Troubleshooting Embroidery

Everyone has issues from time to time with stitching out embroidery.  You can stitch out one design, and then do the same design on something else and it fails miserably.  This happens more often and not, and we have a certain way that we work through it – troubleshooting.  We start with one thing and work our way to another until we figure out what went wrong.

If you are working with a new design and there are issues, we go back and look at the digitizing first.   If the design is small and complicated, there can be many reasons why it is not stitching out properly.   We will take the working file and go over everything and see if there are any mistakes.  We always test stitch our designs, no matter what, and we always watch the designs stitch out too.  If you are watching your design stitch, you can see the problems when they happen.  Grab a pen and paper and write them down!  You can see issues as they are happening:  density, small stitches and things you can make changes so that they look better.  If you are test-stitching a design and the thread keeps breaking in a certain spot – there is an error, or something needs to be changed at that exact area.  Go back to the working file and fix it, one error by error.  Too many jump stitches?  go back to the working file and make your connections.    That is the place to start.  And by the way, the first error is not always CHANGING THE DENSITY.  I don’t understand why people go to this all the time.  You should not be playing with density unless you are trying to do a specific style of embroidery.  The immediate answer is not “i will change the density and see if that works”.  No, Please everyone stop doing that, you are only making a mess of your embroidery – find out what the reason is before you start messing with the density.  Unless you are doing some elaborate fancy stitch, the regular density for the fill stitch should be fine.   Try anything other than the density.  Let’s not create bulletproof embroidery on purpose, shall we?  Ok, OK, i have made my point, no density.   Once you have pinpointed some errors, fix them and test stitch the design again, watching for more errors.

WHAT IF THE TEST STICH STILL DOESN’T LOOK RIGHT?  I HAVE TRIED EVERYING.  No you have not tried everything, here are a few more ideas to work with.

Stabilizer:  are you using the right stabilizer for your material?  If you are working  with something thick and has a nap, did you use a water soluable stabilizer on top?  Do you know why you would?  Understanding stabilizers is a big deal in embroidery.  Most people jsut do what they are told in a list, but don’t really understand why they are doing it.

Stabilizers help create a foundation for your stitches.  Therefore if your foundation isn’t solid or strong, what do you think your stitches are going to be?  solid?  strong?  no, you are going to have issues.   The WSS on the top of a design will help keep the stitches from getting buried into the material.  It is a good idea to use this whenever needed for perfect stitch outs.  So my advice here when troubleshooting embroidery?  make sure you are using the right stabilizer, and maybe try something else and see if that works better.    But know your stabilizers, and why you use them.  Do you use a cut away stabilizer and “float” a tear away?  Why on earth would do this?  You can use two layers of cut away, or two layers of tear away, but floating one is not really a good idea, in my opinion.  If you don’t have it done properly, you won’t have good results.

The last troubleshooting is your machine.  Yes.  Your machine!  it may not be threaded correctly, it may need oil, it may need a needle change (please change your needle once in a while) and it may need to be cleaned too.  If you have ANY bobbin thread showing on your work, then you have a tension issue that is not going to resolve itself magically – you need to fix it.  Oh, I know that the newer single needle machines have the tension all set up (yes, i have one of those) and you don’t set any tension anymore, but what if you have a piece of fluff or dirt or thread stuck in the path of your thread?  YOU WILL HAVE TENSION ISSUES.  Same with the bobbin, you need to clean your bobbin area and clean your bobbin too.  My big machines have to have the bobbin cleaned weekly – there is so much residue and it gets caught up and stuck in the bobbin and we have to clean it out with a piece of paper, otherwise our stitching suddenly sucks.

If you are having issues with stitching follow these three steps to troubleshoot:




Yes, this may take some time to do at first, especially with working on a new design, but it will be worth it in the end.  Cover all of the bases, take things one step at the time and the answer will be in front of you and you can fix it.  Best thing is you will remember the issue and fix it right away next time – no need to take the steps – if you tension is off or your bobbin case gets dirty, you know exactly how your embroidery looks so its a fast and easy fix.



2 responses to “Troubleshooting Embroidery”

  1. Franklin Avatar

    I want to change the sizes of my design. what is the best way to do that? many thanks. really am getting to know new information on my Brother machine.

  2. Debbie Avatar

    Awesome, good advice!

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