Aligning Machine Embroidery Errors
Can you find the problem towel above? If you have done any kind of Machine Embroidery, you have probably had a moment when an issue came up. I think more people would enjoy doing embroidery if they gave themselves a break and understood that things don't always work out the first time you sew a design. Frustration will usually cause them to give up but trust me, practice really is necessary to consistently get good results. I do machine embroidery pretty much every day and I have some doozies in my studio. In fact I have a path around my house that gets used quite a lot while I clear my head and get out of my workspace. It is the nature of working with an unpredictable medium. You have so many variables that you have to work through. First you have the complexity of a machine that wants to stitch in one direction. Think about it. There really is only one way a stitch forms. The arm on the machine moves in multiple directions in time to that stitch forming. If everything is in time, you should see a design taking shape. Other possible issues are material you are applying the design to, stabilizer needed, type of thread top and bottom, trimmers, needles, digitizing, dirt and dust, the day of the week- no wait that doesn't matter. There are just so many things that can go wrong. So why even do it? It is beautiful when the work comes into focus and a design starts to peek out. Hypnotic to watch that arm swing and sway and the hum of the machine lulls you into a calm place. If you are a person that likes a challenge and puzzle solving, you might grow to become an embroidery addict. You just need to develop and have some tools in your back pocket for the times when trouble arrives. It will arrive.
Here is a recent problem project I was working on. If you look at the photo above, you will see an unfinished towel. I had several of them to do and as this one was stitching, I noticed a dull thumping sound when the needle struck the fabric. That always indicates to me it is time to change the needle. When you embroider on a machine and become friends with it, you can hear changes. So , I replaced the needle and immediately, my bobbin wound up tight causing the towel to pull down into the bobbin case. This skewed the towel in the hoop. There was no way to salvage the design in that hoop. When I removed the new needle, I felt a burr on the end of it. So even though it was brand new, it was faulty. I had to cut away the thread that had wrapped around the inner case. Luckily the towel wasn't damaged. Another good reason to stay close to your machine while it is working. First thing I did was make a note of the stitch number where this happened in the design and I wrote it down. I would need it later.
I was using my multi needle machine to embroider the group of towels and I didn't want to lose any production time, so I replaced the faulty needle, hooped another towel and started it stitching while I worked on my problem piece. This particular machine does not have a camera function. So if I have to re hoop a design to complete it, I will usually move to my other machine that helps me ensure a good stitch out.
I floated the towel on the hoop with some adhesive spray and tried to get the towel straight but perfection is not necessary when you can scan a picture and see placement.
Here is the hoop loaded on the machine and you can see the screen shows the towel and the design overlaying it. This type of embroidery machine really gives you great options instead of trying to rely on your hand eye coordination to re hoop and get correct placement. I can see the previous design stitched on the towel in real time. This allows me to line up the electronic design in the machine for better accuracy.
Here you can see the movement and rotation options available. So even though my design was slightly skewed in the hoop, I was able to rotate in one degree increments until I got it right where I needed it. I will usually go into the embroidery function and test the first few stitches to make sure it is where I want it to be. Sometimes you need to do this a couple of times to get it right. Don't rush it. Then I use the number that I wrote down from the previous stitch out and I forward through the design to the place where it had a problem to begin sewing. Each machine has different functions to accomplish this. Use your machine manual to verify your tools.
Here it is completing the design. I was able to get it just about right. As it is a towel there will be slight fudge room because of the pile. Still it is very close to the original placement.
The best part of having a second machine is my other towel completed while I was working with my problem piece so no production time was lost.
Now this is a trick that I have seen at many trade shows and classes. Most embroidery artists have a good supply of permanent markers. If you have a few threads that are not perfect while you are working on that placement, you can very lightly touch them up. Especially something with a pile. Just be very ginger when using these type markers as your fabric will really want to soak up the ink.
So here they are side by side. Left side is an original towel, right side is the re hooped towel. Unless I told you I had any problems, you might not be able to tell. An embroidery machine with a camera function is a very good investment if you are doing commercial work of any kind. You can see I was able to save product and keep production rolling along.
I have a You Tube video showing my process below. If you are considering a purchase to upgrade your studio or if you already have a machine with camera, you might enjoy seeing it in action. I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work.
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Lagniappe Peddler believes that the process of working with our hands can be one of the best forms of healing the hurts in our lives and welcomes all who visit this safe little corner of the world.
What is a Lagniappe Peddler?
ˌlanˈyap,ˈlanˌyap - something given as a bonus or extra gift
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