Introduction: CNC Embroidery Printing SF and SFlettering With Only the Menu

About: Based in San Francisco I strive to incorporate custom lettering in the art that I design, print, and make.
In this instructable I am using the CNC Embroidery machine at the Techshop in SF which is a medium end machine made for beginners and intermediate users. It has a great range of settings and even includes the ability to print text directly from the menu without using the proprietary software. 

In this instructable you will need

strong thread to use for the bobbin and the embroidery thread
CNC embroidery machine
material backing (canvas was used in this demo)
material to embroider onto

TIP: I purchased some CNC machine embroidery thread for this project and it broke multiple times while other thread did not break even once. 

In this instructable I review 2 projects made with the CNC emroidery machine. Project one is a stylized version of the letters SF and proejct 2 is SFlettering in a standard font.

I made it at Techshop

Step 1: Creating the Letters on the Menu

The menu is quite simple to use and easy to understand. To make your letters simply go into the lettering menu area and choose your letters for use on your final project. Note that when choosing letters you may need to rotate the design to fit onto your project.

If you are using medium or large letters you may only be able to fit 3-5 letters onto a single embroidery area. The hoop dimensions will limit how large you can make your letters.

In the menu you will see the letters SF chosen - when choosing letters you can select from 

3 sizes (small, medium, large)
3 fonts (normal, stylized, calligraphy style)

TIP: The hoop and the work holding requirements also will mean that you either have to cut apart your clothing to embroider or embroider your design near an edge as the CNC embroidery machine work holding requirement must align the hoop with an edge of the fabric.

Step 2: Starting the Print for Letters Onto a Stretchy Fabric With Canvas Backing

When you are starting the print make sure that your hoop (fabric work holding equipment) snaps properly into place and has a tight hold on the fabric. When printing onto most fabrics plan on including a backing material such as canvas to get the best results from your embroidery project. 

When using stretchy fabric if you do not have a strong backing the material is likely to bunch and not work out.

FYI: The lit green button is your start button on this machine.

Step 3: Cleaning Up the Thread Between Letters

After the print is complete there are a few things you can do to get the best looking final product. When printing with a single color as shown in the image you will need to account for the thread between letters. I used a scissor as shown in the image to carefully cut the thread away from the end of one letter and from the beginning of the next letter. 

The extra threads once cut away will leave you with a great looking and solid final print of your embroidered letters. Note that a solid canvas backing allowed this project to print properly spaced and good looking letters onto a stretchy material.

Step 4: After Printing and Still in the Work Holding Device (The Hoop)

The workholding hoop is important to learn to use correctly. In the beginning of your print you will want to make sure that it is tight and evenly holding your fabric and the backing. During use the fabric was pulled toward the center and if your backing is pulled away from one edge it is likely your entire print will bunch and fail. 

TIP: Make sure the edges of your backing extends past the hoop edges by at least 3/4" of an inch on both sides to account for the fabric pulling from the machine embroidering the letters.

Step 5: Lettering on Stretchy Blue Fabric

The final letters will look best on a fabric that is solid or has a stretchy appearance and uses a strong backing materials such as canvas. On future pieces I also used an iron on backing that worked a bit better, but does not have the raw and cool look of the canvas material as the backing. When printing is complete consider cutting the backing materials to the right size.

TIP: Most of the time the backing material will have several threads that come off from the main fabric over time and these can be cut away or on some fabrics simply pulled away by hand. 

Good luck with your machine only lettering project on a CNC embroidery machine.