Welcome to Christmas Traditions (redux)!

The Christmas Traditions collection was created to help you with your holiday decorating. It is composed mainly of freestanding pieces that can be used as decorations, ornaments, etc., but also includes elements that can be stitched on fabric. Some of the items are projects – and you’ll need some fabric draping liquid or a hot glue gun to  make them. Combining embroidery into projects such as the reindeer or sleigh offers fun that you can share and a quality of project that you might be too busy otherwise to contemplate.

Christmas Traditions installs with a .BX file and requires version 1.167 or later in the Embrilliance Platform.

The Platform install files are on the Downloads page.

Click here to download the Christmas Traditions BX Installer

Christmas Traditions is designed for 5″x7″ (230mm x 180mm) embroidery hoops and larger. Although some designs can be made in the 100mm (4″) hoop, the freestanding lace pieces tend to be larger, even stitched out as components.

Inside Christmas Traditions are Interactive embroidery designs for Snowflakes, Ornament Covers, Reindeer, and Santa’s Sleigh, as well as a Holly Font and a few Bonus Designs. The Interactive designs have project instructions if you click the links. While all the interactive designs are freestanding lace, the other designs are not freestanding except for the poinsettia.

In addition to the projects, there are letters – a complete freestanding or fabric holiday proportional letterset that can be sewn
from 1-1/4” to 4”.

And then, you’ll want to check out the snowflakes. Christmas Traditions has a snowflake generator that can make over 13 million snowflakes, and size them in different ways.We hope you enjoy Christmas Traditions!

About the freestanding lace

Christmas Traditions contains a number of freestanding lace pieces. There were many goals for the designers of this collection, and we’d like to share a few of them with you; We wanted a ‘real’ lace-like look and feel to the embroidery. We wanted to be able to use the embroidery thread that you might have laying around, but we also want to make it work with cotton for that more traditional look. And of course, we now have high-speed embroidery machines, and we wanted it to work on those as well.

Thread and Stabilizers used

Christmas Traditions allows you to use virtually any threads, including metallics. The collection was designed around standard 40-weight polyester or rayon threads, so that greater color options would be available. You can also use cotton threads, typically available in 50 wt.

Although it might seem necessary to wind bobbins in the same thread color as the top thread, we’ve found this not really to be necessary. Try a couple pieces first to see if you agree. For us, the convenience of pre-wound bobbins made the decision easy.

Some embroidery machines today are capable of faster stitching. For instance the multi-needle machines can run up to 1200 stitches per minute. The designs in the collection all have successfully sewn on this machine’s top speed, however, we recommend a strong thread, such as polyester, to do this. Further, if you are going to let the machine run while you are not present, a good idea is to slow the machine down, mostly for improved thread handling.

Stabilizer is very important in embroidery, but especially so for freestanding lace. There are many choices for stabilizer these days, but we’ve consistently had the best results with water-soluble mesh. The clear film water soluble does not hold stitches quite as well, and although some perform just fine, others are not as good for freestanding embroidery.

Consistently, the best results we got was from the water-soluble mesh, which looks like a white fabric or paper towel. There are
several makers of this type of stabilizer, so please consult your sewing machine dealer for the brand that they carry.

How many layers of stabilizer?

For most pieces, one layer is sufficient. However on Snowflake designs, or where there are large areas of the freestanding background, two layers is better. When you are embroidering the reindeer or sleigh, you might want to add a second layer so that more of the starch is retained.

If the design is fairly large, two layers will hold up to tension in the hoop better than one layer.

Remember, the stabilizer should be drum tight in the hoop! You might add some extra fabric, felt or other material to the sides of the hoop to help it grip the stabilizer better.

Metallic Threads

Metallic thread presents its own set of challenges, which can frequently break the thread: Problems typically include poor spooling, melting at the needle, and too much tension.

Our recommendations:
1.) Use a #14 Titanium or Metallic needle. The larger gauge helps the metallic particles on the thread to flow through the eye of the needle.
2.) Get a large spool of quality thread. The larger spools tend to have less curl or loops.
3.) Lower the tension. On many machines, the tension needs to be lowered. On some machines, reduction from 4.0 to 3.0 or similar values is required.
4.) Stitch slower. Some machines can sew upwards of 1000 stitches per minute. Slow it down to reduce thread spooling issues as well as tension and heat issues.

If you’ve had problems with metallics in the past, try the above. We’ve sewn all the design components in this pack on several machines with metallic thread.

How to Wash Out the stabilizer

If you took our advice and used the water-soluble mesh, you’ll find it washes away very quickly. If you’re using the clear film stuff, you’ve probably got puddles of starch all through your design, so it’ll need to rinse a lot longer so be patient and try not to ‘scrub’ the stuff out of your design. Even though you are anxious to see what you’ve created, a little patience at this ‘wet’ stage of the design will go a long way toward making a better final product.

Here’s how we rinse it:
Put a plate in the sink, with the design on it. Slowly run medium-hot water into the edge of the plate, allowing the water to cycle easily and softly across the design, and drain off the other side. This prevents distortion from occurring. Now, you’ll probably want to blot the design dry – but if you have any freestanding background showing, don’t, because it’ll pull at the threads, messing up the pattern.

Repeat: If you have freestanding background showing, don’t blot the design. This will cause distortion in the background.

Instead of blotting, set the design flat on your kitchen countertop and use a hair dryer or let it air dry. This will keep your background looking its best. Once the design is dry, you can press it with your iron, and that will make the pieces nice and flat. But, over the course of the next day, the design will continue to dry out even more. This will make it curl slightly. That’s okay, just press it again. You can use a little steam, and even some spray starch if you want.

Stiffening the fabric

The reindeer and sleigh require additional stiffness so that they will stand up. As we mentioned in the stabilizer section, you could use two layers of stabilizer, one which might be the clear film type to add stiffness.

Another general tip is to go to a fabric/craft store and pick up some Fabric Draping liquid or spray. Following the instructions will provide very stiff pieces.

Note: It will take a day or so, but a fully dry piece of freestanding embroidery will be stiff. It will have enough starch in it that didn’t get washed out to keep it’s shape, unless you put weight on it.

If you would like to read more about the origin of Christmas Traditions, there’s a post here.