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A Favorite Fabric – Knit

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

A Favorite Fabric – Knit!

Take a moment to think about what types of fabric you’ve worn over the last 7 days. I’ll wager a bet you said you wore knits on more than four of the seven days. And we all know why – comfort! Comfort is a characteristic we must keep in mind when adding machine embroidery to those delightful fabrics. Here are my top tips for stitching on knits.

Design Selection

Avoid machine embroidery designs with large solid areas of fill stitches. Open airy designs work best on knits because the open areas of the design allow the fabric to drape and relax. Heavy, patch-like embroidery designs definitely change the hand of the fabric resulting in an unprofessional finish. The comfort of a knit comes from its stretch and open airy designs still allow the fabric to stretch between the embroidered areas and helps maintain its comfortable wear ability.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog


Select a ball point needle when stitching on knits. The slightly rounded tip will slip between the fibers instead of piercing the fibers. You’ll get good results with an 80/12 ball point needle for embroidering on sweatshirts while a smaller ball point needle, 70/10 is appropriate for finer knits.


Your goal when embroidering on knits is to completely eliminate the stretch in the knit so that the fabric can accept the stitches. If the stretch still exists during the embroidery process, puckers and wrinkling will occur. Use a fusible cut-away stabilizer such as fusible polymesh, a strong but comfortable permanent stabilizer. A layer of film-type water soluble stabilizer on top produces a crisp, clean embroidery design. Just remember, once the fabric is laundered, the water soluble stabilizer completely vanishes so don’t depend on it for permanent stabilization.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Hooping Knits

Many knits suffer from hoop burn when secured in a standard embroidery hoop. So I use Snap-Hoop when I stitch on knits. Snap-Hoops are flat, magnetic hoops that grip the fabric between the two FLAT frames – the bottom metal frame and the magnetic top frame. Once the knit is sandwiched between the frames, just tug on the fabric to remove any excess fabric. Because the knit is stabilized and the frames are flat, no distortion occurs. I love these frames!

If you have to rely on a standard hoop to embroider your knit fabric then make sure you have a can of spray sizing (such as Magic Sizing) on hand. After you remove the knit from the standard hoop, spray the hoop burn area with the sizing and press away the marks. I strongly suggest testing this first on a similar fabric.


Tear away any excess water soluble stabilizer. Use a wet cotton swab to remove tiny bits of the film from small areas. Cut all thread tails from the right and wrong side of the embroidery.

Press the embroidered area from the wrong side. While the stabilizer is still warm, gently lift it away from the fabric. Trim the stabilizer to within ½” of the design. Pinking shears are great for this task as they leaved a pinked, jagged edge instead of a hard straight line. Once trimmed, press the wrong side of the embroidered area again, resetting the adhesive on the stabilizer.

Next week, I’ll address sheer, stretch knits such as burn-out cotton and stretch mesh.

Here’s your assignment this week:

You have two options to win this week!  First, click here to take a short 5-question survey and you’ll be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card– good anywhere Visa is accepted!

Second, tell me what fabric you find to be the most challenging to embroider on? Post your comment on this blog and you’ll be entered for a chance to win The Little Black Tee!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

The TWO winners of last week’s assignment answered the following question:

If you could have a one-hour private machine embroidery lesson with me, what would you want to learn?  Tell me and you could win one of two $100 gift certificates from Bunnycup Embroidery.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Our first winner is…Judith Carlon!

“I would like to learn how to use simple embroidery designs made for quilting quilts using my Babylock Ellegante2 machine. I am working on a quilt now and just about ready to put it together for quilting. I don’t want to send it out(too expensive) so would like to know how I can do it at home.”  – Judith

Our second winner is… Doree Shandera

“I would like to go over all the hoops again. I have them all, but am still not very confident choosing which one to use, and why I would make that choice. Have a wonderful wedding and honeymoon!!!” – Doree

Congrats to both you and a special thank you to Bunnycup Embroidery for their generous donation!





  • Cindy Amend

    I find knits to be the most difficult fabric to embroider. Thank you for the good tips – I’m going to my sewing room right now to try and get good results.

    • Virginia

      The most challenging fabric I find to embroider on is silk or silky type of fabrics. I usuallly iron on a light weight knit interfacing and then add a piece of tearaway and that usually solves my dilema.

  • Judith Torphy

    I find knits with lycra the most difficult. I will truly put your great tips to work.

  • Carolyn ford

    I agree. Knits can be challenging. I’ll try your tips.
    Hats are also difficult.

