Monday, June 13, 2011

Embroidery with a Willcox & Gibbs

Just a quick post about the Willcox and Gibbs I wrote about here:
Willcox and Gibbs Chainstitch Sewing Machine
I mentioned before that these machines can do really nice embroidery if the underside is used.  Mostly this has been done with tea towel and cotton muslin.  Recently I gave it a try for decorating a back pocket on a pair of jeans I was making.  Sometimes you just want to try something out of your comfort zone, right?  Jeans was one of those times.  I have never made a pair and so thought why not?  I used Wild Ginger Boutique pattern making software to draft and create a design.  I have had a version of this since 1992 and recently upgraded so gave this a shot.
Jeans Pattern Print Assembly Jeans Pattern Print - Putting it Together.
The pants came out OK, but the interesting part is how well the Willcox Gibbs did with denim.  The machine is quite strong, no problem or hesitation whatsoever for this.  It was one layer but still quite heavy.  The thread is regular Guitermann rather than "Jeans" top stitching thread.
Embroidery on the Willcox Gibbs is done on the wrong side of the fabric.  It is the bottom chain that is so pretty.  This can be a little tricky - designing in reverse.  What is shown in this picture is the design drawn on the wrong side of the fabric then stitched.  The actual stitching part is pretty easy.  These electric versions are very fast so try hard to slow it all down for accuracy.
When done, on the right side, thread the loose ends through a needle and pull to the underside.
On the underside, knot the loose ends.
Here is one of the finished pockets.  I know, it's weird but at the time seemed Ok to have an octopus on my jeans.  The octopus is a favorite animal of mine and I have some great stories of their incredible intelligence but possibly another venue for my admiration next time. 
The chain stitch machine does this type of job very well and would be a good project suggestion for anyone who has one.  I could also see technique used to make a tote bag design on heavy cotton.   So much to do!


  1. I like the octopus. I've never done machine embroidery. I do have 3 treadles, tho.

  2. Oh, wow. I really want a vintage chainstitch machine! Just bought a Singer 603 for this very reason, but I don't have it up and running yet.

    I love the octopus on the pocket.

  3. I love it. Octopi are one of my favorite animals, as well. I have a story about one in a lab I worked in....if they lived longer, we'd totally need treaties with them.

  4. Yes this is true. They have a lot of personality and are disturbingly smart. Jacques Cousteau called them the "Champions of Liberty". I am not entirely sure what he meant, but recalled the episode later when seeing one who was known to escape from his tank go to other tanks and then return to his own to sleep. It was at at a marine museum. He did it for a year or so with out being caught, no one knew where the missing fish went from neighboring tanks.

  5. I've just bought a Willcox and Gibbs Chain Stitch machine for sewing jeans and embroidering the back pockets, your blog entry was very helpfull for choosing it – so I wanted to say thank you therefore.
    I have one question – how do you disable the fabric transport during embroidery? Do you just raise the presser foot? Or do you just do not disable it at all?
    Thank you very much for your reply.
    Anyway, here is a link to my blog, where I explain how to sew (mens) jeans:

    1. I am in awe of your jeans project, and want to try that myself. Great post!
      About the chainstitcher: I do not raise the presser foot or do anything special. I raise the foot when turning at a sharp angle but otherwise just sew. It goes very fast so the hardest part is keeping it slow and steady.