Let me preface by saying that I've had 20 or so years of embroidery experience. Wow, it's really been that long! I've learned the "correct" way to embroider, which stabilizer to use, which needles, which threads, for so many instances. Over the years, I've also learned which shortcuts I can take.
This is the way I embroider napkins, and many will say it's totally wrong, but it works for me, so give it a try, you might you like it, too. You'll notice I don't "hoop" the napkin. For me, I can get as good a result using this technique and I find it much easier than hooping the napkin, especially when some of the napkin won't be in the hoop anyway or even reach the hoop in others. Practice with this technique and you might just see that it will work for you! ;-)
- Open the embroidery design in embroidery software.
- Add a monogram if desired, shown in sample.
- Print two copies of the design in actual size, with center marks, and with the hoop printed.
- Tape one copy of the design template to your work table.
Tip: I like to tape the design to a cutting mat so that I can align the design (and later hoop with the grid lines)
- Cut the second printed template around the embroidery motif as shown above. No need to be exact.
- Pierce the center of the design with an awl, this will keep the marking pen from making the hole larger with each time you mark a napkin.
- Place the cut out design into position in the corner of an ironed napkin.
- Use a ruler to keep the center guide lines equally aligned to both sides of the corner.
- Mark the center of the design with a water soluble marking pen made for fabric.
Tip: I never, ever use a purple air soluble marker. I have had the spot remain on colored linen. I prefer to use the blue water-soluble marker, always.
Note how the fold is through the blue water soluble mark.
Heat Away Clear Film stabilizer. It literally melts at the touch of an iron. This way there is no remaining stabilizer on the back side of your napkin. Another option is to use a water soluble Mesh Rinse Away. If using the Mesh stabilizer, then darken the cross hairs of your printed design.
- Hoop the stabilizer very taut.
- Place the hoop on the taped down design template, following the hoop layout.
- Align the hoop carefully as this will have a direct impact on the outcome of your design.
- Double check that the hoop center markings are properly aligned with both the cutting mat and the paper template.
Tip: If you are embroidering satin letters that have a wide satin stitch, Heat Away Clear Film might not be the best stabilizer for that type of embroidery. Always, always do a test stitch out first.
- Spray the hoop area with a temporary spray adhesive. I now exclusively use Mettler Web Bond Temporary Adhesive Spray. Here's a video on the product.. It doesn't smell and although there is a bit of adhesive that will stick on your needle, it's easy to remove with your fingers.
- Place the folded napkin, wrong side down, folded piece on top, along the center line of the hoop and aligned with the cross hairs of the printed page.
Look for the blue dot of the center of the marked design and see how it is aligned with the center of the printed design and centered in the hoop.
Tip: You may need to practice this a few times to feel comfortable with this method. If you lift up the napkin and need to reposition it, then check hoop alignment with the printed template again and also see if there is still enough adhesive to hold the napkin securely and if not, then respray the adhesive.
- Open the fold of the napkin, smoothing the napkin on the adhesive covered stabilizer.
- Place the hoop on the embroidery machine.
- Load the design into your embroidery machine.
- Specify that the machine place the needle in the center of the design, not the beginning.
- Adjust the positioning so that the center of the design is aligned with the center mark you made earlier.
Tip: along with testing the stabilizer, I usually stitch out a test to see how the colors I have chosen work on the design. Your machine is really color blind and you can substitute any color you want for those designated in the design instructions. :-)
- Always iron from the design area on the wrong side so that the design area maintains a bit of a raised design.
- I save my rayon threads for items that will be used gently. I use Isacord embroidery thread for napkins, childrens clothing and many other items.
- If I am embroidering with metallic threads (don't groan), then I use Yenmet metallic thread.
- I also use Organ embroidery needles exclusively. They are less costly and give superior results than most other needles. Their eye is larger so there is less friction on the embroidery thread as it goes through the needle. If your design has thousands of stitches and each stitch passes through the needle 3 times, you can imagine the havoc a poorly chosen needle with have on the outcome of your project.
- The design was embroidered using Melt Away stabilizer, Isacord threads and a size 80 Organ embroidery needle.