Machine embroidery made easy

Machine Embroidery made easyMachine embroidery is a simple and incredibly effective way of decorating clothes, furnishings and other cloth items. It does take a bit of practice but the results are well worth it.

Patternwise, simple, linear patterns are the easiest and have great impact. I work out a design in felt pens, one in each colour. This technique lends itself more to this type of pattern than to the solid detail of commercial machine embroidery.

You don’t need to be a good sewer (one who sews, not a drain!) to get the hang of this technique as it is not about sewing in straight lines. But you do need a sewing machine that has the ability to lower or drop the dog feed, the two little tracks in the plate under the foot. My machine is a Bernina and has a knob on the right hand end. Also an embroidery foot is useful but not compulsory. If you have a bunch of odd shaped feet that you’ve never used, look for the one that is simply a ring on a post, about 1cm across.

The fancy thread is actually wound onto the bobbin. I have successfully used gold threads, crochet thread and tapestry thread. There are many types on the market and it is fun to experiment. They all need different tensions and it is a matter of experimenting to get the effect you want. You can also use ordinary thread.

* Draw your pattern onto a piece of iron on, soft woven interfacing. Patterns that are continuous lines are best, and keep it simple.

* Press it into position with a warm dry iron on the back of the fabric.

* Thread the machine bobbin with the fancy thread. Fit it into the bobbin case and for a heavier thread, release the little tension screw until the thread runs freely out of it.

* Thread the top of the machine with a matching ordinary thread, and slightly loosen the tension (unless you are using ordinary thread in the bobbin)

* Drop the dog feed (I have visions of Tux biscuits all over the floor!). This stops the machine forcing the fabric through in a straight line.

* If you have an embroidery foot, put it on. If you don’t, the usual one will be OK, but you might have to experiment. Have a few trial runs on scraps to get the tensions etc right.

* Fit an emboidery hoop onto the fabric with the interfacing upwards; if you can’t fit the whole pattern under don’t worry, just do a bit at a time.

* Ease the hoop under the foot and place the needle over the point you wish to start. Let the foot down and off you go. Just go over the lines of the pattern. You can guide the stitching in any direction, just take it slowly.

* To stop, slowly back up a few stitches then stop. Cut the top and bobbin threads.

* I work on one area at a time, changing the bobbin to change colours if necessary until it is complete, then move the hoop to the next area and repeat.

Have fun, and if you try it, let us know how it goes!

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