Machine Embroidery – A Different Take

This isn’t exactly how I do machine embroidery, this lesson was created for my Little Treasures BOM 2014. The reason being, I simply don’t have the time to do embroidery by hand. My whole reason for getting into machine embroidery was so that I could incorporate embroidery into quilting, and I thought there had to be a way to do that. Since I got back into quilting last year, I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate embroidery into applique, so that it would be a bit easier to do the little things like outlines, and eyes, or lips, and other little things that would enhance the design of the block. It’s been quite a bit of testing and I have finally come upon a solution as to how to do that. Today I am going to show you how I am doing this and even if it weren’t for this BOM in particular, you can incorporate this technique into other projects quite easily.


Machine Embroidery design
Tearaway Stabilizer  (no need for expensive stabilizers here, buy the cheapest you can get your hands on and the thinest you can get your hands on) Do not use any other type of stabilizer.
Sewing machine that does machine embroidery
Rayon, Polyester, or Cotton thread, this is a personal choice.

To get started, some people choose to hoop their fabric, while others prefer to hoop their stabilizer. I prefer to hoop my stabilizer whenever possible. I prefer to baste my fabric down when necessary, but with this technique, I do not recommend basting. I tried doing it with basting, but not only was it unnecessary to do it, it just caused extra trouble to do it.

The reason I don’t use other stabilizers in this technique is that we are stitching pretty much on the stabilizer first, and then we add fabric. In this case we are adding our freezer paper shape. We then stitch the embroidery design onto the fabric. We can then pull off the fabric shape, with the tear away releasing it much easier than any other stabilizer would. I can’t even tell you the brand I used in these testings, I’m just using stabilizer I had on hand, and it’s no longer marked with a brand name. I’m fairly sure I purchased it on eBay tho as most of my stabilizer came from eBay when I was heavy into purchasing machine embroidery supplies.

As I noted, I created this lesson for my Little Treasures BOM, so I’m going to write this lesson in that logic.

First, you will prepare your applique shapes in the technique you use of choice. I used the Freezer Paper method with glue stick for the testing stages of Little Treasures, but it will work with any technique you choose.

Prepare all your shapes prior to embroidering. You need them ready to place on the stabilizer once your ready to do the embroidery.

If you have the ability, open an embroidery software such as Embird, or Bernina Portfolio, Viking 6D, Buzz Explore or Buzz Tools, Sew What, or even True Sizer. I know there are others, but these are either familiar to me, or I’ve heard of them. TrueSizer is the only one among the bunch that is free to use. Although I’m unsure of whether it will tell you the size of the design, although I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t.

Check your hoop size, make sure the design is fitting properly in the hoop for your machine, and this is especially true for the designs I’ve created for this block, because I’ve only created .pes, .dst, and .hus. I can provide a .art format if you need it, but please write me for that format. I will not be providing any other formats than those 4 formats however. Each brand of machine is different and I’m not a professional digitizer, so I don’t feel comfortable making various formats that I can’t personally test first. I can’t test a .art format as a for instance, but I digitize in Bernina’s Embroidery software, so I would trust that .art would provide you with a proper design. I just am unsure which version to send, and that’s why I ask you to contact me for a .art format.

Another good reason is so you can view the stitchout process. If your software gives you the ability to even look at a printout of the stitch out order, I would urge you to print it so you can see what is stitching out next. You can’t always tell that from machine displays. Since colors are off in these machines, it helps to know what you need to prepare next. Even if you don’t print it out, you could print out to pdf a stitch out order chart

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Hooped Stabilizer

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Hooped fabric with stabilizer laid underneath the hoop

I only created this sample above, when I used my larger hoops, I actually put two stabilizers together like you would when your lining up two pieces of paper and taping them together. In this case tho I didn’t tape the stabilizers. You want it taunt, but not tight. Do not screw your hoop screws in to tightly either. you want them tight, but not at the tightest possible.

