One of the most common questions I hear these days is whether I make my towels by hand or machine, and how much work they are. To answer that, I thought I would write up a detailed blog post, with a combo of photos and videos.
First of all, I start with the design. My machine is a Brother SE400, which means I can only use designs available in a PES format, 4x4 inches or smaller. My absolutely favorite website to get my designs is UrbanThreads.Com which offers some really lovely designs, and often has sales (I pay between $1.29 and $3.00 per design, depending on sales).
This month, Urban Threads released a Dala Horse design and I could not purchase it fast enough! I am of Swedish descent, so this is an iconic and special design that I am very excited to offer in my Etsy Shop. I thought it would be a fun design to use as an example. At 8 thread changes, it is one of the more involved designs (most designs I do use between 2 and 5 thread changes), but doesn't require too much thread snipping so it evens out.
The first thing I do is figure out what threads I am going to use. Sometimes I follow the suggested colors closely, but other times I like to mix it up. Here, I decided to try doing a green horse. I'd already tested out a red and blue horse, so I was able to see how the shades variated over the design, and try to approximate shades and tints of green here.
Each towel gets hooped to keep the fabric nice and taut.
On the underside of each towel is a piece of water-soluable stabilizer. The actual piece is tucked into the hoop here - I am holding a second piece so you can see how thin it is.
On my white towels, all of the bobbin thread is white. In order to avoid stopping and winding bobbins all the time, I have a separate bobbin winder, that can run at the same time as my machine.
Video #1 - illustrates the threading process I go through for each color change.
Video #2 - my machine comes with an automatic needle threader which is SO helpful.
Video #3 - Selecting the design (my machine can only store 12 designs at a time, so I have to frequently upload and switch out new designs from my computer via a USB cable)
Video #4 - here's what happens if I forget to lower the presser foot!
Video #5 - starting the second thread change
I'm sparing you a video of each thread change, but I did want to show you photos of what the design looks like after each new color is added.
Video #6 - one last video, showing the white detailing stitches
After the design is finished stitching, I snip off all of the threads left between non-connected designs of the same color thread.
I then take the towel out of the hoop and tear off the excess stabilizer. The stabilizer in the design will wash out with the first washing.
I then give that corner a quick iron, fold up the towel, and (if applicable) photograph it and upload it to my etsy shop.
I am so addicted to machine embroidery, especially since my fibromyalgia prevents me from hand embroidering these days. I'm delighted to have had enough interested in my etsy shop to be able to continue making flour sack towels (which I personally love to use in my own kitchen).
Find this design and more at Whimsical Kitchen!
Want to get a design embroidered on something other than a towel? Shoot me a line at elenatintil[at]gmail[dot]com