Monogram machine: what is it and how does it work?

By on March 15th, 2021
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what is a monogram machine?
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So you want to start adding monograms to clothing and accessories but not quite sure which type of monogram machine to buy? I get it.  If you are new to all of this, it’s hard to which type of machine you should buy. This is because different types of machines will create monograms, however, these machines work very differently and are used to make different types of monograms.

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What is a monogram machine?

Let’s first just discuss the notion of a monogram machine. There actually is not such a thing. Or, at least that’s now what they are called. So, what, exactly, are you looking for? Do you want a machine that can stitch monograms or do you want on that makes monogram decals? These are two very different types of machines. An embroidery machine will allow you to stitch out monograms, but a You will not be able to find one monogram machine that can do both.

Use an embroidery machine to create monograms

If you’ve landed on this article from somewhere out there in cyberspace, you may not realize that the focus of this particular blog is all about machine embroidery. So, naturally I talk a lot about embroidery machines, and embroidery machines are one type of monogram machine.

Embroidery machines are a great way great tool to add a monogram to clothing and accessories. However, the types of monograms they produce are a stitched monogram. The letters that make up the monogram will be comprised of stitches. If this is the type of monogram that you want to create than this and embroidery machine is your monogram machine you’ve been looking for.

a stitched monogram created on an embroidery machine
A stitched monogram is created by an embroidery machine

Single needle home embroidery machines for creating monograms

When it comes to embroidery machines, there are basically two different classes: single needle home embroidery machines, and multi-needle, commercial grade embroidery machines. If you are just getting started and not sure if you are going to be running an embroidery business, your first machine will likely be a single needle home embroidery machine. There are quite a few models of single needle embroidery machines that are under $1000 that are perfect for beginners. Any of these will create monograms. However, entry-level embroidery machines like the Brother SE600, the Star Wars or Marvel model, or the Janome Memory Craft 230E with very small hoops will limit the size of the monogram that you can create.

A home embroidery machine is one type of monogram machine
A home embroidery machine can stitch out monograms on clothing and accessories.

The biggest limitation of these home embroidery machines is how you access the area that you were going to embroider. Home embroidery machines have a flatbed so in order to monogram small items like onesies or objects with small openings like boot cuffs, it can be quite challenging. Because you need to lay the Area you were monogramming flat and push the rest of the item out of the way. Nevertheless, I have been able to monogram some pretty tricky items like shoes, baseball caps, and yes, baby onesies using a single needle home embroidery machine

Multi-needle embroidery machines for monogramming

A multi-needle embroidery machine will allow you to take your monogramming capabilities to the next level. This is because the area under the needle head is open which allows you to more easily access tight spaces. Multi needle machines also stitch out monograms a lot faster and the stitch quality tends to look nicer. The catch? Multi-needle embroidery machines are significantly more expensive than their home single needle counterparts. You will be investing at least a few thousand dollars for a multi needle machine. For example, the Janome MB-7, which is a 6 needle multi-needle machine is about $6500 but it offers a lot more monogramming capabilities than its single needle counterpart.

How to make the monogram to stitch on an embroidery machine

Regardless of what type of embroidery machine you have, if you want to stitch out a monogram, you need to first set up a monogram.  Every embroidery machine will have some built in fonts. So, one way to create the monogram is to type it on the machine itself. But you can also purchase typefaces and set up monograms using software like Embrilliance or the built-in fonts in SewWrite. and transfer them via flash drive onto your embroidery machine.  While some embroidery software will allow you to set up monograms using the built in TTF fonts from your computer, the results are often sub par.

Cutting machines for creating monograms

A completely different type of monogram machine is a cutting machine. You may know of these types of machines by the most common brand name: Cricut.  However, there are many other brands out there, such as Silhouette (probably the 2nd most popular).  All of these machines operate similarly, allowing you to cut out shapes (including monograms)  from different types of materials. The shape that the machine cuts out is dictated by the file you set up within the software. And the style of the monogram you can create is dictated by the fonts you have installed on your computer. Any TTF font you have installed can be used to create a monogram!

another type of monogram machine: Cricut

Monogram materials you can use in a cutting machine

The types of materials that you can cut are quite varied.  I’ve cut everything from paper to felt using my Cricut. However, if your goal is to apply a monogram to an item of clothing or a home accessory like a vase or a cell phone case, you will likely want to cut your monogram out of adhesive or iron-on vinyl.

Creating a vinyl monogram and applying it to a non-wearable item

The standard adhesive vinyl is appropriate for monogramming non-wearable items. So, if, for example, you wanted to monogram a vase, you would set up the monogram file in the software that comes with the monogramming machine. Then you stick your vinyl to your cutting mat, feed it into the machine and tell the software to cut! Your monogram will be kiss cut from the peel away paper.

Transferring the monogram onto your item is a little tricky.  First you peel away all the vinyl except for your monogram.  You are left with the monogram and the excess peel away paper backing around the monogram.  Then you stick transfer paper on top of the monogram and rub it down.  The front side of the monogram will stick to the transfer paper.  Then you peel away all the backing. Finally, you stick the transfer paper with the monogram on it onto your object, rub it town and peel away the transfer paper.

Creating an iron-on monogram and fusing it to a wearable item

Creating a monogram from iron-on material using a Cricut is a slightly different process.  Before you cut out your monogram, you need to flip the design horizontally in the software.  Next, you stick the iron-on material on the mat with the right side facing the mat. Once you cut out the monogram, you must remove all the iron on material from the backing except for the monogram. Then, you just iron on the monogram and peel the backing away once the monogram is fused to the garment.

iron on monograms created by a cutting machine

As you can see, these two different monogram machines work very differently and create very different types of monograms. You may notice that gift stores that offer personalization will use both types of machines to allow them to personalize the many different products in their store.  If you are running a business offering personalized clothing and accessories, you may want to own both as well.

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