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Before using your new embroidery machine, you’ll need to purchase basic embroidery supplies such as stabilizers, embroidery threads, and embroidery needles.
However, if you’re a beginner, you might not know where to even start when determining the 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!
Supplies for Machine Embroidery – Must-Haves To Get Started!
Here are the things I consider essentials to getting started with machine embroidery. The following section will discuss things that aren’t necessary but are still really nice to have.
Also, if you are new to embroidery, check out how to use an embroidery machine: beginner tutorial!
1. Embroidery Stabilizer
Embroidery 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 essential machine embroidery supplies, ensuring your designs stitch accurately and efficiently on the fabric.
There are many different stabilizers available; each type has its intended usage.
My printable machine embroidery stabilizer chart has more in-depth information, but below is a summary of the types of stabilizers. (You can also purchase something like the Embroiderer’s Compass to take the guesswork out of stabilizer selection.)
A. Tear-Away Stabilizer
Tear-away stabilizer is suitable for non-stretchy, stable fabrics such as terry towels, canvas, twill, and more.
After you stitch on tear-away stabilizer, you gently rip it off from the back of the fabric.
B. Cut-Away Stabilizer
Cut-away stabilizer is great for knits and other stretchy fabrics because it has less stretch and stabilizes better. It also works great for densely stitched designs to prevent puckering. Simply cut it away from the design after embroidery.
C. No-Show Mesh Stabilizer
No-show mesh stabilizer (also known as PolyMesh) is a soft, strong cut-away stabilizer that is great for knits when you want to minimize show-through on light fabrics.
D. 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, sticky wash-away, or even sticky cut-away stabilizer.
E. Water-Soluble Topping
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.
F. 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.
G. Embroidery Backing
I add this to every one of my girls’ outfits that I embroider to keep the hard stitching from rubbing their soft little bellies.
2. Embroidery Items and Applique Fabrics
Here’s my list of the best places to buy blanks for machine embroidery, including my favorite websites, big-box stores, and online apparel suppliers.
Now, if you want to start a home-embroidery business and produce large quantities of merchandise, do locate a wholesale distributor to buy in bulk.
If you plan to applique, you also need applique fabric.
While quilting cotton is my favorite for ease of use, I also 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!)
3. Temporary Adhesive
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 like temporary fabric adhesive spray.
The beauty of temporary adhesive is you can remove and reposition your items several times without the stickiness wearing off. My current favorite is 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.
4. 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.
5. Embroidery Thread and Bobbin Thread
While your machine may come with one spool of thread and a few pre-threaded bobbins, you will need to purchase additional threads.
In most cases, pick a polyester, rayon, or cotton embroidery thread. There are many, many 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.
6. Marking Supplies
It is important to temporarily mark the center of your fabric 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.
7. Embroidery Scissors
Embroidery scissors are small, specialized scissors that get right next to threads and appliques to trim them.
MANY different types of scissors are specialized for embroidery work. For instance, double-curved embroidery scissors, duckbill applique scissors, and embroidery snips.
You can learn more about the different types plus when and how to use them in my best scissors for machine embroidery post.
8. USB Drive
One of the necessary Brother embroidery supplies for newer machine models that don’t use WiFi is a USB.
Make sure to check your machine box to see the import method to find out if you will need to purchase a USB to add designs.
Not Essential Embroidery Supplies (That You Might Still Want!)
All in all, embroidery software is not necessary if you plan to use your machine’s built-in embroidery designs and editing features or download designs 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 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 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. (Learn more in my reviews of embroidery machine software options.)
If you want to auto-digitize (which does have many limitations), consider SewArt.
If you want to digitize manually (this produces the best results), Embrilliance Stitch Artist and Hatch 3 Digitizer are very popular and easy to use! I prefer Hatch, but that’s just me.
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, make sure you check that they’re compatible with your machine!
If you think you’ll want to embroider hats, having a special hat hoop can help keep 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 decent success without using one as well on my Brother SE1900!
Thread Stand Holder
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 to line up multiple thread colors for an embroidery project.
If you have difficulty centering blanks and your hoop, one helpful tool is an embroidery laser like the PAL from dime. At first, I wasn’t sure if it would have much use in my embroidery room, but it’s been SO helpful with difficult blanks.
If you like reading print text, check out some of my favorite machine embroidery book!.
I read every book I could get my hands on and listed the ones I thought were most helpful for beginners.
Embroidery Removal Tool
Spool Huggers and Bobbin Clamps
These are in no way necessary but are REALLY nice to have around to keep things tidy organized.
These thread spool huggers wrap around your threads and keep the ends from unraveling.
Meanwhile, bobbin clamps do the same thing for bobbin threads.
Please let me know if you have any other suggestions for machine embroidery supplies for beginners to add to my list!
And, if you’re feeling like splurging on yourself or dropping hints to people who love you about more fun things, check out my big list of unique gifts for embroiderers.