NZ Machine Embroidery Addicts End of Year Event 2018

NZ Machine Embroidery Addicts End of Year Event 2018

In November 2018 after having a few local Auckland based monthly catch ups I decided it might be fun to have an end of year event at my house with a few extra people.  Well what started small turned into a larger event with 40 people at the Brother NZ offices in Auckland CBD with our amazing guest speaker – Gary Walker, the owner of Echidna Sewing who flew over from Australia to join us.

It was an amazing event full of fun, knowledge and amazing goodie bags and lots of new friendships were made!  It was also then, that I came on board as Echidna Sewing’s NZ Manager (if you haven’t read my story about that yet – go check it out).

The support from Brother NZ and Echidna Sewing Supplies was truly amazing and really a demonstration of how many embroiderers there are around New Zealand who are looking to connect with other like-minded people and learn more about machine embroidery.

I now try to have an end of year event every year as there are so many from around the country who need a good excuse to set aside a day to refil their “embroidery inspiration” cup.  I also continue to have monthly get togethers in Auckland (which anyone is welcome to come to) – some are coffee catch ups at a local cafe and others are events where we get together and make fun embroidered items.  

All upcoming events are listed in the events section of the website and are also sent out via our newsletter (you can sign up for that here).  If you’re not yet a member of our Facebook group – come along and join, that’s where a lot of the fun and connection happens!

If I haven’t yet, I hope to meet you at an event soon!


The Brother NZ VE2300 Embroidery Only Machine

The Brother NZ VE2300 Embroidery Only Machine

The Brother Essence Innov-is VE2300 Embroidery Only Machine is a machine that is sold by Echidna Sewing in New Zealand.  

You can find out more about this machine and the awesome specials that Echidna Sewing currently has running on the Echidna Website here and keep reading below for more information about why I love this machine!

What is an embroidery only machine?

An embroidery only machine is for machine embroidery only.  The benefit of having a separate embroidery machine is  that you can continue to work on your sewing projects on a separate machine while your embroidery designs are stitching out.  If you’re in the market for a new sewing and embroidery machine, buying a separate embroidery only machine can also leave you with a really nice budget to invest in a great separate sewing machine.

You can view all of the Brother NZ sewing, embroidery and combination machines available through Echidna Sewing here.

What is so cool about this machine?

1.  Big Max Embroidery Area

By now we all know that size really does matter when it comes to embroidery machine hoop sizes – especially if you started out with a 10x10cm (4x4inch) hoop size.  This machine has an amazing 20x30cm (8x12inch) hoop size which is the perfect size for most larger projects.  It’s the perfect size for embroidering on the back of a hoodie, t-shirt or sweatshirt and ideal for those larger ITH (in the hoop) projects that would otherwise take multiple hoopings.

2.  V-Sonic Pen For Embroidery Positioning

The Ultrasonic sensing technology helps you position your embroidery designs on your fabric – if you’ve rehooped something more than twice to get it positioned right in the hoop you’ll know how awesome this pen is before you even look at it!

But if you haven’t seen this in action before check it out Gary’s demonstration of it here.

3.  Great Price Point

The Brother VE2300 has a really great price point, if you consider the incredible addition of features this machine has compared the models in the price points slightly below.

If you’re more of a visual person, have a look at these great informative videos Gary at Echidna made showing the features of the VE2300.

What can you make with this machine?

Who is this machine ideal for?

This is the perfect machine for you if you’re a new embroiderer looking for your first machine (or second if you’re started with a small hoop you’ve already outgrown) and want a machine you can grow with and help you create amazing larger projects.

It’s also perfect if you’re already a sewer looking to add embroidery to your work as you can leave the machine to embroider while you continue to sew on your sewing machine.

Where can I find out more?

You can find out more about this machine and the awesome special that Echidna Sewing currently has running on the Echidna Website here.  

You can also get in touch with me, Mandy Chamberlin.  I’m Echidna Sewings NZ Manager and I have a demo VE2300 on hand in my studio in Auckland and can answer any questions you may have about this or any of the other Brother NZ machines available.

Make Embroidered Patches Using Recycled Fabric

Make Embroidered Patches Using Recycled Fabric

Did you know that you can make embroidered patches out of recycled fabric?  In fact, it’s actually a really awesome way of using up your scraps or repurposing some clothing that would otherwise end up in the bin.


What is an Embroidered Patch? 


An embroidered patch is a stand alone design embroidered onto a piece of fabric usually finished with a satin stitch edge that can be attached to items like clothing, caps, bags etc.  They can also be made in the form of Free Standing Lace (FSL) which is thread that stitches over itself in a strategic way to hold the design together without additional fabric.  FSL designs or patches are a lot more delicate than fabric patches though and would generally be used more for things like earrings or Christmas decorations. I’ll just be covering the fabric type patches here (FSL is a whole different kettle of fish 😜)


How Do You Make a Patch Embroidery Design? 


