Today we have another guest post from Karen to share with you! This one is all about adding hand embroidery to your bag making projects! Over to you Karen:
I always think a little hand embroidery adds a lovely unique touch to a bag. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated (unless you like it complicated!) but it can really give a bag a lift! Here I used tapestry wool and added the flowers freehand, inspired by the book “20 Floral Bags to Make” by Susan-Cariello“. Susan actually lives a few miles away from me, and I attended one of her workshops, but for those of you not able to do that the book is a good substitute!
I am going to share how I go about adding hand embroidery to a bag by making Christine’s “Eve Clutch” using this version with the plain flap.
Find a Design.
You can draw something up yourself if you are artistic, or trace or copy a picture you like, or get a free design or buy one. A good source of simple free designs and shapes is an on-line Colouring Page, just google what you want i.e. dolphins, daisies, fairies and you will find loads to choose from.
Good embroidery sites include Urban Threads who have a huge range of designs for hand (and machine) embroidery at reasonable prices, and Helen of Bustle & Sew also has some nice embroidery patterns in her shop. Both sites offer some freebies too. Craftsy and Etsy also have a lot of pdf hand embroidery patterns.
The design I am going to use is from the “Elven Court” design pack I bought from Urban Threads called ‘Elven Court Crescent Moon Curve’.
Transfer the Design
Remember to transfer your design to a piece of your exterior fabric large enough to fit in an embroidery hoop AND cut your pattern piece from, but DON’T cut out the pattern piece! Draw an outline of the front or flap on the fabric, then centre your design on that and transfer it.
The easiest method is to use a Solvy product. With Sticky Fabri-Solvy you can print your design onto the Solvy, then remove the backing and stick the sheet straight to your fabric. You then sew through it and when you are finished the Solvy dissolves away in water. Obviously you cannot use a fabric or thread that cannot get wet for this!
Another way it to trace the design directly onto your fabric using a light box (or your window if the sun is shining) and a Frixion pen. The drawn lines will disappear with a little heat from your iron, or just be covered up by stitching. Be warned it can leave a ghosting mark if you remove it with heat, so you might like to test it first if you are not going to hide all the lines with stitches!
Choose your Stitches
My source for stitch tutorials and videos is Needle ‘n Thread as although I have several reference books I find Mary’s videos the best! She also has some very nice free embroidery patterns as well as the e-books and patterns she sells. If I am unfamiliar with a stitch, I like to practice it first.
The stitches I like to use are backstitch, whipped backstitch, stem stitch, whipped stemstitch, chain stitch, back-stitched chain stitch, detatched chain stitch (a.k.a. lazy daisy stitch), blanket, feather, fern and fly stitch! Another way to get into hand embroidery is to do the Craftsy Course “Design it, Stitch it” with Jessica Marquez.
Select your Threads
Stranded cottons are readily availabe and come in a great colour range. I also like Pearl Cotton #8 and can get it in my local sewing shop. I have also used knitting and tapestry wool for bolder designs. I like Coton a Broder but they didn’t have the colours I wanted so I am using Anchor Pearl Cotton #8 in white and three strands of DMC stranded cotton in two shades of turquoise for my design.
Mount your work in an embroidery frame to keep it nice and flat, and off you go! I left mine out of the way of the dogs in the conservatory (fa.k.a. my sewing room) and my hubby then hung his wet t-shirt above it after getting caught in a downpour. The Solvy dissolved where it dripped, but happily missed the design!
The trouble with making it up as you go along is you have to make it up as you go along! When I had the whole design covered I soaked off the solvy on the basis I could always add more, and I needed to be able to see it. I hung it up outside to dry off then carried on! When I decided it was finished I cut the flap out ready to start putting the clutch together.
And here is the finished bag. I think I could have shifted the design down a bit as I had purposely avoided the area where the magnetic catch fitted but that really wasn’t necessary. Overall I’m pleased, what do you think? I hope this encourages you to give it a try!
My next project will be the Snazzy Slouch, and I will show you how I add an applique and free motion machine embroidery design.
Thank you so much Karen for yet another helpful and creative post! You can read more of Karen’s posts over at Sew What’s New HERE and visit Karen on Instagram – @auntystitches You can find the Eve pattern HERE!
Happy Sewing! 🙂
I loved that machine embroidery design. It really changed the look of the bag.
Loved this cute embroidery design pattern. I’ll surely do some on my purse!
Thanks for explaining how to add hand embroidery to a bag. You mentioned that you should try to mount your work before you work. I’m interested to learn if this can be done after the bag has already been made.
It will depend on the structure of your bag. As you can see in my first example I had finished the bag, then decided to make some changes. I removed the green lining and replaced it with terracotta, and while the seams were open I added the embroidery so the workings are all hidden inside. If you embroider from the outside on a finished bag you will have to be clever about hiding your anchoring and finishing stitches. You can get techniques for this on needlenthread.com under tips and techniques for beginning and ending threads. Hope that helps!
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