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Products I Love

I often mention specific supplies and materials I’m using in my projects, and some of these can be very difficult to find. For the sake of convenience, here is a collected listing of my most commonly recommended products. I also include many of these links in the Resources section of all my PDFs.

Many of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. These are marked with an * after the product name. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers, and I do not recommend products solely to get a commission.

Books

Embroidery Designs

  • Martha Pullen’s historic collection* – Martha has multiple collections based on historic garments, some in her own collection, and others from museums like the V&A or DAR. Most come with luscious, full-color books accompanied by DVDs of the machine embroidery designs.  Even if you don’t have an embroidery machine, the books are an excellent source of reference material for the Victorian and Edwardian periods, and are not very well known to costumers.
  • Classic Blackwork Collection – Some, not all, of the designs in this collections are passable for Renaissance era blackwork. Skip the cats and roosters, and go for the scrolling vines and Tudor roses.

Notions

  • Hot Iron Transfer Pencils* – These allow you to trace any design and transfer it to your fabric using a hot iron.
  • Prick and Pounce Set – If you’re looking for the ultimate in period-correct embroidery transfer methods, check out this set from Berlin Embroidery, which includes hand-made traditional charcoal pounce.
  • Quilter’s Pounce* – This tool makes it easy to transfer quilting and embroidery patterns in the traditional way, and is great when you need to cover larger areas quickly.
  • Roxanne Glue Baste It, 2-Ounce* or in EZ Squeeze 1 oz* – I prefer the EZ Squeeze bottle, but it does tend to clog faster if you don’t use it often. I love this glue for holding down fiddly edges of hems, lace for heirloom sewing, and anything else where pins can get in the way, add too much bulk, or distort the area you’re sewing. It washes out of your project after you’re done.
  • Real metal threads and spangles –  You just can’t fake these with machine embroidery techniques, and they are used over a wide span of historical eras.  I like to combine machine embroidery designs with small amounts of metal thread and/or spangles to create a nice balance between speed and historical accuracy.
  • Spray N Bond temporary adhesive* by Therm-O-Web – I use this to securely hold my fabric and stabilizer together while stitching projects that will be washed later to remove the stabilizer. Also available at Amazon*.
  • Wooden button moulds – I use these to form the base of embroidered buttons for 18th c. waistcoats and suits.

Patterns

Stabilizers

  • H2O Gone – this is a white, fabric type washaway stabilizer, not a clear film. Out of all the washaway stabilizers I have tried, I find it rinses away the easiest. Drawback – it’s sold by the yard, and I buy it wholesale on the bolt, and I don’t know of any online retailers that sell it. The HTC website has a list of retail shops, and a phone call may find a shop that is local to you and carries it.  Otherwise, HTC does offer it retail by the bolt.
  • Washaway stabilizers – I recommend a fabric type washaway (generically called Vilene*) for any historical embroidery that can be washed. They all perform similarly, though I’ve found some brands are more difficult to rinse out.  If you can’t find the H2O Gone that I recommend above, similar brands are Floriani Wet N Gone* and Aqua Magic. I do not recommend the clear film type washaway stabilizers for most historical embroidery.
  • Heat away or melt away stabilizers – I recommend these for silk or other applications that will not be washed. Please test on your fashion fabric before using! My experience is with Sulky Heat Away, which is available by the roll* or by the bolt*.

Threads

Machine Embroidery Threads

  • DMC Cotton Machine Embroidery Thread* – I use this thread for color designs where I don’t want to use silk, and for whitework on Victorian and Edwardian underpinnings, blouses, etc. The colors available match all other DMC cotton colors, which is nice when doing a mix of techniques in one project.
  • Aurifil Mako #50 Cotton Thread* – This is gorgeous thread but hard to find. It’s worth tracking down to fill in the gaps in DMC’s color range, especially the yellow-greens, blue-greens, and some purples.
  • Madeira Cotona Cotton Thread #80* – This is a fine cotton that I use as top and bobbin thread on sheer fabrics to create extra delicate whitework designs.
  • Madeira Lana Wool Blend Embroidery Thread* – I use this for crewel work designs like 18th century pockets, and anywhere I want added dimension. Beware that this thread is only suitable for lightly digitized designs, preferably designs specifically digitized for thick threads or simple blackwork/redwork designs. It is extremely linty, so clean your machine often.
  •  Aurifil Lana Wool Blend Embroidery Thread – (Canadian website) Madeira and Aurifil are two different companies, and yes, both have threads with the same name, which is confusing.  Aurifil’s Lana is harder to find, but comes on both small and large spools and fills in some of the gaps in Madeira’s color range.
  • Sulky 12 weight Cotton Thread* – This thread works well in designs digitized for thicker threads, as a substitute for Aurifil or Madeira wool threads.
  • Tire Silk #50* – I use this silk thread in place of modern rayon and polyester threads anywhere a silk thread would be appropriate – which is generally all colorful embroidery from the 1500s to the 1900s. It is also good for light hand sewing.  There is also matching buttonhole twist*, which is great for, you guessed it, buttonholes, as well as corset flossing, thread buttons, and more. They have a  30 weight thread* I don’t often use, but which would be suitable for heavier embroidery and machine sewing applications. These threads are also available at Superior Threads.

