Andrew Marlay, of Penn & Fletcher in New York City, is responsible for some of the country's most exquisite embroidery. He and his partner, Ernest Smith, supervise the restoration and replication of antique textiles for clients such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Marble House, a Vanderbilt family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Today, Andrew joins Martha to share the following tips on basic embroidery.
1. Successful home embroidery requires that the fabric be stretched taut over an embroidery hoop. Embroidering edges and corners, however, can be challenging because they are difficult to stretch on most hoops. Sew a square of inexpensive cotton to a napkin edge with a basting stitch, thereby expanding the overall fabric area. Cut away the excess cotton that overlaps on the underside of the napkin. Center the area you plan to embroider, then stretch the enlarged napkin over the embroidery hoop.
2. Prevent "hoop burn" on delicate fabrics such as silk, taffeta, and fine linen by wrapping the embroidery hoop in basting tape or ribbon. A padded hoop will not damage fine fabrics.
3. Sometimes the surface threads of embroidered decoration may get pulled or become loosened. Andrew uses a special needle with a latch to pull the threads back through. Alternately, use a needle and button thread; push the top end of the needle through the underside of the fabric, loop the button thread through the pulled stitch, and pull the needle back through to tighten the stitch.
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