Once a year I get asked to embroider my company’s corporate logo onto some garments for the Christmas party. Every year I have to reteach myself how to do it! So I’ll give you a quick run down of how I do it. The process I use can be used for any sort of machine embroidery.
First, a bit of background. I have a single needle embroidery machine and a multi needle machine. I use the multi-needle so that I don’t have to change the thread by hand. For more challenging items, I’ve used the single needle machine. Neither machine has the more advanced digital camera technology that automatically shifts and rotates a design so that it is centered on a target sticker.
A few years ago, I digitized the corporate logo for the company I work for. I use this design over and over again and have not felt the need to alter the underlay or density since then. In my digitizing software (Stitch Era Liberty), I make a full size print out of the design and then extend the two lines which cross through the center of the design:
I then cut out the design, including the lines through the center. I can then take this cut-out and pin it in place where I want the logo to be stitched:
This year, I’m adding the logo to some fleece jackets. I already did a test run with some light weight cutaway stabilizer on the back and some water soluble topper on the front. I used a scrap of fleece I had from a old project. In the photo, I had not yet dissolved the water soluble topper. But overall, it seemed to work fine!
So for the jackets, I decided to use a mid-weight cut-away stabilizer on the back and the water soluble topper on the front. However, if I am to remove my pinned-down paper design after hooping, I cannot hoop the topper on top of it. Keeping that in mind, I must now hoop the fleece and the cut-away stabilizer together and I’ll add the topper later. Hooping is the hardest part for me.
I’ve found that the following usually works. I slip a generously sized cut-away stabilizer behind the logo’s destination. I slip the bottom hoop underneath the stabilizer and position it roughly in the correct place. I then place the upper hoop over the paper pattern. I pull the little paper legs out from under the hoop (if they’re caught under the hoop) and try to align the top hoop so that the pattern’s legs match up with the center marks on the hoop. Sometimes something like a zipper gets in the way and I have to shift the hoop horizontally or vertically. I can measure the offset between the center lines on the hoop and the legs on the paper design to know how much to shift the pattern by on the embroidery machine. Once the top hoop is in position, I grab the top hoop firmly along with the fabric and backing behind it and push the whole thing around until I can get the upper hoop onto the lower hoop.
If I managed to hang onto the upper hoop, fabric, and backing well enough, I can often get it properly positioned the first time.
If I’m satisfied with the hooping, I then remove the paper pattern. I can then place the topper over the upper hoop and fabric. I tape the topper down in spots (or sometimes pin it down outside of the hoop) such that the topper lays flat against the fabric and will likely stay roughly in place. The water soluble topper doesn’t have to be perfectly flat to do its job, so I’m not too picky about tacking it down. It just needs to keep from folding over onto itself while the embroidery machine is operating.
I’m now ready to embroider. On my embroidery machine, I first give it a little oil (once a day, as instructed) on the bobbin raceway.
I put the hoop on the machine, making sure the garment is not caught under the hoop. I shift the design on the machine if needed, make sure the threads are ready, and off I go.
With some luck, the embroidery goes smoothly and I’m finished in a few minutes. I unhoop my garment and pull away the topper. A little bit of warm water dissolves the topper and I hang up the garment to dry.
That’s it! The key here is to make the hooping manageable. If you own a HoopMaster Hooping Station, I believe the process is much more straightforward and predictable. But if you don’t, you have to find some way of hooping your garment quickly and without losing your sanity. My approach may not work quite as nicely for larger hoops or with slippery fabrics, but for these sorts of mundane applications, I suggested the pin, grab, and push method.