10 commandments of Machine Embroidery – Thou Shalt Trim between colour changes

Hello, and welcome to my 10 week series on the 10 commandments of machine embroidery.

I really wanted to go over some of the basics of machine embroidery, and look at the rules that we should all be looking at to make the most of our stitching time.

This week we are looking at a fingers on a chalkboard one for me – Trimming Between Colour Changes

I often get asked how I get such amazing finish on my designs, and my response is always the same

  • Quality Fabric
  • Embroiders felt on quilt blocks
  • Trimming between colours
  • Slowing the speed down

So basically there are two types of embroiders – those who trim between each colour, and those who leave it all until the end.

I am definitely one of the embroiders who trim (and I have even ruined a few pair of scissors by attempting to trim whilst the machine is still working).

There are a few reasons why you should trim between each colour stitching:-

  • It is easier
  • It allows the next colour to layer beautifully, without extra tags from threads sticking out
  • It simply looks better

Now I know the first thing many of you will say, is “My machine trims for me”.  And this is true for me in the most part as well, however it doesn’t work all of the time.  Generally machines and digitizers work on a 5mm jump stitch, meaning any jumps larger than 5mm will be cut, and any less than this will not be cut.

You may also find that when the thread cuts, it leaves a little tag behind, and this will need to be trimmed before moving onto the next colour as well.


In the example I have above, the design includes many jumps, as the design is almost replicated on the other side of the block.  If I hadn’t trimmed these jumps between colour changes, the delicate design would have ugly threads running underneath them for eternity, or else you would be pulling the threads out from between the stitches with tweezers.

The other trick when you are trimming your threads, is to always use a curved tip scissor.  I love, and now sell a gorgeous range of curved tip scissors, and recommend these to anyone who asks.

I hope you have enjoyed hearing my thoughts on this commandment, and I would love to hear your ideas as well.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.

Related Posts


  • Reply
    March 13, 2019 at 10:37 am

    I dont know

  • Reply
    March 13, 2019 at 10:39 am


  • Reply
    Sue Bastide
    March 13, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    hi Julie, what do you trim on the back of the design?

    • Reply
      March 13, 2019 at 8:36 pm

      Hi Sue, and thank you so much for your comments. I am lazy where it counts, and generally don’t trim the back, unless it will be seen. For t-shirts and such, I like to trim any jumps, however I am happy to wait until the end for this.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    %d bloggers like this: