How To Do Embroidery With A Normal Sewing Machine?

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If you are wondering if can you do embroidery on a sewing machine, then the answer is, yes it is possible. It will take a little bit of practice and a few small purchases if your sewing machine doesn’t have settings for the embroidery.

We will take you through some easy steps so that by the time you finish reading this post, you’ll be ready to start embroidering even if you do not have an embroidery machine.

Before starting, you may also check the best cheap embroidery machines.

What is embroidery?

Embroidery is essentially the decoration or embellishing of fabrics. Embroidery on a sewing machine is done by making stitches that are virtually invisible. The stitches are called satin stitch, herringbone stitch, or chain stitch. These stitches form shapes of flowers, leaves, and various other designs, which look very pretty on your fabric.

Watch Video: What actually embroidery is?

Embroidery is used in a variety of ways and they’re not just limited to clothing items only. Embroidered items can be used as decoratives in your home and office too.

Can you use a sewing machine for embroidery?

It is true that you can use a sewing machine to embroider, but you need to do some modifications before. You can also have an idea about how much an embroidery machine costs and see if you can afford one because a dedicated embroidery machine can perform in a better way.

There are also some sewing machines that have an embroidery feature built-in. This means these machines can be used for embroidery and they come with different stitches that help you to make embroidery. They will also come with additional tools so that you can trace designs and motifs onto your fabric using pins. You can’t just use it as an ordinary sewing machine. You need to change its settings so that each stitch will be perfectly placed.

I have a Brother SE600 machine which has the features of sewing and embroidery as well. It is a budget-friendly machine that you can use for both sewing and embroidery purposes.

It has 7 presser feet and a 6.4″ w x 4.1″ h needle-to-arm workspace which gives me the option to work on large projects. Using the provided foot pedal or the front buttons, the computerized 2-in-1 machine can sew through the use of a foot pedal or buttons. Together with the variable speed slider, these allow me to stitch efficiently.

Although it has good features, I had to change some of the settings so that my machine can be used for embroidery as well. Once you have the right settings, sewing your own design will be easy.

The large touchscreen allows me to edit and preview my design easily. This model is easy to use and excellent in working because of its unique features. I can change the thread color and size of the design. The embroidery field of 4″x4” gives me the option to split the design and reposition the hoop if I have to create larger designs.

It will require little practice but you can do it. What you will need is a sewing machine needle with a pointy end and you need to change the presser foot with an embroidery foot for small projects.

If your sewing machine does not have an embroidery feature, then it is still possible to create some beautiful pieces of work. You can stitch the regular way and create designs using simple satin stitches.

Supplies Needed to do Embroidery on a Sewing Machine

An embroidery machine comes with everything that’s required to embroider your stuff easily but you can not do embroidery with a normal sewing machine without using some extra supplies. If you want to produce some good results in form of embroidery with your sewing machine then obviously you need some extra supplies and tools.

Here below is the list of some supplies before you do embroidery with your sewing machine.

  • Fabric (any kind of fabric can be used)
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Embroidery Hoop 
  • Free motion foot
  • Embroidery thread
  • Scissors
  • Stabilizer

How to do embroidery with a sewing machine?

You can follow the steps given below to properly embroider with a normal sewing machine. Before heading towards these steps here is some stuff to consider.

Watch Video: How to do embroidery with a normal sewing machine

Use available stitches:

Your sewing machine may not have the setting for embroidery. In that case, you can still do some embroidery work. You can use the zigzag or satin stitches in your sewing machine to create embroidery designs. A satin stitch is a good option if you are using a decorative thread because it will hide the knots under it.

The larger design should be divided into smaller sections that can be easily sewn by a sewing machine. Once you have completed one section, sew the next so that all the sections are sewn together in a continuous fashion.

Free motion embroidery:

You can do free motion embroidery by lowering the feed dogs with a presser foot attachment. Lowering the feed dogs will allow you to pull the fabric under as you sew. You need to use a stabilizer under your fabric in case your machine doesn’t have an embroidery foot. 

The sewing machine you need must have the ability to adjust the top thread and bobbin thread tensions, as well as a treadle. Loosen or tighten the screw on the outside of the metal case to adjust the bobbin tension. 

Watch Video: Free-motion embroidery with a normal sewing machine

If you are using modern electronic machines for your project then make sure that machine produces the best result even at low speed. You also need a Darning foot to do your work but it is possible to work without a free motion embroidery foot.

Steps to follow

If you want a guide in clear steps to embroider with your sewing machine then follow these steps here given below.

  1. Design

Before you get started, make sure you have a pattern for the design. You can purchase it from an online store or create your own. The design must be compatible with the sewing machine and fabric that you will use. You can use common materials for your projects like felt, cardboard, or fabric.

  1. Prepare Fabric

Before you start embroidery, first prepare the fabric with a stabilizer. The stabilizer will prevent the stitches from showing up on the other side of your fabric. You can use a single-sided or double-sided stabilizer to hold your fabric. Both are easily available in the market. I personally like to use the double-sided stabilizer 72F Peltex because it has adhesives on both sides so you don’t need to add extra adhesives and it is easy to use and removable. You can use what you like the most.

