Basic Machine Embroidery Troubleshooting & Help
Embroidery is becoming popular as a hobby and a profitable business. As new embroiderers get their machines and learn embroidery, they are bound to have mishaps and mistakes. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind while sewing on your embroidery machine.
Use The Correct Needles Be sure to select the correct needle for your machine, home machines use flat shank needles and commercial machines take round shank needles. Make sure you understand the difference between sharp and ball point needles. Ball point needles are designed to alleviate making holes in knit or loosely woven materials. When a needle with a regular or sharp point is used on knits, it cuts right through the fiber and can create holes in the fabric. The ball point needle pushes aside the fiber it encounters in penetration and thereby avoids making a damaging hole in the fabric. Change your needles often, after about 8 hours of use, they are inexpensive and an old worn out needle can cause stitching issues. Don't wait for needles to break, once they do, it's usually past the worn out stage. Learn what a proper stitch should look like, and change needles when you notice something not stitching correctly.
Garment Puckering If you shirt looks great before you remove it from the hoop, but puckers after you take it out of the hoop, that usually means you stretched it too much when hooping. If you see lots of puckering while still in the hoop, that usually means you didn't sufficiently stabilizer your fabric. Try going with a heavier weight embroidery backing, or using 2 pieces of what you have. Also consider using a light misting of temporary adhesive spray on your backing for some extra stabilization.
Embroidery Bobbins There are lots of prewound bobbins to chose from, everything from economical generic to higher cost name brands. You can use any of these bobbins if you know how to adjust your machine tension. Check your manual to ensure you are using the correct size and bobbin thread weight, before you make your purchase. Knowing the correct supplies for your machine will avoid costly returns. Also, check your manual to make sure you are threading your bobbin correctly, different machines require different threading methods. Keep your bobbin area clean and free of lint. Excessive lint build up can cause tension issues. Lint brushes or canned air can be a great way to clean this area.
Embroidery Stabilizers Backings provide stabilization during the embroidery process and help the fabric withstand needle penetrations. Picking the correct stabilizer is key to good embroidery. The more stretchy or unstable the fabric and the larger and more dense the design, the heavier more stable backing you will need to use. For items where the back will easily be seen like towels and linens, consider using a tear away stabilizer that can be removed when you are finished embroidery. For knits and stretchy fabrics, use a cut away backing. Make sure the stabilizer you are using is large enough to properly hoop. Measure your hoop and add about 1" to get the minimum size backing you can comfortably get in your hoop.
Thread Tension Issues If you top thread stitching looks off, check your bobbin threading. If you see issues with your bobbin thread, check your top threading. When threading top thread, make sure your presser foot is in the up position. Be sure to read your manual, it contains everything you need to know on how to thread your machine. Tension gauges are excellent tools to help you get the correct tension on your embroidery machine.
- When all Else Fails Never be afraid to ask for help. There are lots of resources online, like AllStitch's Embroidery Blogs, to get the answers you need. Facebook is a great resource, we highly recommend joining the Machine Embroidery Help Group, where there are thousands of embroiderers willing to help you get through your issues. Never give up out of frustration, there are lots of people willing to help you.
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