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Free-Motion Embroidery: Set Up Your Machine the Right Way

You have the embroidery bug. Your imagination is running nonstop and you have tons of one-of-a-kind designs that you want to place onto your fabric projects. You don’t have to limit yourself on pre-created designs that you find at the fabric store or online. You can create anything you want on your sewing fabrics simply by drawing the designs using your sewing markers or pencils.

free motion embroidery

Yet before you place the fabric under your sewing machine needle, you want to set up the machine in the proper way. Failing to use the right settings can cause you to have the incorrect thread tension that makes your thread tangle or break.

If you don’t place your fabric taut underneath machine, it can bunch up. Yet you also need to be able to move the fabric in any direction that you desire when doing free-motion embroidery.

Setting up your sewing machine isn’t hard to do. You have already learned about what tools you will need to do embroidery. Now you just have to get everything together in the right way.

Here are simple set-up instructions so you can begin embroidering your own designs.

You Won’t Need the Feed Dogs

The feed dogs are great when you are doing regular stitches where you want the sewing machine to feed the fabric through as you simply control the direction. When you are embroidering and want to move the fabric freely in any direction that you desire, you need to lower the feed dogs.

Every brand of sewing machine will have different instructions on how to lower the feed dogs. You will need to check your sewing machine manual or visit the manufacturer’s website for detailed instructions. If you can’t find any instructions to lower the feed dogs, you may have a sewing machine where that feature is not available.

Place on a Darning Presser Foot

One of the most vital tools for seamstress using their sewing machines to embroider is the darning presser foot. This attachment lets you do free-hand stitching, monogramming and embroidery designs.

Swap out the current presser foot and place on the darning foot based on your type of sewing machine. Again, the instructions to switch presser feet will be available in the manufacturer’s instructions. Double-check to ensure it is properly attached.

Reset Stitch Length and Tension

For free-motion embroidery, you want as much control as possible. You want to be able to do those elaborate designs and move the fabric in the best position possible. Setting the stitch length to zero will improve your accuracy and allow you to get the stitches looking the way that you desire.

Next, you need to get the right tension. The normal sewing machine tension for your machine will probably be set at either 4 or 5. You want to lower that down to 1 or 2. This technique will allow you to move the thread and the fabric in the right way that you desire without causing the fabric to pucker. You want the fabric and the thread to run smoothly and in harmony with each other.

Test Your Settings

You may think that you are now ready to start free-motion embroidery. Yet you want to hold off for just a little bit to ensure all the settings are at the right position. Make a few test passes on some scraps of spare fabric. You want to create a few simple designs and see how the stitches look. Then you can adjust your machine until the stitches look clean and neat. This extra practice will also help you get your hands working together in the right way to move the fabric under the sewing machine needle without help from the feed dogs.

There are hundreds of design that you can create when performing free-motion embroidery. Motifs, geometric shapes, drawings and photos can be drawn onto the fabric for your embroidery projects. Find the perfect design and start sewing.

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