Adjusting Start and Stop Positioning

Here are some of the useful ways to use start and stop positions on an embroidery machine.

Start/stop positions refer to machine positioning and don’t have anything to do with the pathing and sequence of the actual design. Any design can have the start and stop altered without affecting the design itself. Most software programs allow you to modify the start and stop positioning through a dialog box which makes adjustments an easy task. Most of the time, the start and stop position of a design is automatically set and not paid attention to by the average embroidery machine operator.

Here are some of the ways to use start and stop positions.


The center start/stop position is the most common. The indexing position of the machine is based off the center of the design. This is useful as start and stop indexing is always at the center of the design. With this positioning, you find the center of the hoop, trace, and make adjustments. You will never need to worry about design positioning errors aside from the garment needing to be correctly hooped. One of the advantages of a consistent start and stop is that once you find a proper hooping position, you will produce an order knowing that every item will be in the same location.


The bottom center start and stop will index the machine based off the bottom of a design. For example, when doing a cap, it is crucial for the embroidery to be correctly positioned to avoid hitting the bill of the cap or extending beyond the top curvature of the hat. The problem with using a center start and stop is that it requires a high level of measuring to find the right location. If a design is 2.5″ tall, the center point will be 1.25″ from both the top and the bottom. To calculate the proper positioning on the product, the user must measure, find the center, and then mark it on the product. Another option is to utilize embroidery software and print the design at actual size with the center position of the design marked. After it is printed, it can be cut out and then positioned on the product. The operator can index the embroidery machine to the marked start and stop location and then run the production.

For caps, setting the start and stop location to the bottom of the design guarantees that the embroidery machine will not index below that exact point. This is great, especially for larger designs, as the operator never has to worry about the machine stitching below the indicated position. After the embroidery is finished, the machine will return to the bottom center location of the design. Once again, it is important to clarify that altering the start and stop indexing position does not change the way the design stitches. The digitized file always controls that.


There are times when you don’t want a design to start at its originating point. A perfect example of this is when you have a product that might require multiple hoopings due to a large size or working with a split-front garment. The first stitch start ignores all centering instructions, and the embroidery machine will start stitching immediately at the first stitch without indexing.

With a first stitch start, the embroidery machine will begin stitching without any indexing. Other variations can alter the starting position with the goal of ending at the last stitch. The last stitch stopping position stops the machine indexing at the very last stitch of the design without indexing back to center.  For example, when doing a large design or a long patterned border, the machine will stitch the first design, starting at the first stitch, then embroider the design, and end at the last stitch. The operator can slide the material if using a clamp or border frame or rehoop the object if using a hoop. Now the operator can load the second design and index the embroidery machine to the last stitch created. The second portion of the design will be set to first stitch start and last stitch stop. Since the machine is positioned to begin at the first stitch and the indexing location is on the last stitch of the prior design, the embroidery machine will pick up stitching exactly where it left off. This process can be repeated many times over for continuous embroidery. Many interior decorators will utilize this to create patterns on furniture, bedding, and drapery.


An offset start/stop allows some great creativity. When dealing with a logo that is to be positioned above a pocket, many customers would like the logo to be positioned close to the top of the pocket, and more importantly, they want every shirt in their order to be consistent.

Setting a design to stitch 1/4″ above a pocket would be done as follows. First, set the start and stop position to be the bottom center. Next, set an offset of 1/4″ below the design. With an offset start and stop, the operator can index the machine so that the needle is positioned on the top edge of the pocket. When the operator presses the start button on the embroidery machine, the machine will index the first 1/4″ up, and then treat the design as a bottom center, and the bottom edge of the design will be exactly 1/4″ from the top of the pocket. As long as the operator ensures that future garments are hooped and positioned with the needle exactly on the top edge of the pocket, every garment will be embroidered with precision accuracy.


A user-defined start and stop position is perfect when attempting to repair a garment that has been removed from the hoop. For example, if an operator is doing the personalization “Jacob,” and something happens during production so that the “c” in Jacob is damaged. The operator can remove the stitching in the “c.” The “Jacob” file can be set for the start and stop to be at the last stitch of the “a” in Jacob. Next, all characters except the “c” can be deleted and the file saved with a new name. The design can be rehooped and then positioned so that the machine is on the last stitch of the “a.” The machine will index to the correct starting location of the “c” and then stitch that letter to result in a perfect garment rather than a reject.

There are many different approaches to setting the start and stop position of designs. If alignment and accuracy are not much of a concern, merely leave the start and stop at the center. If you need to achieve specific positioning, utilize the above techniques to help create a stress-free production process.

Allee Bruce

Alexandria Bruce

Alexandria Bruce is the former managing editor of GRAPHICS PRO magazine.

View all articles by Alexandria Bruce  

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