How to Embroider Words With a Sewing Machine

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Computerized embroidery machines are ideal for embroidering words, but they cost more than the average sewing machine. An alternative is to use a sewing machine to embroider words using a technique called free motion stitching.

Things You'll Need

  • Disappearing fabric marker pen

  • Sewing machine

  • Machine embroidery needle

  • Firm, stiff fabric

  • Stabilizer

  • Sewing machine embroidery thread that contrasts the fabric

  • Embroidery hoop, 6 inches in diameter or hoop that fits your machine (optional)

  • Darning foot (optional)

  • Scissors

Step 1

Drop the feed dogs, the metal teeth that hold the fabric in place at the needle plate, of your machine. Dropping the feed dogs will allow the fabric to move freely back and forth, as well as side to side. The location of the lever to do this is different depending on your machine, so check your manual if you are not sure where the lever is located.


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Step 2

Remove the presser foot. Attach the darning foot, if you are using one. While the darning foot is optional, the foot will lift after each stitch allowing an opening that provides a better view of the area you are embroidering. If you are not using a darning foot, then you can remove the presser foot and stitch without a foot.

Step 3

Change the sewing machine needle to an embroidery needle. The needle size will depend on the fabric and thread that you are using. Thread the sewing machine needle and bobbin with sewing machine embroidery thread.

Step 4

Reduce the top tension of the sewing machine. The setting will depend on your specific machine, but the main goal is to ensure that the bobbin thread is not visible on the right side of the fabric.



Before you begin stitching, test the stitching with scrap fabric and make any adjustments as necessary.

Step 5

Cut a piece of stabilizer that is the same size as the area you wish to embroider. The stabilizer will prevent the fabric from moving around as you embroider. Position the fabric on top of the stabilizer.

Step 6

Use the disappearing fabric marker pen to write your chosen words on the fabric.



Block letters are easier to embroider than script letters; consider trying block letters first for practice before moving to the script letters.

Step 7

If you are using an embroidery hoop, loosen the screw and sandwich the fabric between the two pieces of the hoop. Position the fabric so that the word or words are centered inside the hoop.

Step 8

Secure the fabric, then tighten the screw. The fabric should be pulled tightly enough that you can tap the fabric with your finger without the fabric collapsing or moving. The embroidery hoop provides better control while stitching, though it is optional.


Step 9

Place the fabric under the sewing machine needle, lining up the edge of the first word. Hold the hoop still as you stitch a few starting stitches to secure the thread. Begin slowly moving the hoop as you stitch, working as slow as possible until you get a feel for the free motion technique. Guide the hoop with small back and forth movements, moving in circles if necessary.



  • If you want your words to be bolder and heavier, use a zigzag stitch instead of a straight stitch.
  • Check to see if your machine offers a needle down position setting. This means that the needle will be inserted into your fabric when you stop sewing, securing the position of your stitching.

Step 10

When you have finished stitching the word or words, pull the threads to the back of the fabric. Knot them together, then trim with scissors.


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