How to use a Brother Embroidery Machine and Brother Scan N Cut to cut out applique shapes for an embroidery design.

Kirsty Procter has created this step-by-step tutorial for creating Appliques for Scan n Cut machines. Please see the link to the tutorial at the foot of this blog.

Neither Kirsty nor Lords Sewing can offer advice or instruction beyond the material presented here, which is offered as a friendly guide. Scan n Cut is sold exclusively by Create and Craft in the UK who should be able to offer support for their products.

NOTE ON EMBROIDERY MACHINE – The Brother Embroidery Machine must have the necessary “Thread Colour Palette Key” that is required to change an applique placement stitch into an applique cutting line that can be recognised by the scan and cut. Here is a list of Brother embroidery machine models that have this feature (as of June 2018 – UK Models):

Current Compatible Models –

• XP1 Luminaire
• XV Dream Machine
• VR
• V7 (in Embroidery Edit only)
• V5 (in Embroidery Edit only)
• V3 (in Embroidery Edit only)
• Innov-is 2600
• Innov-is 800e
• Innov-is F480
• Innov-is F440e
• Innov-is M280d (Disney

Previous compatible Models –

• Innov-is I (in Embroidery Edit only)
• Innov-is Ie (in Embroidery Edit only)
• Innov-is 5000 Laura Ashley (in Embroidery Edit only)
• Innov-is 4000 (in Embroidery Edit only)
• Innov-is 4000d (Disney model) (in Embroidery Edit only)

View or download Kirsty’s .pdf tutorial

Correct position of needlebar thread guide

On Brother embroidery machines and higher value sewing machines there is an important thread guide on the needlebar just at the top of the needle (usually listed as number 6 on the machine).

Sometimes the spring clip that holds the thread into the guide can slip out of position when changing a needle and needs to be put back before your needle is inserted. It’s unusual for this clip to move with the needle in position and when you insert a needle it should stay in the correct place.

The effect of this being out of position is that your thread will not stay in the guide which causes shredding, snapping and poor stitching so it’s worth taking care when changing your needle and checking the spring if you’re having top thread problems.

This needle has been inserted with the spring clip in the wrong position. To put it right you need to remove the needle.

Thread clip

Thread clip 2


Reposition the spring above the metal guide. If the spring immediately flicks back out then push it more firmly into place.

Thread clip 3

Your needle will help to keep the spring clip in place.

Thread clip 4


Please understand that Keith Lord & Lords Sewing are not responsible for anything you undertake as a result of reading these articles and information guidelines.

Open the PDF version of this information.

Brother PE-Design – The Design Database

Blog-Database Overview wide image

Brother PE-Design software can be used as a stand-alone program for any home embroidery machine. You can save designs in most popular formats and convert from one to another quite easily. This series of beginner-style video tutorials walks you through most functions of Design Database.

It’s a part of PE-Design that’s separate from the digitising and design elements which allows you to organise and catalogue your designs. You can see your designs as thumbnail images for finding, sorting and printing.

Keith Lord guides you slowly, step-by-easy-step, assuming that you know practically nothing. Whilst using a version of PE-Design NEXT on a Windows 7 computer, the basics are pretty much the same in earlier versions and you should be able to apply the knowledge you learn here to your own software.

Design Database Part 1 – Overview

An introduction to Design Database which is a very useful part of Brother’s PE-Design NEXT program. You can see your designs and where they are located, organise them efficiently, convert formats, print catalogues of them and much more. Keith Lord takes you through the basics step-by-step across a series of videos, of which this is the first.

Design Database Part 2 – Select and Move

How do you select more than one design at a time? Find out how to select multiple designs and move them to different folders so they are organised in a system where you can easily find them when needed.

Design Database Part 3 – Organise & Copy

You can copy designs to a different folder rather than move them, which can be useful when you want designs for a specific project – putting them into one location without moving them from the original folder.

Design Database Part 4 – Printing

You can print out your own catalogue of designs. Perfect for keeping with a quilt project or showing to friends who may want you to embroider something for them. Placing 12 designs on one sheet of A4 paper is also economical.

