How Outline alignment stitches can enable even larger embroidery

I think I am quite sad to be completing the work on the Royal Heirloom collection. It has been quite exciting seeing the designs coming into shape in my embroidery software and then I have been completely fascinated watching them stitching out, testing out various colour schemes. In this final set of designs for 12″ by 8″ hoops I have included a few designs which can be combined. Let me show you the possibilities and how outline alignment stitches can help.

Take the first design in the set. I tend to create lots of designs and then allocate each to the right set, according to size. Frequently my designs are too big for any of the available hoops so they need to be split or dismissed! Not this one though. No matter how I rotated or tweaked this design it had to be split. Here you can see the main part of the design. I kept the centre of the oval empty but you may choose to edit in a few smaller designs from the first set in the collection. As you can see I have used my old favourite, silk dupion. 

Firstly I put a nice new shiny needle in my machine for something requiring so much effort and when I do this I always clean out my bobbin area too. This is a white silk and I opted for a pink colour scheme, using Sulky Rayon Pale pink 1120 and Pink tint 1068. In GFE-RLH-5-1a, the outlines of the leaves and flowers were stitched in Silver 1085 and I kept the Off white 1071 for the flowers and leaves. Notice that I have stabilised just the stitch and tear in the hoop and have added the fabric on top securing it in place with a box of basting stitches. (Outline alignment stitches 2) These may leave little holes in the silk fabric but they smooth out quite well with a little rubbing with your finger nail. The most important factor when combining two embroidery hoopings is to leave enough room for the second design. I have been caught out numerous times. The combined size of these two designs is around 9½” square. Always be generous in the amount of fabric you use, as well as the stabiliser. There is nothing worse than finding you have calculated your measurements inaccurately.

After the first design was completed I removed it from its hooping, and pulled away all the excess stabiliser. Then I hooped up just stitch and tear stabiliser for the 2nd design, with an extra layer on top. I frequently use off cuts from previous hoopings for the second layer. Here you can see that I have stitched out the first Outline alignment stitches (OAS) which show the shape of the second design, GFE-RLH-5-1b. These act as the perfect guide for positioning your fabric along with the first embroidery with temporary adhesive spray, (well out of the way of devices etc), pins or hand stitching.

Folding back the fabric, you can check to see if the alignment of the tip of the oval and the central line match well. Whether you overlap the oval under the second design or leave a small gap is up to you. Another tip to checking that the fabric has been correctly placed is to pin it in place temporarily, and lift it up  in front of a window so you can see though it. Obviously this will only work on light coloured fabric that is not to thick. Remove the pins when you happy. Another way to check is by pushing pins though at relevant points and turning the hoop over to see that they correspond correctly underneath.

The second set of OAS secure the fabric in place. They are also will show you whether your placement is accurate. These OAS have been created so they stitch on the right hand side of the fabric moving towards you. Check how the needle is moving against the threads of  the fabric in the first few inches, and if it is not aligned stop, unhoop and unpick, so you can re-position your fabric. Make sure they intersect your oval and sit equally below the leaves. I love the lines on silk dupion as they are so helpful in placing fabric perfectly. You may consider stopping the stitch out at the bottom of the first side, removing the hoop and checking it. Looking across a hoop is not always an accurate way of checking alignment, but looking down on the fabric is, especially when your eyesight it not marvellous like mine! The larger the design the more obvious misalignment will be, especially if the positioning is a little skew-whiff.

I was then happy to stitch out the second design. My placement was about 95% accurate! Now I know that some machines have a stitch placement facility which makes it easy, but I prefer to develop my own skills on my machine, as the long term you will have more skill and confidence that will benefit all your efforts. I cannot emphasize how important this step is and it is worth spending a good will getting it right. Don’t just double check, triple check and then check again. 

Here you can see the finished embroidery with the stabiliser removed from the back along with the OAS and all the jump stitches at the back trimmed away. Although the back of most embroideries is not seen, if your machine does not trim the jump stitches on the back they can cause some puckering, so it is best to take the time to remove them all or at very least cut them.

The second stitch out that I would like to share with you, was a special design that involved some careful digitising. I had seen christening gowns with circular lace inserts intersecting and loved the idea of creating a design which mimicked this for the collection.

It certainly was not just a matter of placing 3 circles of motif fills correctly as they needed to weave in and out like Celtic Knot work, which you know I absolutely adore creating. Although very challenging to achieve it is quite spellbinding to watch it stitch out!

