Embroidery Do’s and Don’ts – The Unkindest Cut

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Avoid common machine embroidery pitfalls.
D E B O R A H   J O N E S

Probably the worst–and most avoidable–embroidery casualty is damage during the finishing process. This can occur when trimming excess threads from the work surface or, more commonly, when removing cut-away stabilizer from the back of the stitched item. Cut carefully!

When removing cut-away stabilizer from a garment, always hold the stabilizer so you can see the back of the stabilizer and the garment wrong side . Keeping a slight tension on the stabilizer, move your scissors in a gliding motion, trimming the stabilizer within about 1/8″ of the embroidery. Note: If you nick the fabric, a fusible, granule bonding agent works well on the fabric wrong side. The resulting repair is very soft and easily can be embroidered over.

When trimming the surface, choose embroidery scissors with a comfortable blade length. The tips should be sharp enough to trim closely with a single snip.

Some embroiderers use spring-action nippers for trimming the work surface. Nippers are fine for trimming threads from the front and back of the work, but should never be used for removing cut-away stabilizer. Nippers require a chopping action and stabilizers should be removed with a smooth cut.

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