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Sewing: Using an Embroidery Machine

Learn to use the sewing machines in the lab.

Getting Started with the Embroidery Machine

Embroidering itself is complicated, but the machine makes it super easy! Here are a couple videos to get you started. 



Equipment Manuals

Stabilizing Your Project

What is stabilizer?

A stabilizer5 is a tool for supporting fabric to keep the stitching in place. Choosing the right stabilizer is key to any embroidery design. There are three different types of stabilizers: cut-away, tear-away, and wash-away. 

How do you choose a stabilizer?

Depending on the type of fabric you are using, one kind may be preferable over another. On knits or stretchy fabrics, always utilize cut-away fabric. It will keep the stitches from puckering and protect the design. When using a piece of sheer fabric, go for water-soluble for the best results. Also keep weight of fabric in mind. As a general rule heavier fabric should correspond to a heavier stabilizer and vice versa. Also keep in mind, the more stitches you have in a piece of fabric, the heavier of a stabilizer you should select. 

Benefits of each type

  • Cut-away: This is the most permanent and most stable type or stabilizer. Use it for clothes and fabrics that are worn and washed regularly.
  • Tear-away: Typically used to stabilize woven fabrics. Try not to use it on a fabric that stretches. 
  • Wash-away: Used for sheer fabrics. To remove, wash the design in warm water. Be sure to test it before just to make sure it works the way you are expecting it to. 

Check out this guide for even more in-depth information on the different types of stabilizers. 

Get to Know Your Threads

Bobbin Thread

This machine takes a particular size thread for the bobbin - 90 weight. It is thinner than regular thread. The weight influences tension between the top thread and bobbin. The lab has both white and black bobbin thread for you to use.

The bobbin thread does not show on the front side of the embroidery work. White should work for just about every project.  You can change to black if your fabric and embroidery colors are very dark.

Top Thread

The lab has Gutermann All Purpose Thread in many colors for your use. This thread is durable and has a mat finish.

We also have a small collection of polyester thread colors. This thread has a slightly shiny finish.

Embroidery designs usually recommend color numbers from a specific manufacturer. If you don't have that thread you can search the web for conversion charts or simply pick colors that please you.

Here's a more in-depth guide to  thread types. Have fun and happy embroidering!

Know Your Embroidery Machine

1. Top cover

Open the top cover to place the spool of thread on the spool pin. 

7. LCD (liquid crystal display)

Settings for the selected pattern and error messages appear in the LCD. (see manual page B-9)

2. Thread guide plate

Pass the thread around the thread guide plate when threading the upper thread. 

8. Operational panel

From the operational panel, embroidery patterns can be selected and edited, and operations for using the machine can be selected. (see manual page B-4)

3. Bobbin winding thread guide and pretension disk

Pass the thread under this thread guide and around the pretension disk when winding the bobbin thread. 

9. Operation buttons

Use these buttons to operate the machine. (See manual pages B-4)

4. Spool cap

Use the spool cap to hold the spool of thread in place. 

10. Embroidery unit

Attach embroidery unit to embroider. (see manual page B-26)

5. Spool pin

Place a spool of thread on the spool pin.

11. Thread cutter

Pass the threads through the thread cutter to cut them. 

6. Bobbin winder

Use the bobbin winder when winding the bobbin.

12. Needle threader level

Use the needle threader lever to thread the needle. 

1. Handwheel

Turn the handwheel toward you (counterclockwise) to raise and lower the needle. 

5. Power supply jack

Insert the plug on the power cord into the power supply jack.

2. Handle

Carry the machine by its handle when transporting, 

6. Air vent

The air vent allows the air surrounding the motor to circulate. Do not cover the air vent while the machine is being used. 

3. Presser foot lever

Raise and lower the presse4r foot level to raise and lower the presser foot. 

7. USB port (for a USB flash drive)

In order to import patterns from a USB flash drive, insert the USB flash drive directly into the USB port. 

4. Main power switch

Use the main power switch to turn the machine on and off. 


Do's and Don'ts of Embroidery

DO know the fabric type and product type before starting

Especially when creating a design, it is important to keep in mind the fabric type so you well know how the design should behave. Also keep in mind the product type to choose an appropriate design for the space. 

DON'T use the wrong needle

Embroidery needles are sharp and slender, helping the thread pass through your fabric with ease. Using a needle that's too large or too blunt can leave holes in fabric and make stitching more difficult. 

DO choose an easily legible front when designing

A font like this will be much easier on the eyes when looking at the design. It will also be much easier for the machine to make, especially if there is a decent amount of space between characters. Remember to keep thread count in mind when looking at fonts. 

DON'T forget stabilizer, especially when working with stretchy fabrics

Stabilizer helps every design stay in place and come out clean, but this is especially true for stretchy fabrics. Forgetting stabilizer on these types of fabric can be detrimental because embroidery and stretchy fabric don't mix. 

DO use a high-quality image when designing 

Higher quality images will give you a crisper design. This way everything comes out as you were intending instead of being pixelated. 

DON'T be afraid to ask for help!

Embroidery can be stressful at first because there are so many different aspects but there are so many resources available to you. You can ask someone working in the lab or look up other resources specific to your project, either way, help is open to you.