Precision embroidery design placement: Use Templates for basic placement.
This is Part 1 of Embroidery placement. Part 2 will give you a short cut and make perfect placement so much easier. Stay tuned for Part 2 this week – you will be surprised at how easy it is with this “new” simple and effective method. Don’t worry, you will love it!!!
Another blog on hooping skills? Yes, but this one will tell you how to perfectly place your embroidery design on any item and hoop it all properly. Templates are the way to go. If you are not using templates, stickers and/or air erase markers to place your embroidery designs, then you are missing out on some basic embroidery skills. Properly placed embroidery designs will make all the difference.
Although hooping may be getting boring by now, this is exciting to learn, and will save you a lot of time and effort and money on ruined items. This is the best way to get our designs placed properly. If you are not using templates, you should.
Not using Templates? Why not?
Just about every embroidery program out there has a way that you can print your design out. I am willing to bet that most people don’t bother to do this. For some designs and some garments, it is a very important step. Anytime I am going to be embroidering a shirt, or a garment of some type, I will print out the embroidery design at a scale of 1:1 so it is the actual size of the embroidery. I will then cut it out and “try it out” on the shirt that I am working on.
You can make some real discoveries when you try out the embroidery before actually stitching. How on earth can you figure out placement if you don’t have it to move around?
Hold the template in different places to find the right place for your design
Sleeve placement is always tricky!
Some of the discoveries are huge – placement is only one of them – you can change the entire look just by moving the design around, or combining it with other designs. Have you ever finished a beautiful embroidery design on a shirt, only to put the shirt on and the embroidery is too high? Or not centered? Or tilted to one side, even slightly? Or there is too much space around it and it doesn’t look right?. Yes, we have all done it. You either wear it because it is OK, or you do it all over again. I won’t wear or gift any embroidery that is just OK. Everything I produce is AWESOME, and you should do the same. It is ALWAYS better to do some prep work before stitching, then to have to stitch all over again. After all, everyone can do OK embroidery, right? I can hand my machine over to my daughter and she can stitch something out and it would be fine. Just fine. But I can place that design on a shirt collar, on jeans, shoes, etc. and precision place that design for perfect results!. You should always do this too!
Here are the basic steps for placement of any embroidery design, on any fabric or garment that you need to precision place it:
- Print out the design in 1:1 scale.
- Cut out the design – you don’t have to make it perfect, just enough that you can see the shape of the design.
- When you print the design, you should see an X or crosshairs or a circle in the middle of the design – keep an eye on that, you will need it.
- Pin or tape the template to your garment.
- Put the garment on, or have someone help you here. If you are making a shirt for your husband, have him try it on (see pictures above – I used Don as my model). You will be surprised to find out that your initial placement is probably wrong. Shirts look different on different people and you will have to adjust the placement so it looks good.
- Look at how the embroidery sits and looks where you placed it. Move it around and try different things to make it look how you want. Then look again, make sure you have it right.
- Take an air dissolvable marker, or chalk – something that you can use and remove later – or even placement stickers – and mark the center of your design on the fabric, or securely tape the template in place.
- ***Hoop the correct stabilizer AND garment, and get the marked center of the design in the center of the hoop.
- Embroider and enjoy.
I need to add on to number 8 above, because you should not make a guess at the center of your design vs. the center of your hoop.
***Using guides to line up material and embroidery (point 8 continued)
Once you have followed the steps above, and are ready to hoop, there are a few more things to do. You need to be able to clearly see the center of the design that you marked, and you need to match that up with the center of the hoop for perfect placement. There are a few ways of doing this: using placement stickers, using the template that you have printed, and marking the center of the design and drawing guidelines with air erase markers.
Let’s start with placement stickers.
