Design Placement Made Easy (with no software)


Getting the position of your embroideries correct can be a daunting task. Placing one design on a project is not so difficult, but when you want to combine several designs, it is easy to get it wrong. The issue is even more complicated if you are putting designs on to a garment. You don’t want your designs to dissappear under an arm, sit at an awkward angle, or draw attention to the wrong parts of your body.

Even when making flat projects, it is all too easy to work in the rectangular stitch area of our hoops, rather than arrange the designs in the most attractive layout for the project.

The best way to be sure your layout is how you would like it is to make templates of your designs and pin them to your project. You could then hoop up for each design and embroider the designs out one by one. However if you have a hoop that will cover more than one design, it would save a lot of time and stabiliser to embroider the designs in the one hooping. All you need to know now is how to place the designs in your machine.

Enter Eileen Roche and her new book “ Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Lessons”


This easy to read book covers all the essential information someone starting out in machine embroidery needs. It is packed full of useful tips. Even those of us who have been embroidering for a while will learn something new. I particularly found her information on design placement very helpful and the book includes some tools to make the job so much easier. There were a few other tips I picked up about hooping also. I will need a second roll of painters masking tape now for my sewing room. (The other one is in my art trolley) I’m not going to let you in on all the secrets in her book though. You can click on the blog tour badge at the top right of the screen to learn more and buy it, or you can enter the competition at the end of this post and possibly win the signed copy Eileen generously donated. I am going to show you how I used the tools to get the placement of my designs into my sewing machine. This is just one use for the tools. The book covers many more uses.

You don’t need any computer software for this. In a later post I will show how the tool can be used with Bernina Designer Plus to layout designs.

As I mentioned before, you need to pin your templates on to your project in your preferred arrangement. The book tells you how to make templates if you do not have any for your design. I like to print my templates on tracing paper so that I can turn them over if I want to mirror image them. In the picture I have some printed on paper, so that you can see them better.

Templates positioned on project
Templates positioned on project

Next you need to mark the centre cross hairs, direction and whether or not the designs are mirror imaged. You can use a fabric marker, but Eileen’s target stickers make it so much easier. If you can see through your template, you can slide them under and press into place. If not, cut a hole in the centre of the template. Make sure the marks on the stickers line up with the cross hairs on your design and write MI on the sticker if the design is mirror imaged.

Target Sticker
Target Sticker

Now you can lay your hoop grid over the project, turning it to cover as many whole designs as you can. Any designs that do not fit in the stitch area of your hoop, including those that only partially fit, will have to be hooped seperately. If you do not have a hoop grid, lay your project in your hoop remembering to keep the designs within the stitch area. There are more hints about this in the book


Move your project to the hoop. I like to use a sticky stabiliser, or tearaway with basting spray so that I don’t have to worry whether the project fits in the hoop. Making sure your designs are still in the stitch area press the project on to the stabiliser.SAM_0421

Now for the placement. The Centering Ruler, Target Ruler and Angle Finder, that come with the book, will all help you get the information you need to place your designs in your machine. (If you don’t want the book, Eileen has tool kits available on her website )  If you have used target stickers, you can now remove your templates.

For each design you need to know how far the centre is from the cross hairs of your hoop. Measurements up and or to the right of the cross hairs will be positive. Measurements to the left and or down will be negative. Using either the Target ruler or the Centering ruler measure from the horizontal cross hair to the centre of the target sticker and again from the vertical cross hair, making sure your ruler stays parallel to the cross hairs. Record these measurements.


To find the angle you should rotate your design, lay the Angle finder over the design so that the centre hole is over the center of the sticker. Make sure the 0 degrees is pointing to the top of the hoop, and that the 0 to 180 degree line is parallel to the verical cross hair.


Holding the base of the Angle Finder steady rotate the top section until the red arrow points in the same direction as the arrow on the Target Sticker and the lines align with each other. The red arrow will be pointing to the angle you need to rotate your design.

Record this. Repeat these measurements for all the designs.

Now we can go to the machine. Open your first design and go to your editing screen. Mirror image the design if necessary. You should have somewhere on your machine that shows where the center of the design is in relation to the centre of the hoop. It should read 0,0 or x=0,y=0 as designs open in the center of the hoop by default. Move your design

until these numbers match the measurements you took.

Moving the design on your machine
Moving the design on your machine

Next you need to rotate the design by the measurement you took with the Angle Finder.

Rotating the design
Rotating the design

Continue adding your designs and poitioning them.

When you have all your designs in place, remove the target stickers and you are ready to embroider. You can add a basting stitch if you like.

Voilla! Your layout has been embroidered exactly where you want it. I used one of my metallic splendour designs here. I haven’t used metallic thread though. You can get this design for just $1.00 by clicking on the image below.


Embroidered design


6 thoughts on “Design Placement Made Easy (with no software)”

  1. I would love to win this book. I have had an embroidery machine for 4 years now and do not use it very much because I seem to have issues getting a good results on my embroidery.

  2. this looks like it will make things so much easier to position our designs, along with giving us so much more information on things. Love love love it, hope to win one. fingers crossed.I just can’t get enough!! So excited!!Love all the new sites it takes us to also.

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