Newbie looking for help

embroiderJuly 26, 2008


Please help me figure out what I need. (I went to my local embroidery shop, but it didn't seem like the guy knew much about embroidery or what would work for my project, although he discussed sewing machines knowledgeably with another customer.)

I need to embroider knit sweater sleeves. The actual embroidery work size would be about 7"x5" (or 6.5"x4.5"), but a little larger capacity would be fine. So a machine that has 4"x4" capacity will not work? Or can a 4"x4" machine be upgraded simply by adding a larger hoop?

The material is knit, about 1/8" uncompressed single thickness and 1/4" 2 layers. The sleeves are not yet attached to the sweater, but they are otherwise complete.

The sweater sleeve is stretchable. I don't want to stretch it too much on the hoop since that would distort the embroidery work.

Do I need some kind of "backing material" under the fabric to keep it from sagging? Do I need any kind of a "cover material" over it to keep it "flat enough" for embroidery work? If these materials are needed, what are they called, how much do they cost and can they be used more than once?

I have looked at a Singer Futura CE-100 combo machine with 4.5"x6.75" capacity and direct USB hook-up. Seems good to me for the price. (I don't need a sewing machine). Would this machine get it done for me? Is this machine slow? I don't want to spend a lot of coin until I find out if I will be doing more of these.

Based on info I have provided, would there be some other machine that would be a better fit? I looked at a Brother SE270, but the specs say 4"x4" max embroidering area.

If using a hoop with a stretchable knit will require a "backing material", are there different kinds of machines that do not require a backing material?

I would greatly value any help you can provide, even if you don't know the answer to every one of my 1000 questions! :)

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Hi, maybe I can help you. I am not an avid poster here, but I have been machine embroidering for about 8 years. Thought I would post because I, too, was once a newbie, and I so wish I had help when first taking up this hobby. I love it, and have loved it from the first time I sat down at my little Brother PE 150 (moved up to a Brother Innovis 1500D in short order), but it can be most frustrating, too, when doing it on your own.

First of all, have you ever machine embroidered? If your present machine does not have that capability, and you have never done it before, I don't believe that I would purchase a machine just to get these sweaters completed. If you will check in your area, I am sure there is someone that could possibly do the embroidery for you at a cost that is much less than that of a new machine. If you don't know of anyone in your area, let me know.

There is so much to learn when it comes to machine embroidering. To answer some of your questions. Yes, you need to use a backing (stabilizer), but there are many different kinds, and certain ones need to be used with certain fabric. You would need to educate yourself as to what stabilizer you would need for this particular project you are working on. Also you need to learn how to hoop. You mentioned stretching the knit. That is a no no. You most generally have to practice to get good at hooping.

If the machine says 4 x 4 hooping area, that is all it will accommodate. Even if a machine will accommodate several different sizes, you should check to see what sizes come with the machine. Sometimes there is only one size hoop supplied, and you have to purchase the other sizes separately....and they can be rather expensive.

Apparently you have your design already. That could be another problem....where did you get your design and in what format is it. The different machines use different formats. Is your design an actual digitlized design or just (at this point) clipart (picture of something) that you would like to embroidery on the sweater? You can't just take a picture of something and embroider it. It has to be transformed into an embroidery design in the correct format for your machine. There are many software programs to do this, but the ones worth using run $1,000 plus. There are companies that will transform your design at a cost, and depending how many stitches it takes to produce the design, this too can be rather expensive.

If you could provide a little more information as to whether you have ever machine embroidered before, I can maybe be of more help. Bottom line, however, is you can't just purchase an embroidery machine, sit down, and have your project completed in the space of a couple hours. As mentioned, I have been embroidering for several years, and I still am learning something new every, single day!

My one big piece of advise if you do decide on an embroidery machine.....let someone who knows what they are talking about help you select what you need, and that the business provides "lessons" in using your machine. It will save so much time, stress and add to your enjoyment of creating your masterpieces.

One final note: Machine embroidering can be very expensive. With threads, stabilizer, software and the machine itself, you can wrap up several thousand dollars in no time! It is all worth the money if you enjoy doing it!

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 11:27AM
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Thank you for your response. I don't have any embroidery experience at all.

