How to embroider with a home sewing machine ?

Not everyone has the luxury of owning an embroidery sewing machine. But, those who love embroidery but have only the normal sewing machine – there is no need to despair.

You can still do passable at first and beautiful and wonderful work with practice, with your simple home sewing machine. Here is how to.

embroider with a sewing machine

How to embroider with a regular sewing machine


Option 1. Use the available decorative stitches in your sewing machine

decorative stitches

This is the easiest way – just turn the stitch knob of your multi stitch home sewing machine with decorative stitches.

If you have a modern home sewing machine, it probably has many decorative stitches already, other than the straight stitch.

There will at least be a zig zag stitch. The zig zag stitch is a very useful stitch- it can serve as a decorative stitch when done rightly. A close zig zag stitch is the perfect satin stitch – best for making borders, applique etc. Other decorative stitches on your machine can be used to sew borders, neckline edges etc.

The disadvantage is that they all move in a straight line – no flexibility there. You cannot adjust the stitch to fill the design

Related posts: Zig zag stitch; Decorative stitches on sewing machine; Sewing machine stitches.; Satin stitching with zig zag

Option 2. Do free motion embroidery

free hand sewing machine embroidery

Free motion embroidery is the best option when you have to fill designs, just the way you do with expensive embroidery machines.

For free motion embroidery, optimally you need a sewing machine in which you can adjust the top thread and bobbin thread tension and which has a treadle. You can adjust the bobbin tension by loosening or tightening the screw which is visible on the outside of the metal bobbin case. This machine is best because unlike the modern sewing machines.

If you are embroidering with the modern sewing machine with the electric operation, then ensure that the machine can be operated nicely without any jerking motion even at low speed (low speed as a result of putting low pressure on the foot pedal). Otherwise, it will not give the same smooth result as you would get with a foot pedaling sewing machine.

You also need a darning foot. Though you can do the work without the free motion embroidery foot, you can still do it.

Steps to embroider with your sewing machine

  1. To embroider letters you can write/print/copy the words on the non-shiny side of freezer paper/medium weight tearaway stabilizer. Keep the shiny side down on the fabric where you want the design. Press it with hot iron and adhere it there. Now keep another tearaway stabilizer on the back and then start embroidering. After the embroidery is done you can remove the tear away stabilizer easily. 
  2. For embroidering pictures draw/copy the design and then keep the fabric on a hoop. For machine embroidery you have to keep the fabric in a different way on the hoop from how you do it for hand embroidery.
Hoop placement different for machine embroidery

Remove the presser foot. You can sew without the presser foot. Or you can attach the darning foot.

Lower the feed dogs – you do not want the gripping of the fabric.

Feed dogs are pushed down

Adjust the tension of the top thread and the bobbin thread. The top thread tension should be loosened.

Put in a new needle. The needle should be the best suitable for the thickness of your fabric.

Use a tearaway stabilizer or a water-soluble stabilizer on the back of the fabric.

Keep the fabric on a hoop, tightly. The hoop should be big enough to do the embroidery and small enough that you can move the hoop easily. Ensure that the fabric is not stretched disproportionately.

Stitch length is turned to 0 for a tight zig zag and regular 2 for straight stitch.

Ensure that you are keeping the fabric on the surface of the needle plate at all times

Lower the presser foot. 

Keep the hooped  fabric under the needle, start by turning the hand wheel slowly towards you engaging the lower thread and top thread. You can bring up the lower thread this way. Make small stitches in the same place without moving the fabric at all. Cut away the extra thread.

Start stitching inside the desing with free motion stitches

Start sewing your beautiful embroidery. You will be moving the hoop to fill the design, as you sew. As you fill the design move the hooped fabric accordingly holding the fabric taut in the hoop. Do the outline and then fill the design.

embroider with free motions stitches with a sewing machine

Practice till you get beautiful stitches at all times.

You can make the pattern as a border.

embroidering border designs with a sewing machine

Or make the embroidery and cut out insides to turn it into a cut work.

eyelet fabric

Use straight stitches.

darning stitches made inside an embroidery design

Disclaimer : I have an electric sewing machine and my example is anything but the best. With practice the work can be improved. So do not be discouraged by the subpar examples I may have given. Sky is the limit with embroidery. Do your own thing – you can do a lot better (than me).

Check out the post on Free motion embroidery for even more details.

Updated on September 3, 2022 by Sarina Tariq

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3 thoughts on “How to embroider with a home sewing machine ?”

  1. .Dear Sir,very impressive informations.Tq.
    Btw, I have a tailor shop and want to sew like “aari work” sewing on sari blouses for my customers with my electrical sewing machines.Can i use my shop sewing machines to sew.
    2) Can i also use the machine to sew free motion embroidery?

    Tq Sir.Waiting for your suggestion.
    With regards,
    Krishnan

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