15 Awesome Embroidery Tips & Tricks

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Machine embroidery can be tricky for beginners, and until you’ve been around the block a few times, you likely haven’t learned all the tricks that seasoned embroiderers use yet. 

So, check out these embroidery tips and tricks I’ve compiled along my journey. Some of these machine embroidery hacks are more run-of-the-mill, while others are crazy things I’ve picked up from classes, friends, and Facebook!

embroidery tips for beginners

Embroidery Tips for Beginners

First, if you’re looking for more basic information about how to get started embroidering, check out these popular posts: embroidery stabilizer guide for beginners, how to machine embroider, embroidery needle selection, and choosing an embroidery thread.

Now, here are my favorite tips!

1. You Don’t Have to Hoop Everything

add later of water-soluble topping before embroidering balsa wood
Here’s me embroidering balsa wood!

If an embroidery blank is too small, too thick, or too unruly, you can float it outside the hoop! Just secure it tightly to the hooped stabilizer using pins, sticky stabilizer, a basting stitch, or your favorite method.

hooping with a magnetic hoop

Another option for tricky blanks is to use magnetic hoops. I have the DIME and Brother magnetic hoops, and they’re both great for tasks that are impossible with traditional hooping. 

don't use your fingers but rather a tpt or something else

Don’t forget there are additional tools like Sock Hoops that can make certain items easier to embroider. 

2. Get Creative With Excess Fabric

Keeping excess fabric out of the hooped area is so important–no one wants to accidentally stitch two layers together or mess up their machine. 

how to get rid of excess fabric under hoop of onesie

Favorite ways to keep fabric out of the way include using:

  • binder clips
  • claw hair clips
  • T-pins or regular pins
  • painter’s tape (just okay)
  • clothespins
  • spool huggers that I keep around my embroidery threads. 

Hoop Guard™ for Standard Hoops

You can also purchase something like DIME’s Hoop Guard to help fabric stay out of the embroidery area. 

don't use your fingers but rather a tpt or something else

Lastly, if you’re in the middle of embroidering and need to keep goodies out of the way but don’t want to accidentally stitch over your fingers, consider using a That Purple Thang. 

3. Thread Stands Can Fix Feeding Issues

embroidex thread stand

For particularly squirrely threads like metallics, glow-in-the-darks, or even some variegated threads, a thread stand placed a short distance from your embroidery machine can work wonders. 

As the thread comes off the spool, it has more time to unwind and relax before it feeds into the thread guides, meaning fewer issues with that upper thread. Yay!

4. Use Thread Nets or Slap Bracelets to Prevent Stabilizer From Unrolling

thread net to tidy stabilizers

I hate when my stabilizer unrolls all over the place, so I prevent this with small pieces of thread net.

slap bracelet on stabilizer

I’ve also seen embroiderers who use slap bracelets or who embroider wrap bands themselves to keep stabilizer rolls tidy. (See all the ways I organize my stabilizer if you’re interested in more info!)

5. Use a Sharpie to Fix Mistakes

bobbin thread on top

More frequently than I’d like, white bobbin thread pulls to the top of an embroidery design around the edges, and I don’t realize until my project is unhooped. 

To fix unsightly threads on the top of an embroidery design, try using a Sharpie in a similar color and dab over the white threads. 

6. Pre-Trim Applique Fabric If You Stink at Cutting Closely

I often fly by the seat of my pants and prefer to trim applique fabric in the hoop. However, sometimes, I don’t trim closely enough and end up with frayed edges peeking out of my satin stitch border. Or, I trim too closely and cut the tacking line or the interior area I should not have!

