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Friday, March 04, 2005

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Basic Techniques—A Review

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Basic Techniques Companion Project Series by Jeanine Twigg. 2002 Krause Publications, Soft cover, ISBN 0873495802, 48 pages. Full color illustrations. CD-ROM included with 20 exclusive Embroidery Designs. Designs and techniques for use with Babylock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna/Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, simplicity and Singer embroidery machines.

Just one look through this book, and I felt like slapping myself in the head and saying, “why didn’t I think of that?” Although this book deals with basic techniques, it goes beyond the basics and shows just how many different ways you can use a design. The included designs are ones you will probably use again and again and are worth the price of the book itself.

The first chapter is a quick overview of machine embroidery essentials, then on to the second chapter on appliqué. When pressed for time in making a project, appliqué can speed things up by not requiring so many stitches to sew out along with all the thread changes that can take up time. Instead of completely stitching out a flower, appliqué one on. This chapter shows the two ways to make appliqué templates for use with your embroidery machine. Then there are the different appliqué techniques: satin stitch, blanket stitch, sheer appliqué, outline appliqué, and reverse appliqué. I tend to be visually oriented and once I see something done I can comprehend the possibilities. Seeing how one design can be used for satin stitch appliqué or a sheer overlay opening some real design possibilities. Instructions for doing each of the techniques are included using the designs that came with the book.

Chapter three is about quilting. Now you are seeing some of the same designs that were used for appliqué, being used as quilting motifs. Imagine the possibilities of making an appliqué quilt with matching quilting motifs! Two methods of quilting are explained and also a type of trapunto quilting and fleece quilting, instructions again using the included designs. If you haven’t figured it out yet, these designs are extremely versatile.

The next chapter is all about various forms of cutwork embroidery on the machine. Not only is there explanations and instructions for the technique, it continues on with other forms of cutwork. How about sheer cutwork, which instead of empty space, leaves a layer of sheer organdy? Or a layered cutwork technique that has layers of different colored sheer fabric within the same design. There are lots of possibilities and inspiration for the cutwork fan.

Chapter five describes how to make three dimensional designs, how to texture fleece, making fringed flowers, double needle designs and using your designs with mixed media such as watercolors. I have not yet tried the fringing method. I know it works as I have seen samples of it, but hard to believe it can be done with a sewing machine!

Chapter six is about combining and editing designs. Learn how to rotate, flip, mirror image, add and subtract designs to make your own creation. You will need a machine that has on board editing, or software that allows you to do it, or make yourself some templates to accurately place your designs. Lots of ideas are given for combining designs all using the designs off of the CD. Just imagine the possibilities when combined with the designs you own.

Chapter seven is a gallery of ideas showing sewn out projects with some basic instructions on completing the projects. Unlike the first two books in this series, the project gallery includes only projects featuring embroidery designs from the included CD.

In the appendix are the included CD designs details. Each design shows each thread stop individually so you can plan which part of the design you will want to use. For example: the blanket stitch circle design has 11 different segments because there are actually five circles within the circle designs. These allow you different sized circles for appliqué projects or use all of them at once in a project.

I hope this review has been helpful to you. I believe you would find this book helpful in learning some basic techniques. You will also find the included designs are extremely versatile and are worth the cost of the book by themselves.

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