Bobbin Threads

  • Madeira Cotona Cotton Thread #80* – This is a very fine cotton that I use as bobbin thread for most of my designs when stitching in silk or cotton. It keeps your design soft and flexible, with very little bulk.
  • Bottom Line 60 wt Bobbin Thread* – This is a fine polyester thread that doesn’t add bulk to the back of your embroidery designs. I use it when testing designs, or where I don’t need the softness of cotton thread on the back of my design.

Hand Embroidery Threads

  • Appleton Crewel Wool – This is a good quality crewel wool that comes in a stunning range of 421 colors. Also available at Threadneedle Street.
  • Fine d’Aubusson Wool – Beautifully soft merino wool thread in 89 shades that coordinate with other Au Ver À Soi threads. Also available at Needle in a Haystack.
  • DMC Coton a Broder – A twisted, 4-ply, non-divisible cotton thread, mercerized to give it a lush shine. Available in a variety of sizes.
  • DMC Floche a Broder – A softly twisted, 5-ply, non-divisible cotton thread, mercerized to give it a lush shine. This thread will look smoother and shinier than the other cotton threads, and is great for satin stitch. Thread size is closest to the Coton a Broder #25.
  • DMC Perle Cotton* – Two tightly twisted plies give this thread a more distinctly textured look than other cotton embroidery threads. Available in a range of sizes (including #12*, #8*, #5*) and a range of colors and blends.
  • Danish Flower Thread – Dyed to look like naturally dyed fibers, with a matte finish and a tighter twist than DMC floche.
  • DMC Linen Floss*– Linen thread in the same familiar format as DMC cotton embroidery floss.
  • Londonderry Linen Thread – fine linen thread with a matte finish and soft colors.
  • Soie Ovale – an untwisted flat silk thread by Au Ver À Soi, available in 59 colors. This is also a great thread for making fly fringe.
  • Soie de Paris – a 6-ply twisted filament silk thread by Au Ver À Soi, available in 77 colors. This is also a great thread for making fly fringe.
  • Kreinik Silk* –  This line includes twisted and flat silks at slightly more affordable prices, good for beginners to silk embroidery. Also available directly from Kreinik.
  • Silver and Gold threads and spangles in a variety of sizes, available at Threadneedle Street,  Needle in a Haystack and Berlin Embroidery.

Tools

  • Lap Frame* – This lap frame is my favorite while at home and traveling (I’ve even used it on an airplane before!).  I love being able to have both hands free to embroider, and it’s easy to position my work just where I want it.
  • Tambour Embroidery Hoop* and Tambour Hooks* – Essential for working with Tambour embroidery designs.

Miscellaneous

Sales and Coupons

Some of the above retailers sometimes offer sales or coupons on their websites.  I’ve included some banner links below that should update automatically when sales are available.

Free Shipping No Minimum Order<Fabric.com Deal of the Day

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2 Responses to “Products I Love

  • I would love to know where to purchase the linen tape you wrote about. I’ve looked around on your site and can’t find any info, but I seem to be inexplicably defeated by anything I find on a blog! I love your embroidery designs…on my favourites list over at etsy and I don’t know how much longer I can resist… Many thanks! Lillian

    • Hi Lillian, sorry I didn’t see this sooner. To answer your question, I got it from Burnley and Trowbridge. Here’s the link:http://www.burnleyandtrowbridge.com/linentape.aspx

      Thank you for the kind words about the designs. Please let me know if you have any questions, or better yet, projects to share when you do give in! Denise

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