Cutwork 8/8/08

I just returned from a short trip.  By the time I got to Phoenix, it was 112° and it was 115° where I was staying.  Naturally that got me to thinking about . . . Christmas.  (I am sure there must be some sort of relationship there!) 

When I think of Christmas and all those gifts, I have three guiding thoughts; gifts must be unique, usable and unpricey.  (This is my blog, so I can make up words, Greg told me so!)

One of the most difficult to buy for is likely to be a woman who ‘has everything.'  But I have an edge, ME and ATG, so I have lots of ideas and I am going to share one with you today.

When one has ‘everything,' they may be a fan of items that others will cherish, such as heirlooms and keepsakes.   Family items such as wonderful china or sterling silver items may be terrific, but I am seeking something less expensive.   Occasionally, I will hear one of my children remark about something that they remember from their grandparent's home, like the special cloth napkins that were only used for special occasions.   I consider those napkins to be special even if there were stains or they showed significant signs of use.    All of the aspects of the napkins were part of the warm memories and stories of blueberry stains are a part of that.   There was even one gathering when Uncle Fred tried to bake a pie for a Family Dinner.  All we have to hear is "Uncle Fred's Pie" and everyone laughs joyously (it was still rather raw!)

So, I selected napkins from ATG's collection of blanks.  When I received the package of 12, I was just in awe.  I love the Ecru for its heirloom quality.  Then the fabric is 60/40 Linen/Cotton blend.  That will make it easier care than 100% linen and the size is so grand at 21" square.   A border of 1.5" is charmingly edged in a cutwork style of embroidery.  For illustration purposes, the background is my mat (What took me so long to buy one of these? They have so many uses!) 


                                                                                Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus $120 per dozen

When I was seeking the perfect design, there were so many here at ATG that just made me feel like I was creating something really special.  I know you understand that feeling; it is what this embroidery is all about.  I wanted to show you how easy it is to do a ‘cutwork' style of design and take your breath away at the same time.  I hope I succeeded.

My test sewouts exceeded my expectations!  And my first napkin was ready to be sewn.  This is really where "Perfect Placement Kit" does come in quite handy.  I worked with the placement and felt confident of my workmanship.  In the photo below, there is a ‘v' shaped mark which is barely visible, and that is the key for placement. 


The floral design I selected has two rows of cut area placement.  I chose to do the first outline twice and the second outline once.  That is a personal preference because it makes the cutting line stronger.  The eventual design will make all the area sturdy.  I was very impressed with the digitizing on the design.  I have several other brands which did not have the ‘edging' stitches that this digitizer had placed in their work.

I did not hoop my fabric because I wanted to be sure there was no movement in the linen.  Linen is loosely woven and can have some variation in the thread lines.  So, I started with my basting circle.  Barely visible in the second photo is the outline.  I am ready to begin cutting.


I did my ‘rough' cut to start out with my over all cut.  Make sure that you do NOT cut your stabilizer!  The cutwork style is a ‘cousin' to free standing lace; therefore, that water soluble stabilizer (wss) is important to your project.  You can use a cut away stabilizer if you prefer but I felt my wss was working just fine for me. 


Once I completed the cutting (and snipping off any loose threads), I placed my hoop back into the machine.  I did use an identical color in the bobbin threads since this is a napkin that is going to be used from either side.  I was careful to cut the threads between change of colors so that those threads could not be a problem.

After finishing the cut, I replaced the hoop in the machine and embroidered away.

My completed design is ready for the final removal of the stabilizer.  The small openings inside the leaves were cut away using my smallest scissors.  That part is tricky and if a little amount of stabilizer remains, I could use a little water to complete the removal.  I am using a coin (sometimes I use a spoon) to hold and preserve the stitches and cut or tear away the stabilizer as appropriate.  This helps me take the pressure off of my fingers and hands.


If for any reason you think you might have cut the threads make sure you use something like "Fray Check" so that washing will not damage the embroidery.  It is so easy to nip a thread.  If you feel the need to press the napkin, place a dense towel on your ironing board and place the design face down on that towel.  Use a steam setting and your embroidery will not loose its 3D appearance.  I personally think that linen is meant to have a casual quality to it, so for me, ironing is counterproductive to the fabric's properties.


I hope you will find time for this eye-catching project.  I know I had fun doing it and cannot wait to finish the set for a special Christmas gift, maybe for me!

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Comments (23) -

Hi Pat, I just love your blog! The pics are great. They really give perfect step by step guides. I now have the confidence to do cut work. What a great idea for Christmas gifts. I love the idea of the flower on the napkin.

Pat, I just tried my very first ME cutwork. I was Jazzed! I love it. I carefully cut all the holes with three different scissors,one was not better than another. This is the kind of ME that interests me most. I can hardly wait to try some more. Stitches

You must be reading my mind.  I have a friend getting married soon and was wracking my brain about what to do for her.  I've never done cutwork, but was thinking about trying it and (goody, goody) you have a step-by-step!

Thank you bunches!


