Tips for Heirloom Embroidery

Create a treasure to be passed on for generations making it an heirloom. Delicate embroidery designs stitched onto lightweight or sheer fabrics in white, off-white or pale pastels make it heirloom embroidery. Our samples here were stitched using The Heirloom Rose Collection by Michelle Griffith #78620. Here are some professional tips for imitating the look of late-19th century French hand-sewing techniques for your heirloom project.



  • Use a sharp needle for woven fabrics, like batiste, cotton & linens.
  • Use a ball point needle for knit fabrics, like sweaters.
  • Use a smaller Organ Embroidery Needle such as 70/10 when embroidering on fine, lightweight fabrics.
  • Use a smaller Organ Embroidery Needle with detailed stitching. The smaller the needle, the smoother the edges of your embroidery will be.
  • Organ Titanium Needles have a special coating that makes the needle last 5 times longer than a regular Organ Embroidery Needle. They also maintain their points longer. They are best to use with the adhesive stabilizers such as OESD AquaMesh Plus.

Isacord Polyester Embroidery Thread is an ideal choice for heirloom projects. It is color fast and bleach resistant. Plus Isacord is fray resistant due to being a 40 weight trilobal thread. Holding up to washing and wearing with ease is another great feature. Isacord has a beautiful high sheen and is available in hundreds of colors.



  • Use a cut away stabilizer with knit and stretchy fabrics; use a tear away for woven fabrics; use a wash away where stabilizer will not remain.
  • For soft, lightweight sweaters use Fusible PolyMesh CutAway or PolyMesh CutAway.
  • For lightweight batiste and cottons use LightWeight TearAway.
  • When hooping your fabric:
    • Lay your project or fabric right side down making sure it doesn’t get stretched.
    • Apply stabilizer with temporary spray adhesive to wrong side of project or fabric.
    • Carefully hoop layers together in an appropriate size hoop, making sure hoops are even on all sides and fabric is taut but not stretched.
  • For hard to hoop items, use a wash away pressure sensitive adhesive stabilizer such as OESD AquaMesh Plus.
    • Hoop the stabilizer with paper side up.
    • Score the paper and remove to expose the adhesive.
    • Mark the back side of the stabilizer for placement.
    • Place your project on top of the stabilizer without stretching or distorting.
    • Place the hoop on the embroidery machine and stitch out design.
    • To remove the excess AquaMesh Plus, carefully cut away excess and rinse with warm running water to remove the remainder.

Shop OESD Stabilizers


Sew Stable Fabric Stabilizer

  • Makes soft fabrics firm.
  • Prevents fraying while fabric is manipulated.
  • Washes out completely.
  • Available in spray or liquid.
  • For spray:
    • Spray about 5” - 8” from fabric until wet.
    • Allow to dry completely.
    • Remove by rinsing in warm to hot water.
  • For liquid:
    • Dilute 3 parts water to one part Sew Stable.
    • Apply by immersing the item or with a paintbrush.
    • Allow to dry completely.
    • Remove by rinsing with mild soap in warm to hot water.


Heirloom Garment Care

  • For Delicate Fabrics:
    • Hand wash using a mild product specially formulated for fine fabrics.
    • No chlorine beach.
    • Pre-treat stains as soon as possible.
    • Never twist or wring your garment.
    • Rinse several times to remove soap.
    • Lay flat to air dry.
  • For Cotton Fabrics:
    • Pre-treat stains as soon as possible.
    • Machine wash using delicate cycle, warm to hot water (some shrinkage may occur)
    • Use only chlorine bleach on white cottons and color safe bleach on dyed cottons.
    • Machine dry on medium settings.
  • For Linen Fabrics:
    • Always soak fine linen in a mild detergent in warm water for 30 minutes before machine washing for the first time.
    • Machine wash in warm water using mild detergent containing no bleaching agents.
    • Line dry, roll in terry cloth towel, or machine dry on low or air setting.
    • May be dry cleaned; have spots pre-treated.


Other suggestions to show off the beautiful designs in this collection:

  • Camisoles
  • Pillowcases
  • Lingerie / Nightgowns
  • Sweaters
  • Clutches
  • Evening Bags
  • Socks
  • Accent buttonholes

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