Design Database Part 5 – Convert Formats

Brother’s PE-Design allows you to convert designs into different formats either individually or as a batch. Perfect if you have more than one manufacturer’s machine or you have designs that are in the wrong format for your model.

Design Database Part 6 – Write to Media

Easily transfer designs to your machine using the memory card or USB flash drive. Learn how to select designs from different locations and write them to your media all at the same time using Design Database.

PE-Design Version 10 is the latest release and improves further on the dramatic changes that made NEXT a so much easier and user-friendly version. When NEXT was created Brother changed the whole style of the screen layout, bringing into easy reach a lot of the functions that were previously hidden in menus. The icons on the screen were much easier to understand and use. In Ver 10 it’s got even better and you can upgrade any previous version from 5, 6, 7, 8 and NEXT.

Know your top thread tension


It’s unusual on a Brother machine to need to adjust top thread tension for embroidery unless you’re using unbalanced thread, such as a heavier than normal weight of thread or perhaps a metallic etc. In this case your instruction manual will explain how to temporarily adjust tension for the design you’re undertaking. When you choose another design it will revert back to default tension setting.

Screen tension

I don’t recommend adjusting default setting of top thread tension. If your bobbin case is correctly tensioned then default should work perfectly.

Golden Rule: If it isn’t broken – don’t fix it! The following information is supplied to help you if your tension is causing you problems. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have perfect tension as long as the results you achieve are good enough for you.

Important Note: Safety First – SWITCH OFF the machine before undertaking any removal of covers or putting your fingers under the needle bar or inside the machine etc. Also don’t invalidate your warranty by damaging your machine, only undertake these steps if you can be confident of doing this type of action and don’t “force” any part into place – Brother products are manufactured to a high standard and don’t need brute force at any time – just knowledge and care.

Sometimes, for no apparent reason and very suddenly your top thread can start behaving badly. Lets assume that you are using a thread that normally sews OK and that your design isn’t anything that is out of the ordinary, fabric well stabilised etc. If you’re unsure then set up a simple test fabric and stitch a letter A as per my other blog Correct Bobbin Tension for Embroidery.

The most common problem attributable to poor top tension is that your thread “nests” under the fabric or needle plate when you start to embroider or sew or you may get very loose stitching on top of the fabric. The problem is likely to be thread caught in your tension disks.

You can check this easily by doing the following. Thread your machine as normal and select a design or stitch (if in sewing mode). Make sure that you take your design right through the screen stages to the point where the machine is ready to start embroidering. With the presser foot in the UP position the thread should pull easily through the needle eye to the back of the machine. With the presser foot DOWN the thread should slightly bend the needle and be much tighter when pulling through as in the image on the right.


If this is ok then your issue with nesting is more likely to be a problem below the needle plate such as a damaged bobbin case or burr on the needle plate or similar.

If the thread pulls easily through the needle when it shouldn’t then you’ll need to check out the top tension unit for contamination. The following example is for an Innovis 4000/5000 but most models are similar in that they have a cover that is removable. You’ll need quite a slim screwdriver to reach the screw on some models and I find it’s handy to have one that is magnetised at the tip.

Before removing the cover make sure your presser foot is in the UP position and then switch off the machine.

Remove the screw and put it somewhere safe. Lift the cover from the back and pull towards you, there is a clip at the front that can be a bit tricky so carefully keep pulling until it’s released.


Raising the presser foot opens the tension disks making it easier to see between the disks and also gives better access with pointed tweezers or an old needle or pin – anything to fish out the offender from between the disks. Sometimes this can be a large piece of knotted thread or a tiny speck of fluff trapped at the very back of the disks.

Tension Disks

Check thoroughly and give it a blow out the system with compressed air if you can. Once you are happy then reassemble and test tension as before. When replacing the cover you need to put it on at the back first, locating the two lugs on the cover with the two locating pins. Then clip in at the front gently. Don’t force at any stage.


