Learn the easy way to embroider on clothes!
Do you want to show your wardrobe some love? Do you want to give new life to worn items? Learn how to embroider on your clothes with this easy project! We'll show you how it's done, with top tips to help make sure your designs stay beautiful for a long time. With thanks to Mollie Johanson for this tutorial.
Just a few simple stitches can customize a cuddly hoodie. Embroidered clothes are a common find in shops, but it's so much fun to craft your own special pieces. From complete beginners to seasoned embroidery pros, everyone can have a go at making their own bespoke creation to wear.
We have a star design for you to start with, but you can use your favourite embroidery pattern with this tutorial as well. Just be sure to choose embroidery thread that's a similar fibre to what you're stitching on, and then secure those ends so your bespoke clothes last for a long, long time.
Tools and Supplies
- Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy
- Pre-Washed Clothing Item
- Embroidery Hoop - a 5" hoop works well for this design
- Embroidery Thread (we used 892, 3340, and 3820)
- Embroidery Scissors
- Embroidery Needle
- Filled Star Pattern PDF - available to download here
The easiest way to embroider a pattern on clothing is with Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy. This is a self-adhesive stabiliser that you can print your design directly onto. You stick the printed design onto your fabric, stitch over the top and then you can remove it with water. Magic!
Fabri-Solvy is quite an expensive product so this handy method will help you use every little bit of it. Print the embroidery pattern on printer paper, then cut a piece of Fabri-Solvy that's a little larger than the embroidery design. Tape the Fabri-Solvy to the printed page on top of the design, then print it again, making sure that you print on draft mode. You now have the design printed onto your Fabri-Solvy.
It's no problem if you don't have any Fabri-Solvy; you can freehand fill the star, or any other shape, onto your clothes. Simply cut out the shape template and trace around it on your clothing item with a water-soluble marking pen.
When embroidering on clothing, it's important to consider where the embroidery will be when you're wearing it. It can even be helpful to try on the item and place the embroidery pattern exactly where you want it. With the Fabri-Solvy, you can peel off the backing and stick it in place.
Once you're happy with the placement, loosen the screw on your embroidery hoop so that it can easily slide over the clothing you're stitching. If you're stitching something stretchy, be careful not to stretch the material when placing it in the hoop. Some items with heavy or stiff fabric (such as denim) may not need an embroidery hoop as you work.
Tip: Fabri-Solvy acts as a fabric stabilizer, but if you are stitching on a thin fabric or something with a loose knit you can also add a layer of lightweight stabilizer behind your embroidery so that your stitches stay in shape.
How you start and end your thread on clothing embroidery really matters because you don't want the stitching to come undone in the laundry. To make the thread secure, use knots and weave the tails.
To do this, start with a large knot that has a tail that's about 3 cm long. Start your first stitch by going through the fabric from back to front.
As you work your first few stitches, be sure that the back of your embroidery stitches are working over the starting tail. This helps hold everything in place.
Likewise, when you end a thread, tie a large knot close to the back of the fabric, then weave the tail through the back of several stitches before trimming it off.
Embroider away! For the filled star, we used lazy daisies, star stitch, and French knots. You can find easy stitch tutorials here.
One thing to consider when choosing stitches for your embroidered clothing is how delicate the stitches are. For example, longer satin stitches won't hold up well when they go through several wash cycles. This is also true for any stitch that has lots of large loops or loose elements. Small, sturdy stitches are a safer choice!
To remove the Fabri-Solvy, place it in a basin of warm (not hot!) water. Let it soak for a while until the Fabri-Solvy dissolves. If there are any little bits left under stitches, you can blast them with a bit more water.
Squeeze the excess water from your clothing (don't squeeze the embroidery though!) and then hang to dry. It can take a while for dense areas of embroidery to dry, but they'll get there!
If it needs an iron, you can pop a towel over the top of your embroidery so that the stitches don't get flattened. Your embroidered clothing is ready to wear!
To care for your hand-embroidered items, it's best to wash on the delicate setting with cool water. Of course, you can also hand wash clothing that you want to keep in the best condition possible. That said, for everyday embellished items, you can just toss them in with a regular load of laundry and they usually fair pretty well.
Once you've started embellishing your clothes you may find it hard to stop. There's really no end to the ways you can customise things. You can even use embroidery to cover stains or small holes. Grab a new hoodie or a tired pair of jeans and start stitching!