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Embroidery Tips & Techniques Wearables

Masculine stitches

Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogEmbroidering for men can be quite the challenge. Traditionally, embroidered fashions are not readily embraced by American men unless the embroidery is a favorite sports team’s logo, NASCAR emblem or uniform patch.  And men can be really picky.  It’s okay with them if they purchase a $75.00 polo shirt at the country club and the embroidery is not as crisp on the pique fabric as you know it should be.  And there’s no problem if it sports a clearly visible 4” bullet-proof patch of heavy cut-away stabilizer behind the embroidery.  But if YOU made one of those mistakes on his golf shirt, well, heaven forbid.  One very smart lady – married 36 years – told me after she bought her sixth machine – a top-of-the-line embroidery dream machine – she just informed her husband that this machine doesn’t stitch menswear.  He believed her.
Eileen's Machine Embroidery BlogBut you don’t have to go to that extreme.  You can stitch menswear and please the man in your life.  Just follow the same basic guidelines you use when stitching fashion garments for yourself.  Make sure placement is correct – left chest embroidered designs should be straight and centered in the left chest area. The only way to achieve perfect placement is by using a left chest template. You’ll nail the placement every time. I use the left chest template from our Perfect Placement Kit to flawlessly locate the center of the left chest in a variety of sizes.

Select a strong, but sheer stabilizer. Polymesh, fusible or non-fusible, is perfect for polo shirts. Use a beige polymesh on white knits to eliminate stabilizer show-through.  Polymesh is also very comfortable next to the skin in comparison to a rough, itchy, heavy cut-away.  If decorating a knit pique, use a lightweight tear-away on top of the fabric to provide a crisp, clean edge to the embroidery.

Stitch a sample of the intended fabric, embroidery design, stabilizer and thread.  Our friends at OESD say, “There are only two kinds of embroiderers, those who test and those who wish they did.” Well said!

Since that’s the traditional route for menswear, let’s not overlook today’s contemporary styles of embroidered menswear.  The young guys are way bolder than their older counterparts.  They’re not afraid to flaunt large – really large – embroidery designs splashed asymmetrically down a shirt front. Often, these same designs cross over the side seam so they are visible from the front and back.  They do tend to tread softly when it comes to color.  They opt for monochromatic looks in soft, muted shades of gray, cream, brown and even purple (think smoky plum).  Often, the shirts are a narrow stripe or small print.  The scale works perfectly with the large designs.

And it’s creeping up the age bracket. Take a look at Tommy Bahama® – their camp shirts are emblazoned with 10” or larger designs.  That brand is definitely geared to the Baby Boomer guy. You know the one; he just can’t help himself from swaying to the music whenever a favorite Beach Boys’ tune blares.




  • Gail Beam

    Racing car and dog designs for my brother-in-law, eyeglass cases for my dad, fun, cute designs of any kind for my grandsons, and grampa type designs for my husband are the popular designs for the men in my life. Any size of the design works for them as long as it fits the item being embroidered.

  • Betsy

    My husband and 2 grown sons really don’t want any embroideries on their clothing unless it’s a deer, elk, moose or other big game animal….and it has to be quite small. The only thing they’re looking forward to is me learning how to embroider ball caps. THAT is where they like embroideries. But that’s ok. It frees me up to do more for my daughters-in-law and grandchildren!!

  • Rosa Greene

    My Son and Grandson perfer Large splashy designs on the center front of there shirts. They also like Urban type designs.

  • lorihatch49

    Hi Eileen,
    I am very curious about the new “Snap Hoop” you advertised! I have the Magna Hoop and love it. Are they both made by the same company?

    I think this new hoop will revolutionize multi hooping especially for those of us who have not had the opportunity to upgrade to a “Jumbo” hoop.

    Multi hooping is not my strong point, but I love working with the larger designs. Anything that will help me be more accurate is worth a try!

    Thanks for your continued creativity and inspiration!

    • Eileen Roche

      Dear Lori,
      Thank you for posting your comment! Yes, I designed both the Magna-Hoop and Snap-Hoop products offered through Designs in Machine Embroidery and available through a variety of retailers.

      I think you’ll find that Snap-Hoop will make it easy to tackle continuous embroidery with confidence. It’s as simple as lifting the top frame and sliding the fabric up to the next position. If you haven’t already, be sure to watch the video demonstrations on the Designs in Machine Embroidery

      Happy Stitching!

