WWIT: Zelda Stained Glass Embroidered Denim Shirt, An embroidery story.

WWIT: Zelda Stained Glass Embroidered Denim Shirt, An embroidery story.

So now I’ve survived  the shopping and the digitizing. I’ve spent a ton of hours, arguably years, preparing. I can only think of one thing appropriate for this moment:

Let me be real a minute. This embroidery project was always on the cusp of failure. Despite the fact that I had sunk $100 bucks into the shirt, thread, and stabilizer and spent MANY hours digitizing, I had no clue what was and wasn’t going to work. I didn’t start small and try something to gain confidence and it is probably a good thing I went in so blind. I was woefully unprepared for the outcome of some of the hoopings and while I anticipated many of the issues I’d run into, I was surprised again and again by new problems coming up. Here’s a fact: I am unlikely to tackle a project of this size with a maximum embroidery field of 5” x 7” unless the very most perfect “OMG I have to do that right now” artwork comes along. Ok you know what, not even then – I’d probably upgrade my machine first!

To start, I used a lightweight iron on stabilizer on the inside of the jacket. I wanted to reduce stretching as much as possible and knew the amount of handling required would make starch almost useless. Was that step necessary? I’m not sure. Since I had in place, I can’t say it didn’t help, but I would consider trying again without it.

The first 3 hoops went pretty well all things considered. I was even a little cocky when I made to 6 and 7 because I was sure if these two fit together, all of them would.


Here’s a funny thing though – that first go round changed the shape of the fabric far more than I gave it credit for. The density of the stitching literally changed the size of the space between the two side seams. The trouble was starting to be obvious with hoop 8. I decided that I just wasn’t going to worry about it being off since it looked like the next hoop was going to fit nicely in place.


Then, things started going really really wrong. When I made it to hoop 11, I could tell I was WAY off. I almost decided I was in over my head and I should let the project go, but figured I had nothing to lose by eyeballing the placement of the piece.


It was a bit off, but not to the point that would quit so I lined the next piece with the alignment line assuming everything would fall into place. It didn’t. Not even close.  Now what??? Ok. I’m still determined. I’m not quitting until there is just no way possible it isn’t going to go together. From this point forward, I used my templates to eyeball the placement of each hoop.


In some cases, I choose the lesser of two evils. Like here – I thought it was more important for the gold line to match than the heart to be in the right place.


In other cases, the pieces just didn’t fit at all so I would fit in a piece sew it from the hoop file. Un-hoop it and fit in the next piece. It added three hoopings to the total hoop count, but it did keep it from being so far off that it just didnt work. It seriously was just a matter of keeping at it. Stabilize, Float, Baste, Stitch, Trim stabilizer.  Wash Rinse Repeat. With each hoop, I solved whatever problems presented themselves and got over my compulsive need for everything to be “right”.  I had no idea if this was going to work or not until the very last stitch went in and it was HARD for a control freak like me to be ok with that. I was just so far in, I couldn’t accept “quitting” until it was an actual failure with no way to resolve whatever corner I’d painted myself into.

I’ll admit, by the time I made it to the last hoop. I was tired and ready to be done. When I bumped the fabric before it was basted down, I didn’t even care. I just let the shield be off when it probably could have fit rather perfectly. Oh well, it turned out OK none the less and I’m not going to stress it! Once the hooped embroidery was finished, it looked like this:



The next problem to solve was the fact that the many many layers of stabilizers weren’t playing well together and not having lead lines in some of the sections was distracting. Remember 2500 word ago, I said leaving the lead lines out of the embroidery file saved this project? Here’s where it matters. I added them in with Free Motion Quilting techniques.



The additional lines look great and really add dimension to the piece. Even better – they sew together all those layers of stabilizer and nicely flatten out the sections that had bent and warped because of the close trimmings. I’m not quite finished with the lead lines and will be adding a few more in the background, around the castle, and around the leaves. Here’s the difference as it stands:


All done! It is totally wearable and I suspect it will get more comfie after a washing or two. I plan on adding a few more customizations on the front and around the cuffs. I’m looking forward to it being all finished, but will surely wear it until I get there!

Next Up: Download the files – if you dare!

Want more? See everything about this project from the Index of Posts!

Have something to say? I want to hear it! Email me at susandowenby@gmail.com.