Stabilizers: We recommend to use water-soluble mesh, such as Vilene. Vilene D0102 is a non woven dissolvable stabilizer which is imported into the US, is sold in large rolls and is sometimes packaged under different brand names. Some of these brand names are Fabri-Solvy by Sulky, Avalon Plus by Madeira, Wash-Away, and Aqua Magic.
Film-like water soluble stabilizers, such as Solvy by Sulky, Avalon by Madeira and Badge Master are not suitable for Free-Standing Lace embroidery.
Threads: The thinner the thread, the finer the final product will be.
Embroidery rayon thread is too soft, it does not keep its shape and very often its color fades under the influence of chemicals from the water-soluble mesh.
Embroidery polyester thread is great for the project.
You can also use 50- and 60-weight cotton thread for machine quilting.
To get two-sided embroidery, use threads of the same color in the needle and in the bobbin.
Needles: We use size 80/12 embroidery needles with polyester and 80/12 metallic needles with cotton thread. Our experience shows that cotton thread used with metallic needles gives less lint. The needles should be sharp, so it's advisable to change them often.
Most Importantly: ALWAYS make a test stitch-out of the design and wash away the stabilizer. This helps you to select the threads, needles, stabilizers and settings of your machine correctly. DO NOT embroider several designs in one hoop.
Washing out the Stabilizer: Rinsing away the stabilizer is an important step, because the lace can be stretched or distorted if this is done incorrectly. We recommend to use a foam board and stainless pins.
Cut away the excess stabilizer close to the stitches. Take your time and carefully pin the lace's outer edge to the board.
Now place the board into a bowl with luke-warm water. Leave the board in the water for at least half an hour. Change the water a couple of times.
Take the board from the water and leave to air dry. DO not unpin the lace until it's completely dry.
Step One: Hoop 2 layers of watersoluble mesh stabilizer. Upload the design in your machine. Start it. It will embroider the outline of the tree and stop.
Step Two: The second color will fill in the outline of the tree with stitches. You can make it any color you wish. A dark green thread would give a more traditional look, but it's completely up to you. To make 2-sided embroidery use the same color in the needle and in the bobbin.
Note: If you want a tree without stars you can stop at this point. Take the stitch-out from the hoop and wash away the stabilizer.
Step Three: The next color will embroider the outlines of the stars.
Step Four: Cover the embroidery with the applique fabric for the stars, take care to cover all the star outline. Start the machine.
Step Five: Carefully take the hoop from the machine (DO NOT unhoop!). With a pair of sharp scissors cut away the fabric around each star. Take care not to cut through stitches.
Step Six: Return the hoop to the machine and finish embroidery.
Step Seven: Cut away the excess stabilizer, wash away the remainder.
Step Eight: You can use the stitch-out as a flat ornament. You can also make a 3D tree. For this, embroider the design once again. Use threads of the same color in the needle and in the bobbin. Use two-sided fabric (batik, organza) for applique. When both stitch-outs are ready, place one over another and topstitch along the middle of the trunk. Then fold along the seam and press.
We used this design on our Advent Calendar. You can read about how to sew the calendar on the project page.