When you plan to do some DIY stuff, you sometimes need to learn new things, like how to use an embroidery machine. You need to learn how to use it if you want more intricate stitches with designs. So, how do you start using this machine?
Search for the right model
The first step to learning how to use an embroidery machine is to find the right machine for you.
If you have not bought your machine yet, then you may be shocked to see that some models and brands cost about USD 2000 at Amazon. Professional ones even sell at USD 6000 plus or even much more. Read the specifications. Compare them to some of the cheaper models that cost about USD 300. Moreover, compare them to models bought in brick and mortar shops.
Open your mind and relax
Sometimes, it can be overwhelming to learn how to use an embroidery machine, with all its features and functions. Remind yourself, though, that you can make simple designs through the use of built-in designs and imported designs. The built-in one comes with the machine, while the imported ones are your own choices plugged into the machine.
When you think about it, the whole setup seems a lot simpler than embroidering by hand. Even using a sewing machine cannot smoothly perform stitching cartoon characters on your chosen cloth, for example.
Get ready to learn
Set your frame of mind to learning. You have to be ready to accept new information. Some people don’t learn because their own minds and attitudes are blocking the new steps.
Get to know your embroidery machine
Once you have decided to buy a particular model, don’t forget to go through the manual. There may be some unique specifications that you need to know before you start.
You may have decided to buy a dual machine: an embroidery and sewing machine in one. If so, make sure you the machine on its embroidery setting before you begin.
Find out what needle and threads to use
For needles, you need to have three kinds available:
- Universal: There is a reason these needles are called this. They can be used for just about every fabric. However, don’t rely on them for everything. These ballpoint needles may not be able to work at their optimum for some embroidery projects.
- Sharp: You may need this type of needle for thick fabrics. You need a needle that can smoothly go through the fabric without snagging and tearing at the edges.
- Ballpoint: These needles are not meant to penetrate, but rather to slip into the weave. So, they are recommended for use on knits.
The threads that you use will rely on the types of needles and fabric that you plan to work with. Note that the higher the weight number, the finer the thread, not the other way around. A rayon-40 is best recommended for embroidery. Threads may also be made of cotton, metallics, polyester, or silk. Of course, one thing that you have already learned from sewing is that the thread should be able to go through the needle’s eye.
Thread the machine
Use your instruction manual to thread your machine. Some embroidery machines are closer to sewing machines. If you have had experience threading sewing machines, then you will not have a problem figuring out to do the same for your embroidery machine. You know you got something wrong when your machine simply refuses to work. Double-check what has gone wrong.
You need to put in a top thread and a bobbin thread for the embroidery machine to work. To set your bobbin thread in place, you need to check the side of your machine. You will see a wheel there. Turn it on the side. When it goes back to its place, it will catch the bobbin thread and pull it into a little loop. Pull the thread out of the machine, with the help of something with a small point (e.g. your scissors). Do the same with your top thread, but through the metal sewing foot.
Choose simple tasks at first
Now that your essential tools have been bought and are prepared in your sewing room, it is time to test the machine and whatever necessary skills you have. It is good to be ambitious, but it is best to start with simple tasks. This is also true for the ones who have been doing embroidery by hand. Using a machine is a different thing altogether. Go with a built-in computerized design first.
Before you begin the actual embroidery project, use a stabilizer under the fabric you are going to stitch on. Stabilizers keep the fabric in place that prevents it from bunching up and puckering. These surfaces are also crucial for open weaves, such as lace.
Here are some possible stabilizers:
- Cutaways – These can be used to permanently stabilize your fabric.
- Tearaways – This is less permanent than the cutaways.
- Water-soluble materials – As the name suggests, these temporary materials can easily dissolve when placed in water.
- Tacky materials – These are stabilizers that you can reposition.
Learn how to hoop
To further secure your design, you need to learn how to hoop. There is a wide variety of sizes of embroidery hoops included with your machine purchase. However, the smaller ones can best secure your design in place.
When you are just learning to use the hoop and the machine as a whole, you may want to practice with some scrap material first. The hoop should be slightly smaller than your stabilizer.
Hoop your fabric and stabilizer together. Place them over the bottom of the hoop. The top of the hoop frame will be placed over the fabric. Then, you need to lock them in place. Tighten the knob so that the fabric is kept taut, and not slack. However, do not tighten too much to the extent of stretching the fabric. You can now place the hoop onto the machine’s embroidery arm. No fabric should have been snagged under it.
Try working on the scraps of fabric that you have selected for your test. Use a built-in design. After you are done, check the final result. If you have made any mistakes, take note of what could have gone wrong. This way, you can avoid it from happening again. Write down the combinations that you have chosen and their results:
- Fabric (size and type)
- Stabilizer (size and type)
- Needle (size and type)
- Hoop (size, tightness)
- Thread (thickness, material, colors)
All of this information per project can be kept in your embroidery journal.
Monitor your computer
You also need to monitor your computer for any possible warnings or tips. Don’t just depend on what the machine itself is conveying to you (e.g., just stopping or refusing to work). The software should help you figure out what you need to do to solve your problem. It helps make your life a lot easier. This is assistance that had not been made available to our grandmas, and yet there were able to make great embroidery projects.
But don’t let that give you any pressure. Relax. Be aware that you will get help when you need it. Still, it is best to start with simple, small projects on scrap fabric. This way, you don’t end up wasting anything.
Discover how to make more designs
When you are done with the designs that are built-in in your machines, it is time to look for others. Perhaps you are looking for something unique, that best reflects your personality or your business (if you are producing crafts for business use). You can create embroidery out of your scribbles. You can just literary scribble on a sheet of paper and then upload it by scanning. There are some free embroidery designs that you can also download from the Internet. These can be saved into your flash drive and plugged into your machine.
Check the thread colors that you have available and choose designs that can be embroidered using your existent threads. Only buy more threads if you find a design that you must really use for whatever reason.
Practice whenever you can
Even when you don’t have a particular project to work on. Keep on using your machine on scraps of material. You may even think of projects to do for your home or office. Be as creative as possible. Practice makes perfect in this case, as well. Embroidery is also a work of art.
Maintain your embroidery machine
Embroidery machines cost hundreds to several thousands of dollars. It is a good investment. What can make it a wise investment, however, is ensuring that it lasts for years or even forever as much as possible. Check its warranty. What should you do to maintain it?
- Cover the machine every after you finished.
- Make sure that it is unplugged after every use.
- Ensure that you are using straight, clean (non-rusty) needles.
- Use the right combination of thread, needle, stabilizer, and hoop.
- Choose the correct top and bobbin threads.
- Oil the machine regularly.
- Know your machine well.
- Read the manual carefully and a few more times after the initial reading, if possible.
At this point, you should know how to use an embroidery machine. Happy stitching!