Essential Machine Embroidery Supplies List for Beginners

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Before using your new embroidery machine, you need to buy basic embroidery supplies. Stabilizers, embroidery threads, and embroidery needles, for instance. 

However, if you’re a beginner, you might not know where to even start when determining must-have machine embroidery supplies. So, for you newbies out there, let’s talk about what supplies you need for machine embroidery so you can get started stitching right away!

Embroidery Machine supplies (2)

Supplies for Machine Embroidery – Must-Haves To Get Started!

Here are the things I consider essentials to getting started with machine embroidery.  The next section will discuss things that aren’t necessary but are still really nice to have.

I’m assuming you already have an embroidery machine. If not, I recommend the Brother SE1900 or Brother SE600!

Also, if you are new to embroidery, check out how to use an embroidery machine: beginner tutorial!

1. Embroidery Stabilizer

New brothread Tear Away Machine Embroidery Stabilizer Backing 8"x8Embroidery stabilizer is the material that goes in the hoop on the back of the item you plan to embroider. Stabilizer is one of the most important machine embroidery supplies, ensuring your design stitches accurately and efficiently on the fabric.

There are many different types of stabilizers available. Each type has its own intended usage. My printable machine embroidery stabilizer chart has more in-depth information, but below is a brief summary of the types of stabilizers. 

Tear-Away Stabilizer

New brothread Tear Away Machine Embroidery Stabilizer Backing 12

Tear-away stabilizer is best for non-stretchy, stable fabrics such as cotton (including quilting fabric), canvas, and more.

I like to buy pre-cut stabilizer sheets to use for convenience, but you can also buy rolls of tear-away stabilizer.

After you stitch on tear-away stabilizer, you gently rip it off from the back of the fabric.

Cut-Away Stabilizer

[Premium] Cut Away Fabric Stabilizer for Embroidery 12"x51 Yards, Cut Away Embroidery Stabilizer +Free Pen & Scissors! Cut Away Medium Stabilizer, Cutaway Stabilizer Roll (White)

Cut-away stabilizer is great for knits and other stretchy fabrics because it has less stretch and thus stabilizes better.  It also works great for densely stitched designs to prevent puckering. Simply cut it away from the design after embroidery. 

You can buy it in rolls or pre-cut stabilizer sheets

PolyMesh Stabilizer

PolyMesh stabilizer is a type of soft, yet strong cut-away stabilizer that is great for knits when you’re wanting to minimize show-through on light fabrics

When deciding on which PolyMesh stabilizer to choose, you have a fusible option to iron on or a non-fusible option.

Sticky Stabilizer

Sticky, self-adhesive stabilizer has one side sticky that will attach to your fabric without having to use temporary adhesive. You can purchase sticky tear-away or sticky cut-away stabilizer.

Water-Soluble Topping

remove the water soluble topping from the embroidered sweatshirt design

Water-soluble topping is a MUST-HAVE when embroidering on fleece blankets, towels, or fabric with fluff or nap (and many other fabrics, such as certain knits!) 

This topper keeps embroidery stitching from falling into the top of the fabric and becoming lost. When you’ve finished embroidering, the topping dissolves with water. I like to use Sulky Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer on top of my designs.

If you’re in a hurry or can’t wash your fabric, you can also purchase a heat-dissolving topping that is removed with an iron. 

Wash-away Stabilizer

While water-soluble topping goes on the top of fabrics (and you could use it on the back for some applications), wash-away stabilizer goes on the back of your fabric in the hoop. It also washes away with water after you’re done embroidering. 

It’s popular for its use when embroidering free-standing lace, and I recently used it when embroidering tulle.  

Sulky Tender Touch Backing

iron on tender touch backing on onesie

Sulky Tender Touch backing is a soft embroidery backing that you iron onto the back of your finished embroidery design.  I add this to every one of my girls’ outfits that I embroider to keep the hard stitching from rubbing their soft little bellies.

Embroidery Items and Applique Fabrics

Gelante Plain Blank Baseball Caps Adjustable Back Strap 3 PC-001-BlackArguably one of the most important machine embroidery supplies is your embroidery items or embroidery blanks!  These are your blank t-shirts, onesies, towels, hats, etc that you plan to embroider

If you’re wanting to start a home-embroidery business and want to produce large quantities of merchandise, find a wholesale distributor to buy in bulk.  If you embroider for fun only, start checking out local stores for embroidery machine blanks.  I’ve found Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and JoAnn to have a large selection of blanks.

