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Basic Tips for Machine Embroidering Knit Fabrics

Mar 19, 2014

We asked Amelia Johanson, associate editor of Sew Beautiful, to share some of her machine embroidery tips for creating heirloom pieces.

Peter Rabbit designs are pictured here on a onesie, bib, and blanket.
Stitching out storybook classics in watercolor pastel threads is an adorable way to whip up a one-of-a-kind baby ensemble. I have a special place in my heart for the Beatrix Potter characters. Whenever I see the classic artwork or the charming tales, I think of my first son Noah. Has it really been 22 years since I papered one of his nursery walls with Jeremy Fisher scenes and embroidered the imaginative world of Beatrix Potter characters on pillowcases, blankies, crib sheets, a dust ruffle, and more?

Recently, I downloaded a small, affordable collection of Beatrix Potter bunnies and stitched them on ready-to-embroider knit-fabric baby blanks to create the onesies, bibs, and blanket pictured here. Below are a few general tips I shared in our February/March 2014 edition of Sew Beautiful that you can use when embroidering your own favorite storybook characters on baby blanks:

• Dampen and dry each piece to avoid shrinkage that can distort the fabric around the embroidered area after stitching.

• For bibs and other smaller blanks, consider reducing the embroidery size.

• If you'd like to test thread colors and embroidery placement first, stitch out your chosen design on hooped muslin; cut out and move around on your blank until you're happy with the positioning. Notes: Knit fabrics don't take well to extremely dense designs. If you're questioning the density, stitch out your test piece on a similar weight of yardage. There is no rule that you have to use the thread colors that are provided with the embroideries. Compare your threads with actual Beatrix Potter art and substitute accordingly, if you'd like a more authentic look.

• Once you've determined your placement, mark the vertical and horizontal center (plus sign) with an air-soluble or wash-away marking pen.

An online search for Beatrix Potter designs yields options for any embroidery machine model.
• Do not hoop the fabric. Instead, hoop a sticky wash-away stabilizer and adhere the blank to the stabilizer.

• Top your embroidery with Sulky Heat-Away Stabilizer. Spray lightly with KK2000 to adhere the stabilizer to your fabric surface.

• Use your "fix" option to baste a frame first; this will ensure you've positioned your embroidery properly and secures your Heat-Away layer. The center of the embroidery should correspond to the marked center on your fabric piece. Use your positioning arrows to reposition the embroidery if necessary.

• Once the embroidery is complete, remove your piece from the hoop, carefully trim away any excess stabilizer. Iron around the edges of the embroidery design to remove the Heat-Away stabilizer. Soak to remove Sticky stabilizer. Launder, let dry, and press.

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Sew On, Sew Well, Sew Beautiful,


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