Embroidery Blog

10 Machine Embroidery Tips for Beginners

Starting anything new can be a challenge. That is, unless you have someone who can help along the way. Read on for 10 machine embroidery tips that every beginner can’t be without!

 Applique Bird embroidery

Photo via Craftsy member Hug Longer Digital Designs

10 things beginners need to know about machine embroidery:

1. Relax

You invested in an embroidery machine and all of the supplies that go with it. Being nervous is understandable, but what is the worst thing that can happen? Really. You may have to throw a project out and start over. Have you ever counted how many pies you baked before one turned out perfect? Even mistakes provide opportunities for learning. 

100 Days Bright Applique Design

Photo via Craftsy member Appliqué Geek

2. Learn

When Thomas Edison was developing the light bulb, he had plenty of outcomes that could be considered unsuccessful. “I have not failed,” he said. “I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Learning is a cumulative process. The more you do something, the easier it gets (and the better you become).

Get the 100 Days Bright design here.

Learn How to Use Embroidery Stabilizers in Stabilizer Savvy 

3. Make time

In order to learn, you must research and practice. Allow yourself time to spend on embroidery. Block out time that you can dedicate to machine embroidery, whether that time is spent sewing, reading or taking classes. It may seem like a luxury, but you are worth it!

Machine Embroidery Henna Flower Friends 

Photo via Craftsy member Sew Beautiful 4 U

4. Start small

One of the biggest ways to sabotage yourself is to start off with a project that is not rated for novices or beginners. Start small and easy then progress to more challenging techniques as your skills (and confidence) grow.

Get the Machine Embroidery Henna Flower Friends design here.

 Flowery Flourish Alphabet

Photo via Craftsy member Ptarmigan Designz

5. Take notes

Make your own “recipes” for machine embroidery. Get a journal, binder or notebook and keep notes on your embroidery projects. Document the stabilizer used, thread types and colors, fabric type/blend, any machine adjustments made and anything else that may help you either replicate or improve the design next time. Better yet, include a photo.

Get the Flowery Flourish Alphabet designs here.

6. Don’t buy every gimmick and gadget out there

It is easy to get carried away by the excitement and spend a lot of money on things that really are not necessary. All you need to get started is a machine/hoop, scissors, thread, fabric, stabilizer and a design. Get some stitching time under your belt and do some research before investing in extras.

In the Hoop Cross Body Bags

Photo via Craftsy member EmbGarden

7. Be organized

Everyone is busy, but a well-organized, dedicated sewing area makes the time you do spend on embroidery more pleasant and productive. That does not mean you should build an additional room on your home. Even if you use a closet, it helps to have an area where you can sew and walk away without having to put everything away. It is not entirely impossible to sew at the dining room table, but the fun leaves when you have to drag everything out and put everything away each time you want to embroider.

Ballerina Dance 

Image via Craftsy member Edies Designs

8. Test stitch

There are so many variables that the same design will stitch out differently depending on the digitizer, stabilizer, fabric, needle and thread used. Design files can become corrupted during download and even during conversion. Avoid problems by taking the time to test stitch designs on a similar fabric before embroidering the actual piece.

Get the Ballerina Dance design set here.

Free Standing Lace Flower

Photo via Craftsy member Strawberry Stitches

9. Be fearless

After some practice, try something new. There are plenty of free designs out there. Think appliqué, cutwork, or freestanding lace. At least, try it!

Get the Freestanding Lace Large Flower design here. 

Princess Carriage Applique

Photo via Craftsy member Digitizing Dolls Embroidery

10. Enjoy

Why do this if it isn’t fun, right?

Get the Princess Carriage Appliqué design here.

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machine embroidery classics

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bernie mchale

does it have to be a special sewing machine for embroidery as I have an ordinary sewing mashine


I’m a beginner and I find my self scared to begin iv invested and I live on a tight but where can I find three for my embroidery designs and what should I start with?


I recently got my brother lb-6800 prw machine for Christmas and I love it. I have my own business and I wanted to add embroidery designs to it. I thought it would bring in a lot more customers. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve messed up on trying to do a baby onesie. I’m so new to embroidery and I’m completely lost! No one else in my family knows how to do it. I’m the only one who ever wanted to. My machine keeps eating the material and the thread. When I read the operations manual it said the feeding dog needs to be raised. I can raise it but the second the embroidery extension is attached they lower? And even turning the piece on the side won’t raise it like it does when it’s not attached. I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried adding two pieces of tareaway instead of one and it still eats right through it. Can anyone help me???


