In my opinion, machine embroidery is one of the most amazing advances in technology today!! It combines basic hand embroidery and sewing machine stitch options with speed.
One of the only things I donít like about hand embroidery is the time it takes to complete a project. I have spent almost a year on one cross stitch pattern, alone! (And not just once!) Yes, the feeling of accomplishment was great after I was finished, but it seemed to take FOREVER to finish it!! But now, with machine embroidery, I can finish a project in a snap!
Thatís it!! The machine does the rest! All you have to do is change the thread color or cut your thread when the machine stops and tells you to. Remove your hoop, clip your extra threads and youíre done! Project in hand. (Although I do recommend monitoring your machine for possible needle and thread breakage while it is sewing.)
There are hundreds of thousands, if not bazillions of different embroidery designs out there for machine embroidery. Not to mention all the different programmed fills and specialty stitches available to add to your machine. When you add to that, all the different software programs available, the possibilities become mind boggling!
You can add some design software to your computer, so you can view and organize your designs. With some types of design software you can take any design file and change it to the embroidery file format required by your machine. Sometimes the software will also allow you to digitize your own designs. If your design software does not, there are quite a few different types of digitizing software available, too.
All the software choices to increase the capabilities of your embroidery machine are incredible. You can buy software to make your machine do almost anything!! I have a program that will allow me to create cross stitch designs for my machine to sew out. Itís great! I can combine my love of cross stitch with the speed of machine embroidery. Talk about instant gratification!!
The available software possibilities are based on your machine type. Some brands offer more than others. There is also other software available, like digitizing software, that is compatible with any machine. (You work with your design on your computer, then save it in the format your machine requires. The software, itself, doesnít have anything to do with your specific machine.)
Machine embroidery has made it possible for more people to enjoy the art of embroidery. For those who donít want to take the time to do hand embroidery, using a machine is perfect. Itís fast, has even stitches, and has a lot of the same thread colors available as embroidery floss. Itís great for people who have had to give up hand embroidery because of arthritis, too. The only hand work involved is setting up and hooping your fabric and cutting your extra threads at the end. You donít even need to know how to sew!
Downfalls to the home embroidery machines
I have only found two downfalls with home embroidery machines. The first is the expense. The good machines are very expensive. There are other models that arenít quite so expensive, like a small Brother machine. The problem with the less expensive models is you are a limited in design size. A small Brother machine will only allow you to stitch out designs 4Ē X 4Ē or smaller. The more expensive machines offer multiple hoop size options. But most of the accessories for the machines arenít very cheap, either. Once you start adding up extra hoops, presser feet, stabilizers, threads, software and all the other gadgets you can buy, the costs can get really high.
The second is tricky design placement. You can only embroider on what you can hoop. Because of the design of the home embroidery machine, you have to completely clear the fabric from the back of your hoop. If you wanted to embroider something down a sleeve or a pant leg, you would either have to scrunch up all the excess out of the way of your machine, or unpick the seam so it could lay flat. Embroidering on bags presents a challenge for this same reason. Most bags you can only go down a short amount before the scrunched out of the way part gets into the way of the stitching. To embroider something on the center of a smaller bag, you have to unpick the seam. This can be a pain.
Commercial Machines vs Home Machines
A commercial machine allows for much easier placement. Its design is much different from a home machine. It has one small and narrow area that it uses to stitch against. That means you can hoop a sleeve or pant leg, slide it on the stitching surface and stitch away. All the excess fabric just hangs down, completely out of the way. But commercial machines have downfalls of their own. First, they are HUGE! They are also very heavy and need a very solid floor to support their weight. Most of the designs made for home embroidery machines will not work in them. The designs used have to be digitized specifically for them. They are very noisy, and really expensive. Their prices start where top-of-the-line home machine models end.
You can actually set some embroidery machines to work with Aida cloth? If your machine has cross stitch capabilities, you can calibrate it so that you can machine embroider cross stitch! Cross stitching by hand may soon be a thing of the past!