Well I’m nearly there! After 2 years I have finished all the sewn elements of the City and Guilds Level 3 in Machine Embroidery…WOOP!
The samples for the last module were to be drawn, cut and pulled thread work. Well I found it almost impossible to find anything that had been worked on a sewing machine rather than by hand. I searched Pinterest and Google to no avail and scoured textile blogs. So I’m hoping that this will be useful to someone – it would have been to me. Or maybe it’s just not out there cos nobody is interested…Hmm.
To be honest, there is definitely less precision with machine work than you get with hand stitching for these techniques but a. I’m sure I could improve with lots of practice and b. there’s something quite nice and deconstructed about the effect that I quite like. At first though, I admit I wasn’t enamored.
So with that in mind I think I will eschew my usual gallery style and group the samples into techniques, the better to help people who might like me have been hunting high and low for inspiration…
Machine Pulled Thread Work
This is done by retaining the threads in the fabric but using a higher tension and a zig zag stitch to pull the threads aside, leaving holes in a pattern. In this sampled I created a pattern and then couched thread over the top to emphasise certain motifs. You can see round the edging though that it creates a kind of heirloom edge, which is nice.
This is the same technique on different fabric. It’s actually a very old dishcloth but the nicely loose weave lends itself well to this technique. I then coloured it with Pro-Marker pens which are brilliant as they are alcohol based and can even be washed (although I’m not sure I’d use them on anything that would need to be washed frequently).
This is my favourite pulled work sample – a little swallow on a very fine cotton lawn. I outlined with a very narrow zig zag and then filled in areas with fancier stitches on my machine.
Finally, I used a very loose hessian and pulled the threads together with zig zag before weaving through some found objects such as grasses. I call this “Pulled and Picked”.
Machine Drawn Thread Work
I found lots of examples of hand drawn thread work such as Hardanger, but I found hardly anything at all for machine. Drawn thread work is created by removing threads (rather than pulling them to one side) and then stitching over them to create patterns. I found that it was easier to remove my sewing machine foot altogether for this (hoop the fabric really tightly and watch your fingers!) in order to be able to control it better. It also helps to create a sewing plan of your pattern as ideally you want to create a regular pattern over the threads (as you can see I didn’t always manage this!). It is pretty cool though, if a bit time consuming.
Machine Cut Work
Again another Heirloom technique that makes nice edging for sleeves etc. The first sample shows the edging technique. I made this over water soluble fabric to stabilise it and washed it out after. I found the best way is to outline your shapes once or twice in straight stitch then cut out the centres (just cut the fabric not your water soluble stuff) and then go round it with satin stitch. It’s not easy to get the holes neat but again with practice I’m sure it’d get a lot better. And to be fair this would be a very small edging on a dress sleeve so nobody would EVER look this closely!
This next sample was made by “cutting” with a soldering iron. I have seen this technique used really well, primarily by Margaret Beal but I found the soldering iron I had too thick and therefore difficult to control. I did like the way it finished off the edges of the fabric – you have to make sure that you use this on man-made fibres though – it won’t work like this on cotton. It might make marks though…I think I’ll try that in the future!
So hopefully that has given you an idea of what you can do with these techniques and the difference between them. Hope it helps!
Bye for now!