  • Sue Korman

    Definitely knits. I’m saving this article so I can refer to it in the future.

  • Mary Carpenter

    I find thick fabrics e.g. pre-quilted fabric that I like to use for bags to be very difficult.

  • Barbara Cummings

    I find fleece fabrics difficult simply because of the thickness.

  • Linda Sorensen

    Silk and other “slippery” and fine fabrics

  • Kathy

    I find embroidering on things with a nap-such as velour or terry to be difficult.

  • Judy Wood

    Definitely fleece, because of its stretch and thickness.

  • Cathy

    I find lycra knits, such as bathing suit fabric, to be particularly difficult due to stretch and my inability to
    adhere the fusible stabilizer without stretching the fabric
    a small bit.
    Blog today was particulary useful. Thank you!

  • Cathy

    I find I have the most difficulty with knits and knit like fabrics. I sometime use an iron on stabilizer but it sometimes does not turn out the way I want them to look.

  • Donna J

    I fine sheer silky types the most difficult to embroider. Before I do any embroidery work, I test, test, test. If the samples turn out the way I want, I safe the test pieces either for reference or turn them into a project.

  • Sharon Aiken

    I find 4 way stretch fabrics to be a challenge.

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    I seem to have more problems with a light fabric like satin. I seem to have inward pulling to the point where I go back to the design and decrease the density. However if it is decreased too much then the design ends up compromised.

  • Pat

    I have difficulty with thick terry cloth such as heavy towels. My design often does not look as “crisp” as I would like even with the use of a topper.

  • Shirley R

    Knits and lightweight cottons. It’s always a challenge to find just the right stabilizer to use with each one to prevent puckering.

  • Lisa H

    I find that thick canvas materials for tote bags the hardest to do.

  • Ruth A

    I find knits & terry cloth to be the most challenging.

  • Barb Miller

    I find kitchen towels have not be working out well. I have a great result after embroidering, but after washing the towels I find they pucker.

  • jeanne

    I find satin hard to embroidery with because it frays.

  • Pamela Beeth

    I have found it difficult to embroider a neckline design on tee shirts. Because of their shape, it is hard to stabilize the neck and then to hoop the shirt.
    Perhaps the best design might be the kind you have on the picture of The Little Black Tee, a freestanding design.

  • Linda Coleman

    heavy denim is the hardest thing for me to embroider on

  • Cathy

    To be really honest, if I follow how the stabilizers are used, all fabrics are pretty equal.
    A well digitize design needs to be used and the proper stitch count considered for the stabilizer, I also think good brands need to be used.
    Proper hooping and it should all work out.

  • Judy Hejza

    Right now I’d say Minky. Thick, slippery and so messy. But ahhhhhh, so soft!

  • Donna H.

    For me the silky fabrics have been the hardest so far. I’m new at this and have learned so much from this blog. Thanks!

  • Joan Davidson

    My challenge is the knits. But, if I take the time to properly prepare the fabric ahead of time, I am usually happy with the stitch out. Thanks for all your wonderful tips!

  • Clem

    I find knits and minky are hard for me. The knits are either “wonky” when I am done or puckered. The minky, because it is plush and stretchy is hard to choose the right design. If I do light and airy, it becomes hidden after a few washings, and the dense designs makes the minky lose its hand.
    Love the tips this week.

  • Susan Slovinsky

    I find loosely woven fabric the greatest challeng (similar to aida but bulkier). They are difficult to keep on grain when cutting and hooping. They do work with a little effort.

  • Jean Hallum

    I find knits with high lycra content to be a challenge.

  • Margaret B

    Some kinds of knits seem to be the most challenging. Both minky and lycras are difficult. Your recent tips should be very helpful. Thanks for all the advice you give us.

  • Anne Marie Reilly

    For me knits are the most challenging. I have a cashmere sweater with a small hole in it and I would like to embroider over it so it is useful again.

  • Nancy Nebeker

    I have the most trouble embroidering on the premade shawls you can buy all over the place but especially in airports.
    I would love it if you would do similar posts for all the different types of fabrics. Thanks

  • Nancy Weber

    I think knits are the most challenging and this blog entry has been very helpful. I am learning so much from you.

  • Margaret Pepper

    The most challenging fabric to embroider on for me is knits. Especially Sweatshirt fabric. The fuzzy back of the fabric is hard to separate from the heat fusible cutaway stabilizer. If there is a trick to this to make it easier, I would love to know what it is!

  • Terri

    Satins and silks. Even though I use open designs like outlines, these fabrics seem to pucker when embroidered by machine. Unfortunately for me, they don’t pucker when embroidered by hand.

