How to Combine Machine Embroidery and HTV Applique
If you have an embroidery machine then you already know you have the ability to make professionally finished items, but did you know you can add Heat Transfer Vinyl into the mix to make high quality, custom appliques? Keep reading for all the steps to a successful mixed media project!
- Embroidery Machine (like the Brother PE535 we’re using) and Needle
- Embroidery Threads
- Garment or Fabric
- Heat Transfer Vinyl
- Heat Source (like a Heat Press, EasyPress, or Home Iron)
- Straight Pins (optional)
- Chopsticks or EasyWeeder®
- Siser® Tweezers
Step 1: Select Blank Item and Design
Start by picking out your garment or fabric that you’ll be decorating and measure the area you intend to embroider. With that measurement in mind, you can start selecting or creating your design. The Brother PE535 touchscreen looks and functions similarly to the Brother ScanNCut so if you’re familiar with that cutter then it will be an easy transition to embroidery.
After you know what kind of fabric and design you’ll be working with, you can select a stabilizer that will help make the garment sturdier for stitching.
The kind of stabilizer you use will depend on the type of garment you’ll be embroidering. There are several types, but the most commonly used are:
Stabilizer. Tearaway is used for items you don’t wear and any type of fabric. Cutaway is used on wearable items and any weight of fabric. Water soluble – textured items, fuzzy and items like soft leather. Not just fluffy 😀
Tear-Away is used for items you don’t wear and any type of fabric. . Cut-Away can be used for heavier fabrics and Water-Soluble is often used for fluffy fabrics or very thin, delicate fabric like lace and organza.
Step 2: Hoop Garment and Stabilizer
After selecting the proper stabilizer for your project, cut a piece of it to size and place it under the fabric. Next, remove the hoop from the machine and twist the knob on the side to separate the two sides.
Stack the bottom hoop, stabilizer, fabric, and top hoop then twist the knob to tighten everything together.
Gently pull the stabilizer and fabric excess to remove wrinkles if needed. You want the fabric and stabilizer to be taut smooth with no wrinkles, but not stretched tightly which can cause puckering and more issues.
Once everything is hooped correctly, reattach the hoop onto the embroidery machine and move on to setting up your thread.
Step 3: Thread Needle and Bobbin
Load a matching or contrasting thread onto the embroidery machine’s spool and weave it through the machine (following the step by step guide) until you reach the eye of the needle.
If you’ve ever worked with a sewing machine, then threading the bottom bobbin will be familiar. Once again, there will usually be printed instructions on the machine showing how to properly thread the machine.
Please note that the colors of the top and bottom thread don’t have to match since the bobbin thread is only seen on the back of the applique/inside on the garment.
Step 4: Trace Embroidering Space
Not all embroidery machines are made the same, so if your machine does not have the following features- don’t fret! Just move on to Step #5.
Many embroidery machines come with a variety of artwork already loaded up and ready to go. You can select from a several options, but keep in mind that you’ll need some areas without stitching for the HTV to shine through. I decided to go with a simple text design.
Before committing to the design, you can ensure it will fit on the desired location and is aligned how you like it, by pressing the Trace button that looks like a dashed line creating a box with an arrow at the end. This will let the machine move to demonstrate where the embroidery will end up without doing any actual stitching yet. If you’re satisfied with the embroidering area, then you can start placing your HTV.
Step 5: Position HTV
Cut a piece of HTV that’s larger than the intended stitching area. You’ll want a bit of excess around the stitching and you’ll see why soon. Oftentimes, scrap pieces of HTV work perfectly for embroidery applique. Before placing the Heat Transfer Vinyl in the hoop, be sure to peel away the carrier.
Now your HTV basically functions as a fabric! Place it inside the hoop with the adhesive side down.
Don’t worry about heat applying the HTV just yet. First we need to embroider!
Step 6: Embroider HTV
Once the HTV is in place, send the art file. On this machine, selecting “embroidery” will begin the stitching process.
Keep an eye on the machine at the beginning in case the HTV needs a little scooching. Never put your finger under an active machine! Instead- use something like chopsticks, knitting needles, or your EasyWeeder™ to push the HTV into position if needed.
Step 7: Rip Away Excess HTV
When the machine is finished embroidering, remove the hoop and rip away the excess HTV.
A pair of Siser Tweezers are super helpful to pull out cavities and bits of HTV that get stuck in crevices. After removing the HTV, you can clip the excess threads called “jump stitches”. These stitches are the ones that the embroidery machine makes when it finishes stitching one object out and needs to move over to another object to start stitching.
When all the excess is removed you can unhoop the garment and heat set the applique if needed.
Step 8: Heat Set the HTV Applique
Use your Heat Press, home iron, or Cricut EasyPress to heat apply the HTV. Your heat setting will depend on the type of HTV you’re using. You can see all our recommended heat settings on our website or the Siser App. In this case, we’re using Glitter HTV, so it would be 320°F on a Heat Press, 350°F on a Cricut EasyPress, and the Cotton/Linen setting on a Home Iron. In all cases, you will want to apply heat from the back of the applique (ie. garment turned inside out) for 10-15 seconds. Applying heat on the back ensures the thread will stay looking it’s best as some types of thread can be sensitive to higher temperatures.
This heat setting step is not always necessary, but if you notice any puckering it will most likely fix it. If the puckering still remains, you may have missed a moment to push the HTV and it got pinched during stitching.
Puckering can occur in thread only embroidery projects as well, so a Heat Press is handy for your embroidery and your embroidery applique projects!
Step 9: Profit!
Are you ready to give embroidery a go with HTV applique? Save this blog post for later and help others learn about this awesome technique at the same time when your pin the image below to Pinterest.
Hungry for more embroidery content? #replay the creation of the sunflower denim jacket on Facebook: