How to Embroider Letters with a Sewing Machine

Embroidery as a technique makes messages more meaningful and heartfelt. It makes it more personal and an efficient way to express oneself.

From clothes, handkerchiefs, from monograms and quotes, embroidery sure brings positivity. Hence, embroidered items make it an ideal present or thank you gifts.

What if you like to try embroidery but you don’t have the proper machine for it? Or you are already into it but like to level up your skill? This article aims to help you solve the problem by using a sewing machine.

A Common Way to Embroider with a Sewing Machine

Sewing machines have various features which enable users to do embroidery and monogramming projects for towels, pillowcases, and garments. Here is how you can create an embroidered design using a sewing machine.

1. First, you’ll need a template. You can either draw it yourself or print an image from your computer. A myriad of fonts, images, or quotations online is free to use. Choose the fonts that are fairly thick though and avoid scripts and thin fonts.

2. A little creativity is necessary. There are programs or websites that will allow you to come up with beautiful name designs or mirror the letters. You can print whatever design that you think you can embroider in your sewing machine.

3. Now prepare the fabric where you want to cut the design. We recommend using stabilizer to make the fabric sturdier. It will give you a clean edge and avoid frays. You can either use a single sided stabilizer or a double sided stabilizer. Better choosing the latter as it has adhesive on both sides and allows you to iron the pre-cut designs on the fabric.

4. Make sure to scale the letters or design so that it fits the area. After ironing the stabilizer, use a spray adhesive so the printed paper will stay on the fabric or pin the paper down if the adhesive is unavailable. Only do this step if you used a single sided stabilizer.

5. Using a ruler, place down the design on the fabric then take it to the sewing machine. Adjust the width and length of the stitch until you achieve your desired size. It is best to try out the stitch on a piece of fabric first before the actual sewing.

6. You can now stitch the paper template over the fabric but be sure that you are using an embroidery needle. Thread the sewing machine embroidery thread with sewing machine needle and bobbin.

7. Start stitching the edge of the first letter but hold the hoop while you are doing the first few stitches to secure the thread.

8. Remember to move the hoop as you continue to stitch. Guide with circling or small back and forth motions if necessary.

9. The fine dotted line that the needle created makes it easy to tear the paper. The zigzag stitch is the most common stitch you can do but make sure that the stitch distance is small to achieve a solid thick line look.

10. Stitch but don’t pull the fabric to avoid uneven filling. When you reach the end, raise the needle and pull and cut the thread. Deal with thread ends through backstitching.

Free-Motion Machine Embroidery

Perhaps, you have heard of the term “free motion machine embroidery” or you are familiar with it. This is a skill for quilters but also applicable in creating embroidered works. It is free-motion so it has no specific guidelines and lack restraints thus, you have total control over the stitch pattern and lines.

Aside from fabric, this technique is commonly used in paper and cards. Any design, letter font or artwork is possible to embroider.

1. First, gather your supplies such as the fabric or card to use, a machine needle and a seam ripper. You also need the following;

  • Embroidery hoop- no need for fancy hoops and any size will do. However, smaller hoops will give you better control over intricate designs. You can choose to use a hoop as it can be a hindrance when you are working on larger designs.
  • Stabilizer- it is ideal to use to prevent the fabric from puckering but make sure that it suits the card or fabric you will use.
  • Darning foot- this tool allows users to stitch efficiently while preventing fabric flagging or pulling up the material while stitching. It differs according to the sewing machine so better check the machine’s manual to see what type of foot fits it.
  • Pencil or Trick marker- this is to draw the design or letter of course. Trick markers will vanish when you wash the fabric.
  • Scissors- embroidery scissor makes the task easier but if you have a seam ripper, it can help as well in tackling loose threads.

2. Next, install your darning foot according to the sewing machine’s manual and remove the presser foot. You can also check the manufacturer’s website if you are unsure how to do it. Reduce your machine’s tension. The standard setting is at 4-5 so go for 1-2.

3. To allow yourself to stitch in any direction, it is crucial to lowering the feed dogs. You can found the instructions on how to do it in the machine’s product manual. Remember that you cannot modify all sewing machines so check if your equipment is compatible.

4. Also, determine if your sewing machine has an appropriate setting for free machine embroidery. Set the stitch length to zero for precise sewing and have the pressure foot down. If this is your first time to do it, use scrap fabrics or cards where you can practice your design.

5. You can start by creating letters and simple designs. Once you get the hang of it, you can try creating floral patterns, rhythmic drawing, paints with intricate designs and other illustrations as you wish.

Some sewing machines have built-in letters but can create your own monogram style using a monogram alphabet design set. Some brands also offer designs for flourishes and borders.

Stitching

After setting up, start embroidering by pressing the foot control and maneuvering the hoop in any direction. Some areas tend to warp as you are stitching but it is normal. Double-check if the settings are appropriate before you begin with stitching.

  • Your stabilizer should have the same size of the fabric you want to embroider. Position it below the fabric and start writing the letters or words you want to embroider with a pencil or a trick marker. Block letters are easier to do so, practice it first before you move to script letters.
  • Loosen the screw of the embroidery hoop and place the fabric in-between the hoops. Then, secure the fabric again by tightening the screws.
  • Now place the fabric under the sewing machine and start with the edge of the first letter. Work slowly until you get the hang of the free motion technique.
  • Start with open lines and try different movements like a zigzag or spiral stitch. Take your time and don’t fret if you are not able to follow the lines perfectly. Keep practicing using your sewing machine and get inspirations from other embroiderers.
  • If you prefer a big monogram but won’t fit in the area, you need to split the design. Stitch the first letter, rehoop, then stitch the next letters. This method is a bit challenging since you have to ensure that the sections are spaced and lined correctly.

Sewing Machines Ideal for Embroidering

Based on reviews, we have two of the most popular and beginner-friendly sewing machine today that can help you with your embroidery tasks.

Brother SE400 4×4 Embroidery Machine With 67 Built-in Stitches

This is the most popular embroidery machine in the market.

  • 70 built- in embroidery designs, with 5 lettering fonts.
  • Easily import and digitize embroidery designs directly from your computer.
  • 4-inch-by-4-inch embroidery area.

Brother PE770 5×7 inch Embroidery machine with built-in memory

The PE770 embroidery machine is an enhanced version of the above SE400 model.

  • 6 lettering fonts and 136 built-in designs.
  • Expansive 5 inch x 7 inch field.
  • Import designs from your USB memory stick with the USB port, or memory card designs with the built-in card slot.
  • Extensive design editing. Rotate, mirror-image, increase and decrease the size of your designs, and see how your edited design looks on the large, easy-view back lit LCD display before stitching

Conclusion

Yes, you can embroider letters without an embroidery machine. Your good old sewing machine can help you with the task. However, it will require you learning and mastering techniques mentioned above so you can come up with a nice finish product.

Depending on your machine’s features, you may need to modify it and make some adjustments that suit your letter embroidery. Be patient and have fun!

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