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How to create embroidery on transparent fabric

October 21, 2018

Embroidery! Again! Apologies if this is a little too niche for you but I really wanted to write something about embroidery on transparent fabric as when I wanted to move into it, there was a grand total of about 0 articles online that I could find.

So in the hope of encouraging and helping others, here is what I’ve discovered by doing a lot of embroidery on transparent fabric over the past few months. I can’t help but love how it looks – floating florals are my fave. Plus it does mean that I have to slow down and really work on the embroidery to get it right. So here are some tips for embroidery on transparent fabric…

Pick your fabric carefully.

There are many options for the best fabric to use for this kind of embroidery. Originally I wanted to go for tulle (like a netting) fabric which I do think would work but would be harder to use with the larger spaces in the fabric. They didn’t have tulle when I went shopping so ended up with a transparent white organza instead.

I think organza is a good option if you’re looking for something light and delicate. That said, it still stands up well enough to most stitches. I definitely would use again and am very tempted to try it out in some different shades too.

Wrap your hoop.

The issue with the light, transparent fabrics is that they are often very thin! This can cause a real problem when stitching as the hoop doesn’t hold the fabric in place enough – this then means you lose tension which can cause real issues.

The best solution I’ve found for this is to wrap your hoops. And by this I mean take a super long thin piece of fabric and wrap it around your inner hoop. This then bulks the hoop out a bit more so that it can hold the thinner fabric tighter. To be honest I’ve found this helpful on several hoops, even ones which aren’t super thin. Often embroidery hoops are slightly warped – especially some of the cheaper wood ones so this is a good way to fix any discrepancies.

Try out some different stitches.

I think for a lot of people doing embroidery on transparent fabric will be a lot of trial and error. Some stitches which work for me might not work for you! When you’re looking at straight lines, you need to make sure that you work up and down the line so that you don’t get excess stitches on the back which can be seen.

I recommend working up and down the same ‘branches’ for example in the pieces where you see one branch splitting into several, I’ve often gone up and down the same stitches several times so that I can move where my needle is without having to cast off and back on again. You can’t really tell if you’ve done this in the final product.

Some stitches just won’t work but you have to embrace it! For lazy daisy I just do it as a straight stitch as the tiny bit on the back looks as though it’s on the front. If I do want to use chain stitch – I often embrace this as it makes the lines look more ‘filled in’ so for the stems I will use this.

Some stitches work perfectly if they sit on the top of the fabric – things like woven roses, satin stitch, and tassel flowers are a great place to start.

French knots.

I mean, I love a French knot so basically want to use them in anything that I stitch. However, they are a bit of a pain on transparent fabric as they often pull through the fabric itself if you tug on them too hard. I generally recommend putting a hand on the back of the fabric to push it up towards the knot so you aren’t just tugging down and through the material helps them stay in place a bit better.

They are also annoying because you often see the back of them when you move from one to the next. Two options here, either do the knots super close together – good if you’re doing something like the middle of a flower. Or base them against a line so you can use the line of stitches to hide any bits which may normally show through.

What to do with the loose ends.

This is the worst bit – casting on and off! When I’m finishing with a thread I try and hide it behind something else – if there is a woven rose for example then it’s perfect to put behind there. Sometimes that isn’t possible – in those cases I just try and pull the end through so that it lies flat with the stitch and then cut the end really short. If even with all of that you just can’t get an end to lie where you want it to, then I either catch it with another stitch or I use a teeny tiny bit of nail polish to just tack it down in place.

Finishing off your hoop.

This is the bit I have not perfected yet! Obviously you want to secure your fabric to the hoop and I don’t think that framing these pieces is a great idea as you want to be able to see through them. The best way I’ve found so far is to cut the fabric very short, cut a slits in it up to where the hoop is so that when you wrap it round it lies flat then use a hot glue gun to glue the fabric to the hoop. That said, on a couple it has looked a little messy when up close. The other option is to use a liquid glue but I struggled to get that to stick even when using clips to hold it all together!

So there we have it, hopefully not too much of a ramble and hopefully helpful if you’re interested in the types of pieces I’ve been making. If any of it isn’t clear then do drop me an email / comment / Instagram message and I’ll try my best to explain it better!

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