Saturday, May 18, 2013

Brazilian embroidery--setting up a new project

Brazilian embroidery is full of tough knots. This means that there is plenty of tugging on threads, which, in turn, puts substantial strain on the fabric you work with. That's why most commercial patterns are printed on trigger cloth, a hardy polyester/cotton blend. They are usually printed with ink that will wash out--something that is especially important for this 3-D technique since unattached petals can lift up and reveal the printed pattern beneath.

This is a portion of the printed pattern by Blumen Threads that I've just begun working.


Of course, you don't HAVE to use trigger cloth. I've seen people transfer designs to patterned cotton or towels, and I am experimenting with silks and satins.


It is not required, but my instructor has taught me to back my embroidery with Thermalamb, a dense polyester batting. It gives you're needle something to grip and helps you make knots without having them show as nasty bumps when your piece is finished. And believe me, you want to knot your Brazilian threads! They are so smooth that weaving them under previous stitches won't keep them from unraveling. You could probably pierce the thread with your needle, but if your work is destined to be a pillow or wall hanging, theThermalamb makes everything easier.

Thermalamb gives your knots something to attach to and disguises the lumps, bumps, and carried threads, such as these from double cast ons.


When you back your piece with thermalamb, it is best to either zig zag the edges together, or for a large piece, baste the whole piece. It keeps the trigger from shifting. After all the work of embroidering a piece, you don't want the thermalamb to be lumpy.

Zig zagging the edge helps keep the Thermalamb from shifting during embroidery.


Finally, if you back with Thermalamb, consider using Q-snaps for your frame. They fit easily over all that bulk and are more practical than a hoop for this type of embroidery. You will be taking your piece in and out of the frame often, so something that doesn't take long to set up is best. Get one big enough for your whole piece if you can. I hate to see people using a small frame and winding up crushing some of their 3-D effects.

Q-snaps come with interchangeable parts, making it easy to create the size and shape of frame you need.


Next week I'll show you the progress I've made on this piece.

Here is the front of my newly set up piece. The Q-snaps keep it taught, but are easy to release.



  1. Thanks for sharing the tips on thermalamb.I should use them more often.

    1. I am so used to using the thermalamb on my embroidery it feels strange when I don't have it! Let me know how it works out.