I used a combination of heather coloured threads for my stitch out that have been begging to be used since I got them last year. The names are enough to warrant their use! Here is the sequence: Sulky Rayon 40 wt Silver 1085, Soft heather 1807, Off white 1071, Soft rain 1824, Off white 1071, Silver 1085 and Iced mauve 1809, Off white 1071 and finally Soft heather 1807. Upon reflection the addition of a pale pink would have toned it all down a little, but that’s just me being very fussy.

Here are some of the other combinations which you can create with the designs in this collection. Realising that I did not have a scroll that could be give the shadow work technique I have included one in this set. I am sure you will find it very useful for making a bridge between embroideries. Just a line of these around a hem line would look spectacular especially if you did them as shadow work! 

I could not fit a scallop both sides of this oval so I have split the design into GFE-RLH-9a and GFE-RLH-9b, which is just the scallop, so it can be used on its own as well. The perfect solution! Again the OAS will help you in doing that.

Here is how this combinations looks when complete.

Finally I would like to share the last two designs in this set. I wanted to finish with a big flourish, digitising a “grand embroidery” and although these two work on their own they also fit perfectly together. I have not added lines of stitching for giving this the scalloped edge treatment as it is quite obvious where you trim. I just adore this scalloped edging and fancy a silk jacket with the cuffs and hem given this treatment.

In my stitch out I embroidered out GFE-RLH-5-12 first. Here you see that I am checking carefully to see if the fabric was properly aligned for GFE-RLH-5-11. The OAS must intersect the shells and leaves in the same place each side.  This was slightly out so I removed the stitches are started over again. I confess it took several attempts to get it right as the embroidered section tends to pull the fabric out of line. A few pins in place were necessary. You can see the OAS standing out under the fabric. If necessary measure the distances between sections as what looks perfect to the eye may not be so.

This how the two designs fit together.

My patience paid off and I was very happy with the alignment on this one. I took a while to remove all the backing as I had used stitch and tear, out of habit really. I could have used a different stabiliser as I was using 100% Pima cotton satin batiste from House of Smocking.

Maybe a wash away would have been more appropriate, but I find that removal of stitch and tear is not too laborious, but not my favourite pass time. A good press with steam and here is my finished design.

Ever since that wonderful day back in 2015,when I visited the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace with Pamela, I have been fascinated with heirloom embroidery and have tried to give my designs some of the elegance and beauty of embroidery from yesteryear. (It was such a marvellous day because we meet 2 of my customers in the group too!) I long to embroider something very special with one of my collections. The most obvious choice would be a christening gown. I have the pattern and the fabric, and lots of ideas but have yet to find the time!!! If only I could magically add a couple of months to 2018 I could get that done easily. I love all of my collections, even though they are my own work. A customer summed it up the other day. When you spend so much time researching, testing, designing, perfecting, playing with the kaleidoscope of threads and then stitching out a collection of designs they have to be loved.  So with that decided, I am not saying “goodbye” to the Royal Heirloom collection. One day I will make that longed for Christening gown and write a tutorial or two with a few new designs that got missed out because the idea had not occurred to me!!

I hope you “heirloom fanatics” love this collection, finding it inspiring to work with. I look forward to receiving photographs of the beautiful projects that you will create with them. You’ve done it before and I know you will do it again, for already you have mentioned that you cannot wait to get started working with these designs. If you see any gaps in the collection let me know so I can fill them in when I eventually do the tutorial having completed my christening gown. This last set in the collection has been released today.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

About gracefulembroidery

I digitise machine embroidery designs specializing in Bridal, heirloom and Celtic work.
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8 Responses to How Outline alignment stitches can enable even larger embroidery

  1. Carol Ann Todd says:

    Wonderful educational article! Thanks for taking the time and sharing your knowledge with us!

  2. LESLEY says:

    Beyond gorgeous

  3. jennymw2012 says:

    I finally had a moment to sit down and concentrate on these instructions. They are very comprehensive and everything is explained simply but in detail. I like the way Hazel tells how she has done something wrong and what she did to fix it; shows us that we don’t have to expect ourselves to do everything perfectly the first time. Obviously, the sky is the limit in the way to utilise Hazel’s designs.

  4. Cheryl says:

    You have inspired me to do one more Gown!

  5. Gail B says:

    Another exquisite set of heirloom designs with detailed instructions on how to align designs to create a large design. You always give us the thread colors as well as the the fabric that you use in displaying your designs and I think this adds to help us recreate your designs on our own fabric.

  6. Rosalee says:

    Great tutorial to go along with the gorgeous designs! As always, Hazel, your work is beyond amazing!

    • gracefulembroidery says:

      Thank you Rosalee. I have chosen your comment as comment of the week.
      The appropriate number of Rewards will be popped in your account shortly.
      from Hazel

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