Embroider-along: Part 1

Congratulations on your new embroidery machine! Hi, I’m Sue O’Very, BERNINA Ambassador and machine embroidery expert. Becoming an expert didn’t happen overnight. Just like you I once was new and ready to get stitching but was a bit overwhelmed. I’m here to help make machine embroidery a fun and successful experience. Before we begin stitching I’m going to cover four basics of machine embroidery in part 1 of my Embroider-Along.


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You might be wondering just what is an Embroider-Along? I’m excited to say it will be a series of helpful blog posts for the beginner as well as the seasoned machine embroiderer. This Embroider-Along will be a place of education and guidance for the beginner. For my seasoned machine embroidery enthusiast it will be a place of reassurance and perhaps learning a few new tricks. Let’s face it, some of us have been machine embroidering for 20+ years and over time, things have changed.

Four basics for machine embroidery

There are four basics of machine embroidery to cover in the Embroider-Along series so you get the best results when machine embroidering.

  • Stabilizers/Materials
  • Needles
  • Threads
  • Hooping

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Stabilizers and Materials

Choosing the correct stabilizer can make or break your project. There are hundreds of different stabilizers on the market however, when broken down, there are just a few types.

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The best way to choose stabilizer will depend on the type of material you are embroidering on. Will you be stitching on knit, woven, sheer fabric or a napped fabric? During my Embroider-Along I will cover which stabilizers are best based on the type of material you are using in your project.

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Needles play a huge part in stitch quality on basic sewing so you can imagine when your needle is going up and down 600-1000 stitches per minute it’s even more important to get it right.

Just like stabilizers, needle selection can seem daunting but there are just a couple of basics. Needle selection depends on the material and thread type. Will you be using metallic, polyester or rayon thread? Will you be stitching on a baby Onesie or thick towel? These will be part of the topics of conversation in the Needles portion of my Embroider-Along series.

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Using good thread in your machine is like filling your car up with the right gas. If you don’t, it just won’t work. There are many brands of thread, various weights and different fiber contents. When choosing a thread we need to ask these questions:

  • What effect are you going for: matte, shiny or metallic?
  • How will this item be laundered?
  • Does the embroidery need to be durable?

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An on-going conversation among machine embroidery folks is hooping. One of your stitching friends might say, “I never hoop anything”; another friend might claim they hoop even the thickest of towels. Who is right, which is easiest and what will provide the best results? In the Hooping blog post portion of my Embroider-Along I will answer those questions and discuss these additional topics:

  • Hoop size
  • Marking materials
  • Getting perfect placement

My goal will be to show you the fastest and easiest techniques to provide you with results which will impress your friends.

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What is next?

Start following along! Check back here each week to see the next lesson and prepare to learn something new. As a part of the Embroider-Along there will be 12 weeks of lessons and (of course) some adorable final projects. Each blog post will bring you closer to mastering the basics of machine embroidery.

Here is the blog schedule:

  • Embroider-Along Part 1: Intro four most popular materials for machine embroidery
  • Embroider-Along Part 2: Stabilizer and Materials
  • Embroider-Along Part 3: Needles and Thread
  • Embroider-Along Part 4: Placement and Hooping for Machine Embroidery
  • Embroider-Along Part 5: How to embroider on Knits
  • Embroider-Along Part 6: How to embroider on Woven materials
  • Embroider-Along Part 7: How to embroider on Napped fabrics
  • Embroider-Along Part 8: How to embroider on Sheer materials
  • Embroider-Along Part 9: Knit – How to embroider on a Ladies T-shirt
  • Embroider-Along Part 10: Woven – How to embroider on a Pillow Case
  • Embroider-Along Part 11: Napped – How to embroider on Luxe Cuddle® Rose
  • Embroider-Along Part 12: Sheer – How to embroider on a Pet Screen

I’d love to hear what you think of this and also additional topics you would like me cover. What do you want to learn more about with machine embroidery?

Until next time, I hope you have a creative day, bye-bye.


79 thoughts on “Embroider-along: Part 1

        1. Hi Norma
          Thanks for writing in. Each week (day will vary) the next part of the blog will be posted. This is part 1. Each post will have links to the previous ones. Best thing to do is sign up on the blogs newsletter and check back. Enjoy the Embroider-Along ~Sue

  1. I’ll be following along! I’ve been machine embroidering for over 5 years, but am always interested in the latest developments and how others follow the process.

  2. Looking forward to learning as much as I can about machine embroidery. I have a new machine and want to try everything – towels, sweatshirts, etc! Thanks for creating this for us newbies!

