How to Make a Free-Standing Ornament with Any Embroidery Design
I have to admit, I have some pretty crazy friends! For example there's my astrologer friend Jo'Ann who loves—and plays with!!—black widow spiders. While Jo'Ann appreciates the intricacy of my work, I really can't see her wanting a lacy angel so I've been wondering what little ornament I could make for her.
And Along Came a Spider…
Several years ago, I digitized a tattoo spider for a Halloween freebie design. While it it's designed for direct embroidery and would simply disintegrate into a tangled mess of thread if sewn only on wash-away stabilizer, I decided it would make the perfect ornament for my arachnophile friend.
Because I have the original source file (the digitizing working file), I resized it there so I could modify some of the stitch attributes: lighten the density a tad and change the underlay types. I shrunk this design by about 50% and wanted ultimate control over the final stitching.
Then I created an 8-point star with very short points for a border and added a small circle to the top and applied a narrow steil stitch (fixed width satin) to both. All simple to do if you digitize (even just a little!)—but what if you don't?
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There's an App for That!
You don't need to be able to digitize in order to create a custom tree ornament, package tie, or or even a luggage tag or book mark; you can start with ready-made stock designs and a customizing program like Embrilliance Essentials.
What kind of stock designs? Look for a basic appliqué shape, such as the ones included in Badges, a set of 40 appliqué designs in familiar badge shapes. If you have Generations, you can even modify the designs in their native format.
Monogram Frames and Frames and Borders also have designs suitable for this technique.
Next, you'll need a design that will fit within the badge. Keep in mind you can resize both the badge and the center motif within reasonable ranges to make the two parts more compatible.
Customizing Your Ornament
In your customizing software, load the two designs. To replicate the version I did, order doesn't really matter. I sewed the spider first, then the border because I'm accustomed to digitizing from the center out. I sewed the design on two layers of nylon organza—no stabilizer—and then simply cut out the finished ornament closely around the stitches. A quick swipe with a hot soldering iron melted away any excess fabric.
Tip: If you think your design needs a little more body, mix up some leftover water soluble stabilizer scraps and apply to your ornament.
The designs in the Badges collection are set up as appliqués. You can appliqué directly onto water soluble stabilizer. This method is ideal for items that need a little more stability and would benefit from a sturdier fabric. With the appliqué method, load the border design first.
If you want a hanger, add a small letter "o" to the center top of your ornament. (Add some underlay in the settings to give it more stability.) I added mine to the top edge of the border. It can just as easily be added within the border. A quick poke with the soldering iron melts out the inside neatly on organza. When working on other fabrics you might want to size your "o" to work with a eyelet punch.
Cookie Canister Label
This screen capture from Embrilliance Essentials (below) combines design #10 from Badges & Patches, design #5 from Gingery Christmas, both at actual size and two small o's, enlarged slightly. Thread some ribbon and tie around a cookie jar for gift giving or a little holiday cheer!
Quick and Easy
Depending on the design you choose for the center motif, these little ornaments can work up very quickly and make great last minute projects. Also fun for kid!
At the time of this post, special prices—up to 60% off—are in effect for the designs and collections mentioned!
- Embrilliance software is often available in our shop as a physical product that will be shipped (U.S. only) or as digital download from Embrilliance
- Check our Frames & Accents for suitable designs to make your own
- Anatomy of Design is an e-book designed for embroiderers who want to understand what's going with designs and therefore make better choices when selecting designs, fabric, stabilizers, and threads
- Other general supplies can be found on the Resources page
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About the Author
Lindee Goodall is a veteran master digitizer who's won awards for her beautiful designs, been a guest on numerous PBS sewing shows, written articles for a variety of home and industry related magazines, and is a Craftsy instructor.
Lindee G Embroidery is her second company, following Cactus Punch, which was founded in 1994.