How Do Computer Embroidery Machines Work?


Select and Input Design

  • Computer embroidery machines work off a programmed digital design that is either submitted to the machine's computer or transmitted to the machine from an external computer. The design must be within the size that the machine is capable of producing and in a format that it recognizes. In many cases, the design is programmed directly into the computer embroidery machine either through a memory card or computer disk, but some machines connect directly to a standard laptop or desktop computer.

Prepare Thread and Fabric

  • The fabric is placed on an embroidery hoop that fits onto the machine. The hoop is similar to a standard hand embroidery hoop, except that it is designed to fit onto a special arm on the machine. The fabric must be taut in the hoop. In most home computer embroidery machines, only one thread color is used at a time. After the embroidery design has been transmitted to the machine, either the machine will indicate which color thread it will use first or the user will tell the machine which thread color has been placed on the machine.

Monitor Progress

  • Once the fabric and thread are in place, the machine begins its work, following the design it was given. The computer, either in or attached to the machine, directs the embroidery arm. The embroidery arm moves the hoop in the directions needed to complete the pattern. Since most home computer embroidery machine models can embroider only one thread color at a time, all of one color will be embroidered according to the pattern. Once a color is complete, the machine will stop so the user can switch to the next color.

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  • Photo Credit Joe Zlomek
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