1740s Frock Coat for Women (Step 2 – Embroidery Preparation)

I fell in love with this embroidery the moment I saw it on Cooper Hewitt’s website.

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I loved the softness and femininity of the flowers, and I thought it would be the perfect feminine piece to use for my frock coat for women. This is where the talented Cari from Cabbit Corner Embroidery came in. I ended up commissioning her to convert it into machine embroidery.

Believe it or not, she did this entire conversion by hand. I think she tried the wizard converting tool after converting the original into an AI vector file, but I agree with her – it never turns out quite as good as you want it to. So she did the entire thing by hand. Absolutely meticulous and brilliant work!

So first thing I did was print it. You can see my beloved VE 2200 at work here.

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This is how the first draft looked printed with rayon threads on some black wool broadcloth. I frequently use wool scraps as I don’t need to interface the fabric, thereby making things theoretically easier.

I chose a pink silk shantung in hot pink for the base fabric. After that, it was just experimenting over and over with different colors on different backgrounds until I found the perfect one!

 

After picking the colors, I went ahead and started positioning the repeated design on the actual pattern. After scanning the muslin pattern, complete with grid lines, I went ahead and uploaded it into my program – PE Design 10.

 

After uploading the pattern piece into the software, resize it so that the ruler fits with the grid lines appropriately. This is very important as you do NOT want to print your pattern and then find out that your waistcoat or coat doesn’t fit!

When you start with your pattern, I high recommend starting with the border. The border will take the longest time. In this case, I got a repeat of one section and copy pasted and changed the angle along all the curves, and positioned one after the other like so. I actually printed one, realized I wanted my border bigger and had to redo it. Overall, I think I spent around 12 hours just resizing the border of the pattern, over and over again.

After the border was in place, I lined it with the curve lines. Most software has a curved line tool and that proved very useful. My solid lines are usually 0.22″ but you can use whatever you find fits your frame and sewing preference.

AFTER that, I went ahead and positioned the flowers. I recommend doing a little bit at a time. Personally, I resized my flower pattern about three times before I was happy with the size. I would print a sample embroidery, using a monocolor version of my pattern (for speedy printing and to avoid 22 color changes), to make sure I liked the size. (To print a monocolor version of your pattern, copy paste the original file, rename it with the word ‘monocolor’ at the end, open up the file, select the whole image, and make it one color. Then save to your flash drive, print to test your image really quickly)

Just saying, my final version of the flowers were 33% bigger than the original.

Some tips:

  1. When you do break up your image, I suggest putting placement lines. The top placement line is always the first thing sewn by your machine. The second, and lower placement line should be the last thing printed by your line.
  2. I always align my top line to be exactly 0 degrees, or horizontal; this makes placement easier so you don’t have to mess around with trying to find the perfect angle of your design. Again, these are suggestions.
  3. Work in small bits, and print sample embroideries frequently. The final print always looks very different from what you see on screen.
  4. Make the placement line stitches large. I used 0.2″; large enough that they are easy to remove at the very end, small enough that they still get printed with some reliability.
  5. When you do print your placement lines, since they will be removed at the end anyhow, print them in bright, distinct colors so you can be sure to see it.
  6. Most embroidery frames come with a grid to help you align patterns; use this to align your placement lines perfectly.

 

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