Something completely different...
by Andrea Kelter on 02/16/16
As I get ready to open my new store, The Painted Whale, product selection is first and foremost, and I am both pleased and excited with the items I have sourced! There are some incredibly talented, relatively undiscovered artists around - with unique, interesting and truly memorable products that will keep customers coming to browse and shop!
Because I love to sew, and have been intrigued by some of the machine embroidery I see, I had been thinking for some time about adding an embroidery-only machine to my studio. After lots of thought and lots of reading - I settled on the Singer EM200 Superb embroidery-only machine - for two reasons. I have two other Singer machines, and they are both stars. And the hoop size on this machine is generous, so stitching out large patterns is eminently do-able.
The machine arrived last week, and introduced herself fairly quickly as "Embree" - this is her!
After some initial apprehension about using her, I decided reading the manual was a good place to start - and carefully reviewed threading, bobbins, hooping and her onboard computer (and how to use it). I had seen a number of negative reviews about this model, but forged ahead and tried to do everything as explained in the book.
And I'm thrilled to say she has performed like a star! Her primary job at the moment is embroidering monochromatic flour sack kitchen towels for the store, and from light stitching to more complex and detailed designs (like this owl) everything she has done has been fantastic!
I've experimented with a new needle size (she came with a 90/14 needle, but is now using an 80/12 and I have ordered 75/11 for her as well. She has handled both sizes perfectly, but I like the stitch quality on the denser designs better with the smaller needle. I have also experimented with thread styles and weights - the owl above is stitched with a 50-Wt. Aurifil cotton thread - no sheen, but lovely engraved look to the stitched design and finder thread so the areas of heavy stitching are cleaner. The Aurifil does lint a bit more than the 40-Wt. Hemingway trilobal polyester thread I have also been using, but that is to be expected - and it is not a significant difference. I just give the needle and bobbin case a good brush out after stitching in cotton.
The two lighter designs above are stitched with Hemingway polyester thread, using a water-soluble film stabilizer on the back - and came out beautifully, even in the text area where the stitching is much heavier.
I am using a 60-Wt. white polyster bobbin thread, recommended by Singer, and it is working beautifully on everything I've stitched so far!
When looking for the flour sack blanks, I ended up using Colonial Patterns in Kansas. Their flour sack fabric is 130-thread, vs. the more usual 100-thread - and the difference is incredible. The towels come pre-washed and bleached, and well-pressed. They have a high-quality hanging tag in the top corner, and are available in two sizes 28 x 28, and 30 x 36. For anyone who has not used a flour sack towel, they are the ultimate! They do not lint (ever) and can be washed over and over again in hot water. You can either use them with their natural wrinkles, or take a moment and go over them with a steam iron (that's what I do!). Once you've used these, I promise they will be your new fave and go-to kitchen towel. Or bathroom hand towel. Or wherever a good drying cloth is needed towel...
I am waiting for my coloured thread collection to arrive, after which the French rooster (above) will be wearing a yellow crown with his black body, and the soaring sparrow will also show up in an ocean blue thread! When I first stitched the rooster, I was concerned about the registration on the left side of the crown - but the design calls for a yellow interior to the crown, surrounded by the black edge stitching - so adding the second colour will be the solution to this look of this section of the design.
Along the way, I'm learning a lot about stabilizers, thread tensions, design selection and more - and it is an exciting journey founded on common sense principles.
I'm having fun, and am so pleased I decided to tackle this part of my inventory myself! Now, all I have to hope is that customers in the store like these towels, too!