New to Machine Embroidery? Here's How to Start!

New to Machine Embroidery

Are you new to machine embroidery? If so, you may be feeling a mix of excited anticipation and complete overwhelm. But don't be nervous . . .we've got you!

As with anything new, you'll learn your new hobby one step (and one stitch) at a time. Here are some common questions new embroiderers often have, along with a few helpful answers from the Kimberbell team! 

How Do I Find Embroidery Designs to Use on My Machine?

Anyone new to machine embroidery wonders where they'll find good designs. (There are a lot of places!) But don't let that overwhelm you. There are also lots of places to buys shoes, and you've figured that out. 😀

Let's start with the designs already on your machine. You most likely already have designs loaded into the system, including alphabets or other basic designs. That's great!  Give them a try to test the waters.

However . . .

It won't be long before you'll want to branch out, collect some really wonderful designs, and use your machine to its full capacity.  (You can do SEW much more than monogramming, my friends!) 

So, where do you get embroidery designs? Two main places: your favorite quilt shop and online. If you're a newbie, I'd recommend starting with the business you got your machine from. 

Mub Rugs

Your quilt shop knows your machine and together you can figure out what kind of projects you'd like to start with. The staff can show you samples, recommend specific projects, and help you get what you need!

Once you have some experience and know your machine better, there are plenty of online vendors who sell embroidery designs. You can purchase and download individual designs or entire collections!

For example, on we have a whole bunch of downloadable designs for you to enjoy. Take a look at our Digital Downloads, Vault, Free Downloads, Buy-a-Block, and Background Quilting categories!

What's the Best Type of Embroidery Thread?

Here's another question we hear a LOT: "There are so many brands of machine embroidery thread.  How do I know what to choose?" 

Once again, we recommend going to the place you purchased your machine from. Maybe there's a brand your shop knows will work best for your machine? (You might even check your machine manual!) 


When choosing thread, you'll also want to consider what you're stitching. A general rule of thumb is to choose a 40-weight thread for your top thread and a bobbin thread that's either a 60 or 90 weight. 

For more information about thread types, tips, and preventing thread breaks,  please click HERE! 

How Do I Choose Stabilizer?

Stabilizer is a VERY NECESSARY part of machine embroidery. But if you're new, you're probably thinking it all looks like the same "white stuff" and how in the world do you know what to choose? 

Let's look at stabilizer through the lens of baking. Flour and sugar are "white stuff," too, but they serve very different purposes! In the same way, there are stabilizers that should always be in your embroidery "pantry."

You'll choose the stabilizer based on the project you're doing, as different stabilizers have different (and very specific) uses. 


We can teach you all about stabilizer. And once you learn how it works, choosing stabilizer becomes second nature! (You never mix flour and sugar up, right? Because you know how each of them works!)

Click HERE to see our five must-have machine embroidery stabilizers. If you have these five basics, you should be set for just about any project (at least for now).

As another resource, here's our YouTube playlist about stabilizers. We've got some really good information here as well!

Tip: Kimberbell instructions include exactly what stabilizer you need for every project. No need to guess.

What Tools Do I Need?

Let's switch from baking to a construction analogy. Years ago, when my husband and I were finishing our basement, we learned very well how important it is to have the right tool for the job!

There we were, struggling and trying to get by with what we had, and it was just not working out. Then we borrowed our neighbor's tool and BOOM! We got the job done and it went so much better. 

Machine embroidery is the same way. Add a few essential things to your "toolbox" and you'll be so glad to have the right tools at the ready!

Kimberbell-Tools-Highres (11)

We suggest starting with some basic sewing tools such as mats, rotary cutters, pins, and scissors, then branching out to items that are more specific to machine embroidery like a good pair of applique scissors. 

You'll also want to grab a variety of embroidery machine needles, as different sizes are best for different projects. (Make sure to have 75/11, 80/12, and 90/14 on hand!) 

Start building your thread collection, too. (You'll want a lot of fun colors to choose from!) You might also want to grab a box of prewound bobbins in white and black colors. 

Tip: If your machine came with a plastic template grid, do not throw it away! This is a very useful tool for centering designs and also comes in handy when using Clear Blue Tiles

For more information, please read my Top 5 Tools for Machine Embroidery post HERE! 

Where Do I Look For Classes? 

If you're thinking of taking a class, that's a VERY good idea. You'll learn from your teacher. You'll learn from the helpful staff. You'll learn from your classmates. You'll learn from hands-on experience. 

And also . . .classes are FUN. 😊

So, where do you find classes? Again, the answer is at your favorite quilt shop or online. Your quilt shop most likely offers a variety of classes and may even have a machine embroidery club you can join! 


Don't live near a quilt shop? That's okay! A lot of quilt shops offer virtual classes, so it really doesn't matter where you live. If you have the internet, you can find a class and attend from the comfort of your home.

There are lots of online tutorials on YouTube as well. (What did we ever do without YouTube?!) I also highly recommend joining the Kimberbellas [and Fellas, Too!] Facebook group. The members are so helpful!

Oh, and if you get the chance, try and sign up for a Kimberbell event (either in person or virtually). You can find certified shops hosting events HERE! (What's a Kimberbell event? Click HERE to learn more!)

Experience the Joy

I hope this post has answered a few of your questions. Our mission at Kimberbell is to invite others to Experience the Joy of Creativity.®, and I'm so excited for you to begin doing just that!


Remember, there are many people who will be happy to help you along the way.  I can't wait for you to get started! (Be sure to share this post with other newbies in your life . . .) 

Happy stitching!



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