Thank goodness… a DRESSMAKING question!

Sorry I haven’t been writing much…please, PLEASE feel free to send things you have written so I can post your wonderful cogitations at dry times like these….this is truly more boring and trying for me as I really want to write about SOMETHING …anyTHING…so, please, save us all.

Actually, there is much to write about with the Teelin dresses, but I do not want to post things until they have been approved…getting there!

But, there is cause for excitement because Amy asked a question!  Thank you, Amy!  (Beware…the rest of this is photo intensive.  If, like Susan, you want to throttle me when I do posts like this, proceed at your own peril or check out now!  I like the pics because I myself learn more when I can see it…in tutorials of all types, if there are pics, I rarely read the explanations or I go back to the words after I have perused the pics.  Do what you will…just don’t swear at me!)

Amy asked:  Did you make individual appliques and sew them onto the petals (of the tunic dress)?  If so, would love to see a tutorial on applique making.  Is that what you normally do or do you embroider directly onto the fabric?

I personally like to sew directly onto the fabric as much as I can because applique patches require extra work to get them onto the fabric…and, because I want them to look as if they are NOT patches, that entails even more fussing.  Up until the tunic dresses, I only made patches for the shawl pins, like these on Liz’s dress –Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket 

…and occasionally when the embroidery had become so dense on a piece that there was no way to get the fabric into the hoop effectively like the sides of the design on the CFP of the fire dress:

That being said, except for the pink panels, cuffs and bodice on Dana’s tunic, all the rest of of the applique and embroidery designs on the tunic dresses are patches.
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In fact, the leaves around the neckline on Katelyn’s dress above are also done as two separate long patches that met in the middle.  Could have embroidered it directly onto the fabric, but quite frankly, considering the cost of the fabric and the fact there was not extra in case I messed up, it was safer and easier on my nerves to do it as a patch.

The main reason that I do the the panel embellishment as patches is because it is ultimately easier and even faster.  I do embroider directly onto the fabric for my panel dresses, but I do this BEFORE I cut the fabric to the right shape.  Each panel is made separately and then sewn to the dress.  With the tunic dresses, the panels are integrated into the whole dress…I suppose I could take the time to do the applique and embroidery onto each panel, but there is no room for mistakes.  If I screw up the placements or angles, I have to cut a whole new tunic!  No thanks!!!

So, how do I do this?  Like this:

I use a LOT of this stuff –

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If you look online for tutorials involving this sticky stabilizer, you are told to cut your length of the stabilizer and then put it, paper back and all, into the outside hoop as below.

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Then you are told to score an area…

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…and pull off the paper.

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I hate this because ultimately the hoop loses tension on the stabilizer and the fabric being embroidered can, and usually does, start to pucker.  I hate puckering and will do all I can to avoid it.  I have yet to have a perfect embroidery sample, but I am working on it.

I pull the paper backing off the entire piece of sticky back stabilizer…

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…and attach it to my inner hoop.

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This next pic shows the sticky back attached tightly…when I thwack it with my finger it sounds like a drum.  (Please excuse my “dirty” hoop…that is fabric dust, thread, sequins, etc, embedded in spray adhesive from my attempts to use the stuff years ago.  It never goes away!)

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Then I cut a piece of tearaway stabilizer…

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…and then hoop the whole shebang.

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Now, I deal with the getting the stiffness I need in a patch a few different ways:  I super-stabilize the applique fabric by using 2 or 3 layers of Decorbond; I fuse the embroidered fabric to Firmflex (like Timtex); or I embroider onto Peltex which is thinner than the Firmflex and Timtex.  For this project, I decided to use Peltex.

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I normally cut the correct shape from the Peltex using a template, but it is also thin enough to do the following…

…press the Peltex onto the sticky back.

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Stitch out the patch outline.

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Trim closely using applique scissors.

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Here both shapes are trimmed.

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I will do the circular shape first as it is applique.  Here is the first fabric, a foil lycra.  (I knew there would be a purpose for all of these scraps someday!)

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This has been stabilized with a woven fusible and Decorbond.  I stabilize EVERYTHING!  I do this because I want these fancy fabrics to stand up to the dense embroidery stitching and to last.

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Second fabric is a textured lame…

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…this time stabilized with a tricot fusible and Decorbond.

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The sticky back makes it easy for me to make sure the applique fabric lays down smoothly as it holds it securely for the tack down stitching.

