Can You Use a Regular Sewing Machine for Embroidery? Here’s How to Do So

Embarking on the creative journey of embroidery sparks curiosity, and many enthusiasts wonder, Can you use a regular sewing machine for embroidery? The prospect of transforming everyday fabric into a canvas for intricate designs fuels excitement among budding crafters. Picture the thrill of personalizing garments or crafting unique gifts with a touch of individuality.

As we explore the realms of sewing and embroidery, the question lingers, drawing us into a world where threads weave stories. Join us on this exploration, where the intersection of regular sewing and the artistry of embroidery unfolds, offering a glimpse into the possibilities that await those with a passion for needlecraft.

Key Highlights

  1. Embroidery on a regular sewing machine is possible but comes with limitations, as these machines lack specialized features found in dedicated embroidery machines.
  2. Using an embroidery foot on a regular sewing machine allows for basic stitching, but intricate designs may be challenging without the capabilities of a dedicated embroidery machine.
  3. For beginners experimenting with simple embroidery, a regular sewing machine with an embroidery foot can be a cost-effective starting point.
  4. To tackle more complex and detailed embroidery projects, investing in a dedicated embroidery machine with specialized features is recommended for a smoother and more efficient process.

Can You Use a Regular Sewing Machine for Embroidery?

The short answer is yes, but it comes with a few limitations. While a regular sewing machine can handle basic embroidery tasks, it lacks certain features that dedicated embroidery machines offer.

Embroidery machines are specially designed to handle intricate stitching and are equipped with features like a larger embroidery hoop, built-in designs, and the ability to move the fabric in multiple directions. On the other hand, a regular sewing machine primarily focuses on straight stitches, zigzags, and other basic sewing functions. However, you can still achieve some embroidery effects with a regular sewing machine by using an embroidery foot and manipulating the fabric manually.

To use a regular sewing machine for embroidery, you’ll need an embroidery foot, which allows you to see the stitching area clearly. You’ll also have to control the movement of the fabric yourself, which may require more effort and precision compared to using an embroidery machine. Keep in mind that intricate and detailed designs may be challenging to execute on a regular sewing machine, and you might not achieve the same professional finish as with a dedicated embroidery machine.

In summary, while it’s possible to use a regular sewing machine for basic embroidery, dedicated embroidery machines are designed for more intricate designs and provide additional features that make the process smoother and more efficient. If you’re just starting and want to experiment with simple embroidery, using a regular sewing machine with an embroidery foot can be a cost-effective way to get started.

However, if you plan to delve deeper into the world of embroidery and tackle more complex projects, investing in a dedicated embroidery machine is advisable.

Can You Use a Regular Sewing Machine for Embroidery

How to Use a Regular Sewing Machine for Embroidery?

Embroidery adds a creative touch to fabrics, and you can achieve this with a regular sewing machine. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Select the Right Needle:
    • Choose an embroidery needle suitable for your fabric. These needles have a larger eye to accommodate embroidery threads.
  2. Thread the Machine:
    • Use embroidery thread in the needle and bobbin. Ensure the tension settings are appropriate for embroidery work.
  3. Attach an Embroidery Foot:
    • Replace the regular presser foot with an embroidery foot. This foot allows for better visibility and control while stitching.
  4. Select an Embroidery Design:
    • Choose a simple design for starters. You can find free embroidery patterns online or create your own.
  5. Stabilize the Fabric:
    • Place a piece of stabilizer beneath the fabric to prevent stretching or distortion during embroidery.
  6. Mark the Design:
    • Use a water-soluble pen or tailor’s chalk to mark the design on the fabric. This helps guide your stitching.
  7. Set the Machine for Free-Motion Stitching:
    • Some machines have a free-motion embroidery setting. If not, lower the feed dogs and set the stitch length to zero.
  8. Practice on Scrap Fabric:
    • Before starting on your actual project, practice the chosen design on a scrap piece of fabric to get comfortable with the movements.
  9. Start Stitching:
    • Begin stitching following the marked design. Move the fabric gently and steadily, guiding it to create the desired pattern.
  10. Secure the Threads:
    • Tie off the threads at the beginning and end of your embroidery to prevent unraveling. You can use a few backstitches or a securing knot.
  11. Trim Excess Threads:
    • Trim any loose threads to give your embroidery a neat and polished look.
  12. Remove Stabilizer:
    • After completing the embroidery, tear away or dissolve the stabilizer according to the product instructions.
  13. Press the Embroidery:
    • Press the embroidered area on the reverse side to set the stitches and remove any remaining marks.

Remember, practice is key to improving your embroidery skills on a regular sewing machine. Feel free to experiment with different designs and thread colors to enhance your creations.

