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Mad Flourish Wing Needle Vest Project

Adding Some Flourish
The Back Of A Vest

I am adding a bit of Wing Needle Flourish to the back of a vest I originally embellished the front with my Wing Needle Madness designs. When used with an even-weave woven fabric, my wing needle designs simulate the pulled-thread technique of white work, thanks to the wing needle. Since there is no cutting fabric about any of the embroidery stitches, the fabric on which they are sewn will retain their full integrity, making them well suited for this vest project. It should last you for many years.

You need to stitch four Wing Needle Flourish blocks to complete the project as instructed here.

Notions for Assembling the Embroidery Blocks

  • Refer to the designs instructions for the requisite notions for stitching the designs.
  • #60 weight thread top
  • superfine bobbin thread same as used for making the designs
  • #60/8 Microtex needle
  • Velvaboard
  • Optional: 3/4 thread serger

A Note about #60 weight cotton thread: I use Mettler brand #60 weight thread.  I keep on hand a large spool of white, cream, black, and medium gray. I keep gray on hand as it blends well with non-neutral colors – i.e. colors other than white, cream, or black. This light-weight thread makes the seam less bulky, so it lays flatter and drapes better.  It is perfect for a variety of tasks, including:

  • sewing together quilt blocks
  • sewing together embroidery blocks
  • sewing together light-weight fabrics
  • sewing christening gowns and other nice baby items
  • Appliqué with blind hem-stitch or tiny zigzag
  • Heirloom sewing – Insertion lace, rolled hems, etc
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Figure 1
Arrange the four Flourish embroidery blocks

Begin by stitching four Flourish blocks following the instructions that come with the design. I chose to stitch mine all in white. However, you can add a splash of color, using variegated threads, or simply use the four integrated color stops to sew your own custom color sequence.

  1. Set your machine for a straight stitch at 2.5 mm length.
  2. Place two blocks together with right-sides together.
  3. Align the details of the two blocks, paying attention to the block alignment outline of each, and pin in place.
  4. Sew one thread-width inside of the block alignment outline (see the Flourish instructions).
  5. Repeat the process with the other two blocks. You should have two sections like what you see in Figure 2.
  6. WNFL_vestProject_figure_002_96dpi1
    Figure 2
    Two Flourish embroidery blocks stitched together

Finishing off the raw edges

Before you finish assembly of your four-block embroidery layout, serge finish the fabric edge on each side of the seam. Serge as closely as possible to the seam. In lieu of a serger, set your machine to sew a 2 mm length x 2.0 mm wide zigzag stitch. Sew about 5 mm – about 3/16 of an inch – from the seam line. When finished stitching, trim the excess seam allowance close to this zigzag stitch.

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Figure 3
Serged edges

A note about pressing: Press all embroidery face down on a thick folded towel or use a velvaboard designed for this purpose. If you do much embroidery, you may want to invest in one of these.

  1. With the edges finished, press the seams open.
  2. Pin the double-blocks together right-sides together, as before.
  3. Again, sew one thread-width inside of the block outline.
  4. Finish off the raw edges, as before.
  5. Press the seams open.

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Figure 4
Backside of assembled blocks, raw edges finished, and seams pressed open

The embroidery block is now ready to add to the back of the Wing Needle Madness Vest.

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Figure 5
The assembled embroidery block

Prepare the Vest Back for the Wing Needle Flourish Embroidery Block

Notions needed

  • Pattern-Ease
  • Stitch N Tear
  • Spray starch
  • Steam Iron
  • Straight pins

Begin by pressing the fabric you will use for the vest back. I used the same fabric as used to construct the vest front when I embellished it with my Wing Needle Madness designs. After you have pressed it, spray starch both sides and press again.

If you are like me, no pattern is a perfect match. As such, I use Pattern-Ease to cut out my vest pattern piece. Thus preserving the original pattern and allows me to make any necessary alterations before cutting into the fabric. Pattern-Ease, when the pieces of the pattern are pinned together, drape well enough to allow me to audition any alteration I might want to explore. If I make a mistake, I need only cut another piece. What's more, I get to write all of my notes about alterations and embellishments directly onto the working copy of my pattern, for both future reference and to keep me straight as I’m working on the project.

Once you have cut out the working pattern and made any alterations you desire, use it to cut out the vest back.  Then, lightly press the centerfold of the back. This will be a guideline for placing the  embroidery block.

