Well, isn’t it about time? I finally have a full-fledged embroidery project underway, and I can’t wait to share updates, tips, techniques, mistakes, divergences, and so forth with you again. I always have Much More Fun with my embroidery when I journey through a project with you!
Let’s talk about ground fabric, shall we? Besides coming up with the embroidery design and a general idea of colors and threads, ground fabric is my First Big Consideration when starting a project.
I’m calling this project Mission Rose. It’s a rose (this rose, as a matter of fact, with some variation in the setting and design), and the Mission part comes from the style of the design, which reminds me of something a little Arts-and-Crafts-ish, and a little Mission furniture-ish. So, Mission Rose it is!
If you’ve been sticking around with me on Needle ‘n Thread for a while, you probably expect that the ground fabric is going to be linen. After all, I am a Linen Fanatic, right? And I can’t think of any major project I’ve done on the website that hasn’t been on linen – can you?
But… guess what? I’m Not Using Linen for the Ground Fabric! I decided to leap outside the confines of my obsession with linen, and go for a silk ground. A couple years ago, a close friend went silk shopping for me while he was in Japan, and he bought me some yardage of some beautiful silks. I decided it’s time to use them!
The actual ground fabric for the project is the fabric in the lower portion of the photo above. It is a beautiful silk in a blush-pink. It’s hard to explain, and the picture doesn’t quite do it justice!
And in addition to the pink, I’m using some blue in the piece, which will be appliquéd to the pink ground fabric.
You can get a better idea of the pink in the photo above, but the blue is a little off this time – it looks awfully dark and bright.
In the photo above, if you take the “medium” color of blue there – not the lightest, not the darkest – you might get a better idea of the blue silk.
Here we see the three fabrics I’ll be using together.
Backing Fabric for Embroidery Projects
Backing the pink silk will be a piece of fine linen. A backing fabric provides support for finer fabrics, especially when working heavy embroidery or goldwork on the ground fabric. For this design, the embroidery won’t necessarily be heavy, but since I’ll be using gold threads, I definitely wanted a backing fabric behind the ground.
I chose linen over muslin because this particular linen (which is bright white Legacy linen used for shadow work – it’s a fine handkerchief weight) is perfect for backing this silk. The linen is light, it is well made and sturdy. It’s not thick and there’s not much body to it – it will provide just the right support.
I cut the fabric to the size I would need – 14″ x 12″ which gives me at least 3″ all around.
While my fabric was still in the “raw” stage (just cut), I tested some pens and pencils on the corner, to get an idea of what transfer method I want to use. I really like the brown ink on the pink fabric, but it will require a very light hand to get a crisp line.
With the fabric cut, I betook myself to the Sewing Machine.
Now, I’m not a sewing machine person. I have this old workhorse of a Bernina that I bought used years ago, because it is a workhorse, and it can do what I need it to do.
It doesn’t even have computerized controls.
I have a thing about sewing machines. I’m not really afraid of them – beyond thinking that a malfunctioning sewing machine will most likely play a role in my death – but I’m not really comfortable with them, either. So I don’t use a machine unless I really have to.
Working with this kind of silk, though, I strongly advise using a machine to oversew the edges! When silk fabric frays along the edges, it is slicky-sticky – it’s slippery and it sticks on absolutely everything, thanks to that wonder of nature called Static Cling. Static Cling and I go way back – I even wrote a poem dedicated to Static Cling once upon a time – and it is part and parcel of the life of silk fabric.
Though you can barely see it here because I used white thread, these edges are now oversewn (I used the overlock foot on my machine, because I think it holds edge threads in better) and will stay put. Ahhhh. Peace of mind!
You can also use a zig-zag setting on a machine, for similar results – just zig-zag along the inside edge of the fabric. And, if you don’t have a machine, you can whip stitch the edges by hand. But if you must work by hand when using silk, lay your silk flat on the table and don’t hold the whole piece of cloth in your hand while you whip stitch. Touch it as little as possible. Try to keep it as wrinkle free and hand-oil-free as possible.
Both the pink silk and the linen are ready to go! Next tasks: deciding on the type of embroidery frame to use and deciding on the embroidery design transfer method.
In the photo, you can see just a hint of the rectangular frame of the embroidery pattern in the middle of the pink silk, because the printed design is underneath the fabric.
With the design and fabric held up to the light, you can see that the design involves straight lines forming an outside frame, so it’s likely that I will trace the design onto the fabric rather than prick and pounce it. It’s much easier to use a ruler for straight lines when tracing than it is when using the prick and pounce design transfer method.
Mission Rose is underway! Fingers crossed, it’ll come out as planned!
Any questions, comments, or suggestions? Feel free to leave them below!