It doesn’t matter how good your stitching and design is. Howe good your materials are, if the tools you use to do your embroidery are flawed, then you will not get the best result.
Here are some simple ways to keep your tools in top condition.
Firstly you need to have a few simple items in your toolbox: fine grade sandpaper, sewing machine oil, clean cloths, and an emery cushion. These are all you need to keep all of your embroidery tools in their best condition.
Needles are the most important tool in your embroidery kit. Start off right and buy good quality needles - don’t scrimp on them and always buy needles suitable for your use. Don’t use hand sewing needles – they are often not fine enough for embroidery work. I always prefer to use gold needles, or gold eyed needles. They last longer and don’t wear as quickly.
Keep your needles in the paper they came in, or in a special needle case that you can make of felt. There are metal and wooden needlecases available, but these will end up blunting or bending the point of the needle. If do use a metal or wooden needlecase, always put your needles in eye end first and put a little wad of cotton wool or felt wadding in the top to prevent the points hitting the hard lid.
Needle points can blunt, and the points and shafts can burr, all of which will cause them to snag on fabric and threads. Occasionally, you will find some rust on the needle, which will have the same effect.
To keep your needles sharp and shiny, make sure that before you use them run them through your emery cushion a couple of times. This will sharpen the needle, and remove any rust specs, tiny burrs and oil left on it. Then just wipe it over with a clean cloth. That will remove any emery powder remaining.
When you have finished your embroidery piece, you should rub the needle lightly over some fine grade sandpaper (or the fine side of an emery board works just as well) and then put a drop of machine oil on a piece of felt or soft cloth and wipe the needle over with it, then using a clean cloth, wipe it off thoroughly.
The sandpaper or emery board will, again, help keep the needle sharp and remove any burrs from sewing, and the oil will help to prevent rust.
Just make sure that before you use the needle again, you run it through a cloth a few times, and wipe it, then run if through your emery cushion and wipe it again.
You will find that over time, your needles will blunt, and the eyes can also wear thin. Once this happens, you should get rid of them.
Embroidery Hoops and Frames
I prefer wooden hoops and frames, and these need a little care to keep them in good order.
In a previous article, I have discussed how to store your hoops on a coat hanger. This will keep them from distorting or breaking.
Before you use a hoop, lightly rub both parts over it with fine grade sandpaper. This will remove any splinters and smooth the wood out. Once again, this will prevent it catching on any fabric or thread.
No matter whether you use a wooden or a plastic hoop, you need to “dress” it before you use it. Dressing a hopp means to wrap cotton tape around the inner ring and fasten it either with a couple of stitches or a drop of fabric glue or double sided tape. This will provide a better grip on the fabric, and prevent catching. You can also dress the other ring in this fashion as well.
Using plastic hoops, I would recommend this as the plastic can be very slippery.
Metal and plastic hoops, commonly used for machine embroidery, should also have the metal ring rubbed over with the sandpaper, again, to remove any burrs or rust and the metal should also be lightly oiled after use – the same as with needles, and then wrapped in cloth and put back together for storage. Before you use these, wipe them thoroughly to remove all traces of oil otherwise it will mark the fabric you are embroidering on.
You need to keep your scissors sharp! You should never use scissors that you use for fabric to cut anything else than fabric or thread.
To keep your scissors sharp, you can buy a scissors sharpener, or you can cut a couple of times into some fine grade sandpaper. However, you should always get them professionally sharpened at least once a year.
Professionals will take the scissors apart, sharpen each blade, clean and oil them and then put them back together.
When you sharpen them at home (wither using a scissors sharpener or the sandpaper method, you need to wipe them over with a little oil afterwards, and then thoroughly wipe the oil off.
You should also use a cleancloth to wipe them over every time you have finished embroidering. This will ensure that any fluff or debris is removed from the blades.
This is important for large sewing shears as well.
By following these simple tips, your embroidery tools will be kept in great condition, and you will not only do better work, but they will last longer.
Singer Fashion Pin Cushion with Strawberry Emery
Clover No. 3-9 Gold Eye Embroidery Needles, Pack of 16
Singer 1/2-ounce Machine Oil
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© 2014 Megan McConnell