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Alignment and Placement

Ribbed Knits

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Here’s a great tip for embroidering on ribbed knits.

Aren’t ribbed knits so comfy to wear? I love the stretch and texture but I’m not too fond of embroidering on that challenging fabric.  This weekend, I wanted to stitch something special for my daughter, Janelle. She’s in her second month of grad school – in two and half years, she’ll be a physician’s assistant.  So right now, she’s hunkered down in grad school life and just aced her first Anatomy test.  No surprise there, she got a 4.0 in Anatomy in undergrad studies at University of Oklahoma. It’s one of her favorite courses.

To celebrate her grade, I found the most appropriate embroidery designs at Urban Threads.  And yep, the title of the collection is Anatomy! Can you believe it? Aren’t we lucky? You can find ANYTHING in machine embroidery!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Here’s where the ribbed knit comes in. I had a long-sleeve comfy t-shirt in one of Janelle’s favorite colors but I wasn’t so sure it was the right fabric for this hand design.  With a little ingenuity, I made it work.

First, I put the shirt on, inside out. Janelle and I are not the same size – I’m wider and shorter and she’s taller and leaner. But I needed to stretch the t-shirt to mimic the shape when she wears it. It’s a t-shirt, not a wedding dress, so close enough is good enough in this case.  Then I placed adhesive water soluble stabilizer (Floriani’s Wet N Gone Tacky) to the wrong side of the design area. Then I carefully took off the shirt and hooped it in Snap-Hoop. Love Snap-Hoop for t-shirt embroidery!

Once I nested the shirt around the design area, I used painter’s tape to hold the shirt out of the needle area. Due to the hills and valleys of the ribbed knit, I was worried the fill stitches would cave into the ribs so I placed a piece of crisp (or lightweight) tear-away over the design area.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

After stitching color 1, the fill stitches, I carefully pulled away the excess stabilizer.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

I added a piece of film-type water soluble stabilizer over the design before stitching colors 2, the shading and 3, the outline.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Here’s the key, use a tear-away that rips clean. It will feel stiff in your hand, unlike a soft tear-away (or medium weight) that tears with a jagged edge and has a softer drape.  The final colors – the shading and outline- will cover any pokies remaining in the crisp tear-away.  The fabric won’t bleed through and the embroidery won’t sink into the garment even after laundering.

This technique works wonders with faux fur (like Christmas stockings) or other highly napped fabrics.

This week’s assignment:

Fun stuff, wouldn’t you agree? Aren’t you amazed at the sheer number of embroidery designs available to us? Is there a design you’ve been looking for and have never been able to find? Tell us what you’re searching for and you could win a $25 shopping spree to the Designs in Machine Embroidery website!

The winner of last week’s assignment answered the following question

Let me know what you do when you want to try a new technique. Post your comment for a chance to win a $25.00 shopping spree to the Designs in Machine Embroidery website.

The winner is: Brenda Howard
“I am new to machine embroidery so all techniques are new to me, with that being said I decide what I want to do and try to make sure that I choose fabric that is a good match to what I want in the final project so that if it turns out good I can use it too in some way. Next I take a deep breath and go for it!”






  • Sherry Green

    I’m looking for computer themed outlines to use for quilting a T-shirt quilt, things like a computer, laptop, or mouse.

  • Carolyn Rollberg

    I love Urban Thread designs and used the heart and spine on items when my daughter was in Chiropractic College. What I have been looking for now and can’t find is a Chiropractic symbol design. I would love to find that design to use now that she is a Chiropractor.

  • Carolyn Rollberg

    Thank you for the tip for embroidering on ribbed knits!

  • Lori

    I love those anatomy designs. My husband teaches and those designs would be perfect for us. I have looked before for a Respiratory Therapist symbol and couldn’t find one that I liked. As always, thank you for your wonderful tips!

  • Bonnie Readie

    I am looking for a cup that is filling up. This is to compliment the saying “fill my cup, Lord” Although I found a lot of cups and chalices none are suited for the message relating to a bible study that focuses on how are lives are like a cup that is filled and emptied. ie it must be emptied to be filled again.

  • Barbara

    This is my first time to your blog. I’ll definitely be back. Great tips. The car design I’ve not found and would love is a Mercedes SLK class. Plezzzzzzz! 🙂

    • eileenroche

      Oh Barbara, designs like the Mercedes SLK class would be copyrighted by Mercedes Benz. I doubt you will find them available for purchase as it would probably be illegal.

    • Cayden

      You’ve really imespsred me with that answer!

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  • Leandam

    I have been searching for a nice border collie design that looks like my own dog. Not an easy one to find, but I keep looking and hoping. Thanks for the tips on ribbed knit, I really enjoy your posts.

    • Phyllis

      There is a Border Collie set (SKU16481)
      and a single design (SKU 14960)

      I hope this is what you are wanting to embroider.
      Happy Stitches.

