Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Instant" Gratification With Machine Embroidery: The Pieces of Pi T-Shirt

Lars Models His New Pi T-Shirt
I have wanted to embroider this Pieces of Pi design from Urban Threads onto a shirt for Lars ever since I first saw the design, and I finally "got around to it."

Pieces of Pi Design, with Pi Symbol Formed by the Actual Digits of Pi
I used a size 80/12 ballpoint Organ embroidery needle with Mettler 60/2 cotton embroidery thread.  The design required the Mega Hoop, oriented horizontally rather than vertically, which meant that I had to open up one of the side seams in my plain orange T-shirt so that I could hoop the shirt properly.  I fused a layer of OESD Poly Mesh stabilizer to the reverse side of the T-shirt, which would have been plenty of support for this open, light-stitch-density design, but then I realized that if I tried to hoop the T-shirt itself, I'd be going into the seam where the sleeves attach.  I could have reduced the embroidery design, of course, but BIGGER IS BETTER for a T-shirt design -- no resizing for me!

Stitching Completed!
I decided to hoop a piece of lightweight tearaway stabilizer (bad decision; read on to find out why), and then I adhered the unhooped T-shirt to the stabilizer with 505 spray adhesive.  I used a couple of ordinary office supply binder clips to keep the excess T-shirt fabric out of the way of the needle, and turned on the basting feature in my Bernina 750 QE to further secure the T-shirt to the stabilizer before the design stitched out.   That's the stitched box you see just around the design area -- they are long basting stitches that easily come out once stitching is complete.

After the design was embroidered, I simply used a 4-thread overlock stitch on my serger to close up the side seam again.  And then I would have been FINISHED with this insta-project, if it weren't for that pesky tearaway stabilizer...  If I had thought this through better, I would have realized that the paper-like qualities of a tearaway stabilizer would create a stiff, scratchy bulk behind the embroidery design.  I wanted the design area to be as soft and comfortable as the rest of the T-shirt, which is why I chose a light stitching, low-density design in the first place and polymesh stabilizer.  So I spent the next hour and a half painstakingly ripping out every little speck of tearaway stabilizer with a tweezers...

Picking Out Tearaway Stabilizer with a Tweezers
I love how beautifully this design was digitized and how well it stitched out.  I really like the cotton embroidery thread, which I had never used for machine embroidery before.  I do have several other Urban Threads embroidery designs that I want to put on shirts for the boys, and Anders is begging me to make a Pi shirt for him as well.  I'm going to have the same issue of needing to hoop a separate stabilizer and this tweezer nonsense was VERY ANNOYING, so I think I'm going to try using a water-soluble stabilizer in the hoop like Aquamesh or Sulky Solvy next time.  That way, once the embroidery is complete, all I'll need to do is submerge the T-shirt in water or run it through the laundry and that extra stabilizer will just dissolve and rinse away.

8 comments:

Ivory Spring said...

Oh, how cool this is.

And I love your name for my Princess Aiko quilt! Your creativity is boundless.

Jenny K. Lyon said...

This is the coolest thing ever! And I love Lars' cute boasty smirk! He is the luckiest son ever.

MizzBassie said...

This (long time ago in a city far away) math major geekette really, really loves the T-shirt and has to have one for her very self. And thanks for the info on the tear-away stabilizer, very useful and makes total sense now that you mention it :) I love the photo of your model.

silkenpaw said...

This (long time ago in a city far away) math major geekette really, really loves the T-shirt and has to have one for her very self. And thanks for the info on the tear-away stabilizer, very useful and makes total sense now that you mention it :) I love the photo of your model.

Anonymous said...

Great shirt, Rebecca! Next time you could try fusing the polymesh to the shirt and then use Aquamesh Plus (sticky water soluble) in the hoop. You wouldn't have to baste then. Claudia W

The Paris Apartment said...

Ok that's just adorable (his expression and the shirt)! So creative and thought provoking at the same time!

colleen said...

I know you have picked all the tear away out already. I am wondering if it is necessary to get that picky with the tear away on/with a washing machinable item?
I am thinking if you get the big stuff will the "bits" wash away? Maybe linty like when you wash a garment with a tissue left in the pocket?

Stitchwitch said...

Couldn't you just hoop the cutaway stabilizer and adhere the shirt to it? I'm not sure you need two stabilizers b/c the design isn't very dense. If the underside is scratchy once you finish, just adhere some "soft and stable" cutaway on the back - it's frequently used for baby items. It remains on the "skin" side and makes things much more comfortable.

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