Free Machine Embroidery Experiments using colouring pages from Chocolate Baroque

If you love colouring there is a wonderful colouring page kit available from Chocolate Baroque. These are great for making finished pieces for framing or simply to have fun colouring. The kits also contain a colour wheel and tips for colour mixing too. The kit is limited edition (so when they sell out they are gone) and was created using gorgeous hand drawn images from Sue Page. There are 7 fabulous designs (2 copies of each) plus a couple of practice pages to test out colouring methods etc.

AW Colouring page 2

This is one of the pages that I coloured with alcohol ink pens plus a bit of sparkle pen. The paper is super smooth and a lovely quality and the images a joy to colour.

I thought that the designs would be perfect for embroidery. I first checked the copyright policy on using these designs and provided that the images are not scanned or photocopied we are permitted to physically hand trace them onto fabric. I therefore kept my second image as a template for tracing.

I found that the best method for tracing onto my fabric was using a light box and a soft pencil. I chose a small motif to try out my experiments.

I first did an experiment on a scrap piece of fabric and tried to follow the drawn outlines using free machine embroidery. This is where the sewing machine feed dogs are disengaged and the fabric is moved and guided under the needle by hand. This method also requires a special free machine embroidery or darning foot. Generally the machine is run fairly fast with this technique and the rate at which you move the fabric beneath the stitching needle determines the length of stitches achieved (i.e. slowly moving the fabric beneath the needle gives small close together stitches, fast movements provides longer stitches).

AW Embroidery trial 1

Well what a disaster! I admit that I am a little out of practice with free machining but I didn’t expect the results to be this bad – tee hee.

AW Embroidery Foot

My darning foot has a clear acrylic end but I really could not see the outlines of the design well enough to stay on track at all while stitching. Eeek! There are other types of darning foot available, thin metal circular ends or ones where the front is open or cut away. However, for my high shank machine they are all pretty expensive at around £30 (there are more options for standard shank machines and they can be obtained fairly cheaply via China through EBay).

I really didn’t want to spend out a lot of pennies on something that I wouldn’t be sure would work for me until I actually got it home to try. My ideal would be no foot getting in the way at all so that I would have a complete clear view of the needle. I tried stitching with the foot removed (NB. Even with no actual foot in place the presser foot mechanism must be lowered in order to engage the tension discs on the needle thread). This was perfect for aligning my stitching along the design but caused bad stitch quality and skipped stitches. While operating the fabric bounced around too much (even though in an embroidery hoop) as there was no foot to hold the fabric while the needle pushed through and pulled out of the layers.

AW Embroidey Needle

I then investigated further and found that there is such a thing as a free machine spring needle that can be used without a foot. These are not all that cheap either (£5), considering that like any needle they do wear out with use. However, it was a much cheaper option for me and gave perfect vision of my stitching outlines while working. It should last me a while too if I keep it just for projects that need detailed and accurate stitching.

AW Embroidery 1

AW Embroidery 2

I chose 2 layers of hand dyed cotton fabric with a layer of thin polyester wadding between (to give a little quilting texture). I used a small spring hoop to hold it all in place and stabilise my fabric layers. I chose a variegated embroidery thread for stitching and I was delighted with the results. Yay!

AW Embroidery 3

I didn’t really have a plan of what I was going to make but decided to turn it into a small padded pouch for my mobile phone.

AW Embroidery 4

Finally I decided to add a little colouring to the quilted design. I used Inktense pencils to add shading and then dragged out the colour using a damp brush (this makes the pigment permanent).

AW Embroidery 6

I learned a lot making this project and I love my little phone pouch. I have written a bit of an essay but I hope this helps anyone else trying out some free machine embroidery x.

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Printing onto Fabric using Bubble Jet Set

I have been meaning to try this stuff out for ages and have finally got around to testing out Bubble Jet Set for printing directly onto fabric from an inkjet printer. I have an Epson printer with compatible archival type pigment inks but this works with inkjet dye based inks too (although I haven’t personally assessed those).

 

AW Bubble Jet Set 1

  1. I used 100% cotton fabric prewashed to remove any starch or sizing etc. Soaked in the solution for 5 mins and then air dried (excess solution can be returned to the bottle).
  2. I left it to air dry then ironed to remove any creasing. Then ironed onto the shiny side of freezer paper (available from grocers).
  3. I had a lot of trouble initially getting my printer to accept the sheets! Freezer papers do vary in thickness and stiffness and mine was a bit limp and my printer just wasn’t having it. To get around this I slightly trimmed back my sheet and used a glue stick to apply the sheet to a piece of standard copy paper. Hey presto – my printer accepted it perfectly.
  4. I printed some butterflies from a Copyright Free image set from Dover Publications – using standard paper print settings. They printed out perfectly.
  5. After 30 mins I wash tested the images (hand hot wash with detergent – washing up liquid) and they washed perfectly with no loss of image. Yay!
  6. I ironed on some interfacing and embellished some of these with free machine embroidery before cutting out and using for applique. Delighted with the results and it works out so much cheaper than the ready to print fabric sheets that are available (they are very good but far too expensive for me).

AW Bubble Jet Set 2

AW Bubble Jet Set 3

AW Delphiniums 2

Got my table cloths made for the show

I got my table cloths made and ready for my show (Art on the Common, Harpenden, 10th and 11th June).

