Just a couple of other ideas ....
1) If you use WSS you can cut away as much WSS as you can and then rub the edges with a wet cotton bud to get lovely clean edges on satin stitch edges.
2) If the design doesn't have satin stitch edges but maybe just a straight stitch edge use pinking shears to make attractive edges.
3) If you have the software you can customise several gift tag designs in one hooping and then if they are close together cut between them with pinking shears.
Usually, I use a WSS and 'fix' a basting line, cut felt or fabric the size of the basting line and stick it in place with just a touch of a glue stick. Stitch the design (this usually begins with a stitch line around the border of the tag, giving the exact size of the tag and I slow my machine right down to do this and hold the felt in place). Remove the hoop, trim close to the border line and stick some fabric on the underside of the hoop the same size as the gift tag. Stitch the last border. I only have gift tag designs with borders so this works for me. Remove the hoop, cut away as much WSS as possible and then rub the edges with a wet cotton bud.
It's nice to have the back side covered with fabric like jerrib does.
One last tip..... if I use my 4x4 hoop and glue on some felt or fabric I lay the hoop on my cutting board, put my 4.5" square ruler on top of the felt and weigh it down with a tin of boysenberries for a minute or two until the glue dries .... (why boysenberries??? it's the only tin I had on hand when I needed it and it's been part of my sewing gear ever since... :} )
If I use my 6x10 hoop I use a box lid and my tin of boysenberries until the glue fixes the felt in place.
I always embroider mine on felt material. I don't stabilize. Once its embroidered, you can just thread nice ribbon in one corner or use a punch to make a hole for the ribbon. If the design has a satin stitch around it,before it starts to do the satin stitch, take the hoop out of your machine, but don't unhoop the fabric. I pin some cotton or more felt on the back (make bigger than the design) Put the hoop back in and then finish the satin stitch border.Cut out close to the satin stitch, but be careful not to clip the stitches. Other cuties maybe able to give you links to some nice free designs.
I will try, it is like applique, 1. put stablizer and fabric in hoop, add pattern, 2 sew the first step, sometimes this is a placement step for fabric, 3. cut fabic as close to stitches as poss. do not cut stablizer, 4 finish pattern.5 either wash away stablizer or cut away whichever you used hope alls ok
Ok I hope this is clear to you am also new maybe someone better qulaified could give you more tips, if not send me an email and i will try a more detailed route regards Carol
Thank you so much for your help - will post a picture of my xmas stockings if I can figure out how? Have a lovely day!