A Beginner’s Guide on How to Free Motion Embroider

A Beginner’s Guide on How to Free Motion Embroider

Craftember ambassador, Tracy Perks, shares her expert tips for how to start free motion embroidering...

Have you ever wanted to sketch out designs with your sewing machine? This is called Free Motion Embroidery and is a great way to doodle and draw with stitches. It is not as difficult as you think, with a few basics pieces of kit you can start stitching out your own designs today.  

I like to use an embroidery hoop to put my fabric into. The hoop that I use is 6 inches in diameter and I cut my fabric to either the size of the project I am going to use it on or about 7 inches square. This will ensure that it sits nicely inside the hoop.   

I like to sketch out my design onto the fabric before I hoop it, I use a lightbox, placing the drawing or sketch onto the lightbox and then the fabric sits on top of that – you can then easily see the design through the fabric and use a water soluble or heat erasable pen.  

Next you can hoop your design, using an embroidery hoop will allow you to move the fabric around under the needle with ease.  

You will then need some stabiliser to add to the underneath of your fabric, I use a temporary fabric adhesive to the stabiliser and then stick it onto the back of the fabric.  

Now you will need to get your machine set up.  Use a good quality thread, I like to sketch out with a black thread. Make sure your sewing machine is clean, pop a new needle in, and on all modern sewing machines you will have the ability to lower the feed dogs – this bit is really important as it enables you to move the fabric around easily without the feed dogs wanting to pull the fabric from back to front.  If you don’t know how to lower the feed dogs have a quick look in your sewing machine manual.  

I would recommend using a darning foot, or a clear embroidery foot, so you can see where your needle is and you can see whereabouts you are stitching.  

You are now ready to start free motion embroidery. This will feel a little odd at first as you have total control over where the fabric goes, and you can move it around from side to side and front to back. Why not try on a test piece first just to get to grips with your sewing machine. Practice some doodles.  

Now you are feeling a bit more confident then start to follow your design on your fabric and stitch along the lines. For that sketchy look I like to go over the lines a couple of times.   

A little tip – don’t stitch too slowly. Free motion embroidery works better when you have your foot flat to the floor, and remember you are controlling with your hands how the fabric is moved about.  

When you have finished turn over your hoop, trim any threads, tear away the stabiliser and you have a lovely stitched out design to either make into a card, a tag or perhaps a little zipper pouch.  

Tracy Perks, also known as Rope and Anchor can be found online or on Instagram or Facebook.

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