Archives for January 2015

How I Use Fast Frames

One of the first things I bought after getting the Brother PR-650 was a set of Fast Frames. I don’t like hooping, I never have. Honestly, I’ve just never been good at it and so I learned early on how to float blanks. I find it much easier to get it lined up straight when it’s not attached to the hoop and so the Fast Frames have been invaluable to me. But the Fast Frames are considerably different than the standard hoops and require a little bit of work up front so that the machine cooperates with them. So I wanted to share how I use my Fast Frames.

Make sure the frame isn’t upside down

The frame should slope down, not up. Otherwise, it will bounce around while stitching.


Put the stabilizer under the frame (not on top of it)

This is especially important when the embroidery design is close to the edges of the frame. If the stabilizer is underneath the frame, it will help guide the frame over the bobbin plate. Otherwise, the frame could bump up against it or get caught in it.


I use a cutaway stabilizer and (sewable) basting adhesive, but this will also work with poly mesh, tearaway and water soluble stabilizers. I cut the stabilizer about an inch bigger all around the frame.


I spray the sides with the basting adhesive and wrap the stabilizer to the front, then do the same for the bottom edge.


On the back, I add a bit of painter’s tape to keep the top of the stabilizer secured to the frame.


The shirt or fabric gets attached to the top of the frame with sticky spray and pins. If I need to float some tear away stabilizer, I use spray to hold it on the back.

Find the center of each frame

Each frame has a different center, but my machine does not know where that is. Because of the Fast Frame arm attachment, the machine thinks that it’s using the largest hoop (which is an 8×12 hoop in my case). So even if I’m using the 4×6 Fast Frame, my machine thinks that I’m using the 8×12 hoop. That’s why it’s important to measure the frames to find the center and the maximum embroidery field. I only had to do this once for each frame. I found the center and wrote down the coordinates and then when I use my frame, I set my machine to those coordinates.

To find the center of the frame, I attached some cutaway stabilizer using the method above (paper would work just fine also). I first measured my embroidery field to see exactly how much space there was. I pushed the ruler all the way up against the inside of the frame and it measured 7.25″ in each direction, so I know I can safely stitch a design that is 7″ wide and/or 7″ tall.


I measured each side and marked the middle with a pen.




Then I drew a cross of all four points and this marked the very center of my frame.


Then I put the frame on the machine and loaded a design (it doesn’t matter what design it is). I went past the edit screen (press Edit End) and on to the second screen. The edit screen allows you to move the design and the second screen moves the arms.

My machine doesn’t have the laser alignment tool (which would make this step much easier), so I just hit the trim button to drop the needle to see where it lands.




The needle needs to be moved slightly left and down. So I used the arrows to move the arms and I keep dropping the needle and keep adjusting until the it hits the center of the cross.




Once I have it in the center, I write down the coordinates. I prefer to keep my machine in inches rather than mm, but either one is fine. Just make sure to write this information down where it will be handy. {Negative number means left or down, positive number means right or up. In my case, I move my machine left 0.02″ and down 0.31″.}


Tell the machine where the center is

When I’m ready to embroider using my frames, first I get my design ready. If I’m doing a shirt, I rotate the design so it looks upside down on the screen. I put in all my colors and stops in the edit screen. On the next screen, I look at what the center coordinates should be for the frame and move my machine to those coordinates. Now my frame is centered in the machine. I should note, it doesn’t matter if the design is right side up, upside down or sideways when you do this because the machine rotates it in the very center of the design.

One more important step is to do a trace to make sure your needle won’t hit your frame when stitching out. You can either do the full trace, or go to each of the corners (which I prefer to do). With the stabilizer on bottom, you can get really close to the edge without the frame bumping the bobbin plate. I can usually see (or feel) the needle hole underneath the stabilizer to see where it lands, or sometimes I drop the needle to see how close it is.

That’s it!

The only other thing to worry about it getting the garment on the frame so it’s centered and straight. But I have a trick for that which I’ll share soon.