Embroidery Block Placement (Auditioning)

You can do this on a table or use your mannequin.
I used Manny, my mannequin.

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Figure 6
Auditioning my embroidery block onto the vest back

For an on-point layout, I placed one corner two inches below the center neckline. Pin the point to the centerfold of the vest back.

Alternatively, for a layout that is not on-point, audition the embroidery block to the location you prefer, remembering to keep the block symmetric about the center seam.

Move the item to a tabletop or other flat surface large enough from which to work.

Pin the embroidery block onto the vest back

Work on a flat surface to avoid introducing any wrinkles or creases into the vest back fabric as well as to keep it and the embroidery block flush with each other.

Hand-press the embroidery block into place, remembering to use the centerfold crease on the vest back as a placement guide.

Once in place pin the opposite corner or center seam (depending on how you chose to arrange the patch) to the centerfold of the vest back.

Now, pin the rest of the embroidery block points to the vest back.

Make sure the block and the vest back are both flush with each other and wrinkle-free. There should be no other creases or wrinkles.

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Figure 7
The embroidery block pinned in place

Stabilizing the vest back

  1. Use a piece of tear-away stabilizer under the vest back. It should be large enough for all of the embroidery block, plus an extra 1½ to 2 inches beyond the edges of the block.
  2. Re-pin the four points of your embroidery block to the fabric and the stabilizer
  3. Add at least two pins along the side of each block
  4. Make sure each line is straight and the corners square. I used my 12-inch square quilters ruler to assist me with this step.
  5. Once everything is lined up, time to stitch the patch to the vest back.

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Figure 8
My embroidery block was not square with the ruler on this corner. You can see the pencil mark I drew for a guideline. When sewing it onto the vest back I will sew on the pencil mark for that corner.

Sewing the embroidery block onto the Vest Back

Notions

  • Machine embroidery thread same as used to sew the designs
  • #60 weight cotton thread top
  • superfine bobbin thread same as used for making the designs
  • #60/8 Microtex needle
  • #120 Wing Needle

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Figure 9
Unless otherwise stated, I recommend a size-120 wing needle when stitching any of my wing needle machine embroidery designs from Laura's Sewing Studio
  1. Begin this stage of the design by setting up the machine with a #60/8 Microtex needle and #60 weight thread in the top.
  2. Set up for straight stitch, 2.5 mm length.
  3. Sew down the embroidery block, atop the block alignment outline of each design, but just the part of the outline along the outside edges of the block.
  4. Move the needle to the right 2 marks
  5. Sew around the patch again, only this time it is about 1 thread-width outside the original line.
  6. Now, set the machine for a zigzag stitch - 2 mm length x 1 mm width.
  7. Zigzag sew on top of the two previously stitched lines.
  8. The patch is now tacked down to the vest back. Remove the project piece from the machine and put it aside.

It is now time to choose a wing needle stitch with which to secure the four-block embroidery patch to the vest back. Your sewing/embroidery machine will have some hemstitches programmed into it from which to choose, so take a break and explore which hemstitch inspires you to finish the flourish on your vest.

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Figure 10
A hemstitch sampler from my machine

Figure 10 is a sample of some of my machine's hemstitches. Should you be interested, I stitched this sampler onto sheets of ultra-firm sew-in stabilizer, using a regular top stitch needle, hence the lack of any wing needle effect.

Since this is actually Part 2 of my Mad Flourish Vest Project, I opted to use the same stitch, stitch settings, and needle size as I used in creating the front of the vest front. I chose the Double Overedge stitch shown in Figure 11.

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Figure 11
I chose the Double Overedge Hemstitch for this phase of project

My machine set up is 6 mm length x 6 mm width. However, if the front of your Wing Needle Madness Vest is already underway, I suggest you review your notes and use the same stitch and stitch settings in this stage of the project, to give the project overall continuity.

Should this be your first time using a wing needle with the feed dogs, here are some guidelines I hope will help you with your decision.

Making a practice sample “test strip” of your machines hemstitches

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” – Yogi Berra

Take this opportunity to road test your choice of hemstitches sewn with a wing needle before committing it to attaching your Flourish embroidery block to the vest back.

