There’s an old saying in sewing circles, “ready-to-wear usually isn’t!” Too long, too short, too tight, too loose, or simply too boring! From that entire list, banishing boring is my favorite fix for ready to wear, and my Brother embroidery machine makes it easy and fun!
Many Brother machine models shine brightly with embroidery capability. In celebration of National Embroidery Month, I’m sharing ten of my favorite tips to help you embellish ready-to-wear with machine embroidery. At the end of the tips, you’ll find a link to a coordinating ten-minute video where I demonstrate planning, prepping, and precise hooping for perfect placement on ready-made garments.
Ten Tips for embellishing ready-to-wear with your Brother machine:
1. Plan your project before you stitch, matching the size and density of selected designs to compliment the weight of your garment. While stabilizer can help support the stitches, a heavy design on a lightweight fabric will prove to be a poor combination.
2. “It’s best to test!” If a design is new to me or I am unsure how compatible it will be with my project I make sure to stitch a test piece. Use fabric that is identical to your project piece or a close match.
3. Denim and most any embroidery design produces a winning combination. If you’re new to embroidery denim is great for starter projects. You can usually get great results on denim needing only a layer or two of tear-away, or a layer of wash-away stabilizer on the wrong side. Think denim shirts, skirts, and even jean jacket backs. Steer clear of bulky seams and consider adding trim to compliment the embroidery design.
4. If possible, pre-wash garments before embroidering. This takes care of any shrinkage issues and eliminates excess dye.
5. Stock up on a variety of stabilizers. Proper stabilizing is a popular topic and a subject that could cover a month’s worth of blog posts. Here are some general rules to keep in mind: Knits benefit from a stabilizer that’s bonded to the fabric. SA5931, Brother medium weight fusible cut-away stabilizer is a favorite of mine. Tear-away or wash-away generally works well for stable woven fabrics. Avoid hooping stiff tear-away with your garment. Use a medium weight stabilizer, such as SA5810, or consider “floating” the tear-away under the hoop. Any fabric with nap or texture requires a topper to keep stitches from sinking in and getting lost in the fabric. SA520 is a water-soluble, light-weight, removable topper for this purpose.
6. Use the smallest hoop possible, whenever possible, and you will have better stitch quality with your designs. In other words, if your design is sized for a 4” X 4” hoop, using a 5” X 7” hoop will work, but the smaller hoop requires less stabilizer and will hold your fabric more snugly around the design.
7. Don’t let lined garments stop you from adding embroidery. Carefully open up lining as much as needed to establish a generous flat area, and then either hoop traditionally or use wash-away or tear-away sticky stabilizer to temporarily hold fabric in place. Clip or tape excess fabric to keep it out of the way while stitching.
8. If you have a piece that is impossible to hoop, consider embroidering on a sheer or complimentary fabric, and then trim, treat edges with seam sealant if necessary, and use hand or machine stitches to apply to your piece as an appliqué. If sewing is not possible select a suitable fabric glue and glue piece in place.
9. Design templates make embroidery easier and highly accurate. There are many different Brother software programs that give you the opportunity to print templates. Explore your options and consider adding software to expand your embroidery capabilities.
10. Make sure your measuring tool is accurate and avoid switching tools unless you are sure each tool is calibrated to measure exactly the same. This last tip will work for all of your sewing projects but it’s particularly important if you are stitching a combination of designs that requires careful measuring and multiple hoopings.
The garments shown in the photo at the top of the page were featured on the Brother sponsored It’s Sew Easy TV show. Episode 1407-3 is packed with some of my best tips for planning, prepping, and precisely hooping ready-to wear. Novice and experienced embroiderers alike are sure to learn new tricks. I hope you’ll be inspired to banish boring ready-mades with your Brother Embroidery machine! Watch the video below from my YouTube channel. Enjoy!