Page 1

Presented by

Embroidering on T-Shirts Lookbook ESSENTIAL TIPS for embroidering on T-shirts!

Hooping, stabilizing, placement, and so much more!


T-shirts are the most popular items to embroider. They come in several styles, and endless colors. Choose a favorite design from the thousands at Embroidery Library, and voila! You have custom couture, a unique look, and you can show off your creative spirit for any -- and every -- occasion. We’ve assembled our top tips, techniques, and ideas to share with you in this Lookbook. You will find recommendations for design, stabilizer, and needle choices. Marking and hooping tips are great for getting the design to stitch exactly where you want it. And, beautiful examples of embroidered shirts will bring you beyond the basics to demonstrate unique and non-traditional placement ideas. Enjoy this handy guide, and follow the tips and tricks to get excellent results. Tell your friends about this Lookbook, too! For the very best in machine embroidery designs, and creative ways to use them, visit our website: Thank you!

Deb Mundinger President, Embroidery Library, Inc.

Topics Included:

12-15. Choosing Designs

4-5. Placement

16-21. Beyond the Basics

6-7. Stabilizer

22-23. Necklines

8-9. Hooping

24-25. Let’s Hear It for the Boys

10-11. Embroidering


Quick Guide

Bohemian Flower Frenzy Border

Templates are printouts of designs, and are excellent tools for planning where to stitch. 1. Open the design in an embroidery software program. 2. Print it at full size, and cut out the design to make a template. 3. Arrange the template on the shirt until it’s where you want to stitch the design. 4. Most often a design is placed so the top is 3� down from the neck, centered between the shoulder seams. This may vary if working with a very large or very small shirt. 5. Mark the center point, and vertical and horizontal axis lines. Marks can be made with chalk, soap, a dressmaker’s pencil, or in this case, an air-erase pen.


Placement: Using Templates






s and Marking


For best results, use cutaway stabilizer. It supports the fabric while embroidering, as well as during wash and wear. A medium-weight (2.5 ounce) cutaway is a great choice. If you’re concerned about it being too stiff or rigid, rest assured it softens nicely after a wash or two. No-show mesh or polymesh are softer types of cutaway stabilizer. When embroidering on thin or light-colored shirts, these types are good alternatives to traditional cutaway stabilizer. Tear-away stabilizer is not recommended for T-shirts, as it deteriorates over time and doesn’t support the fabric. Washaway or water-soluble stabilizer is not recommended either. 6

Stabilizer: Cu

utaway & Mesh

Blooming Blossoms Neckline

T-shirts are made of cotton and may shrink when laundered. Wash and dry the shirt before embroidering.







Hooping: Tips & Tricks

Hooping your shirt and stabilizer together brings the best-quality results. This ensures all of the stitches will land in the right spot. When they aren’t hooped together, misalignment, shifting, and gaps may occur. Follow these steps for excellent results: 1. Turn the shirt inside out. Spray a piece of cutaway stabilizer with temporary adhesive, and smooth it onto the area that will be embroidered. Turn the shirt right side out again. 2. Slide the outer hoop inside the shirt. Press the inner hoop in place, lining up the marks on the shirt with the marks on the hoop. 3. Roll the excess shirt up and out of the way so it doesn’t get caught while embroidering. 4. Use clips, such as hair clips or binder clips, to keep the excess shirt secure. 9

Love to Sew

Attach the hoop to the machine and load the design. Move the hoop so the needle is right over the center point, and embroider the design. A size 11 or 75/11 embroidery needle is a fine choice for embroidering on T-shirts.


Embroidering: Getting Exc

After embroidering, trim the excess stabilizer away. If you’re concerned about the stabilizer or thread feeling rough against the skin, use a fusible interfacing (like Cloud Cover Stitch) on the back of the embroidery.

cellent Results


Crafty Diva


Art Nouveau Sewing Machine with Flowers

Choosing Designs: Lighten

When embroidering the T-shirts, choose designs that are light, airy, and open. To demonstrate the difference, compare these two shirts.


The Crafty Diva design on the left is light and open. It is the perfect choice for a T-shirt, and the light stitches drape beautifully with the fabric. The Art Nouveau Sewing Machine on the right is heavy, with solid fills. It’s too complex for a T-shirt, and you can see that the fabric is puckering and draping poorly. A design like this is better suited for sturdier fabrics, like canvas or denim.


For best results -- and to avoid draping and puckering problems -choose light and open designs, and avoid heavier motifs. 13

Victorian Butterfly

Create your own pattern by repeating a simple design, like this one-color butterfly. We embroidered the butterfly in two sizes, each with their own color for extra eye-catching appeal.