Unlocking Creativity | Can You Use a Regular Sewing Machine for Embroidery

Let’s discuss these steps in detail now.

1. Select the Right Needle:

Embarking on embroidery with a regular sewing machine starts with choosing the appropriate needle. Opt for an embroidery needle that is specifically designed for this purpose. These needles have a larger eye, allowing them to accommodate the thicker threads commonly used in embroidery work. Using the right needle ensures smooth stitching without damaging the delicate embroidery threads.

  1. Identify Needle Type: Check your sewing machine manual to determine the suitable needle type for embroidery.
  2. Choose Needle Size: Select an embroidery needle size based on the fabric you’re working with. Larger sizes are suitable for thicker fabrics.

2. Thread the Machine:

Proper threading is crucial for successful embroidery. Use embroidery thread in both the needle and the bobbin. Ensure that the thread’s color and thickness match your design requirements. Additionally, pay attention to the tension settings on your sewing machine to prevent issues such as thread breakage or uneven stitching.

  1. Select Embroidery Thread: Choose embroidery-specific thread with vibrant colors suitable for your design.
  2. Thread the Needle: Follow your sewing machine manual to correctly thread the needle, ensuring the thread passes through the machine’s guides.
  3. Thread the Bobbin: Wind the bobbin with the same embroidery thread and insert it into the bobbin case following the machine instructions.

3. Attach an Embroidery Foot:

Swapping the regular presser foot for an embroidery foot is essential for improved visibility and control during stitching. The embroidery foot is designed to provide a clear view of the needle area, making it easier to follow the chosen design.

  1. Locate the Presser Foot Release: Check your sewing machine manual to find how to release and replace the presser foot.
  2. Remove Regular Foot: Lift the presser foot, remove the regular foot, and set it aside.
  3. Attach Embroidery Foot: Align the embroidery foot with the machine’s presser foot holder and lower it into place, ensuring it clicks securely.

4. Select an Embroidery Design:

Choosing an appropriate embroidery design is a creative step in the process. Especially for beginners, start with a simple design. You can find numerous free embroidery patterns online, or if you’re feeling artistic, create your own. Opt for a design that matches your skill level and the intended project.

  1. Explore Design Options: Browse online platforms or books for free embroidery patterns. Choose a design that aligns with your skill level and project requirements.
  2. Print or Transfer Design: Once selected, either print the design or transfer it onto your fabric using methods like tracing, transfer paper, or a lightbox.

5. Stabilize the Fabric:

Stabilizing the fabric is a critical step to prevent distortion or stretching during embroidery. Place a piece of stabilizer beneath the fabric before you start stitching. The stabilizer provides support and helps maintain the integrity of the design, ensuring the finished embroidery looks professional.

  1. Select Stabilizer Type: Choose an appropriate stabilizer based on your fabric and the complexity of the design.
  2. Position Stabilizer: Place the stabilizer beneath the fabric, aligning it with the marked embroidery design.
  3. Secure Both Layers: Pin or hoop both the fabric and stabilizer together, ensuring they remain taut and securely in place.

6. Mark the Design:

Before you begin stitching, mark the chosen design on the fabric. Use a water-soluble pen or tailor’s chalk to create visible guidelines. These marks serve as a reference for your stitching, guiding you to achieve the desired pattern accurately.

  1. Choose Marking Tool: Select a suitable marking tool that contrasts with your fabric, such as a water-soluble pen or tailor’s chalk.
  2. Mark Design Elements: Carefully trace the chosen design onto the fabric, ensuring precision in capturing the details.
  3. Double-Check Alignment: Verify that the marked design aligns with the stabilizer and is well-centered on the fabric.

Following these steps ensures that your fabric is well-prepared for embroidery, and the chosen design is clearly outlined, setting the stage for the actual stitching process on a regular sewing machine.

7. Set the Machine for Free-Motion Stitching:

To prepare your regular sewing machine for embroidery, you need to either locate the free-motion embroidery setting or manually adjust settings for free-motion stitching. If your machine has this specific setting, engage it. Alternatively, lower the feed dogs (the teeth that move the fabric) and set the stitch length to zero for manual control.

  1. Locate Free-Motion Setting: Check your sewing machine manual to find the free-motion embroidery setting. Engage it if available.
  2. Adjust Feed Dogs: If there’s no specific setting, lower the feed dogs using the machine controls.
  3. Set Stitch Length to Zero: Ensure the stitch length is set to zero for free-motion stitching.

8. Practice on Scrap Fabric:

Before diving into your actual project, it’s crucial to practice the chosen design on a scrap piece of fabric. This step helps you familiarize yourself with the movement and control needed for embroidery on a regular sewing machine.

