Machine embroidery is the practice of using a sewing machine to create freeform stitch patterns, and so to embroider set motifs or personal designs on to cloth. This is done by lifting the top tension foot of the machine, although sewing machines can come equipped with specific embroidery feet. It is also possible to purchase specific embroidery machines which can follow computerised design patterns, and re-create them on the backing cloth.
Machine embroidery can be used in a variety of ways. Individual artwork can be created, and the machine stitches manipulated to form a variety of styles, or it can simply be used to take the place of traditional handicrafted monogram.
To become a skilled machine embroiderer takes practise and time. There are often many courses or evening classes available to aid competence, and allow people to enjoy using their sewing machines in this unique way.