Learning machine embroidery

posted in: Fabric printing | 9

This week I learnt to embroider using the sewing machine. I had done this once before in about 1985 when a college project required an embroidered waistcoat. The only stitch we were allowed to use was the zig zag stitch. Using brightly coloured embroidery threads the students got some very nice effects. This week I learnt a different, and equally effective technique.

I will outline the steps I took.

  1. Thread up the machine with white (assuming this is the colour of your cloth) on the spool and the embroidery thread on top. I bought these on eBay for around £2.50 areel. The colours are nice and glossy.
    Machine embroidery
    Coloured embroidery threads
  2. Drop the feed dog to allow you to move the work freely as you embroider
  3. Put the fabric into an embroidery hoop upside down, so that it “cups” the right side of your fabric. Make sure it is nice and tight as the process pulls up the fabric and makes it smaller
  4. Put the hoop and fabric in position on the machine – on theJanome it required me to take whole foot off first
    free machine embroidery
    free machine embroidery
  5. attach an appropriate foot – I used a darning foot as that was all we had but it worked just fine
  6. use the hoop to guide the fabric, allowing the needle to stitch short stitches (moving slowly) or longer stitches (moving more quickly)
    machine embroidery sample
    practise piece
  7. once you are happy with the effect move on to another colour. The sample above was just red cotton and orange embroidery thread
  8. you can build up the embroidery gradually to create quite detailed colour effects
    Machine embroidery on the lino print
    Machine embroidery on the lino print
  9. if you want to use metallic threads it is better to thread the spool and work upside down.

In my art work piece some of the black lino ink had come through on the area where I had hoped to do the embroidery. I actually think it works well to help it look more like a fire. I used maroon, red, pink, orange, dark yellow and light yellow to create this effect.

I had not done machine embroidery for around 30 years and I realised how satisfying and interesting it might be. I hope to finish my art work next week, but I shall return to this technique when the SWAP is over as I think it could offer some amazing effects.

Anyone used machine embroidery in their clothes making? Any tips or suggestions?

9 Responses

  1. If you want some inspiration I suggest you look at Harriet Riddell’s work institchyou.co.uk

  2. Really neat! I have never tried this – not sure I am artistic enough to get it right. Good work!

  3. Now that’s a fire! Nice work. I’m very curious to see the completed art work. I used to like doing hand embroidery but have never tried doing it by machine.

  4. Awesome, Kate! You are very skilled

  5. I used to teach machine embroidery but with computerized machines. Using tearaway stabilizers and washaway topping can make some embroidery have the least amount of problems. Good luck!

    • Thank you Mrs M. I was impressed by some of the effects you were able to get on denim shirts – really beautiful. It is a nice way to get a flash of colour into something. My teacher showed me the effects of using materials that then dissolve in water. They were amazing – especially trapping in some ribbons and fibres. What a nice craft.

  6. Its been a while since I have done any , but it is such fun isn’t it?

  7. […] am beginning to get the hang of machine embroidery. After two hours bent over the machine my whole body ached. The work is quite close up and […]

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