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I remember how overwhelming it was to first take my embroidery machine out of its box!
The manual wasn’t very helpful, and I was worried I’d break my new, very expensive machine.
Luckily, I got over the fear fast and now LOVE embroidering everything I can find.
As such, I’ve put together this quick list of 10 easy machine embroidery project ideas for beginners to help you get over the initial fear and learn to also love your machine!
(But first, if you’re completely new to embroidery and overwhelmed, I’ve also put together a comprehensive resource: how to use an embroidery machine. You’ll learn things like how to hoop fabric, types of embroidery stabilizers, how to choose the best embroidery machine thread, and many other helpful suggestions for new users.)
10 Easy Machine Embroidery Projects for Beginners
Before you start embroidering expensive fabrics, I recommend testing out your machine with some easy-to-embroider fabrics first!
Most of these fabrics you can find around your house or purchase very inexpensively from a craft store.
1. Monogrammed Towels
Towels are stable and easy to embroider, especially if you only add a simple monogram or design to a good-quality terry cloth towel.
Towels don’t stretch or distort much during embroidery and are easy to hoop (or float, if needed).
Use one layer of tear-away stabilizer on the back and a single layer of water-soluble topping on the front nap of the towel.
Choose an embroidery design or monogram with a decent stitch density, and you’ve got an easy embroidery project idea!
Tutorial: How to monogram a towel
2. Embroidered Quilting Cotton
One of the easiest embroidery machine projects you’ll find is embroidering on a stable, woven cotton fabric such as quilting cotton or even good-quality broadcloth or shirting. (Don’t go for the cheap, thin cotton fabrics at first, though!)
These fabrics are easy to hoop because they’re thin and don’t stretch.
Furthermore, you don’t need any fancy stabilizer or topping!
Simply hoop a layer of tear-away stabilizer underneath a piece of cotton, and embroider!
Pick a design that has a low stitch count, and consider spray starch or Terial Magic on the fabric first if you notice any puckering.
If you continue to have puckering problems, switch to a cut-away stabilizer.
When embroidering, it’s always important to make sure you’ll be able to hoop a project in a single layer before spending too much time picking a design and setting it up.
This means you can’t embroider a button-down shirt pocket, for instance, unless you can isolate only the top layer of the pocket in your hoop. Otherwise, you’d embroider your pocket closed!
3. Fleece Jacket or Fleece Blanket
Fleece is also perfect to start your embroidery journey with once you have a few other easy projects under your belt.
If you choose a good-quality blanket or jacket made of stable (not flimsy) fleece, embroidering is easy!
Pick a design dense enough to not sink into the fleece fluff, and use water-soluble topping on the front.
For stable fleece, you might be able to get away with a layer or two of tear-away stabilizer.
You’ll have a more difficult time with thin, stretchy blankets if you don’t stick with a cut-away or PolyMesh stabilizer.
I almost always use PolyMesh when embroidering fleece jackets because the back of the design is inside the jacket and not visible to the eye.
Make sure to use temporary fabric adhesive spray, a fusible stabilizer, or even a sticky stabilizer to keep the fleece from shifting during the embroidery process.
4. Embroidered Linen
Linen is another fabric that’s easy to machine embroider on.
It’s thin enough that you won’t encounter many difficulties, yet it is stable enough that hooping is fairly easy.
Aim for a cut-away or PolyMesh stabilizer for thin linen, and choose a lighter-density design if you’re concerned about fabric drape.
Embroidering linen napkins or adding a design to a lightweight linen shirt is a fun use of your machine!
5. Canvas Bag
Canvas is super stable and easy to embroider on as well.
Because of its weight, it also works well with thicker, denser designs that lighter fabrics could not support.
Choose a tear-away stabilizer on the back, and you’re ready to go!
If you can hoop one side of a canvas tote bag (pick a big one), making a monogrammed bag is also a cute, easy gift idea. Hobby Lobby usually has canvas totes and other items for less than $5!
So, you’ve gotten used to embroidering the easy items but still aren’t quite ready for more finicky projects like embroidering on cardstock paper?
Here are five more advanced beginner embroidery machine project ideas to help you grow your knowledge of your machine!
Sweatshirts have a small amount of stretch and thus require slightly more finesse when hooping.
They’re also thicker than some of these other embroidery project beginner fabrics and, thus, more difficult to hoop perfectly.
Because they are stretchy, you need a more robust stabilizer than the typical tear-away to keep the shirt from moving and stretching during the stitching process.
Choose a cut-away stabilizer or a no-show PolyMesh stabilizer, and float or hoop a layer of water-soluble topping to keep the stitches from sinking into your soft sweatshirt.
Tutorial: How to machine embroider a sweatshirt
Because t-shirts are stretchy, they will also be a little more difficult to hoop or float.
I recommend starting with a more stable, less flimsy t-shirt. Thin jersey knit, for instance, will be much more difficult to embroider than a thicker, good-quality knit cotton t-shirt.
T-shirts are fun to personalize with logos, monograms, and cute pictures or sayings. Because my girls are still young, I like to add character embroidery designs to shirts.
Taking a $3 cotton t-shirt and stitching a cute cartoon character saves at least $15 if I buy one premade!
Once you’ve mastered t-shirts, you can move on to embroidering onesies.
Onesies are much more difficult to hoop than t-shirts, so I recommend mastering t-shirt embroidery skills first!
8. Machine-Appliqued Projects
Once you’ve tried a few of the most basic embroidery machine projects above, it’s time to learn to applique!
While this might seem very intimidating to a beginner embroidery enthusiast, once you understand the steps for machine applique, you’ll be able to applique almost any fabric you can embroider.
Most applique embroidery designs have three consistent parts: a placement stitch, tacking stitch, and then the border stitch.
Pick your stabilizer based on the fabric you’ll be appliqueing on, and choose a good-quality applique fabric. Grab some Heat-n-Bond Lite to place on the back of the applique fabric, and teach yourself to applique!
9. Free-Standing Lace
Learning to embroider free-standing lace is a surprisingly easy embroidery machine project idea if you find a good free-standing lace design.
The cool thing about FSL is you stitch it on stabilizer only (so no fabric), and you wash the stabilizer away at the end of the stitching. This leaves only the design.
FSL Christmas ornaments, for example, are a perfect beginner embroidery machine gift idea!
For stabilizer, use 2 layers of wash-away stabilizer (thick film or paper-like in consistency.)
Tutorial: How to embroider free-standing lace
10. Burp Cloths
Burp cloths are also fairly easy to embroider as a beginner, and they make perfect embroidered gifts for a baby shower. (Seriously, sometimes we have a baby shower a month to go to!)
Pick a good-quality burp cloth, and make sure to prewash it before starting to embroider.
If you have a stable burp cloth and choose a lighter-density design or uncomplicated applique, you can use a tear-away stabilizer.
Otherwise, for dense designs or monograms, start with a layer of PolyMesh or cut-away stabilizer to prevent design puckering after the next wash.
Tutorial: making machine embroidered burp cloths
Other Embroidery Machine Project Ideas
If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out my humongous list of 200+ things to embroider. You’re bound to find some great new ideas!
Also, this list of machine embroidery blanks suppliers is a great resource for finding new websites to purchase from and ideas for embroidery projects.