Get Yearly ALL ACCESS, now just $4.99/month
  • $4.99/month, billed as $59.88/year (normal price $348)
  • Discounted price valid forever - Renews at $59.88/year
  • Access to millions of Graphics, Fonts, Classes & more
  • Personal, Commercial and POD use of files included
  • Upgrade Now
  • Cancel anytime

Machine Embroidery, Step by Step (I)

These are the first steps of any embroidery project.

Machine Embroidery, Step by Step


This chapter of our Ultimate Machine Embroidery Guide is a checklist with all the steps you must take to complete an embroidery project. It’s a great topic, so we have decided to divide it into two articles.

The post you are reading is the first part. Here, we’ll explain the first steps of the process. If you’d like to read the second part of this post, you can find it here.

We’ve tried to make these articles descriptive and accurate so that you can use it as a guide for best practices. You will also find a lot of links to useful resources.

We hope you enjoy this guide and find it inspiring. Let’s get started!


On this article:

Collect machine embroidery supplies
Choose a digitized embroidery design
Edit your design with embroidery software
Set up your embroidery machine
Insert an embroidery needle


Collect machine embroidery supplies


embroidery supplies

Here is a checklist with the leading supplies that you’ll need for machine embroidery.


Embroidery machine.


A machine is an essential piece that you’ll need for any project. You can’t create machine embroidery without an embroidery machine.

Different brands create embroidery machines. Brother, Singer, Bernina, and Husqvarna are just some famous examples.

If you are new to this crafting discipline and you don’t know which machine to buy, don’t worry! We’ve written an article explaining the characteristics of the best devices for beginners. You can find it here.


Embroidery thread


Your embroidery machine needs a thread to stitch out your designs. The color and distribution of the thread vary depending on the embroidery design. Usually, digitized embroidery designs incorporate some thread recommendations.

You can find an extensive catalog of embroidery threads out there. If you’d like to have some guidance before you make a choice, check this article. There you have a comparison of four popular options: polyester thread, rayon thread, cotton thread, and metallic thread.


Embroidery hoop


A hoop is a circular or rectangular item, usually made of plastic. In both hand and machine embroidery, hoops are used for holding the cloth while stitching. This way, the garment will remain tense until the end of the process.

You can find hoops in different sizes, shapes, materials, and prices. Make sure that you have an adequate hoop before starting any process. This piece is crucial for success.


Embroidery stabilizer


Also known as backing, the stabilizer is the base for your embroidery design. There are different types of stabilizers.

The most popular options are tear-away, cut-away, and wash-away stabilizers. If you need some guidance to choose the perfect stabilizer, check this article first.


Sewing box essentials


For any embroidery project, you’ll also make use of basic sewing box essentials. Scissors, pins, and a measuring tape will be your best allies. If you don’t know which essentials you should include in your sewing box, here, you have a checklist.


Choose a digitized embroidery design


embroidery design

Your embroidery machine needs digitized designs to stitch out your projects. Some devices include a built-in design catalog, but it’s limited. To expand your creative possibilities, we recommend you to search for third-party embroidery designs.

Types of digitized embroidery designs


Hand digitized embroidery designs


An embroidery expert has created these digitized designs using embroidery software. That procedure is time-consuming, but it results in high-quality embroidery designs. No matter how intricate they are, hand-digitized models are always the best option.


Auto-digitized embroidery files


These files are the result of processing digital graphics with automatic digitizing software. The process is straightforward, the digitizer’s work is faster, and the prices of the files are usually lower.

The problem with these files is that their quality is usually lower. Some embroidery parameters could be missing or imprecise. This lack of information can affect the quality of your artwork.


Do I need a license to use embroidery designs?


Yes. You should always get a license before using any kind of third-party design assets.

In case you are not going to sell your artwork, you should at least be able to provide a personal license.

If you plan to sell your artwork, you must have a commercial license for the designs you want to use. Otherwise, you won’t be allowed to use the final products.

We strongly encourage you to follow the rules about licensing. Otherwise, you could get into legal trouble. Creativity should be all about inspiration and enjoyment. Respecting intellectual property is key to a pleasant creative experience.

To keep you covered, in Creative Fabrica, we always include a personal and commercial license on every download. You can learn more about these licenses here.


Edit your design with embroidery software


embroidery software


If you want to make changes or adjustments to your embroidery designs, you can use specific software. Here you have six good embroidery programs that you can choose.


Bernina Artlink 7 Embroidery Software


Artlink 7 is the free embroidery software by Bernina, the machine manufacturer. You can find more info about this product here.


Bernina Embroidery Software 8


This model is the paid embroidery program by Bernina. If you’d like to read some of its characteristics, you can find them here.


Brother PED Basic


This straightforward program is available on Brother’s website. If you’d like to find more information about it, you can read a lengthier description here. 


Buzz Xplore Embroidery Design Management Software


You’ll have to pay for this program, but you can get a 21-day trial period for free. If you’d like to read some insights about the software, follow this link. 


Embrilliance Essentials Embroidery Machine Software


This resourceful program is full of creative opportunities. It’s not free, but it’s worth trying. You can read more about it here.


Embroidery i2, an Adobe Illustrator extension


This plugin allows you to incorporate embroidery features to the popular design program. You can read more about this option here.



Set up your embroidery machine


embroidery machine setup


There are some steps that you have to take to get your machine ready. Here’s a checklist!

Put all the pieces in place. Make sure to install your darning foot! If you have any doubts, check the manufacturer’s instructions. You must assemble your machine correctly. A wrong hardware setup can ruin your workflow.

Set your stitch length to zero. This way, you’ll have more control over the process.

Tackle tension settings. If you reduce your top tension, the interaction between thread and fabric will run smoothly.

Lower the feed dogs. This step is essential! Feed dogs allow you to pull the fabric across the machine while you are stitching. Check your machine’s manual. Some devices don’t include this feature anymore.


Insert an embroidery needle


embroidery needle


For embroidery projects, you always need to use embroidery needles. Sewing needles have different characteristics, and they won’t provide the same effect.

Even if you have a hybrid machine (those that sew and embroider), you can’t use the same needle for both tasks. Embroidery needles are made to prevent sudden breaks during the stitching process.

The size and the properties of your embroidery needle must fit your type of project. These items have a unique shape that is made to avoid friction. This feature is what turns mechanical stitching into a smooth task.


For the sake of legibility, we’ve divided this long article into two parts. To keep reading, you can find the second part here.

Receive Digest

Receive a weekly digest that highlights the most popular articles on The Artistry.

Get unlimited fonts

Free Graphics

Every week we release new premium Graphics for free, some available for a limited time only.

7921689 Graphics

Get access to 7,921,689 Graphics as part of our Graphics subscription. Check them out now.

Discount Deals

Our discount deals are premium products for just $1. Available for 1 week only, so act fast!

Daily Gifts

Download Now

Read next

The Best Embroidery Software for Home Use

Find the best option to edit your designs.

Read the article

How to pick the right thread for machine embroidery?

Make the best choice for your next project.

Read the article

The Best Embroidery Machines for Beginners

Learn about the best devices for embroidery.

Read the article

Three Ways to Create Embroidery Letters

Discover how to create beautiful letters.

Read the article

Machine Embroidery, Step by Step (II)

These are the final steps of any embroidery project.

Read the article
Daily Gifts

Download Now
Discount Deals
Daily Gifts

Download Now