How To Machine Embroider on Cork

Cork is eco-friendly, renewable and very trendy. It’s also a great surface to embroider on. While it acts like leather, vinyl and other non-fibrous materials in many ways (don’t pin it!), its fabric backing allows it to take embroidery better than many similar fabrics. Here are some things to keep in mind when embroidering cork.

Cork 1024x642 How To Machine Embroider on Cork

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ITH What a Hoot Owl Necklace Design, stitched on cork

  • While cork isn’t damaged as severely as some materials by dense stitching, it will eventually perforate. Consider density when choosing a design, avoiding designs with extremely dense and layered stitching.
  • When marking on cork, consider what will both show up and remove effectively. Test markings on scraps before using a method on the final project. We’ve found that a powdered chalk roller is very effective, as it deposits well without a lot of pressure and wipes away quickly and easily.
  • Cork can’t be hooped, so use a self-adhesive stabilizer or adhere the fabric using a temporary spray adhesive. Tear-away and cut-away stabilizers are preferable, as soaking cork to remove water-soluble stabilizer can damage the material. Never baste or pin in the hoop, as holes are permanent.
  • Use a large, sharp needle with a large eye. Topstitching and denim needles are ideal for embroidering cork.
  • If available, lower the machine’s foot to sit just above the cork while embroidering. Like with leather, the cork may close in around the needle when it’s down, causing the needle to pull the material up on its upstroke. Keeping the foot low minimizes this effect.
  • Slow the machine speed if available; however, a speed slightly higher than the slowest available might work better, as it creates more momentum behind the needle. Try different speeds during test stitching to see what works best.
Creepy Crawly 300x200 How To Machine Embroider on Cork

ITH Creepy Crawly design, stitched on cork

When embroidering on any new material, be sure to test stitch to find the best combination of design, needle, stabilizer, thread and machine settings for your project.

Tip: Download the What a Hoot Owl design pictured above free from until October 31, 2018. Find the Creepy Crawly design at


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

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Get Ready for Fun Fall Designs with Creative Machine Embroidery!

The Fall 2019 issue of Creative Machine Embroidery is hitting newsstands on August 13! We’re so excited to share this one with you. Just a reminder that going forward, Creative Machine Embroidery will release four issues a year ¬— Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. This year was a little funny because we were transitioning; we had a Jan/Feb issue and a Spring/Summer issue. But we’ll finish out 2019 with the Fall and Winter issues, and it will be smooth sailing (embroidering?) from here.

I especially love the Fall issue because Halloween is my favorite holiday. We’ve got a great collection of Halloween and autumn projects to recreate this year.

CME fall 2019 Get Ready for Fun Fall Designs with <em>Creative Machine Embroidery</em>!

There was never any doubt what was going on the cover of this issue ¬— as soon as we saw the Double, Double, Toil and Trouble freestanding lace cauldron by Ramona Baird, we knew this was The One. I’ll admit it’s a pretty time-intensive project because there’s a lot of drying time, but honestly the construction itself isn’t that hard. I really think you should give it a try, if for no other reason than because every Halloween loving embroiderer NEEDS a bubbling, light up cauldron as part as their holiday décor. Especially because the designs are free to download through the end of the October! (Also, I’m a theater nerd so of course the name is a reference to a famous line from the Scottish Play).

The In-the-Hoop project for this issue is a cute chenille clip that can be added to a garment or your hair. I love making chenille ¬— there’s something so satisfying about cutting the layers between stitching lines and fluffing them up to make something textural. And I really love doing it when it’s an embroidery design, because I know those stitching lines will be perfect! If you’ve never made a chenille project before, this is a great way to try it out. Download the Pumpkin Cutie Clip for free at until Oct. 31, 2019.

