Underlay stitching is an often overlooked part of machine embroidery. Used as a stabilization base for the whole design to be sewn on embroidery machines like the Janome MC14000, many novice embroiderers may not understand what underlay is or its significance. To get the best results from Janome embroidery machines, it is essential to learn about underlay, what it does, and why it is so important.

What Is Underlay Stitching?

Underlay stitching is a preliminary layer of basic stitches that is sewn onto fabric underneath the actual embroidery design. It acts as a base thread layer that the final design is then sewn over, serving a number of important purposes. Whether used minimally or more extensively, these stitches remain under the main design and do not get removed afterward like stabilizer. When properly done, underlay ends up completely hidden by the top pattern.

What Does Underlay Do?

Underlay stitching performs a few critical functions that help improve the end result when using embroidery machines. Primarily, it acts as a stabilizer for fabric and top stitching, lending strength to the whole design. It creates a stable surface for top stitches so they are visible and the design has less chance of distorting while being sewn. Underlay also works as a method to securely attach the top fabric to the stabilizer material so neither will shift once the design has been started. In addition to these important purposes, underlay can also serve as a basic outline to make embroidering the final design easier.

Why Is Underlay Important for Great Machine Embroidery?

Although this method of base stitching is not required in all types of machine embroidery such as uncomplicated patterns and those with straight and running stitches, most other designs look much nicer when underlay is used on the area. It holds the fabric together to prevent stretch and distortion on the hoop and provides a supportive layer that allows top stitches to sit on top of the fabric rather than sink into it. As a result, designs stand out more, details are more visible, and puckering is reduced.

Generally speaking, the stiffer a fabric is, the less underlay it needs and vice-versa. In consideration of this, it is needed more when using Janome embroidery machines like the Janome MC14000 on softer fabrics such as some softer woven cottons, terry cloth, fleece, and others where the design disappear into the fibers and natural plushness without a backing to flatten that area. Similarly, it creates an important structural backing for embroidering done on finer, less firm fabrics that do not have enough substance to hold a design without the risk of damage to the fabric.

Except in rare cases, underlay stitching should be considered an essential element for success when using embroidery machines like the Janome MC14000. Many people may not be aware of this step since underlay ends up completely covered over by the main design, but it is still a very necessary part of the process when doing embroidery on Janome machines. Underlay stitching provides essential fabric securement and stability while creating a good base later on which the decorative stitches of embroidery designs will always look their best!

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