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Embroidery Tips & Techniques

Embroidering on Velvet

A few weeks ago, many of you responded to my request for future blog topics. I’ve found your suggestions helpful and sometimes I’m at a loss for what to blog about.  I’ll be working through your requests as time permits. Kathy E. asked about embroidering on velvet and since velvet is a holiday favorite, I thought I’d tackle that first.

Kathy E. “A few years ago, I bought an expensive piece of plush black velvet. I had hopes (and still do) to embroider a large, fancy “E” on it, and then make it into a pillow. I’ve never taken on the project because I don’t know what stabilizer and needle to use. I’m thinking it would be best to use a topper too. If you could give me any tips, I’d be so thankful, then I could get this project going!”


Velvet shimmers when viewed from one angle, and becomes a deep, matte surface when tilted away from a light source. It’s an alluring textile and not one that we use very often.  Let’s discuss its challenges for an embroiderer.

  1. Velvet’s nap crushes when pressure is applied. A standard embroidery hoop will damage velvet’s delicate surface so don’t hoop it! Instead, hoop cut-away stabilizer and spray the cut-away with temporary adhesive. Finger press the velvet to the sticky surface centering the design area in the hoop.
  2. Embroidery design. Designs with complete filled areas work best on velvet. Running stitches and narrow satin columns will sink into the velvet’s pile.  Keep in mind velvet is a delicate fabric with a luxurious drape so avoid heavy dense designs.
  3. 75/11 sharp needle will do the job.
  4. It’s tempting to use a topper but you should proceed with caution here because removable is crucial. Options for toppers are no topper (most pile is very short), a lightweight water soluble film-type (think Sulky’s Solvy regular weight) or tulle.  You will not actually apply water to the velvet to remove the Solvy but you’ll tear it away since regular weight Solvy perforates at the stitch line very easily.  Tulle also tears easily and if you select a tulle that matches the velvet, any remaining bits will not be visible as they’ll blend in with the background.
  5. Once the design is complete, carefully remove the hoop from the machine and release the stabilizer from the hoop. Pink the edges of the stabilizer around the design – leaving at least ¼” of stabilizer.

Use these tips for your holiday stitching and you’ll be pleased with the results. Always remember to approach each embroidery project with common sense. Think about the care instructions for a fabric and use them as a guideline for selecting stabilizers (water, heat, etc). You can handle this!


Here’s your assignment this week:

As I mentioned above velvet can be a challenging textile. What other fabrics do you find challenging yet alluring to use? Your comment will enter you in next Wednesday’s random drawing for a $20 gift card to !

The winner of the last assignment answered the following question:

So why not hop over there and come back here to tell us what Bunnycup design collection is your favorite?  Your comment will enter you in next Wednesday’s random drawing for 3 $50 vouchers to Bunnycup Embroidery.

The winners are:  

Kati: “I love all the wonderful designs from them. My favorite set is the woodland animals…they are sooo cute!”

Diane: “I really love the “Christmas Village” Set. There are too many to pick from, I really love them all.”

Deanna: “I love the Pretty Ponies designs. Cute designs, I had not checked out this website before. Love it.”






  • Beverly Caywood

    Satin is so challenging for me to embroider. I often get “runs” in the fabric or puckers around the design. It is such a beautiful fabric!

    • Sandra Fidler

      I too would love some tips for embroidering saten. I have tried once and made a big mess. Lots of puckers. What needle to use and also what backing?

  • Erich Campbell

    I like to embroider on thick knits- they used to be quite challenging, but after developing strategies to control the texture, the look that you can achieve is so worth the experimentation. 🙂

  • Kristal

    I would like to learn how to embroider on fur. This time of year fur is all around and I would love tips on how to make my embroidery look nice on it.

  • beth daniels

    I have embroidered on satin or even linen with no problem.

  • Belinda Germain

    Satin and broadcloth can pucker at times, but each has its use. Satin can be difficult to use in applique unless there are wide tack down stitches. But it is so pretty, especially for little girls.

  • Ann Brackett

    I find a challenge with silk. Love the look and feel of silk.

  • lynda case

    I have made quite a few satin pillow cases to give as gifts and have had pretty good luck with them and the recipients really loved them

  • Val

    Organza, for costumes and the like. It’s tricky.

  • Sandy

    As I type this, I’m looking at a costume that is at the point that of going to the embroidery machine…. My problem??? It’s organza and in terrified to ruin it.

  • Kelly Sas

    I’d like to learn or gather tips to embroider thick furs or the long haired faux furs. I’ll be making ITH plushies for Christmas gifts this year.

  • Gail

    I want to embroider a tub mat that has memory foam like material. Help!

