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Finishing Techniques

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Finishing is an area where you can make a so-so piece of embroidery into an impressive piece. Finishing involves neatly trimming your thread from the front and the back of your embroidery, removing the stabilizer, and touching up any imperfections. Here are some tips for turning your work into a masterpiece.

When removing cut-away stabilizer, hold the item so that the back of the embroidery and the back of the fabric are both visible.
  • Always trim your work from the front first and then the back. This reduces the possibility that you will pull up bobbin thread to the front of the work. After trimming the front, gently pull the bobbin threads on the back of the piece, securing the ends of the top thread into the fabric.
  • When removing cut-away stabilizer, hold the item so that the back of the embroidery and the back of the fabric are both visible. Don’t obscure the fabric with the stabilizer while trimming. Leave a margin of about ¼” so that the embroidery has a platform and will not appear sunken after laundering.
  • Use only scissors rather than nippers to remove cut-away stabilizer. Use a gliding, rather than a cutting, motion whenever possible. Leave about 1/8” to ¼” of stabilizer extending from the embroidery. If you trim closer than this, the stabilizer could pull in through washing and wearing so that it no longer supports the edges of the embroidery.
Leave a margin of about ¼”.
  • If a wide satin stitch comes unraveled during trimming, unravel to about ½” to ¾”, leaving this to the back of the fabric. Thread a hand-sewing needle with the same color thread. Make a few stitches where the unraveling occurred, and then when you bring the needle through the fabric for the final time, include the tail of unraveled thread in the tie-off knot.
  • If you have connecting block letters on a colored background that are smaller than ½”, consider coloring the connecting threads rather than trimming them. For instance, if you have red block letter on navy background, dot the connecting thread with a permanent navy blue marker, such as Fabrico. This will result in a more serviceable embroidery, because the thread is still all connected. The risk to the garment is likewise reduced, provided you are using a permanent marker.
  • Sometimes it is very difficult, and risky, to trim the connecting thread between small letters that have dots, such as j’s and i’s. You can place a small stitch that matches the fabric color between the letter and its dot. For example, if you have lettering on a white shirt, using a hand-sewing needle, place a small white stitch over the connecting thread between the letter and the dot. This often gives a cleaner definition that digging out the thread, risking damage to the shirt.
Magic Spray Sizing ironing aid, blotted with a dry cloth, can remove hoop rings.
  • Remove hoop rings with a cloth moistened with water. If this doesn’t totally remove the ring, apply Magic Spray Sizing? ironing aid to a dry cloth and blot. Or, mix 1/3 vinegar with 2/3 water, and spray or blot.
  • When you have loose top stitching, insert a straight pin sideways through the bobbin thread on the reverse side of the problem area. Wiggle the pin, pulling the excess top thread to the back of the fabric. Iron a piece of fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric to secure.
  • On baby items, or when using metallic thread, iron a piece of fusible tricot to the reverse side of the embroidery. Cut the tricot slightly larger than the embroidery, and round the corners to prevent lifting.
  • To easily remove water soluble topping, mix water with a small amount of fabric softener in a spray bottle that has a fine mist setting. We put about two ounces in a 24 ounce spray bottle and fill the rest with water. Any similar ratio will work fine. Pull away most of the water soluble topping, and then spray the remaining bits with the solution. (Test first in a hidden area). It will dissolve more quickly and completely than with water alone, plus there is the side benefit of a fresh clean smell!

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Meet The Author: Deborah Jones
Deborah Jones is a commercial and home embroiderer with 31 years experience in the computerized embroidery field. She is the founding editor of Club Ed, an educational newsletter for home embroiderers, and vice-president of education for Great Notions.

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cara r Dec 31, 2014
Is there a spray that you use on the thread ends after a finished project to keep it secure?
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