I wonder if a computerized knitting machine could just knit the design directly into the knit? Can "home-type" computerized knitting machines make sweater sleeves as a "tube" or do they have to have a seam? Can they be programmed to knit a design or text? Do they automatically adjust the diameter the sleeve? (smaller at the wrist, bigger that the torso) or do you have to manually adjust the machine several times along the way?

Yes, I think that I can find someone who will help me use their machine to test this out.
The design is quite simple, I think that most simple bundled software will be able to handle it.

Still some questions:
1) Is the CE-100 a slow embroidery machine?
2) So the backing material (stabilizer?) will stay in the final product between the material being embroidered and the "lower loop" of the embroidery stitches? (And is obviously not reusable)
3) So on the top side you usually need to use a "topping" to keep the embroidery stitches from "sinking down" when embroidering a knit fabric?
4) Approximately how much money per each single use do typical "backing" and "topping" materials cost when using a 5"x7" hoop if you buy the materials in bulk?


    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 12:36PM
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Hi again, embroider:
I knit some, but everything I have done is "by hand", and to be honest I have never heard of a computerized knitting machine. (I googled it and found there is such a thing...where have I been? My Mother once owned a Bond knitting machine (we are talking 1980's style), and I can't remember her ever really producing anything on it, so I am not much help with regard as to what a computerized knitting machine might or might not be able to do.

If you are wanting just this one design done...and you have it already digitized, most seasoned embroiderers have software that will convert the format if your design's format is different than what their machine uses. If it is not digitized, you will need someone to digitlze it for you so that it can be sewn onto the sweater. The computer and machine work hand in hand, but unless you have specific software to digitize the artwork, there is no way that the machine can sew it. Not exactly sure what you mean by "that most simple bundled software will be able to handle it"? Could you explain?

For your other questions:
1) On reviewing the specs of the CE-100 (not familiar with the machine itself), it said the stitch count was 500 spm as far as the embroidery. It is a bit slower than some machines, but about the norm for others. My 1500D has max. of 800 spm, but at times I use a lower setting as it makes the design outcome better.

2 and 3) there is a whole lot to learn here. It depends on what type of stabilizer you use whether it stays permanent with the garment. There are wash away stabilizers, heat removal stabilizers, cutaway (this stays put) and on and on and on. If you are embroidering something that is hand knitted, I would use a cutaway stabilizer on the bottom. Now, sometimes you don't hoop the item (the hoop will leave a burn mark on velvet, leather and some other materials), therfore, you have to know what you can hoop and what you can't. If your article is a hand knitted piece, I would use cutaway stabilizer. I would hoop the stabilizer only, spray with temporary adhesive and place the piece on top. Then I would place a piece of washaway stabilizer on top. And you are correct, stabilizer cannot be reused, however, I save all my small pieces from a larger design and use them elsewhere.

4) I really can't tell you the cost of a single piece of stabilizer. That would all depend on how much stabilizer was in the "bulk" package. Many stabilizers come in "rolls". If you are using a 5 x 7 hoop, you would want the heighth to be more than 7 inches. The length in a roll is so many feet. So to estimate how much it would be per sheet, you would take the length....(let's just say 5 feet), then divide 60 (5 ft. x 12 inches) by 8 (5 inches for the width of the hoop plus 1 1/2 inch on either side so the stabilizer gets hooped) and this would give you 7 single sheets of stabilizer. You would then divide the amount you paid for the stabilizer by 7 (the number of sheets you would get from the roll), and that would give you price per sheet.

If you are not planning to embroider any more than just on this one project, and you know of a friend who does have an embroidery machine, I would highly suggest that you let her complete your project. I would absolutely hate for you to try to embroider on this apparent hand made sweater to ruin it should your methods or design not turn out as you had wished. Depending on your design, it is almost impossible to remove a machine embroidery design from a piece without some damage. And we haven't even touched on placing your design correctly within the hoop to be sure the design ends up exactly where you want it.

I hope I have not confused you further, but again I will stress there is quite a bit to learn. I practiced with my little PE 150 for weeks before I felt comfortable stitching on an article of clothing that I had purchased. If you are entertaining the thought that you would like to machine embroider, it is a wonderful hobby (that sometimes turns into a business if you want it to), but before I would go into the expense of it all, I would get the help of a friend or check websites out as there is no way I can tell you all there is to know. As I mentioned before, lessons with a new machine are a great thing!

Good luck, and if you have anything else, I will try to answer the best I can.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 4:16PM
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