Breaking Down Machine Embroidery: Designs, Patterns, & Applications

Breaking Down Machine Embroidery: Designs, Patterns, & Applications

For those who are embroidery professionals, machine embroidery designs have made their work easy and efficient. In fact, technology plays a significant role in the vast machine embroidery designs available.

From your computer, you can digitally design your embroidery pattern and within minutes stitch it on a piece of fabric. However, embroidery wasn't always this simple, but very time-consuming.

Embroidery Design On Pants

Keep reading to understand how far embroidery has come and how it changed over time.

History Of Embroidery

Embroidery has been around since 30,000 BC, but its applications have evolved over time. Instead of hand stitching clothes for basic survival, humans now use embroidery for mostly decorative purposes.

The embroidery we are familiar with today was widely popular in Europe during the 17th century. It was then when embroidery was used in either the professional or leisure level. The church became widely known for using embroidery to produce beautifully decorated bibles.

The first sewing machine we are familiar with today was patented in 1846 by Isaac Singer. However, about 20 years before then, a Frenchman named Josué Heilmann invented the hand embroidery machine.

Embroidery Victorian Altar Frontal Berkshire

Embroidery machines differ from sewing machines, so the modern embroidery machine was invented around the 1900’s by Singer. They have come a long way because there are now digitized embroidery machines that make the entire embroidery process smooth and easy.

Below is a more detailed look on modern embroidery techniques and applications. This will cover both hand stitching and machine embroidery.

Machine Vs. Hand

When it comes to embroidery you have two options, you can either utilize a machine or go the hand route. Each has its perks, so it's essential to know if you are embroidering for personal use or commercial use.

Machine Embroidery Pros

If you've been looking for a quality commercial embroidery machine, take a look at the main advantages of the machine.

Making Embroidery With Machine

Saves You Time

Machine Embroidery dramatically reduces the amount of time you would spend embroidering by hand. The efficiency this device provides comes in handy when demand is high, and you want to keep costs low.

For those who embroider for the commercial level, an embroidery machine is a prime device. You have the ability to produce more finished pieces in a short time frame, which gives you the freedom to individually go through every piece to ensure there are no mistakes.

You can also easily experiment with new patterns without having it take up a lot of your time.

Uniform Stitching

A quick sign to know if your clothing is machine embroidered is by noticing the stitching details. Machine embroidery produces systematically carried threads that all follow a uniform stitching pattern.

Stitching Military Uniform

If there is a consistent, mechanical path of carried threads without a break, then your clothing was machine embroidered. This causes for fewer mistakes, and there is a less likely chance of fraying threads that make clothes look cheap.

Unlimited Decorative Options

As technology progresses, so does machine embroidery. Nowadays, you can program an embroidery design to your machine. To do this, you have to send your design to a digitizing company that will upload the pattern to be read by your embroidery machine.

Some embroidery machines come with preloaded designs and patterns that eliminate the difficult part of embroidery. With hand stitching, you don't have this option.

Machine Embroidery Cons

As such, there are not many cons for machine embroidery.


Embroidery machines vary in price, but you'll have to drop a couple of hundred dollars if you want a professional-grade machine. There are cheaper ones available, but they can't complete as many designs. For the embroidery beginner, a cheaper model will function just fine.

Reaching For Money In Wallet

Hand Stitching Pros

A good balance of machine stitches and hand stitches is the best way to make your crafts and garments hold strong and look great. Take a look at some of the main advantages of hand stitching.

Individual & Unique Results

Each textile medium that is embroidered by using your hand is unique, and can’t be exactly reproduced. For commercial purposes, hand stitching is not preferred because you can’t produce clothes in mass quantity.

For those designing clothes for high fashion brands, hand stitching is more popular than you think. If you want to learn the basics of embroidery, it’s recommended to learn hand stitching before moving over to machine embroidery.

Can Use Any Thread Size

Machine embroidery limits the thread size you can use for your designs. When you hand stitch, you have the freedom to use whatever thread size that can fit in your needle. This means you have complete control over the aesthetics of your piece.

Colorful Embroidery Thread

Hand Stitching Cons

Before spending your money, you should watchfully consider the cons of such something.

