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View Each Letter of the Alphabet in All Available Styles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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3 Letter Monograms

Single letter monograms (either first of last initial) were the most common type until the beginning of the 20th Century. Three letter combinations are now the most common form. See the results of our Rules of Monogramming focus group for letter placement.

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Best Hooping Technique

The best hooping technique - not too tight and not too loose. If you need to make adjustments to take up slack once the fabric is hooped, don't get carried away and stretch the fabric too tight!

Change Needles

Don't forget to change needles regularly. Old needles can cause thread breaks and inconsistent embroidery.

Create New Designs

If you think of letters more abstractly, you can create all sorts of new designs from them. Try turning a letter on its side, then link several copies together to create a decorative border.

Cotton Thread

Many heirloom monogrammers find that rayon or polyester thread has too high a sheen for their projects, and are interested in using cotton thread to simulate the look of older pieces.

Standard rayon and poly thread is manufactured in 40 weight, and the industry standard for digitizing stock designs is to create densities that sew properly with thread of this weight.

Cotton thread is often found in 50 weight. A higher thread weight translates to a thinner thread. If you use 50 weight thread on a design that is digitized for 40 weight thread the result will be a reduction in density. You can compensate for this by using your embroidery/resizing software program to increase the density throughout the design. These density settings can sometimes be counter-intuitive - a lower setting will produce a higher density - so a sew-out to establish the correct formula is essential. The sew-out will also confirm the amount of density increase that is necessary.

When used in an embroidery machine, cotton thread produces more lint than rayon or poly, so be prepared to clean out any buildup under the machine's throat plate and in the bobbin area on a regular basis.

Curved Lines

In embroidery, there is no such thing as a curved line. A curve is composed of small straight connected sections, travelling from one point to the next.

Curved Tweezers

A pair of curved tweezers, available at sewing and craft stores, is a handy tool for picking out small pieces of stabilizer, and for grabbing thread for close trims.

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Cut Excess Backing

It can be tricky to cut excess cut-away backing close to the embroidery without accidentally also cutting the fabric. The best method is to hold the embroidery up by the backing with one hand, backside facing you, with a strong light sources behind. The weight of the fabric will pull down, and with sharp scissors in your other hand you can trim very close to the embroidery edge.

Cutaway Backing

Cutaway backing is normally used for knit fabrics and tearaway backing for woven fabrics.

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Ironing A Monogram

When ironing a monogram on table or bed linens, lay the monogram face down on a towel and iron from the back. Use the appropriate dry temperature setting for the fabric. Next, remove the towel, turn the fabric over, and iron the surrounding area, avoiding the monogram.

Letter Positioning

When merging individual letters within your embroidery software to make a three-letter combination, the last initial typically goes in the middle, and is larger than the flanking letters. Start with the center letter - it will be easier to accurately position the other two.

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Long Term Storage

For long-term fabric storage, acid-free Tyvek envelopes are excellent, and easily available from conservation houses and many office supply stores.

Magic Ink Pens

In a perfect world, thread tensions would be perfect, with no bobbin thread visible on top. A handy addition to your toolbox is a set of magic ink pens in a variety of colors, available from embroidery supply companies, for those moments when things aren't perfect.

No Marks on Velvet

To ensure that your hoop doesn't create marks on velvet and delicate fabrics, wrap the outer hoop with foam athletic tape, widely available at pharmacies.

Pre-wound Bobbins

If you use pre-wound bobbins, they will last longer if they are stored in a storage container with an airtight top.

Precise Placement

For precise placement, sew a sample, then make a photocopy of it. Determine the exact center of the design by measuring the width, then the height. Mark this spot with a pencil, then make a hole with a paper punch at the center point. Place this template on the hooped fabric, then position the needle directly over the design center.

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Record Settings

Keep a record of thread type and colors, backings used, etc. when you sew something out. Many embroidery software programs provide the option to include this information along with the design.

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Garments with embroidery mistakes make great samples for future projects on the same fabric.

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Satin Stitches

If you enlarge a design with satin stitches within your software, be sure to keep the stitch length shorter than 12mm.

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Smooth Stitches

For digitizers: an edge-walk underlay 1-2mm in from the edge of a satin stitch will help to keep the edge of the stitching smooth.

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Stitch Eraser

A device called a "stitch eraser" is a useful tool for emergencies. Similar to a small electric razor, and available from sewing stores, it can be used to carefully cut away the bobbin thread on the backside of a bad embroidery job.

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One of the problems with embroidery on terrycloth is that after repeated washings the loops can work their way through the stitches. Water-soluble stabilizer will hold down the loops at first, but will wash away when laundered. Try an old commercial embroidery trick - dry cleaner bags. They are readily available, and don't break down when washed. The bag is cut away on the edges by the needle penetrations from the embroidery.

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Thread Conservation

Embroidery thread can be used for 10 years or more if it is properly stored. Keep the thread away from sunlight, and don't allow it to get too dry. Many embroiderers store thread in zip-lock bags.

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Thread Tension

A good guide for checking thread tension - look at satin stitches from the back side. You should see a column divided into three equal parts: top thread 1/3, bobbin thread 1/3, top thread 1/3.

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Towels and Napkins

When monogramming towels, napkins, etc. it is much easier to hoop the items straight if you place your hoop on a flat grid to aid alignment. There are manufactured products for this purpose, or you can make your own with a sheet of bristol board, a straight edge and a permanent marker.

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