Creating a patch design out of any design isn’t complicated but you do need to have some digitizing software (like Hatch or Embrilliance) to create the additional border stitches.  You can also use most existing applique designs to create a patch.


If you have digitizing software, create a border stitch around your design – either in the shape of your existing design or a regular shape like a square, rectangle, circle etc and create the same steps you would use for creating an applique design – single run placement stitch, double run tack down stitch and a satin stitch edge to finish.


A couple of extra tips for creating the design:


  • Using a zig zag underlay stitch for the satin edge will help capture all the stray bits of fabric to stop them poking up through your finished stitching
  • Don’t make your satin stitches too thin otherwise you will need to cut your fabric incredibly close to your stitches which will drive you crazy!


How Do You Make a Patch? 


Making a patch is really similar to creating an applique design.  There are a few different methods but the easiest way I’ve found for making patches using recycled fabric:


  • Hoop up some wash away stabilizer – wash away stabilizer is the fabric looking kind of stabilizer that you can dissolve with water (the “plastic looking” water soluble stabilizer kind isn’t strong enough to use for this – that’s better for using on top of fabric to hold the pile of fabric down)


  • Attach some cut away stabilizer to the back of your fabric to support it.  I usually use a fusible cutaway or regular cut away stabilizer with some hot melt web or heat and bond to hold it together. This is especially important if you’re using stretchy or really delicate thin fabric to avoid the fabric being pulled out of proportion and bunching of the fabric.


  • Stitch the first placement stitch of the design on the wash away stabilizer then add your fabric to the hoop (secure it with tape to the wash away stabilizer – you don’t need to go crazy with it) then stitch the tack down stitch.  


  • Take the hoop off the machine, be careful not to bump your embroidery arm, and cut away the excess fabric from around the tack down stitch.  Put the hoop back on the machine and finish stitching.  


  • Once you’re finished, take it out of the hoop and cut away the excess wash away stabilizer from around the design (leave a couple of mm so you don’t cut the stitches). Then take a cotton bud (or a paintbrush or something) and dab away the excess stabilizer with warm water and leave to dry.


When they are dry, you can either hand stitch them onto something or attach some Hot Melt Film to the back of the patch to attach the patches by ironing them on.


Here are some examples of patches I’ve made using recycled fabric for local sustainable bag designer Amy Conlon of Outliv.


If you have any questions about making patches, drop them below and I’ll do my best to help you out!


Use Your Snowman to Help Line Up Your Embroidery Designs

Use Your Snowman to Help Line Up Your Embroidery Designs

Using the Snowman Function on your Embroidery Machine

If you have a Brother embroidery machine that has the Snowman feature, PLEASE start using it! It will change your life!

I did a quick video a couple of years ago (while working on hankies for the lovely Amanda Cookson at Southern Bride) on how I use it to save me a mountain of time with lining up my designs.

I used embroidery software to print out the template of my design with the snowman marker already on the design. You can also use your normal method to find where you want to place your design on your item, and use one of the stickers and stick it so the cross hairs line up with the vertical and horizontal centres of your design.

If you have any questions about using the Snowman feature, ask in the comments below and I’ll help you out.

Get Your Embroidery Machine Out of the Box!

Get Your Embroidery Machine Out of the Box!

If you’re here it’s probably because you’re procrastinating taking your new embroidery machine out of the box – if you’ve chatted to me at any point you’ll know that I’m on a mission to get machines out of boxes so you’ve come to the right place!!

It would be almost impossible to give step by step instructions for every kind of embroidery machine or craft cutting machine but here is some moral support to get you started – sometimes that’s the hardest part!

Here’s some help to get you started!

Unbox Your Embroidery Machine

Get that box out of the way – having it stare at you from the corner of the room can be daunting!  Embroidery machine boxes tend to be pretty huge because of all the padding to protect our precious goods which can make it seem a bit scarier.

If you want to have a giggle, check out my one-handed unboxing of the Brother VE2300 and the Brother Stellaire XJ1 – I very much recommend doing this with two hands!!

Look for a “Getting Started Guide”

Most embroidery machines come with some kind of QuickStart or getting started guide which can be helpful just to get you going and find all the right buttons etc.  Have a look through it but don’t worry if everything doesn’t make sense yet, it will be useful when you’re at the machine and working through it step by step!

Basic Tips to Get You Started

If you’re a seasoned machine embroiderer just getting the hang of a new machine, then feel free to skip this bit.

