Have you ever tried to embroider on a knit and wound up with a bumpy, distorted effect? Knit fabrics have some unique properties that present different problems for machine embroidery than woven fabrics. The primary issue is that knits stretch, making proper stabilization a bit trickier. However, knits are such a staple in most of our wardrobes that it would be shame to avoid embroidering them for fear of bad results. So, here are some tips we’ve gathered to help you embroider knits with professional polish.
*As always, it’s a good idea to test these tips on fabric scraps before you embroider the final product. Every knit fabric is different, so it might take a little bit of experimentation before you find the ideal stabilizer/fabric combination.
- Choose airy, open embroidery designs. Dense designs are too heavy for the fabric and produce a patch-like effect.
- Choose a more stable and dense knit fabric, such as double knit or interlock.
- Prewash knits before embroidering to remove the sizing and allow the fabric to shrink (even 50/50 polyester/cotton shrinks).Test-stitch all designs to check for proper underlay stitching—especially those with a higher stitch count.
- Use a ballpoint needle to avoid tearing or damaging the knit fabric structure. For denser, heavier knits, such as double knit, use a size 80/12 needle, but use a smaller needle for lighter knits.
- To prevent knit fabric from puckering and distorting during embroidery, use a soft cut-away stabilizer that doesn’t stretch in any direction, such as a cut-away mesh stabilizer, behind the design area. Cut-away mesh is soft and comfortable, so its outline won’t show from the right side, but it’s also firm enough to support the knit fabric. For even more stability, use a fusible variety.
- Knits stretch easily; hoop stabilizer and spray with temporary adhesive before positioning the fabric. Use a “fix” or “baste” stitch to secure the fabric to the stabilizer
- To produce clear, well-defined stitches, top the design area with water-soluble stabilizer.
- To remove the cut-away stabilizer after embroidery, first roughly cut away most of the excess. Then, use sharp embroidery scissors to trim the remaining excess stabilizer very close to the stitching.
- To avoid crushing the stitches, always cover embroidery with press cloth when pressing on the wrong side.
Good luck in your knit fabric embroidery adventures! Do you have any great tips for embroidery on knits? Please share in the comments section below!