Thursday, January 31, 2008

Machine Embroidery

For more crafting and crafters, check out The Blogger Craft Club. Thanks Hadias for hosting!

Before, I got my embroidery machine, I was always wondering what they were and how they worked and whether I should get one. Since I've finished the embroidery on the apron my brother, Adam, commissioned, I decided I'd do a post demonstrating that process. Later I will do a post about the sewing of the apron, and that way I'll have a straight forward post demonstrating the construction process that's not muddied by the embroidery.

A warning about machine embroidery. It is a very expensive hobby! My machine (which is a dual embroidery/sewing machine, meaning it converts) cost about $700 five years ago. I then spent quite a bit to buy the digitizing software so I could create custom embroidery designs. Then I bought $100 drawing software to better use the digitizing software. In all, I've spent more on my equipment than I ever would now, but since I own it and the money is gone, I try to get the most out of it and use it when I can. It is so much fun, and if you're looking for something that you don't mind spending big money on, you can do much worse.

Anyway, even if you're not planning to buy one, it is fun to see all that you can do with an embroidery machine.

This project is something my brother requested I make him to give to a friend for his birthday. They're all in this club and the embroidery is parts of the logo of the club they formed.

The first step in a project like this is to digitize the embroidery design. I do this by using screen captures of the logo and the special drawing software to trace the parts I need and make them into a file the digitizing software can work with. Then I use the digitizing software to create the information about stitch length and density and placement. After that, it's loaded on a special card that goes into my machine and I'm ready to set up for the embroidery.

Here's my sewing machine set up for embroidery mode. The embroidery unit hooks to the machine and holds the hoop. It then moves the hoop under the needle to make the machine sew what is in the embroidery file.

Here it is in action embroidering one of the pockets of the apron. A regular machine can be used for machine embroidery too, but then it is called free motion embroidery or thread painting, since the user manually moves the hoop around to "draw" with the needle and thread.

Machine embroidery needs stabilizer to help support the fabric under the dense stitching. Here I am tearing away the tear away version. The other stabilizer is a cut away style that you cut around the design and it stays permanently.

Here is the finished pocket, embroidered and cut to shape.

In order to get the correct placement on the apron front, I print out a template of the design.

Using the cross hairs on the template, I mark the placement.

Then I use the guide insert for the hoop to get the hoop in the right position.

Here is the monogram on the bottom corner of the apron.


And this is the finished embroidery of the central design on the chest. Yes, I know it's spelled wrong. No, it's not my club. Yes, I was tempted to spell it right. No, Adam wouldn't let me.

I hope you've all enjoyed my little demonstration of embroidery machines and what exactly they do. I've really enjoyed owning mine, and it has made me some extra money when I've done custom digitizing or embroidery for others. I also use it to make gifts fairly often. It's very fun to be able to do something on the computer and have it in thread only a short time later.

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6 comments:

Adam J. said...

SWEET!!!!

Hadias said...

I enjoyed the demonstration and really appreciate the time you took to offer some advice on choosing a sewing machine.

I am leaning towards a brother model, because I have always been happy with the quality of their products.

And thank you for participating in the blogger craft club.

Julie said...

wiked sweet.

Bethany said...

Thanks guys!

Elizabeth said...

Great demonstration.
Machine embroidery looks like fun, and it can be used for so many gifts. However, I have wondered about the cost of the hobby.
Would you say that the threads for machine embroidery and the stabilizers and such are expensive?

Bethany said...

Thanks guys, glad you like it.

Elizabeth, the initial investment can be large, but after you've bought the threads they last for a considerable amount of time.

The stablizer gets used more quickly, and since you need a few different kinds on hand, it can be a big investment. I try to buy mine at 50% off sales or using 40% off coupons. I'd say that a roll of stabilizer that costs about 12 dollars (regular price) can last through perhaps 40 to 50 projects. But that would be the least expensive kind.

The problem I had with thread in the beginning was a lack of variety of colors, and it was a lot to buy it one spool at a time. So I invested in a set I got on eBay that has about two hundred different colors. That has lasted me well for the last five years or so. I've run out of some shades, when doing large projects of all the same color, but there are so many shades of each color available, I haven't really even felt the need to replenish it. I think I paid about $100 - $150 dollars for the set.

Thank you for the question, I completely forgot about those expenses when I was talking about the cost.

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