  1. Cut two pieces of fabric 2 x 12 inches. Use the same fabric as the vest back and/or the embroidery block to best gauge the wing needle effect.
  2. Add one layer of tear-away, approximately the same size to the backside of test strip.
  3. Keeping the same threads and needle in the machine as you used to tack down the patch to the vest fabric, sew a straight stitch 2.5 mm length 3/8 of an inch from each edge, move the needle to the right two points and sew each line again, tacking the fabric to the stabilizer.
  4. Sew two additional lines equidistant from the previous two – about half inch. Then, move the needle to the right two points and sew each line again
  5. Sew a tiny zigzag over each line with the machine set up 2 mm length x 1 mm wide.

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Figure 12
Four parallel straight-stitch lines, equidistance apart, overlaid with a zigzag stitch

The practice strip is ready for you to practice sewing hem stitches with the wing needle and with the feed dogs of the machine.

Practice sewing Wing Needle Hemstitches with the Feed Dogs

  1. Insert a wing needle into the machine.
  2. Use the same super fine bobbin thread as used to stitch the Flourish embroidery designs.
  3. Use the same machine embroidery thread as used to stitch the Flourish embroidery designs.

Look at the hemstitches your machine has to offer. You will need to select a stitch that will cover the raw edges of the fabric on both sides. The backside of the project (the vest back) will have a raw edge and the front side of the vest back will have a raw edge, so this design has to accommodate covering both raw edges.

As a review, refer back to your hemstitch sampler. Examples of these stitches are shown in Figure 13.

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Figure 13

Examples of hemstitches that will work for this project

Depending on the fabric you are using, the design can be sewn as narrow as 4 mm for lightweight fabrics or up to 6 mm for heavier fabrics. My fabric is linen/cotton blend and considered lightweight. However, the weave is a little coarse and as a consequence I chose a width of 6 mm.

  1. With the far left stitch of the design sewing directly on top of the stitches, sew down the stitched lines you made on your test strip.
  2. Start with sewing the hemstitch 4 mm wide and 4 mm length. Sew about 2 inches.
  3. Increase the length to 5 mm. Sew another 2 inches. (4 mm wide x 5 mm length)
  4. Increase the length to 6 mm and sew another 2 inches. (4 mm wide x 6 mm length)
  5. Keep the hemstitch at 6 mm length. Increase the width to 5 mm. Sew about 2 inches. (5 mm wide x 6 mm length)
  6. Increase the width to 6 mm. Sew about 2 inches. (6 mm wide x 6 mm length)
  7. Using a fine point sharpie, record these settings alongside each section, directly onto the fabric.
  8. Next, choose another hemstitch and repeat the previous steps. Don't forget to record your machine's settings for each run. Each practice stitch will end up with a stitch that is 6 mm wide by 6 mm length.
  9. If there are more hem stitches to choose from that you like then choose a third hemstitch and repeat, then a fourth.

After the sampler is made select one that you like best. For purposes of this tutorial select one that is 6 mm wide. After you have made a decision which stitch you want to use, continue on.

Some Nice Extras

The following two steps are optional. I chose to do it this way because I prefer to trim away the excess fabric from around my embroidery block before sewing the wing needle stitches.

Optional Step 1: Additional Tack-Down Stitching

Before using the wing needle on the vest back I sewed the double line of stitching and tiny zigzag 6 mm from the left side already sewn. Why 6 mm? That is the width of the hemstitch I chose from my hemstitch sampler. These additional stitches help prevent raveling of the fabric due to the rigors of daily wear and tear, beyond what the wing needle stitches provide.

To sew the stitches the correct width from the previous stitching, I moved the needle to the left 6 marks. For my machine that is 3 mm from the center.  Align the needle with the previous line of stitching. I noted where that is in relationship to the presser foot. Mark the presser foot with a sharpie, because you are going to need this reference point with which to guide the fabric.

Now move the needle over 3 mm to the right of center (that is 6 marks on my machine). This is where you will be sewing the second set of lines.  As you sew make sure the original outline stitches stay right on the reference point.

The embroidery flourish block has a ½ inch seam allowance. Sometimes, when sewing the second set of lines, this seam allowance floats up, creating quite a mess, if you don't catch it as soon as it starts. To keep it down flat as it should be I used a flat head screwdriver (that came with one of my old machines). Hold it on top of the seam allowance and it will keep it flat while you sew.

Once you have finished sewing the two lines and the tiny zigzag, it is time to trim away the excess seam allowance from the around the Flourish embroidery block (not the underside – yet).

