Learning how to use an embroidery machine is considered one of the greatest achievements in the embroidery and sewing world because of the perceived difficulty associated with embroidery. The beauty with modern day embroidery machines is that they work in a similar manner as automatic transmission vehicles where the machine does more than 70% leaving you with only a few tasks to do. When you learn how to use one embroidery machine, chances are you can use any other brand of embroidery machine because there is a close resemblance in features and functions.
This guide on how to use an embroidery machine gives you a step by step process on how best to prepare yourself in handling your machine so that it can give you the productivity you have been looking for. Some people think setting up the embroidery machine takes a whole lot of technical knowhow to crack it. However, nothing can be further from the truth because no technical skills are required as most manufacturers leverage on the easy to use attribute as their selling point in manufacturing embroidery machines.
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Preparing the Things You Require
Before thinking about the embroidery machine, you must first have the preparedness required for the embroidery project. There are a number of things you may have to put together including bobbin thread, stabilizer, fabrics, embroidery software, needles as well as the machine itself. Always have the manual by your side so that you can refer in case you get stuck in the process. Most machines are also installed with software that gives you additional directions through video tutorials.
Choosing the Needle
As a beginner, learning how to use an embroidery machine, one of the things you have to note is that the needles to use are specially designed for the embroidery thread. Your choice of needle should be guided by the size and the weight of the fabric. The needle you pick for your embroidery machine should be capable of carrying the thread through the fabric without causing any damages to the thread or fabric.
There are two main varieties of embroidery needles depending on whether you are looking for needles for domestic or commercial embroidery machines. For domestic embroidery machines, flat-sided shank needles are appropriate while round shank needles are specifically designed for commercial and industrial embroidery use. If you are handling an embroidery project that involves knitting, ballpoint needles should be your first choice. For denims and other tightly woven items, sharp pointed needles are the best.
The best way to identify embroidery needles is through the numbering system; the higher the needle number, the larger the needle eye. If you want more accurate stitches, a smaller needle will be the best for your embroidery machine. For beginners, a needle size of 70 or 80 is good to start with. However, you must keep on trying different needle sizes within that range so that you get one that matches your design.
When you change the size of the needle, the tension on the top thread will also change and this will affect how the needle penetrates the fabric. Depending on the length of use, you may be forced to change the needles regularly and as frequent as after every 5 hours.
Choosing the Appropriate Thread
This is also an important part of setting up as you learn how to use an embroidery machine. In embroidery, there are two kinds of threads; bobbin thread and embroidery thread. The embroidery thread is thin but strong while the bobbin thread is lighter and cheaper than the embroidery thread. Depending on the embroidery design, you may have to use the embroidery thread both at the top and bottom of the design because you want it to be heavy. The two most popular embroidery threads are polyester and rayon. The fabric will also play a crucial role in your choice of thread.
Setting up the Machine
Setting up your machine is the beginning of the actual embroidery process. If your machine is a combination meaning it has both embroidery and sewing functions, you will have to remove the sewing unit at this point so that you can give room to install the embroidery arm. Thereafter, plug your machine to the power source. If your embroidery machine has USB functionality, you will have to connect it to your computer through a USB cable.
Connecting the Foot Control and Power Supply
The foot control is among the accessories that will come with your embroidery machine. Position the foot control on its narrow side and thereafter fit the plug into the socket that is located within the foot control compartment. This procedure is only necessary for the first time in using your embroidery machine. Thereafter, it is not. In order to correctly turn away the foot control cord, place it carefully into its slot within the foot control compartment.
When connecting your embroidery machine to the power supply, ensure you check the underside of the embroidery machine for information about the frequency and the voltage. It’s important to confirm this because machines may have different power settings from your main supply. As a sign that your machine is connected to the power source, the machine and the light will switch on when you flip the power switch.
Extending the Sewing Surface
To provide a much larger flat work surface, ensure you keep the accessory tray on the embroidery machine. If you want to use the free arm, push the accessory tray to the left side. The free arm is useful particularly when sewing sleeve hems and trouser legs.
The Spool Pin and Spool Pin Holder
As you learn how to use an embroidery machine, you will discover that there are spool pins which are suitable for different types of threads. The main spool pin which is in a horizontal position ensures the thread reels off the spool. There are two spool holders on spool pins of typical embroidery machines. For narrow thread spools, the small holder is placed in front of the thread and for large thread spools the large holder is usually placed at the front of the thread. Ensure you position the correct size pool holder so that the flat side is firmly pressed against the spool. There should be no space between the spool and the spool holder.
