Where do you get your fabrics?
Lots of places! So let me break it down for you:
United States Resources:
JoAnn Fabrics: JoAnn’s is a good resource for fleece and some minky. They almost always have Anti-pill and Blizzard brand fleece in stock (just be sure to catch it when it’s on sale). They’re slowly coming out with more plush fabric options, though the colors can be limited. These include Sew Lush and Swirl faux fur. Their solid minky is a decent option, though it might feel a little thinner and not as stretchy if you’re used to higher quality stuff.
Fabric.com: This is a very reliable option for Shannon brand minky (often considered one of the better brands). They have nearly every color in the Shannon catalog, and carry many of the experimental faux fur & printed options from Shannon as well. You’ll also find minky fabrics from other brands, including Fabric.com’s own brand. The colors are very limited but the price is cheaper and the quality is honestly not that bad.
Spoonflower: This service offers custom-printed fabric. I use it to make custom designs for minky, fleece, and cotton. You can create your own design or choose your own from their marketplace of designs submitted by others. The price can be a little high compared to solid fabric, but they do sometimes have sales and coupons to help soften the blow. The main issue with the fabric (and many custom-printed fabrics) is that the ink from the printer does not penetrate through the entirety of the fur. So the base of the fur still shows up white — especially in dark fabrics. One workaround is to use lighter colors, but also to opt for textural designs, especially ones with flecks of light colors. For example galaxy prints help you get away with the drawbacks of the fabric.
CaliQuiltCo: I have not personally tried this shop, but I’ve heard from others that they’re a great resource if you’re looking to buy small quantities of minky at a lower price since they offer ¼ yd. and ½ yard cuts as well as bundles.
I haven’t personally shopped with any of these international sellers, but I’ve heard good things from other sewists. So these weren’t found based on a simple Google search. Please do let me know if you have any others to recommend!
UK/Europe – Plush Addict
Germany/Europe – Spoonflower: It should be known that Spoonflower has locations in both North Carolina (USA) and Berlin, Germany. So international buyers are not completely left out from their site ♥
Canada – Funky Monkey Fabrics
What sewing machine do you use? Any recommendations?
I currently use a Husqvarna Viking Emerald 116. I’ve had it for over 10 years now and it still works very well despite what I put it through! It’s a mechanical machine that only does the basics, but it does them very well.
As far as where others should start, I do think others would be successful with a Viking brand machine, but I realize they are a little more expensive. My machine ran about $400 at the time. If you’re looking for something cheaper, the Brother brand has been gaining traction as a quality budget brand as of late. Though if you can manage to go to a dealer to try one for yourself, you’ll have a much better time.
What embroidery machine do you use? Any recommendations?
I currently use a Husqvarna Viking Topaz 50 for my embroidery machine. I’ve had it for over 2 years now and has heartily put up with everything I do to it, haha! As far as price, it’s a bit in the mid to high-range and ran me about $2000 refurbished. So I would not recommend it for someone just starting out and wants to spend less.
I have also used a Singer Futura in the past, which had a good handful of problems. It didn’t completely prevent me from embroidering, but I don’t believe it’s a brand I would return to.
For a beginner, once again the Brother brand has been gaining traction as a reliable budget brand. I have not personally used them myself, but I have heard good reviews personally from other embroiderers. Models like the SE400 or 600 and the PE770 or 800 have been well-received. Ideally, you should purchase a machine that has an embroidery hoop suited to the projects you’ll be making. In the case of plush toys, the minimum 4″ x 4″ will still work, but may limit you with many designs. A 5″ x 7″ hoop will give you much more freedom by comparison.
What embroidery software do you use? Any recommendations?
I currently use a program called Hatch by Wilcom. It’s in the mid to upper range as far as price, so it has a few more robust features as well as fewer bugs. Keep in mind, this is a digitizing program, so it allows you to create entirely new embroidery designs from scratch. Programs that just have editing capabilities (such as resizing, rotating, etc.) are much less expensive and often come for free with your embroidery machine.
As far as digitizing programs for beginners, I would recommend a program like Embird or Stitch Era Universal. Both of these offer free trials so you can get a feel for the program before you buy.
As for simple editing programs, there is a free program I have personally tried for testing purposes, called MyEditor. This program will allow you to make simple edits to existing embroidery, including combining files (really helpful if you want to build custom faces from separate eyes, noses, mouths, etc.).