Stabilize both sides of your fabric by making sure to cut two pieces of stabilizer and sandwich them between your pieces of fabric before placing them in the hoop.

  1. Set up Embroidery Hoop

You will need an embroidery hoop to hold the fabric tightly together. The hoop should be large enough to accommodate your project. Make sure that you place the hoops on a flat surface so it doesn’t move around as you are embroidering your pattern.

Start by placing a piece of cardboard between the fabric and the embroidery hoop, then use the screwdriver to tighten it down. The cardboard will help make sure that both sides of your fabric are held tightly in place as you are working with it.

  1. Prepare Your Sewing Machine

The first step in embroidery is to prepare your sewing machine. Firstly you need to remove the presser foot of the machine, you can add a darning foot if you are comfortable without this you can do your work. You need to lower the feed dogs because you don’t need griping of fabric during embroidery. Ensure that the top thread tension is correct. Let it loosen.

You will need a needle that is long enough to go through the fabric, thread, and hole of your machine. The needle which you use must have a point at one end of it so it will go through the holes easily.

Also, make sure that you do not use any sharp edges on your sewing machine while you are stitching because they can stab through the fabric and leave uneven stitches.

Next, thread your needle with the appropriate thread. One of the major parts of embroidery work is working with two threads at once so make sure that both are long enough so that you won’t have any problems while sewing.

You can use any kind of needle for embroidery work. You need to choose the appropriate needle for your project. When I have been working with a sewing machine, I have found that the sewing machine needles are good because they are longer and tapered at the tip which makes it easier to go through the fabric while you are stitching. 

  1. Start Embroidering Design

After you have prepared your machine and fabric, it is time to start embroidery. Embroidery is done with two threads at the same time. This means that you need to control both threads with the sewing machine.

One piece of thread will be fed from the top of your fabric, across the surface, and down through a needle hole in the bottom side of your fabric (called top-stitching). The other piece of thread will be fed from under to over on top of your fabric (called under-stitching). One important thing to remember is that after each stitch you make on one side, you should then go back and make another stitch using both threads on the other side before going back again for another stitch.

After your top-stitching is done, you will use the same needle to pull the thread firmly through the bottom side of your fabric. This will ensure that the fabric stays tightly together and doesn’t move around as you are doing embroidery. You should repeat this process until the whole design is completed.

You need to be careful when starting stitching in order to avoid knotting of thread as it can be very messy. The stitches should be made using a back-stitch so that you will have both threads sewing at a time and only one side of the fabric is being used for stitching.

  1. Finishing touches

After you’re done stitching, pull the piece of thread through the bottom side of your fabric. This will ensure that the fabric stays tightly together and doesn’t move around as you are doing embroidery. You should repeat this process until the whole design is completed.

Once your project is finished, you may want to remove the stabilizer from it. If you want to wash your clothing item then make sure that you use a detergent that won’t harm it. You can also easily remove the embroidery with a pair of scissors.

After the project is finished, iron it gently with a steam iron so it will be ready for wearing or fabricating any other stuff.

Things need to consider before Embroidery on a Sewing Machine

Also, there are some instructions to take care of before you get started. Please keep the given below points in your mind before you start embroidering with your sewing machine.

  1. Embroidery Hoop

You should use an embroidery hoop because it will help to keep the fabric in place. It might also be important when you are stitching so the stitches are even and don’t wrinkle too much. A hoop is a round object which is used to create tension so that the fabric doesn’t move around or stretch as you’re embroidering it.

  1. Use A Stabilizer

If you are working on slippery fabric like silk then you need to use a stabilizer. Tear-away stabilizers are best and easy to use because they are easily removable after completing the project.

They also come in a variety of sizes and are easy to find in the market so no need to worry. you can use the one that is available in your area.

Our fabrics may stretch as we are working with them, so we need to keep them tight, the stabilizer will help us to hold the fabric tightly. Always cut stabilizers that are the same size as your hoop and place them between the fabric before placing it in the hoop.

  1. Lower Feed Dogs

The next part that you need to pay attention to is lowering the feed dogs and letting the fabric be pushed down. When the fabric is in a hoop the feed dogs are stretched out. But when you’re working on your project, it just causes trouble because it can stretch while you’re working with your project and easily show up on the other side of your material.

You can use the machine’s feed dogs to hold the fabric in place while stitching. You should lower the feed dogs when you are doing embroidery so you won’t have to stitch your design very tightly.

  1. Use Full Bobbin

Your bobbin is the one that holds the under-stitched thread. The full bobbin should be used while doing embroidery otherwise you will run out of color very soon in the middle of your project and that can be really frustrating. If there is not enough thread available then it will affect your project quality.

  1. Keeping Tension At Right Level

Your tension setting should be at the right level in order to reduce the puckering and bunching of fabric. If your upper thread tension is less then it will not hold the fabric tight but on the other hand, if your upper thread tension setting is more than it may cause too tight stitches on the top and bottom side of the fabric causing puckering or bunching.