  1. Use Scrap Fabric: Select a piece of fabric similar to your project material for practice.
  2. Stitch the Design: Follow the marked design on the scrap fabric, practicing even movements and turns.
  3. Adjust Machine Settings: If needed, make adjustments to the machine settings based on your practice experience.

9. Start Stitching:

With the machine set up and having practiced on scrap fabric, you’re ready to begin stitching your actual project. Follow the marked design, guiding the fabric smoothly to create the desired embroidery pattern.

  1. Position Needle: Lower the needle at the starting point of your design.
  2. Start Stitching: Gently guide the fabric, following the marked lines. Keep a steady pace for even stitches.
  3. Adjust Speed: Control the speed of the machine with the foot pedal to maintain precision in your stitching.

By practicing on scrap fabric and starting with a simple design, you build confidence in your ability to handle the regular sewing machine for embroidery. These steps set the foundation for creating beautiful embroidered projects with ease.

10. Secure the Threads:

At the beginning and end of your embroidery, it’s essential to secure the threads to prevent unraveling. This can be achieved by using a few backstitches or tying a securing knot. Securing the threads ensures the longevity and durability of your embroidery.

  1. Position Needle at Starting Point: Move the needle to the starting point of your embroidery.
  2. Perform Backstitches: Stitch backward for a few stitches to create a secure anchor at the beginning.
  3. Stitch the Design: Continue with the embroidery as planned.
  4. Perform Backstitches at the End: When finishing, stitch backward again to create a secure anchor at the end.

11. Trim Excess Threads:

After securing the threads, trim any loose ends or excess threads. This step contributes to the neatness and professionalism of your embroidery project. Use a pair of sharp scissors to carefully trim close to the stitches without cutting into the fabric.

  1. Inspect the Embroidery: Check for any loose threads or excess tail ends.
  2. Use Sharp Scissors: Trim the threads carefully, ensuring a clean and tidy finish.
  3. Check Both Sides: Inspect the front and back of the embroidery to make sure all threads are appropriately trimmed.

12. Remove Stabilizer:

Once the embroidery is complete, it’s time to remove the stabilizer. Follow the instructions provided with the stabilizer to either tear it away or dissolve it. Removing the stabilizer is crucial for showcasing the true texture and appearance of your embroidered design.

  1. Identify Stabilizer Type: Determine if your stabilizer needs tearing or dissolving based on the type.
  2. Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions: Adhere to the instructions provided by the stabilizer manufacturer for removal.
  3. Handle with Care: Gently remove the stabilizer without pulling or stretching the fabric.

13. Press the Embroidery:

To set the stitches and give your embroidery a polished look, press the embroidered area. Turn the fabric to the reverse side and press it with a dry iron on a low setting. This step helps flatten any minor puckering and enhances the overall appearance of the embroidery.

  1. Turn Fabric to Reverse Side: Flip the fabric to the back, exposing the embroidered side.
  2. Use a Dry Iron: Set the iron to a low heat setting, and press the embroidered area gently.
  3. Avoid Steam: Ensure the iron is dry, as using steam may affect the embroidery threads.

Following these steps ensures that your embroidery project using a regular sewing machine is not only creatively satisfying but also yields professional-looking results. Regular practice and experimentation with different designs will further enhance your embroidery skills.

Pros and Cons of Using a Regular Sewing Machine for Embroidery


  • More affordable
  • Portable & lightweight
  • Can still create basic designs for custom projects


  • Limited stitch options
  • No adjustable hooping system or tension control capabilities
  • Lack of speed control or specialized built-in embroidery software

Embroidery Machines vs. Sewing Machines

Embroidery and sewing machines are essential tools for those engaged in fabric crafting. While both machines contribute to the creation of garments, they serve distinct purposes.

AspectEmbroidery MachinesSewing Machines
FunctionalityDesigned for decorative stitching and intricate designs.Focus on the basic function of joining fabrics with various stitches.
Stitching CapabilityExcels in producing complex patterns, intricate designs, and motifs.Primarily used for basic stitching, may lack detailed decorative stitches.
PurposeAdds artistic flair to fabric, ideal for personalization and decoration.Used for fabric construction, hemming, and mending garments.
VersatilitySpecialized for decorative applications, may lack versatility in basic stitching.Versatile for general fabric construction; some models combine both functions.
Automation & TechnologyEquipped with advanced features for precise design execution and automation.Simpler in design, focusing on the fundamental task of stitching.

In summary, while both embroidery and sewing machines contribute to the creation of garments, their distinct functionalities cater to different aspects of fabric crafting. Depending on your crafting needs, choosing between an embroidery machine and a sewing machine involves considering the desired end result and the specific features each machine offers.

