How to make free standing lace
with an embroidery machine
I like to use my embroidery machine because with it I can always turn something ordinary into extraordinary and create one of a kind garments. But not only that – embroidery to me is pretty therapeutic and more than creating beautiful things.
I think there are billions of embroidery designs available now and they are all amazing but I like the most free standing lace designs. In this tutorial, I want to show you how to make a lace hat with an embroidery machine.
Hats are always popular and fashionable and you can’t have too many hats, right? You may be surprised by how a hat can transform your look.
It wasn’t cheap but to me it was worth it: each part of the design has more than 20 000 stitches and digitizing is done very well – no gaps appeared in the lace and all different details connected to each other in the final item without problems. I got PDF instructions together with the design and they were complete and clear to follow.
The embroidery file to make the hat was a set of 5 different designs for the large hoop (5″ x 7″ in or 130 x 180 mm). The finished size of the hat was for a lady with hat size 22″- 22 3/4″ (56-58 cm).
Next step was preparing all the necessary materials: threads, stabilizer, needles, etc.
And this is exactly what I used – 40-weight cotton thread (it was written “quilting thread”) in the needle and in the bobbin. I am glad I followed their advice – the lace really looks hand-made and it’s pretty thick and not at all weblike.
I used two different color threads for this lace embroidery – pink and beige so I had to wind bobbins with 2 different colors.
But next time I think I will try good quality 40-weight rayon embroidery thread for free standing lace embroidery because I got so much lint from the cotton thread – at some point, my embroidery machine just refused to stitch and I was almost ready to quit the project altogether.
I had to clean the machine after stitching every detail – it really needed that and it took lots of time. I have a very good tool for this though – this small mini vacuum cleaner was perfect for the job.
I was wondering why my embroidery machine started to make this (see image below) in the middle of the stitching. So I spent so much time trying to figure out what is wrong – check the thread, change the needle, check the bobbin, check the bobbin holder, check the tension, check, check, check.
Everything seemed ok. I just didn’t notice a small piece of lint collected under the bobbin in the corner of the bobbin holder. But as soon as I got rid of it the machine started to work properly and was pretty cooperative until I finished all embroidery.
Ok, no problem, I didn’t use Solvy. But just in case I used 2 layers of water-soluble non-woven dissolvable stabilizer and it did the job. And after it was dissolved I didn’t need to use any starch – my lace kept the shape pretty well.
Needles. They advised using 80/12 metallic needles “Our experience shows that cotton thread used with metallic needles gives less lint”. So I used exactly that and the reason for this is that metallic needles have a pretty big eye – bigger than regular needles. I still got lots of lint from the cotton thread, but I guess I would have had even more lint with regular needles.
Making the hat
I loaded up the embroidery design files on my machine and saved them in the memory, threaded the machine, hooped the stabilizer and attached it to the machine and started stitching. I had to change threads from pink to beige and back in the needle and in the bobbin.
Now a few words about the USB drive I used to transfer embroidery files from my computer to the embroidery machine. It looks like a necklace and has 16GB of memory!
That was a good idea, and I made the test stitching the smallest part (the brim part) of the hat. I checked the size of the design and it corresponded to the size given in the description on the design page. So I didn’t throw away the test – it became part of the project.
I had to stitch 12 different pieces ( 6 for the brim, 2 for the top, and 4 for the sides) and it took almost around an hour for each piece. But it didn’t really bother me that it was long – the embroidery machine was doing all the job and I was at my computer browsing.
The only issue was a thunderstorm ( we have them in Southern Florida in the summer ) that made the power fluctuate at some point and this convinced me that my next piece of equipment will be a UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector for my sewing needs, since my machine is rated under 100W I am looking at purchasing a relatively inexpensive unit, something like this.
First of all, I had to dissolve the water-soluble stabilizer so the designs look like real lace and leave them to air dry. It was easy and fun to see how the stabilizer melts right away.
While the lace was still wet I had to slightly stretch it to prevent shrinkage and give it proper flat shape so I pressed the lace between two flat craft foam sheets that I bought in a dollar store.
They are about 20x30x3/8 ( inches ) or 50x75x0.5 ( cm ) and are made out of a thin foam layer, relatively stiff, between two layers of thin carton. This kind of board absorbs the water well and helps with the drying process, I only had to press the lace for about one hour until it was dry enough to not curl anymore.
The task was made even more difficult because after the stabilizer was washed away and the pieces dried out they became stiff and I had trouble inserting the needle exactly where it needed to be ( remember, attention to details ! ).
So I decided to make the connecting parts of the embroidery pieces wet again and the sewing became more manageable because the needle was going easier into the embroidery. This, of course, has added the complication of drying, more about this later.
While sewing I had to connect all the small loops on the lace. But the number of loops was not the same on corresponding parts (which they acknowledge in the instructions) so I had to make sure the pieces are connected evenly, without pleats, and without visible gaps.
After all the sewing was done the hat was almost ready. I only had to let it dry completely and give it a proper shape which would be easier to do if I had a hat form. But I don’t have one so I used a real straw hat (which has a close shape but not exactly the same). This step is quite important since at this point in time any crease will show in the finished hat.
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