Holiday Folk Designs to Stitch using DMC Soluble Canvas
by Mary Corbet
Howdy, folks! Mary Corbet again, dropping by from Needle ’n Thread to team up with Commonthread on some fun, quick holiday embroidery projects using DMC water soluble canvas.
As the Christmas season rapidly approaches, surface embroidery comes in really handy for creating personal gifts or small household touches to enhance your holiday decor. Embroidered household items are a great way to add little festive touches to different parts of the house. From embroidered hand towels in the bathroom, embroidered ornaments on the tree and embroidered Christmas stockings along the fireplace - embroidery can add a touch of elegance and personalization to your seasonal preparations.
Today, I’m going to show you how to use DMC soluble canvas to embroider some easy, festive, folky designs on plain weave fabric.
Embroidery blanks are pre-finished items made usually for machine embroidery, but they can be used for hand embroidery, too.
The great thing about embroidery blanks is that they’re pre-finished, so all you have to do is the embroidery! No finish work! What could be better than making up quick, personalized gifts for friends and family without all the fuss of finish work?
Blanks for machine embroidery are made from plain weave fabrics, like cotton, linen or various blends, so they don’t normally work for counted embroidery techniques like cross stitch or blackwork.
But for those who want to embellish blanks with counted techniques, there’s a solution! DMC soluble canvas allows you to neatly cross stitch designs onto plain-weave fabrics. The stitching experience on soluble canvas is similar to stitching on an even-weave. The holes for each stitch are easy to see, and the needle slips right into the spot where it needs to go.
The only difference between stitching on soluble canvas and even-weave fabric is that you’ll need to use an embroidery needle with a sharp point instead of a tapestry needle, since you’ll be piercing the fabric like you do with regular surface embroidery.
Let’s get started!
For the projects included in this article (you’ll find the designs at the end of the article), you need just a few simple supplies.
- DMC soluble canvas
- DMC embroidery floss
- Embroidery needles (#8 crewel needles work great)
- Embroidery scissors
A pre-finished embroidery blank, flour sack towels, or any type of plain-weave fabric
Before you begin stitching, there’s a little set-up work to do.
For the demonstration photos, I’m using a 100% cotton pre-finished cloth napkin in red, and I’ll be stitching with white DMC embroidery floss.
First, launder the pre-finished embroidery blank. Especially if you’re using colored blanks, like the red cloth napkin I’m stitching on, you’ll want to pre-wash the item to make sure the color doesn’t run later. You also want the fabric to go through any major shrinking before you stitch on it. If it is prone to shrinkage and you wash it for the first time after you’ve stitched it, you may end up with distortion in your design.
Next, iron the embroidery blank and determine where you want to place your design. You can either be very accurate and measure and mark the area where you want your design, or you can do like I do, which is a bit quicker.
I fold the cloth in half and finger crease the halfway mark. This allows me to see exactly where to place my soluble canvas before stitching.
Determine the number of vertical and horizontal stitches the design covers, add about six to the total, and cut the soluble canvas to fit the design.
The extra three stitches on each side of the design will give you room for basting the soluble canvas onto the fabric, and it will also give you a little wiggle room if you’ve counted incorrectly.
What you do next depends on the size of the design and the type of fabric you’re stitching on.
Since I’m stitching on 100% woven cotton, and since the design is small and fits in my hoop area, I like to hoop up the fabric first, making it drum-taut in the hoop, and then baste the soluble canvas onto the fabric in the hoop.
If, however, you’re stitching on knit fabric, or if your design does not fit your entire hoop area (if it’s bigger than your hoop), you’ll want to baste the soluble canvas onto the fabric before you hoop it up.
Once your soluble canvas is basted onto your fabric and your fabric is in the hoop, it’s time to stitch!
Now it’s just a matter of following the charted design the same way you would any counted cross stitch design.
If this is your first time cross stitching, you’ll find this article on how to read a cross stitch chart handy.
Use two strands of floss in a #8 embroidery needle for all the stitching.
A Few Cross Stitching Tips
For consistent, neat cross stitch, try these tips:
Work your cross stitches all in the same direction, so that the top cross stitches all cross the same way. I like to work the first half-cross stitch from lower left to upper right, and then, when I cross those stitches, the top half of all the cross stitches are angled from lower right to upper left.
“Railroad” your stitches or use a laying tool. Railroading is taking your needle down between the two strands of floss with each stitch, which forces the strands to lie parallel to each other, instead of twisting up. A laying tool, which is a special embroidery tool that’s long and smooth, can also be used to ensure the strands of floss lie parallel with each stitch.
When you’re working in a hoop that you’re holding in your hand, it’s easier to railroad the stitches than it is to use a laying tool.
Finishing and Rinsing
Once your embroidery is finished, it’s time to soak it. This is the fun part!
First, cut and remove all the basting stitches from around the edge of the soluble canvas.
Fill a clean bowl with warm, soapy water, and submerge your embroidered item into it. You can swish it about a bit, and then leave it for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, check to see if the soluble canvas has dissolved. I find that after 20 minutes, there’s usually still a little bit of residue, so I run the embroidery under lukewarm water, with the spray function on my sink nozzle. This gets out any remaining bits of the soluble canvas.
It’s important to remove all the soluble canvas before ironing your finished piece, so feel free to go overboard a bit on the rinsing part.
Roll your embroidered piece up in a clean towel and press the towel to eliminate any excess water. Then, hang the piece (I use a skirt hanger) until it’s dry.
The last step is ironing the finished work. Do this face down on a soft cloth. I use two clean flour sack towels folded in half on top of my ironing board surface when I need to iron embroidery, and I always iron it face down.
And that, my friends, is it!
Using water soluble canvas is a quick, fun way to add a touch of cross stitch to any kind of household linen, clothes, or other plain-weave fabric items.
Add a touch of embroidery to the corner of a large, square flour sack towel. Use the towel as your wrapping paper! I like to wrap up bottles of wine this way, to use as hostess gifts during the holiday season. They also make great basket or gift bag liners.
Add an embroidered motif, like the snowflake pattern included below, to the corners of a large cloth napkin. Deliver it with a vase of flowers or Christmas greenery, to go under a table centerpiece.
Embroider the front center edge of two finished linen hand towels (like the natural linen towels shown in the article above), using the tree and the deer patterns included below. Tie the two towels together with a big red bow and box them up with some pretty soaps for the bathroom.
Below, you’ll find the three patterns used in the samples shown in this article. They are PDF files, so you can save them to your computer and print them when you need them. You’ll need to adjust your printer settings to print the designs on one page.
I hope these designs come in handy while you prepare for your holiday celebrations!