Machine Embroidered Patches: Tips + Tricks

Whether the need is for an insignia or just for fun, patches are a quick and easy way to attach embroidery to any surface.

190222 CME FREE 500 Machine Embroidered Patches: Tips + TricksThe best and most common base fabric for patches is felt or twill, but any sturdy fabric with work when paired with a quality fusible thermal stabilizer. Commercial patches are made on specialty machines. To make patches similarly at home, a satin stitch edge finish design is needed.

Satin stitch edge finish frames, borders and appliqué designs make the best patches, but look for other satin stitch edge finish designs for creative options. Look for designs with an outline built in and a satin stitch edge finish with a sufficient width to cover the raw edges. For a cut edge non-raveling finish, use a design with any width satin stitch edge finish.

Perfect Patch

Bear patch 230x300 Machine Embroidered Patches: Tips + TricksFrames and border designs are perfect for patches as long as they have a separate stop for a running stitch outline, such as an appliqué or those found built into some sewing machines or software.

  • Make a template by printing from software onto vellum or hooping a half sheet of vellum horizontally in the hoop and embroidering the appliqué or border outline. Unhoop and cut out directly on the stitching line.
  • Cut a piece of wool felt and fusible fleece larger than the hoop.
  • Fuse the layers together following the manufacturer’s instructions; allow to cool.
  • Hoop the layers together and embroider the design.
  • Use the vellum template to draw the shape around the design.
  • Unhoop the fabric and cut out the shape using sharp scissors directly on the line.
  • Cut a piece of heavyweight water-soluble stabilizer larger than the hoop. Hoop the stabilizer. Embroider the frame or appliqué outline.
  • Spray the back of the embroidered shape with temporary adhesive and secure it to the embroidered shape in the hoop.
  • Embroider the remainder of the design.
  • When the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine, trim the jump stitches and gently remove the stabilizer.

Quick Patch

  • Moon patch 232x300 Machine Embroidered Patches: Tips + TricksCut a piece of wool felt and fusible fleece larger than the hoop.
  • Fuse the layers together following the manufacturer’s instructions; allow to cool.
  • Hoop the layers together and embroider the design.
  • Un-hoop and trim any jump stitches or tie-off threads.
  • Using sharp scissors, trim within 1/8” to 1/4” from the satin stitch edge finish. Or use a scallop or pinking shears to trim away the excess fabric.

Stiff Support

  • Full patch 300x258 Machine Embroidered Patches: Tips + TricksTo create a patch with no visible fabric, hoop two layers of nylon organza perpendicular to each other and embroider the design in its entirety.
  • Unhoop and trim close to the stitching.
  • Use a hot iron or a hot knife to melt the fabric raw edges close to the embroidery stitching, being careful not to burn the thread edges. Use sharp scissors to trim as close as possible to the embroidery.


There are three ways to attach patches to fabric.

  1. Hand or machine sew patches to the base fabric using a straight, zigzag, buttonhole or decorative stitch.
  2. Use a permanent fusible adhesive made specifically for securing embroidered patches to fabric. Cut the adhesive the size of the patch, fuse to the wrong side, peel the paper away and fuse the patch to the base fabric.
  3. While there are many types of glue available for fabric, some are specifically made for attaching patches. Lightly spread the glue onto the back of the patch with a wooden craft stick, allow the glue to dry and fuse it permanently to the base fabric.
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Free Embroidery Design

To celebrate Embroidery Month, we’re giving away an embroidery design every Friday! I’ve been digging into the CME archives to find some of my favorite designs that you may not have seen recently.2 1 FREE FRIDAY design 1024x512 Free Embroidery Design


Romulus stalking 300x225 Free Embroidery Design

I’m a bit of a crazy cat lady, so it’s no surprise that I’ve got a soft spot for our Fancy Felines Collection. I’m especially fond of the Tabby Cat design, because it looks a little like my own orange tabby (right). It’s 2.33” wide x 1.95” higTabbyCat Web e1550078707569 Free Embroidery Designh with 3,575 stitches and six thread colors. The free download comes as a zip file and includes the following formats: ART, CSD, DST, EXP, HUS, JEF, PCM, PCS, PES, SEW, VIP, VP3 and XXX.

This freebie has expired. Find the tabby cat design and the  rest of the Fancy Felines Collection at

CatCollection Web Free Embroidery Design

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Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine: New Changes Are Coming!

