Free Motion Jellyfish Embroidery

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Free motion embroidery tutorial - Jellyfish

Here's a quick embroidery tutorial that you can use to turn a boring old tee into a fun nautical inspired top. If you've never tried free motion embroidery before, you might want to check out this post first to get a feel for it. I know it can seem a little daunting, but free motion stitching is really a lot of fun. You'll be coming up with your own embroidery ideas in no time!

Free motion embroidery supplies

You will need:
2 colors of thread, a t-shirt or piece of knit fabric, fusible tricot interfacing, 
a free motion foot, an iron, chalk or a marking pen, an embroidery hoop (optional)

Fusible tricot interfacing

Iron a piece of tricot interfacing onto the wrong side of the knit/t-shirt where you plan to embroider your jellyfish.

Embroidered Jellyfish Tutorial

Flip the fabric over and draw your jellyfish.
For this tutorial I'm breaking mine down into three parts:

the Cap - a dome with a scalloped bottom and two teardrop shapes
 the Arms - four or five squiggly lines tapering away from the cap
and the Tentacles - long wavy lines coming out of each of the caps scallops

Machine setup for free motion embroidery

 Thread your machine with the color you plan to use for the jellyfish's arms. 
Attach a free motion presser foot, and lower the feed dogs.
Secure your jellyfish drawing inside an embroidery hoop if you plan to use one.

Jellyfish Embroidery Tutorial

Beginning at the top of one of the arms, stitch in a curlicue motion down to the end, and then back up to the top. Leave a long tail, and move on to the next arm. The loops can be large, small, overlapping, to the left, or to the right. I know it just seems like a pile of squiggles, but for this kind of free motion embroidery the more variation you add, the better it looks.

Finishing embroidery knots

Pull the thread tails to the back of the work, knot them, and trim away the extra. If you accidently cut a tail too short
to tie, or are concerned about a knot coming loose, add a drop of fray check to keep it secure.

Jellyfish cap chalk outline

Once all the arms are stitched and knotted, it's time to move on to the cap of the jellyfish. Change your thread to the second color, and take a peek at the picture above. This funny looping pattern will allow you to make the cap as one continuous line of stitches.

Jellyfish cap free motion embroidery

Make four circuits around the cap trying to build on the previous round each time.  There's no need to be perfect. 
A bit of squiggly-ness adds volume to the embroidery. Knot the ends when you finish.

Embroidered Jellyfish Tutorial

After the cap, stitch the tentacles in the same way that you did the arms. Start at the top, go down and back up.
Repeat this twice so you have 4 rows of wiggly overlapping embroidery for each tentacle. 

Trimmed embroidery interfacing

Trim away any excess interfacing. Rinse off the chalk/markings, and iron firmly.

Free Motion Embroidered Jellyfish Tutorial

Your free motion jellyfish is complete! 
Add a few jellys here and there in different sizes or colors to create your own embroidery pattern. 
I used mine to decorate Aurelia's Tidal Pool Tunic, but they're abstract enough to be great for everyone.

Have a little free motion fun!
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  1. I love the wiggliness of it Toni! I love wigglying!!

    1. Thanks Samantha! I thought they would look really cute on a tote bag too, but that's your area. ;D

  2. I love free motion too! I love this series, what a fun idea!

    1. Thanks so much Lynette! You're always so sweet. Can't wait for you to see the rest. I'm saving some of the best outfits for last!

  3. Wow this is really an awesome creativity.I love this embroidery.

  4. your jelly fish is fantastic! thank you for sharing how you made it! :) I clicked through to see the finished tunic, it is very sweet

    1. Thanks Allison! It's pretty fun to just start sewing all over the place since I'm so used to going in a straight line. I can see why quilters enjoy it so much!

  5. Gosh, that is SO cool! I love it! It's so unique!

  6. this is really awesome! i can't wait to get a new sewing machine with a free motion foot.

    Sisters, Sisters

    1. Hi Havalah! Not sure if it helps, but I got my free motion foot on Amazon for cheap. If you already have a machine, you can probably find one there that will fit your model. Thanks for visiting!

  7. So adorable and creative! Love it! Thanks for linking up to Give Me the Goods Monday! Love having you party with us! Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

    1. Thanks Jenna, and thanks so much for hosting every week!


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