Kim Goodwin's Tips

Following are tips, especially for heavily dense designs (like the Lucy Rigg designs, etc.)


1. Always evaluate the design before you stitch it out:

a) How many stitches or how long will it take to stitch it out, should tell you if the design is very dense in stitches.
b) Look at the number of colors in the design.
c) Look to see if there will be a lot of thread jumps (areas that cannot be connected by a run stitch under some of the other threads and/or "detached" parts of the design will have thread jumps). Like flowers, etc.
d) What type of fabric will it be stitched on.
e) What type of thread do you want to use.

2. Once you have evaluated the design in ths manner you can determine the following:


a) The best stabilizer(s) to use. The more dense the design is and the more detailed outline...the more dense stabilizer you need. (remember just because the stabilizer feels heavier or is thicker...doesn't mean it is more dense. You can have a thick stabilizer and it have a low thread count and would not do a good job).

b) Most dense designs should only be stitched out with the thinner embroidery thread. (FYI...I always punch my designs with Sulky 40 wt thread and this is my favorite and I personally think it stitches with less problems all around...but use your favorite, if it works...if not...use the recommended for best results.

c) I use cut-away stabilizer 99% of the time. There are two types that I really like:

1.Heavy cut-away: I use this behind anything that needs the extra strength and stabilizer. And anything that can take the thicker weight. This is idea. Like it implies ... when complete you cut-away all that you have left. Sometimes I'll use two layers and cut them away at different levels, so not to have "show-through"

2. Poly-Mesh: This I'm beginning to love! It is so soft and works remarkably great! I use two layers with the grain running perpendicular to each other. Try it ... you'll love it too! (again FYI ... because I know I'll get a hundred emails asking what thread and stabilizer I use ... I'll just tell you .. I use the cut-away stabilizer from OESD...the medium to heavy weight cut away - and the poly mesh also is from them. Now...I don't make anything off you purchasing from them ... but I've been purchasing their cut away stabilizer for many years in my industrial business, so why change for the home machines)

d) Sticky Paper and iron-on stabilizer. I only use this when nothing else will work good. But I have found that in the larger hoops that many of the machines now has, these sticky stabilizers work best when using a design that has a lot of fill stitches then has an outline around it. (it will help the outline from appearing that it has shifted). But be aware: if you are having thread breakage and are using one of these stabilizers ... let this be your first trouble shooting point to check out.

e) I have also found that the 505K temporary fabric spray adhesive works good when you need to use a sticky paper but can't. I use this a lot and it helps.

f)Use the correct size hoop. Use the hoop that is the closest size of your design. Many times, you will have a better quality stitch-out if you do several hooping with a smaller hoop than tying to get them all in a large hoop ... especially if the individual designs are very dense with detail and outlines.

g) For the most part ... always hoop your stabilizer and fabric in the hoop. Pull fabric and stabilizer taunt ... but not to the point that you begin to stretch the grain. It should be like a drum if tapped on. If I need to use two layers of stabilizers, sometimes I'll not hoop the second, but many times I will hoop both layers,

h) ALWAYS...ALWAYS cut your threads between the colors. Yes, this takes extra time to stitch it out .. but it's your choice ... clip threads now or clip them later ... and later will take more time, plus you'll not be able to clip all the threads that have been partially stitched over.

i) Take the time to set your design and fabric set up correctly and with the correct materials, and you'll find that you have less trouble with the final designs. Most of all...realize, learn, and accept the fact that not all designs will work with any and every stabilizer and any and every thread and any and every needle. You must learn what works with each situation and then learn to recognize that situation before stitching.

I hope this bit of information has helped you some. I will remind you that if you have a design with a lot of fill stitches, details and outlines, you MUST use the correct stabilizer and hooping method or your outlines will be off.

A bit more information:

Q: Why are outlines off sometimes in the designs? A: First let me say that most of the designs that you'll purchase from BERNINA on their cards will not have the outlines off - if the correct hooping, stabilizers, & needles are used. Thread can also make a difference. (FYI ... All of the design cards I have done for BERNINA was done with the Sulky 40wt thread.) So this may help you. These designs are tested many times before production. So, if you are having a problem with outlines on one of these, it'll hardly ever be the design. It takes experience and time to learn the correct setup of your design ... but keep on truckin' and you'll get there!