If you are interested in upholstery and are wondering if you can use a regular sewing machine for upholstery, you can read our guide here. Moreover, if you are wondering whether or not you can use sewing machine needles in the overlocker, you can find the answer to your query here.

Tips to Do Embroidery using a Regular Sewing Machine

Embroidery is a creative and enjoyable craft that is usually associated with specialized embroidery machines. However, you can also achieve beautiful embroidered designs using a regular sewing machine. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Choose the Right Needle:
    • Use a size 90/14 embroidery needle to accommodate the thicker embroidery threads.
    • This needle size prevents thread breakage and ensures smooth stitching.
  2. Select Appropriate Fabric:
    • Opt for medium-weight fabrics like cotton or linen for easier handling.
    • Avoid extremely thick or stretchy fabrics, as they may be challenging to work with.
  3. Install an Embroidery Foot:
    • Attach an embroidery foot to your sewing machine for better visibility and control.
    • This specialized foot allows you to see the stitching area clearly.
  4. Stabilize the Fabric:
    • Use stabilizers to reinforce the fabric and prevent puckering.
    • Tear-away or cut-away stabilizers work well for different fabric types.
  5. Choose the Right Thread:
    • Opt for embroidery thread that complements your fabric and design.
    • Ensure the thread is suitable for your regular sewing machine.
  6. Adjust Tension Settings:
    • Test and adjust the tension settings to avoid loose or tight stitches.
    • Proper tension ensures balanced and neat embroidery.
  7. Practice with Scrap Fabric:
    • Before starting your main project, practice on a piece of scrap fabric.
    • This helps you familiarize yourself with the settings and improves precision.
  8. Mark Your Design:
    • Use fabric markers or chalk to outline your embroidery design on the fabric.
    • This guide ensures accuracy and helps you stay on track while stitching.
  9. Start with Simple Designs:
    • Begin with basic designs to build confidence and skills.
    • As you become more comfortable, you can gradually progress to more intricate patterns.
  10. Control Stitching Speed:
    • Maintain a steady and controlled stitching speed to avoid mistakes.
    • Consistent speed contributes to even and well-defined embroidery.
  11. Secure Thread Ends:
    • Tie knots or use the backstitch function at the beginning and end of your embroidery.
    • This prevents unraveling and ensures the longevity of your embroidered piece.

Remember, practice and patience are key when learning how to do embroidery on a regular sewing machine. As you gain experience, you can explore advanced techniques and experiment with various designs.


Congratulations on uncovering the potential of using a regular sewing machine for embroidery with can you use a regular sewing machine for embroidery. With the right tools, techniques, and a sprinkle of creativity, you can achieve stunning embroidered designs on your projects. By exploring decorative stitches, adjusting tension settings, and using appropriate needles and threads, you can transform your trusty sewing machine into an embroidery marvel. 

Whether you’re embellishing garments, adding personalized touches to home decor, or creating unique gifts, the possibilities are limitless. So, embrace the fusion of sewing and embroidery, and let your imagination soar as you stitch intricate designs with the convenience and versatility of your regular sewing machine. Happy embroidering!


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Frequently Asked Questions

What type of fabrics are suitable for embroidery using a regular sewing machine?

Embroidery on a regular sewing machine is best done on lightweight fabrics like cotton, linen, or chiffon. For heavier fabrics like denim or canvas, an embroidery machine may be needed. Choose fabric that’s smooth and wrinkle-free for the best results!

Is it possible to add a special embroidery attachment to a regular sewing machine?

Yes! You can add a special embroidery attachment to most regular sewing machines and start creating beautiful designs. With this extra accessory, you’ll be able to take your creativity to the next level. Join the fun and express yourself through embroidery!

What kind of thread should be used for embroidery on a regular sewing machine?

You’ll want to use a polyester or rayon thread for embroidery on a regular sewing machine. Polyester is strong and won’t break easily, while rayon offers vivid colors and sheen. Both threads work great for detailed designs!

What is the difference between a dedicated embroidery machine and a regular sewing machine?

Your sewing machine is great for basic projects, but an embroidery machine offers so much more. With a dedicated embroidery machine, you can create intricate designs with ease. It has specialized features such as a larger hoop size and faster stitch speed that make it perfect for detailed work. Plus, its automated threading and bobbin winding make stitching easier than ever!

What is the best way to transfer embroidery designs to a regular sewing machine?

Transferring embroidery designs to a regular sewing machine is easy! You’ll need a design, an embroidery hoop and thread. Attach the hoop to your machine, load the design, select the right settings and you’re ready to stitch away!

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