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Freehand Embroidery

The Martha Stewart Show, Episode 2168

Tools and Materials

Templates (dragonfly, elephant, fire truck, giraffe, tractor)
Dissolvable stabilizer
Fine-point marker
Painters' tape
Baby powder

Freehand Embroidery How-To

1. Prewash and dry T-shirt.

2. Download templates (dragonfly, elephant, fire truck, giraffe, tractor) or create your own line drawing by choosing a photograph of a subject (e.g. a truck).

3. Trace details by hand or in Photoshop.

4. Trace line drawing onto dissolvable stabilizer with a fine-point marker, leaving about 1 inch all around to trim excess.

5. Tape template or drawing onto fabric with painters' tape.

6. Show stippling foot.

7. Sew over drawing with straight stitch.

8. Use a continuous line for as much of the drawing as possible. When you end a line or color, leave the threads long enough to tie by hand.

9. From the wrong side of the fabric tug, use a seam ripper to gently tug on the loop made from the top thread, pulling it through. If you have accidentally sewed over the top thread, you may need to bring it through to the back with a needle.

10. Tie each pair of top and bottom threads together with a double knot.

11. Once design is completed and all knots are tied, pull off the tape and the big pieces of stabilizer.

12. Wash item or just run it under water and dry it with a blow-dryer.

Tips for Freehand Embroidery

1. Adjust the thread tension if you want the bottom thread to show (e.g. to create the look of white stars on an American flag).

2. When it is humid, you may need to sprinkle a little baby powder on the stabilizer to keep it from sticking to your needle.

3. If you use different threads on the top and bottom, you may need to knot them together several times so they don't slip apart.

4. As you sew, try to keep the fabric taut; don't pull so hard that you release the tape, though. An embroidery hoop is not recommended because you tend to pull the template or drawing too tight, which will result in a puckered design. Just lay the fabric flat and tape the design on without stretching it.

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