When a machine embroidery goes wrong!!

Please do not believe that I get good results every time I embroider on my machine. On reflection there are some days when it would have really been better to do something else! I honestly believe that a certain amount of calm is required for successful machine embroidery. No project should be hurried or began without a little planning. It is much easier to be creative in an organized and clear space. I cannot work amongst clutter. However with the best intentions in the world sometimes things go wrong for no apparent reason.

The other day I began this extra large embroidery in my 360mm x 200mm hoop. Stitch and tear stabilizer was placed in the hoop, and another layer added within the area of the hoop. I often use 2 or 3 strips for this which I save from the trimmings of previous embroidery hoopings. The fabric is attached to these layers with temporary adhesive. When embroidering in this hoop with silk dupion you want everything to go perfectly as the fabric is not cheap! I was embroidering this design from the fourth set of the Georgiana heirloom collection.

There are two schools of thought as to whether you should leave your embroidery machine running when you leave the room or whether you should always be watching it. I do the former frequently as nothing would ever get done if I watched every stitch out. Imagine my frustration when I returned to find that I had a terrible birds nest which had pulled the fabric and appeared to have moved the hoop out of alignment on the embroidery unit. Even worse it had continued to embroider for a while, hence the flower above the damaged area has been stitched in the wrong place. Well that was a first! Usually the machine stops so more damage cannot be done.

When I have a disaster like this I am very reluctant to give in and start again believing that there is always something to learn from every mishap. Eventually I managed to free the hoop and fabric from under the needle. I really should invest in one of those special kits for exactly this problem but I have not found them for sale in the UK. Upon examination and some probing with my stitch ripper on the back to free some stitches, I decided that this time it was past saving.

Give yourself the opportunity to learn from your machine embroidery mistakes.

As this was a stitch out for some photography I decided to go ahead with the embroidery as the upper section would be good. Before starting though I did several important things and I advise you to do the same in similar circumstances. Check your hooping to see if the stabilizer and fabric have moved. Adjust and tighten the hoop as necessary. In some cases it will be necessary to float another piece of stabilizer under the damaged area. I released the embroidery unit from the machine and pushed it back in place, turned off the machine to calibrate it. Then I cleaned out the bobbin area. Lastly after reloading the design I re-threaded the top thread too. When I slipped the hoop back in place I checked to see if it everything was in the right place! I moved the design along from the area of the cross where the bunched stitches were and finished the design off.

Please do not despair when all goes wrong. We have all been there! Even if you do not have time straight away to unpick things do make an attempt at some point. There is quite a skill to unpicking embroidery stitches, and I advise you to try as the practice will pay off one day and you will know the wonderful satisfaction of saving a project. I believe that there are even little gadgets to do this for you but they can be expensive. Go slowly and a magnifying light will aid your progress. Always work from the back of the embroidery where the stabilizer offers some protection for the fabric. Place something under the fabric to support the area of the hoop where you are working. Several layers of batting will form a small cushion which is perfect for this. I use a stitch ripper and when some stitches have been cut I turn the work over to pull the threads away with my tweezers or fingers.

If you have some tricks and tips please share as we all need help for when those disasters strike.

Happy hoopings from Hazel

About gracefulembroidery

I digitise machine embroidery designs specializing in Bridal, heirloom and Celtic work.
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1 Response to When a machine embroidery goes wrong!!

  1. Georgia Connor says:

    When I get a bird’s nest on the back of my embroidery project and can’t get it free from the machine, I use a long, thin, sharp kitchen knife and gently “saw” at the knot, while slightly lifting the project until it comes free.

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