Last week I got a note from an Etsy shopper who was not really sure what endless embroidery designs were or how they would be stitched. After answering her question I thought this would be a good time for a little tutorial on the subject. Endless or continuous embroidery designs include alignment stitches, start markers and end markers, which make stitching out connecting repeats foolproof!
Looking at the sample design at left, the dotted lines stitch first. They start at the center of the hoop go to the top left, the top right and then back to the center. These are the start markers. They are jump stitches only, so they do not actually stitch on your fabric.
The little corners at the lower edge of the design are the end markers. They stitch out last and they actually do stitch onto your fabric; you need them to match the next repeat of your design.
You can stitch endless or continuous embroidery designs using a regular hoop that the design fits into, or use a specialty hoop, specially made for endless or continuous embroidery. An endless or continuous hoop usually features a clamp type mechanism rather than the two-part hoop system normally used for machine embroidery. The advantage of the clamp is that it makes it easier and quicker to reposition the fabric for the next placement. With one click you have hooped your fabric. When the embroidery is completed, one click releases the fabric. Then simply slide the fabric up or down, as necessary, and continue embroidery.
Here are some endless design/project sets you can find in my Etsy store, just click on a picture below.
Stitching Endless Borders
First stitch or print a placement template for the design or designs to be used. You can download instructions here.
Cut a length of fabric long enough for the entire embroidery, allowing enough room at each end for hooping. Cut an equal length of stabilizer. Spray the stabilizer with temporary adhesive spray and adhere onto the wrong side of the fabric; finger press to secure into place. This keeps the fabric from shifting while you re-hoop.
Mark a guide line along the length of the fabric; the embroidery is centered along this line. Starting at one end of the fabric, position the placement template onto the fabric, leaving enough room at the end for hooping. Line up the vertical centerline on the template with the marked line on the fabric. Pin into place to hold. Hoop fabric and stabilizer; match the markings on the fabric with the markings on the inner hoop.
Put hoop into position onto your embroidery sewing machine. Use the needle position controls to align the needle exactly over the center point. Remove the template and stitch out the endless or continuous design. The start markers are stitched first. You can ignore them on the first design. The end marker stitches are stitched last. When the embroidery is complete, remove hoop from embroidery sewing machine and remove fabric from hoop.
Position the placement template of the design onto the fabric once again, lining up the start markers on the template with the end markers on the stitched design and centered on the marked line, pin into place. Hoop fabric and stabilizer; match the markings on the fabric with the markings on the inner hoop.
We suggest that you remove the hoop for absolute accuracy when you are just starting to use the endless hoop. However, once you get really adept at using the endless hoop, you may not need to remove it from your embroidery sewing machine to reposition for the next repeat of the embroidery design.
Put hoop into position onto your embroidery sewing machine and remove the template. Use stitch navigation on the embroidery sewing machine to step forward by one stitch to the start marker. Then use the needle position controls to align the needle exactly over the end marker of the stitched design.
If the needle will not move far enough to align correctly with the end marker, this means the fabric is not hooped with the end marker far enough inside the hoop. You will need to adjust your fabric in the hoop and try again.
To align with the second end marker, step forward by one more stitch to the second start marker to confirm it is over the second end marker. Once you are satisfied with the placement, stitch out the design.
If the second marker is not aligned, then the fabric may not be straight in the hoop, in which case you should adjust it and try again. Alternatively, there may be pull on the fabric and you may need to choose a compromise position that gives the best fit between the two markers.