  • Miriam Landers

    I have embroidered designs on shirts for several of the men in my family. My husband won a jacket in Las Vegas with just the logo of the casino in the upper left side of the jacket. He wantged more on the jacket so I embroidered a straight flush poker hand on the right side and a large dragon on the back. People are always commenting on his jacket and asking where he got it. He proudly tells them. I embroidered black T-Shirts for all of the men for Fathers Day.

  • Paule-Marie

    My hubby is pretty conservative, the closest thing I can get to something embroidered on his shirt is the AZ Ranger patch and US flag on his uniforms. So I just do more for me and others. He does have a pillowcase I made for him from camo print cotton with a camo heart and our initials on the cuff.

  • Katrina

    My husband likes small touches like cuff monograms and little initials on his towels.

  • Kate

    I like to do monochromatic embroidery for the men in my family – initials on the sleeve are a nice touch too. My neices refer to their Uncle Bob as UB – every one in the family does. So I embroidered UB white on a white shirt and when people notice it – he can tell them what it is and it is a great conversation starter.

  • Jean Guenther

    My husband only wants a small and very soft golf theme embroidery on the left side ONLY. He has just recently ask for patches to go on hats after seeing some I made for my grocery bags.

  • Rhonda Gillette

    My boyfriend wears some western from time to time, and the large embroidered designs across the back he’d really like. His son as well. He is also an avid hunter and fisher. He loves embroidered on the shoulder and hat face with deer, elk, fish, etc. So far we just buy them already embroidered because of my fear I won’t get it lined up correctly. The templates look like they would be really helpful. I’d love to try them out and maybe I can start doing all their embroidered wear from now on.

  • Laura

    My husband is very hellpful regarding embroidery on his shirts. When I am going to try to do a new design for a friend and am not real sure just how it will look, he goes down to the local WalMart and buys a plain polo shirt and brings it home and lets me practice by putting the design on that shirt first. If he likes the way it looks, I then do the embroidery on the shirt to be given away. He has a new “one-of-a-kind” shirt and I have my gift all ready to give away and we are all happy!!!

  • Carol Thomas

    My husband generally only likes small, usually sports related, designs on the left chest. The Perfect Placement Kit has helped me become very confident about placement and the designs are always located correctly.

    Seeing the picture in this blog with embroidery across the yoke of a shirt intrigues me. I don’t think my husband would go for that, but my thirty something son would like it. It would work into his office casual lifestyle. Thanks, Eileen, for the inspirtation.

    Carol Thomas

  • Ronny Maria Sanders

    My husband & brother go for the nature thing my brother is into wolf designs and my husband loves any sort of animal design. My son loves tribal and celtic designs and my son-in-law loves Nascar and rabbit hunting so there is a wide variety of tatste in my house.

  • Mary Snyder

    Since I am new to embroidering, I’ve not tried to make my hubby something, yet. I have done a trumpet for my grandson on his graduation quilt. A little lamb for our granddaughter.
    Thank you for giving us inspiration.

  • Karin

    My dear hubby will ONLY wear embroidery if it’s on a Western shirt & we’re going to a square dance. Otherwise – it’s PLAIN T-shirts – no pockets, no designs! BORING, but lovable!

  • denise

    My sons are sporting guitars across their shirts, the eagles are a nice touch as well. My husband will only wear something a little sporting like an eagle, duck , fish etc…… I’d love to win to do something unique for the men in my life!

  • Bobbie

    Anything racing related.

  • Sara Denbo

    We have a family owned business. When I decided I NEEDED my first embroidery machine, I offered to logo all of our management’s shirts. Three embroidery machines later, I think I have logo’d 1000’s of shirts. We give the management 6 short-sleeved and 6 long-sleeved shirts. Needless to say, my husband is the one always asking for a new shirt with the logo. He loves them. Thanks for the giveaway offer!

  • Kathy Harrison

    My husband will wear embroidered items if they are made by me! He refuses to wear any of the “designer” logos, he says “they should pay me to advertise for them!” Most of the items that I have made for him have been related to one of his hobbies…scuba diving, golf or restoring his 1967 Mustang. I have made items for other male friends/family that are predominantly monograms on shirt cuffs, luggage tags, baseball caps.


    **When do you anticipate the snap-hoop becoming available for the Brother 620?

  • Jan

    My guys like the left chest embroidery with the bullet proof stabilizer. I don’t think I can get them in anything more splashy.

