Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3

Welcome to our third and final installment on our series about combining embroidery and foiling!

Metal foiling is a technique that once you get the hang of it produces stunning results. Working with metallic threads can be a bit tricky. Today we are concluding our three part series on metal foiling, be sure to read part one and two (links below) for best results when using metal foiling and your embroidery machine.

Foiled jacket 766x1024 Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3


  • Foil is applied in the same manner, no matter which method is used to apply the adhesive.
  • Use a medium-hot (wool setting) dry iron to apply the foil and test-press a sample before beginning the project. If the iron is too hot, the foil will melt. Use a non-stick press cloth if needed to prevent damage to fabric.
  • Lay the foil sheet color side up over the adhesive so that the metallic film totally covers the adhesive area. Using the edge and/or tip of the iron, burnish the foil in place. As you press, you should be able to see a light impression of the design on the foil surface. Pay particular attention to the design edges to avoid exposed adhesive when finished.
  • When the foil is completely cooled, gently peel it off. Trying to remove it before the adhesive is completely cooled will result in the foil not completely adhering to the design area.
  • If the foil isn’t completely covering the adhesive, re-foil as needed, using the same or another color. Colors can be layered as long as there is tackiness to the adhesive and the foil can be re-used until no color remains on the sheet.

Foil samples 300x224 Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3


  • Most foil manufacturers suggest washing foiled projects wrong side out in cool water on a gentle cycle and air-drying. Hand washing is preferred. Dry cleaning is not recommended for any foiled project.
  • Putting embellished garments in a dryer or using direct heat from an iron will cause the foil to come off. Hang to dry instead.
  • Never iron directly over foil; press items only from the back side with a presscloth.

Tricks of the Trade

  • Use the foil sheets until they are totally devoid of metallic. Small bits of color can be added simply by burnishing in place with the iron tip or a rubbing tool, as long as there is an exposed adhesive surface that’s still tacky. Begin with a sheet that has the least foil on it, and progress to those with more as you blend the colors.
  • To apply foil without heat from an iron, use pressure-sensitive foiling adhesive, burnish the metallic layer in place with a teaspoon, your fingernails or a bone folder. Consistent pressure is all that’s needed for transfer.
  • foil lures 300x300 Metal Foiling With Machine Embroidery Part 3To apply foiling to a T-shirt or other finished garment, layer it over a plastic covered T-shirt board, so that the adhesive doesn’t go through to the back side of the garment.
  • When foil is added to a sheer fabric, the adhesive stickiness can still be felt on the underside. To avoid this, sprinkle the wrong side with talcum powder to coat the adhesive and prevent it from sticking to the skin.
  • Using a silicone mat under the foiling surface will help reflect the iron’s heat.
  • To apply powdered adhesive in a controlled manner, cut off the end of a soda straw at an angle and use it as a scoop to position the granules.
  • Remember, foiling is an accent and it should be tastefully added in combination with embroidery.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about foiling and how it can be combined with embroidery. Are you going to try out this new technique?

Find Part 1 here; get ideas and learn how to get started.

Find Part 2 here; discover the different foil adhesive options. 

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