If you subscribe to Creative Machine Embroidery, you may have noticed that your March/April issue hasn’t arrived yet and you may be wondering what’s going on.

cme logo transparent Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine: New Changes Are Coming!As we reviewed our upcoming year, we decided to make some changes to the schedule that give us the chance to provide even better inspiration, techniques and fun embroidery projects.

Trench 682x1024 Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine: New Changes Are Coming!

Specifically, we’ve decided to reduce the number of issues we publish per year from six to four, and tie those issues to the seasons and most popular events and holidays throughout the year.

As a result, there won’t be a March/April issue this year; instead, we’ll be releasing a Spring/Summer issue, which will be on newsstands starting April 16 and arriving in subscriber’s mailboxes in early April. The next issue will be released on August 13, and it will be our Halloween issue.

pillow e1549644439166 278x300 Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine: New Changes Are Coming!Speaking of subscribers — if you are one, don’t worry; you’ll still get all the issues you paid for — it will just take a little longer!

Stick with us as we navigate these changes. We’ve got some great projects coming us that we think you’ll love. The images featured in this post are previews of the Spring/Summer issue — enjoy!

Shoes e1549644560498 1024x888 Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine: New Changes Are Coming!

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Paper Piecing In-the-Hoop

Paper piecing allows you to use intricate pieces to create interesting blocks. Combine paper piecing and the embroidery machine for a faster and more accurate end result.

CME1902 1278 682x1024 Paper Piecing In the Hoop

By Nancy Fielder

Note: The full article appears in the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of Creative Machine Embroidery. 

Paper-pieced postcards, mug rugs and potholders are a fun way to get started with paper piecing on an embroidery machine. Start small before working up to table runners, wall hangings and quilts. The basic steps, however, are the same.

  • Place a square of lightweight cutaway stabilizer in the hoop.
  • Thread the machine and bobbin with all-purpose thread.
  • Stitch the first layer to create a map of the entire design (A). 
  • Lay the first fabric selection over the number 1 position and stitch in place. Trim about 1/8” around the outside stitching (B).
  • Place the second fabric selection over the first, right sides together, lining up the raw edge with the edge of number one along the position 2 stitching line; stitch the next step (C).
  • When the stitching is complete, fold the fabric to the right side and use a pressing tool or your finger to press the fold in place (D). Use a glue stick to add a small amount of adhesive to hold the fabric in position. Stitch the next step to sew the tacking line.

Screen Shot 2019 02 06 at 12.05.59 PM Paper Piecing In the Hoop

  • Continue adding each piece, trimming away excess fabric as needed (E).
  • Once all the pieces have been stitched, press and trim the square on the outer cutting line.

Screen Shot 2019 02 06 at 12.06.05 PM Paper Piecing In the Hoop

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More Embroidery On Craft Foam

Craft foam is a great addition to embroidery. There are several techniques you can use with with material; read on for some ideas and technique descriptions.

Copy of Machine Embroidery Tips 1024x512 More Embroidery On Craft Foam

What a Lift

CME 0708 FOAM 09 282x300 More Embroidery On Craft FoamTraditionally, foam is used to create raised or puffy machine embroidery. CME 0708 FOAM 13 300x225 More Embroidery On Craft FoamFor this technique, look for specially digitized motifs or choose a design created with wide satin stitches. Because fill stitches compress the foam over the entire design area, they defeat the purpose of foam toppers. In addition, the chosen design must perforate the foam around all the design edges. Motifs digitized for foam have minimal underlay stitches and tapering satin stitches to perforate the ends of satin stitched columns.

  •  Stabilize and hoop the background fabric as usual.
  •  Lay a sheet of 2- or 3mm-thick foam larger than the design on top of the hooped fabric. Choose a color that matches the embroidery thread. Stitch the design.
  •  Gently tear away the excess foam.

If the foam leaves “pokies” visible around the edges, hold a steam iron just above the embroidery surface. The steam will shrink the foam slightly, pulling the pokies under the satin stitches.

In some cases, it may be necessary to loosen the needle thread tension to allow plenty of thread to wrap over the foam.

Cut it out

CME 0708 FOAM 08 829x1024 More Embroidery On Craft Foam

Shapes cut from foam

Some embroidery designs are created to take advantage of the perforation that occurs when a design forms a row of tightly packed needle holes. These designs include a threadless embroidery step to cut some-times intricate designs from the foam sheets. Begin by reading through all of the digitizer’s directions for the motif. Some designs combine both traditional embroidery and stitches with an unthreaded needle.

