Embroidery Placement is one of those subjects that most people have questions about. I recently had a comment on one of my You tube videos that pointed to that subject. So I decided to look at some of the various tools I currently use or have in the past.
I think this might be the most important thing to learn when you are machine embroidering and I really struggled with it in the beginning. Knowing your machine capabilities with the hoop sizes available to you is the first step. If your machine came with one hoop, say a 4x4, you will be able to stitch embroidery designs no larger than 3.93 x3.93 inches. That 4x4 hoop is also known as a 100mm x 100mm hoop in metric conversion. Sometimes you may purchase designs that are denoted in inches but many will also have those metric numbers. I like to keep this chart handy near my machine so I can quickly glance at it before I begin any project. The size of your design will be constrained by not only your hoop size but the area you want to place it on your project. I have found exceptions to this chart with some designs. My Mighty Hoops have a "suggested" maximum that can vary between two measurements. Depending on the design shape, the rounded corners of the hoop will sometimes cause issues where I need to reduce the size. So always do a trace of your design on your machine before you begin to make sure it will fit inside the hoop and not strike the sides.
Templates are one of my favorite tools when doing machine embroidery. This picture shows a 4x4 hoop and the template that came with it. If you will look closely, you will see the template has a small purple square with a grid. This is the actual sewing field available in the hoop. Most of the time, these will be roughly 1/2 inches inside the hoop edge. That is a default determined by the machine manufacturer to make sure you will not damage anything. On my commercial machine, there are ways to extend this a little in the settings, but I would not suggest doing so without the assistance of your technical support. This template is helpful for placement because it has a cross hair in the center that lines up with the four markings on the hoop itself. The small circle in the top of the template allows you to remove it once you have your item hooped.
Although I like to use the templates that came with my hoops, I do have some that did not have any when I purchased them. So I make my own using these chopping mats purchased from Dollar Tree.
Here is one I made for my 5x5 Mighty Hoop. I used a permanent marker, hole punch and scissors to customize it exactly how I wanted.
You may not realize it, but you probably have a template in most of your embroidery designs that is easy to use. This is a printout of one of my free designs and as you can see there is a cross hair in the center. I like to use these to mark placement and also see how a design will look on my projects. I usually will cut the center cross and use a chalk marker to show me where I need to place my hoop.
Here is a closeup of my chalk marker. These can be purchased at most sewing and quilting stores. You can buy replacement cartridges or loose chalk to fill it. The chalk comes out when the small rolling teeth go across the fabric surface. I like chalk because in most cases it brushes off fabrics and won't leave any marks. Now I will warn you that if you mix that chalk with another marking pen like a disappearing one and then iron or place heat on it, you may set the color. So always test the fabric before you make your marks.
I also like to keep many different rulers and tape measures close by when I am placing my embroidery. Working with fabric can be tricky because it moves and distorts. This small six inch ruler is great to work in smaller areas.
Placement rulers can be a helpful way to get a measurement for apparel. I have a couple of different ones and I will say that they sometimes differ in their suggestions. Most commercial placement rulers have a disclaimer that the final area is determined by the person doing the embroidery. So just be aware that these are meant to assist but they are not always the final or perfect tool. If I am doing many shirts or garments, I will usually make my own templates so placement can be done quickly without guesswork.
Here you can see one that I use for shirts. This was made using one of the chopping mats. I usually make one for each size that I will be working with. I make notes on the template telling me where the design should go. I will draw buttons, collars, seams or any defining placement areas so I can lay it on top of the garment quickly. Then I have a cross hair cut out that I can mark with my chalk marker. This one has two cross hairs because depending on the design shape or customer preference, I may need to move it 1/2 inch on this particular shirt. There is not a perfect location. Each project may need to be tweaked a bit.
I do like to use my Echidna hooping station to assist in lining up the hoop. The magnets hold the stabilizer in place so it does not slide around. Then I can confidently place the garment or fabric and quickly secure the top hoop.
Before I purchased my hooping station, I did primarily use temporary adhesive spray. This holds your stabilizer in place until you can hoop the fabric. I have in the past had some shirts Pill when the stabilizer is removed after stitching so always do a test with a garment that I don't mind damaging. I try to have extras for this purpose. It saves some stress in the event you have a machine malfunction or if it's "Just One Of Those Days"
I find that the hardest part of hooping any project is knowing where the bottom hoop is located. You can't see it once you put your fabric on top. That is where the templates come in handy. Here you see I have a towel on top of my hoop and I am using my template to "feel" the bottom hoop location. If I have marked my placement with my chalk marker, I can also Line up that chalk inside of the cross hair of the template.
Then I can place the top hoop on and decide if that placement will be good. I will tell you that this doesn't always go as planned. No worries, just take it out and try again. Some fabrics are harder than others. The location of the embroidery can be tricky also if you are embellishing a ready made product. Don't get frustrated and sew it because you are tired. Take a break and come back to it later.
So templates are a great way to line up projects. They are also an inexpensive tool that you can print off or make yourself. I found that once I started getting the hang of using them, I enjoyed creating my own as it helped me understand the hooping process more. This blog post is just the tip of embroidery placement. I have more detailed information in my video below. I show you how I use all of these tools. If you are interested, scroll down and watch it. I bet you will pick up some new tricks of your own.
I hope you have enjoyed this post, share what you learn and are generous with what you create. Someone will appreciate your hard work!
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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