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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Easy Embroidery - How to Embroider Napkins

I want to share with you a quick and easy way to embroider napkins.

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! ;-)

  1. Open the embroidery design in embroidery software.
  2. Add a monogram if desired, shown in sample.
  3. Print two copies of the design in actual size, with center marks, and with the hoop printed.
  4. 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)

  1. Cut the second printed template around the embroidery motif as shown above. No need to be exact.
  2. 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.
  3. Place the  cut out design into position in the corner of an ironed napkin.
  4. Use a ruler to keep the center guide lines equally aligned to both sides of the corner.
  5. 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.

Fold the napkin back with the center mark as a guide, as to how much and keep the finished edges aligned, seen bottom right of the above image.

Note how the fold is through the blue water soluble mark.

For this technique, I use a 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.

Embroider away!

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. :-)

How pretty your table will be with your special napkins! They don't really need any special care.
  • 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.
  • The design can be found: https://www.embroiderydesigns.com/productdetails/sweet-heirloom/stockdesign/1/she0285_010.aspx


Dianne said...

Marlis! Welcome back. I have so missed your wonderful posts. Is this your Christmas table? Just lovely and of course the napkins are perfection. Hope all is well in TX. Dianne

Sarah said...

Marlis, I was thrilled to see this post pop up. I've missed your creative inspiration and beautiful tables. I hope you have been well. These napkins are gorgeous. I don't have a machine that does embroidery. In fact, I don't even have a sewing machine anymore. Sad, but true!
Hope you enjoyed a wonderful holidays. All the best to you for 2014. Hope to see you posting again.
Hugs ~ Sarah

Lynn said...

Your napkins are gorgeous Marlis! I've always been intrigued by and wondered about an embroidery machine, maybe something to pick up at some point in time. Thanks for sharing your technique:@)

Scribbler said...

You have been missed. You are so talented, and I have no idea how you did this. I will just have to admire yours1

RhondaBuss said...

The napkins are beautiful. I must get over my fear of the embroidery machine and give this a try.

ellen b. said...

Such pretty napkins! Your table is beautiful...

hidden art of homemaking said...

These napkins are gorgeous..so is your table. and I am so glad you did this tutorial. I am pinning it and hope to learn how to do napkins this year. This will be so helpful..thank you for all the info. I am going to find out about the thread you suggested and also the needles.. This whole post makes me happy..thank you for taking the time to teach us how to embroider napkins...
Love, Mona

Pat said...

Ah~h~h. . .you're back in The Land of Blog, dear friend!!!
You have, truly, been missed!!!
My sewing machine does amazing things...but I don't know enough to use all those attachments and buttons!!!
Your napkins are exquisite!!!
Looking forward to more great post @ Creative Journeys in 2014!!!

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

Beautiful napkins. Unfortunately my machine is old and does not do all those wonderful things. I normally embroidery by hand, but have not done any for quite some time. I used to love to embroidery and will have to start again.
You do beautiful work.

Rebecca said...

Beautiful napkins and beautiful table! I am new to Bernina software and the center marks do not print on the templates.
Any idea what I'm doing wrong?

Debbie@Mountain Breaths said...

Hi Marlis, I was glad to see this post on my side bar. These napkins are gorgeous. My sister has two machines that do embroidery. I should learn :-)

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

Hi Marlis,
I was so happy to get your post emailed to me! Happy New Year to you. Your tutorial on embroidering napkins is wonderful and inspirational. Your table looks so lovely, too. xo

Alycia Nichols said...

Well, Welcome Back, Kotter!!!! :-) Great to see you on the other side of the computer! Happy New Year!

You know I don't know a thing about needle and thread, but that doesn't stop me for admiring your embroidery prowess!!! I just know that if I had started early in life and had a really good handle on it, I'd be embroidering stuff day in and day out! Looks like that's kinda what's on your agenda...at least for awhile!

You do such beautiful work, Marlis! Glad to see it here shining in all its glory! Have a happy week!

Jewel Sauls said...

I love those napkins! Thanks so much for the tutorial. I really enjoyed it and only hope I can do something as lovely as those napkins one day!!!

Chubby Chieque said...

Happy New Year dear Marlis...

Wishing all the best of 2014.

Hugs from D´Box
/CC girl

Rettabug said...

Such beautiful additions to your holiday table, Marlis! Great tut & gorgeous napkins!
Welcome back...I missed you, too!


Unknown said...

The napkins are beautiful. My question is do you adhere anything to the back of them in order to cover the stitching?

Marlis said...

I don't cover the stitching. I'll either match the bottom thread to the napkin.. or change the bobbin thread to match the color I'm embroidering. Thanks for asking!


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