How To Embroider Letters With A Sewing Machine - Our Guide

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Last Updated on 13 January, 2021 by Shine

How To Embroider Letters With A Sewing Machine

Embroidery is a great sewing art that can be used for personalising items of clothing or bags, or even for advertisement, however, computerised sewing machines that do embroidery can often be a little expensive.

Don't worry though, you can still achieve embroidery on your work with a standard sewing machine, all you need is some tracing paper to trace your embroidery on to your fabric, along with a tough embroidery needle.

Embroidery art on a regular sewing machine can be a little tough due to all the curves and different lines in your chosen letters, but we have put together a simple guide below for you to follow with your sewing machine so as you can try out your first embroidery art and gain confidence.

So without further ado, let's get into it!

What You Need For Sewing Machine Embroidery

Before you start sewing your embroidery into your fabric, there's a couple of important items you will need to ensure you have before getting started.

  • Fabric embroidery marker pen/tracing paper and pencil
  • Embroidery needle for your machine
  • Fabric
  • Stabiliser
  • Contrasting embroidery thread
  • Embroidery hoop for machine
  • Scissors

How To Embroider Your Fabric

After gathering everything you need, it's time to embroider your fabric using your sewing machine with a technique called free-motion stitching.

We have put together a simple step by step guide for you to follow below throughout the embroidering process.

Step One

First of all, before doing anything else, you would want to drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine. This will allow your fabric to move around rather than being restricted, most feed dogs are pretty simple to drop depending on your machine.

Step Two

If you have an embroidery foot for your sewing machine you can attach it at this point, if not it's okay, just remove the presser foot you have and stitch without one on the machine.

Step Three

Attach your chosen strong embroidery needle to your machine, then thread this needle and bobbin with your contrasting embroidery thread, its important your thread is a different colour to the fabric so its stand out while your sewing.

Step Four

Make sure your bobbin thread does not show in the right side of your fabric, this can be done by reducing the top tension on your sewing machine.

Step Five

Use the same size piece of stabiliser as your fabric and place it under your fabric to stop it moving around while you stitch.

Step Six

Now your machine is set right (you can use some scrap material to make sure settings are right), its time to write your chosen embroidery words on to your fabric with your invisible pen, if you don't have one of these pens, you should take your letters, trace them then trace it on to your fabric.

Step Seven

If you have decided to use an embroidery hoop you can position the words on the fabric inside of this hoop by loosening the screw then securing it again.

Step Eight

Make sure your fabric is secured in place, whether you are using an embroidery hoop or not.

Step Nine

Now it's time to start sewing your embroidery, put your fabric in line with the needle and slowly move the hoop as you stitch the first letter of your word, the hoop will add some stability but if you don't have it, don't worry.

Step Ten

Work slowly as you stitch your letters and move in circles with the hoop if needed.

After finishing your word, you can take the thread back, cut it, and knot it to finish your embroidery on your fabric.

Tips For Sewing Embroidery On a Sewing Machine

There are some great tips and tricks to incorporate in your stitching if it's your first time sewing embroidery on to your work with a regular sewing machine.

Some ideas such as using an embroidery hoop can show a professional result on your work, as well as using a stabiliser for better control while stitching.

We have listed out the best tips for you to consider below.

  • For beginners embroider block letters - When your a beginner, doing embroidery on a regular sewing machine can be daunting, and fancy embroidery with script style letters can be hard to do with no previous practice. We recommend starting out with block letters so as you can get a feel for free-motion stitching before you attempt some harder fonts.
  • Use a zig-zag stitch for a bolder look - Instead of a regular straight stitch, you could try stitching with a zig-zag to make your letters stand out more and look bolder.
  • Try the needle down setting - Using the needle down setting on your machine will keep the needle in your fabric when you stop stitching, this is great for picking up embroidery where you left off.
  • Make sure your bobbin is fully wound - The last thing you want is for your bobbin to run out of thread while your halfway through your embroidery.
  • Ensure you have a stabiliser - A stabiliser can help hold your slippy or silky fabric steady while you work, depending on what one you buy they just tear away after use and don't have any effect on your main fabric except keeping it stable!
  • Lower the feed dogs - It's important your feed dogs are always lowered while you do embroidery as this gives more freedom while working and allows you to move your fabric around.
  • Try an embroidery hoop - An embroidery hoop while sewing is not a must, but will help you a lot in the long run and make your embroidery look professional. These hoops help by holding the fabric taught on curves, allowing you to move the fabric around effortlessly.
  • Embroidery contrasting thread can improve work - A contrasting embroidery thread can make your letters stand out and your work look great, not to mention embroidery thread is actually very strong and can make your stitches longer lasting through washes and dryers.

How To Fix Your Embroidery If You Make a Mistake

Now if you've been reading through the steps and tips and above, you might be asking yourself, what if I mess up? Do I have to start all over again and throw away my fabric?

