A few weeks ago Debbie from Too Cute Embroidery contacted us and offered to let us try out some of her machine embroidery designs. There are so many adorable choices! Look at the Kawaii Cuties and the Vintage Baby Animals. Love these Birds for All Seasons and the Breakfast Time Play Food, which you can stitch up in under an hour. Such a cute gift for a kiddo! But really, you need to go check it all out. I REALLY need these Stabilizer Snap Wraps. Who thinks of these things!?! Oh, right, Debbie does. And for those of you who prefer hand-embroidery, Debbie has included a little treat at the end of the post!

We asked Debbie to give y’all the low-down on machine embroidery. Why the different kinds of stabilizer? How do I get the patterns that I buy onto my machine? You know, the basics. And here’s what she had to say. Take it away Debbie…

Let’s embark on a new adventure, shall we? To the world of machine embroidery where a whole new level of creativity awaits you…..yes, you can personalize clothing and make quick monogrammed gifts, but there is so much more!  You can stitch rag dolls in your embroidery hoop, washable play food that your children can play with, quilt your quilts with decorative stitches and so much more!

But let’s start at the beginning.  An embroidery machine typically holds some stock computerized designs in its memory along with some lettering options. Your machine will come with different sized hoops that determine how large your designs can be. You will place fabric along with a stabilizer (this can be made of paper or other materials and it acts to help your fabric absorb all those stitches,  to stay in place and hold strong without tearing. The type of stabilizer you will use depends on what type of fabric you’re stitching on and the type of project. For instance, if you are stitching on a knit shirt, you would use a cut-away stabilizer for extra strength since it’s a stretchy fabric. If you were stitching a quilt shop cotton fabric, you could use a tear-away stabilizer and tear it off after the design is stitched.  Some fabrics are never placed in the hoop because it would leave a permanent mark. Instead a sticky paper is put in the hoop and then the fabric pressed down onto the sticky base to hold it firmly. Hooping and stabilizing are critical in getting great results. You can attend basic classes in your community or find information online on how to do this…and then it’s a matter of practice//..practice….practice.  You don’t want to stretch fabric in hooping and then have it ripple and be stretched out of shape when you remove it from your hoop….

Hooping and understanding the communication technology involved in machine embroidery are the two most important  things you can spend time on and help you the most in saving you money and time and help you to enjoy machine embroidery more.

Let’s next talk about how all these pieces fit together. We need to figure out how you will be able to get designs onto your embroidery machine to stitch them.  Below we have the computer and the sewing machine with the choices in between. 

  • USB stick – you would save the design to a USB stick and then insert the USB stick into your machine.
  • Designs on CD or card – this option is more expensive. The largest embroidery design companies sell designs on CDs or cards that you can insert directly into your machine but range in price from $50 to $100+ generally so it gets pricey quickly.
  • Cable connection from your computer to machine –  using this option you would have your sewing machine set up as a temporary drive just like your digital camera on your computer when you plug the calbe it. You would send the designs to your machine. This may be convenient for some but I personally don’t like to have to have my computer near my machine.  This is all really a matter of personal choice and which you prefer. 
  • Reader/writer box – This system uses a rewritable card that fits into your machine.  The reader/writer box is hooked up to your computer and you would use a software program to send the design from your computer to the card and then place the card inside your machine to stitch your designs. You can use the card over and over. These vary in price from $150-$200+.

You can find designs all over the internet and many offer free embroidery designs. You can download and try some of mine here.

You’re going to to want to set up a system on your computer to manage your embroidery designs because they grow quickly like photos on the computer.

I would encourage you to think about what you think you might like to do with a machine and research what works best for you and then go for it! 

I’m happy to answer questions and kick ideas around, just shoot me (Debbie) an email.

Happy Stitching!

Thanks Debbie! For all you old-school hand stitchers, Debbie has generously given us one of her Vintage Baby Animal Patterns, the kitten,  for you to print out and embroider. Thanks Debbie! So cute!

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