  • Miss Mena

    Most of the guys I know that wear anything embroidered will go all out. One side will have a huge design from the shoulder, down the the bottom of the shirt. Also, I have seen some guys wearing jeans with cool embroideries on the back pockets and at the top of their knees, and even down the side of one leg.

  • Krista Koehler

    I think in the younger crowd for men the most popular thing they would wear is a Hoddie with Mabie a small size embroidery design on the front and a full body on the back. Especially if its some thing like a light airy slick dragon design.

  • Katherine

    Only our farm logo is the only he usually wears

  • Deb Fischer

    my hubby is not a large, splashy kinda guy but he would love it if I were able to use my new Baby Lock Elisimo to make “small improvements” on his polo’s and button down dress shirts. I do plan on surprising him for his birthday in February with an embroidered t-shirt with his nick-name, Captain Peanut Bladder and can’t wait to see the look on his face when I tell him “I did it”!

  • Deb Fischer

    My “guys” are into the smaller, more conservative look. They like the small designs or unobtrusive names stitched above the breast pocket. Nothing too flashy but they do appreciate the small touches I could do. I have a fishing nut son and he likes to wear jumping Bass but again small and the forest green colors are right up his alley

  • betty malicoat

    I am really looking for embroidery hoop-mega or extra large-for bernina deco 650.If you of one please let me know.thank you,betty

  • betty malicoat

    Iam looking for embroidery hoop for bernina deco 650

  • Bonnie

    I like using the tatoo designs on mens clothes. Just say tatoo and they are all for it! Have completed some beautiful (ruggedly handsome!) shirts recently using these designs.

  • Sandra

    Hello, my sons love to wear shirts , jeans that have embroidery .It just hard to find the right design for a man.

  • Jim M

    I tend to gravitate towards tone on tone embroidered logos for pieces I wear myself. It gives a design a more subtle look and can be worn both at the office or at home without appearing too “showy”.

  • Judy

    My son wants me to embroider some shirts for him on the left front. I am very hesitant to do this because of the fear of not being able to center the designs properly, so I really NEED the Perfect Placement Kit. Please pick me!!!

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  • Trina Beall

    I just made a vest for my son with the left chest pattern in a geometric pattern. Id love a TEMPLATE. I was worried it was in the proper alignment. It looks good. Where can I get some patterns like the tatto style embroideries for men. Thanks.

  • Cari Batch

    My husband and his hunting friends wear shirts I have put geese on the back. They love then.

  • Karen Moore

    We live in a rural community, so are designs are wild life designs and scenes across the back yoke of the shirt, or the whole back. We also put them on the chest above the pocket. Men here want designs based on what they like to do, horses, fishing, hunting, golfing, car racing, and mud derbies. The more it says, this is what I do, the happier they are to have it displayed on their shirts, and jackets.

  • faith

    Our son and grandsons like the sweatshirt hoodies we make them for Christmas each year. I embroider huge dragons, tigers, wolves, skulls, tribal stuff and tattoos on the backs below where the hood hangs down when not being worn so the whole design is always on display. I make them for the guys and all the daughters-in-law and granddaughters steal them! We would love to win the placement tool – it would sure ease the anxiety of chest placement on different sized shirts!

  • Amazing paintings

    Hi! I’m really into your art blogs. This really brings a smile to my face! thanks!

  • Rebecca Grace

    You know, Urban Threads is a great source for guy-friendly embroidery designs. They have a lot of math and science themed designs, steampunk, career-related, etc. that are hip and on trend, and the complete opposite of “cutesy” embroidery that men and boys want nothing to do with. My sons like their Pi design, dragons, skull and crossbones, etc.

  • Cheryl Masters

    After your appearances on Nancy Zieman’s shows I, of course, had to buy the books and dvds with no hesitation, I discovered that I could sit and watch all day when you and Nancy were embroidering. It was like watching a DaVinci or Rembrandt at work. I’ll have to also have to check out the other lady you mentioned in your blog. Before I saw the placement kit that you have to offer, I bought the one that Nancy has in her shop. Yours looks more complicated but, at the same time, capable of doing more. Can you tell me if I’m right or wrong, please? I would appreciate it very much. My hunny bunny gave me a thousand dollars for my birthday and told me to buy anything I desired. I spent it all at Nancy’s. I sure do miss her.
    Sincerrly, Cheryl Masters