  • Hoop stabilizer appropriate for the particular project. Adhesive stabilizers can be used, or choose non-adhesive stabilizer and attach the foam with a light spray of temporary adhesive or strips of tape placed well outside the embroidery area.
  • CME 0708 FOAM 11 225x300 More Embroidery On Craft Foam Thread the machine as usual, then unthread only the needle eye. Tape the thread tail to the machine to fool it into thinking the thread is still correctly positioned. Some experimenting may be needed to find the best position for taping; low and to the left of the needle bar often works well. Choose a strong polyester embroidery or sewing thread to minimize shredding and thread breakage. The color is not important, because the thread will not become part of the design.
  •  Slow the machine speed if possible. This reduces the stress on the thread to help prevent shredding.
  •  If the machine automatically cuts jump stitches, turn that feature off to save time (there will be no threads to cut).
  • Raise the embroidery foot height if possible, especially when working with thicker foams. CME 0708 FOAM 12 300x183 More Embroidery On Craft FoamIdeally, the foot should barely skim the foam surface.
  •  Stitch the embroidery design. The stitch length will be very short to per-forate the foam completely.
  • Carefully remove the cut foam from the stabilizer. Save small cutout pieces to use as embellishments on other projects.

Stitch perforated frame shapes on adhesive foam sheets. While some gumming of the needle occurs, the effect is minimal because no thread passes through the adhesive. After embroidery, the cutout shapes are ready to peel and stick.

The Thick of It

Not all machines can accommodate 4mm-thick foam, but if the embroidery foot height can be adjusted to skim the surface of thick materials these thick shapes make quick and unusual projects.

  • Hoop stabilizer and attach the thick foam shape. Use a full-size template printed on translucent paper to determine the embroidery position. Using the machine’s controls, center the needle over the template’s center marking. Remove the template before stitching.
  • To accommodate the foam thickness, reduce the needle thread tension to about half its normal setting. Slow the machine speed to allow extra time for the needle to penetrate the thickness and engage with the bobbin thread.
  •  Raise the embroidery foot height to 4.5 or 5mm.
  •  Turn off the thread cutter if possible.

Stitch a simple, outline-only alphabet or motif.

CME 0708 FOAM 07 1024x973 More Embroidery On Craft Foam

Simple stitching on foam

  • Select a single-layer craft foam project, such as a bookmark or door hanger, or opt for an unassembled kit of precut foam pieces.
  • Print a full-size template on vellum or translucent paper and mark the center point. Position the template on top of the foam shape with the design in the desired location. Attach the template to the foam temporarily with tape or a light spray of temporary adhesive.
  •  Hoop adhesive stabilizer and expose or activate the sticky surface.
  •  Attach the foam shape to the stabilizer with the design centered in the embroidery field. Use the machine controls to position the needle over the design center point and then remove the paper template.
  • Loosen the needle thread tension to about half its normal setting. Adjust the embroidery foot height, if possible, so it just skims the foam surface.
  •  Stitch the embroidery design. When the motif is complete, remove the hoop from the machine and, working from the wrong side, cut away the excess stabilizer at least 1⁄ 4″ outside the design edges. Even if the stabilizer is a tear-away, use scissors and cut away the excess to avoid stress that could tear the stitches free of the surrounding foam.
  •  Finger-press the remaining stabilizer back into place on the embroidery wrong side.
  •  For a tidy finish, cut a circle or square of paper, fabric or foam at least 1⁄ 2″ larger than the embroidery and glue it into place, covering the bobbin threads. This covering also adds extra support to keep the stitches in place on the foam.


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Valentine Embroidery Designs

Valentine’s Day is coming up… but not too soon! There’s still time to embroider some cute gifts, gift accoutrements and decor with a holiday flare.

valentines day 1200 600 636421154 1024x512 Valentine Embroidery Designs

Below find some of our favorite love- and Valentine’s-themed embroidery designs, available at Continue reading

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Free Machine Embroidery Design!

To celebrate this special month, we have a special gift for you — we’re giving away an embroidery design every Friday! I’ve been digging into the CME archives to find some of our favorite seasonal designs to share with you.

 Deer pair 1024x679 Free Machine Embroidery Design!

