How to Achieve Perfect Placement for Machine Embroidery Designs
by Kay Hickman
Properly placed embroidery designs add a professional touch to any project. Learn to use paper templates and embroidery software to achieve perfect placement.
Paper templates are the key to perfect embroidery placement. These full-sized representations of embroidery designs are printed in either black and white or color. Most templates have intersecting lines marking the design center.
- Templates are often included with design collections as a PDF. Some designs include preprinted templates ready to be cut out.
- If a design collection doesn’t include templates, open the design in either an embroidery editing, sizing or digitizing software program. Adjust the software settings to include the vertical and horizontal centerlines.
- If using a design light in color, change it to black in order to create a template. Print the placement template, ensuring the software prints the design at 100%. Watch for “scaling” or “print to fit page” in the print screen, as these features change the template size.
TIP: Search the internet for free embroidery editing, sizing and digitizing software programs.
- If using the same design more than once, print the template as many times as necessary. If using more than one design, print templates for each design.
- Mark the template upper edge with an arrow on the vertical centerline.
- Cut out the design leaving a 1/4” border around the edges. Using a rotary cutter, cut a small slit along the horizontal and vertical centerlines. Fold back two corners from the center, creating two small triangle shaped openings.
- Use the templates to audition the design placement(s).
- Pin or tape the templates to the project and if embroidering a garment, try on the item on to confirm that the designs are flattering. Arrange the templates until satisfied, and then pin in place. Mark each design center using a removable fabric marker or tailor’s chalk. Also mark an arrow denoting the design upper edge.
- Remove the template once marking is complete.
- If using more than one design on a project, number the designs in order of the stitchout, writing the number onto the paper template. Write the corresponding design number on the garment near the centerline marks.
TIP: Take a photo of the designs laid out on the project to refer to when using multiple designs. Refer back to the photo to confirm proper placement during hooping and stitching.
- Hoop the project with stabilizer, centering one design in the hoop and aligning the upper-edge arrow with the hoop upper-edge arrow. If necessary, place the template over the center marks to confirm the design is centered in the hoop.
- Remove the template before stitching.
- Load the design onto the machine. Using the machine’s edit feature, move the needle position to the marked center on the garment. Lower the needle to double check proper placement.
- Embroider the design, keeping any excess fabric away from the needle. Remove the fabric from the hoop, and repeat to hoop the next design, centering it in the hoop per the first design.
Some areas, such as collar points, cuffs and pockets, are tricky to embroider. Simplify the process by creating a placement line. This is stitched onto hooped stabilizer as a first step. Create placement lines using digitizing software.
- Begin by placing the project area you intend to embroider. Check the scanner to ensure the scan is completed at 100%, meaning that the image is the same size as the project.
- Import the image into the embroidery software.
- Double check the software settings to ensure that the image is at 100% and not scaled or otherwise adjusted in size.
- Digitize a single-stitch outline along one garment corner. Add a color change to the outline; this is the placement line. Make sure that the placement line is a different color than the design to allow the placement line to stitch first.
- Load the intended embroidery design and place it accordingly.
- Take note of seamlines, topstitching and other details. For a professional finish, avoid placing designs over stitching details.
- Save the design and exit the embroidery software. Load the design onto the embroidery machine.
- Hoop a piece of stabilizer. Place the hoop onto the machine.
- Stitch the placement line; this is the first color change.
- Spray the stabilizer with temporary spray adhesive and position the project area using the placement line as a guide. Finger-press the fabric to secure.
- Return the hoop to the machine and embroider the remaining design. Repeat to embroider any remaining designs.