I was nervous about trying machine embroidery, but I have been lucky to have Pam Olney, good friend and machine embroidery expert, on speed dial. Pam’s expertise was invaluable in writing this article.
It’s one thing to hoop a machine embroidery design on a flat piece of fabric, but it’s another technique altogether to hoop a finished garment. And a stretchy t-shirt can misbehave when you’re trying to get it just right. We have a tutorial to get you started. Here are our step-by-step instructions for placing machine embroidery on a t-shirt.
How should I prepare my t-shirt for machine embroidery?
Pre-washing your t-shirt is best, especially if it is 100 percent cotton. Cotton knits will shrink in the wash, but polyester machine embroidery threads will not, so your design may not lay flat after washing if you do not pre-wash. Just to be safe, it’s a good idea to pre-wash blends, too, if there is any cotton in the shirt.
What are the best designs to machine embroider on t-shirts?
Avoid very dense designs when embroidering by machine on a t-shirt. The knit fabric tends to shift with each needle point, so dense designs are more likely to pucker. Designs with a lower stitch density are a better match to drape well with knit fabrics.
What kind of stabilizer should I use for machine embroidery on a t-shirt?
A soft cut-away stabilizer or a wash-away suitable for your embroidery design are the most common choices. Most people do not like the feel of a stiff stabilizer next to their skin. If using a cut-away stabilizer, use sharp, fine scissors to remove as much of the stabilizer as possible. Just be careful that you don’t cut your embroidery stitches!
Do I need a special needle for machine embroidery on a t-shirt?
Ball point needles work best on knits because they penetrate between fibers rather than piercing them. The embroidery on your project will lie flatter with fewer puckers.
Related articles on machine embroidery:
- Machine Embroidery Basics
- Center a Machine Embroidery Design with Adhesive Spray
- Center a Machine Embroidery Design with Hoop Templates
Browse through all machine embroidery projects and inspiration on Create Whimsy.