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Embroidery Tips: Embroidering a Knit Sweater or Shirt

Most sweaters you’ll find on the market today are made with knits found in cotton or even synthetic fibers. They’re great because the elasticity and the drape of knits make them fit everyone comfortably but they’re still warm enough for those slightly chilly Fall or Spring afternoons. You will often see knits in cardigan sweaters as well. Ultimately, knits are great to wear year-round and you will likely find plenty of opportunities to embroider a piece of knit apparel, but they can be a bit tricky. Today we’re giving you a few tips to keep in mind when embroidering your favorite knit sweater, to avoid destroying it and so you end up with a crisp, beautiful design you can wear for years to come!

#1 Don’t use needles with rounded tips

These round-tip needles will push the knit fibers aside to make the stitch. This can create holes in your garment or, in the best case scenario, you will have a blurred design. Sharper needles will cut through the knit fibers and create a crisp design every time! You can use anything from a 75/11 sharp needle, a universal needle, a ball point needle, but not a round tip needle.

#2 Consider your fabric when choosing a design

This rule applies to any embroidering, but with knits it’s important to closely inspect the fabric you plan to embroider and choose your design wisely. If your knit is lightweight, like cashmere, you should stick to lighter designs with materials like toile and have some open space. On a knit that is ribbed or more loosely knitted, you should opt for a more complex and dense design that won’t get lost in the texture of the knit.

#3 Use a Cutaway Stabilizer for knit embroidery

When you’re embroidering a knit, the cutaway stabilizers usually work best because knits today are often blended with synthetic, stretchy fabrics. These backings support the fabric during the embroidery as well as during washes. They also prevent any puckering or dimpling in the design, no matter how stretchy that knit fabric is!

#4 Prior to embroidering ribbed or textured knits, pre-stretch the fabric

When you’re working with a ribbed or textured knit sweater, always pre-stretch the fabric by turning the sweater inside out, spraying a piece of cutaway stabilizer (medium weight) with temporary adhesive, and then smooth that stabilizer on the back of the embroidery area. You can be sure that the fabric and your embroidery will lie correctly when you’re ready to wear the knit.

What are your tips for embroidering on knitted apparel pieces?

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