Tiffanie’s Take: Tips for Embroidering on Knit Fabric

 No one taught me how to machine embroider.  I did not take a class, no lessons whatsoever. I learned from trial and error, and the internet. And many times I have been ready to throw in the towel (literally) and give up. The two readers I have on this blog know about my tyraids with “sewing gone bad”.  I am one of those people who tries once and gives up if I can’t do it right or it turns out looking like the cat got a hold of it.

There are many many tips that I have learned over the past four months on the internet (most of which I learned . . AFTER I made the mistake) . Mostly from other bloggers like Lisa at The Domestic Diva and many others. If I could remember the blog names I would mention them but my brain is a big gooey mess today. So please don’t unsubscribe just because I’m having MBS (Mommy Brain Syndrome) today. And don’t worry I will give you linky love soon.

So, here are a few of my tips for embroidering on knits. Pay close attention. And raise your hand if you have a question. Ready?

1.   Do not hoop your knit fabric.

I have done it.

Don’t do it.

Trust me on this.

Why? because when you take the fabric out of the hoop you get these “hoop marks” that are hard to get out. And knits stretch which can cause the design to come out a tad distorted or even puckered. And when you see that “embroidery gone bad” (cue evil music) you will probably throw the most unlady-like (or unmanly) tantrum. So let’s avoid the tantrum dance . DON’T HOOP KNIT FABRICS!

2. Spray adhesive and Sticky Stabilizer are your friend. Become very acquainted with these tools. They are a must. Knits can be just like a wet two year old in the bath tub. Even if you hooped it (which I just told you not to do) it will move out of place and then your design will be wacky. Want to see an example???  I’m willing to embarrass myself here. I’m laying it all out on the line.

See where the fill doesn’t meet the outline on the moon and some of the stars(the design is by Dakota Collectibles 970341)? Yep it’s the slippery toddler syndrome. You can hold on to them as tight as you can but they are going to slip anyways. Hoop the stabilizer, which by the way should be a no-show stabilizer (the sticky kind or not). If you use the non-sticky, then spray a light film of spray adhesive on the hooped stabilizer and lay or “float” your fabric on top. 

3.  I would recommend that you use a “cut away” stabilizer rather than a “tear away”. Why you ask? Did you raise your hand? Just checking to see if you’ve been paying attention. You do laundry, right?  Those knits are going to be washed a lot. While they are going through the cycles the stabilizer can get caught on a zipper, hook and eye, a pen (check those pockets people!!!),etc and tear. So you are better off with a stabilizer that can not easily be torn.  What would happen if it did tear? Well ummmm I’d imagine that your thread might start to break, fray, or unravel. I wouldn’t know the answer to the question but I would welcome any experienced embroiderers to comment on this.

That’s it for the tips this week. If your like me and can’t focus for too long on any one thing, then I know you can’t handle insanely long post. Keep it short and simple. I’m nice like that. Next week, I will continue with more tips for machine embroidering with knits. So stay tuned!!

That’s my Take!!


9 Responses to Tiffanie’s Take: Tips for Embroidering on Knit Fabric

  1. Donna says:

    Tiffanie -

    I’ve embroidered on polo shirts and have never had any problems.

    The only time I’ve had problems is when I did a design on a Fruit of the Loom t-shirt. I washed the item and it did not shrink all the way. Once I put on the design, I did not use a cut away only iron on/tear away. When I washed it again, it puckered and I always had to iron the design. I don’t use Fruit of the Loom anymore because it takes more than one washing to get all shrinkage out.

    The stabilizers I’ve used on almost all my garments are iron on/tear away and a medium weight cut away. I’ve always hooped my garment and yes if you hoop it too tight you will get the burns from the hoop. So don’t tighten the hoop too much.

    The iron on/tear away stabilizer allows the fabric from moving when you hoop it, thus you reduce the possibility of the design shifting and the fill doesn’t met the outline, BUT then again, doesn’t mean that the design has a flaw.

    I’ve embroidered on fleece, knit, wind-breaker type fabric, cotton. On most of my items I can literally get away with only using the iron on/tear away stabilizer. On items that need that cut away, I will put that on and I will not use sprays. I will scotch tape it on top of the tear away. On items that I make for children/babies, I then iron on an item that allows the thread from touching the skin, thus no skin discomfort.

    Most of my towels that i do – I only use the iron on/tear away on the back side of the towel. The nappy towels (bathroom), I use a wash away stabilizer on the top of the towel. Again, I do not use any other stabilizer, however on huck towels I made that were redwork, I used a light weight iron on stabilizer that I cut real close to the stitching. Baby bibs – again wash away stabilizer because of the terry texture.

    If you do sweatshirts – again, iron on/tear away but note – if the shirt is a light color, you want to make sure you use the iron on/tear away on the front of the shirt. This way the color of the shirt does not show through the embroidery stitching.

    Keep it up and don’t throw in that towel, knit or t-shirt, you are still learning.

  2. Tiffanie says:

    Thanks so much for your great tips! The reason I suggested cut-away stabilizer is because I am one of those people who have forgotten to check pockets and have had several stabilizers tear in the wash from screws and other sharp objects I left in pockets. And thank you for your encouraging words!

  3. [...] Tiffanie’s recent post on Sewforless.com’s blog will have machine embroiderers bookmarking like crazy. She offers excellent tips (clearly based on personal experience) for embroidering on knits. Take a look. [...]

  4. Donna says:

    You need to tell that man of yours to empty pockets, unless they are your screws .

    Today I am embroidering towels and I am just going to be using iron on/tear away on the waffle weave items. No need for any other stabilizer.

  5. Diana says:

    Great information! Thanks for sharing it.
    I very rarely hoop anything anymore. I find I can place my items much more accurately. I spray Kk 2000 on to the stabilizer place my item and then do a fix on my machine.

  6. Grace Santana says:

    How is called the Iron on stabilizer that allows the thread from touching the skin, thus no skin discomfort? And where I can purchase it?

  7. Roger Kane says:

    Many thanks for the Wonderful Tips on Embroidery Knit Fabric.The information provided is really useful.

  8. Pat says:

    I have a very large stockinette area to do a duplicate stitch dinasaur on my blanket. How should I do this? I won’t be going thru the blanket with stitches but the back of the blanket will be viewed I need it to be free of any materials.
    Thanks, Pat

  9. Maureen says:

    Thank you, thank you! You advice/tip proved to be a real gem. Learnt something very useful! Kind regards Maureen

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