Placement Guides, Alignment Marks, Placement Marks, What’s the Difference?
No matter what you call them, they are a visual aid to place fabric in a hoop so that the design stitches exactly where planned.
A placement guide is usually a running stitch partial outline of an item such as a collar point, corner of a rectangle, pocket top or pant leg hem. The placement guide is normally stitched on tear-away adhesive stabilizer first and then the item is aligned with the placement guide for perfect positioning. The placement guide is torn away after the item is removed from the stabilizer. Nancy Zieman and I used this technique in Designer Handbags and Designer Necklines.
Placement guides are helpful for placing embroidery close to a fabric edge. They are not appropriate for embroidery that is centered in large expanses of fabric such as the center of a pillow sham, towel, jacket back, etc.
Alignment and/or Placement Marks
Alignment and placement marks (the terms alignment and placement marks are used interchangeably) are usually running stitches stitched in an arrow or crosshair formation that are included in the color sequences of the design. They can be located within the design’s boundaries or just outside the design area. Not intended to be pretty stitches, alignment and placement marks are functional only and will be removed from the fabric after the embroidery is complete.
If you link the alignment marks, the embroidery will be linked. The simple graphic style of alignment marks (arrows and crosshairs) make it easy for an embroiderer to determine if the designs are going to connect. The crosshair alignment marks stitch directly on top of their corresponding stitched alignment marks. The arrow alignment marks usually abut at one side of the arrow. Since the alignment marks are always the first stitches of a design, it’s easy to see if the designs will link as intended before stitching any of the design’s beautiful stitches (which are much harder to remove than alignment marks).
Let’s take a look at two embroidery designs from machine Embroidered Quilting and Applique. SwirlBottom is an ‘innie’ design and SwirlTop, an ‘outie’ design.
When placed end to end, there is a large opening between the two designs. Not very desirable for continuous embroidery.
When I move the second design (SwirlBottom) up to the first design and abut the alignment marks, the stitches join seamlessly.
Here are some key elements to remember. Alignment marks must be stitched with every design so that you can connect the designs. Normally, you will align the bottom marks of a stitched design with the top marks of the design you are about to stitch. (This can change if you are moving right to left or vice versa.)
Freedom to move the fabric to align the second design is VERY helpful. There are a few ways to achieve this.
- A flat magnetic hoop such as Snap-Hoop or Magna-Hoop gives you the opportunity to move the hooped fabric to align the placement marks. Advance the needle to the first stitch (the alignment mark) and move the fabric until the stitched placement mark is positioned right under the needle. Travel through the alignment marks to verify placement.
- Adhesive stabilizer in a standard hoop will let you slide the fabric under the needle (which is advanced to the first stitch, the alignment mark) before pressing the fabric to the hooped tacky surface. Travel through the alignment marks to verify placement.
- Perfect Alignment Laser(PAL) precisely matches alignment marks when used in this simple fashion. Stitch the first design including the alignment marks. Remove the fabric from the hoop. Hoop adhesive stabilizer and stitch the alignment marks of the second design on the stabilizer. Remove the hoop from the machine and slide the hoop under PAL’s beam. Move the hoop until the horizontal beam is sitting on the horizontal line of the stitched alignment marks and PAL’s vertical beam is centered between the alignment marks.Slide the fabric under the beam aligning the first design’s stitched alignment marks with the beam. The design will connect as intended because the beam is aligned with the second set of alignment marks even though you can’t see them at this point (remember, they are underneath the fabricWith the fabric secured on the adhesive stabilizer, attach the hoop to the machine and stitch the remainder of the design.So where do you get placement guides and alignment marks? If you’re comfortable with digitizing, you can create your own and add them to any design you want to transform into a continuous embroidery design. Just remember, the stitches need to be like basting stitches – easy to remove.
A wide assortment of placement guides can be found in Place & Stitch. Click here to view the product.
You can add your own alignment marks with Perfect Alignment Software.
Perfect Alignment Software and PAL are on sale this week. Click here to view a video and see the special.