Can you stitch on stretchy knit fabrics? I get this question a lot – and the answer is a resounding YES!
Here’s how to hand embroider on t-shirts.
You can’t just pop any stretchy fabric into a hoop and start stitching away.
Well – you can – but the results will be terrible. The fabric will stretch but your stitches will not, so when you take it out of the hoop you’ll have big, loopy, awful stitches.
The trick is to make your stretchy knit fabric think it’s a nice, stable, woven fabric. How do you do that? With stabilizer!
There are a lot of different stabilizers you can use to hand embroider on T-shirts, but my absolute favorite (by a LOT) is Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy. It’s so fabulous that I have a whole post about it here.
I sing its praises in this post and video – but I don’t even mention using it to embroider T-shirts, because when I made it I hasn’t tried that yet. I’ve tested it on T-shirts since then and it’s an absolute dream. No marking on the T-shirt, totally stable to stitch, and no stabilizer bits to pick out of the back – it just rinses away like magic.
I love magic.
Print the pattern onto the rough side of the stabilizer, peel off the paper back, then stick it to the front of your t-shirt. The stabilizer is not stretchy – so when it’s stuck to your fabric it also makes your fabric not stretchy.
Hoop it up – being sure to catch the edges of your stabilizer in the hoop, like this. That way the fabric around the spot you’re embroidering doesn’t stretch either.
This isn’t a t-shirt project, but you can see what I mean about including the stabilizer in the hoop.
The stabilizer has a papery feel and you stitch right through it and the t-shirt together. It does a great job of keeping everything neat (and non-stretchy) while you stitch.
When you’re done stitching, you just soak the whole shirt and all the stabilizer disappears.
Go grab a plain T-shirt and embroider something fun on it. 🙂
Here are links to all my posts about embroidery tools and supplies.
- 12 wt. Sulky Petites
- How I Store and Organize My Embroidery Thread
- Working with Glow in the Dark Thread
Stabilizers and Pattern Transfer Tools
- Why the Right Stabilizer Is Like a Good Bra
- Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy
- What Product to Use When (Freezer Paper, Fusible Adhesive, and Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy)