Machine Embroidery Tutorial: Getting Started with ITH Designs Part 1

Machine Embroidery Tutorial

With machine embroidery gaining so much popularity these past few years, I decided to finally make a set of machine embroidery tutorials to help those of you that are interested in learning more about this fun and highly addicting craft but at the same time are also unsure of where to start! I know how hard it can be to find information out there to really get your machine and designs working off the bat so I’m hoping I can help a little. I’ll try to cover some of the basics as well as techniques in my ITH machine embroidery tutorial so let’s get started!

First things first…

What is ITH embroidery?

ITH (in the hoop) machine embroidery is a method where a design is started and finished entirely within the embroidery hoop. This means no extra steps, such as sewing, are required to finish the project. A great example of an ITH design is one of my embroidery masks. Once the machine has completed all of the stitching steps, all that is needed to finish the mask is simply removing the design from the hoop and trimming the excess fabric. That’s it! I personally love ITH embroidery for it’s simplicity and ease when it comes to stitching out fun new designs. Who needs all of the added fuss when you just want to get crafting? 😉

So now that you know a little about ITH embroidery, what supplies or materials do you need?

ITH Machine Embroidery Supplies List:

  • Embroidery Machine (More on my recommended machines later!)
  • Machine embroidery thread in desired colors
  • Bobbin thread
  • Stabilizer (Tear-Away works great for most projects)
  • Project felt or fabric
  • Scotch tape or adhesive spray
  • Scissors (Double curve are my favorite)
  • An ITH design file with the proper format for your machine

Where do I buy machine embroidery supplies and what are the brands?

There are a number of places where you may find the supplies you need for machine embroidery and I will highlight where to find a few of the supplies to help you out! Most local sewing shops will have everything you need on-hand but for those of us that don’t live near enough to one of these specialty shops, we are in luck. Amazon.com actually has everything you will need and the prices are great as well. For items such as the pre-cut felt sheets, scotch tape & adhesive, those may be found at your local Walmart in the crafts section or a Michaels/craft store!

Robison-Anton, the upper thread of choice:

For the upper thread (your main working color threads), I always recommend and personally use Robison-Anton machine embroidery thread. Robison-Anton is a thread that will not break or snap on you while you stitch and they have such a wide range of colors available. If you prefer to shop somewhere other than Amazon.com for the thread, All Threads is another great online shop to buy this thread from! As a side note, I do NOT ever recommend using Coats & Clark (typically found at Walmart) thread for your machine embroidery projects. This thread is known to bunch and snap with ease and will only end up causing you more of a headache in the long run. Save yourself the trouble and avoid the allure of the all-purpose threads!

Choosing a bobbin thread:

Now, let’s cover the bobbin thread. While you may certainly use your upper thread colors in your bobbin, I prefer to use a larger white spool for all of my bobbins for money and time saving purposes. If you are working on an ITH project where the back-side really isn’t going to be seen (such as felties), this is a fantastic way to go. This is my favorite machine embroidery bobbin thread choice on Amazon. The spool is large enough to accommodate your many projects and bobbin refilling which makes it the perfect choice, It’s nothing fancy but it gets the job done without any of the stress!

Picking out your stabilizer:

Using stabilizer is a huge part of machine embroidery. Almost every project you will do, whether it’s ITH or not, will require you to hoop stabilizer before beginning. This little sheet makes a huge difference when it comes to having your design stitch out correctly. There are a few different types of stabilizer out there but for this series I am only covering the tear-away type. For a 4×4 embroidery hoop, this tear-away stabilizer is a great choice to get you stitching with ease! The sheets come pre-cut and ready for a 4×4 hoop (8 inch sheets are meant to fit the 4×4 hoops – more on hoop and stabilizer sizes later).

Scissors to make snipping easier:

You really don’t realize until you’ve tried them, how much easier cutting curves and corners can be when you use double-curve scissors on your embroidery projects! I feel like it is 100% worth the price for a pair of scissors that make your crafting life easier and less painful. Here are the double curve scissors I use for my ITH machine embroidery cutting. As it’s called, the scissors have a double curve which allows for more motion and turning when you cut. They are amazing at working through the thick felt sheets, by the way. Never try to struggle through with regular paper scissors if you are using felt or fleece!

Now that I have my embroidery supplies and understand what ITH machine embroidery is, what’s next?

That’s great! If you’ve made it this far, stick around for part two in the ITH machine embroidery tutorial series for a step-by-step walkthrough in stitching out your first ITH design – with a free machine embroidery design download included!

machine embroidery tutorial

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