Multi-Needle Machine Embroidery: Getting Started

In the second installment of our three-part series (read part 1), learn how to get started with your new multi-needle embroidery machine.
By Kymona Tracey

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and purchase a multi-needle machine. You’re probably asking yourself “What do I do now?” Read on for tips for setup, design considerations, and more to get you on your way.

Setting Up

Some companies set up training for their customers to get them started. If you have that service, excellent! If not, the following steps should help you get ready to stitch out your first design, no matter what machine you’re using.

The first thing you have to do is decide where the machine will go. Multi-needle machines are hefty; if they do not come with a stand on wheels, be aware that once you find a spot, it won’t be moving much. Once you open the box or crate, make sure all the parts that come with your machine are there. Double-check the manual. You should have a machine, hoops, instructions, a power cord, a basic kit with tools, and maybe a welcome kit with some sample supplies. Using the owner’s manual, set up your machine thread stand and pins. If your device has other parts that need to be attached, follow those instructions.

Threading the machine may look daunting at first, but it will be a breeze once you know what to do. Each device is different, so follow the directions that come with your machine.

If your machine comes pre-threaded, you can attach the existing thread end to the new thread spool by tying a knot. Taking your time, pull the thread from the needle until you see the new thread come through the needle’s eye. Cut the excess. Now your first needle is rethreaded. Repeat for the rest of your needles. Note that this is just a tip to get you started. Learning how to thread your machine correctly is essential. Incorrect threading will cause tension issues.

Load your bobbin into the bobbin case. For multi-needle machines, purchase pre-filled bobbins. It is much easier and saves a lot of time.

Most multi-needle machines come with a standard bobbin case: style L with a pigtail. Again, check your user manual to make sure you’re loading your bobbin correctly, but it usually works like this:

  • Hold your bobbin in one hand and pull on the thread with the other hand. The bobbin should turn clockwise.
  • Insert the bobbin into the case the same way you are holding it.
  • Pass the thread through the metal slit, then underneath the tension arm.
  • The pigtail should be facing up; rotate the tail around the pigtail twice in a clockwise direction.
  • To check that you loaded the bobbin correctly, pull on the thread; if the bobbin turns clockwise, it’s correct. If not, take the bobbin out and start again.
  • Insert the bobbin case inside the bobbin housing unit.

Designs

Designs for machine embroidery are an essential part of the embroidery process. Without a well-created design, your embroidery could end up a mess. You have two options when it comes to embroidery designs. You can purchase ready-made designs for machine embroidery, or you can digitize your images. Some multi-needle machines come with basic digitizing software that you can use to get started. Digitizing is the process of converting a vector graphic design file into stitches. There is a learning curve, but once achieved, having software skills will open up many design options.

Make It Easy with Multi-Needle

Some items are much easier to embroider on a multi-needle machine.

Structured caps are perfect embroidery projects for multi-needle machines.

Structured Caps: Embroidering on a structured cap is one of the many reasons why people buy a multi-needle machine. The machine’s ability to embroider on the front and sides of the hat is a benefit. The cap attachments that either come with your device or are purchased separately are designed to make cap embroidery easy.

Belts/Sashes: Multi-needle machines have a special hoop called a belt hoop. The hoop includes high-pressure clamps that allow you to embroider thick belts or sashes without having to float it over the hoop and run the risk of the item shifting.

Duffel Bags: You can embroider on a large duffel bag without removing any stitches. Your machine will have enough clearance underneath the machine head for the bag to move around and not get caught in the embroidery area.

Embroider

Decide what you want to embroider first. If your machine comes with a cap driver and rings, you have options. You can embroider on a flat item or a cap. Each type of embroidery comes with different parts that are needed to hold each item.

Embroidery machine supplies

Flat embroidery refers to items that lay flat and are not dimensional. These items include t-shirts, jackets, bags, and more. The parts needed to hoop flats are different size hoops to match your item size and the bracket to hold the hoops on the machine.

Cap embroidery refers to caps, which is largely self-explanatory. You will need the cap driver, ring, and a cap-hooping station.

Stabilizer is essential for all machine embroidery. It supports the fabric during the stitching process to prevent puckering or stretching. The proper stabilizer depends on the type of fabric you will use. Here’s a brief primer to use as a guide.

Cutaway Stabilizer

  • Provides permanent support.
  • Provides the most stability.
  • Comes in heavy, medium, lightweight, and heat-set fusible.
  • Cutaway the excess from the design perimeter after stitching.

Tear-Away Stabilizer

  • Provides light support.
  • Comes in heavy, medium, lightweight, and adhesive.
  • Use on tightly woven fabrics.
  • Tear away the excess from the design perimeter after stitching.

Water-Soluble Stabilizer

  • This fabric-like stabilizer is used behind designs and removed after stitching.
  • Use on top of napped fabric to prevent stitches from sinking into the texture.
  • Tear it away or use water to remove it after stitching.

Ready, Set, Stitch!

Each machine is different, but here are the basic steps you will use to embroider on your multi-needle machine.

  1. Unlock the machine if it has a lock function.
  2. Choose the design from the USB stick.
  3. Select the desired hoop.
  4. Choose the colors from the design run sheet.
  5. Set the speed.
  6. Insert hoop onto the machine.
  7. Make sure the design is where you want it to be on the screen using the arrow keys.
  8. Lock the machine.
  9. Trace out the design to make sure the needle will not hit the hoop.
  10. Press “Start.”

This series premiered in Creative Machine Embroidery. Watch for part 3, coming to the blog soon. And subscribe to CME now so you don’t miss any of our great stuff!

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