Machine Embroidery on knit sweater

I have been  embroidering on my Brother 2800D for several years now, but this is my first attempt at doing something on a real life garment. I had already embroidered on woven material, so on to knits.

One significant part of being a Serial Hobbyist is viewing and reading tutorials on the web for the hobby-de-jour. Embellishing knits is my project for right now, and I’m learning enough to be dangerous. So I decided to just start. (I wish I had seen the Sew It All program I had recorded back in March with Sue Hausmann giving all kinds of tips on embellishing ready-made clothing. I watched it today, and found all the tips she gave are written on their website. Click here to see it.)

I know you all who have been doing this for a long time are snickering at this newbie … but ya gotta start someplace, right? Hopefully another person reading this will have the courage to do it, too. And you experienced ones, please put your own tips in the comments for others to learn from.


IMG_1364Step 1 –  Figure out what to embroider on: Aha:  a “leave -it-in-a-restaurant” sweater (a thrift store find so I wouldn’t  mind if I messed up too badly.) I forgot to take a “before” picture so this is the other side.

Floral design for sweaterStep 2   Choose the design. I learned that on knits, it’s best to use a design with a lot of white space and not too heavy so it doesn’t pull the knit. And I wanted the design up by the neckline which meant it had to be long and narrow as you can see from the picture.  I decided to do tone on tone (yes, I was chicken) so selected white thread. I figured the shine of the poly would make the daisies stand out. I found in my stash of downloaded designs a little floral one color. (Another significant part of my hobby mentality … There are never enough designs in my computer stash … The fact that if I embroidered a different design every day with just the ones I have now,  it would take 10 years does not stop me from downloading more.)

I do have them organized (another part of the hobby … organize all the stuff). Here is a screen shot of the folders I use: Embroidery designs organized

Two good sites to get my designs are: and Both have really good sales if you sign up for their newsletters. But I digress ….

Step 4: Print and Preview: I printed out the design at 100% from the embroidery program I use (on a Mac there’s not much choice but it is a great one …. Embrilliance Essentials)  I cut out the pattern and pinned it to the sweater where I wanted. (One tricky part was the design was straight up and down, and I needed it slanted … So I did it in Essentials.)

Step 5 Choose the stabilizer. From my research I learned that knits stretch and the tear away stabilizer I had been using would not last through washings. I was hoping I wouldn’t leave it in a restaurant any more if it were prettier. So I got out my cut-away stabilizer which I had bought a long time ago but never used.

Step 6 Hooping. My (and probably many people’s) least favorite part of machine embroidery. That’s also been one of my tough things because of arthritis in my hands. Turning the screw, and even worse, pressing down on the inner hoop. My sweet husband has been called on to help on many occasions. ( I just ordered a Snap Hoop from and will let you know how it works.)

  • Tip learned:  Only hoop the stabilizer. Be sure it is tight like a drum. Then use spray temporary adhesive on the stabilizer. I used 505 Spray and Fix temporary adhesive.
  • Tip: Always always, always stitch out a test on a similar material.

Then I placed  the knit sample fabric to test the garment on the sprayed  stabilizer (this stuff doesn’t gum up the needle). It looked good. And now I have an embroidered pocket to embellish something else.

Step 7 – PRAY … Well, that’s an ongoing thing.

So I went for it and placed the sweater on a new piece of hooped & sprayed cut away stabilizer. And it worked. So I decided to add another one. Because of the design, it was in the pointed in the wrong direction, so I had to modify the angle. Two look a little strange so I prayed again and embroidered  another one, and it didn’t mess up!

But the daisies needed something so a little bead in each

Daisies on sweater

Daisies on sweater with beads.

did the trick and a little lace on the edges of the sweater.

I hope this little first effort inspires someone else to try something they’ve never done. Don’t forget to check out the Sew It All – Sue Hausmann link.  Click here to see it

And if stuff doesn’t seem to be going your way, remember this (ok, it’s a bit out of context but still applies to sewing.)

Psalm 120:1  I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.

5 responses to “Machine Embroidery on knit sweater

  1. WELL! Now, it’s definitely NOT a “leave-it-in-a-restaurant” sweater!
    It’s beautiful!!

  2. Thanks for sharing such beautiful designs..

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