  1. Use Embroidery Thread

You should use embroidery thread which is made of a special type of yarn for embroidery. The most common types of thread are Rayon, Cotton, and Polyester but you can use any other types of thread if you are not getting the desired result. I like to work with Rayon but you can use the thread which suits your fabric.

How to do embroidery without a hoop?

While you’re working on your embroidery project you will come across many issues that might hamper with your project. One of the most common issues that you will have to face is using a hoop while carrying out the embroidery work.

There are certain projects that do not require a hoop so we can follow certain steps to do embroidery without a hoop. But firstly, let me tell you why we need to use an embroidery hoop. A thread can fall out of its path due to the friction on the surface of the fabric and also due to gravity, but an embroidery hoop holds all sides of your fabric tight so that thread doesn’t fall, thus creating an even stitch line.

Here’s a list of things that you should definitely look at when you are planning to work on embroidery without hoop:

Double Sided Embroidery Hoop – This is a special kind of hoop that is made up of thick fabric and has a flexible bottom side. It can be used by someone who wants to do embroidery without the need for an embroidery hoop.

Double-Sided Stitchcard – Use this on your project so that there isn’t the need for using a stitchcard or something similar. This is an adhesive paper that is folded in half and stuck to the wrong side of your fabric. This gives you the option to do any stitch.

Bobbin and Needle Thread – Use the bobbin thread and a needle and you can easily do easy embroidery work. You don’t need to purchase the embroidery shuttle, it can be bought separately in your local fabric store.

Fusible Fabric – This is a very good option to use while doing simple embroidery without a hoop. Not just that, it saves a lot of time and is highly recommended as it comes with many benefits like being easy to wash, doesn’t hurt when used, providing a better definition in the final product, and doesn’t cause any marks on the fabric used for stitching.

Embroidery Pattern – You can buy an embroidery pattern that has the design of your choice. You just need to hold a piece of fabric and trace the design of the pattern onto the fabric.

Check Also: Can You Rent An Embroidery Machine?

FAQ about Embroidery on a Sewing Machine

What type of thread do you use to embroider on a sewing machine?

Usually, for embroidery on a sewing machine, you need to use general-purpose thread. It can be any type of thread, like cotton or polyester.

Can you do embroidery without a hoop on a sewing machine?

Yes, you can do embroidery without a hoop on a sewing machine. But it is better to use a hoop. The hoop will help you to keep your fabric in place while stitching. But if you want to do embroidery on the professional scale or for specific stuff then you need a dedicated normal or commercial one whether you want an embroidery machine for hats, caps, shirts, or hoodies.

What is the best sewing machine for embroidery?

The answer to this question depends on what type of embroidery you’ll be doing. Some machines are better suited for embroidery than others. For example, if you want to do free-motion embroidery then you should choose a machine that has an in-built needle threader and adjustable stitch length and width.
Whatever the type of project is, I think that the Brother SE600 and Brother SE1900 are one of the best sewing machines for beginners because it comes with all the features that a beginner would need to learn how to sew as well as do some basic embroidery.

Do you use special needles for embroidery on sewing machines?

Yes, you should use a special needle for embroidery. The machine needle sizes of 7 to 9 are most commonly used because of their large needle eye. But you can use the size of your choice, and also have look at embroidery machine needles: their types, sizes, and parts.

What types of fabrics are suitable for embroidery on sewing machines?

The fabric which is suitable for embroidery on sewing machines can be any type of fabric like cotton, polyester, and rayon but there are some fabrics that should be avoided because they will not work properly with the machine. For example, if you want to do embroidery with sheer fabrics then it won’t give you good results so avoid such fabrics while doing embroidery.

What type of thread do you use for embroidery on a sewing machine?

You should use any type of thread for embroidery on a sewing machine. However, you can use the thread which is made of rayon. Or if you want to use a heavier or thinner thread then you can choose it.

Can you do embroidery without a sewing machine?

You can also use basic stitches to do an embroidery project without a hoop, but if you want a perfect finish then make sure you get an embroidery hoop.
Embroidery without a sewing machine is also possible. It’s also called chain-stitch embroidery. It is not done as much as machine embroidery but it is still used in some applications like logo embroidery. In chain-stitch embroidery, a thread (usually a tapestry needle) is passed through the fabric where you want your design to appear, then pulled through the fabric. This technique can be used to stitch your logo or any other design that you want on any material of your choice.
You can use this technique for school projects or any other homework of yours that needs an artistic touch. Just keep in mind that chain-stitch embroidery might not give you the same professional look as machine-stitched embroidery so it’s best to use this technique for your home decorating.

Final Thoughts

When you do embroidery with the help of a sewing machine you can make a lot of things. Whether you want to make embroidery on shirts or skirts, bed sheets or cushion covers and so on it is possible to do it with the help of a sewing machine.

I hope this article will help you to learn how to embroider on your own and I have given you many tips and instructions about embroidery. 

After reading this article, you will now have all the information that you need about how to do embroidery with sewing machines. So give a try to your sewing machine to do embroidery for you and save money.


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I have been working as a seamstress since I was 12 years old, and I would be happy to teach you what I know. I, along with the rest of my team, investigate numerous sewing, quilting, embroidery, and fabric related how-to guides, and present our findings to you.

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