August 27, 2015

Machine Embroidery Tips

I belong to several machine embroidery forums and groups on the internet.  I oversee one such group for my own brand of machine.  Several times throughout the year, members often post questions about how to treat fabric, stabilizers, how to hoop fabrics and how to avoid some of the problems frequently associated with machine embroidery overall.

I hope the following information I have learned over the years interacting with other embroiderers will help.  I am by no means an expert, I'm always learning and open to new ideas, but this is the method I have used for a while successfully.

First is the treatment of the fabric you are going to embroidery. I can't overstate how important this first step can be for the successful outcome to your project.

Use quality fabrics if at all possible, and if the fabric can be pressed (off course you shouldn't press velvets, suedes, leathers, some knits or specialty fabrics)----but if you are working with cotton, cotton blends or rayons, most likely you can press them using the appropriate settings on your iron. 

Press out any wrinkles in the fabric first: Then spritz the fabric with starch (not Mary Ellen's Best Press which is a fabric "sizing", and not a starch.) Press.

 Press your fabric, and repeat the spray starch, press again, and spray starch and press one final time.  Three or more times should do it. You want to add "body" to the fabric. Starching helps. It literally makes the fabric behave like "stabilizer".

Pressing and starching

I primarily use Fusible Tear Away stabilizer. It's my favorite for stitching quilt blocks, on shirts, kitchen towels, table runners, etc.  This particular fusible tear away is a Baby Lock product.  Press it lightly to the back of your starched project fabric, and hoop. There is no need to heavily heat and press the stabilizer to your fabric, or it will be difficult to remove when your embroidery is finished.

 I'm using Moda white cotton for this tutorial.

Loosen the gripper on your hoop and press the top portion of the hoop onto the base hoop. Once it is seated in place, pull just slightly on the hooped fabric edges to create an even tight smooth surface.

Now, take your fingers and with slight pressure push down on the edges of the top hoop all the way around which slightly pushes the top hoop downward into the sides of the bottom hoop, and tighten the hoop grip with your fingers, and finally use a screw driver to further tighten the hoop grip. Don't exert too much pressure with the screw driver or you will strip the hoop gripper, but just to the point of resistance.

For this tutorial, I'm using a dense design that comes with my machines built in embroidery designs.

Change the needle in your machine for embroidery frequently. I change needles on average every 8 hours of embroidery.  I may stop and change needles even more frequently when doing dense embroideries.
Some embroiderers like the smaller size needles. Use what works for you. I prefer to use Superior 90/14 Topstitch Organ needles for almost all my embroidery projects.

I don't use pre wound bobbins. I prefer to use Bottom Line bobbin thread for embroidery unless I need to match the bobbin thread in the back of a project or if I  am doing free standing lace. Then I will wind a bobbin with the same thread as my top thread.

I use a 10 spool Martha Pullen/Hemmingworth thread stand with the embroidery machine. I've tried various thread stands over the years, and this is the best one I've found. It's easy to load. Just remove the top of thread stand and take it over to your thread stash, and load your thread colors. Place the thread tails through the small holes at the top, and place the thread tales in the spring holder which is on the top of the thread stand. (sorry it's not showing in these photos)

Place the top portion of the thread stand back on the base which is sitting under and at the back of the machine, remove the thread tail from the holding spring, take it over to the thread guide at the side of the stand and proceed to thread the machine. Love this thread stand! So easy to use and perfect top thread tension all the time.

Here is the design we will be stitching out. 5 x 7 inch hoop. I prefer to not use thread charts, but pick my own colors of thread. Often I refer to the onscreen design for cues, but if it says "blue", I like to pick the shade of blue from my thread stash.  That is why you only see colored spools on the screen. Not thread chart color numbers.

Here is the completed embroidery still in the hoop.

Here is the same completed embroidery with the stabilizer removed.  Once an embroidery is finished I like to remove as much of the stabilizer from the back of the design as possible. Clip any taunt bobbin threads that may pull on the embroidery between the design elements.  Then I place the completed embroidery face down on a piece of terry cloth and press the back of the design with a warm iron. This will flatten the fabric, but not the stitched embroidery design. 

I hope these tips will help you have some fun and success  with your embroidery machine and projects!


Ms. Jan said...

Thanks Angie! This is great!

Purple Pam said...

All that wonderful information. Oh how I wish I had a long arm machine.

Dogwood Lane Rambles said...

Thanks Angie for these great tips. I have a thread stand similar to yours but I've never used it just too intimidating! Now I'll give it a try. I prefer fusible stabilizer as well I just think it gives a cleaner sew out but my machine prefers mind pre-wound bobbins . Funny how each machine is different. WHich forums do you frequent? I'm always looking for more information.

Bonnie said...

Great tips thanks.

Unknown said...

If you have embroidered long enough, you probably have a few machine embroidery tricks and tips under your sleeve. Fortunately, embroiderers are very generous when it comes to sharing their knowledge with others.Thanks for sharing.....

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