Tips and Tricks for Better Embroidery

By Connie Smith, Contributing Writer

August 29, 2018

Although you may have only been doing embroidery for a short time, you probably have learned some tricks through trial and error. Even after 40 years of doing embroidery, I still learn something new almost every time I turn on my machine. Such as, remembering to turn the design for what items you are stitching, or how you had to hoop the item to get it on the machine. Most caps run with the design upside down and I’m sure we all can say we have started to embroider one and realized the stitching was still programmed for shirts. Sharing tips and tricks is good for all of us. It will save time and money and make us all better business owners.

Picking out Stitches

The best way to remove stitches is to start from the end of the design and go backwards. If you are doing a name start by cutting the end of the tie-off knot and then from the back side of the item use a pair of trimming scissors and cut right down the center of the bobbin thread. This is why it’s so important to take the time to make sure all of your needles are stitching the same so all of the thread on the back is showing three equal parts. First, will be the top thread, the second will be bobbin thread and the third will be the top thread. After cutting a small section of the design, turn the item over to the right side, then using tweezers gently pull out the thread you have clipped. When you are done with that section, clip more of the back side and then remove the top. Continue until the design has been removed. The secret to this is what I call “soft hands,” you cannot jab and pull hard because that will put holes in your item. It takes lots of patience and time. But, if you don’t have time to order a replacement item or it belongs to the customer, it’s worth your time to try and fix it.

For larger heavily stitched embroidery, you need a stitch eraser. There are different kinds, so do some research before buying to make sure you get the one best for what you are using it for. This looks a lot like a shaving razor but believe me it is not. Trying to take out stitches with a shaving razor will cut right through the stitches and the fabric leaving a large hole.


To me, bobbins are something to be seen and not touched. Well not really, but mostly. I remember many times trying to explain that one bobbin controls one head and all needles on that head. If you get one needle stitching, then move to the next needle and adjust the top thread tensions only. If you change the bobbin tension, then the first needle won’t work. And you will have to go back and forth changing the bobbin for every needle. Set the bobbin and leave it alone. The main reason to have your bobbin and the top thread set correctly is the entire design will stitch equally. One portion will not be tighter than the rest, so the embroidery will lay better on the garment.

The next thing about bobbins is the cardboard covers on the outside of the bobbin and how it can separate causing the bobbin thread and even the top thread to fray and break. All you have to do is remove the side that had the separation and continue on stitching. If you need to remove both sides, go ahead, they will work fine.


Working with different thread manufactures can cause some stitching problems. The reason is called “the wind” of the thread onto the cone and it is different with each manufacture and that causes the thread to come off the cone at different speeds. As you can see in the picture the black arrows show how far the wind goes before it drops to do the next section. If you use a lot of different threads, then you may need to adjust the top tensions to slow the thread or allow it to come off the cone faster.

Polyester thread is color safe and rayon is not. Polyester threads are made from synthetic materials, extruded, twisted, spun, dyed, and then processed. Rayon or sometimes called viscose rayon is actually made from wood pulp. The pulp is blended with chemicals and after a very long process become thread. When stitching on any item that will be washed and possibly be bleached or have any kind of stain removers used on it, it’s not a good idea to use rayon thread because it will lose its color.

One thing when using different tread, you should never use different types of thread when stitching a design. Threads not only stitch differently they also wash differently. If you mix polyester and cotton together there will be distortion in the design after washing it. The one example where you can mix different types of thread is metallic threads. You can use it in a design that has other thread types.

Spray Adhesive

You should never use any kind of spray adhesive around your embroidery machine. It will fly all over the place when sprayed and any of it getting inside your machine can cause a lot of problems. The best way to spray the backs of your appliqué pieces is to make a spray box to contain the spray. Use a large cardboard box and cut the flaps off all sides. The largest piece will be used to place the appliqué pieces on the then placed inside the box. Spray the pieces and then pull them out and place them on one of the other flaps you cut off and now you can carry them to the machine without getting your fingers sticky or getting any adhesive on your machine.

Hoop Ring Shadows

When you remove the hoop after you finish a design you will see a mark on the garment the same size of the hoop. The best way to get rid of them is to lightly spray them with magic sizing. You can find this in the laundry section of the grocery store next to the spray starch. DO NOT use spray starch. The can will say magic sizing. I’ve seen some people use a spray bottle with water. That works but it you fold and place your items in a box and the water has not completely dried the items will mildew rather quickly. The magic sizing dries really fast and remember it just takes a mist; you don’t have to soak it. Using water also can leave a ring or water spots where the water was sprayed. The magic sizing will not leave marks.

Thread Loops

If you have a loop of thread sticking up in your design don’t cut it off. It could cause the stitching to come out. Turn the garment to the back side and with your fingernail pull back at the spot where the loop is and after a few pulls the loop will go away.

This is just a few things you should know that can save you time, money and lots of tears. Before you start your order make sure you have everything you need to finish it. Check your supplies every few days to make sure you’re not about to run out of something.

The best tips I can give everyone is to never promise something you’re not sure you can deliver, never give your work away by lowering the price just to get a customer and make sure everything you send out the door is something you would wear yourself.