Beginning Machine Embroidery

After much frustration I have finally got my sewing machine to do free-hand embroidery without puckering or catching underneath. I’m using a standard sewing machine, not an embroidery machine, brand Janome, and one which is towards the lower end of the market. I’m no technical expert but wanted to share my experience here in case it helps anyone else.

In order to do free-hand embroidery on a normal sewing machine you need two things. The first is to remove the dog feed teeth which normally move your fabric along. Some sewing machines come with a lever which will drop the teeth. Otherwise, you need to put a darning plate over the top of the teeth.

The second thing you need is an embroidery/quilting foot. Machine instructions often claim that you can do free-hand embroidery by dropping the dog teeth and sewing with no foot attached, however I have found machines continually pucker underneath when there is no embroidery foot attached. What is different about an embroidery foot compared to a normal foot is that it is spring loaded and will vary it’s height according to the fabric being sewn onto.  This is my machine. There are different designs of embroidery foot available. The one pictured is metal and closed foot. For other models and brands you can get a foot which is open-toed and/or has a clear plastic toe. These are preferable as you can see what you are doing better.

Once you get to machine embroidery there are different types of thread to consider. There is normal machine sewing thread and machine embroidery thread. You are probably best looking at another resource for the types of threads and thread weights. My textile art course tutor has advised us to use good quality machine embroidery thread as it creates a better finish – brands Madeira and Gutermann are recommended. These are more expensive but I think worth it.

This is a sampler I have created on my machine with a cheap thread whilst getting used to free-hand embroidery. The fabric is calico. Whilst sewing, the fabric is placed in an embroidery hoop to keep it taut.


I have purchased a box of Madeira threads and will be using them for future work. My textile art course has resumed and I will have some interesting stuff to share from that over the next few weeks. I’m also keen to try using machine embroidery to create more personal and emotional artistic expressions.


© northernrose17 and A Therapeutic Art Journey, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to northernrose17 and A Therapeutic Art Journey with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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