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Hand-Embroidered Knit Sweater Tutorial

Updated: Feb 11

Welcome! Today, I'm sharing the most effective way that I've found to hand-embroider on a knit sweater with yarn.


New Video Tutorial:



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Quick Jump Links:


Directions:

The Name-


First- are you creating your own name or using Canva to create one?


-To create your own name- use your water soluble pen to draw your name on the sweater. You can skip the stabilizer completely! Then proceed to the hand-embroidery step. This saves a lot of time! But if you aren't confident in your handwriting skills (like me) proceed to the Canva option.


-To create your name using Canva- I use Canva to format my name on a regular-sized sheet of paper to print. From here, I can trace it onto the Sulky stabilizer. For me, it's easier to just format the name on a single page instead of resizing/printing on multiple pages. Feel free to make your name as big or small as you want! This is just a general guide as to how I've done it and can hopefully serve as a starting point for you!


-Open up Canva either in the mobile app or through your desktop. Search for '8.5x11' and find the Flyer option. Open up a blank flyer. From here, add a text box. Type out your name. I am using the Harmonie font for Sara. Drag your name out so it stretches to the outer edges of the 8.5x11 inch page. Once you're happy with the size, download and print your name! This is what Sara's looked like.



-Now that you have your name, we are going to trace it onto the Sulky stabilizer using our water-soluble pen. In my videos, you'll often see me using a tracing pad. This is actually a kid's toy made by Crayola! I use it daily though for applique and my kids aren't allowed to have it back anymore. However, you can also use an open window instead of buying anything special.


-Cut away some of the excess stabilizers but still leave a good bit around the name. Next, center your name on your sweater. Remove the paper backing from your stabilizer and stick it in place. Take your time pressing down around the entire piece of stabilzer, ensuring that everything will stay in place.


Preparing to Embroider:


Now comes the fun (and time-consuming part)! Let's embroider our name. You will do this step regardless of whether you created your own name or traced it onto the stabilizer. Select a sharp needle that has a big enough eye to fit your yarn through. In the video, I used Dritz yarn darners, however, I tried to link to Amazon products that have Prime shipping. This DMC brand is about the same!


More about the yarn: I'm using a 5-gauge yarn found at Joann's. I thought it was perfect! To use a heavier/lighter yarn, you may need to adjust your needle accordingly. I have used a heavy-weight/bulky yarn in the past. It did not last long term on the sweater. After a few uses, it got all fuzzy and weird. It just didn't look as good as I wanted it to later on!


-Cut a long piece of yarn. I measured mine and it was about 45". You want it long enough so that you don't have to keep tying off and restarting, but not so long that you're getting into a tangled mess!


-Thread your needle with your yarn. I get many questions about the easiest way to do this! Usually, I will get a nice clean, angled cut on one end. Then, I will twist the end in my fingertips until it's nice and tight. Next, I just slip it through the eye of the needle. Even if I'm only able to grab a few strands of yarn, I'll tug it through and the rest will follow. Most of the time, this is easier said than done...if you have a better way PLEASE share!


I usually pull the yarn through the needle about 6 inches. You will hang on to this end while you're holding your needle and embroidering. Next, I will triple-knot the tail end of the yarn. You're ready to start embroidering!


Embroidering the Sweater:

For these sweaters, I like to use a chain stitch. It looks really nice! I've tried a regular backstitch and wasn't so happy with the results. It was very easy to see any little mistake.

If you're using a stabilizer- you're going to feel a little more resistance while pulling your needle through because of the stickiness. It's kind of par for the course here to be able to get a fancy font! I've experimented with several other stabilizers and have had the best results with this one. As I mention in all of my tutorials...I hope they serve as a starting point in your project! If you have a better way, please share.



The Chain Stitch- disclaimer..the video will make much more sense here than me trying to explain!

  • Using your threaded needle, let's begin at the start/highest point of your name. Come up from the inside of the sweater and poke through with your needle to the front. Here, I started at the top of the 'S'. Pull until you reach the triple knot you created at the end of your yarn.

  • Push the needle back down through the same hole, creating a loop. You may need to simultaneously hold the end of the yarn closest to your end knot. By holding on to the end yarn, you're making sure that the knot stays in place just under your sweater and doesn't get moved. Your needle should now be on the inside of the sweater.

  • Move about 1/2" down the drawn line you started on and bring your needle up. Move the loop you just created over your needle and pull to tighten. (I'll have some tips at the bottom of this quick chain stitch tutorial!). Remember to keep each stitch length consistent. Do not over-tighten your loops.

  • Repeat these steps by holding the end of your yarn in place and pushing your needle back through the hole that you just created (inside the loop).

  • Move another 1/2" down and come up through the loop you just created.

  • Continue working down through your name. When you get to the end of a line, for example, at the end of the "S" in Sara, it's time to tie off.

Tips: This sounds dumb, but take your time with each stitch. If your loop looks weird or misshapen, take the back of your needle and tug on one side, then tighten a little with your yarn. Try not to over-tighten your stitches. If you're having trouble keeping your stitch length consistent, you can try pre-measuring out 1/2" gaps down the line of your name as you begin. Then, as you learn to eyeball it, you won't need them anymore!


Tieing off your yarn:

  • Once you get to a stopping point, we will work from the back to secure and cut our yarn.

  • On the backside of your work, use your needle to loop around the past 3 stitches or so. You're basically going up, around and over then back around the next stitch.

  • Next, using your needle, weave it through the center of the yarn up and then back down.

  • Cut the yarn, leaving about 6". Now, you can separate the yarn in half and tie a double knot.

  • Cut the yarn! This is now secure.

Making a jump instead of tieing off:

  • Often, when I only need to go a short distance (for example I would embroider the curve of the 'a', stop at the bottom, then start back up at the top of the stem of the 'a'), I will "jump" from one place to another. This saves me a lot of time.

  • When you get to the end of the line you're embroidering, bring your needle up through the loop. Then, place your needle back down just outside of the loop you just created. Basically, you're anchoring the loop in place.

  • Next, come up in the next place you'd like to start and begin chain stitching as usual.

  • When starting, try not to pull too tight. It will take a couple of stitches to secure that jump thread in the back.

Finishing your work:



Now that you've finished embroidering your name and tied off the yarn from the last letter, it's time to finish our work! This is the fun part.


First, VERY carefully, pull up/cut away any excess stabilizer from your sweater. Going inside the letters isn't really necessary. Don't cut your sweater (I may or may not have done this before).


Next, hold your work under warm running water, gently agitating it to remove the stabilizer. Repeat this step until you can no longer see any of the residue.


From here, I usually just throw my work straight into the dryer! If you're concerned about doing that, just let air dry. Once dry, if you feel any leftover residue from the stabilizer, repeat the last step.



Here you can see my finished sweater! We get a lot of compliments! I hope this tutorial helps you in some way. Tag me on Instagram with your finished work @southernsewingcompany. I would love to see!!

Until next time,

Ashley

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