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Start embroidery project with a sample

If you are interested in embarking on a machine embroidery project, you will need to gather materials, then make a sample. Use a fabric similar if not identical to the one in your project, stabilizer on the top and bottom, bobbin thread in the bobbin, Metafil needle in the machine and your choice of thread.

You will learn a lot on your test piece, especially how each thread behaves with the needle. Both top and bobbin tension may need to be adjusted for professional results. Work out any problems on the sample so that you can proceed with confidence on your actual project.

For professional-looking machine embroidery, a stabilizer is needed for the front and back of the fabric to prevent it from bunching up as you sew. A stabilizer firms up the fabric to support the density of the embroidery stitches. For the best success on your project, make a "sandwich" using appropriate stabilizers on the top and bottom of the fabric you are embroidering.

To embroider on towels or other napped fabrics, hoop only the bottom stabilizer; these fabrics can be too bulky to hoop. Place a sheet of S-D-Solv in a hoop with the protective paper side up. Remove the protective paper to expose the sticky surface.

Otherwise, use KK2000, a spray-on adhesive, to adhere fabric to the bottom stabilizer if you are using a non-adhesive stabilizer such as D-Solv. Lay the towel onto the sticky surface.

Now cover the terry surface of the towel with two layers of nonsticky D-Solv to keep the loops of the terry flat under the embroidery. This stabilizer is great on napped fabrics to prevent the embroidery from sinking into the nap and disappearing. Start the embroidery process.

For lightweight fabric, use D-Solv for top and bottom layers. Hoop and begin embroidering.

Totally Stable by Sulky, an iron-on tearaway stabilizer, is appropriate for knits for medium-weight wovens. The waxy side of Totally Stable goes against the wrong side of the fabric for pressing. Once again, make a stabilizer sandwich with the fabric in between.

A water-soluble stabilizer like D-Solv always goes on the top side. Totally Stable tears away after the embroidery is complete. Totally Stable underneath the fabric and D-Solv on the top can be used for many projects.

If you are doing machine embroidery on anything sheer, Poly Mesh is a great stabilizer for the underside because it is lightweight and has some drape. This stabilizer is good for clothing as well because is not abrasive on the skin. D-Solv is used on the top of the fabric.

Fusible tricots and weft insertions can also be used as the bottom stabilizer, which will be left in the clothing.

Again, it is important to change needles often. Because the stitching is so dense, the sewing machine needle dulls much more rap-idly than in seam sewing.

A dull needle will result in snags in the fabric and skipped stitches in the design. If the needle makes a popping or snapping sound, it is time to change the needle because the point has dulled.

For general embroidery supplies or a dealer near you, try Oklahoma Embroidery online at, Hoop-It-All at or call toll-free 1-800-947-4911, and Nancy's Notions at or call toll-free 1-800-833-0690. For specialty threads, search and

Sandra Betzina is host of "Sew Perfect" on Home & Garden Television. Send e-mail to