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Friday, March 04, 2005

Embroidery Machine Essentials: Fleece Techniques—A Review

Jeanine Twigg’s Embroidery Machine Essentials: Fleece Techniques, Companion Project Series Book 2 by Nancy Cornwell. 2002 Krause Publications, Soft cover, ISBN 0873495810, 48 pages, lots of full color illustrations. Includes a CD-ROM with 20 exclusive embroidery designs with 85 variations for embroidery on fleece. Designs and techniques for use with Baby Lock, Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna Viking, Janome, Kenmore, Pfaff, Simplicity, Singer and White embroidery machines.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is so, then this book’s pictures are worth millions of words. Lavishly illustrated with variation after variation of designs and ways of doing things. Your mind won’t be able to help coming up with ideas and getting excited about the possibility of embroidering on fleece or anything else for that matter. I had never even sewn on fleece prior to getting this book, but after reading it, I was inspired to make a small fleece project and as time and health allows look forward to making more of them.

Nancy Cornwell is the sewing world’s diva of sewing on fleece. This book certainly shows her talent and knowledge with working with this material. Nancy herself says it best on p. 4 “…it’s fun to explore what happens when we use bits and pieces of designs to create entirely new designs and effects. Throughout the pages of this book I’ll show you how to look at embroidery designs not only ‘as intended,’ but for all the opportunities each design offers for fleece embellishment.” Although there are 20 ‘actual’ embroidery designs on the CD, by following the instructions in the book, you will see many more ways to use parts of the designs. As you look through the book think about not only what you can do with the included designs but also what you can do with the designs you already own. Don’t be stuck in a rut of thinking you always have to sew out a design in its entirety. Think about that one special element which will set off your project. Of course the designs can be sewn on more than just fleece. Just be sure to sew out test samples first in case an adjustment has to be made as these designs were digitized for use with fleece.

The first chapter is about embroidery essentials especially as they pertain to sewing and embroidering on fleece. If you are new to using fleece or have been having trouble embroidering on it, you should pay particular attention to this chapter.

The second chapter deals with appliqué on fleece. Because of fleeces properties such as not fraying, there are many more ways to appliqué with it than regular fraying fabric. Depending upon the look you want, you can sew out a regular appliqué, a blunt edge appliqué, reversible appliqué, trapunto, a textured design (no appliqué fabric), or a three dimensional appliqué. It is fun to work with fabric that you know won’t fray. There are even instructions for a freestanding double sided appliqué. All the projects and instructions use the included designs.

The third chapter has you quilting on fleece. You will see stippling, more appliqué ideas, trapunto, quilting lines as designs. I am looking forward to using the stippled flower design in a quilt project.

The next two chapters shows some innovative techniques. Three of the designs are ‘nested’ designs (the same design inside a progressively larger design). You will learn how to use nested designs to make fleece chenille. Sew out the entire design for an echo quilting effect, or sew out just parts of the design for the size star, flower or heart that you want to use for your project. You will also learn how to make three-dimensional designs such as a flower to sew on a hat or scarf. Combine elements of one design with parts of another, and you have a whole new design. Take parts of one design, rotate them and recombine with the rest of the design for yet another look. By the time you have read these chapters and studied the pictures in them, you will never look at embroidery designs the same way again. Depending on the fabric you are using and the parts of an embroidery design, you can create wonderful effects.

I highly recommend this book even if you have no intention of ever sewing on fleece. The designs and each of the segments of the designs are well worth the money, but even more important is how this book can get your creative juices running when you see the possibilities all your designs have. For those on limited budgets, this book can help you increase your design base just by learning how to create new designs from old ones.

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