Machine embroiderers have sophisticated computerized sewing machines. That is just the nature of machine embroidery. In order for the machine to embroider, it needs that assistance of a computer to direct all those minute little stitches to the perfect place on the fabric to make the intricate designs. Many of these machines can function as a standard sewing machine and some are dedicated embroidery machines. Just as sewing machines have different levels of technology, so do embroidery machines.
The higher-end embroidery machines have built-in cameras. These cameras can take a picture of your hooped fabric and place the needle just where you want it to begin. Maybe it is on the edge of a princess seam on a garment or inside the design on the fabric.
The machines also have the ability to center the design so that the embroidery begins exactly where you placed the centering sticker. This is great when you are placing a logo or design on a shirt pocket. You know exactly where you want the design to be centered. In my machine the sticker is called a snowman. The smaller top allows the computer to know the top from the bottom – ingenious!
Even though I have been using both of these features for years, it still never ceases to amaze me when I use them. I love watching the camera scan the fabric and then show me a picture. The process is really something that you need to see to believe and yet Youtube does not seem to do it justice. If you are curious to see how it works, here is a link to a YouTube done many years ago for the Baby Lock Ellisimo (no I am not endorsing this product). It is a seven-minute video. After two minutes it starts with the positioning of the snowman and a little after four minutes it shows the camera-scanning feature.
Even with both of these features, believe it or not, many times I still try and center my design in the hoop, not using the camera features. When the storeowner that sold me my embroidery machine heard that fact he just shook his head. He could not imagine why anyone would not use that feature. Well, let me give you my two main reasons for my insanity.
1. Most times it is because my design is so large that the design is right next to the edge of the embroidery hoop. If my positioning sticker (aka as my snowman) was miss-centered by just an eighth of an inch, the computer would tell me that it cannot be sewn and that I would have to re-hoop my design. This would be so time consuming. It is better to start with it in the middle – completely aligned.
2. Sometimes (okay, many times) I am just being frugal. I want to use the smallest hoop possible so that I do not have to use too much stabilizer. However, my machine thinks that the design cannot be moved within the hoop just like in the first scenario and I get the same error message.
Hooping is the most time consuming part of machine embroidery and probably the least appreciated step. Yet this step is so vital to a beautiful piece of embroidery. It can make or break the final outcome. Sometimes an item needs to be hooped several times before it is just right, but all the time spent in this process is well worth it. The camera really is an excellent resource that saves lots of time in this step, if we use it. Maybe I will rethink being so frugal as my time is as important as the cost of stabilizer and save my hooping stress for just the large designs.