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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!






  • Maga

    Thank you very much for these hints and tips. Velvet is something that I have also stayed away cleared of.

  • Vicki

    This is very timely for me! While trying to regain order in my sewing room, I came across a couple of pieces of velvet I had saved. I have the perfect project in mind. Thanks for all all the wonderful advise.

  • Sharon R

    Thank you! I may actually tackle the Christmas Tree Skirt project I purchased velvet for last year.

  • Zoe

    Hope this isn’t posted twice..thought I posted earlier. Anyway I want to add my Thank You. Good information plus, I did not know tulle would tear easily. Will tuck that info away. 😉

  • Diane Glantz

    cannot find designs that are listed in my magazine it says to go to magazine/current issue to download the free toe.heel and cuff designs for one and the stocking top template of the design in the magazine I tried but I cant find where to go

  • Sara Redner

    I love the look and feel of velvet but have never tried to embroider on it. I have used velour. Not as delicate, but you still have to be careful hooping so it doesn’t stretch, and too heavy of a design will affect the drape.

  • Barb dircks

    Great info. I am doing a fancy dress for granddaughter in velvet purple with sheer overlay on skirt. A design Center front is just what it needs. But I broke my shoulder yesterday so instead of Christmas dress it will be an easter dress. Love your hints

  • Kati

    Thanks for the tips! I have some pieces I had wanted to use to make ornaments!

  • Alice Cornelson

    Great tips!

  • Lynell

    That’s a cunning answer to a chnlgealing question