free embroidery patternsMachine embroidery tips

Machine embroidery is usually worked over the fabric that is stiffened or stretched to avoid distortion. Select your stabiliser from the following list:

• Tear-away stabilisers

These add temporary stiffness during embroidery. Perfect for satin-stitched patterns where stabiliser can be easily removed and for art work where permanent stiffness is not a problem. Residue of the tear-away trapped behind stitching will add stiffness to the embroidered area.

Chemical stabilisers
These types are clear liquids and sprays which lightly stiffen fabric during embroidery. Ideal for long and narrow embroidery areas which cannot be stabilised in a hoop. Suitable for stabilising lightweight washable fabrics, particularly in heirloom sewing Remove by rinsing in cold water.
• Embroidery hoops
Use a hoop to hold fabric firmly for intensive embroidery or finely-detailed areas. Very delicate fabrics such as fine net or tulle should be hooped and further stabilised with a layer of cold water-soluble stabiliser. Hooping is unsuitable for stretch fabrics, or thick-pile fabrics which may be permanently marked by the hoop.

layer of cold water-soluble stabiliser. Hooping is unsuitable for stretch fabrics, or thick-pile fabrics which may be permanently marked by the hoop.
• Using a hoop
1. To successfully hoop fabric, make sure the outer and inner hoops fit together snugly. This will be more successful if the inner ring is wrapped with bias tape.
2. Place outer hoop on a table and spread fabric, right side up, over the hoop.
3. Place inner hoop in position and hold the fabric taut with one hand while pressing the hoop into place.
4. Tighten the fabric as much as possible by pulling on excess fabric outside hoop.
5. Release the hoop by pushing up on the inner ring.
• Securing thread ends
Machine-embroider projects involve frequent changes of thread so it is important to learn to secure thread ends.
1. When beginning a new thread, turn the machine’s hand wheel so the needle enters the fabric and then returns to its highest point.
2. Pull gently on the needle thread until the bobbin thread comes to the surface of the fabric.
3. Hold the thread ends gently and sew a few small straight stitches. Trim thread ends.
4. Finish each thread by sewing a few small forward and reverse stitches. Trim thread ends.
• Changing bobbin tension
This relates only to machines with a removable bobbin case. As a precaution to losing the small screw in the bobbin case, hold the bobbin case over a small container lined with a tissue.
1. Place a bobbin filled with standard thread in the bobbin case and hold the bobbin case so the open side faces left.
2. Use a small screwdriver to loosen the screw on the side of the case by turning it a few millimetres to the left.
3. Test the tension by suspending the bobbin case by the bobbin thread passed through the spring in the normal way. For the majority of bobbin work, the thread must run freely This means the spring will not-support the weight of the bobbin case.
4. If you wish to return the bobbin tension to normal, make a not of how mush the tension was loosened. Remember right is light, left is loose.
• If you plan to do a lot of bobbin work, it may be worth having an extra bobbin case kept specifically for the purpose.
• Consult the machine manual if you own a machine with a drop-in bobbin, as some of these will not take kindly to having their lower tension changed.
• Changing top tension
Most modern machines can be set on automatic or standard tension for ordinary sewing, where the same thread is used in the needle and the bobbin. However, machine embroidery threads require different tensions.
1. The general rule is that the lighter or finer the thread, the looser the tension required. Therefore the tension number will be lower.
2. The wider the stitch, the looser the top tension required, so fine thread will not break and the bobbin thread will not show.

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