    1. I totally understand. Buying a machine is a big investment, not only the machine but all the things to go along with it. There will be some free designs as the Embroider-Along goes – stay with us and you will see them! Enjoy the Embroider-Along ~Sue

  3. This is a good spot to learning what all the Bernina can do and how as well. Thank you, Sue!

    I do have a question…how do I download an image? I have tried a couple times, but it seems as if the machine is not reading my USB, because the files don’t show up on the screen. I’m using the .exp file extension. Do you think you could tell what all m doing wrong?

    1. I have the same question about downloading and using an image. I’ve tried downloading, but I must be saving it in the wrong format. It would be helpful to better understand this process.

    2. It is my pleasure. I am happy to have partnered with BERNINA to bring you some good info. Excellent question on the downloading, I think you mean embroidery design (vs Image). In which case you will want to make sure the design is saved from the computer to your desktop. It will come as a zip file. You will need to unzip it and then only save the .exp file to your usb. You might already be doing that, in which case, let me know a few more details. If I am unable to help, we will be sure to get the answers for you.

      Oh and please try downloading one of my preview projects here on We All Sew
      Enjoy the Embroider-Along ~Sue

  4. Looking forward to an Embroider-Along. New hints and techniques are a great idea. I hope we have a chart for some of this info: 4 basic types of fabric, most common stablilizer type, needle, thread, type of embroidery pattern best used for each – especially if you are last minute gifting and hope for no “issues”. Sort of a general idea table. Each manufacturer has one for their specific brand and updates are numerous.

    I hope we see some embroider ideas each blog. Thanks!

  5. I’m really looking forward to learning more through your embroider-along. I’ve been using single-needle “home” embroidery machines since the original 4″ hoop machines of the 80s but I’m sure you will have hints and tips to make my embroidery projects even easier.
    Hooping and design placement always seem a challenge.
    I can’t wait to get started!

  6. In this series will you be teaching how to actually use the embroidery machine and how to bring in designs from the software so you can arrange them in the hoop and stitch them out? I really need some help with these. I have been trying for a very long time to figure it out and can’t. Or if you aren’t teaching this, is there somewhere I can learn this? I would be so grateful for help.Thank you.

    1. Great question. We will touch on it but as every machine and especially every brand varies we won’t be able to address each scenario. Tell me which make and model you do have and I will see if we can get you the help needed or at least find you a spot to get the answers for you. We are all in this fun crafty world together and here to help one another 🙂 Enjoy the Embroider-Along ~Sue

    1. There will be one a week, day might vary. If you are on the mailing list then you will at least get a notification of new blog post. You are welcome to follow the BERNINAs Facebook page and Instagram page as it will be posted there too. Enjoy the Embroider-Along ~Sue

    1. First of all Congratulations!! I got a chance to play on the 5 series and they were just wonderful!! Yes, this will definitely help you because knowledge is power. Especially when it comes to our hobby. For me, it is all about learning different ways of getting to the same results and then making it your own! I am here to help you through your new journey!!

  7. Thank you! I’m back to embroidering after about a decade lapse and am surprised at how many more stabilizers and such there are now. It’s been a bit overwhelming. Very timely.

  8. Is embroidery on towels covered in the napped fabric lesson? If not then maybe you could all that to one of your sessions. I have been embroidering for a very long time. One problem I have is knowing when a design will be too dense. Can you help?

  9. This is very exciting – I have a Bernina 880 Plus and have done some embroidery; however I want to learn more. All of the items you will be covering will be extremely helpful – thank you !!

  10. I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve had my embroidery machine for some time now and have been struggling to learn the ins and outs. I have a Bernina 580 and have not found the instruction manual easy. There seems to be a steep learning curve. My local Bernina dealer closed and the company that took over seem to be more interested in selling me a Brother or Babylock than helping me learn my machine.

  11. I too am excited about learning more about machine embroidery. Have done a few things but still feel a bit overwhelmed when I think about stabilizers. Looking forward to each lesson. Thanx for doing this.

  12. This blog is exactly what I need. Even though I took the Bernina class for my new embroidery machine, I still feel overwhelmed. Learning the software if one thing; learning all the bits connected with embroidery is another thing. I have so much to learn. The blog will allow me to slow down and re-read until I get it. Can’t wait to begin! Thank you.

  13. I am sooooooo glad you are doing this. I purchase the embroidery part to go along with my sewing machine and have not used it since my lessons (over 2 years). I didn’t learn too much during the lessons and need something like this to help me learn more about it. I have felt like I wasted money purchasing it. Thanks so much

  14. i would like to know how to make corrections, i.e. like when the thread breaks.
    Also, how to “get out of a design” if you need to stop and re-hoop, take out a mistake, etc. I always just wind up turning the machine off, then back on again and starting all over. It seems like i get stuck in the design.

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