[HNW] Embroidering garments

Rosine nothingbutadame at inthe.sca.org
Mon Oct 6 07:06:02 PDT 2003

> >    I hate to be disagreeable, but - I disagree. Strongly. (Sorry
> > about that!)  In my experience with embroidering on clothing
> > (and mind you, this would be clothing meant for washer and
> > dryer so that may make a difference), I find that stretching the
> > fabric while working a design almost inevitably results in
> > distortion after the fabric is washed and dried. I *never* use
> > any form of stretcher for my work.

> But is this because putting the material on stretcher bars or
> normal shrinkage that would occur with washing? Was the
> fabric where this happened pre-washed before embroidering?
> If it wasn't, I would say the puckering occured because of not
> pre-washing the material before embroidering.

   I pre-wash everything I make at least once in hot water and put in the
dryer on "high" - two-three times if the new fabric is linen. It's a
self-defence mechanism developed from raising two boys and living with their
father who taught them to believe that all fabric must be washed this way.
(Now that the boys are grown and their papa is willing to leave some items
to me to "take care of", my hubby and I are finally starting to upgrade to
wool and silk clothing.But oh, the silk shirts and dresses I've passed down
to my little boys' girl-friends after someone in the family "did mom a
favor"!) So all the distortion occurred when I used a regular hoop or
stretcher bar on pre-shrunk fabric, stitching with thread that was
guarenteed (and pre-tested!) to be stable and after everything looked ok but
was then re-washed after being worn. It *never* happens when I don't use a
hoop or bars. And I am not unfamiliar with their use - I spent a few years
teaching embroidery and quilting as a professional before quitting to be a
full-time mom. (Of course my first thought was "There must a be a different
trick to the tension when something is not getting stretched and framed or
left unwashed". But later experimentation showed me that work done on
already-made clothing in areas where a hoop was impractical did not have
this problem, so I stopped using a hoop. And I can't say that I miss it.)

> >    Which, of course, means that there's no One True Way
> > to do things... (If it matters, I have been embroidering with
> > DMC perl cotton #8 and $12, or else with "Splendor" silk
> >  thread. I've rarely used wool or any other medium
> > since I distrust the long term effects of washing and drying).

> It might also be choice of thread. Perle is pretty thick. I find it
>  hard to work with as its like trying to embroider with rope. I
> use wool to embroider with as well, I would think it would
> survive just as well as cotton or silk.
> Cheers,
> Jane

   I am unfamiliar with a wool that is thinner than my silk thread, which is
the same thickness as the DMC perl that I use, both of which are a little
less (or in the case of the #12 more) fine than standard sewing thread.
Where do you find it? All of the embroidery wool that I find in my local
shops is thicker. To me, the wool is more like rope! While I admire the
effect (and prefer it for standard needlepoint and Viking "tapestry" work in
wall hangings), I've never been real thrilled with the look of it on
clothing. Now that the washer/dryer situation is clearing in my home I've
been trying to gear myself up to doing some on garb because of it's
historical use, but it's not giving me any sense of joy in anticipation. I'd
love a good source for fine thread. Nearly everything that I love to use is
very fine-grade and the thickness of the wool washs some of that away for
me. (Although I take your point about thicker perl - there was a time I was
experimenting with #5 and some of my friends loved the effect, which looks
like couched work, so for them I do occasionally work a tunic or gown as a
gift. One good thing - it's darn fast in covering! And doesn't actually take
a needle bigger than a standard tapestry one. It just seems gigantic after
working silk or the smaller perl.)


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