One way to prevent human error is to pre-trim your applique fabric.

best fabric cutting machine

My favorite machines for cutting fabric before embroidering include my:

7. Not All Embroidery Scissors Are Created Equal

best curved embroidery scissors

If you want to get as close as possible to thread tails, don’t use your big ‘ol sewing scissors. Get some small embroidery scissors–I prefer curved-tip scissors–or snips to get close to the tail to clip. They also work great when trimming applique in the hoop.

trim stabilizer with duckbill scissors

Furthermore, duckbill applique scissors keep me from accidentally snipping through my embroidery blank with trimming cut-away or no-show mesh stabilizer. 

8. Bo-Nash to the Rescue for Holes!

Who has accidentally snipped a hole in an embroidery blank when trimming stabilizer or applique? Anyone else besides me?!

bo-nash mending powder

If this happens, Bo-Nash powder is THE BEST at helping you seal up that hole with no one the wiser. 

9. Avoid Overspray from Temporary Adhesive

I love my Odif 505, and that means my embroidery hoops get really dirty because I am LAZY and don’t protect my area as I should. 

Follow Lindee G’s helpful tutorial for cleaning embroidery hoops to make hoops look new again, or avoid overspray in the first place with handy tools like hoop shields from SewConcept. (Fun fact–most of my mom’s family lives in Cleburne, where this Etsy shop is located!)

10. You Can Split Larger Designs To Use on Small Hoop Machines

splitting designs for 4x4 hoop

If you have a smaller hoop machine (4×4 or 5×7, for example), you are NOT limited to just embroidering small designs. 

If you have embroidery software, you can split larger designs–the sky’s the limit on size–into smaller chunks and stitch them in sections. Even better, some smaller embroidery machines have repositionable hoops, which make stitching two small chunks of a larger design easier since you don’t have to rehoop in between sections. 

Also, don’t worry if you have a smaller machine–there are tons of things you can still do with it. Check out my post on things to embroider with a 4×4 hoop for many ideas!

11. Save Money Where You Can

I have an entire post on how to save money embroidering, but some money-saving ideas include:

  • Stitching smaller, unused pieces of stabilizer together.
  • Dissolve old water-soluble stabilizer or topping in water to make a liquid stiffening solution.
  • Save fabric scraps from sewing to use for applique.
  • Download free embroidery designs as often as possible. 

12. Remove Water-Soluble Topping Without Drenching Your Blank

how to remove water-soluble stabilizer with an iron

The easiest way for me to remove water-soluble topping or wash-away stabilizer is by dropping the blank in the washer or running the entire thing under the sink. 

However, if you don’t have time for the item to dry, one Sulky embroidery hack is to get rid of pesky water-soluble topping pieces by pressing a wet paper towel on top of the design. I was afraid of this for the longest time, but it works like magic!

Heat-away stabilizer is also an often overlooked stabilizer that can work as a topper; it requires an iron instead of water for removal. 

13. Save Ruined Blanks With a Stitch Eraser

how to use dime stitch ripper to erase stitches

Make a mistake on an irreplaceable blank? You’ll need some time, but you can remove the embroidered stitches with a Stitch Eraser or similar product. 

14. Use a Non-Slip Surface for Hooping

If your embroidery hoop’s outer frame slips all over the place when you’re hooping, fix that by using a non-slip mat underneath.

love my dime hooping mat

I used to use my daughter’s non-slip meal mat but recently upgraded to a DIME non-slip mat, which is gridded and helps a ton. It also works well with their Perfect Alignment Laser, which keeps me aligned when hooping. 

15. Keep Fabric Tight In the Hoop

With large embroidery hoops, fabric slippage is a big problem during embroidery. 

use t-pins to keep fabric tight in a machine embroidery hoop

To keep the fabric tight, you can use T-pins (I learned this trick from Kreative Kiwi!) on the outside of the hoop frame.

use self adhesive bandage

You can also add self-adhesive bandage wrap around the inner hoop if the outer hoop has stretched out too much. There’s also the option of double-sided tape to keep things from slipping around (thanks to a Facebook group for this one!)

 

Any other embroidery tips or embroidery tricks you’d like to share? Let me know!

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