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I use the red as the base fabric.  I then stitch out the placement lines for the second fabric.  I do this in case I decide to use a template so I can cut exact shapes or if I am conserving fabric by using smaller pieces cut previously…this allows me to either then (obviously) place the cut piece correctly or to make sure the smaller piece will cover the area.

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Then I place and tack down the second fabric.

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Now trim.

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I have gotten into the habit of running a line of Fray-check along the tack down stitches.  No matter the fabric, this helps keep holes from being made or fabric from fraying when the stitching is dense.

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I use a piece of white satin stabilized with Decorbond on the second patch.  Here’s the tack down.  I used black so it would show in the pics…normally I would use a color to match the fabric or the satin stitching to come.

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This next pic shows the second patch trimmed and the first 2 colors stitched out.  (Like my logo?  Designed it myself.)

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Patch stitching done.

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Now I punch them out.

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As you can see, there is a fine fuzz surrounding the patches.  This is from both the sticky and tearaway stabilizers.  This needs to be trimmed away.  I either use my applique scissors or my fine, curved embroidery scissors…which I cannot find at the moment.

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Here they are trimmed.  I can get closer with the smaller scissors…obviously the trick here is to trim closely without cutting threads.  Since the edge embroidery thread is white, this is where I stop.  When it is colored, I use either a permanent Sharpie or a fabric dye pen in the right color, and I color in the outside edge so all the white is gone.  This also further softens the stabilizer that is left which makes it lay flatter…you really cannot see it after that.

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Here are the backsides of the patches.  The Taoknitter symbol is covered with bobbin thread, so other than a bit of trimming, this one is done.  I could leave the circular patch as is, but I usually remove the tearaway and the sticky back…not really sure why I do it!

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I have made a few patches in the past by appliqueing onto fabric, like this flower below.

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This makes trimming very difficult because unlike the tearaway stabilizers that will wear away off of the edges, any fabric fuzzies and/or threads will not.  I have found that muslin is easier to get rid of because it is a looser weave, unlike the satin above.  But, there really is no need to make patches like this.  I do like having a single layer of fabric to anchor the whole patch, but I deal with it as I have shown in the 2 patches above.

When I want there to be fabric on the back of the patch as below (this was an old experiment which would have again required tedious trimming)…

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…then I follow these steps:

  1. Follow all the patch steps above until right before the final outside satin-stitching.
  2. In my digitized design, I have added another patch outline running stitch. 
  3. I remove the hoop from the machine and turn it over.
  4. I use either a spray adhesive or a bit of Fabri-tac to attach fabric, right side out, over the back of the patch.  Make sure there is no fabric hanging down to get caught in your machine.
  5. Put the hoop back on and run the patch outline,
  6. Remove the hoop again, trim the fabric under the hoop to the tack down line.  Fray-check the line.
  7. Replace the hoop on the machine and run the final satin stitch outline.
  8. Punch out the hoop and finish as above.

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ReAnne
    Feb 24, 2008 @ 15:15:20

    Thank you for all the fantastic information!! This is great stuff. And, I like your new logo. It’s very You.

  2. jiggedyjig
    Feb 24, 2008 @ 21:11:31

    I thank you too for this great step by step! I wish I had this information about six months ago when I was doing 20 crowns just before the O. It took me many trial and errors to figure this out. I’m not a digitizer either, so I had to keep going back to the woman who was doing the digitizing and asking her to try something else. In the end I had a very similar process. Also, Ann have you tried DK5 to clean up the adhesive spray off your hoop. It stinks to high heaven, but works great.
    Thanks again.

    Jennifer

  3. celtkiwi
    Feb 24, 2008 @ 23:06:42

    oh what a joy to see that what I have been thinking in my head is actually possible! I ahve not seen the sticky back stabiliser here – but hten again, this is Darwin. I shal go search for it ..hehehe…code for another excise to go inot fabric stores.

    I have to do ALL the school dresses for my school and I must admit I am very apprehensive as the dresses are white silk – and I don’t want to get hem all filthy! I ahve been procrstinating about getting the dresses done for about a year now. So I have been wrestling with the idea of patches. Would also make life easier for me if I can make patches and keep on hand for when we get new little darlings that need a school dress. Our little darlings range from 4years to 40+.. so quite a range of sizes in there. If I did patches, I would not have to completely resize every applique would I? I could have like a kids size and an adult size and they would be aesthetically matching – does that sound right?
    I really am putting off doing these dresses, but we desperately need them for May so I better get cracking on them.

