Machine Embroidery Basics

Machine Embroidery Basics

Machine embroidery has gained popularity in recent years and has become a mainstay in the field of brand marketing.  Embroidered branding appears on everything from golf bags to apparel to luggage.  This evolution came with the advent of computerized machine embroidery.  This same technology is available for the home sewing enthusiast as well.  With a computerized embroidery machine, basic steps are consistent across machine platforms. Be sure to read your user manual to learn tips and tricks for your specific machine.

Start with a Digitized File

Purchase or create a digitized embroidery file in the design and file type desired.  Each brand of embroidery machine requires specific file types or machine formats.  An excellent resource for understanding the file formats is Buzz Tools.   After selecting the design, collect the thread and fabric needed for completing the design.

Load the Design File

This can occur in one of several ways.  Most commonly, the purchased designs are provided through a CD that is loaded to a computer and transferred using appropriate cabling from the computer to the embroidery machine.  For some embroidery machines there are options of a card or flash drive connection to transfer the design directly into the machine. Other machines include built-in designs with the software of the machine.

Stabilize the Fabric

Prepare the fabric by adding the appropriate stabilizer and securing the fabric in the machine embroidery hoops.  Stabilizer is specific to various fabric types, but is critical to ensure that the fabric is stable during the push/pull of the sewing process with the needle movement at rapid pace and various angles. An excellent resource for competitively priced stabilizer is Allstitch, available on the internet.  If you are in a hurry to get started, your local fabric store may also have stabilizer in stock.  After the fabric is hooped, attach the hoops to the machine, center the needle and thread the machine with the first color that was identified on the color chart.  Embroidery thread for machine embroidery is not the same as sewing thread. 

Start the Embroidery

While the design embroiders on the fabric, stay close by and watch to ensure that the bobbin thread remains untangled and does not show through to the top.  You will change the top thread for the various colors each time the design stops for thread changes. Keep the color chart handy during this stage. This is the production stage of the process and it is so fun to watch as an embroidered creation come to life. 

Finish the project. 

After all colors have embroidered onto the fabric, carefully remove the hoops from the machine and inspect your work.  If there are problems or errors, they may be corrected at this stage while the item is in the exact hoop location as when it was sewing. Once you remove the hoop, there is no practical way of getting the exact same placement.  In most cases, however, your inspection will result in joyful bliss at beautifully created embroidery!  To complete the project, just remove the fabric from the hoop, trim away excess threads and stabilizer.

Machine embroidery is a great hobby for personal embellishments and can also be a money-making hobby.  Completed projects can be displayed to enjoy or wrapped as a unique and personalized gift for a loved one.  Welcome to the fascinating world of machine embroidery!