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Figure 14
Additional tack-down stitching 6 mm apart

Optional Step 2: Trimming Excess Seam Allowance from the Embroidery Block

Use a pair of small, very sharp scissors (not curved) to trim away the excess seam allowance.

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Figure 15
Place the top blade of the scissors beneath the excess seam allowance of the embroidery block to trim

Notice the top blade of the scissors is positioned underneath the excess seam allowance that you are about to trim away. By placing the scissors in this fashion you trim as close to the stitching as possible.

I find that holding onto the piece of excess seam allowance as I trim prevents the point of the scissors from getting  hung on the fabric, and keeps the fabrics taut making for a cleaner, easier cut.

Now, go back and trim away any unruly threads, clipping them as closely to the stitching as possible.

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Figure 16
Trim them threads!

Wing Needle Stitching About the Flourish 4 patch Block

Now it is ready to stitch the wing needle hemstitch design. Begin by inserting the wing needle, threading it with the (same) machine embroidery thread used to stitch the Flourish blocks, and put in the same type of super fine bobbin thread.

Refer back to your hemstitch/wing needle sampler and set your machine for the wing needle design and settings 6 mm wide x your chosen length.

While this pulled thread technique by wing needle is considerably faster than by hand, it is not “a peddle to the metal process”. If you did not noticed while stitching out your sampler earlier, a bit of patience has its rewards.

Before proceeding, read through the following instructions a few times until you are comfortable with what you need to do. Only then should you proceed with sewing the wing needle hemstitch, slowly and deliberately…at least until you are comfortable with the process.

  1. Starting at a corner where the first outlines are located, begin the hemstitch pattern at the first stitch of the design.
  2. Turn the flywheel by hand, placing the wing needle into the far left or right outline stitches (depending on which stitch you selected). The first stitch of my wing needle design started on the far left, so I put the needle into the corner stitch of the first set of outlines.
Sew slowly, watching the needle to make sure it hits its mark on the outline stitches every time. I kept the far left outline stitches aligned with the mark I made on my presser foot with the sharpie. This ensured the hem stitch sewed directly over the outline stitches on both sides.

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Figure 17
Stitching the first leg (side) of the wing needle hemstitch
  1. Sew all the way to the next corner and across to the edge of the second set of outlines, then stop.
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Figure 18
  1. Raise the needle, then turn the fabric 90 degrees.
  2. Start pattern – to begin at the first stitch of the design again.
  3. Place the needle into the hole of the previous stitching located on the outline.

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Figure 19
Turning the corner of the first leg of the wing needle hemstitch
  1. Continue sewing down to the next corner, past the corner to the second set of outlines, then stop.
  2. Raise the needle and turn the fabric 90 degrees.
  3. Start pattern – and continue as before to the next corner
  4. Continue around all four sides.
  5. Carefully trim away any pokies that may be there.

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Figure 20
A few pokies to trim

Trimming away the excess fabric from behind the Flourish embroidery block

Flip the piece over and use a small, sharp pair of straight scissors to remove the excess tear-away stabilizer. While the name implies that tear-away stabilizer can, in fact, be torn away, take the time to trim away the stabilizer with your scissors. This is one of those “theory vs. practice” things, on which I hope you will trust me.

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Figure 21
Better to remove the tear-away with a proper pair of scissors

Now, to lend a bit of authenticity to your heirloom pulled thread project, it is time to clip away the vest back fabric from behind the Flourish embroidery block. Whatever you do, don't cut into the embroidery.  Personally, I find this part of the project is best done after a good night's rest, not in the wee hours of the morning, way past my bedtime.

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Figure 22
Trim the vest fabric from behind the Flourish 4 patch block ...just not too close

Trim away the excess vest back fabric, cutting as close to the wing needle hemstitching as possible, without cutting them, of course. It is not necessary to trim the fabric as closely as you did on the front side. The backside will be lined so it will not show.

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Figure 23
All the vest fabric is gone from behind my Flourish embroidery block

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Figure 24
The finished side of my project

    And a close up…

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Figure 25
 

See you again when I get the other front side embroidered and put the vest together.

Happy Sewing,

Laura Waterfield

www.LaurasSewingStudio.com

Laura@LaurasSewingStudio.com

If you have any words of wisdom to add, please email me. I am always open to learning new ideas and better ways to sew.

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Copyright © Laura M. Waterfield, 2016-2017

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