Machine embroidery on a quilt - Top Tips on getting it right!

Machine embroidery is a fantastic way to add embellishments to a quilted project. It can be a full embroidered design, or as a ‘free motion quilted’ design. Either type of embroidery can add a great deal of personality to a piece of home decor and adds endless opportunities for personalisation with text. 


Text is a fabulous way to make your projects unique. Use it to define who the project is for, or to express what it is that makes you happy. What a great way to label your quilts too.


Pick a design that show your favourite characters. Make sure that you check the angel policy on embroidery designs if you intend to sell the finished items. Many designs are only to be used for friends and family only, so be sure to check.

Use the embroidery machine as a method of Quilting!

There are 2 ways to machine embroider onto a quilt – either as a piece of fabric before it is pieced, or onto a finished quilt.
There is no reason why you shouldn’t embroider onto a piece of fabric before you add it to your quilt. If you decide you don’t like it, you can discard the piece of fabric (or save for another project) and try again! Simply ensure that you start with a larger piece of fabric than you require. You can then trim the finished design square once you have completed your embroidery.
When working with fabric, you must stabilise it! Machine embroidery designs need to be stabilised to avoid the design puckering, or wrinkling. This happens because the size and direction of the stitching can stretch the fabric as it is stitched. To avoid this, we add further structure to our fabric with a stabiliser.  Pick a stabiliser that is appropriate to your project. If it is a finished quilt, the wadding and backing behave as a stabilizer and so no extra layers are needed. If I am embroidering blocks, then I prefer to use a tear away or wash away stabilizer because I don’t want to add any extra bulk to the finished quilt.
If you are embellishing a completed quilt, make sure that you either baste the layers together, or stitch in the ditch around the blocks before you embroider. This can prevent the quilt layers slipping as you add more quilted designs. Below is a quilt in the hoop being embroidered. Note the binding has not yet been added as this will be done once the quilt is complete.

Pick a design sized appropriate to your block. If you quilt too close to the edge of your block, then any wobbles are more obvious. I prefer to aim for a design ½ to 1 inch smaller than my block for best results.
If you are working on a quilt top that you have already put together and have added wadding, you may be concerned about seeing the back of the design on the finished quilt. If this is the case, I add a fine piece of muslin as a backing to prevent the wadding from getting caught in the machine, and then add a new backing once the embroidered quilt is completed. Some extra machine quilting to attach the layers together will hide the ‘workings’ of your embroidery.
Once you start introducing quilted embellishments into your projects, your imagination is the only limit!

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