 

I tie dyed some polycotton sheeting. Really quick method using elastic bands. I edged with an overlocked hem stitch so that was quick & easy too.

Table Cloths

Less than 2 weeks to go……… panic ….. eeek!

Nearly finished all my silks and some cotton shopping bags as ‘fillers’ for my stall. All paintings about finished. Next is to sort and finish jewellery. Gosh – it takes so long to label and price everything!

Will share more soon x

Tie dyed and block printed skirt and top

 

AW Tie Dye Skirt 3

AW Tie Dye Top 2

AW Tie Dye Skirt 4

 

I had been meaning to dye and decorate these for ages – a white T shirt and very pale denim skirt (white to pale blue dip die effect).

I used one of the old multipurpose Dylon dies in the washing machine (they now have an alternative formulation for natural fabrics such as cotton). I really didn’t spend a lot of time. I decided where I wanted the motifs and made a small mark with chalk. I placed a chop stick tip behind the placement mark and made a sort of tent shape. Then I simply wrapped it with elastic bands and pulled out the stick. I found this a really quick and easy method. I then dyed in the washing machine with salt (according to packet directions). I love the way that the polyester stitching didn’t pick up the die – nice design detail.

AW Tie Die Skirt 1

AW Tie Dye Top 1

Looking at the results the rings reminded my somewhat of floating jelly fish so I decided to block print and create a sort of ‘under the sea’ theme.

I over printed the design using iron fix fabric paints and printing blocks from Colouricious.

Upcycled skirt and top, dyed and block printed ready for summer

AW Upcycled printed skirt 1AW Upcycled printed skirt 2

Good morning. I have been doing a little more fabric dyeing and block printing of my clothes ready for summer. This one started off as a plain white skirt. It was a bargain charity shop buy at just £2 – but white is simply not me.

The fabric is 100% cotton with a fine metallic thread running through it at intervals – perfect for dyeing. I dyed it Flamingo Pink (Dylon) using the washing machine. Then I block printed with fabric paint and wooden print blocks (Blockwallah and Colouricious). Ta Da – a lovely revamped skirt ready for summer.

 

I also picked up another £2 bargain which started off as a pale pink knitted top. I dyed it in the same batch and it turned out fabulous. It was mainly viscose but also had a synthetic fibre component. You can see in the close up that it came out with a lovely mottled effect as the synthetic fibre remained undyed.

AW Dyed pink top

AW Dyed top pink 1

Upcycled and dyed polyester blouse

AW Blouse Before

AW Blouse After

Good morning. I am sharing an upcycled blouse which I dyed with old iron fix silk paints that were past their best. I got the blouse in a charity shop for just £2. I loved the style but I really am not a ‘cream blouse girl’. The blouse was 100% polyester which is generally difficult to colour – you really need to use specialist dyes for polyester or iron transfer paints (which you paint onto paper then iron to transfer the colour). However, I have found that iron fix fabric paints will stain polyester permanently. They are best watered down – otherwise most can leave a stiff finish on the fabric, especially sheer fabrics such as this blouse.

Sorting through my stash I found some very old silk paints (fluid formula) which were really past their best and they had some precipitation. They were no longer suitable for fine silk painting work. However, they are perfect for this sort of job. I find it best to pick up colour with a very damp sponge and simply dab it over the fabric allowing it to blend. Thicker iron fix paints, and even standard acrylic paints, also work well provided they are diluted out. Results are not predictable but that is the joy of this sort of project.

When finished I allowed the blouse to dry overnight. I also put it through a tumble dryer cycled (hot iron not suitable for this fabric). I then machine washed (virtually no colour came out in the wash).

Delighted with my new blouse.

Kingfisher vest decorated using stamps from Chocolate Baroque

AW Kingfisher Vest 1

AW Kingfisher Vest 2

Still playing with fabric stamping. My house mate is away so I have taken over the kitchen and spread out all my fabrics, dyes and paints. Heaven.

I created this one using stamps from Chocolate Baroque. I decorated a simple vest that I really wasn’t wearing very much. Really happy with the results and my vest has a new lease of life.

Materials:

Kingfisher Song, Sticks & Stones, and Wild Meadow stamp sets

Vallejo Textile Paints from Colouricious (Bengali Rose, Black and Blue)

Starlight Fabric Paint from Imagination Crafts (Mint)

Jacquard Textile Colour (Super Opaque White)

CutNDry Foam

Briefly how it was done:

I stamped the images along the hem with black paint – using an acrylic block and foam mount on my stamps – in the same way as stamping on card. Tip: When stamping with acrylic or textile paints I like to load the paint onto a piece of cut & dry foam, working it in with a palette knife. I find that this method gives the best stamp coverage without clogging, and the cleanest image when stamped.

I then coloured the image with a fine brush. Some of the colours were mixed together to get the shades that I wanted. I hand painted over the flower tops and stamped more ferns in colour. I also stamped fern tips along the top ribbon edge.

AW Fabric sample Fern

I also used leftover paint on my sponges to stamp a spare piece of fabric that I had pre-coloured with leftover dyes from a previous project. I don’t like to waste anything.

 

Note about heat setting: I like to leave my design overnight to fully dry before heat setting with an iron on the reverse. I wait for at least 3 days before the first wash.