    Cheers
    celtkiwi (aka Lee in Darwin)

  4. costumemom24
    Feb 24, 2008 @ 23:57:50

    Thanks Ann, this is an invaluable tutorial! You are an amazing resource and so generous to share your wisdom! You have much knowledge, Obi Wan! May I ask a stupid question? How would you advise adhering the appliques onto the garment: fuse, topstitch or satin stitch?
    Amy

  5. cfvermeulen
    Feb 25, 2008 @ 02:21:02

    Great tutorial. I do patches by hand sometimes for some of the same reasons you gave. Since I do the stitching by hand I have a slightly different way of working, but the idea is the same. I use a non-sticky stabilizer and fuse the fabrics down with vliesofix. The stabilizer I use it too thick to make it “punchable”, so I have to cut out the patches with a very sharp blade. The punchholes of the needle guide the knife and this makes it possible to cut very close to the edge.
    Now, I read somewhere else that when you have fuzzies and thread-ends etc, you can *shave* them off with an electric razor! I think it was a threads article on how to sew voile and organza seams…I haven’t tried it yet but it does sound like it might work?

    When I attach the patches I have several options. I either use fabric glue to tack them on and stitch-in-the-ditch around the outer rim of the shape, or I leave an edge of 4-5mm of the stabilizer when I cut out the patch and stitch it on with a satinstitch covering the stabilizer. This way, you can use 2 color lines, as Gavin usually has on his “patch” dresses. I have tried to use vliesofix to attach a whole patch, but I find that over time, the edges will peel off and the whole thing might start to loosen. You really need to secure them with some sort of stitching to prevent this from happening.
    -Caroline

  6. sewtto
    Feb 25, 2008 @ 09:26:35

    Great lesson on patches. Your explainations are always over the top! Will a book be next?!!! I would like to add a hoop cleaning tip. When my mother-in-law used my machine, she gunked up my hoops. I was able to clean them with Goo-Gone and a toothbrush. Then I follow-up with a soap and water cleaning. This keeps my hoops clean and my fabrics from getting dirty.

  7. mryrlly
    Feb 25, 2008 @ 18:13:13

    Great lesson. You explain it wonderfully any the photo’s really help.
    Thank you.

    Mary.

  8. kcr4
    Feb 26, 2008 @ 16:33:53

    Awesome Ann. I’m working on a combination of these techniques. Hope it works. I’ve missed your blog and am glad to be back on line with you.

    Kelly

  9. whatsupgovna
    Feb 26, 2008 @ 17:09:27

    Ann, Thank goodness you seem to be a visual learner. I have a hard time doing anything without pictures! I followed your steps and I’ve almost got it right with the exception of my digitising. There are gaps in the satin stitch around the applique and I’m not sure why, but I think it is due to my lack of digitizing knowledge. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with pictures

  10. skuest
    Feb 26, 2008 @ 19:51:17

    That’s a great tutorial. My dresses are hand-embroidered but much of this will work for my hand-embroidered patches too. Thanks much!

  11. brookegriffiths
    Feb 26, 2008 @ 22:15:32

    I’m only a home sewer – and certainly not a dressmaker – but that seems like a huge undertaking for each and every patch. Wow! They look beautiful, though! Were have been considering new school dresses for my dd’s school, and the tc wants a more up-to-date style with patches similar to this instead of just traditional embroidery. What do you dms out there thing about the time involvement difference between a set of school dresses that are digitally embroidered versus a set with patches?

  12. wallflower123
    Mar 01, 2008 @ 19:17:34

    Thanks for the advice and great pictures.

  13. maryhorton60
    Mar 02, 2008 @ 19:32:33

    Thank you Ann for this great tutorial. I wish I had seen this earlier as I just finished one to go on sleeves. I did it on the cloth like the flower. Now I will have to go and find sticky stuff for the hoop. Thanks a million, your a gem.
    Mary H

  14. EMJ
    May 19, 2009 @ 08:46:26

    Hi there,
    you do the most beautiful work! I have a question though, as a parent who has been a bridal dressmaker and is now moving into irish dance costumes what machine would you recommend? especially for the embroidery/applique work? I currently use a janome 415. Any hints?
    thanks

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