Takes Too Much Time & Money

Hand embroidery consumes both time and money, so you can’t complete intricate designs in a timely fashion. For commercial purposes, hand stitching isn’t recommended. This is because it takes more than two hours to finish a two square inch of embroidery.

An embroidery machine will take minutes to complete complicated designs, while hand embroidery takes hours. If embroidering is your hobby, then you can give hand stitching a try.

Room For Errors

Private errors are common in hand embroidery. If an embroidery technician doesn't follow the set sample design, it results in errors that form in the long run of the piece. This causes whole pieces to be thrown away, which wastes time and money.

Embroidery Design Made With Hand

The person hand embroidering could also have dirty hands that can soil the fabric. This delays the production process because you need to take time out to individually clean each piece.

Different Embroidery Patterns & Designs

There are hundreds of machine embroidery designs available, but each requires different skill levels. The ones listed below are common amongst embroidery machines.

Classic Designs

Classic Design are great for sewing, but you must have an embroidery machine to use this design.

Tatami Stitch

A characteristic of the classic embroidery design is that it contains tatami fill stitches, which is the commonly found amongst machine embroidery. You can choose differently themed designs such as floral, animals, children, and holiday.

3D Tatami Fill

The tatami fill stitch includes lines of straight stitches that work in close cooperation to cover the surface of the piece fully. You can vary the stitch density to suit the effect you want to leave on the fabric. These stitches alternate line to line, so they give off a woven aesthetic.

Satin Stitch

Satin stitches is another classic type of stitch popular amongst embroidery designs. These stitches are typically seen in numbers and letters. For those who love to monogram their clothes, you'll frequently be using the satin stitch.

Other Popular Stitches

  • Backstitches
  • Stem stitches
  • Special satin stitches
  • Cross-stitches
  • Candlewicking stitches
  • Decorative stitches

Your embroidery machine is designed with numerous other stitches, so you can complete any design you want.

Applique Embroidery Design

Applique is a technique specific to machine embroidery that creates decorative stitches, zigzag stitches, or satin stitches trailing down to the background of the fabric.

Bird Applique Design

If you are new to embroidery machines, don't fret. To locate an applique design, all you have to do is look for the word "applique" on the design name.

It's important to use the thread chart as a reference to find out if a placement stitch and cover stitch are being used. For those using a pre-cut applique design, the pattern pieces will be included in the thread chart as well.

You have the option to choose between various applique designs; you just have to make sure they accommodate your embroidery machine's format.

Digitizing & Editing Embroidery Designs

Before you start digitizing embroidery designs, you need to comprehend the nature of embroidery itself. You need to familiarize yourself with the direction of travel, stitch placement, and how different types of stitches produce different designs.

Editing Embroidery In Software

After you understand how machine embroidery works, you can start digitizing your designs.

Properly Using Software

There is software that allows you to create and correct embroidery designs. You have to apply all your embroidery knowledge to use the software properly. You can intimately understand the software, but not understanding embroidery will severely limit your designing capabilities. You should know :

  • How to create shapes
  • Stitch type
  • Stitch density
  • Beginning & end points
  • Design sequence
  • Automatic settings such as automatic underlay or pull compensation

In regards to using the software, you should learn how to import art files so you can digitize the designs. You should also know how to setup your workspace with the correct measurements, so when the design transfers it stays intact.

Embroidery Design On PC

Depending on the software you use, you may need to adjust the default stitch settings to accommodate your design. In fact, the more you know about how to use the software, the more designs you can create. Here are some software basics :

  • Create Designs
  • Edit Designs
  • Sequence elements
  • Export Files in your machine’s format

Which Software Can You Use

There’s a lot of digitizing embroidery software to choose from, but you should make sure the one you buy is compatible with your embroidery machine.

Using Wilcom Software On MAC

Wilcom is a popular software that is compatible with brands like Brother, Viking, Husqvarna, Singer, Bernina, Pfaff, and Janome. These embroidery machine brands are some of the most common devices used in both the personal and commercial environment.


Machine embroidery is the convenient alternative to hand stitching each design, which can take hours to complete. Hopefully, the reading gave you a thorough breakdown of machine embroidery, so you can buy the embroidery machine that best suits your needs.

Leave a Comment: