Thursday, 18 August 2011

Guest Blogger - Redneedle Sewing - Free Motion Embroidery

Today is a special day as I have a guest bIogger!  Caroline from Redneedle Sewing has kindly agreed to do a post on Free Motion Embroidery - her work is amazing and I'm asolutely delighted to have her feature on my blog today.  Happy Reading and Thanks again to Caroline.
I was absolutely thrilled and yes a bit surprised when Keri asked me to do this guest blog. I have so enjoyed her machine feet tutorials and have found them genuinely interesting and helpful. So I was flattered when she asked me to talk about the darning/embroidery foot and how it can be used for Free Motion Embroidery (FME).
First of all ladies I must let you know that I am no expert, just someone who has discovered FME in the last 12 months and has so enjoyed experimenting with it.  I’m still learning and so far have really only used it for fabric collages and raw edge appliqué, although I’m beginning to dip my toe into a little ‘free motion artistry’ as the scraps of fabric at my feet are testamount. That’s the first thing make sure you practice, practice, practice.
You do not need a super duper multi-functional modern technical machine to do FME. Your machine needs to have a drop feed facility, where at the flick of a switch or pull of a lever you can lower the feed teeth on the machine. Or if you’re like me with my trusty old Singer I have a little plastic feed cover that I can place over the teeth. Whichever method you use will prevent the teeth from gripping the fabric and allows you to pull your fabric this way and that to your heart’s content. Your instruction manual should explain more.

Darning/Embroidery foot
Obviously choose the one that is going to fit your make of machine. I know some people don’t like to use a foot (more of that later). I do because it helps to ‘hold’ the fabric a bit and I feel it gives me more control. I have two feet. I thought I would prefer the transparent foot but actually it’s the other that provides better visibility of my work as I’m sewing along.

Taut fabric.
You will get the best results from FME by keeping your fabric taut, I have experimented with a variety of ways.
a)      Embroidery hoops
Ensure the tension is spread equally over the fabric and allows you to move your work around more easily as you sew also ensures your fingers don’t get too close to that needle. I used this method when making my cosies. However if using a small hoop the embroidery foot can limit you in terms of space and it might be best to dispense with it altogether in this case.
b)      Stabiliser.
Ironing interfacing to the back of your fabric provides a really good stabiliser and it eliminates the need for an embroidery hoop. It can be a little more tricky to move around but you soon get the hang of it. I’ve been using this method to make my needle cases.

If your fabric has quite a tight weave you may feel confident enough to just go for it without a stabiliser or embroidery hoop.
Whichever method you choose be aware that there will be much sticking out of tongue as you merrily sew away.
Actually doing the sewing bit.
Now this does take practice.
Attach your foot to the machine.

Make sure your stitch length is set to zero and stitch width is on running/straight stitch (to start off with anyway, you may wish to experiment with stitch width as you become more confident and you want to play with the types of effects you can achieve)
Tension, I set mine to about 3 or 4, but this will change according to your machine and the kind of fabric you are using, practice on scraps first to get the feel of it.
Drop or cover your feed teeth.

Position your fabric at the place you wish to start and draw the bobbin thread through to the front of your work.
and sew........
It takes some getting used to the fact that you can pull your fabric this way and that but it is so liberating and most of all great fun. You will achieve the best results if you keep an even, quite fast pace on the throttle whilst moving your work around slowly. Think of it as drawing a picture with your needle. If you like neat rows of stitching this may not be for you as I think the more messy the stitching is with this technique, the more pleasing the effect. When you’re feeling really brave you can try writing with your needle – now that IS fun!
Please remember to keep your fingers away from the needle using this technique, use a seam ripper or such like to hold the fabric down close to the needle not your precious digits.

You should get some pleasing results.

Good luck, it would be great to hear from any of you about any tips you may have or just thoughts about FME in general. Enjoy it!
So.....have fun, hopefully Caroline has inspired you as she did me (I've got about 10 half done projects on the go)!
Happy Sewing


  1. Hi Keri, thanks again for this opportunity, it will be interesting to see what tips, stories or general comments you get about FME from this post

  2. Excellent article Caroline, I am really getting into FME... and currently have all of my fingers! Although I have been really brave and tried it without feet, not for the faint hearted, tho!

  3. I tidied today - and found my bag of sewing machine feet behind a display table, so FME here I come!

  4. Very brave Ros without a food and Polly put the weekend aside because it's v v addictive. I sewed through (yes right through) my finger about a month ago when using my zipper foot and so I'm absolutely totally and utterly watchful of that needle! Ha Ha

  5. This looks like fun, I love Caroline's work and I think I might give this a go.

    Jan x

  6. I too am a newbie to FME. I had to chuckle at the 'sticking out your tongue' comment. That is SO true! Love your work. Thanks for the tutorial.


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