Embroidery machines make it easy for a beginner to craft beautiful embroidered designs with uniformly tight stitches and a polished overall appearance. You can even repeat the same design over and over to sew items that match perfectly. Yet, you do need to learn how to use the machine first. Use these tips for doing machine embroidery. With enough experience practicing on old towels or fabric scraps, you’ll be ready to decorate your world with embroidery!
Know Your Controls
Although not all embroidery machines are alike, most moderately-priced machines have similar controls. Look for the following features on modern, computerized embroidery machines.
Sewing Field – The size-defined area where your machine will sew. Most machines have a 5×7 sewing field.
Rotate – The rotate button allows you to turn the fabric 1, 10, or 90 degrees while staying on course with your design.
Mirror Image – You can use mirror image to flip the design. This is especially helpful for monograms and two-sided designs.
Trace – Use trace to position the needle in any of 9 positions around the perimeter of the design.
Base – Allows you to start with a running stitch that makes an outline around the edge of the design.
Have Embroidery Supplies on Hand
Many of the same supplies used for hand embroidery can also be used for machine embroidery, but you will need additional supplies for machine embroidery based on the type of fabric and design you’re using.
Blanks – Blanks are clothing items or linens that have no embroidery on them and are ready for adding the design. You can get blanks in a large variety of fabrics, sizes and item types. To begin embroidering for the first time, simply use articles you don’t care about wasting in case you make a mistake.
Stabilizers – Stabilizers are fabric backings used to keep the fabric of your blank stable as you sew. The four types of stabilizers are:
1) Cut-away – stay with the fabric after it’s sewn. You simply cut away the excess around the perimeter.
2) Tear-away – you can tear away all the excess stabilizer that is not held in place when you finish sewing.
3) Wash-away – just put the article in water or wash it. The stabilizer will disintegrate and wash away. Use wash-away stabilizer to create lace.
4) Adhesive – adhere directly to the fabric for the most effective control.
You can get designs that come programmed into your machines, from the internet, on memory cards or on CD’s. If the design isn’t already on your machine, you may need to load it to the machine’s computer via USB memory stick.
You need a heavy thread that comes on a spool, such as machine embroidery thread or polyester thread. Check your design before you start to make sure you have the colors you want. You also need a lighter-weight bobbin thread in black or white.
Put in a fresh needle for each project, especially if it is a large or intricate design. Use a stretch needle for knits or a sharp needle for non-stretching fabrics.
Place the Design
You can have the most beautiful embroidery design in the world, but if it isn’t positioned well on the clothing or linens, it will never look right. Here are three effective placement methods.
1) Use a design template. Embroider the design on a piece of stabilizer. Measure and mark lines through the center of the design going up and down, and side to side. Then, place the template on the fabric to determine your starting point.
2) Use a paper printout. You can print a copy of the design from your embroidery machine’s screen. Place the printed design on the fabric the way you want it to find your starting point on the garment or linens.
3) Use a four-armed ruler and targeting stickers. This works especially well for towels and linens. Place the ruler on the fabric with one arm touching the top and one touching the side of the item. Measure down to where you want the design. Remember this measurement to use on matching items. Then, use a round sticker to mark the corner starting point of your intended target. Your machine may have come with targeting stickers that it can read and follow.
Hoop the Fabric
You need to hoop the fabric to position and stabilize it for sewing. Place the bottom part of the hoop on a flat surface. Next, lay the stabilizer onto the hoop. Put the fabric on top of the stabilizer, being sure to keep it lined up with your starting target or placement stickers. Place the top part of the hoop onto the fabric and push it into place with the palm of your hands. Finally, tighten the hoop’s tension screw. To hoop a shirt, put the bottom of the hoop on an ironing board and the shirt over the board on top of the hoop. Add the top part of the hoop and press down as usual.
In many cases, all you have to do to accomplish the embroidery part of your project is to touch a button. Before you do, check the screen on your machine to make sure the item is placed properly in the hoop and everything lines up correctly. Then, place the hoop below the needle in the machine, touch the embroidery button, sit back and watch it embroider. If you have a multi-needle machine, it will change threads on its own for each successive color. If not, you need to change the thread after each color.
If your design isn’t perfectly centered in the hoop, you can still achieve perfect embroidery with this simple method. First, use the centering tool that came with your machine to find out how many degrees to rotate the garment. Use the rotate feature to input the number of degrees you want the machine to rotate the fabric. After it is set, remove the template and press the embroider button.
1) Remove the stabilizer by cutting, tearing or washing it away.
2) Iron the design – even if it is something you don’t ordinarily iron such as towels.
3) Enjoy your embroidery success!