We loved our Beach Life FSL Charm Collection from last year so much that we just couldn’t resist making another set of charms for our favorite holidays. We used the Creepy Cute Charms to make some party décor for our photoshoot (and got to eat the cupcakes after!), but they’re good for so many things! I’m personally planning out some fun dangly earrings to break out in October. And if you’re a fan of a certain stop motion Tim Burton film that’s Halloween/Christmas themed, I bet you could find some cute uses for these that will be good all the way through the end of the year. The Spider Web design is a freebie; find the whole collection at

bib pattern fallCME Get Ready for Fun Fall Designs with <em>Creative Machine Embroidery</em>!

We also have a bunch of projects for those autumn days that aren’t Halloween. I’m especially blown away by the Bohemian Bibs, a beautiful pair of linen blend overalls with a gorgeous folk pattern. Katrina Walker teaches you everything you need to know to recreate this stunning look, including placement tips, material choices and how to choose your thread colors for the greatest impact.

Fall is often all about layers, and we have a really lovely overlayer to offer you. A kimono is easy to make and easy to embroider, especially if it’s made in a nice crisp cotton. Ours is very reminiscent of the traditional Japanese yukata, the lightweight cotton kimono usually dyed with indigo to make patterns of blue and white. Best of all, it’s simple to create by drafting basic lines on your fabric. I love self-drafted patterns, don’t you?

There’s a lot more to find in this issue, including an informative article on how to start your own home embroidery business, tips on test stitching and what to do with the resulting test embroideries, how to incorporate free-standing lace into quilts. Find the issue on newsstands through October 14, 2019 or at

gallery Get Ready for Fun Fall Designs with <em>Creative Machine Embroidery</em>!

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Friday Freebie For Father’s Day!

It’s almost Father’s Day, and we’re celebrating all the amazing dads out there with a free embroidery design!

CMEDADP 300x280 Friday Freebie For Fathers Day!

I don’t know about you, but I have a pretty premium quality dad. And this fun label design declares him as such. Make your dad a patch to wear, or embroider it onto a gift to give him on that special day. The design measures 2.08” wide and 1.14” high, with 4,254 stitches and two thread colors. The design is available in embroidery formats: EXP, HUS, JEF, PCS, PEC, PES, SEW and VIP.

This freebie has expired. Find the Dad’s Labels Embroidery Collection at

CMEDADLABELS 300x255 Friday Freebie For Fathers Day!dad cme  Friday Freebie For Fathers Day!

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How To Use Decorative Designs In Machine Embroidery

Use embroidery motifs to add space to your next project—literally. Designs can span openings, holding them an equal distance apart. Most embroidery motifs serve a purely decorative function stitched atop the fabric’s surface. However, they can also be used functionally to hold fabric edges together—much like fagotting stitches are used in heirloom sewing—with a space between the adjoining finished edges.

bones 1024x977 How To Use Decorative Designs In Machine Embroidery Continue reading

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Friday Freebie! Free Machine Embroidery Design

Mother’s Day is almost here! To celebrate all the wonderful mothers out there, we’re giving away a free design.

Teapot 300x244 Friday Freebie! Free Machine Embroidery DesignThe Tea Time Teapot design evokes the warm and cozy feeling of chatting with your mom over a cup of tea. It’s an appliqué design, so you can easily personalize it with a colorful print or a more sedate design choice. It’s especially great stitched on tea towels for a fun themed gift.

The design measures 4.69” wide x 3.55” tall, and consists of 4,215 stitches in three thread colors. The download includes embroidery file types EXP, HUS, JUF, PCS, PEC, PES, SEW and VIP.

This freebie has expired. Find the design and the rest of the Tea Time Collection at

TeaTimeCollection Friday Freebie! Free Machine Embroidery Design

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How To Use Stenciling In Machine Embroidery

Stenciling can add a whole new element to your embroidery. To learn tips, tricks and techniques for stenciling, check out part 1. To learn the steps of combining stenciling and embroidery, read on!

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Ink and Paint Stippling

Stencil diminutive baskets onto fabric, then fill them with embroidered blooms as shown above. Continue reading

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FREE Easter Egg Embroidery Design

Spring and Easter designs are some of the cutest of the year! Who doesn’t love bunnies and charming eggs and floral designs? We sure do. With Easter right around the corner (Sunday April 21) we’re giving away a free design for you to use however you see fit.