If you plan to applique, you also need to have applique fabric.  I’ve been doing much more online shopping now that the pandemic has begun and like to repurpose items around the house as fabric sources. (Check out: where to buy cheap fabric online and where to find fabric to repurpose!)

Temporary Adhesive

adhere stabilizer to the back with odif 505

There are many instances when using a non-fusible stabilizer that you will need to temporarily adhere it to your fabric. One example is when floating fabrics. (Read: how to float in machine embroidery.)

To temporarily adhere tricky fabrics to my stabilizers, I often use temporary fabric adhesive spray. The beauty of temporary adhesive is you can remove and reposition your items several times without the stickiness wearing off.  I like to use Odif 505 spray.  

You can also use pins, painter’s tape, a basting box, or other methods for adhering embroidery items that aren’t easily hooped. 

Embroidery Needles

While you can use sewing machine needles for many projects, it’s often better to use specialized machine embroidery needles. (Learn more in my post about how to choose the best machine embroidery needle.) 

There are different sizes (70/10 to 90/14 and larger), points (ballpoint, sharp, or universal), and different finishes. When in doubt, a size 75/11 universal embroidery needle is a good place to start and then fine-tune from there, if needed.

Embroidery Thread and Bobbin Thread

machine embroidery threads for a brother sewing machine

While your machine may come with one spool of thread and a few pre-threaded bobbins, you will need to purchase additional thread.

In most cases, pick a polyester, rayon, or cotton embroidery thread.  There are a lot of options for thread brands, but I recently switched to the budget-friendly Brothread threads without any issue!  (Read: how to choose the best embroidery machine thread to learn about weights and materials!)

In addition to the upper thread, you will need bobbin thread for your machine.  In most embroidery patterns, the bobbin thread color will not matter, so I like to buy pre-wound bobbins of white thread rather than winding bobbins myself.  If you choose to wind your own, purchase additional bobbins for your machine and special bobbin embroidery thread.

Check your machine manual so you can make sure to purchase the best weight of embroidery thread for your machine, especially for the bobbin thread!

And, if you’re looking for ways to organize your threads, check out my embroidery thread organization ideas.

Marking Pen

It is important to be able to mark the center of your fabric temporarily in order to line up your design. 

I like to use a washable marker to mark the center on lighter color fabrics.  The temporary ink washes out with water after you have finished the design.  For darker fabrics, I prefer to use a chalk wheel. I also use embroidery placement stickers at times. 

Embroidery Scissors

best embroidery scissors for cutting jump stitches

Embroidery scissors are small, specialized scissors that will get right next to threads and appliques to trim them.  There are MANY different types of scissors that are specialized for embroidery work. For instance, double-curved embroidery scissors, duckbill applique scissors, and embroidery snips. You can see some of my favorites in my tutorial for how to trim jump stitches

USB Drive

One of the necessary Brother embroidery supplies for newer machine models is a USB. Make sure to check your machine box to see the method of import to find out if you will need to purchase a USB to add designs. 

Not Essential Embroidery Supplies

Embroidery Software

All in all, embroidery software is not necessary if you plan to use your machine’s built-in embroidery patterns and editing features or download patterns off the Internet.  (Here are my favorite sites to download free machine embroidery designs and where to get free or paid in-the-hoop embroidery patterns!

However, there are MANY times when having at least basic embroidery software is nice to have. Here’s a quick overview.

Free Software Options

First, I have an entire list of the best free embroidery software for digitizing and editing. Just be aware, the more full-featured free ones are often not as easy to use as premium software.

The most extensive free embroidery software is Ink/Stitch, which is an extension of Inkscape This is free, open-source software that rivals many paid programs.  I like to use Inkscape to create SVG designs for my Cricut and then sometimes use Ink/Stitch to transform them into embroidery patterns.  It does not come with a large amount of user support or tutorials and as such may be difficult to learn for novices!

Paid Software Options

Your most beginner-friendly software is going to be paid software.  Spend some time getting to know the options and figuring out what you want to embroider and which software will get you doing what you want to do. 

For beginners who want to edit and customize designs, Sew What Pro (read: Sew What Pro review of features) and Embrilliance Essentials are two of the most popular editing software. 

If you want to auto-digitize (which does have many limitations), consider SewArt

If you want to learn to manually digitize (this produces the best results), Embrilliance Stitch Artist and Hatch 2 Digitizer are very popular and easy to use!

