Five Steps: Update a Classic Image With Neon Colors

Embroiderer Nancy Mini from Madeira USA demonstrates how to use specialty thread to make a stock design really stand out.


Choose contemporary colors.

This simple stock design (“Extra Scoops” from leant itself to a variety of color choices. Veering away from the obvious, Mini chose five new fluorescent colors that Madeira recently added to its Polyneon line of 100% polyester embroidery thread: four shades of pink and a lime green for the scoops of ice cream and a light brown for the sugar cone.


Select thread appropriate for the project.

Since the ice cream cone is a stock design, you can assume it has been digitized for standard 40-weight rayon or polyester thread. For this project, the embroiderer chose fluorescent thread so the colors would pop against a dark background.


Keep your background fabric in mind.

A black canvas fabric was chosen for this design to make the fluorescent colors pop even more than they would on a lighter fabric. Since dark colors appear to recede, the black background seems to “push” bright fluorescents forward. Since canvas is a sturdy woven fabric and the design isn’t very large, a lightweight tearaway backing was used, giving the backside of the fabric a clean look after the backing is removed.


Plan stitches that complement the design.

With only five colors to work with and three ice cream scoops, the balance of each color’s different stitch type provided contrasting shading and texture. The lime green cross-hatch on the sugar cone offers a realistic look to an otherwise ordinary design.


Hoop and embroider your design.

Start by hooping your fabric and backing loosely, and then finger-tighten the hoop screw to obtain the optimal grip. This works particularly well for multi-head machines, where you most likely have an extra set of hoops to prep your next batch.

Tip: Bright, intense colors like fluorescents carry more visual weight than neutral black, helping the cone to pop forward.