NOTE: most of the designs with a lot of detail will be very dense, therefore requiring you to have the proper stabilizer and hooping and a new needle.

Q: Which stabilizers do you use and when:

Cut-away: I've used the same product for many years. I have tried different ones, but keep coming back to the same thing. I use the stabilizer from OESD.

Sheer: a newer product. I am beginning to use this most of the time now. I've also used this product on the industrial side for a good number of years. It works well with light weight and knits. I always hoop it and use two layers, placed with gains running in perpendicular directions. Sometimes I'll use one layer of this with one layer of cut-away.

Tear-away: I don't use this much anymore. If so, I like Stitch-n-Tear from Pellon. However, most of the time if I need to use tear-away I'll opt for the perforated tear-away, as this tears the cleanest (Easy Stitch).

Sticky back stabilizer: If I use this, I always hoop the sticky back. This is a great product, easy and fast to use ... but it is the one product that usually give the most trouble if not used correctly. I find that it works great with the larger hoops that we have today, especially with heavily dense designs with outlines and details. I hoop the sticky back ... then use a sharp object to cut the paper away from within the hoop (not cutting thru the sticky stabilizer). Then I stick the garment to the sticky back.

Solvy or Aqua-Film: I love this stuff! I use it on the top any time there is texture on the fabric. It holds the stitches on top of the fabric while stitching. I always hoop it also. If not hooping it ... I'll use a temporary spray adhesive. I always have it pulled taunt with no wrinkles. This works great! I've even taken 24 layers of this ... put between my Teflon press sheet and "fused" together for a heavier wash-away. The Aqua Film is really the best for cut-work and lace work. I use it most times.

Generic stabilizers ... coffee filters, plastic bags, etc... I NEVER use anything on any of my machines that is not developed especially for it anymore. I used too, but about 7 years ago I was trained for doing mechanics on home machines and I really learned from the inside out .. why we ladies have so many problems...usually not a machine problem ... but us as a user causing the problem!;)

I agree most of the time ... that if it works ... well use it. But remember, what might work well in one place could be hurting something else in another place not developed with the machinery in mind. Just my 2 cents worth)!

There are many stabilizers on the market. I've tried all of them, but almost all of the time, I'll come back to one of these I've listed above. I hope this information will help you with your designs. Good luck and have fun!


...Something everyone thinks they know how to do it, but many do not really know the correct way. Work with your hoop until you get a good design sewn out, then take note how your hoop is set up, the size, stabilizer, design consideration, etc. I always hoop my fabric and stabilizer. Period! Only maybe once in a long while will I need to embroidery a design without hooping.

It should be tight like a drum when hooped .. not stretched .. just taunt.

1. Use a hoop that is in good condition. (note after hundred's of designs hooped, the hoop will lose some of it's original quality. Get a new hoop.)
2. Use the size of hoop that is the closest to the size of the design.
3. Hoop the stabilizer with the fabric.
4. Loosen the screw just enough for the fabric and stabilizer.
5. Lay the outer hoop on the table.
6. Lay fabric and stabilizer on the table on top of the hoop. Fabric should have grain running straight.
7. Insert the inner hoop (while still on the table) (do not force).
8. Holding index finger and thumb on the inner hoop, pull the fabric and stabilizer gently, but tautly.
9. Do not stretch the grain of the fabric.
10. Pick design up off table and slightly push the inner ring to the back side.(approx. 1/8") This will create a small lip so the fabric is riding on the bed of the machine. Note: it is important that you do not push the inner hoop through too much. This could cause other problems.

When stitching the design, use light pressure on the side of the hoop while stitching very heavily dense designs or if they have detailed outlines.


I use #80 or #90 universal almost all of the time. If not, I'll use the metifill or embroidery needles. Change them often as they get dull from the many stitches and stabilizers. Some people like to use ballpoint, but I don't really see any difference, so I just use the lesser expensive of the two. I keep a supply of all on hand for those trouble times. Only occasionally on hard to handle knits will I use a ballpoint.

Reprinted with the permission of Kim Goodwin.

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