Hat hoop

If you think you’ll want to embroider hats, having a special hat hoop can be helpful for keeping the hat stabilized on single-needle embroidery machines. 

For my older Brother SE625 embroidery machine, this is the compatible hat hoop that I used. It’s not necessary to have a hat hoop, and I’ve had good success without using one as well on my Brother SE1900!

Extra hoops

Sew Tech Embroidery Hoops for Brother SE600 PE550D PE535 SE400 PE525 PE540D PE500 SE625 SE425 Innovis Babylock Brother Embroidery Machine Hoop (3in1 Set)If you are working on more than one project at a time, it is nice to spend active stitching time setting up for the next project in a new hoop.  Furthermore, if your included hoop size with your embroidery machine is huge, it’s nice to have smaller hoops to use to hoop small items like baby onesies.

I have a set of 3 Sew Tech embroidery hoops to also use with my machine.  When buying extra hoops, just make sure you check that they’re compatible with your machine!

Thread Stand Holder

types of machine embroidery threads on a stand

If you plan to purchase extra-large spools of thread or use cones to save money, you will not be able to fit them in the spool holder.  You will need to purchase a thread stand.  

Also, if you’re interested in embroidering with metallic machine embroidery thread, at least a single thread stand will help with even feeding.

My Embroidex thread stand above is a monster (and a mess!) but it’s really helpful when I need to line up multiple colors of thread for an embroidery project.

Spool Huggers and Bobbin Clamps

These are in no way necessary but are REALLY nice to have around to keep things tidy organized.

Bastex Spool Hugger 14 Pieces. Thread Huggers, Prevent Thread Unwinding, Sewing Supplies and Accessories. Perfect for Spools of Thread to be Used as Thread Huggers, Holder and Organizer.These thread spool huggers wrap around your threads and keep the ends from unraveling.   Meanwhile, bobbin clamps do the same thing for bobbin threads. 

Conclusion

And that’s it. Please let me know if you have any other suggestions for machine embroidery supplies for beginners to add to my list!

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10 Comments

  1. Patrick Greetan says:

    Thank you this is been very helpful! What kind of thread do you use for just sewing?

    1. Thanks! I used to use cotton thread for sewing, but I’ve gotten away from that and generally use all-purpose polyester thread now.

  2. Thanks so kindly I learned a lot regarding stabilizers. I am a beginner and I have the se600

  3. Thank you so much. I learned a great deal. I appreciate the time and thoughtfulness you provided in explaining the necessary items a beginner should purchase. It eliminates the guess work. Thank you again.

    I do have a question. Do you have to use all of the 4×4 space provided by the embroidery hoop or does the Brother SE600 allow you to use less of the space provided? Thank you

    1. You can fill as much of the 4″×4″ space as you want! With the built-in designs on the machine, there is only so much resizing you can do, though. With designs you purchase or make, you can resize much more with embroidery software.

      If you want to use less stabilizer, you can also purchase a compatible 2″x1.5″ hoop for those tiny designs. I do like having a large variety of hoop sizes for my machines!

  4. Thank you so much, Aly. I really appreciate your help.

  5. Julie Rendon says:

    Hi,
    I haven’t received my Brother SE600 sewing-embroidery machine yet. Can anyone tell me if it includes Whinnie the Pooh embroidery patterns for example? If it doesn’t can anyone recommend embroidery software with Disney Characters that I can purchase?
    Thank you

  6. Julie Rendon says:

    Hi Aly,
    Thank you so much for all of the valuable information you have provided. Can you please tell me what to do to join your blog? Also, I’m looking for more embroidery patterns than what my Brother has and the websites that provide free embroidery patches. I would love to edit or create my own embroidery. Can you please recommend software that is easy to use? I am a beginner so the easier the better.

    Thank you,
    Julie

    1. For editing, Sew What Pro and Embrilliance Essentials are good places to start. If you want to auto-digitize an embroidery file from an image file, you can try Sew Art. There are lots of tutorials but there are many limitations to auto-digitizing images.

      If you want to digitize manually (ie create from scratch), that has a VERY large learning curve. I think Hatch Digitizer and Embrilliance (you’d need at least Stitch Artist) are some of the easiest to learn.

      I also should mention Inkscape with the Inkstitch extension is the best free option. Full-featured digitizing software is VERY expensive.

      As for joining the blog, there should be an email signup form floating around somewhere on your sidebar or the bottom of your screen depending on the device. I also have several social media accounts you can get to if you visit my home page!

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