GettyImages 876394166 FREE Easter Egg Embroidery DesignPlease download this egg embroidery design, just in time for Easter and spring time festivities. Continue reading

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How To Use Stenciling + Machine Embroidery

Add stenciling to your embroidery for bold effects and added detail. Learn the basics of stenciling below, then discover ways to combine stenciling and embroidery in part 2.

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Getting Started

Stenciling really requires only two tools: a stencil and a coloring media. There are many possibilities for each tool, ensuring a combination that’ll work for any project. Continue reading

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New Issue of Creative Machine Embroidery!

The Spring/Summer issue of Creative Machine Embroidery is finally here! I really love this issue, and I’m so excited that we finally get to share it with you.

00 CME1904 Cover 500px New Issue of Creative Machine Embroidery! Continue reading

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Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3

Welcome to our third and final installment on our series about combining embroidery and foiling!

Metal foiling is a technique that once you get the hang of it produces stunning results. Working with metallic threads can be a bit tricky. Today we are concluding our three part series on metal foiling, be sure to read part one and two (links below) for best results when using metal foiling and your embroidery machine.

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  • Foil is applied in the same manner, no matter which method is used to apply the adhesive.
  • Use a medium-hot (wool setting) dry iron to apply the foil and test-press a sample before beginning the project. If the iron is too hot, the foil will melt. Use a non-stick press cloth if needed to prevent damage to fabric.
  • Lay the foil sheet color side up over the adhesive so that the metallic film totally covers the adhesive area. Using the edge and/or tip of the iron, burnish the foil in place. As you press, you should be able to see a light impression of the design on the foil surface. Pay particular attention to the design edges to avoid exposed adhesive when finished.
  • When the foil is completely cooled, gently peel it off. Trying to remove it before the adhesive is completely cooled will result in the foil not completely adhering to the design area.
  • If the foil isn’t completely covering the adhesive, re-foil as needed, using the same or another color. Colors can be layered as long as there is tackiness to the adhesive and the foil can be re-used until no color remains on the sheet.

Foil samples 300x224 Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3


  • Most foil manufacturers suggest washing foiled projects wrong side out in cool water on a gentle cycle and air-drying. Hand washing is preferred. Dry cleaning is not recommended for any foiled project.
  • Putting embellished garments in a dryer or using direct heat from an iron will cause the foil to come off. Hang to dry instead.
  • Never iron directly over foil; press items only from the back side with a presscloth.

Tricks of the Trade

  • Use the foil sheets until they are totally devoid of metallic. Small bits of color can be added simply by burnishing in place with the iron tip or a rubbing tool, as long as there is an exposed adhesive surface that’s still tacky. Begin with a sheet that has the least foil on it, and progress to those with more as you blend the colors.
  • To apply foil without heat from an iron, use pressure-sensitive foiling adhesive, burnish the metallic layer in place with a teaspoon, your fingernails or a bone folder. Consistent pressure is all that’s needed for transfer.
  • foil lures 300x300 Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3To apply foiling to a T-shirt or other finished garment, layer it over a plastic covered T-shirt board, so that the adhesive doesn’t go through to the back side of the garment.
  • When foil is added to a sheer fabric, the adhesive stickiness can still be felt on the underside. To avoid this, sprinkle the wrong side with talcum powder to coat the adhesive and prevent it from sticking to the skin.
  • Using a silicone mat under the foiling surface will help reflect the iron’s heat.
  • To apply powdered adhesive in a controlled manner, cut off the end of a soda straw at an angle and use it as a scoop to position the granules.
  • Remember, foiling is an accent and it should be tastefully added in combination with embroidery.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about foiling and how it can be combined with embroidery. Are you going to try out this new technique?

Find Part 1 here; get ideas and learn how to get started.

Find Part 2 here; discover the different foil adhesive options. 

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