Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Initially Impressed

Wanting to have writing on my various sewing projects, I have tried three different monogramming tools on sewing machines. I have a Viking 1100 with interchangeable "cassettes" that have various stitches and two of them are for lettering. The nice thing about the Viking is having the ability to use the memory function to save a set of letters so once you get it as you like you can save and reproduce it. Sweet.

Viking 1100: seems I have some extra loops there!

The Singer monogrammer for a slant needle sewing machine has been more of a challenge but I have practiced with so-so results. Part of the difficulty is the fairly small size of the results, much like the Viking, but with less than stellar monograms:
Singer 171256 Monogrammer: placement problems needed to use stabilizer, too
When I bought the Kenmore 158-18130, complete with accessory kit, buttonholer, and monogrammer, I didn't expect much after my initial (pun intended) attempts with the Viking and Singer sets. Now we have two sizes of letters, much larger than either of the other series, but all upper case lettering so you couldn't write words, just ... monograms. Well, they are called monogrammers so I will have to settle on only two or three initials:
Kenmore : with these great stitches, good monograms were next

Kenmore without stabilizer

There are a few things to keep in mind when using any of these sets: stabilizing fabric, thread choice, and placement. Most fabric needs something to hold it firm under the needle, a bit like tattoos, you can't be wiggling around or it just won't turn out too well. I can't even say it will be less painful than a tattoo because I find this effort quite a challenge and sometimes a real pain!

Oops! this was supposed to be all upper case

You can place interfacing or a special type of stabilizer that can be purchased which is what I use. It's a cross between paper and interfacing in texture plus when you are done it can be torn way and your fabric is back to it's original shape, unlike interfacing that will stiffen the fabric permanently.

Backside of fabric with stabilizer
Thread makes a big difference so using specialized thread that has a sheen will make the letters really stand out. With machine embroidery so popular now it's easy to find excellent thread right at the fabric store along with ordinary cotton covered polyester thread. How you place the design on the fabric remains a very large problem that only is resolved as you practice. Just when I think I have everything lined up, needle in the cross-hairs of the fabric markings and template set at the precise beginning point, something goes awry and one letter is higher or lower than I would like. Too many attempts will leave a mark on most fabric so the first time must be right. A suggestion is to practice on a scrap of the same fabric several times until it's perfect before attempting on the finished piece or to cut out 2 pieces to monogram, just in case. No problem if it's a pocket but not so great if it's on ready-made wear. No do-overers there!
Top letter had thicker, shiny thread (but not a good color match)
Finally, with stabilizer and special thread

Now that I have three of these systems and it's still a hit-or-miss proposition, I will have to spend more time with each one because I do want to have the ability to write out: Karen was here.

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