Place the back of the cover onto the locating pins first –


Gently push the clip down at the front and replace the screw –


You should have it looking like this with the back of the tension cover slightly higher than the main machine cover –


There are 3 blogs relating to tension, all with a downloadable PDF which are handy guides to keep with your instruction manual. Here are the links to the other 2 posts and the PDF to this one:

Unraveling the Mystery of Brother Bobbin Fill
Correct Bobbin Thread Tension for Embroidery
This Blog: Know Your Top Thread Tension

Please understand that Keith Lord & Lords Sewing are not responsible for anything you undertake as a result of reading these articles and information guidelines.

Open the PDF version of this information

Correct Bobbin tension for embroidery


If you own a Brother combination sewing and embroidery machine a bobbin case with a green marking covering the tension screw has been installed in the machine at the factory. On recent models you will have been supplied with an alternate bobbin case with pink marking or no marking provided as an accessory. The alternative bobbin case is tensioned tighter and is also adjustable, enabling you to achieve correct tension for the threads you are using.

When using the #60 embroidery bobbin thread provided, please be sure to choose the green marked bobbin case when performing utility stitch sewing and embroidery functions. When in the embroidery function mode, if you use substitute embroidery bobbin threads (other than what is accompanied with your machine #60) then the alternative bobbin case should be used for adjustment to tension. See our separate help guide about understanding Bobbin Fill.

For embroidery-only models you have just the alternative bobbin case fitted which can be adjusted.

Golden Rule: If it isn’t broken – don’t fix it! The following information is supplied to help you if your tension is causing you problems. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have perfect tension as long as the results you achieve are good enough for you.

Important Note: Safety First – SWITCH OFF the machine (or put it into Safety Mode if you have this feature) before undertaking any removal of covers or putting your fingers under the needle bar or inside the machine etc. To remove the bobbin case on most Brother machines you do not need to undo the screws securing the needle plate. Just slide the L-shaped plastic cover forwards and then take out the bobbin case. If you do remove the needle plate screws at any time always replace the needle plate first and securely fasten down BEFORE replacing the bobbin case. Failure to do it in this order can result in the machine becoming locked-up.


When replacing the bobbin case align the two markings if you have them, otherwise just replace with the adjusting screw facing the front, ensuring the bobbin case fits snugly in the race. You should be able to turn the balance wheel freely and the bobbin case shouldn’t “pop-up”.

Note: We recommend that you don’’t adjust the tension on the factory-set bobbin case where the screw is held in place with green screw sealant. Once the seal is broken the screw will move from any setting you have adjusted to because it’’s no longer secure. Make your adjustments with the thread removed from the bobbin case.

Alt bobbin case

The alternative (adjustable) bobbin case may have pink sealant or no sealant on the tension adjustment screw.

Don’t touch the cross-headed screw on the bobbin case.

Don’’t touch the cross-headed screw on the bobbin case.

Important note before making adjustments: If you are suddenly experiencing a lot of top thread locking up below the needle plate then this is likely to be a top thread tension issue where there is contamination in the upper tension unit or a damaged bobbin case (sometimes caused by a jam or needle breakage) or the bobbin case has been inserted incorrectly. These issues are covered in a separate help notice Know your top thread tension.

SpringIf your bobbin tension has suddenly become loose it may be because contamination has lodged itself under the tension “spring”. Before adjusting thoroughly clean the bobbin case and then insert a pin gently into the spring to hold it open and blow hard, or gently dig around with the pin to remove the tiny offender.





Firstly, make sure that your machine top thread tension is set to 00. You’’ll find this in the Machine Settings section. Check your instruction book if you can’’t find it.

Screen tension

To check your tension frame up a piece of medium weight, non-stretch fabric with a tearaway backing with both items fully secured by the frame. Choose the basic font in your machine, letter A, set for Large, and stitch your first letter in the top left of your frame. After stitching each letter remove the frame and check the underside.

Frame fabric

The bottom row of samples is the underside for each A:

Top View

Too tight2

Too tight. Adjust the screw in quarter turns in an anti-clockwise direction to loosen it.



Too Loose2

Too loose. Adjust the screw in quarter turns in a clockwise direction to tighten it.


