Periodically, I get asked how I get my embroideries to lay so nice and flat and how do I get the thread to stand up off of the fabric. It is all about your ironing surface.
I started out with a piece of wood that I covered with a few layers of batting that I had on hand. I covered the batting with some heat resistant silver ironing fabric, that you can get at Joanne's (I believe Hobby Lobby carries it as well). I have since graduated to a Steady Betty board. Either way, the ironing surface is easily portable. I just love it because it gives me the nice, crisp, dimensional results that I want for my embroidery projects.
Before embroidery, I always pretreat my fabrics with a spray starch. I spray the fabric with starch and iron it. That gives the fabric a little bit of stabilization. It is not a replacement for stabilizer, but it makes the fabric a little bit stiffer and you'll have less puckering. It works like a charm!
After I've stitched the embroidery, I'm ready to iron it again. One of the biggest tips I have is to use a towel on your ironing surface. The reason I do that is because I like my stitches to stand up. Towels have a nice fluffy nap that gives stitches a space to sink into so that they are not ironed flat. It keeps the embroidery a little bit puffier, more dimensional.
Spray the embroidered piece with spray starch, on the backside and place the embroidery face down onto a towel. Put the iron at a setting that the fabric will handle, such as cotton for standard quilting fabric. Then I smooth the embroidery out as I press.
As I'm pressing into the towel my stitches actually have a place to go. Sometimes, when I lift off embroideries from the towel, I actually have an engraving of the design into my towel. Iron from the backside, never iron it from the front, and you will get a nice embroidery where the stitches actually pop off of the fabric.
See the full video here!