@Samantha, Ive been sewing for 40 years but only machine embroidering for about 3 yrs so i’m no expert but i will say that i refuse to embroider onesies anymore. Yes, there’s plenty of people that appear to have it mastered and tutorials that make it look easy but out of all the projects i have done, onesies are on my banned list. The fabric is stretchy, usually flimsy and its difficult to hoop. Excess stabilizers can be irritating on a babies skin, etc…
When i finally gave up doing onesies i started to enjoy my machine. Maybe make a longer bib to wear with a onesies, for example, or start with a completely different type of project so a onesie flop isn’t discouraging. Just the conclusion I’ve come to after having the same scenario you described so many times.
Someone could show me 100 tips and tricks on how to do onesies and i will run and run fast lol. There’s too many other adorable things you can do while maintaining sanity at the same time. 🙂

Debbie Henry

Samantha and Joy, I hear your pain. Although I have never tried to embroider a onesie, I better get busy because we are having a grandson in April. It seems to be a challenge for many so you are far from alone. Check back. I’ll have a tutorial (if I master the dreaded technique)! 🙂


Same! I can’t figure it out! The boo in thread is the only thing you can see on mine!

Laura Iverson

First of all onesies are so hard. Your problem may be because you should use a ball-point needle that is for knits. Also, my sister-in-law suggested that I use 2 layers of the soluble stabilizer on the top in addition to the tear-away on the back. This helped solve the tear through I was getting in small areas where the stitching is quite dense. I have only done a few, but think I will just make a ‘patch’ out of the cute patterns and then sew it to the onesie. Good luck.

Debbie Henry

Thanks for the tips, Laura!


What is traditional embroidery? Is it done by hand or by machine?

Debbie Henry

Simii, of course early embroidery was done by hand but with the industrial revolution came mechanical, and eventually, electric sewing machines. Even though we have modern sewing and embroidery machines, many people still enjoy stitching by hand.

Fredrick Peterson

It seems like “The Ten Commandments”, and it surely is great advice for any newbie. I had, at the start, made many mistakes when, after digitizing, straightly went onto embroidering without testing. Now, I highly recommend testing every design no matter how small or large. It takes a bit of time but saves a lot of effort for future.

Debbie Henry

Indeed. I have found that most times that I don’t test stitch, I wish I had Fredrick.

Stephanie Jensen

Test, Test and Re-test any changes on a design!!! Many headaches and frustrations before I learned the lesson!

Debbie Henry

Great advice, Stephanie!

Larry Weaver

My wife would like to get in the craft of mini embroidery designs after having worked on a project with her sister. I appreciate the tip to just start with a machine/hoop, scissors, thread, fabric, stabilizer and a design before getting extras. Looking at examples and a lot of practice with the basic materials would really be a great starting point.

Debbie Henry

Indeed, Larry. A little experience with the basics makes for better decisions regarding all of the gadgets.

logo digitizing

Thank you for a great explanation. I was looking online for a similar idea and really appreciate it

Debbie Henry

Thanks for reading!

Cynthia Lindsley

I have owned my pfaff creative 3.0 for 4 yrs. . I want to become more used to it but discovered my dealer was not a teacher. Also found that my Macbook and pfaff won’t talk. If I want to order any designs I have to purchase Truembroidary, which is pricey. You suggest taking classes but none address software and most design companies don’t mention the software. So after making the purchase is made the computer notifies you the design that is downloaded cannot be used. Is there a class out there with software ed.?

debbie henry

Sorry for your troubles Cynthia. Your dealer should have told you exactly what you needed to get designs to your machine. Won’t they load from a thumb drive? The software to communicate with your machine comes with the machine (usually, it is downloaded from your Pfaff site). You don’t need other software unless you want to edit existing designs or digitize embroidery (which is a whole other animal). Download a free trial of Embrilliance Essentials. It works with Mac, is easy to use and very affordable.

Peter Alfred

Good article. The only thing that bothers me is that digitizers and digitization services don’t take these considerations into practice. Due to the bulk of the work they deal, they very rarely look into the details so minutely. That’s the reason I am learning embroidery digitizing myself.

Debbie Henry

Digitizing is an art form for sure, Peter. Good luck with it!


These are brilliant, I love all the tips and plenty of inspiration to take away in order to try something new!

Debbie Henry

Thanks, Jen, so nice to have you here!

Jusper csk

Beautiful tips and insights useful for beginners. Thanks for sharing these embroidery tips.

Debbie Henry

Thanks for reading, Jusper csk!


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