Posted on Leave a comment

Lacy Bowl – Machine Embroidery

I have recently discovered a love and real passion for some very easy, but beautifully effective crafts which I’d like to share with you under this new page “Cooper’s Crafty Corner“.  I came across this gorgeous little bowl at the Handmade Fair held at Ragley Hall recently, and it’s so easy to do!   The workshop was run by Jayne Emerson, who is a textile designer and you can see more of her work and products here.  If you ever get the chance her workshops are well worth attending.  Right, here we go.

To create your bowl you will need the following:

  • Soluable fabric (do not get this wet)
  • Selection of embroidery threads
  • Cotton
  • Fabric flowers/sequins/gems (all of these are optional)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Bowl/plate
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine


1.  Decide on your desired bowl size (I used a small pudding basin for this one), turn it upside down and measure from the rim to rim. See image.

2.  Find a plate with the same diameter, measure square of soluable fabric – double the amount required (or x 2) as you will need to fold this over and draw your circle on it.

3.  Next you’ll need to ‘spaghetti’ your chosen threads (and extras if using) all over, but within the line, of your circle.

I found the easiest way to avoid tangling the embroidery thread was to put the whole thing over my wrist and unravel it straight onto the fabric (whole skeins).

4.  When you’re happy with your ‘spaghetti’ layout you will need to fold over the top layer of soluble fabric (or place your second square on top), pin and tack.  Note you are only ‘tacking’ to keep it in place so you don’t need neat tiny stitches.

5.  Next you need to place this in your embroidery hoop and it needs to fit nice and tight (hence the extra fabric around your circle).  Note:. You are going to be sewing on the inside of the hoop not the outside as you would with hand embroidery, so lay your fabric over the larger section then place the smaller section into it.

6.  Now, this is the tricky bit – but it’s only tricky because no one was around to take a short video of me doing it, so I hope my explanation will be clear enough?

You need to set your sewing machine to a normal size straight stitch length/width and lower the feeder teeth.  This is really important otherwise you won’t be able to ‘free-hand’ the hoop and you risk snagging the fabric and tangling the the threads in your machine.

Raise the sewing foot as high as possible (most machines allow you to push up a little further than it’s natural stop point) and insert the hoop.  It can be a bit awkward depending on how far up you can raise the foot.

When you’re ready – and take it at a steady pace, not too fast, but not too slow either – start sewing in squiggly, circular movements by holding the hoop and moving it as if you were sifting.  Do this until all the threads have been caught, you need to go over and over it making you sure you stitch the threads near the edge too, but not your tacking (see image).  The beauty of this is it doesn’t matter how you do it, you’re not aiming for perfect straight lines, you’re stitching is supposed to be in a ‘messy’ random manner, what’s important is that you catch as much of the threads as possible so that there are no large stringy gaps at the next stage.

6.  Once complete, take everything out of the hoop and trim off the excess material, reasonably close to your tacking.

We’re nearly there!

7.  Now the fun bit 🙂  Dip your embroidery into a bowl of clean lukewarm water and gently swish until all of the material has dissolved – this only takes 30-40 seconds. Squeeze out any excess water,  gently open out your threads and while they’re still sticky, mould then over your chosen bowl.

(It is not usually necessary to then sit your upturned bowl on top of a cheese grater, but I wanted a loose frilly edge so I raised the bowl and while still wet, played around with it.)

Now leave in a warm place to dry – a sunny window is always good but you can speed the process up by placing in a warm (not hot) oven for half an hour or so.  Once it’s completely dry use a blunt knife (e.g. palette knife) to gently release the threads from you bowl and…



So that you can see a comparison in both size and density, below is my very first attempt. It was a smaller bowl and I used much more thread which gave it a more solid feel once it was dry 🙂

Have fun experimenting and if you have any questions, or need to clarify any of the above, comment or message me and I’ll do my best to help you further.  It would be fab to see how you get on, so when you’re ready, please do come back and showcase your own creations 🙂

Happy sewing ☺️🌺

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.