Make your adjustments in stages until you have a balanced result as in the middle example. Don’t force the screw at any point. If tension is too tight you are likely to experience excess puckering of the fabric around your embroideries. Too loose and your bobbin thread will show around the edges of your embroideries giving poor definition.

There are 3 blogs relating to tension, all with a downloadable PDF which are handy guides to keep with your instruction manual. Here are the links to the other 2 posts and the PDF to this one:

Unraveling the Mystery of Brother Bobbin Fill
Know Your Top Thread Tension
This Blog: Correct Bobbin Thread Tension for Embroidery

Please understand that Keith Lord & Lords Sewing are not responsible for anything you undertake as a result of reading these articles and information guidelines.

Open the PDF version of this information.


Unravel the mystery of Brother Bobbin Fill


Brother embroidery machines are supplied with bobbin cases (Inner Rotary Hooks to use their technical name) which are tensioned for use with Brother bobbin fill thread. The advantage of using this very fine thread is that you don’t have to swap the bobbin for a new one as often as you would with a thicker thread. Also, because it’s always the same thickness, you can achieve consistent stitching across your embroideries when used with most good quality top threads on the market.

Brother supply two types of bobbin fill:

Bobbin Fill White

The non-shiny white thread which is on a turquoise-coloured bobbin and labelled as #90 is for use with embroidery-only machines (machines that are not convertible into a sewing machine) such as NV750, V3 etc.XD1855351 700 750

The bobbin case for this thread does not have green sealant on the tension screw and can be adjusted if necessary to achieve correct tension. The screw will keep its setting intact without the need for a screw sealant due to the way it’s manufactured.


The shiny thread is available in white and black and is on a grey-coloured bobbin and labelled as #60. Use this with the bobbin-case that is supplied fitted to machines that are both sewing and embroidery models (NV1250, NV1500, V5 etc).

This bobbin case has green sealant on the adjusting screw and is optimised to give good tension across both sewing and embroidery providing the correct bobbin fill is used. If you use a different type you will probably experience the bobbin thread appearing on top of the fabric around the edges of your embroidery giving poor definition of the design. Don’t adjust this bobbin case.

Green sealantBUKBobbinfillno60









Brother have been generous with their more expensive combination machines. If you check your accessories supplied with your machine you will see that you have an alternative bobbin case that doesn’t have green sealant on the adjusting screw.

If you decide to use another type of bobbin fill or have poor tension on the standard bobbin case just swap it for the alternative and you’ll probably find that it works perfectly because it’s tensioned tighter. It’s also the adjustable type too!

Bobbin cases can become damaged and may need replacing to achieve a good stitch. Check for burrs and nicks that could catch your threads. If you have an alternative one try it and see if it cures your problem. We carry all the different Brother bobbin cases in stock for replacement should you need one. And both types of bobbin fill.

There are 3 blogs relating to tension, all with a downloadable PDF which are handy guides to keep with your instruction manual. Here are the links to the other 2 posts and the PDF to this one:

Correct Bobbin Thread Tension for Embroidery
Know Your Top Thread Tension
This Blog: Unraveling the Mystery of Brother Bobbin Fill

Please understand that Keith Lord & Lords Sewing are not responsible for anything you undertake as a result of reading these articles and information guidelines.

See our separate blog on how to achieve correct tension for embroidery

Open the PDF version of this information 

Matching your colours perfectly


Do you find yourself struggling to match thread colours to the fabric that you intend to use in a project? Maybe you are about to run out of a thread colour that you want to replace as near as possible with another make.

We haven’t found an accurate conversion chart yet that perfectly matches threads between manufacturers so unless you’re ordering the same type of thread and have the relevant product code it can be a real lottery if ordering online or by telephone. It’s much easier if you can take your thread or fabric with you to a store and match up (providing the lighting is good of course).

The best solution is to have a comprehensive shadecard of a thread type that you like to use. Not a pa-
per printed version but one which contains a wrapping of the actual thread so that you can compare
between the myriad of shadings that can make such a difference to your embroideries and stitching.

