Posted by: sewsirius | October 22, 2013

Free Standing Lace – FSL

Last night I found myself too tired to sew without having my seam ripper very close by, but not tired enough to sleep all night and all day ready for my night shift on Tuesday night (which I think is tonight, but I’m in the middle of my sleep so is it tomorrow? Night shifts really mess up my body clock!)

Anyway rather than waste any time watching TV, I decided to add to my stock of FSL ornaments and share some tips I learnt (the hard way!)

Firstly what is FSL?

This is an embroidery design that is specially created to be sewn onto a water soluble stabiliser which is then dissolved in water after the design has been completed. I love to see how these designs sew out…it’s the ultimate in sewing creation…a short time ago there was only thread and stabiliser now there is a gorgeous design ready to be rinsed, dried and either used as an ornament or sewn up into a project.

I tried these designs shortly after getting my Brother Innovis NV machine. But I never got the same results as the pictures showed on the embroidery design website I used, Emblibrary. I then decided to look at their instructions how to do this type of embroidery and realised my mistakes.

First of all choose your stabiliser. The film type of water soluble stabilisers such as Sulky Solvy will only tear with the intense number of stitches involved with these designs (although Emblibrary do recommend Sulky Ultra Solvy it’s heavier weight). I use a non woven Vilene type of stabiliser that washes out easily. For ornaments, I only rinse the designs under running water until the stabiliser has washed away then pat dry with a clean towel and after reshaping it I leave them to dry for a few hours. Lace which doesn’t require this much body I leave to soak all the stabiliser away in a small bowl of warm water for 15 mins.


Secondly, choose a good thread. I’m lucky in that most of my designs so far have been shades of white (natural white and super white) so I could use my usual embroidery bobbing thread in the bobbin and get a good result. However, if you are using colour you will need to have the same coloured thread in the bobbin. As embroidery thread isn’t the strongest thread around, I think when I have these to sew up in different colours, I think I’m going to use a normal sewing thread in a matching colour to give a professional result.

Thirdly, slow the machine down! Sewing at 1000 stitches per minute adds tension to the thread resulting in thread pulls, shredding and breaks. I have found 600 stitches per minute and reducing the upper thread tension after the base stitches have been stitched out is the ideal combination for my machine. I would strongly encourage you to try these out on your machine and adjust before you commit to a big lace pattern.

Fourthly, no matter how tempting it is to sew more than one design in a hoop…don’t! The stabiliser shifts too much during the sewing and you will end up with misaligned stitches. I’ve tried this myself and while the first design looks great the rest I have to reject!

I have a friend at work who wanted a lace heart so I embroidered the four heart designs last night, along with a butterfly, a lace leaf and a Halloween ornament that glows in the dark!








The spider’s web is sewn with the glow in the dark thread. This thread, and the solar colour change thread from Gütermann, are not the easiest to work with. They are even more prone to shredding and breaking than metallic thread (I promise to write about tips for this thread soon!), so it is even more important to watch your machine, slow it down and reduce the upper thread tension. I’m happy with the results!

(28th October 2013)

The stabiliser is now washed away and the FSL is now on its own!

Now you can see how spooky the glow in the dark thread is!

I hope my friend likes the hearts…I like them anyway! The butterfly is perfect for an all year round decoration, probably would suit a little girl’s bedroom?


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