Embroidery on clothes: How to update your wardrobe with stitches

It's easy to add embroidery on clothes using an embroidery pen, iron-on transfer or water soluble stabiliser

Embroidery on clothes is easy and worked in exactly the same way as any other hand embroidery. First decide where you want the stitching to go. If you’re unsure then draw the design on to a piece of paper and trim round it then pin it into position. You can then try the garment on to make sure it’s in the right place.

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If the fabric is stretchy or lightweight then press a piece of medium weight interfacing onto the back of the area you wan to embroider, cutting it a little bigger all round than the finished embroidery.

Now you can transfer the design onto your fabric using your preferred method. An embroidery pen is the simplest choice if you are working for a template. An embroidery pen is a  heat-erasable pen that will remove with heat once you have finished your embroidery. Just run an iron over your work once you want the pen to disappear, or even blasting with a hairdryer can do the trick! Put the template onto a light box and put the garment on top, then use your embroidery pen to draw the template design on the fabric.

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Using an iron-on transfer is another easy way to transfer a design ready to embroider on clothes, but this does rely on your having a transfer of the design you want to embroider on clothes. Every issue of Love Embroidery magazine comes with  set of iron-on transfers, so if you want to try this technique, pick up a copy.

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Another really effective method is using water-soluble stabiliser. This is a lightweight, slightly perforated paper that stays on the fabric as you embroider. Once you’ve finished stitching, you soak it with the fabric and it dissolves. As this method requires soaking, you will need to make sure that your fabric can be washed and that your thread is colourfast. Some of these stabilisers allow you to print directly on to them using a laser printer for more accurate designs. You can also draw or trace directly onto it with the image the right way up (you don’t need to print in reverse).

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Once the design is on the stabiliser cut it out, then peel the backing off and pin or stick it to your fabric, depending on the brand you’re using. You can now embroider along the lines in the usual way through the thin stabiliser and into the fabric.  Once you’ve finished stitching soak the fabric in warm water and the stabiliser will dissolve. Swish it about and rinse until all traces of the stabiliser have completely disappeared then you can wash, dry and press your embroidered fabric in the usual way. 

Embroidery on clothes projects to try

We have some great projects showcasing how to embroider on clothes for yo try try here on Gathered!

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Up your skills with these brilliant embroidered socks! Click for our How to embroider socks tutorial.

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Add flowers to your feet with these brilliant embroidered boots! Click for our how to add embroidery stiches for flowers high-top sneakers tutorial.

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Want to add cat embroidery on clothes? Of course you do! We’ve got this cat embroidery tutorial to teach you have to add cats to all your pockets.

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Update a faded demin jacket with these gorgeous embroidery flowers

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Add embroidery on clothes to your look with our easy Feather stitch scarf.

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Personalise dungarees for children with this lovely embroidery animals lion design.