Stitch Era - free standing lace

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According to Rick Macali] (retrieved 8/2017), “Freestanding lace (FSL) designs are embrodery designs that are stitched on a special stabilizer that dissolves in water .. what you are left with is the FSL design or designs. Digitizing for lace is much different than digitizing for standard embroidery designs. Only designs digitized for freestanding lace designs will be stable after the stabilizer is washed away .. other designs will typically fall apart.FSL designs have much higher density segments, or a much higher stitch count versus non-lace embroidery designs. A digitizers goal with non-lace embroidery designs is to create a beautiful piece of embroidery with as few stitches as possible, when digitizing for lace, the stitch count is incredibly higher. If you see spaces between your stitches, that is a tell-tale sign that your lace won't hold up when the stabilizer is removed. The satin, or zigzag stitches need to be tight with a high stitch count. Some embroiderers rely upon the weave of the fabric to support the segments, but, I like to digitize a run stitch under the satin segment and that will support the lace.”

Digitizing FSL

There exist several techniques for creating Free standing embroidery. The common principle is that you need several layers that stitch in different directions so that the stitches do not fall apart.

Three layers with different stitch orientations

To play:

  • Import or create a simple vector graphic, e.g. a heart
  • Duplicate it three times (cut and past in place). Change their color (just for drawing purposes). Now you got three hearts on top of each other
  • Create a cross stitch for the the first
  • Create a cross stitch for the second, but change the stich direction by turning the direction handler
  • Create a pattern for the third
  • Take the third and create a satin stitch for the border.


  • You only need one instance and you could digitize the same one three times.But this may lead to confusion maybe.
  • You could replace the cross stitch by an Elastic Programmable Stitch (e.g. PS1-0053).
  • Instead of three layers or in addition use underlays.

However, if you get many layers (e.g. normals ones plus underlays plus dense stitches) the fabric will start distorting and/or the machine won't have the power to punch through. In other words, the supporting layers should not be too fat.

Stitching FSL

  • Use a water soluble stabilizer, usually two layers or more. The thicker the lace the more stabilizer.
  • Speed: around 500-600 (since the stabilizer is not a strong tissue)
  • Use the same color for the bobbin. In principle one should use cotton. (I will first try the same thread as above).


Digitizing free standing lace

Tutorials on how to "print" an FSL design (retrieved in Aug. 2017). These tutorials explain some physical principles, give tips on stabilizers, hooping, threads, etc.