Today we’re going back in time a year to the Cross-Stitch Christmas Collection. I like to cross stitch by hand, but at this busy time of year it’s nice to be able to let the embroidery machine do it for you! This pair of reindeer are so elegant. The design is 3.86” wide x 2.20” high with 1,211 stitches and one thread color. The free download comes as a zip file and includes the following formats: ART, CSD DST, EXP, HUS, JEF, PCM, PCS, PES, SEW, SHV, VIP, VP3 and XXX.

This freebie has expired.

Cross stitch christmas collection Free Machine Embroidery Design!

Find the Cross Stitch Christmas collection at

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Latest Issue Is Here! See What’s In Store For You!

The January/February 2019 issue of Creative Machine Embroidery is hitting newsstands now. We’ve put together what we think is a really nice issue to start your new year off strong. Read on for some sneak peaks at some of our faves.

CME1902 Cover 500px Latest Issue Is Here! See Whats In Store For You!

The cover of the issue features a festive Valentine’s wreath adorned with freestanding lace hearts. I love the choice of the pip-berry heart-shaped wreath as the base of this project — the berries are so unique and cheery. Find the designs until Feb. 28 at

Before you start thinking about V-day, though, there’s your New Year’s (Embroidery) Resolutions to consider. If you’re thinking about cleaning out and reorganizing your embroidery space (I am!), check out the “Basic Training” column. It’s full of tips, tricks and resources for setting up and organizing to make the best use of the space you have.

CME1902 Furry Friends Fobs 280x300 Latest Issue Is Here! See Whats In Store For You!We’re super in love with the CME exclusive collection we’re premiering in this issue. These adorable key fobs are stitched in the hoop and are perfect for use with any material, so break out your scraps of cork, vinyl, felt or anything you’ve been wanting to test out. Add a snap or Velcro to fasten them onto bags, zippers or key rings, or just stitch the tab closed around a split ring or carabiner. Get the owl design from until Feb. 28, and find the whole collection at

CME1902 Blush Clutch 300x295 Latest Issue Is Here! See Whats In Store For You!Isn’t this clutch pretty? We love the effect of the velvet and the free-standing lace succulent embellishment. The clutch itself is super simple to make, so this is a great option for dressing up date night on short notice. Tip: Put the embellishment on a pin back to change up the clutch easily. You could even make several removable embellishments for different occasions.

Our in-the-hoop project this month is an adorable round zipper Penny Pouch. The zipper insertion is part of the in-the-hoop process, so you don’t need to mess with it at all — just let the machine do it for you. I’m a huge fan of the featured cherry print myself, but I also love that you can switch it up to fit anyone’s taste just by changing the fabric. It’s a great little gift (there’s still time to stitch some stocking stuffers!).

CME1902 ITH Penny Pouch 1024x936 Latest Issue Is Here! See Whats In Store For You!

CME1902 Catchall Caddy 1024x930 Latest Issue Is Here! See Whats In Store For You!Did you know there’s not much information out there about how to embroider on cork? I found some tips as I was preparing to stitch this cork tray, but I had to do some trial and error test-stitching to make sure I was making the best choices before stitching the final design. You get to benefit from my mistakes, though — find my tips for embroidering cork in the issue, or click on over to this blog post. I put them up as soon as I could (long before the project was released, in fact). The tray construction is pretty simple, but it’s fun to see how easy it is to make a flat surface into a 3D one with just a few stitches or rivets.

CME1902 Edgy Does It Dress 221x300 Latest Issue Is Here! See Whats In Store For You!I just love this knit dress with embroidery around the neckline and faux-leather trim. It’s such a great combination of classic with just a touch of edge. Find out how to take a simple dress to the next level by adding these extra embellishments — and don’t worry; we go over the basics of working with faux leather to make sure it doesn’t give you any problems.

You’ll find a lot more great projects and columns in the January/February issue, including Redwork, embroidered berets, and a deep dive into embroidery thread. Find it on newsstands through February 11, 2019 or at indefinitely.

other projects Latest Issue Is Here! See Whats In Store For You!



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Free Machine Embroidery Design!

To celebrate this special month, we have a special gift for you — we’re giving away an embroidery design every Friday! I’ve been digging into the CME archives to find some of our favorite seasonal designs to share with you.

CME FREEBIE 300x300 Free Machine Embroidery Design!

