Beginners Guide to Machine Embroidery

A comprehensive guide on supplies with technical tips

As a beginner who is just starting out or thinking about getting into machine embroidery, you will have a lot of questions buzzing in your head right now. It is often hard for beginners to find all the answers in one place and research can become a tedious task. We collated a lot of information in this article for you with links to our comprehensive articles on each topic to make the start of the journey much easier for you. So grab a cuppa, lean back and enjoy discovering the wonderful creative art that is machine embroidery. ūüôā

What is Machine Embroidery?

Machine embroidery is a form of decorative craft, where pre-designed patterns in various colours and with different stitch types get stitched out on a piece of fabric or on clothing by a special embroidery machine. It is mostly used to decorate garments and household items such as pillowcases, tablecloths and splash back cloths. Embroiderers also create “In-The-Hoop” items that are completely sewn on the embroidery machine. A beautiful form of machine embroidery technique is Free Standing Lace.

What Kind of Machine Will I Need to Start Doing Machine Embroidery?

You will need a machine that can do machine embroidery or one that can do both machine embroidery and sewing. You cannot use a simple sewing machine for embroidery. The major brands like Brother, Janome, Bernina, Husqvarna, Elna and Singer manufacture great machines, and the best tip we can give you here is to find your nearest dealer who can help you set up your machine and will service it if need to.

What Kind of Machine Embroidery Software Will I Need?

Firstly you need to ask yourself what you would like to achieve with your new hobby. If you are only wanting to buy designs online, only do some very basic editing, and then stitch them out, an embroidery software like Hatch Embroidery Organizer will suffice. If you want to personalize items by adding names or monograms, you will need the next level up, Hatch Embroidery Personalizer. If you want more editing and layout tools, and try your hand at one-click auto-digitizing, Hatch Embroidery Composer is the software for you. Are you a real creative type and want to start designing your very own machine embroidery designs? Nothing beats manual digitizing for full control. Hatch Embroidery Digitizer is definitely the best machine embroidery software on the market for limitless creativity.

What Essential Supplies Will I Need to Get Started?


You can embroider on a wide range of materials, but the most common is cotton fabric. Read our article on choosing the right fabric for your machine embroidery projects here.


Stabilizing your fabric correctly is essential for great embroidery result. You can find plenty of information on all the different types of machine embroidery stabilizers and how to use them here.


You will need machine embroidery needles, which are slightly different from machine sewing needles and completely different from hand embroidery needles. Read our article on how to choose the correct needles for your embroidery projects here.


Machine embroidery threads are very different from hand embroidery floss. There is a variety of threads available made of different materials. Read more here.

Technical Points to Consider

Machine Embroidery Design Files vs. Stitch Files

When you create your own designs from scratch, you will have a file in the design file format your software uses. When you are ready to stitch your design out, you first have to export/convert your design file to the the file format your embroidery machine can read. Read more about it here.

Learning About Pull Compensation

The fabric you are embroidering on can stretch as the hoop moves back and forth on the machine which can distort the embroidery design. Understanding the push and pull effects of machine embroidery and how to compensate for it when creating a design is essential for best result. Read more about it here.

Understanding Thread Tension

The quality of your embroidery is also greatly influenced by the balance of the tension of the bobbin thread and the top embroidery thread. Read about how you can tell if your thread tension is correct and if not, how to adjust it here.

As you can see, there is a bit of a learning curve when you are starting out as a beginner in machine embroidery and beginners tend to freak out a little. The most important thing is not to get overwhelmed, but instead ease yourself into it by learning bit by bit, and enjoy the ride. Machine embroidery is a lot of fun even for beginners, and remember, experienced embroiderers started out exactly from where you are right now. Will you make mistakes? Of course you will! Will you learn from them? Absolutely! So what are you waiting for?

Hope you found this and the linked articles useful. Let us know in a comment, we’d love to read your feedback!

Hatch Embroidery software products are in popular use in over 100 countries. It is time to join the global trend and give Hatch Embroidery a try! The 30-day Free Trial grants you unlimited use of all the amazing features and the 30-day Money Back Guarantee ensures that there is absolutely no risk involved.

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