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Machine embroider on knit material without the mess!

T-shirts are great! Cozy and versatile, perfect with most outfits, but can be plain and boring. I like to use my embroidery machine to add a bit of a personal touch to my projects.

Personally, I do not wear a lot of prints. I usually prefer colours and fabrics that are calming and not too loud. However, I still enjoy adding some whimsy and fun to my outfits. So, sometimes I will add a bit of hidden embroidery just for myself!


I decided to make a cute bamboo t-shirt using the Jalie Mimosa pattern #3890. When I think of bamboo material, I cannot help but think of cute little pandas. It just so happens that I have an adorable panda embroidery eating some bamboo. I purchased this design from Urban Threads, pattern number UT13227. Of course, I wanted to use it on my shirt, so I decided to make it seem like I had a cute little panda in my pocket. Of course, I used our bamboo knit material found in our shop!


There are 3 simple steps to a successful embroidery.


1.Find the right design for your material


2.Prepare your fabric and stabilize it to match the design.


3.Embroider and aftercare.


Time to break it down a bit.

Finding the right design.

There are MILLIONS of embroidery designs, with more being created each day. If you can imagine it, it can become an embroidery. Although not all designs will work on all materials, we will focus on selecting a design for knit fabric today.

The lighter the material, the fewer stitches. If you look at any of your embroidery designs,

you should find a stitch count for it. For example, this small panda I am embroidering is almost 8,000 stitches. I felt like this design might be too much for this soft bamboo material, so I did a test just to be sure. Luckily this design spread out the stitching enough that there were not many issues. Designs with high stitch counts need a durable fabric that will not warp and pucker as the machine embroiders. If you have a very dense design, it will be hard to keep the natural drape of your fabric. If you are unsure of your design, take some of your scrap and embroidery a test. Otherwise, compensate with a stabilizer in the next step.

Preparing your fabric

Materials like canvas and denim do not always need a stabilizer, and if they do, it is usually a lightweight tear-away or cut-away stabilizer. Knits require a little more help. As a design is embroidered, the material stretches out as more stitching is added in a tiny area. The stabilizer helps keep the fabric from warping and stretching. Fabrics like canvas and denim usually do not have much stretch to them. However, you need to keep that fabric from stretching as the machine does its thing with knit fabrics. That is where the stabilizer comes in!

Start prepping your material with an iron-on no-show mesh stabilizer. This is a very light interfacing-like material that irons onto the backside of your fabric. You do not need much! Cut a piece about the size of your embroidery, making sure there will be about a 1/2" extra around the edges. Iron it on where you plan to place your embroidery on the material.

Next, you will need your stabilizer of choice, a standard tear-away or cut-away. The one you choose will depend on your design and project. I usually prefer to use a tear-away stabilizer for wearable projects; this will help with bulkiness. However, for my project here, I did choose a cut-away as it is what I had on hand.

I did not hoop my material. When you hoop a stretch fabric, the hoop can stretch the fabric easily. Some embroidery machines have a basting option to baste a box around where the embroidery will be. I LOVE this option for my hard to hoop projects. For machines that do not have this option, I suggest pins, clips, spray basting, or a sticky back stabilizer. Hoop your stabilizer, lay your material on the hoop and baste or stick it in a place where your embroidery design will be.

After your design has been embroidered, clip all of your tiny threads.

There is one last step that I prefer for all of my wearable items with embroidery. Soft and touch backing. This stabilizer is not for embroidering but is used as an aftercare item. It is designed to keep the embroidery from scratching your skin. This is an iron-on product; you just cut a piece to the size of your embroidery and press it on the back. As an added bonus, it helps keeps the stitches in place during washing and hides any little oopsies!

BOOM, just like that, you have a beautiful embroidery design on knit materials. What would you embroider on a T-shirt? Do you have any embroidery goals with knit fabrics? Share your comments and stories, and questions below. The best thing about being a part of the sewing world is how we are all networkers who love to share our best tips and tricks.

Thank you for taking some time to learn a bit more about knit fabrics and what you can do with them; for the remainder of July 2021, use code PANDA1 to get 20% off of all bamboo materials!


Happy Sewing!







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