Monday, July 13, 2009

July 13, 2009

We've been busy at Cajun Stitchery today. Patches, patches, and more patches. I had designed the patch that we're working on a few months ago but it never worked out really well. The design was fine. I just couldn't seem to make a patch that made me happy. I was, and am, convinced that patches can be made on the embroidery machine to look as good as Merrow machine patches. That was my quest.

First of all, unless the patch or item is digitized for free standing lace (FSL), you cannot simply sew the design onto Solvy stabilizer and think that will work. We did that. Once the Solvy dissolves you have a wad of thread and nothing more. I'll skip to the chase of all of the fabulous ideas that we thought of and tried that did not work.

Finally, we came to the applique conclusion. A patch is merely an applique with a Solvy stabilizer, rather than a fabric stabilizer. We have made countless attempts hooping the Solvy, placing a piece of fabric over the Solvy, not hooped, stitching the first round of underlay stitches, removing the hoop, trimming the fabric, replacing the hoop, and finishing the design. Solvy isn't strong enough for this and requires at least 2 or 3 layers to hold it taunt in the hoop. With 2 or 3 layers of Solvy, in the end, when you wash the Solvy off, you get one sticky, gummy mess. Even when I put them in the washer to get all of the Solvy off, they come out of the washer gooey and out of the dryer tacky and stuck to whatever was in the dryer with it. Not only that but I never could get close enough to the underlay stitches when trimming and there always was, at least some fabric showing that just could not be trimmed enough.

We tried cutting circles of fabric the size of the applique and then when the first round of underlay stitched out, we would glue our fabric circle inside. Just never could get the thing centered correctly. There was always something poking out the sides. In addition, to get the thickness of the patch that I wanted required several layers of fabric. Then it became a test of getting all layers perfectly centered. Frankly, we never could get one perfect.

We did some tiny U.S. flag patches 1"x2" that turned out really cute and nice. With the flags the entire patch was stitched and the fabric was placed underneath just for stability when the Solvy was washed out. We were able to cut the fabric imperfectly and/or to place it imperfectly just for holding everything together. Even with the flags, the Solvy caused them to be tacky and gooey. The flags did turn out well.

We tried a bookmark with an eagle design and completely stitched, but the bookmark did not turn out as well as the little flag. The stitches weren't as dense and when the Solvy washed away, so did a lot of the stitching, even with the underlay of fabric.

As I've mentioned before, I then talked with a friend of mine who suggested that I use Aqua Magic rather than Solvy and told me about a great pair of scissors that trip closer. The scissors are shaped to go over the hoop and trim. They are Havel's Ultimate Embroidery Scissors. I order both the Aqua Magic and the scissors (both left handed, for me, and right handed, for George).

We picked up the quest again. We hooped the Aqua Magic, which is more of a fiber-type stabilizer, much more stable than the Solvy, and began with a piece of fabric over the stabilizer, then the underlay stitching for the outline was done. After the underlay, we removed the hoop and trimmed with the new scissors, and finished the design. Oh my, not close enough. Then we decided that a bit of minor digitizing was needed and I took the design to the computer and enlarged the length of the satin stitches. We tried again. Same method. This worked much better but there were still little pokies sticking out the side. Then we tried the cut the circles and glue in the middle of the stabilizer theory. That still didn't work, even though George used all of his wonderful measuring techniques to hit dead center. We played around with all of these theories and tried a multitude of different fabric and thicknesses.

Then we decided to wash away the Aqua Magic on the one's we had done and see how they turned out and if that helped. No sticky, gooey anything. The stuff washed away, like it was supposed to but did not leave any residue. I'm sold on Aqua Magic now. The patches came out a bit curled, distorted, and wrinkles. George got out the old trusty ironing board and steam iron and began ironing them. Except for the pokies sticking out, the patches looked really nice. Then he tried simply steam ironing a patch with Aqua Magic -- it worked. Don't even need to put in the washer. We did have to pick a few tiny pieces of stabilizer off, but that really wasn't even worth mentioning. As a lark, he did the steam iron on a row of patches we had one with the Solvy. They all stuck to the fabric he placed over the patches and we had a heck of a time ripping them off. Even at that, not all of the Solvy was removed.

We had even solved the thickness issue and put 2 sheets of canvas to get, what I consider, a good patch thickness.

Finally, we were looking at the satin stitch outline on the computer and came up with the brilliant idea of moving the underlay stitches closer to the inner stitches of the satin stitch outline, thus giving us more leeway for trimming. It worked!!!!!! The little nudge on the underlay allowed us to trim as we had been but since the underlay itself was moved further from the edge of the stitching, so was the trimming. The pokies are gone and we have one beautiful SOB patch.

Tomorrow we begin manufacturing the SOB patches.

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