When I got on my new embroidery kick, the first thing I did was get a pack of plain Aunt Martha's 28-Inch by 28-Inch Flour Sack Dish Towels and washed them all. I know they say they are pre-washed, and they appear to be, but that doesn't mean there isn't a trace of some kind of icky factory goo on there, so I washed 'em again. And promptly put them in craft storage for a couple of weeks because I was busy stitching other things.
But this past weekend I dug them out and started in on them. They're nice towels. There's a hanging loop hidden in one corner, so I made sure to put my decoration on the opposite end.
The top towel is a design from UrbanThreads.com which, to be honest, by the time I reduced it to the proper size for a tea towel was far too intricate for the project, but I forged ahead anyway. That one will be for my personal use, as there was a small black grease stain near one of the edges. The other two are for the shop eventually. I took three motifs from the Doodle Stitching Motif Collection book and lined them up together. Over the weekend I also sketched my own original design, and plan on doing that one either today or tomorrow. It's an homage to one of my favorite tee shirts (and favorite foods). I've been mentally calling it "BLT Buddies" but that's for convenience.
Creating my own design has taught me two things. One, I really, really need to clean the surface of my flatbed scanner. You do NOT want to know how many flecks of dirt and dust I needed to Photoshop out of that image. And two, don't ink a drawing for embroidery with a brush pen. You just can't get a fine enough line, and you need consistency. It's a good thing I kept the original pencil sketch. Fortunately you can clean up all the line weirdness when using a light board to trace the design onto a tea towel.
I had originally planned on using iron-transfer pencils for all my designs, but found that you had to wait far too long for the iron to heat to proper temperature, and I felt guilty wasting the electricity for what ended up being a five-minute ironing session. That and the transfer pencil just didn't transfer dark enough. So I've landed on two methods for my embroidery transfer... lightboard and soluble pen, or printing on a piece of tracing paper and just stitching straight through the paper.
Stitching through paper, even light tracing paper, presents its own problems though. I found it really hard to do satin stitch through paper. I need to be able to see the fabric threads while I'm working. And even with the thinnest paper possible, it left my stitching very loose on the fabric after tearing it away. I'm hoping that goes away after I wash it (that's how I did the intricate stitching on the top towel) but I fear it won't. I'll let you know how it goes.