I’ll admit it. I’ve worked at Make: for 2 years and never really considered myself much of a maker. But recently, along with fellow editor Caleb, I picked up the Brother SE400 Embroidery and Sewing Machine. As I started imagining all the embellishments I could add to clothes, and patches I wanted to design, I figured I ought to see what others had been doing in the world of machine embroidery.

I found some really helpful tutorial videos on YouTube from TLCInspirations and Burley Sew, but what really entranced me were the simple, up-close-and-personal timelapse videos I found of the machine plugging away. I love seeing the zig-zag of the first stitches (this is called the underlay) as the image takes shape, and watching it slowly fill in with details.

Caleb made this awesome Jeff Goldbum patch a while ago. (You may have even noticed it was an easter egg in the Toolbox section of our biohacking issue, Volume 56.)

Seeing how different people choose to order the elements of their design is interesting to me, as a newbie. As I learn more about digitizing images for embroidery, I’m learning that while it sometimes seems like it’s just a matter of personal preference, there’s also some strategy involved as well.

Another machine embroiderer I found on Instagram, and then later on Youtube, is EmbeddedJunkie, who has tons of really beautiful timelapse embroidery videos.

Of course there’s Mr. Sparkle and the insanity pepper, both from The Simpsons:

And this cool R2D2 design:

I especially like how some of his designs don’t fully embroider the area. Take a look at how the body of this shark gets kind of a gray textured look with the exposed underlay on white fabric:

He also uses some cool materials, like the glow-in-the-dark thread for this Team Valor patch:

And again in this alien patch:

I also like the effect of small details that don’t look like much up close, but once you step back you can see that they form a design, almost like a pointillist painting. He uses this effect on The Lament Configuration design he made from Hellraiser:

I’m still playing around with my machine and getting a hang of the software, but stay tuned for a step by step project in the near future once I get it dialed in!