© 2019 Elsevier B.V. The importance of image steganography is unquestionable in the field of secure multimedia communication. Imperceptibility and high payload capacity are some of the crucial parts of any mode of steganography. The proposed work is an attempt to modify the edge-based image steganography which provides higher payload capacity and imperceptibility by making use of machine learning techniques. The approach uses an adaptive embedding process over Dual-Tree Complex Wavelet Transform (DT-CWT) subband coefficients. Machine learning based optimization techniques are employed here to embed the secret data over optimal cover-image-blocks with minimal retrieval error. The embedding process will create a unique secret key which is imperative for the retrieval of data and need to be transmitted to the receiver side via a secure channel. This enhances the security concerns and avoids data hacking by intruders. The algorithm performance is evaluated with standard benchmark parameters like PSNR, SSIM, CF, Retrieval error, BPP and Histogram. The results of the proposed method show the stego-image with PSNR above 50 dB even with a dense embedding of up to 7.87 BPP. This clearly indicates that the proposed work surpasses the state-of-the-art image steganographic systems significantly.