Matching your colours

Take your shadecard and fabric to a window with natural daylight or use a Daylight Lamp if you have one and your matching can be done at home with total accuracy. If you don’t trust your own eye then ask a friend or family member who has good colour sense to confirm.

Not all manufacturers can supply this type of chart and of those that do they will most likely charge because they are costly to produce – but for any sewing enthusiast it’s a lovely resource to have at hand and well worth the investment.

If you like to use Floriani embroidery thread you can buy the latest shadecard at half price. A generous wrapping of Floriani thread for every colour has been inserted into this gorgeous six-page fold-out card for easy matching.

At only £2.99 for a 1,000 Metre King Spool this high-lustre, smooth running polyester embroidery thread is attractive and affordable making it a popular choice since its introduction 10 years ago for hobbyists and even commercial embroidery.

Matching your colours 2

The collection includes 60 fabulous new colours including vibrant blues, reds, greens as well as soft off-whites and skin tones.

Now totaling 360 solid shades plus an additional 35 variegated and twisted colours the range of threads have become even more exciting for UK embroidery enthusiasts so if you haven’t tried it yet we can happily recommend. Why not try one before investing in a shadecard? We have also made it very easy and quick to order all the solid colours on our website with our Quick Buy system where you can just put a tick next to your colour choices and add them all into your cart in one go.

Matching your colours 3

FREE POSTAGE is available on all orders above £30. With so many embroidery and sewing products available in addition to threads most customers have no trouble achieving free carriage. Floriani thread is also available to buy off the shelf 7-days a week in our store at Oswaldtwistle Mills.

Open the PDF version of this information


Update your embroidery machine on the Brother website


If you own a Brother embroidery machine such as the Innovis 1500(D), 2200, 4000(D), 5000, NV1(e) and V-Series models (in fact any top of the range models that may be released after writing this article) it’s a good idea to periodically check if updates have been posted onto the Brother website.

The technical term for the software running your machine is “firmware” and some of the reasons for these free updates include improvements to the machine’s general operation or new features like extra embroidery frames being recognised etc.

You can also purchase Upgrade Kits for some machines which usually consists of accessories as well as adding significant new features to the machine.

Firstly you need to check the firmware version that your machine is currently running. You’ll find this by going to the Machine Settings section of your machine which is usually the bottom leftmost icon on the screen.

Settings 4000Version







Go to the page where you can see the stitch count (1) and the version of your firmware (3) will be below the long machine number (2).You then need to check if a later version has been added to the Brother website for you to download and install into the machine using the following guide.Step 1.  Click on this link to go to the Brother Sewing Website

Step 2. Click on the Support tab at the top

Step 3.
Scroll down and click on Visit Solutions Centre

Step 4. In the Search by Products Category click on Sewing & Embroidery

Step 6. Select your series e.g. Innov-is series

Step 7. Select your machine e.g. Innov-is 4000D/4000

Step 8. Select which version of Windows you have e.g. Windows 10

Step 9. This depends on which series machine you have so here are your options:

NV4000(D) users only

If your machine is a NV4000 series you may have upgrade kits installed in which case you will have to choose the correct Version to download:
If you have no upgrades installed it will be Ver 2 (in this example the latest version is 2.5)
If you have the first Upgrade Kit (Ver 3) you will download 3.21
If you have both Upgrade Kits (Ver 4) you will download 4.11

NV4000 Upgrade kits










NV1(e) and V-Series machines etc

In this example of updating more recent models (in this case a V5 machine) you will just download the latest version available. In all cases the date of the release is shown which can be quite useful to know.

NV1(e) and V-Series Upgrade kits







Step 10. Follow steps to Download

Step 11. Once you have downloaded the upgrade file copy the upgrade file to a blank USB flash drive/memory stick and insert it into your machine with it switched off.

Switch on machine

USB upload

Press Load

Step 12. Wait for the upgrade to complete and then switch off the machine.

Step 13. Remove your USB flash drive and switch the machine back on. You can now check that the latest version has been installed by going back into the machine settings.