Saturday, 26 November 2011

Hand embroidery for beginners / Self cover buttons tutorial & tips

Happy weekend everyone!  Technically, my weekend started on Thursday evening this week (as we had a day off from school yesterday for an INSET) so already it feels like Sunday to me.  What a great feeling it’ll be tomorrow to be able to pull the duvet higher round my ears and sneak in a few extra Zzzzzz’s  as my body clock tells me it’s time to get up for work! One of life’s best little luxuries has to be lie-ins!

So, what have I been up to you ask yourself (ish!)........... well I have been busy with general house chores and work this week however, I have been dabbling in some hand embroidery whenever I have had a moment of quiet. 
One of the things that I am discovering about embroidery is that it is much easier to pick up and tinker with than other areas of sewing.  It lends itself quite nicely to a busy lifestyle, allowing you to get your craft fix without having to have much time spare. Just what us busy craft-loving ladies need really! I’m going to share with you my tinkering’s and hopefully will share some helpful hints and tips along the way.....

 .... so where to begin......

I bought issue 7 of Mollie Makes a while back and got this wonderful little freebie kit on the cover. It is a wonderful little project and has really boosted my hand embroidery skills and confidence so I thought that I’d share my experience with you all.....

Hoop, linen & sharp pencil
First up - I got all my bits 'n' bobs together.  I decided to have a go at using an embroidery hoop. This was itself really inexpensive - just £1.50 from my local craft shop. This would hold my fabric taught to help with the accuracy of my embroidered designs. 
Since I was using the hoop, the small piece of linen provided with the kit was not really be appropriate (too skinny to clamp) so I have used a larger lightweight piece that luckily I had in my stash box.

Step 1) Transfer your ideas LIGHTLY
Step 2) Clamp into the hoop
The magazine provided some lovely ideas for the type of designs that could be used however, I’ve gone my own way on the majority.  You could use any image you like for this type of task– just keep it simple.
A range of sizes are available

The template for button fabric size
The first step is to decide on your picture and to make sure that it will fit on your self-cover buttons.  These buttons can be bought in most good haberdasheries. They come in a range of sizes and have templates for your chosen buttons on the reverse to help ensure you cut your fabric big enough.

Transfer your design LIGHTLY onto your fabric with your pencil.  I did this on the front of mine since I needed to see where I was going whilst using the hoop.  These pencil marks are not seen on my finished buttons.
Using basic hand stitches, sew your outlines using 2 strands of sewing silk-type threads – think of this as simply drawing with threads.  It really is very theraputic and once I started the ideas began to flow.  I took elements of the patterns and worked with those to ensure I keep my ideas relatively simple:

Design 1: Sail boat
Simple backstitch to create the outline for my boat
Simple but pretty
Close up - you can barely see the pencil
 Design 2: Flowers

 Really simple backstitch flowers

Design 3: Toadstool

Close up :)

 Other designs: Christmas Robin, rainbow (!!!) and sunshine

So, once you have hand stitched your buttons into the space permitted by the button size chosen, it is time to get those plastic domes covered! 

The idea is that you remove the backing of the self-cover button, wrap it in your chosen fabric, tuck in around the back and click the back into place to secure.

In my Mollie Makes kit, they stated that I should cut around my embroidery to create a 5cm square.  Sadly I had stitched some of my designs a little closer together than this. 
the clip-on back is in the background

 The buttons provided in the kit were relatively large so I dug out the pack (previously pictured), which were smaller in size. Sadly however, I had not left enough fabric surrounding all my embroidered designs to tuck snugly into the back of my button. Both my robin and flowers will sadly not be buttons. (I'm sure that they'll come in useful for a future project though)!

Here you can see that the fabric will not fully tuck in...

The best way that I have discovered to get the fabric to fit snugly was to sew a (non precise) running stitch around the square and pull at the end to get the fabric to gather. This enabled me to get the back on with the fabric held taught. You can then snip the thread for these tacking stitches and this is hidden behind the back. Ensure the back clicks when pressed on firmly.

Running stitch helps to gather the edges

Tip: don't worry too much about getting your design /fabric perfectly straight as a little wonkiness gives them some character.

Gathered in, ready for the back to be clicked into place
My finished buttons. The white rod has the hole for attaching to a product of your choosing

So that is how you hand embroider a self-cover button - hope that you found this tutorial helpful and inspirational :)

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