Linda Griepentrog

Add metal to the mix of special embroidery techniques at your fingertips. We combined foiling and embroidery on a leather jacket in the January/February 2008 issue of Creative Machine Embroidery (See “Foiled!” on page 30). Step-by-step instructions for the jacket treatment appear below.

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  • Leather jacket
    (Check out the local thrift store if you don’t want to purchase a new jacket.)
  • Foil
  • Embroidery and bobbin thread
  • Cut-away stabilizer
  • Iron-on metallic shapes and hot-fix applicator
  • Embroidery designs of your choice (see notes below)


  • Remove the stitches between the lining and the jacket front so you have access for the embroidery. Roll and pin the lining out of the way to avoid catching it in the stitching.
  • Embroidery motifs stitched on any leather or suede should be fairly open, as dense stitching may damage and distort the soft skins. Look for designs with light fill or simply texture fills, often designed for use on fleece.
  • Test-stitch the designs on scraps of similar leather to be sure they're appropriate for the jacket skin weight. Use a cut-away stabilizer with temporary spray adhesive to avoid hooping the suede. If possible, slow the machine speed.
  • Don't use a leather needle for embroidery, as it may cause unsightly holes in the design area with every needle penetration. On most leathers and suedes a titanium needle works well, on others a topstitching or embroidery needle may suffice.
  • Print full-size templates of your designs and plan a random or regular arrangement on the jacket fronts. Avoid having designs cross seams as the added bulk may distort the stitching. Mark the locations using removable tape, rather than drawing on the leather.
  • After embroidery, trim away the stabilizer around the designs.
  • Test foil on the garment hem area to see what method works best for the surface texture of the leather. Decide if you want to foil under the embroidery and if so, complete that process before stitching the designs. Otherwise, plan for adjacent foiled areas after stitching is complete. The rough texture of the suede doesn't allow for well-defined foiled edges like on a flat-surface fabric, so keep that in mind when determining accent shapes.
  • Add metallic iron-ons to accent the embroidery motifs and collar points for added pizzazz.


Leather jacket designs: Cactus Punch, DES01, designs fsqrt, triat, lsqgt, crnrst, shsqgt, sqrspt, triant, fsplt.

Kandi Corp. provided the Small Brass Dome Star Brass It Up hot fix embellishments and the Kandi Kane hot applicator tool.

Laura Murray Designs provided foils and adhesives. A DVD on foiling is also available.
Sulky of America provided the KK2000 Temporary Spray Adhesive and Rayon Embroidery Threads.

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