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Sewing BirdKeep it neat - Ways to keep the back neat and fix common embroidery mistakes

  • We can't begin to tell you how important it is to keep the back free of loose threads and hanging knots. Why, you ask?

    Because it shows through to the front side. You will see thread "shadows." When your batting and backing are sandwiched together, they press against the underside of the embroidery. That forces everything that is underneath to show through to the front. In this tutorial, we have included techniques to keep the backside neat and ways to clean up the back without starting over (sometimes).

  • Example of thread "shadows"

    Example of thread 'shadows'
  • Back side view of embroidery

    This is what happens when you:

    Jump around the back and don't check the backside of your embroidery to make sure the thread is not tangling and knotting.

    Tie big knots and leave long tails.

    This is what you want to avoid. If you're a novice, take your time, try to relax and go slow.

    Back side view of embroidery
  • If you begin with the Knotless start, avoid jumping around, and weave the ends as you go (no knots), this is what you will see on the backside of your finished square!

  • 1. How to travel with the thread and avoid jumps

    One way to avoid jumping from place to place is to travel with the thread on the backside. This way you won't have to rethread your needle constantly or make big jumps dragging the thread across the backside to start a new area.

    When you come to an intersection, finish the shortest section first. In this case, you will want to finish the back leg of the elephant before continuing the next leg.

    How to travel with the thread and avoid jumps
  • Now that the back leg is finished, keep the needle and thread to the back. Turn the work over on the backside.

    How to travel with the thread and avoid jumps
  • On the backside, travel the thread up by weaving through the stitches you have just made.

    How to travel with the thread and avoid jumps
  • Continue up to the intersection of the legs.

    How to travel with the thread and avoid jumps
  • Bring the needle through to the front at the intersection and continue stitching the next leg.

    How to travel with the thread and avoid jumps
  • 2. How to fix common embroidery mistakes

    We have found that occasionally a square will need some additional cleaning up on the back. This will take care of the unsightly thread "shadows" on the front.
    This apple has a few problems: hanging threads, tangled knots and the stitcher has caught the corner of the square on the backside.

    How to fix common embroidery mistakes
  • Carefully cut the embroidery floss and undo a few stitches to release the corner of the square. Re-hoop the square.

    How to fix common embroidery mistakes
  • Still working from the back, undo an inch or so of stitches leaving tails on both sides as pictured above.

    How to fix common embroidery mistakes
  • Fold the tail back onto the previous line of stitching. Using a needle threaded with the same color thread, sew around several stitches trapping the loose thread you cut. This "wrapping" will secure the tails.

    How to fix common embroidery mistakes
  • You can see in the photo above that you are continuing to wrap till you get to the area you need to re-stitch. (Trim tails from any knots.) Turn your square over, front side facing you. With your needle still threaded with the appropriate color, re-embroider those stitches you have removed. Simply stitch over the grey line of the image.

    How to fix common embroidery mistakes
  • Once you have completed the stitches you removed, take your needle again to the back and repeat the steps for securing the tail, by laying it over previous stitches and wrapping it.

    How to fix common embroidery mistakes
  • Nicely cleaned up!

    How to fix common embroidery mistakes
  • 3. Getting rid of knotted thread

    Here you can see the back of a square where some thread became snarled and knotted. As this will result in a shadow on the front, it's worth the time to clean it up.

    Getting rid of knotted thread
  • Using a needle, gently tease out the knot and free the excess thread.

    Getting rid of knotted thread
  • Using the Knotless start, thread a needle with some white thread. Lay the excess threads over the previous line of stitches and begin to wrap them so they are secure.

    Getting rid of knotted thread
  • You can see that you are "hiding" the excess threads behind the stitches. You will not be sewing into the fabric.

    Getting rid of knotted thread
  • After working an inch or so, you can clip the threads.

    Getting rid of knotted thread
  • The clean-up is complete.

    Getting rid of knotted thread
  • The front of the apple looks the same as before but without the dark shadows of threads showing through, and you can remove the hoop.

    Getting rid of knotted thread
  • 4. Uncut tails

     

  • Here you can see that the stitcher put double knots when they finished a section. Just snip one away.

    Uncut tails
  • This stitcher didn't trust one knot, but we do, and you can too!

    Uncut tails
  • 5. Fixing long jumps without cutting the thread

    Even though it seems like a time-saver to jump around, it can really spoil the front of square. So we like to thread a needle with white thread, and hide the offending floss by securing it to a line of stitching.

    Fixing long jumps without cutting the thread
  • Here you can see the start of this technique. You'll be using the back the embroidery stitches to wrap the white thread around the long aqua thread, securing the aqua thread in place. Avoid piercing the fabric.

    Fixing long jumps without cutting the thread
  • Now that this long aqua thread is secured in place, it won't show through in front.

    Fixing long jumps without cutting the thread
  • 6. Cleaning up a knotted thread

    Can you see the shadow of the long threads showing through the fabric to the right of the little balloon? Here's how to remove this thread shadow.

  • Most likely the stitcher didn't end and cut the thread before moving to another color. So the resulting tails got caught up in other stitching. Take a needle and tease the knotted area to free the thread. If it's long enough, you can re-thread it into a needle and weave around the stitches for a nice, clean ending.

    Cleaning up a knotted thread
  • Clip the ends.

    Cleaning up a knotted thread
  • 7. When you have to cut and re-stitch

    Sometimes the knotted area is just too stubborn, and the only thing to do is to remove the stitches and re-do them.

    When you have to cut and re-stitch
  • Carefully clip the back of the stitches close to the area you want to redo. Be careful to avoid snipping into the fabric square.

    When you have to cut and re-stitch
  • When clipping and removing the tangled stitches make sure to leave a tail. You may need to undo a few stitches to ensure a tail.

    When you have to cut and re-stitch
  • Thread a needle with the same floss color. Use that threaded needle to secure the back of the stitches by wrapping the threads around the remaining tail.This will keep the old thread from unraveling. Push your threaded needle to the front so you can re-embroider the stitches you have just removed.

    When you have to cut and re-stitch
  • Turn to the backside, and weave the thread under a few stitches before clipping.

    When you have to cut and re-stitch