The beauty of having your own embroidery machine is that you can create your own project using the fabric, design, and colors that you choose. But to get the best out of your fabric and design combinations, there are a few steps you need to follow. Below are some tips and tricks to help you get the results you want.
Placement in the Hoop
Your embroidery machine arm holds your embroidery frame-the hoops- in a specific starting position and the needle then embroiders from a predetermined starting point. In order to place your fabric into your hoops so that your design is stitched correctly, you must consider three factors: alignment, orientation and the grain of the fabric.
Your embroidery machine’s hoops should have markings, usually arrows indicating the center of each side of the hoop. These marks provide you with vertical and horizontal guides to line up your design template and fabric. Your hoops may also have come with plastic guides to assist you with the placement of your design. You can purchase guides for different types of projects, such as T-shirts or towels to help you see exactly how to align your fabric and hoops.Alignment refers to the placement of your fabric in the hoops. In most instances, your embroidery machine is programmed by default to begin stitching your design in the center of the hoop field. This is your design’s alignment. Using your design template or a fabric marker to mark your fabric, you will need to align the fabric so that a design stitched in the center of the hoops will result in a design that is where you want it to be on your project.
Your design’s orientation is the direction it faces. Normally, your design’s top is going to be at the top of the hoop. The top of the hoop is the portion that attaches to your embroidery arm. When placing your fabric in the hoop remember that you can rotate the fabric or use the embroidery machine’s options to rotate the design, but you can’t rotate the hoop. Pinning or taping your template to your fabric temporarily is a convenient way to assure that you will place the fabric correctly. If you are uncertain about the orientation of your design, you might do a test run of a portion of the stitching using scrap fabric.
For the best results when using an embroidery machine, you should align the grain of your fabric with your hoops vertical axis. The grain should run top to bottom between the hoop’s top and bottom edges. Having the grain of your fabric in alignment with your hoop allows for the most stable hold. In most cases you’ll also want your design stitched on the grain.
If you are new to sewing, you may not be familiar what a fabric’s grain is or how to find it. Here is a brief explanation.
Woven fabrics have a warp and a weft. The threads that form the base of the fabric, those on the loom when it is woven, are the warp. The weft threads are the ones that are woven into the warp lines to create the fabric. The warp and weft of a quality fabric should be at 90-degree angle to one another. At either edge of a strip of woven fabric will be the selvage edge. This will run parallel to the warp. The grainline is the line of the fabric that runs parallel to this selvage.
If your fabric has been cut so that you no longer have the selvage, you can do a pull test to find the grain. Your fabric will stretch the least when pulled against the warp (in effect grabbing either end of the warp strands and pulling), it will have some stretch when pulling the cross grain, or weft threads, and the most when pulled along the bias.
The bias is the line of the fabric that is at a 45-degree angle to the warp and weft. If you have ever seen a bias cut garment, you know that these have an intentional twist to them cause by cutting them along this angle. This twist is the reason you want to avoid hooping your fabric on the bias.
When you are looking at your pattern for embroidery, in most cases you will want the top and bottom of the design to align with the warp threads of your fabric. These are the strongest threads of the fabric with the least give and most resistance to the push-pull effect.
Create Your Own Design!
You may sometimes want to place your design on an angle or vertical orientation rather than a horizontal one. For instance, you might want to embroider someone’s name down the side of a purse or tote bag, instead of across the top. In this instance, you should still try to hoop your fabric on the grain as this will be easier to accomplish and result in a more stable stitching bed. Most embroidery machines will offer you the option to rotate your design 90 degrees or to flip the design. Some machines will let you make incremental moves that rotate your design just a few degrees at a time.
These flip and rotate features are especially fun when you want to combine several design elements. For instance, you could feature the letters of a person’s name tumbling across your fabric by rotating each letter to a different orientation. Or, you could use a building block embroidery design and create a quilt with squares of tumbling blocks. By using your machine’s ability to flip a design you can create a mirror image of your picture.
To see what your design idea will look like, print or draw your individual design components onto templates and try them out placed at different locations on your fabric. Now that you know how to orient and align your designs and fabric do some experimenting with your embroidery machine’s options and have fun!