  • Dee Bratcher

    I would have to say that knits and silky fabrics would be the ones that pose the most challenge for me. I have tried on a t-shirt using the technique you have posted and it turned out great. I think there are lots of fabrics that could be a challenge (some I have not tried yet) but with knowing the right type of stabilizer and how many layers, the design, etc – we can all do great work. Thank you for you tips.

  • Irene Clark

    Knits are the hardesr for me. I was never told in many of my classes sbout choosing designs. This will make my embroideringmuch eaier.

    • Betsy

      My first experience embroidering on knits was my last. I’ll try your tips…you really make it sound quite easy.

  • Marilyn

    I liberated an old worn-out shirt from my husband’s closet so I could test-sew on it. Thanks for all the suggestions to try. (I’m pretty sure he won’t keep wearing it after I get a few flower on it here and there.)

  • Cindy Swol

    I have not 1 but 2 difficult materials to work on. One is velvet, and yes I know about the top layers and knits. I have chosen thinner designs but I guess not thin enough. HELP!!!

  • Jacque

    I find T-shirts and satins to be my most difficult. I tend to shy away from the silky type materials and I just keep trying different things with T-shirts because I’m a T-shirt girl. I love my jeans and T-shirts.

  • Tricia Kemp

    Stretchy knits are most difficult for me. I have not tryed using a ballpoint needle for embroidery, but will do that next time. Thanks for the tips.

  • Robyn Morris

    I find that Minky is the stinker for me… out for hoop burn….slicker than you know what….ohhhhh and stretchy…. all my nemises wrapped up into one little beautiful fabric ;-))

  • Sue Duisenberg

    I tried embroidery on a light-weight knit scarf. Reading your blog I know I used the wrong needle. And my stabilizer didn’t all wash-away and it pulled the design. Lots to learn

  • Rachel D

    Fleece because of the thickness & silky slipprry type fabrics are the most difficult for me to embroider.

  • Jackie

    I find knits the most difficult, but after reading this blog I realized I had used the wrong needle and stabilizer.

  • Beth R

    Thick terry cloth (such as with towels) have been my most difficult fabric to stabilize – no matter what I try, the area around the design curls so the towel doesn’t hang straight or lie flat.

  • Cindi Carroll

    Strangely enough, I find embroidering on quilter’s cotton to be the most unpredictable, mostly with a dense design. I’ve never had a problem on knits.

  • Marcia Dumas

    I think stretch velour or four-way stretch material is hard to embroider without first test sewing.

  • Helen Aaron

    I have had trouble with thick fabric such as heavy towels and canvas.

  • Betty Smith

    I also seem to have trouble with knits, w/wo lycra. My grandaughters give me lots of challenges for knit shirts. I forget about the ballpoint needle so will try that next time. The only other material is terry but your Perfect Towel Kit is the only way to go!! Thanks for all the tips for knits.

  • Karen

    Thanks for the tips. I think velvet is difficult.

  • Linda Fox

    I find lightweight silky fabrics to be the most difficult to embroider. Thank you for the tips on embroidering knits, since that is second on my list of difficult to embroider fabrics. I just got some magna hoops and a snap hoop for Christmas, and hope they will help. I am going to your stitching sisters at B-Sew Inn next week in Tulsa and hope to get a lot of info with hands on help.

  • Michelle H

    terry such as towels gives me problems, would love to see some hints about working on them. I am very intrigued by the Little Black Tee designs and would love to try them out

  • Shelly J.

    I’ve been having a lot of trouble with cotton blend batiste, the design and fabric pucker up as soon as I unhoop them. 🙁

  • Mary Anne

    The most difficult things I’ve embroidered on were store bought placemats. The fabric was dense and the “batting” or what ever was like cardboard. Much easier to make a placemat from scratch and do the embroidery before completion!

  • Susan Burns

    Organza is difficult for me, but it is so beautiful when done. Also, I find it difficult to embroider on mouse pads, but folks really like to recieve them as gifts.

  • Angela Thee

    I find velvet the most challenging to embroidery on. I am always trying to find ways to embroidery without hooping and keeping it firm and stable. Ideas would be appreciated.

  • Celeste B

    I find the slippery fabrics are the hardest to embroider. It is difficult to iron on a stabilizer smoothly and then it slips around in the hoop when trying to hoop it.