If this is your first EVER embroidery machine – YAY!  You’re about to embark on a really fun, creative adventure.  There is a learning curve with embroidery and I’m not sure we ever really stop learning but here are some practical tips to get you started with your first project:

  • Embroidery thread is different to sewing thread and the designs are created with this in mind so you can’t use any old thread you have on hand for embroidery.  You do need to use Embroidery Thread

  • Likewise with bobbin thread, it tends to be a different weight to regular thread which is important for maintaining good tension.  Unlike with sewing where you change your bobbin to match your top thread often, machine embroiderers tend to just use black and/or white bobbin thread for most projects unless you’re working on a project where the back of the embroidery will be visible (for example Free Standing Lace (FSL)). 

    You might have received some bobbin thread with your machine – I know most Brother embroidery machines usually come with a spool and some loose bobbins and Echidna will often include some prewound bobbins with embroidery machine value add packages.  Check those out before you head out to the shops to buy some!

  • Stabilizer!  You’re about to stab your fabric thousands of times with a needle (that sounded more violent than I intended! haha) and the thread is going to put a decent amount of strain on it so it needs HELP!  There are a few instances where you don’t use stabilizer or various kinds for different purposes but to keep things simple here – cut away and tear away stabilizers are your new best friends!  In really simple terms, the more stitches your design has, the more help your fabric will need.  This is a bit like baking a cake at times, it’s all about finding the right mix of ingredients but for most common fabrics with a pocket size design (around 10x10cm), cut away or tear away will be perfect!

  • Embroidery needles are a must!  Again you’ve probably received some with your new machine to get you started.  The most common size I personally use is a 75/11.  The sizes are written on the needles in teeny tiny writing so grab out your Echidna Sewing magnifying ruler to help you if you have one (or my mum’s hack of using her phone to take a photo then zooming in).

  • Use the right bobbin case.  If you’ve purchased an embroidery only machine then this won’t apply to you but if you’ve purchased a Brother sewing and embroidery combination machine, you’ll more than likely have a spare bobbin case in your kit.  You may think it’s just there as a spare but as a bunch of us learnt from Gary Walker at the NZMEA End of Year function in November 2018, one bobbin case is for sewing and one is for embroidery! Mind blown!
    Why do you need two?  For sewing you don’t generally need to adjust your bobbin tension but for embroidery you do.  So you can have both set at the settings you need to swap them out easily when you need to switch functions on your machine.  The one with the little green blob (this is a technical term haha) is the one for sewing.

Make an easy first project 

We all have big dreams of the things we want to create with our machines and yes that is why we bought them BUT there is a learning curve to learning machine embroidery and learning a new embroidery machine so start slow to get into the swing of things.

Jumping into a big project on the first go and having something go wrong can be really disappointing so opt for a small, quick win with the first project – it will give you confidence and set you up for success with the next one!

I remember when I first purchased my Brother PR1000e 10 Needle machine, my daughter was very young so I had very limited time to play.  I threaded it very quickly and put my first project on the machine.  Well it sucked! I hadn’t threaded it properly but the worst thing that happened was that my first test project didn’t work out.  I pulled out the manual and rethreaded the whole machine step by step and voila – the next project was perfect!

We’ve all been there so don’t be too hard on yourself!

Just Push the Go Button!

✔️Thread your machine

✔️Wind your bobbin and put it in 

✔️Select a design from the machine 

✔️Hoop up your fabric and stabilizer

✔️Put your hoop on the machine

✔️And press 🟢GO 🟢!

Use that as a checklist if you need to.

If you still can’t bring yourself to press the go button…

 Let’s play “what’s the worst that can happen”:

  • It doesn’t go – if your button light is still red make sure your presser foot is down (some machines you need to do this manually)
  • The design doesn’t come out right – that’s totally fine, this is just a test design.  If it doesn’t work you can problem solve the issue and try again. This happens to all of us from time to time.
  • Your tension is off and your bobbin thread is peeking through to the top of the embroidery.  Again this is a test design so that’s totally ok! Adjusting the tension is not that daunting and it’s a completely fixable issue that we all deal with from time to time.
  • You have some puckering on your fabric – this is a fixable issue 
  • You break a needle, we all break needles from time to time.  It’s not the end of the world.


You Got This!


All of the best solutions in the world have come from those who have encountered a problem.  Encountering issues help us problem solve and learn to refine what we do to get great results.  If everything was super easy, we would get no satisfaction from doing it and it would be boring!


And if you encounter an issue you can’t solve and I haven’t covered here, pop over to the NZ Machine Embroidery Addicts Facebook group and ask for help!  That’s what this community is all about!


Go for it, you’re not alone, you’ve got this!