Choosing Designs: Shapes &

Fabric Lover Swirls and Curls

Rectangular designs are very popular choices for T-shirt embroidery. Look for border designs, like the one on this Fabric Lover shirt. We used a tone-on-tone effect by choosing colors that were slightly lighter than the blue shirt.

& Colors


Leaves of Luxury

Let beautiful embroidery peek over the shoulder of your T-shirt with this creative placement choice. It’s an unexpected, yet eye-catching way to add a contemporary style to your wardrobe.

Wedges and sprays placed artfully in the shoulder and chest area will add a fashion-forward approach to your apparel. These designs have wide upper areas that tend to taper down toward the bottom, which makes them a popular choice for this area of a T-shirt.


Hibiscus Filigree

Beyond the Basics: Placeme

Graceful Swallows

ent Ideas

Highlight your waistline with stunning embroidery along your ribcage! Simply hoop the side of your T-shirt instead of the front. Here we stitched just in front of the side seam, but you can embroider on top of it for an even more adventurous style. If you can, have the person who will be wearing the shirt try it on. Then you can position the design to look best with the curves of his or her body. Every body has a unique shape.


Angel Wings

Make your own with these instructions!

Let your creativity take flight! Add wings to the back of a shirt for an eye-catching look. Choose from a variety of styles: angels, dragons, bats, fairies, and geometric tribal. They add a delightful splash of color and personality!


Beyond the Basics: Placeme

Alhena Swirl Border and Corner

Find instructions for perfect placement! Traditionally, border and corner designs are used to update quilts, placemats, and tea towels. But throw tradition out the window! Coordinating corner and border designs are a brilliant way to dress up a V-neck shirt. The corner is embroidered on the point of the V, while the border designs gracefully trail up the sides of the neckline.

ent Ideas


Damask Corner

Cap the sleeves of your T-shirt with colorful embroidery to add a hint of flair to any outfit. Simply whip out your smallest embroidery hoop (we used a 4� x 4�) and hoop the sleeve, seams and all. Designs that come in small sizes, such as corners, are the perfect fit for this unique embroidery placement. Here we aligned a corner with the point facing toward the shoulder, and the long edge running along the bottom sleeve seam.


Sp W Bi

Beyond the Basics: Even M

pring Whitework ird

Feather Flair (Blackwork)

Embroidering on a pocket is a subtle way to add personality to your T-shirt. Using a seam ripper, detach the pocket from the shirt along the bottom and side seams, leaving the top two corners still attached. Hoop the pocket, embroider the design, then re-attach the pocket.

A pop of unexpected embroidery on the back of a shirt is a fabulous way to update your apparel. Here we used a whitework design on a deep blue tee; bright and colorful designs are equally striking options when stitching on shirt backs.

MORE Placement Ideas


Some designs have been specially created for embroidering along necklines. Choose between crewneck or V-neck designs, then use to give your shirt a gorgeous update!

Watch the video!


Necklines: Crewneck & V-N


Ornate Swirls Neckline Art Deco Floral Neckline


Project Instructions


Knight Helmet with Shield


Let’s Hear it for the Boys!

Wondering what to embroider for your favorite guy? Husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, and all the men in your life will love a T-shirt updated with a big, bold design.

Wild Side Guitar


T-Shirts Quick Guide NEEDLE

A size 11 or 75/11 embroidery needle is a great choice when embroidering on T-shirts.

STABILIZER One piece of medium-weight (2.5 ounce) cutaway stabilizer is the best choice. No-show mesh or polymesh are softer kinds of cutaway stabilizer and are also a good choice. Tear-away and water-soluble stabilizers are not recommended.

DESIGN CHOICE For best results, choose light and open designs that will drape well on the shirt. Heavy, complex designs will lead to puckering and poor draping.

SOURCES T-shirts shown in this Lookbook were purchased from Target, Hanes, and Lands End. Other sources include Amazon, Walmart, Kohl’s, and TJ Maxx.


Copyright (c) Embroidery Library Inc. 2016. All rights reserved.

Flutterby Flowers

Excited about all the new T-shirt tips and tricks found in this Lookbook? See even more helpful hints in our Embroidering on T-Shirts YouTube video. Watch it now! Embroidery Library has long been known for excellent machine embroidery designs and inspiring ideas. We’ve been drawing and digitizing designs, here in Minnesota, since 1998. Embroidery Library is 100% employee-owned, and each of us has an artistic nature and creative spirit. Every design we create is absolutely unique -- we don’t use clip art, and we don’t outsource. Master embroidering on T-shirts with this Lookbook, then pass along to your sewing circle to share the wealth of tips and tricks! Visit us at:

Embroidery Library Embroidering on T-Shirts Lookbook  

Essential tips for embroidering on t-shirts including hooping, stabilizing, placement, and so much more!

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you