I again chose a design from GracefulEmbroideries. No matter how many designs in my stash something else will always call to me. This particular set is cutwork
. I haven’t used cutwork in anything (clothing, home dec crafts) since I was in my late teens. As I recall it was a fussy handwork which required reinforcing planned edges, painfully tiny clipping and trimming followed by excruciating care to create satin stitches by hand that were both equal length and equally spaced but packed together tightly. The end result was pretty, but I never felt it justified the work. Especially as the cutwork didn’t survive too many trips through the laundry.
My next attempt at cutwork was during the early years of Home Machine Embroidery. My cutwork never made it past testing. Trying to stitch and trim while not changing the fabric’s position by a threads’s width, wasn’t possible for me.
I expect to test and then use these designs without the cutwork. They’re lovely either way. I was surprised when my second testing easily produced a breathtaking design. I think there are a couple of factors which aided my success. First, ME hoops have been slightly redesigned. Even mine which is now 12-year-old technology, is a better hoop than the Bernette Deco that I was using. Also cutwork digitizing has improved. There’s been so much experimenting that we’ve been able to settle on stitch length and densities that are better for use in machine cutwork.
Lastly, I think the stabilisers have improved greatly. I used the sticky water-soluble that looks like fabric interfacing. I hooped the stabiliser and placed my fabric on top. I aligned my fabric and then secured it with a running stitch around the perimeter of the hoop. Yes the sticky should hold the fabric. My sticky is approaching the end of its life cycle. I need to use it up pretty soon because it definitely is loosing some of its stick. Even had my sticky been in prime condition, I still would have used the running stitch. Cutwork must stay in exactly the same spot. No if’s abouts, or almost. Even half a thread counts.
Both the cutwork done in my teens and the experimenting I did at the machine years ago were trimmed using small scissors. Truly an awkward process. This time, thank to a DH with hobbies, I had access to different tools. I tested the following:
From top to bottom: a 22mm Rotary cutter, Fiskar Blade Cutter, Curved Exacto knife, Surgeon’s Scapel, Triangular Exacto knife. They all worked!
I removed the hoop from the machine and placed it on the edge of my cutting table so that the hoop connector hung over the edge. This gave me a very flat surface for cutting. Although I tried each of the above and each was successful, I preferred the Curved Exacto knife. I found that putting the tip into a corner and then drawing the knife firmly away from the corner gave me nice smooth cuts which usually did not cut through the stabiliser. I did find that cutting away from the corner each time was the better procedure. Which means that in design with 3 corners, I was lifting and inserting my blade 6 times (two from each side of each of 3 corners).
I then applied a 2nd layer of the same sticky stabiliser on top. BTW I buy in bulk and purchased this from Marathon Threads They are my source for threads, needles and stabilisers as well as few other things.
I think it was the perfect sandwich because I tested 4 different times before completing the embroidery on my blouse. Each was perfect. I won’t hesitate to use cutwork in the future.