      • eileenroche

        Hi Phyllis – Thanks for listing the SKU, please tell us the brand.

  • Sherrie Lilly

    Yoga designs. They were the hardest to find but I kept at it and finally found them. The other thing would be closet rod size markers ie. SM MD LG, 10 12 14. Would love to organize my closet in sizes. Thanks for all of your tips and tricks.

  • eileenroche

    Sherrie – you’re not going to believe but we just did an article on closet rod size markers – our focus was on babies but it would definitely transfer to adult. Here’s a link to the preview and free design. After landing on the magazine page, click on Vol. 76. Enjoy!*/*/8079

  • Leann McClain

    I have had a very tough time finding certain Texas wildflower designs without wording around it. Found a few on Embroidery Library’s site, but had to change the coloring of the Indian Paintbrush to be closer to the Texas version, since there are different varieties.

  • Gail Beam

    Thank you Eileen for another super great tutorial! I love reading all of your tutorials. They are always easy to understand and have coordinating photos to accompany them. I am looking for a raggy alpha that has both caps and lower case letters to use on sweatshirts for my teen grandchildren.

  • flora thompson

    I have been looking for an appropriate design to put on a T shirt for my nephew who is now a qualified electrician. Is there any designs that would suit this occupation?

  • Donna Schell

    I love Urban Threads. I have found the most wonderful currently trending designs and fantastic tutorials on their site.

  • Carol Nichols

    Thanks for the great tips. I have been looking for theatrical masks to use on a polo shirt for my brother who is active in local theatre groups. I have found some but they are either too large or too childish. I would like them to be like a pocket topper…

  • Donna Lockwood

    I’m looking for designs of the symbols on Mah Jongg Tiles. I would love to get my hands on a red dragon and a one bam bird. I think the designs woulld get great in simple redwork. I can supply images. Donna

  • Kate Petrosky

    I’m looking for two different types of designs. One would be a cut edge design where I could have a finished simple
    scalloped edge along a skirt hem. The second would be high-quality Star Wars designs — both the characters and ships.

  • Lynn

    I have been searching for superheroes that look like Lego’s. Can’t find them anywhere for a grandson’s sweatshirt.

  • Jane Jarvis

    I’ve been looking for girl lacrosse designs. Boys lacrosse is just not the same. My granddaughter is always telling the girls teams count too.

    • Nancy

      wow – someone else looking for girls lacrosse! Midwesterners and others just don’t undersstand what we East Coasters see as so simple – boys and girls lacrosse are NOT the same!! Yes! More girls lacrosse!

  • NancyS

    Thanks for the great info on embroidering on rib knits! I’ve been looking for an oak tree to create a logo for my husband.

  • Annelise Crown

    Thanks for the fabulous tips. This is great to know.
    One thing that I have not been able to find anywhere is realistic female martial arts poses (Side kick, back kick, front kick, etc.). Everything is cartoon looking or little kids. Silhouettes would be ideal. I have tried to digitize my own images that I have found but they just don’t come out right. I’m not the greatest at digitizing. I am a almost 40 year old woman who earned her black belt and am going for 2nd degree black belt. I have lots of other females in my class that would love to show off our “special abilities” on shirts and bags. I have been at the search for 2 years now. Help with this search would be awesome and greatly appreciated.

  • Shirley R

    I have been looking for a realistic full-front face design of a male lion; most of faces I have seen are shown facing 3/4 and/or have fangs showing, which is not appropriate for the use I intend. The full-front face would go on panels of a piece of clothing I would like to make.

  • Connie Retherford

    I always use the water soluble on top for knits, but using the “crisp” first is a great idea and I am anxious to try it. Thanks for all of your good tips and ideas.

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  • Chris Horton

    Love your suggestions and the tip on anatomy designs.
    I have been trying to find a loop that I could add to a design to make it into either an earring or a Christmas ornament holder.
    Thanks again for so much education.

    • eileenroche

      I think you need an embroidered eyelet. I suggest searching for that term. I’ll bet you’ll find quite a few choices.

  • Paula Roney

    Thanks for the great tip about crisp tear away. I never would have thought about using that on top of a design. I love all of the Urban Thread designs and have collected many over the past few yesrs. I always seem to find great designs for whatever I need.

  • Nancy Newman

    Santa Clause working on a computer. This is for a local priest. Last year I embroidered a Santa on a motorbike for him. He loved it. Of course, he is a biker himself.

  • Georgia McCroy

    I’m looking for an army insignia design for the Artillery Fire Support Team. My husband is retired army and I’m working on designs to create his honor wall with all of his medals, certificates, etc. I’ve found the army emblem, the artillery emblem, the flag (of course)… I even found a 155 Howitzer (huge cannon looking weapon they use in the artillery). Anyway the fire support team is called fist and their emblem is a metallic fist with spiked knuckles. Can’t find it anywhere! Trying to digitize it but not too successful.

