sulky KK 2000™ Temporary Spray Adhesive, pressing the fabric firmly in place to the hooped stabilizer, keeping it smooth and wrinkle free.


The velvet was topped with Solvy™ by the basting method in final preparation.


Design, 915 Scroll Three with Holly, available through the Sulky Embroidery Club, was chosen and stitched in Sulky® 40 wt. Rayon Thread. Once completed, the basting was released from the wrong side to avoid possibly nipping into the velvet nap; and then jump stitches were cut.


The top stabilizer is easily removed. You might think you should tear it “away” from the design since it is to be “removed”; however, lifting and tearing it into (towards) the embroidery produces cleaner edges.


When working with new materials, it is always good to do a “test stitching”.  Most of us do not want to spend the extra time or cost of materials to do so; but it often saves time and sometimes disappointment in the long run.  The entire design does not need to be stitched.  In an editing program, take a sample “cut” of the design, saving it under a new file name and preserving the original.  Don’t worry about tie offs or extra stitches, this is only a test.  (If you don’t have software, just stitch out part of the design for the test.)


Notice the size was greatly reduced as was the stitch count, yet all the elements are represented.  This is also a good method to verify that color selections work well together.  Tear-Easy™ was selected to test the stitching in Sulky Original Metallic Thread, color #7007 for the scroll. The stabilizer is hooped, scrap fabric sprayed; then secured and topped with Sulky Heat-Away Clear Film™, which is just a bit heavier than Solvy™.  After basting with the Microtex needle, an 80/12 Topstitch Needle was inserted and the machine was slowed down to just under half-speed.


Basting was released from the wrong side, and the topper removed by tearing it towards the stitches.  Success!  The holidays will sparkle!!


Tear-Easy™ lives up to its name, easily but gently tearing from outer edges.


Sulky® Sticky+ is also a valid choice. Hoop the stabilizer with the paper intact and facing up.  Gently score the paper around the inside of the frame and lift it up exposing the tacky surface.


Firmly press the wrong side of the velvet to the sticky surface keeping it smooth and wrinkle free. This test was to experiment stitching without a top stabilizer.


Sticky+ holds the fabric securely during the stitching process, yet the fabric is easily lifted from the surface when completed.


It, too, can be gently torn to remove from the embroidered edges.

Results:  The design shows fairly well, however, small flecks of the black nap peeked through the satin stitches even though it might be difficult to see in the bottom scroll. The comparison shows, that the top scroll,  stitched with the Solvy topper, presents cleaner, clearer edges – therefore,  it’s the better option for stabilizing.


Velvet is perfect for holiday garments especially when partnered with taffeta.  But don’t let your imagination stop there.


It also makes a wonderful Christmas stocking;  Go “crazy” and make a Christmas Stocking or gift tags from scraps of velvet.

stocking-2   gift-tag

Both items feature designs from “Velvet Stocking”, a collection by Graceful Embroidery

Think about using Sulky® Original Metallic Thread (green – #7018) , Holoshimmer™ (lavender – #6043) or Sliver™ Metallic Threads  to add a bit of sparkle to the holiday projects.  Use a 14/90 Topstitch Needle, and stitch a bit slower than you might normally do.  Layer a strip of Sulky® Soft ’n Sheer™, underneath the intended stitching area.


Contrasting fabric textures combine to make beautiful throw pillows, quilts and fashion accessories!


Not that velvet needs to be limited to the holidays, but it tends to be associated with colder weather and, therefore, festive activities.  My wish for you is to continue to have fun learning about and improving your sewing/embroidering skills as you enjoy a healthy, happy 2017!!

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