How to machine embroider names

Updated April 17, 2017

Machine embroidering names can add a creative, personalised touch to gifts, clothes, backpacks or bedding. Machine embroidering is also faster and easier than hand embroidering. Some sewing machines are designed solely for embroidery, but you don't need to own such a machine to embroider names. With a little practice you can use free-motion machine embroidery with a standard sewing machine and start monogramming to your heart's content.

Draw the letters of the name you are going to machine embroider onto your fabric using transfer pencil, dressmaking carbon, water-solvent pen, coloured pencil or felt-tip markers. Do not use ballpoint pens or lead pencils---these can smear and stain the fabric.

Check your machine's manual for specific instructions on how to adjust the settings for machine embroidery, as these will vary from one machine to the next.

Make sure your machine is well-oiled, then wipe the needle, needle bar, throat plate, and entire work surface of the machine thoroughly before you begin.

Adjust the thread tension carefully so that the tension is looser at the top than at the bottom. It should not be too loose, though, or it will cause loops on the wrong side of your work.

Place the backing paper and then the fabric design side up in a 6- or 8-inch hoop that has an adjustment screw. Separate the hoop and loosen the adjustment screw slightly. Set the large ring down on a flat surface. Glide the smaller ring into place and secure the backing paper fabric tightly in the hoop. Re-tighten the adjustment screw and pull on the edges of the fabric until it's tight enough to sound like a drum when tapped on.

Place the hoop under the needle and lower the presser foot lever. Use the hand wheel to insert the needle into the fabric. Bring up the bobbin thread.

Take three or four small stitches to lock the threads in place. Clip off the loose thread ends.

Set the stitch width regulator at the desired width and begin stitching the name.

Outline the letters of the name using a zigzag stitch pattern. Then fill in the letters of the name, blending the rows of stitches together by slightly overlapping them. Hold the fabric tightly against the needleplate while stitching. Your stitches should be close enough that the fabric does not show through, but not too close or the stitches will build up unevenly.

Move the stitch width regulator to 0 to end your stitching. Stitch three or four stitches in the same place. Pull the threads to the wrong side and clip them off as close to the fabric as possible.


Choose a smooth, silky and strong thread. Firm, closely woven, lightweight fabrics tend to work best for machine embroidery. Practice stitching the names before you embroider them onto your crafts.

Things You'll Need

  • Embroidery thread
  • Firm, closely woven fabric
  • Scissors
  • Needles
  • Hoops
  • Backing paper
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