Sewing Information: Machine Embroidery Tips

To Sew beautiful machine embroidery designs is easy once you know how. Instructions to prevent common problems, and provide ideas for sewing great designs.

Embroidery machines have revolutionized the art of embroidery. What used to take hours upon hours of painstaking hand work can now be finished in just a few minutes! It is still best not to rush through your embroidery work though. Taking just a little extra time to prepare your fabric and machine will ensure that your machine turns out its best work. This article will provide you with basic trouble shooting information and tips for sewing flawless machine embroidery.

Since so much of embroidery is based on thread, we will begin there. The first and most important rule when it comes to thread is to choose the best. Not all thread is created equally, and the more flaws your thread has the more flaws the item you are embroidering will have. If you are experiencing frayed threads, broken threads, fuzzy thread, etc it is most likely because you have chosen a sub-standard thread. There are many types of thread on the market designed specifically for machine embroidery. Although they may cost a bit more, the finished product is worth the expense. When thread is made pieces of fiber are twisted tightly together to form long continuous lines of fiber that is then spun onto spools for use as thread. Higher quality threads use longer fibers in their spinning process which results is smoother, stronger thread with a better texture and appearance. Inexpensive threads use short fibers which makes the thread prone to breakage, fuzziness and an overall poor appearance. In addition to the quality of the thread there are different fiber contents as well. Rayon and silk embroidery thread have a beautiful, rich sheen to them. Poly-cotton blend embroidery threads are strong, durable and create a smooth finish.

Another extremely important and often overlooked aspect of machine embroidery is the sewing needle. There are many types of needles available for sewing machines; however, you should only use an embroidery needle with your machine. Embroidery needles are extremely sharp and have an elongated eye that helps them pierce the fabric as they sew. There are different widths and types of embroidery needles. The width of the needle is defined by numbers, and the smaller the number the finer the needle. A very fine needle (such as a number 8 or 9) would be used for fine, lightweight fabrics such as silk, satin, or sheers. A middleweight needle (such as a number 14 or 16) would be used for most sewing projects. Heavier weight needles (such as a number 19 or 20) are available for heavy weight fabrics; there are also special needles for sewing leather and vinyl. Your sewing needle should be changed after every 4 or 5 projects, or after 10 sewing hours. Maintaining a sharp needle will ensure better performance.



Before you begin embroidering you should give your machine a careful once over. Make sure all sewing surfaces and moving parts are free of dirt and debris. If your machine requires oiling make sure you oil it according to the manufacturers recommended schedule of maintenance. Perform regular checks to make sure the machine's embroidery hoop is in good condition and that it is attaching the machine snuggly. Before you begin to sew it is also a good idea to double check your bobbin and make sure that it is full. Having a bobbin run out in the middle of a project is annoying, and may damage your work. It is also wise to double check the threading of your machine to make sure it has been done properly. Having the machine threaded correctly is very important to sewing a good embroidery design.

One of the most common problems machine embroiders experience is puckering or bunching of the fabric as it is embroidered. This problem detracts from the appearance of the design and is very annoying. It is also very easy to prevent. All fabrics should have a backing applied in the form of a stabilizer before they are embroidered. Without exception! A properly applied stabilizer will eliminate a vast number of problems associated with poor fabric performance while embroidering. A stabilizer does just what the name implies; it stabilizes the sewing surface of your fabric. It prevents the fibers from being able to stretch or twist creating a nice, tight surface inside your embroidery hoop. A tight surface is very important during embroidery. Your fabric should be pulled tight within the hoop (without stretching it to the point of distortion) like the surface of a drum. A tight surface allows the needle to penetrate easily and sew a clean, smooth design. An even, tight surface also prevents the fabric from stretching during sewing which can result in an unevenly sewn design and misaligned stitches. There are several different types of stabilizer: tear away, those that wash away in water, and those that must be cut away after sewing. Tear away stabilizers are generally best for woven fabrics, and cut away are best for knits. However, the type of stabilizer you use is primarily a matter of personal preference. Stabilizers are applied to the back of the fabric with a warm iron.

Now that you have your machine, thread and fabric prepared all that's left is to sew your design. Choose embroidery designs with a proven tract record; either from well reputable companies or small time embroidery artists. How well a design sews is completely dependant on how well it was created. It is a good idea to stay close to your machine as it sews so you can catch any problems as soon as they happen. If you have a broken thread, or if your bobbin runs out or you need to stop the machine for any other reason backtrack a bit in the design and re-sew part of it. This will ensure that there are no gaps in the design.

© High Speed Ventures 2011