Well, no, not all is lost if you make a mistake when embroidering with your sewing machine (which is very common), we have some tips to help you out.

  • Take the stitches from the inside out - Take out the stitches from the inside piece of fabric as there are multiple layers with the stabiliser too, this can help you avoid damaging the main fabric.
  • Cut and tweeze the threads - Cut the embroidery threads and twist the material out with tweezers, go gently so as you can prevent the cutting and pulling damaging your fabric.
  • Take duct tape to clean completely - After you think you have got all the embroidery stitches out, you can then take a piece of trustworthy duct tape and pull off the rest of the remaining threads.
  • Wash the fabric - After removing all the stitches, give your fabric a wash so as it can look brand new and you can try again.

Computer Vs Mechanical Sewing Machines For Embroidery

Most professional sewers stick by computerised sewing machines for embroidery as they tend to give a more consistent and neat look than embroidery with a mechanical sewing machine.

However, embroidery can be equally achieved on both machines, we have listed out the advantages and disadvantages of either sewing machine below so as you can figure out what model is right for your sewing work.

Computerised Sewing Machine

Computerised sewing machines pretty much do everything for you, and have many automatic features to help you with embroideries such as templates to choose from and an automatic needle threader to save you time when sewing.

The stitching for your embroidery letters will also be much more even and consistent, and you can upload any embroidery design you desire to recreate on your fabric from the internet, with no hand tracing needed.

Disadvantages of using a computerised sewing machine for embroidery have to be the high price and lack of versatility when performing embroidery, with a mechanical sewing machine you add much more uniqueness to your work.

The Good

  • Automatic features save you time.
  • You can download any embroidery design you want to create.
  • Consistent results will little effort needed.

The Bad

  • No unique stamp.
  • High priced.

Mechanical Sewing Machine

A mechanical sewing machine is great for embroidery as they allow you to add much more personality to your work and help you develop your sewing skills over time.

These sewing machines are also much more affordable and are great for entry-level sewers who want to try out some embroidery at home.

Disadvantages of these machines are obvious; they are much slower and need more attention. Stitching can also be less consistent and there's more room for mistake in your embroidery.

The Good

  • Allows for more creativity.
  • You can grow your sewing skills in embroidery.
  • Affordable.

The Bad

  • Takes more time and effort.
  • More room for mistake.

To round up these two machines, the best choice for a more professional embroidery result is the computerised sewing machine, due to its downloadable software and technology which allows for little mistakes when performing embroidery on fabric.

That's not to say you can't achieve similar results with practice on a regular sewing machine, it might just be a little harder, but definitely more rewarding!

Do I Need Special Embroidery Thread For Sewing?

No, you can use regular sewing thread for embroidery, however, you will have a much nicer finish if you go with embroidery thread.

This kind of thread is made of 2 ply threads rather than three in traditional sewing thread, meaning the result of using embroidery thread will be thinner and smoother.

Alternatives for embroidery thread are cotton or polyester as they give a stronger stitch on your fabric, it a good idea to stitch with these threads slower for better accuracy, however.

Can I Use The Decorative Stitches On My Machine For Embroidery?

Yes, of course, that's what they are meant for, free motion embroidery is best used when you don't have these options available on your machine.

Some best decorative stitches for embroidery are zig-zag, still, the only limitation is that they can't be used to fill in designs as a computerised sewing machine could. You could also try out a satin stitch and split stitch if your machine has it for some interesting embroidery patterns.

What Is An Embroidery Machine?

Embroidery sewing machines are a type of machine that is dedicated to embroidery above all other stitching. These machines come with hoops for a professional embroidery finish and used a darning foot instead of a feed dog for stability.

These computerised machines also have software to turn digital embroidery designs into life, this is done by a process called digitizing on the machine, and allows you stitch these designs exactly how they appear on to your fabric.

This type of sewing machine is pretty much your best bet to buy if you are looking to do embroidery only on your machine and not other types of stitching, they can be cheaper than a fully computerised machine yet more expensive than a mechanical one for the added features, so the price is worth paying if embroidering is something you want to turn into a profession.

Final Words

To conclude our article, embroidery can easily be done with a regular sewing machine as long as you have some extra tools to help such as; a stabiliser, embroidery thread, embroidery hoop and a strong needle.

Just remember to take your time while stitching and don't rush, mistakes can always be fixed following the tips in our guide above. You should additionally try out your designs on scrap fabric first to test out your sewing machines settings before doing the real embroidery on your chosen fabric.

If you have recently tried embroidery with your sewing machine let us know in the comments below what went well and what you found a challenge!

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Kirsten Carter is a freelance content writer who specialises in writing about travel, technology and health. When she's not traveling between her home of Tanzania and England, she writes for her blog Rightminded Travelling and features on a variety of different travel and technology sites.
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