It broke three needles and it almost broke me, but I persevered and was victorious.
Do you know those thousands of emails you get from fabric vendors, peddlers of embroidery designs and, of course, Wawak? The ones that you mostly delete before opening unless you have a pile of cash on hand begging to be spent. Yeah, those.I happened to open one the other day from Embroidery Library (my favorite online retailer of machine embroidery designs) and saw a project that seemed so far-fetched, so out of the realm of what was possible on a home sewing machine that I knew I would have to try it: embroidered rope baskets.
I'm not going give detailed instructions on the process here, because I am linking to them instead because Embroidery Library's instructions are excellent and the photos they have included are far better than what I could hope to provide with my cell phone and no tripod. Rather, I'll outline the issues I faced and some tips for you to use when you try this. Because you will try it.
I followed EL's instructions exactly, except that I didn't have spray adhesive on hand. This is used to adhere the flat coil of the bottom of the basket to the stabilizer before you hand stitch the coil to the stabilizer. I skipped this step and proceeded directly to stitching the coil to the stabilizer. This may have led to the only real issue I faced while stitching out the embroidery...needle breakage.
I'm also not 100% satisfied with my color choices. I'll chalk that up to being an inexperienced embroiderer. If I had used all the information available to me on the screen, I could have made better color choices. Specifically, I'm referring to the small box highlighted here that shows what part of the design, exactly, will be stitched with the current color. It was only after I had stitched several colors that I noticed this and realized just how useful the information was.
Tips and Observations
- It is extremely difficult to stitch the coil when it's less than about 2-1/2" in diameter. Go slowly and keep the "line" between the coil and the free end of the rope lined up with the center of your presser foot.
- I found that I needed to add a second row of zigzag stitching perpendicular to the first line stitched across the initial coil to begin the basket.
- I used a 4 mm wide zigzag to stitch the coil. The instructions call for 1/8", which converts to about 3 mm. I'll do this on my next basket, now that I'm more confident with the process. 4mm is fine, but probably more visible than you really want.
- If the bottom coil of your basket becomes "bubbled as the embroidery stitches out, remove the frame from the machine and press the bottom flat. I a pressing cloth and steam.
- To avoid being able to see daylight through the sides of your basket, hold the free end of the rope very snugly against the coil as you're stitching. This is easier to do when stitching the flat coil than when building up the sides of the basket.
- It's also quite difficult to stitch the first few rounds as you begin to build up the sides of the basket. The instructions tell you to "Place your and under the base and tilt it up. Be careful but keep your hand as close as possible to the foot of the machine." I found that the basket pushed my hand away from the foot. I think I may have been trying to place my hand too close to the foot.
I'm embarrassed to say I didn't really keep track of how long it took me to make this, but I think it was somewhere under five hours. The design itself required an hour of stitching time, not counting thread changes and taking the hoop in and out for pressing, so I would say the lion's share of the time was taken up with the embroidery.