When looking at machines one of the things I expected to learn how to sell was patches. That was of course before knowing anything about patches and the process honestly seemed pretty intimidating. Plus there are not many tutorials out there for creating machine embroidery patches. There are the patches that you have the border for and ones that free float. Due to the complexity of a bordered patch I decided it would be more useful to try a free float. What I mean by free float is simply that the patch is made on an alternate material that will be trimmed to size. For this type of patch I used felt since it is a webbed fiber meaning it will not fray when it is cut. Perhaps in the future I will try my hand at creating a bordered patch that is not 100% file form created to test further, but for now I hope you enjoy this first time video and find it helpful for your own projects.
Tips for Creating a Patch
Felt Material: Won’t fray
Stabilizer: Rip away or Cut Away for back and use water stabilizer for the front if using letters to keep threads from getting buried
Trim or Rip off stabilizer as close as you can without cutting stitches
Heat and Bond shiny side down on the back of embroidery
Use heat press or iron for about 10-15 seconds. I like to iron in small circles since it starts to smell like burning plastic (perhaps turning down the iron would also help) peel when cold
Cut around felt with fabric scissors
Admire patch and iron onto desired project
Random Machine Embroidery Tip:
Use a Report folder with sheet protected pages of designs with sizes to help choose projects as well as see what designs you have
Journal with steps and colors if there is a trace layer or not, also what colors you like
Don’t rip apart the hoop! Always unscrew or it will eventually break the screw mechanism which is why this is my second hoop.
Yet another thing I wish I knew prior to starting embroidery is that ability to adjust the machine’s tension. Embroidery machines have two different tensions to set and each one will vary from machine to machine. For instance, just because I have my tensions set to a certain number does not mean it will have the same effect for another machine. My biggest piece of advice when it comes to adjusting the tension is to take a deep breath, grab a relaxing tea or cocoa, take out a notebook and realize that it will take awhile.
There are two types of tension; the top dial with numbers on it which controls the upper thread and the bobbin tension which controls the bobbin thread. Prior to reading the manual I thought there was only the top thread tension to tweak and after testing all of them the outcomes were wildly disappointing. At one point I thought about returning the machine or taking it in to be repaired. Yes, the manual is your best friend yet always the last resort at least for me anyway! Let me know if you are a manual reader out the box or “only when problems arise person” in the comments.
The bobbin tension is a lot more tedious to get to than the upper threads which is why the tutorial on this post is crucial. First the embroidery control arm must be removed, then the bobbin plate and finally you will reach the bobbin housing to change the tension. Prior to removing this embroidery control arm the machine must be turned completely off or it will pop up with a malfunction warning and require you to turn it off before allowing you to stitch anything. To make things more “fun” there are no numbers to help figure out the best tension for the bottom thread, just a tiny little screw. Also, the machine does not come with a flat head screwdriver. I used one from an eye glasses kit, you may have one laying around the house already.
In order to not go completely blind in this process I like to tighten the screw completely and then loosen it one full rotation test it and then go onto two full rotations, test it and so on. Each time I will fully tighten the screw in order to keep the process consistent. I also recommend either using a notebook or writing directly on the back of the stabilizer to indicate which rotation goes with which test letter. The goal is to not have any bobbin thread showing on the top of your work and only a small amount of the upper thread showing on the back. Too much of upper thread showing on the back can ruin a design from being stitched out properly or even make simple letters look wonky.
Above is a small example of what a difference adjusting the tension can make. Both elephants were made with upper thread tension number four. The only difference was the bobbin tension. On the first elephant you can see the outline stitching is completely off compared to the second one. I realize I should have done them both on a white backing so I apologize if it is a little difficult to see. When these were created it was not for example purposes but rather to see if the design was usable on a less obvious backing. The white example is still not 100% as the ear portion is not fully filled in and would still not be a design I would be happy selling on an item but compared to the first test it is way better.
While I have created an appliqué post before of my first time creating one I thought it was time to share what I have learned thus far to help those who are also learning embroidery. Appliqués can be intimidating so just like any other file the first tip is to test and take notes on the file. Notes can be for referring to the color numbers used, if there is a trace layer and if there are steps you would prefer to skip to leave out a specific detail of the design. These will make the process run smoothly without ruining finished projects.
If there is a trace layer included in the file it will be easier to pre cut the fabric pieces needed, however, creating the test run through will also aid in this. Next, take the appliqué pieces and prep them with heat and bond. Yes, at first I thought it was an over the top step as well but it really is a game changer. Heat and bond acts similar to botox for fabric as it freezes the fibers in place to prevent fraying as well as stretching.
After the appliqué is tacked down it is time to trim the access fabric with scissors. For this I recommend a curved pair that allows for close cutting; beware not to cut too close or too far. To prevent any issues pull the appliqué fabric away from the base fabric so that there are no incidental cuts that puncture the base fabric. You want a small amount of fabric past the tack down stitches. If you cut too close, when the border is stitched it could rip out the tack down stitches and make the appliqué look messy.
Let me know if you have created an appliqué before and if you have what your favorite tip is for creating them even if I did not mention it in this post. For a full walk through of these tips click on the video linked below.
Although I would not say I am anywhere close to being an expert at embroidery, looking back I have learned A LOT. If you recently purchased a machine or are curiously researching machines, this next mini series is full of helpful information to get you started. Today’s focus is on digital embroidery files, which seems like an easy concept, however, there are things that can may catch you off guard if you are not careful. First realize that each machine has a set size limitation so depending on how large your embroidery field is depends on which files the machine is able to read successfully.
Back with another requested video on how to create an appliqué on the Brother PE550d machine. For this tutorial I did not practice or do a prior attempt, this is in fact footage of my first time trying to create an appliqué. The hardest part of creating an appliqué in my opinion is finding a file with the correct format. In order to create a “proper” appliqué the file needs to have three layers.
This tutorial was requested awhile ago however I have been procrastinating making it. In the tutorial you will see the raw footage of me winding my first bobbin on the PE550d. While I had created bobbins on my sewing machine I never really thought of it being any different, but it is a little. What I mean by that is there is a vital part that differentiates the average embroidery machine from a sewing machine, the foot pedal. That being said it is relatively easy to do as the machine prompts you through the entire process, so do not let it intimidate you.
Starting a new hobby always adds up fast and embroidery is definitely not an exception which is why when I first ordered my machine I sought out a cheaper thread alternative. Popular thread brands add up way too fast but is it really something to skimp out on? Well today I finally decided it was time to do a THREAD WAR and purchase one of the most popular craft store threads for embroidery, Sulky, and see if it is worth the hefty price tag.
Throughout my embroidery journey there has been many struggles, some I have shared others I have not, simply due to if I have found a solution or not. No, this is not a post ranting about the machine however, I must state that the customer service for Brother has not made a good impression thus far. When I first started having issues with my bobbin thread showing up on the top side I read the manual for quick fixes and then reached out to their service department with a photo and description of the issue. All I was given was links to their FAQ section. After three attempts to get a real solution I was then directed to find a service department to take the machine in to be properly looked at. FRUSTRATING.
Prior to purchasing an embroidery machine for the first time I had little knowledge as to how it worked including the file capability side. All I kept reading is that it was a learning curve which is why I have been and will continue to update you all as I learn more about the machine embroidery world. Hopefully you are learning from my mistakes or basking in the humorous side of all my mistakes and frustrations, either way here we go again.