A “Perfect Storm” of inspiration hit me as I cleaned out some attic boxes. In one, I found this large gauze-weight fabric sack probably used to store pads from an old dining room table. It just begged to be made into something more useful and pretty. Remembering the Cassandra White Work Collection, the beautiful free designs gifted to us all by Hazel during her celebration of Graceful Embroidery’s 2020 Anniversary, I knew the fabric and designs would be a perfect match in making a covering for an end table that had sadly been water-marked by a plant.
Although you are welcomed to reproduce the featured table scarf, the purpose in writing this blog is more to share the thought process and steps that go into making any table linen so that you can create ones that are tailored to your needs.
Planning the Design
The square top measured 14” by 17¼ ” , so I began to plan a design to fit within that area, aiming for a finished layout about 12” by 16” which would allow the embroidered design to display completely on top rather than draping over any edges.
First came the basic configuration that I envisioned the designs would delineate.
Next I set out to review the lovely designs and chose #36 thinking that several repeats of the design might show well in a circular pattern.
My embroidery software, my Sewnet™, has a wonderful feature called “Encore” which allows a design to be automatically combined into various configurations. A large workspace (420mm x 300mm) was opened to reproduce the tabletop.
Since the software would align the designs, the OAS stitches (Color stops 1 and 2) were deleted, setting the parameters in Encore to include 5 repeats of Design #36 in the shape of a circle.
The auto-generated circle was then modified simply to close the space between each element, just my preference. It looks great as is!
If your embroidery software does not have an “Encore” feature, this circular combination can also be reproduced by rotating the top original design clockwise 72° and then rotating that design another 72°, continuing to rotate each addition element the same amount until 5 designs are available to visually place in a circle.
Once satisfied, combine the elements, color sort and save the file under a new file name preserving the original design file for future projects.
Now to the corners! Design # 30 was already in a shape that could define each corner so, one element was placed in the upper workspace with another flipped vertically and placed in the lower right area.
Matching the OAS blue box to workspace grid lines, the two designs were perfectly aligned in a straight vertical line with equal spacing between them. Once the two designs were combined and color sorted, the OAS stitches were deleted since my machine could handle a design 211mm x 214mm.
Since the combined designs were to be placed on each side of the circle embroidery (the same unit just flipped horizontally to create a right and left embroidered side), I needed a way to help insure equal distancing and proper placement.
In the “letter” program of the software, a large (20mm) plus sign (+) was added to the workspace. It was moved to match the center indicator of the combined design.
Now combine the plus sign to the embroidery elements. Make sure it is in a color that is not found in the embroidery elements since it will not be stitched out. It is a placement marker only! Remember to re-save the file now that the red plus sign was added to the mix.
You will find that this large plus sign will provide a visual when placing the side designs equal distance from center especially when viewing the full layout in the software. It also provides a visual for measuring distances between center and side design center.
Prepare the fabric
I cut my fabric larger than my final planned project (17” x 35”) for several reasons. First, I intend to have a bit of UN-embroidered fabric hang over the sides of the table with self-fringed edges. Machine embroidery tends to “shrink” the fabric a bit as the design is stitched out. Extra fabric will allow a piece to be re-squared if necessary. Finally, although we plan and try our best, sometimes the design is not placed exactly straight, or in exactly the right area and a bit of extra fabric will afford some corrective wiggle room.
With the embroidery planned, it is now time to begin stitching! First divide the fabric into quarters by hand-basting the guidelines. Baste well beyond the design lengths since only the basting that falls within the stitching area will be removed allowing the remaining lines to aid in re-cutting if necessary.
The intersection of the quartered fabric lines marks the center of the circular element. Measure out on each side, the same distance from fabric center to the side design center (red + marker). This measurement will depend on your chosen designs and combinations. Notice in the full layout already shown, there is a slight difference between the measurement I documented from my software. It doesn’t matter which you choose, or round up to, in my case I rounded up to 6½” while the diagram above shows 6.45” and 6.4”. The absolute exact measurement is not as important as marking the same distance on each side of fabric center. Once again, hand-baste the lines at the proper distance you need. Horizontal center line is the same for all three elements.
Get Ready to Stitch
I love Sulky® Soft ’n Sheer™ stabilizer and use it for almost every project. In this case, it was a must since the fabric was so thin. The stabilizer was secured in a large hoop preparing to first embroider the middle design. The fabric was laid on top of the stabilizer centering it in the hoop as close as possible. This is one advantage to hand-basting guidelines; they show on both sides of the fabric and the sheer stabilizer allows grid lines from a quilters mat to show as well. Helpful in keeping everything centered and straight.
Place a few pins to hold the fabric while the hoop is locked in place on the machine. Match the machine-needle center position to intersecting lines which indicate the middle design center. Once satisfied that they match, secure the fabric to the stabilizer by basting a box around the design area, a feature found on many embroidery machines. Use the machine’s foot-pedal when stitching this box for full control in keeping the fabric as straight, taut and wrinkle free as possible.
Go ahead and embroider the center design!
Once finished, remove excess stabilizer.
Hoop another piece of stabilizer, matching side design center and hoop center, (intersection of lines measured over from fabric middle) then match with machine needle position.
Baste the fabric to the stabilizer and embroider one side design. Do not remove excess stabilizer at this point. Repeat for the other side remembering to flip the side design horizontally!!!
Fold the scarf in half and pin matching the edges of basting boxes around the side designs to square cut the fabric piece to its desired size.
The table-runner can be finished in many ways. I chose to hemstitch the top and bottom edges. ¼” of fabric was turned to the wrong side and then folded over again. Rayon embroidery thread was used with a wing-needle. An applique stitch was selected slightly increasing length and width.
The wing-needle makes small holes in the fabric as it penetrates, and the stitches then hold that space open
Self-fringe is made by pulling threads from the fabric.
The freed threads can be left as is, cut to any length desired or bunched and tied to create tassels. Save the long, pulled fabric threads if making tassels and use it to tie the grouped threads.
I was please with the finished project and know that you, too, will be happy with your handiwork.
It’s kind of hard to go wrong when a project features designs by Graceful Embroidery.
Thank you Pamela for this wonderful blog. All the designs that she used come from Cassandra’s White work 1 which has now been released along with 4 other sets. They are all on offer until 10th April 2021.
Happy embroidering from Hazel