  • Linda Turner

    I have found the terry fabric in baby bibs to be challenging for me. It puckers without an added stabilizer underneath the hooped stabilizer. I use a topper but I do not hoop the baby bibs. I have a new little grand daughter and I don’t want them to look wrinkled after they are laundered.
    Thank you for the advice to use ballpoint needles. I will try that also.

  • Jennifer Padden

    I find the bridal satin and silk the most challenging. I can never manage to get it aligned in the hoop without many tries. I spend waaaay too much time and would love to learn how to do it right the first time.

  • Donna Coffey

    Agreed, knits are definitely a challenge for me as well as satin. I appreciate the tips in this article and will try them out. I am wondering though, ball-point needle for sweatshirts? Do you mean a regular 80/12 ball point needle, not necessarily an embroidery needle? I love the idea of trimming the stabilizer with pinking shears and am disappointed that I had not already thought of that myself!

  • eileenroche

    I often use a regular ball point needle. But test first – always test.

  • Whitney H

    To me, leather is the trickiest to embroider. It’s hard to hoop without marks, you need the right design, and ou only get one shot!

  • Keri Tieman

    I haven’t experimented too much on different fabrics. Knits have been challenging for me. I’m grateful for your tips! Thank you!

  • Cathie Paski

    I think silky fabrics are he most challenging to embroider on an stabilize without puckering,

  • Eileen Hoheisel

    The first time I ever used an embroidery machine one week ago, so at this time everything is a bit of a challenge!

  • Wanda

    I find the most challenging to embroidery on are very bulky items. I want to embroidery on the back of a robe that I will use my 14 inch hoop that I need to rotate in the machine. So leaving the bulk to the outside wont work?

  • Judith Carlon

    I find knits (t-shirts) difficult. They tend to pucker. Plus I can never remember which kind of stabelizer to use. Your blog on knits will be very useful.

    • Linda Engelbrecht

      Embroidery on those “bumpy” knit polo shirts would be my bug-a-boo. Trying to put a logo or design on them and have it look smooth is what I find difficult. Thank you for your tips.

  • Ann

    Fabrics like Minky are the most difficult for me. It is so stretchy and the nap causes problems too. It is definitely easiest to just do
    an applique type design.

  • Carol Guy

    Silk is the most challenging fabric for me to embroider. Difficult to prevent puckering.

  • Kathy Schmidt

    I find my most difficult & challenging material to sew/embroider on is the newer tshirt type knits (very soft & thin) they are comfortable, but can be such challenge to embroider on.

  • Linda Few

    My most challenging fabric is Satin. Even when I just use it for applique it seems to feather around the edges.

  • Donna G.

    T-shirt weight knits are the most challenging to me. I have to be careful in choosing the right stabilizer and the right design, something I’ve not always done successfully. The hooping can be a challenge as well!

  • Zoe

    Thank you Eileen for a timely article. Knit is what challenges me. Now common sense should have told me to use a ball point needle. A Duh moment here.

    I remember when knit came out years ago and my Mother having trouble sewing on them until the ball point needle came out, now why didn’t apply that knowledge. Thanks again, Zoe

  • Lisa Wallace

    Baby knits!

  • Connie Fulton

    Moisture wick knits are horrible for me!

  • Tammy M

    I find that aida cloth or other “open-weave” fabrics are a pain. I’ve got a design for our downstairs bathroom to remind the boys to clean after themselves, and I can’t get it to look good on my open-weave *I think burlap crossed with aida cloth* fabric.

  • Judy Brennan

    I find knits the biggest challenge. AND, I am sure I need more tuts on this. Thanks.

    Judy Brennan – Overland Park, KS

  • Gail Beam

    Lightweight T shirts are the biggest challenge for me. If I do not stabilize it just right or use a design that is too stitch intensive I usually end up with a hole!

  • Doreen

    I find knits to be challenge

  • Mitzi Barker

    windbloc polartec is my biggest challenge

  • Colleen Bell

    Thank you so much for helping me the knit fabric. That is the project I am doing right now and it seems so difficult. I have had my embroidery machine for just a little over a month, so right now the knit seems challenging, but I am sure there will be more.

  • Janet K

    Lycra and velvet fabrics are the most difficult fabrics for me to embroider.Thank you for your helpful tips on your blog.

  • Dottie W

    Stretchy knits, especially baby onesies are the most difficult. I will definitely use some of the tips in Eileen’s Blog next time.

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    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article!
    It is the little changes that will make the biggest changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • Karen Moore

    Little knit shirts for children seem to get holes in them more from the stitching than the heavier adult weight knits. I will try the ball point needle, but the thinner shirts are still probably going to be a problem.

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