  • Georgia McCroy

    Oh, one more thing… I have the new Singer Quartet machine and I’m hoping you have plans to create a snap hoop for it. Any idea if that’s happening?

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    Just in time! I have 2 ribbed t-shirts that I am just getting ready to embroider on and this article looks to be just what I need to know. What do I need? Possibly a really good black Labrador Retriever especially a head. In the meantime I am going to check out Urban Threads.

  • Doreen

    I’ve been looking for a pony express rider for my younger brother who works for the post office and realistic computers and accessories for my boss.

  • Mitzi

    great idea about using the crisp stabilizer on top! I make embroidered fleece comforters for friends who are going through chemotherapy and will definitely try this technique. The design I would like to find is a sea kayak and kayak paddle. Bonus if the kayak has a female paddler.

  • Calla

    I would like to see more designs like the ones at Urban Threads. They are current, and edgy.
    The textured designs are really awesome!! I like butterflies don’t get me wrong, but how many different ways can they be done? lol lol

  • Berenice

    I also loved the Urban Threads designs, thanks for the link a few articles back. I am working on a Alice in Wonderland quilt and her more traditional version of the characters are perfect. Oh, the only design that I haven’t found yet is one I didn’t know I needed until I saw it, ha ha ha!

  • Vicky Isliefson

    I would like to find algebra, calculus and geometry symbols and diagrams. I managed to fake a square root once, but there are lots of symbols that don’t appear on a keyboard, so cannot be made from true type fonts.
    In a post above you gave SKU numbers for border collie designs. I tried them on your site and Urban threads, but got no designs. Whose SKU’s are they?

  • Mary

    I would like to find a large full figured Irish Wolfhound. I have some smaller designs, but have been unable to find a detailed, realistic, large IW. Needless to say, they are my favorite breed. I have 2 of them, and although they are banned from the sewing room, they lay right outside. It is quite a feat to step over the 2 of them to get down the hallway.

    I, too, wish your magazine featured more elegant projects. The Australian magazines showcase incredible projects that we rarely see in the US.

    • Denise Holguin

      Hi Mary,
      Great feedback about the projects! We will certainly try to improve.

      Denise Holguin
      Managing Editor

  • MarciaW

    I’ve been looking for nice open designs for in-the-hoop quilting that can be used continuous across blocks, such as simple stippling and spirals.

  • Teresa H

    I’m looking for a hamster to embroider on seat covers I’m making for my KIA Soul!

    • eileenroche

      Great idea! And really fun wheels!

  • Kathy

    I have been looking for realistic go-karting designs or anything that goes for racing. My son races and not much that I find it appropriate and not kiddy.

  • Whitney Hagmann

    I’ve never been able to find a UnitarianUniversalist chalice. I’ve looked at several sites with religious symbols, but the UU chalice is never there.

  • obimom

    Great tip as usual. I’ve been looking for a design for challah, the braided egg bread used by Jews for shabbat and festival meals. I wish there were more Jewish designs available in general. Anita Goodesign makes a nice set but covers just some of the basics.

  • Joanne Kirschner

    I’m looking for a black and white long legged chihuahua, close to my best friend who is no longer with me, only in spirit. I’ve found just the head , no whole females.

  • Sharon

    I have been searching for a machine embroidery design of a well drilling truck. I would like to make shirts for a local well drilling company and cannot find any appropriate designs? Can anyone help?

  • Linda S

    I am looking for Thing One and thing Two from Dr. Suess. I have found Thing One but not thing Two! I think they would look great embroidered on my hoodies for my grand children!

  • Donna G.

    I’m looking for old fashioned barbershop designs, such as a shaving mug and brush. And congrats to Janelle! I remember her in the early Designs magazine with her own project column. She’s an accomplished young woman!

  • Sarita

    I enjoy your blog very much. I’ve been looking how to make a headband in the hoop. Thanks.

  • Said

    Amazing stitched 🙂 thanks for share also if you allow me i would like to share with our colleagues a good embroidery website its offer new embroidery design

  • Embroidery Digitizing

    Ribbed Knits! Sounds interesting. That’s a gorgeous stitch!

  • stacie wingo

    I am looking for tips on how to hoop ribbed knits. I am monogramming children’s ribbed tank tops. The ribs always seems to stretch out, roll over and cause puckering. I am new to machine embroidery and just have the screw down hoops, not the snap in place. Any suggestions.

  • Jeffery

    Wow! What an notion! What a idea! Lovely .. incredible .

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Anatomy Embroidery Designs.


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  • Isabela

    Hello! How can I embroider by hand on a ribbed t-shirt? I’ve seen that you can’t use a hoop because it will mess your stitches when you take it off. Do you have any advice on how can I do it by hand? Thanks a lot!

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