Today we’re starting with a pretty light-stitching cardinal sitting on a branch. I just think this guy is so charming. He would look lovely on a simple white linen background, maybe on a throw pillow or even in a wintery quilt block. It’s 2.44” wide x 1.93” high with 866 stitches and five thread colors. The free download comes as a zip file and includes the following formats: EXP, HUS, JEF, PCS, PEC, PES, SEW and VIP.

[This freebie has expired.]

Find the entire Festive Cardinals Collection at

Cardinal Collection Free Machine Embroidery Design!

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How To Use Craft Foam With Your Embroidery Machine

Craft foam is fabulous for adding loft to embroidered motifs, but it’s also a creative base for embroidery embellishment. Bring foam out in the open to create fashionably funky accessories and home décor.

Lead 1024x894 How To Use Craft Foam With Your Embroidery Machine


The foam used for embroidery applications is a dense synthetic material with a bit of give and lots of flexibility. It’s water resistant and machine washable, but should not be dry-cleaned. It’s flammable, but controlled heat can be used to shape the foam as detailed in techniques below.

Foam is available in many colors in 1-, 2-, 3- and 4mm thicknesses. The 2- and 3mm sizes are most commonly used in embroidery. Foam manufactured specifically for embroidery perforates cleanly and creates fewer “crumbs” that may fall into the bobbin area. General-use craft foam can also be used in machine embroidery for a visible embroidery base, however, and it’s available in a wide range of colors and project-ready items such as bookmarks, door hangers and tags.

Craft foam is also available in sheets with one paper-backed adhesive surface. These pre-glued pieces can be used with some embroidery designs for easy project construction without messy glue.


Visor 300x257 How To Use Craft Foam With Your Embroidery MachineStabilizers for foam embroidery vary with individual techniques and projects. For traditional puffed embroidery on woven fabrics, tear-away stabilizer is a good choice. Adhesive tear-away stabilizer is appropriate for projects such as hats that cannot be hooped in the usual way.

For embroidery on foam, choose a stabilizer that will support the stitches both during and after embroidery to prevent total perforation and tearing. For filled motifs or embroidery that includes satin stitching, choose an adhesive tear-away or a cut-away. The stabilizer becomes a permanent part of the project to keep the foam intact after it’s been perforated repeatedly by the needle.

By contrast, water-soluble stabilizers work well for openwork or running stitch designs that do not create as many holes in the foam base. They can be completely removed, a plus for projects where the wrong side will be visible. Test first to be sure the design will not tear the foam.

Adhesive stabilizers, whether water-activated or paper-release, are useful in foam embroidery because the foam itself cannot be hooped without damage. Use caution to prevent too strong an adhesive bond if the stabilizer will be removed after embroidery. Use a minimal amount of water to activate the stabilizer, and consider lessening the tack of paper-release stabilizer by adhering and removing a fabric scrap before positioning the foam on the adhesive surface.


CD case 300x244 How To Use Craft Foam With Your Embroidery MachineUse a small needle to minimize the size of needle holes in the foam. A size 75/11 needle is appropriate for embroidery-on-foam projects. When the foam is used to add dimension to a traditional design, choose the needle size that works best with the background fabric. Larger needles are acceptable, because in this technique the foam is intended to tear away along the lines of needle penetrations.

To mark embroidery placements on foam shapes, use chalk that wipes away easily or tape a full-size template to the foam both to visualize the finished appearance and guide the needle to the correct position. Remove the template before embroidering the design.


Keychain 300x270 How To Use Craft Foam With Your Embroidery Machine

This project was digitized for paper, but it worked perfectly when stitched with foam instead.

Embroidery on foam is similar to embroidery on paper. That means designs created for paper embroidery translate well to foam. These designs are generally outline-only motifs and alphabets. Paper appliqué motifs also work well on foam, with appliqués cut from thin foam, paper or fabric.

Embroideries digitized for fabric can be adapted for foam as well:

  • Choose running stitch motifs such as Redwork and quilting designs or outline-only alphabets.
  • Stitch only the outline of a filled design for Redwork-look embroidery.
  • Enlarge a design without changing the stitch count to decrease its density. Stitch a test sample first, and balance the functionality of the lower density with the amount of coverage needed for attractive embroidery.
  • Back the foam permanently with adhesive stabilizer to counteract the tearing associated with satin or fill-stitched motifs.


Don’t miss out! Find more great projects and ideas in our newest issue, available on newsstands and at Interweave/sewing!

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