  • J K

    Satin and silk Help please!

  • karen

    Satin and organza are a challenge for me, but I keep trying!!

  • Joyce Lockyer

    I find stretch velvet with lurex threads be very hard to embroidery.

  • Nancy Weber

    I was afraid of knits, like Tshirts, for a long time. Jut recently have discovered the key to successful embroidery on this fabric-fusible polymesh stabilizer! Hugs.

  • Saundra Romanus

    I always wanted to try embroidery on velvet…you gave us some good tips! Thanks!

  • Rosieq

    I would love to hear more on bath mats and monograming

  • Darlene Bares

    i missed this assignment, i have so many of the bunnycup designs and use them often. i think the swirly designs are my favorite they can add a little extra to a design if you need some kind of fill in.

  • Diana Hensley

    I have had problems with using different fabrics when doing appliqués. Some fabric tends to unravel afterwards. For example, satin, the fabric tends to unravel.

  • Meg Green

    I’ve been too scared to embroider on leather. Leather is really fashionable right now, but the fear of ripping the hide or messing up a design keeps me from trying to embroider on leather

  • Jacque`

    I have been pretty lucky with embroidering on all different types of fabrics. I have found that you need to think about the stabilizer and the needles before you start on your project. If nothing else make a test sample and you will be much happier with the final outcome. I do this for many things. It helps the pocketbook.

  • Karen

    I would like to try leather. I have found some really heavy terrycloth,some satin, and fur to sometimes be a challenge.

  • Shirley Clark

    Batiste is a challenge even though I know the design has to be pretty simple. Mostly any type cotton is challenging.

  • Diane W

    How not to have satin pucker would be a good tip for me. Maybe a fusible would help. Also spandex type material.

  • Cindy

    I love Pashima scarves, but they are very difficult to embroider on that fabric. I also love performance fabrics (wicking), but they are also very difficult.


    Well, since I’m pretty new to this hobby, most everything is a challenge for me.

  • Sara Redner

    Stretch denim always seems to stretch no matter how I stabilize it.

  • Max Haley

    Organza and stretch fabrics. Never sure of needle or stabilizer.

  • Laurie

    Haven’t tried ribbon yet. Leather makes me stressed, just because of working on alterations and repairs. One wrong stitch and there is a problem.

  • Carolyn

    Organza and vinyl are a challenge. Especially vinyl because the needle can perforate and cause the pattern to tear out. I’ve considered velvet, and think I’ll give it a try. Thanks for all your good advice.

  • Marian Vollans

    I embroidered beautiful snowflakes on velveteen and for the topper I used a iridescent clear mylar. I tore away around the outside edge of the embroidery and left the mylar in the middle of the design. I gives the snowflake an unexpected shimmer while keeping the pile out of the stitching.

  • Kathy E.

    Hi Eileen! I just happened to stop by your blog and saw that you featured my question about embroidering on velvet! Now that I know the process and details, I will get this project underway soon! Thanks so much! Another fabric I am intimidated by is minky. That slippery stuff is so tricky to work with!

  • tracey

    Hi Eileen Thanks for this blog!! I’m about to embark on my first embroidery on velvet project. Boy, is this blog timely. I hope to succeed in this challenge. Thanks for the instruction.

  • Carol

    I recently had trouble sewing 2 pieces of fleece fabric together to make a blanket, the seam wanted to gather, this hasn’t happened before, why did this happen?

    • Gail

      Always sew fleece with a walking foot ! It helps a lot!

  • Gail Beam

    Satin, silk, and fur are the hardest to embroider on for me. Satin and silky type fabrics tend to have wrinkles around the design and fur tends to leave little bits of fur outside of the outlines.

    • Bev Schulte

      Silk is my problem fabric I’ve used an iron-on stabilizer but I still get runs. Would be very interested in tips to solve this problem for sure.

  • Eileen Ryan

    Ribbon is what I am fearful of! Getting the placement right is the ?, I have.

  • debe

    It used to be the metallic fabric that is like tissue & ravels BAD! But I read to fuse Knit-fuse to the back & that was one of the greatest tips & now it is no longer such an enemy. lol

  • Kati

    Vinyl and leather are intimidating for me. I would like to learn the best way to applique fabric onto vinyl and leather, but am always afraid of the perforations of the needle will cause the vinyl/leather to tear.

  • Ada Hale

    I will be embroidering the vest design of Frozen Anna, and the material will be stretch velvet. You talked about the single line stitching not showing up. Would you suggest going over the embroidery a second time to give more bulk to the pattern. I am doing this for the costume maker and sure don’t want to ruin her material. thank you for the info and advice. I have followed you and your advice since you started out on “Sewing with Nancy” .