Tips and Tricks with Templates and Placement


Even if you have been embroidering for a while, I will show you some tips and tricks that will make it even easier to achieve perfect embroidery design placement.

Printing Templates

Placement of designs can be intimidating to a lot of people. One of the first things I recommend is that you purchase software that allows you to print out templates. Templates can be created from digitizing software but you don't have to spend that kind of money to print a design template. Editing software works just fine. Not sure of the difference? Read this blog!

Christmas Cookies machine applique designs at Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Generally, this is an example of how a template looks when it comes off of your printer. It'll have a vertical line and a horizontal line on it. Often, it has an arrow pointing which end is up. If not, it is a good idea to add one manually. (Helpful tip: Be sure to print your template at 100%.)

Early on, transparency film was recommended as template material. I loved working with it but, at nearly $1 per sheet, I saved it for special projects. I prefer working with paper templates.

Fussy Cutting

Christmas Cookies machine applique by Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Templates help you audition your fabrics and get the fabric designs exactly where you want them. If you're doing an applique design and want to use certain prints of a specialty fabric, templates help get the placement right.

Christmas Cookies machine applique by Sew Inspired by Bonnie

This is the mitten from my Christmas Cookies collection. I eliminated all of the design except for the satin stitching around the mitten and cuff and printed the template.

Then, I cut out the center and cut close to the outside edge. By using the cutout template, I can see exactly which part of the Santa fabric print that I want to use for the applique.

Christmas Cookies designs by Sew Inspired by Bonnie

I want all three of these little Santa's on that mitten and I can see exactly what's going to fit. Trace around the inside with a marking pen or pencil and cut about a quarter inch outside of that.

Luggage Tags in-the-hoop designs by Sew Inspired by Bonnie

I have done the same thing with my luggage tags. Tags can be vertical or horizontal. It is a great way to see prints that may be too big for the piece.

Luggage Tags in-the-hoop designs by Sew Inspired by Bonnie

For this one, trace around the outer edge. The fabric is going to go on the back of the tag once the placement line is down. Once tacked down, make sure it's exactly where you want it. It's a lot easier to remove tack down stitches than it is the finishing satin stitches.

Project Design Placement

Another way I use my paper templates is to see how the design will look on my project. If I were to place this applique from my Snow Buddies set on a shirt, rough cut around the edges of the template.

Snow Buddies machine applique by Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Always put the number of the design on your template. Once they get separated from the sheet, you no longer know what design it is, especially when cutting out several templates.

Put on the shirt and move the template around. When it looks good, tape it in place and hoop it for embroidery.

I like using Transpore surgical tape. It sticks well, is a bit opaque, and tears clean if you accidentally stitch over it. (Tip: Transpore tape can be found at many discount stores in their pharmacy department.)

Have you seen this blog on Single Design Positioning? There is another one that explains using templates for Multiple Design Placement.

Eyeball It

You need to rely on your eyes for centering some designs, especially those that are not symmetrical. Say you were stitching a cat with a long tail sticking out. The bulk of the body is a focal point. Even though you may have measured to the exact center of the design, it will not look right to your eyes. 


Sometimes mirror imaging is necessary to keep design layouts symmetrical. I wanted a central design on this shirt and a design on either side of it. Because one side has a swirl going up, positioning both the same would look odd. I went back to my software and mirror imaged one of the side designs and reprinted the template. Now it is balanced.

Take a Snapshot

If you are trying a few different layouts of your design elements, snap a photo with your cell phone as you go along. That way, you can easily compare and see which combination you like best. If a cell phone photo is too small, email it to yourself for a larger view.

Make Sure Your Hoop Matches Your Screen

Sometimes, when auditioning design layouts, the arrow on the template will not be pointing straight up. Make sure that what you are seeing in the hoop matches what you have on your embroidery machine screen.

If the design is rotated, it should be rotated on your machine or if it's upside-down, you want to make sure that it's upside-down on your machine.

If you have the same design, but one is mirror imaged, add a M by the design number on the template. That way, you know that you have to mirror image it on your machine as well.

You can see the full video here

May your day be blessed with perfect stitches and GlitterFlex!!

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  • Bonnie Welsh - February 26, 2019

    Renee, Thanks for asking! I announced the cancellation of my weekly Tuesday’s Tips Facebook LIVE videos this past January due to lack of time on my part. I might do a video here or there in the future at some point, but it won’t be weekly. I will continue the weekly blog though! =)

  • Renee Peregrine - February 26, 2019


    Are u doing your Tuesday tips on video anymore
    Miss you on video!!

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