We were having a discussion on the forum recently about using free motion machine embroidery on felt. I thought it would be interesting to show a variety of techniques that I have done recently (and not so recently) using my sewing machine and the darning foot. I love to stitch on felt as it gives such a nice texture with the tight machine stitching and the “puffiness” of the felt.
When I first started stitching on felt, I used a method where the design is drawn out first on soluble fabric and then stitched on to the felt. It is an easy way to start as you can get your design figured out and then just follow the lines on the soluble fabric. I did a tutorial on how to do this demonstrating the mountain goat stitched on felt. I use a clear darning foot when I’m doing free motion embroidery because it is easier to see where you’re going. I also did a tutorial on how to stitch a red felt scrap bowl. Free motion stitching does take a little practice but if you start with a simple pattern such as little circles to make a background pattern, it is fairly simple to try. Just put your feed dogs down on the sewing machine, attach a darning foot and set your stitch length to zero. I find it easiest to try a sample on heavy interfacing to start and then you won’t feel like you’re wasting “good felt”. Start stitching with a moderate speed and move your interfacing slowly under the needle. Think of your needle as the pencil and just doodle around on your interfacing. Try writing your name or drawing a leaf shape. The more you practice, the easier it is.
I have also done a lot of free motion stitching on other projects besides felt. One year, I was in a book page swap and used a lot of free motion stitching on the book pages that I traded with other people. You can use water-soluble fabric to stitch on and then make “thread lace” or three-dimensional effects with thread. I have used a variety of techniques, some in which the entire piece is thread, some the fabric is painted first and some the fabric painted or dyed afterwards. Have you done any free motion embroidery on your sewing machine? We’d love to see what you’ve done. Come join us on the forum and show us your work.