You all are so welcome!  I am so excited about cutwork!  I have been thinking of where else to use these.  You can certainly put this on anything.  I was thinking about a short sleeve on a blouse or even on the right side of the bodice.  How cool would that be?

I would enjoy getting something like this!  I gotta do some items for myself.


alssweetheart 8/9/2008 11:36:34 PM

WOW Pat, your napkins are so pretty and you did an exceptional job explaining and the pictures are great!! Thanks so much, keep giving us more of your ideas and blogs!!!



Your cutwork is interesting & absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Being new to this, I have a couple of questions. . . You said you did not hoop your linen napkins. Did you hoop your stabilizer and put your linen (unhooped) on top of it, then sew your basting circle? Exactly how do you know where to make your rough cut? Did you somehow draw an outline of your pattern on the napkin?

I love your ideas! How about around the neckline of a scoop or square neck tee?

Thanks for the great blog!


I live in the UK and cannot seem to find good quality blanks over here. I have ordered goods from the US but the postage is horrendous.

rnh-Thanks!  I love hearing questions and suggestions.  I did not hoop the linen because of its loosely woven properties.  Those lines could be pushed into an 'S' configuration with the amount of pressure that the hoops need.  The stabilizer was hooped, and I basted the linen before I began with the design.  That basting keeps the fabric from shifting which is important in this process.  A miss would be as big as a mile in this case.

Those photos were the best I could get.  I wish you could have seen the stitches better, but I had been advised to use a color matching the napkin.  I think that is not necessary.  I could have used a thread for better visibility, lesson learned.

I started the rough cut in the center and wanted to have easy access to the nooks and crannies that might be present.  In this case, the openings were sufficiently large to make a good cut with a small, sharp scissor.

I am glad people are responding to these because ATG has the best design for cutwork  I found on the Net.  The lacey items in the design pack are going to be fun to do as well.  

ValHomson-I wonder if good quality blanks are available from other places than the USA.  I would think that you might be able to get something from Ireland for instance.   Quality linen is always on the pricey side, so when you add the s/h, it could be a serious problem.


Thanks, Pat! I think you just gave me that perfect idea for the wedding gift I need in Nov! If I have any problems, I'll send out an SOS to you.


rnh-I was thinking about when you do that, everyone who sees your gift WILL REMEMBER IT!  All the crock pots and coffee makers will be forgotten immediately, but your gift will be remembered by one and all not just the happy couple.


8/11/08-I was just looking over the new email from ATG and I noticed that I am always drawn to the "Heirloom" types of designs.  

That got me to thinking, I do my blogs with my selections of designs, that may not be your favorite style selection.  So, I want to vary my project designs, let me know what YOU would like to see.

That way, there will be more variety.  Thanks!


those are beautiful. thanks

Great job!  One of my favorite tablecloths is a cutwork one my grandmother did by hand when I was a child.  This gives me the courage to try this on a small scale.  Napkins would make great Christmas gifts for a couple of my friends.

Joan12-Your avatar is so beautiful!  Tell us about the flower!



I'm glad I went to check out your blog.  The design is just beautiful and you make it look so easy.


The flower is one of many day lilies planted in my yard.  Since I'm not the gardener in the family I couldn't tell you any more about it.  I just enjoy looking out my sewing room window and seeing them.

Well, Joan, I love your flower.  Please take a moment to post it in the Media area.  I put my 'view from my machine' and I enjoy looking at it when I am embroidering.  Check it out:">  


Wonderfull Pat, I'm not after


Dinie - you write english better than I write your language.  

I am happy to hear from you,

Best wishes to you and yours, Pat

Pat, love your cutwork.

I am not sure if we can suggest other ME designs? But there is one out there that does the basic outline, you cut the entire center out, and the design is made to "fill in" the rest of the design. Of course the downside is that that all the designs in this pack are Christmas.

I have done FSL, but have only tried a practice cutwork. I bought napkins and will have a go at those.

thanks for the pics.


Thank you cme-I really enjoyed doing this blog!

I was a FSL freak for a long time and I have the designs to prove it, probably one third of my collection is FSL.  

I think that ME designs that are unique and/or specialized would be great to share.  I know I only found a few designs for cutwork on the Net.  My priority for this blog is to instruct ME users with my version of how to do things.  My 2nd priority is to point you to the materials I have used from ATG.  

After all, this site goes way beyond all the usual 'sales' sites on the Net.  There are forums, great blogs and I want to support ATG to keep these things free.  

I have also placed a new Forum Thread to assist buyers of PE700/PE700II machines.  Check it out, you might learn something. . . .  




I tried a FSL bookmark a while back.  I turned out good until near the end of the design, then the needle broke and tore the aqua soluble stabilizer.  My pride made me throw it away even after I went back and tried to "mend" the edge with satin stitch.  I'll not throw away a sample again.  Must learn from all of them.  

I'd appreciate a lesson from you on FSL.

Stitches . .


janmckinstry 10/9/2008 5:13:17 PM

Hi Pat     I love the cut work you are very clever thank you for your helpfull photos and tip I shall have a goat the way you did the hooping.

      jan McKinstry    ( Australia)

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