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Outline Alignment Stitches

Despite the size of the hoops we have, we all dream of owning bigger ones!! My favourite hoop was the 200 mm x 200 mm (8″ x 8″) hoop. Then to my delight, Husqvarna released a 260mm x260mm (10.2″ x 10.2″) hoop which became my go to hoop for larger embroideries. Little by little the hoops available for our machines are getting larger. One day I look forward to the ultimate 14-16″ square hoop being a reality for non commercial machines, without the need to turn it half way through. In the meantime, whatever hoops we own, we can still create mega embroideries with multiple hoopings. With a little practise we can achieve this. My designs feature Outline Alignment stitches. Find how to embroider larger embroideries with several hoopings in this blog.

The best way to gain confidence in positioning embroidery designs alongside each other is to start by accurately positioning a few small designs. As your confidence builds you will move on to larger combinations. I encourage you to start practising. Remember that the bigger the designs the more accurate we have to be. A little misalignment will not be so obvious in a design stitched out in your 4″ x 4″ or 5″ x 7″ hoop, so this is where to begin.

Outline Alignment Stitches (OAS)

Consider these small designs from the Japanese Blossom collection. How would you combine them? Below is my combination showing the stitches in my software. Each design is surrounded by a red outline of stitches called Outline Alignment Stitches or OAS.

OAS are unique to Graceful Embroidery providing you with guidelines to position your designs accurately. Some top of the line machines have the facility to help you position your designs accurately. Even though my machines have this facility I don’t always use it. Why you ask? It is good to develop these skills so you become more proficient. This is how the 3 designs will look when finished. Where have the OAS gone?

Even though you could probably stitch this embroidery out in one hooping, you need to learn how to position each one accurately. Eventually you will be combining and positioning embroideries that seemed impossible in the past, because of the limitation of the hoops that you own. There is great satisfaction in being successful! It encourages me to attempt even greater machine embroidery challenges. As well as showing you how the Outline alignment stitches work, I would also like to share a few tips to help you.

The process of using Outline Alignment stitches

  1. Firstly never hurry the positioning of designs. You need to be relaxed and not under any pressure at all.
  2. If you have not used my Outline alignment stitches before and do not as yet have much experience with design positioning, select 2 or 3 simple designs from Graceful Embroidery that do not take very long to stitch out. (OAS was developed in 2014 so all my designs which were released before then do not have them) I suggest this because you are learning to position designs and waiting for large embroideries to stitch out with multiple colour changes will slow down your learning process. Another suggestion is that you purchase my Graceful Tutorials 1 – 3 which also use the Japanese Blossom designs. Graceful Embroidery Tutorials.
  3. Clear the decks, and get all the materials you need at hand. A new needle and a freshly wound bobbin are always the best way to start a challenging project.
  4. Study the designs on the screen of your machine or better still in your embroidery software, so you are familiar with how each design is positioned in relation to the others.
  5. My Outline alignment stitches (OAS) have been designed to show you the shape of the whole embroidery design. The gap between the actual design and the red OAS is usually 1.75 mm. This is stitched out on just your hooped stabiliser. The fabric is then added and attached with temporary adhesive spray or/and pins and/or hand basting stitches. Be careful to keep pins well away from the stitch out area of your hoop. The second set of OAS hold the fabric in place. When you apply the second design alongside an existing one you need to take time to check its position.
  6. If you feel it necessary print out the designs so you can cut out real size templates as guides.
  7. Triple check everything and remove the hoop from your machine to do this. When you are sat in front of your machine looking across to the needle you cannot see if your positioning is correct. You need to be looking at it directly from above. Trust me I have found this out the hard way. So at very least stand up and get as close as possible, but better still remove the hoop so you can check above and underneath.
  8. There are several ways to check your positioning. I like to stick a pin through the top of the fabric and see where it protrudes underneath. In this way I can check that my OAS are in the same place. I also like to move my machine through the sequence of the next design, stopping to check where the needle will pierce the fabric at important and relevant places. If you have other methods please include them in the comments below. We are all learning from each other.
  9. Start the embroidery stitch out very slowly. You may want to stop and check things before it progresses beyond the first few stitches.
  10.  If things go wrong, learn from your mistakes. You are not alone. We have all had terrible disasters, when we felt it necessary to turn off the machine, leave the room and go shopping, so it is important to eventually consider where you went wrong and how you can avoid the same mistake happening again.

More positioning exercises

Now if you want a larger challenge check out Vintage Grace 2. Featuring various lilies, ivy leaves and blossoms, along with lace borders and the main elements can be combined into this panel.

Study the first five designs in this set. Ideally they should fit together to make the panel but that is quite a challenge and you may not feel ready to attempt that.

Here is a little exercise for those more experienced with design positioning. Combine GFE-VNG-2-1 with GFE-VNG-2-4.

OR combine GFE-VNG-2-4 with GFE-VNG-2-3. There is a little overlap for this one.

These designs were combined in my embroidery software keeping the group selectors so you can see how one design is slightly higher than the other. I decided against trying to include the fifth design which comes from the centre of the panel. Take up this challenge to see what you can combine successfully. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Happy and “accurate” hoopings from Hazel

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