You will find the designs in the Embroidery Designs folder in the zip file provided with the BOM instructions. You will want to have them converted to your format, and placed onto your USB Stick, or into your floppy disk. Load them into your machine and choose your starting design. The first design is the bear, and the next few sample images show the bear design.

First, with no fabric on top of the stabilizer, we will stitch all the shapes.

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These are the bear shapes in my Bernina Software, (parts have been hidden) in your machine they will look slightly different, but they will still be there.

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How they look  on my Ult 2001. I only do machine embroidery on this machine, nothing else, so it’s always setup to do machine embroidery. I have a Viking D1 as well, but I use that machine only for quilting and piecing. Both machines tho have a similar display appearance.

These designs were digitized so that each shape has a different color. I did this intentionally, but you don’t have to change colors between the stitchings. I did it so it would have a starting and stopping point As well, it gives you an opportunity to change bobbin thread if you need to put a new bobbin in at any point.

We’ll stitch all the shapes only first.

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As you can see above, all the shapes are first stitched out on the stabilizer.

We’ll now add our applique shapes on top of each different shape in the hoop. I do not recommend you lay them all in at once, instead, do each individually. This is the reason for the different colorings on each item, and it’s important to realize that where one should have all Black thread, that even tho it’s suppose to be black thread, they are colored differently so they can go from shape to shape doing the different items in the fabric shape.

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In the image above, I’ve shown how we are going to lay the shapes, but, I still recommend that you do them one at a time, and this is simply because you want to get your fabric shape lined up with the stitched out shape in the hoop. – In the image above I thought I’d try adding glue stick to the bear’s head, but it turns out I didn’t really need glue stick to put the shapes down and keep them in place.

There are some areas tho such as in the top part of hat, where you may want to use a tool like the Purple Thang or a bodkin, a toothpick, seam ripper, anything think that will help you keep your fingers out of the way, but guide the fabric shape to stay down and in place while it stitches around it.

Here are the shapes stitched out

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As you can see, the inner ears are stitched, the bear paws are in place, the outlines, and bears eyes are now all done.

At this point, we are ready to start taking them off the stabilizer, you will simple just pull up slowly so as not to tear away any of the stitching. For the most part, they will all lift right off,

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but it can happen that you will have some string attached from the first stitchout shape that gets caught in with the outline. Sometimes it’s possible to pull it off as well and then cut it, but in most cases, just run a pair of scissors or a seam ripper underneath it and it should cut it right off.

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In the Hat Brim stitchout, which almost seems like a waste of time because it only has 2 outlines on the stitchout, it will be possible that you will have it not lined up when it stitches the outline, see below..

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You can see that the outline isn’t near or at the edge here, and that’s because I had forgotten to turn under the inner part of the brim. It didn’t affect it, after I realized it and turned it under it did line up just fine and stitched out fine when the shapes were put together.

I also recycled this stabilizer into the next stitchout. You can do that many times actually so your not wasting stabilizer, if for instance, you pull one and get a hole in the stabilizer, on your next round with the stabilizer, you can just place a scrap over it like is shown in the image below..

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See how the stabilizer is kind of standing up just under the pressor foot? I had a hole underneath that stabilizer from a previous stitchout and just covered it with a scrap.

Here is a different look on recycled stabilizer..

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and when I stitched out the dress on to it..

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and because these pulled off so easily, I was even able to again reuse it, I just didn’t think to take a picture of it. Sorry about that.

Either or, if you work it out, your not going to waste stabilizer with this project as one might think they would do.

For those of you who happen along into this tutorial and are not doing the Little Treasures BOM, you can use this file to try this lesson out.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or leave a comment, and I will reply to it. If you find a way to improve on this technique, I’d love to hear what you did.


1 thought on “Machine Embroidery – A Different Take

  1. Thanks for the post. I’ve been doing it for like 4 years. I’ve really enjoyed every time I did. There’s something to learn from embroiderers by reading their post.

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