I am an avid babywearer and especially love my soft structured carriers. I also love to sew and craft. I have decided to marry the two and create lots of fun goodies to go with my carriers! Because I know there are lots of you out there who are crafty like me, I've created some tutorials to help you out. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Embroidered Reach Straps Tutorial

Have you seen some of the adorable reach straps out there and thought to yourself, "I have an embroidery machine. I should be able to do that!"? Well then this tutorial is for you!

Step one is to make your reach straps. Follow the tutorial on the previous post here (pictures coming soon!). You can leave one end of each strap unfinished as it will be inside the embroidered end when you're finished. 

Now, you need to pick out a design. There are two ways that you can make them. One is with a smooth outer stitch and no fabric overhang and the other is with a stitched line and then fabric cut just outside of the stitching. If you would like the first option, choose a design that has a nice thick outer satin stitch. a design that's meant to be a patch is a great choice but really any applique with a satin stitch should do. If you'd like the second option mentioned above, find a design meant for felties. These are intended to be designs that go onto hair bows and such and are simple, easy designs usually.

Next, you need some stabilizer. I use either a heavy tear-away or a wash-away/water soluble stabilizer. Do NOT use the plastic-like water soluble stabilizer that you would use on top of a design. This will not be stable enough and your design will rip right through. Look for stabilizers that you would use with freestanding lace.

Finally, you'll want to make sure that you have bobbins wound. Most embroidery designs just use a generic white bobbin since you never see the other side. For these, you'll need to wind a matching bobbin for each of the thread colors that you plan to use. If you're doing a feltie design, you'll only need a matching bobbin for the final outer stitch color.

Now you're ready to go! Load your design into your machine. I use my software to duplicate the design with one facing up and one facing down so that I can do both reach straps at the same time and the strap can hang off of opposite ends of the hoop.

Hoop only your stabilizer. If your stabilizer is thin or if you're using a larger hoop, consider hooping more than one layer of stabilizer. I find one layer of heavy tear-away on a 5x7 hoop to be just right for me.

Place the hoop on the machine and stitch your first tack-down stitch.Cut a piece of fabric big enough for your design and use spray adhesive to stick it to the bottom of the hooped stabilizer in the embroidery area. Do the same for the bottom of the other reach strap design.

Now place your reach strap on top of the design so that about a half inch or more is inside the embroidery design field. pin the strap in place. Do this for your other design.

Now cut a piece of fabric big enough to cover the applique design again and use spray adhesive to attach it to the front of the design, over the top of your reach strap. Do this for your other design.

No stitch the tack down stitch.

After your machine is done, remove the hoop from the machine and trim around the edge of the design to cut away the excess fabric. Do this on the front and back of the hoop but be careful not to cut into your reach strap while cutting around the fabric on the front!

If your design has multiple appliques, repeat these steps until all pieces are tacked down.

Now satin stitch to finish your design. You may notice the stabilizer being perforated while it stitches. It should still stay together as long as you are using a sufficiently thick stabilizer (or layers of stabilizer).

When you're finished satin stitching, trim all your jump threads and tear away (or cut away if you're using water soluble) your stabilizer. Trim any pokies around the edges.

Sometimes I have a little bit on white stabilizer that pokes through the satin stitch in a few spots. If I'm using a colored fabric, I color it a little with a marker to blend it. You can also pull the stabilizer with tweezers or trim with fine scissors until it looks good to you.
The left one is colored in a little while the right one is not.

No attach your snaps to the top of the reach strap. Make sure to leave enough room to have some fabric to pull the snap open and closed.

You're done! Admire all that hard work.

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  1. What software do you use to mirror the design?

    1. I use Sew What Pro. It's a relatively inexpensive program that packs a mighty punch. It's super easy to take a design, duplicate it, and then rotate and move them around. Hope that helps!