Wednesday 26 August 2015

Sewing Tip 7: Embroidered Dog Pocket Tutorial

Perfect Twirling Nightie with embroidered, cheetah fleece, boxer dog pockets

One of the required elements of my daughter's Perfect Twirling Nightie was "something doggish". Another was the inclusion of a small piece of soft, cheetah print fleece. "Boxters" are her favourite dog; how about um... cheetah print, boxer dog pockets...? It was a stretch, but nothing else came to mind!

Not knowing much about what dogs really look like, I searched the web for a picture to use as reference, sketched it to size on two sheets of tracing paper and went to work. Briefly considered hand embroidering the motif, but I really enjoy freehand machine embroidery, so that is what I did.

Thread, stitching test sample
Hunted in my thread drawer for something appropriate, and came up with a mystery spool of bulky, silver-wrapped polyester (?), origin unknown, marked only "Made in Taiwan". At this point I did a test sample and chose to ignore the warning signs. My trusty machine was not amused: the tension could not be properly adjusted; the thread shredded and broke in any needle I tried, including a big-holed topstitching needle and a heavy jeans needle. I spent so much time re-threading the machine it would have been faster - and far more relaxing - to do the embroidery by hand. And when it was all over the silver barely showed. Back to the thread drawer... 

This time I came up with three oldish spools of Coats coral-pink cotton - one for the bobbin thread, one for the stitching, and one just in case. My machine was pleased. Stitching the pink over the silver was easy and fun.

Here are the fine points of making this pocket:
Fleece, silk organza, fleece, tracing paper, Solvy, diagonal basting. Sweet woodruff

Silk organza supplies stability between the 2 layers of fleece, which are diagonally basted together. Fusible interfacing would work, too, but I didn't want to squash the fleece. The design, sketched onto tracing paper, is diagonally basted on top of the sandwich. Finally, a layer of water-soluble Solvy is (yes, diagonally) basted over the whole thing. The outline of the pockets is cut after the embroidery is completed. For freehand embroidery basics click here.
The right side, embroidery finished, prior to clipping thread tails

After stitching the motif, remove most of the Solvy by ripping it off like a Bandaid: bravely and quickly. Remove the shards of tracing paper and Solvy bits with tweezers. 

If you do not want any thread tails to show on the right side, do the following: clip the centres of the thread tails and pull through to the back by gently tugging on the bobbin thread tailsAvoid the temptation to trim the threads close to the fabric: they will fray and show on the right side. A pin or slim scissor point can help coax the threads through to the back.
The wrong side, all the threads pulled through

Leave thread tails about 1cm long and they will be more likely to stay at the back, where they belong. Short-trimmed threads will "un-sew" themselves, showing up again on the front of the work. Consider tying reef knots before trimming, if the tails are long enough. For extra security, a tiny dot of Fray Check will keep them in place, though I've rarely bothered.
Pocket opening finished, ready to be attached to garment. Solvy sheet extends onto garment

To finish the pocket opening, zigzag with Solvy folded over the edge. The Solvy will keep the stitching flat and not warble the fabric. Hide thread tails on wrong side of pocket.
Reinforce ends of stitching with circles of fabric on back. Tie off ends
Place pocket on garment, pin in place, then diagonally baste yet another sheet of Solvy on top, extending onto the garment. Remove pins. 

To reinforce the garment at the opening of the pocket, on the back place a loony-sized circle of fabric to be caught in the stitches. I used fleece. Baste - or pin, if you will remember to feel under the work with your fingers to make sure the circle does not flip over while stitching.

Use a zigzag foot for best accuracy, but a regular foot will do the trick, too. Zigzag from the right side through all layers, overlapping stitches at the pocket opening, and being careful to keep the zigs and zags centred - just barely going off the edge of the fleece onto the garment. 

Remove Solvy. Pull thread tails to back and tie off. Press, using a pressing cloth, just in case. Any excess Solvy will disappear with the first wash.


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