Threading the Embroidery Machine
Threading the Upper Thread
Before you begin threading the upper thread, ensure the main witch is off, the presser foot is raised and the embroidery needle is in the up position. First, pull the spool pin out and then carefully press the thread of the spool pin as well as the spool holder on the pin. After you finish, push the spool pin back. Thereafter, slowly bring the thread down the slot between the thread tension discs and continue threading as you draw the thread into the slot on the take up lever. Normally, the needle is threaded starting from the front to the back. The white on the presser foot ankle is important because it makes it easier for you to see the eye of the needle.
Threading for the Twin Needle
Just as you did above, ensure the main switch is off before threading for twin needle. First of all, wind your bobbin with the thread to be used as the second upper thread. Secondly, thread your embroidery machine and confirm that the thread lies between the inner tension discs. Attach the extra spool pin onto the embroidery machine and place the bobbin with the embroidery thread on the pin. Then, thread the machine as you did before but this time round it should be between the outer thread tension discs.
Threading the Bobbin
It’s important you thread the bobbin as per the “how to use an embroidery machine instructions” detailed on the manufacturer’s manual. As a rule of thumb, you should install the bobbin with thread wound on it into the bobbin case set. To ensure the bobbin thread is set correctly, turn the wheel located on the side of your embroidery machine to lower the needle once. When it comes back up, it will pick up the bobbin thread and pull it upwards in a loop. Before you begin embroidering your pattern, ensure the bobbin is correctly installed. The moment you see the bobbin thread appearing on the both sides of the fabric, know that your installation is wrong and quickly rectify it. On the other hand, if the bobbin thread unrolls in the opposite direction to that desired, your thread tension will be wrong and this can even break the needle.
Setting the Thread Tension
Normally, the thread tension is automatically adjusted whenever you select an embroidery or a stitch. However, you can also manually adjust the tension by pressing the negative or positive buttons on your machine. Whatever adjustments you make, it will affect all the stitches you make and will remain effective until the machine is turned off. The typical thread tension is 4 but when selecting decorative stitches and button holes, you can reduce the thread tension. If your project involves topstitching a thick fabric with a course thread, it is advisable you increase the tension to between 7 and 9. When the embroidery machine is turned on, the tension is usually set automatically to normal.
Adjusting the Presser Foot Pressure
There is a dial on the front side of your embroidery machine used to set the presser foot pressure. The normal setting for most embroidery machines is four but you can always adjust depending on the pressure you want to apply on your fabric. When working on soft fabrics, you can lower the presser foot pressure and increase it when working on tough fabrics.
The presser foot lever is the component you will use to raise and lower the presser foot. Before starting to use your machine, ensure the presser foot is in a lowered position.
Lowering the Feed Teeth
The feed teeth normally come up the moment you start sewing or embroidering. When your sewing buttons or engaged in free hand work, the feed teeth should be lowered. Lowering the feed teeth makes it pretty easy to slide thick garments under the presser foot. Before you start sewing, ensure you raise the feed teeth.
Using the Function Buttons
One of the most important steps on how to use an embroidery machine is in manipulating the function buttons. There are various buttons in an embroidery machine but the basic ones that you should master are as follows:
Needle Stop – This button is used for setting whether the needle stops up or down the material when you stop sewing.
Sewing Speed – This button is useful in setting the maximum sewing speed when you fully depress the foot control. If you want slower speeds, press the foot control a little bit less. Remember that when you set the embroidery position, you can only use the slowest speed. The stitches within your embroidery machine have preset speeds meaning selecting a certain stitch will automatically give you its speed.
Reverse – Upon pressing this button, your machine will sew backwards. This button is mainly used at the start and end of an embroidery unit.
Other buttons that you will have to master as you use an embroidery machine include the stitch length, stitch width, mirror image and the stop button which is used to finish stitches.
The Decision Whether to Hoop or Not
When embroidering, the decision to hoop will be determined by the type of fabric that you use. Hooping is simply putting the fabric into the embroidery hoop found on the machine. This gives you stability when working on your project. As a beginner, you could be wondering how to hoop in the right way. While many people tend to overlook it, hooping your fabric correctly is important in getting a professional result. Improper hooping has been associated with misaligned designs, thread breaking or looping, fabric puckering and design registration issues.
Several factors affect the success of your hooping process amongst them the type of stabilizer, the layers of stabilizer required for your type of fabric, the texture of the fabric and the size of the hoop required. Remember hooping is a bit cumbersome particularly to beginners, but with time you will become proficient and this will cease to be an issue.
As you learn how to use an embroidery machine, you will gradually appreciate the various features, their use and how you can turn your project from an ordinary embroidery task into a masterpiece.