If you don’t have any placement stickers, you can easily make these stickers yourself! All you have to do is buy some sticker dots, and then with a ruler and a pen, you can draw out the vertical and horizontal lines on the sticker. This doesn’t take much time – you don’t have to worry about it being straight up and down – you can rotate the sticker when you are putting it on your garment. If you don’t want to use stickers, you can use the template to line everything up. Just make sure the template doesn’t move when you are getting it ready to hoop! I like to add my stickers to the garment, and remove the template because I think it is easier to keep the sticker in place. Take your garment off and take it to the hooping station. Refer back to the template for stabilizer information, and make sure you use the correct stabilizer for the material that you are using. Once you have eyeballed the placement, and hoop (but not too tight) it is time for those plastic grid things that came with your hoops. When you look at them, you will notice the grid of course, and probably some small cut outs here and there that fit in perfectly with the hoop, and also and most importantly the exact center of the sewing field of the hoop. It usually has a small hole in it too, and I find this handy! All you have to do is line up your placement sticker or lines drawn with your air erase pen, line it up with the plastic grid, make sure everything matches and then tighten up the hoop. I leave the plastic grid on the hoop after I have it tightened and check it again – just to be sure that nothing has moved. I am pretty careful when tightening the hoop, so it doesn’t move much. If it is off a bit, then don’t pull on the fabric, loosen the hoop a bit and reposition.
I make my own placement stickers to mark the centre and match up the lines
Template with no stickers: This method may be a bit tricky if you don’t do it right, but it is easy to line up the grid. Securely tape the template to the garment in the position that you want, and carefully remove the garment and lay it down on your work table or hooping station. Same procedure as above, hoop the item with the template on it, eyeball the center of the design and the center of the hoop and then add your plastic hoop grid to your hoop. Line up the lines on the template with the lines of the hoop grid, and make sure the the center of the hoop grid is exactly on the center of the template and all of your lines match up. Remove the grid and the template and you are ready to go. Again, when you are adjusting to make sure you are all lined up, be sure not to pull the fabric and stretch it. As long as you template stays in place, it is easy to line up the lines with the hoop grid!
Using Air Erase Markers.
Follow the instructions above with the template placement. You can use air erase markers or fabric chalk to mark the center of your design from the template, but also remember to mark the horizontal and vertical lines on your fabric with dots or marks. If you look at the picture above, the horizontal and vertical lines are in red on the template. Before you hoop your garment, lay it out on your hooping station flat and take a ruler and your air erase marker or fabric chalk and connect the dots to form a cross on your fabric. If you find it difficult to see the dots, you can still use a sticker to mark the lines.
Once you have drawn out the lines long enough to extend to your hoop, then you can start hooping. Be careful not to pull the fabric to get the right placement – you do not want to stretch the material (that’s bad and will ruin your embroidery when you un-hoop) and take your time. Patience. Do it again a few times – you will get this. Once you can see that the lines you made on the garment are perfectly lined up with the marks on the hoop, you are ready to go. Pop that hoop down and tighten it up. Check it one more time, and you are ready to go. If you line up the marks with the marks on the hoop, you will know that your design will be in the exact place that you want it to be. Exactly – not crooked, not too low or too high, exactly where you want it.
It does take a bit of practice to get the position right, but it will make a BIG difference on your final embroidery. There is nothing better than having some cool embroidery that looks great, no matter where you put it on a shirt! There is nothing worse than crooked embroidery, embroidery in the wrong place, or off position embroidery. Those mistakes ruin everything!
As a last note, when you are playing with your templates, you might make some discoveries! And one of the discoveries may well be a new placement! If you have a small sized embroidery going on a shirt, and you think that it has to go left front chest, try it on the sleeve, or closer down to the cuff? Or what about on the back of the hood on a hoodie (those look GREAT by the way). You might find a better place for it that gives the shirt a different and awesome new look.
Templates: use them every time you are placing embroidery on something. With a little practice, you will have great results.
Stay above everyone else trying to make it in embroidery. Hoop properly, stabilize properly and place embroidery properly. You will have better embroidery, better items, and even better gifts than anyone else out there!
My advice for today: stop accepting “ok” for embroidery and shoot for the stars and go for the best embroidery you can do. Stop taking shortcuts that only lead you back to OK. Do it, and do it right. You may be surprised at how people react to your work!
Sue Brown OML Embroidery