First Aid For Embroidery

It's a horrible feeling... one minute your machine is humming along, as your carefully selected embroidery design stitches out. It's exciting watching it come to life as the needle moves across the fabric. And then suddenly . . . disaster! The outline starts stitching outside or inside the design, the design puckers, or an edge of applique isn't held down. Or even worse, the design suddenly skips to one side or the other by an inch or so and then stitches the REST of the design offset from the first part.

So now what?! A good percentage of problems can be solved right at home, right away. Here are some questions to ask yourself and conduct your own private investigation:

Have I cleaned and oiled my embroidery machine? Have I used the appropriate needle for the fabric? And have I changed out the needle recently?

NA481 Flower Power bandageKeeping your embroidery machine cleaned and oiled regularly is important for consistent and the best stitching. It is also important to use the appropriate needle and to change it out regularly. If the fabric you are stitching on is stretchy, then a ballpoint needle is recommended. When stitching on woven fabrics, then a sharp should be used. The size is also important. Use an 80/12 on medium weight fabrics. Remember the higher the number the heavier the fabric, and the smaller the number the lighter weight the fabric. NOTE: If embroidering a dense design, use a smaller needle size because the needle is going through the fabric, stabilizer and stitches.

What fabric am I stitching on?

Of primary importance is selecting the fabric that best works with the design type and density. You don't want to put very dense designs on organza, nor very loose designs on terry cloth. Look at the number of stitches in the design and the size of the design and remember, if the design is 4" x 4" and has 30,000 stitches, a needle is going in and out of that fabric 30,000 times in a 4" by 4" space. Really fast. And leaving thread behind each time it pierces the fabric. Even with stabilizer, some fabrics may not be a good choice for some designs.

What type and weight of stabilizer did I use in my stitch out? How many layers? Did I hoop the stabilizer and fabric together?

Choices of stabilizer and method of stabilization are probably the most important after selection of design and fabric. The correct stabilizer can help beef up a thin fabric, and, most importantly, hold the fabric still in the hoop. Any fabric with stretch uses cut-away stabilizer, and fabrics without stretch use tear-away stabilizers. Use one layer on light, airy designs, and two layers on more dense, or shaded designs. Always hoop the stabilizer and fabric together whenever it is possible to do so without damaging the design or fabric. Also, it's important to check that the fabric was not stretched in the hoop, and that the top hoop is evenly placed within the lower hoop. If it tilts to one side, so will your design.

How fast am I running my embroidery machine?

Most embroidery machines have the capability of slowing down the sewing speed. If there are continued issues in stitching the design, then it would be recommended to slow down the sewing speed. Start the machine at a slower speed and then you can move it up a bit faster. If metallic thread is being used in the design, then slowing down the speed is best. Threads will not break as often and the design will stitch out better.

Did I resize the design? What method did I use to resize the design, and how much was it resized?

Some formats are better to size from than others. Formats that are good for sizing will hold the complete data of the design. Stitch formats such as .EXP and .DST hold only the stitch information but not special stitches and do not adjust the number of stitches as the design is resized. The recommended limit for sizing a design is 20% up or down.

RC569 LifeguardDid I alter the design in any other way - add or remove details, mirror, re-format, etc?

Any time you add things, other things can be affected. For instance, if you merge a dense design with a light design, it will be easy for puckers to develop, especially between the designs. In this case, use scrap fabric similar to your project fabric in weight and type and test the original design alone, without the added data.

Did the design work okay before things were changed?

In this way, you can determine if the problem lies in the design or somewhere in the editing.

How did I receive my order? Download, CD or USB stick?

One very simple problem with a simple fix is when the design has damaged data. Your design is basically a bunch of electrical data arranged in a certain way. Sometimes, when the design is being downloaded or burned to a CD or USB stick or sent to an embroidery machine or even in the process of embroidering, a power surge will mess with the data of the design. A design with damaged data will stitch the design beautifully until somewhere random in the design where the needle will simply move to a slightly different place in the design and continue stitching from there.

In this case, you want to go back to the earliest file of the design that you received. Remove the design from everywhere else, and access the originally downloaded or CD design. Then re-send from there to your machine. When you do this you're testing to see if the design file on your machine was damaged but the file you received is still okay. If you downloaded the design from Embroidery Online, you can delete the design from both your machine and computer, and then re-download the design through "My Account". This way you have the original design file from the website.

Of course, customers are always free to contact us by email at support@oesd.com at any time with problems or questions, but we want you to feel empowered to find the root of your problem. You will be so glad that you learned to troubleshoot for yourself!

This material is © OESD, LLC and may not be reproduced or published without permission.