Updated: Nov 4
I've put together this super quick tutorial on the easiest way that I've found to embroider a sleeve for both hand embroidery and machine embroidery! You don't have to read long to find out the secret...
P.S.: If you click and purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I’ve personally vetted and loved. Southern Sewing Co. is reader-supported. Affiliate links help me to offer this content to you for free :)
Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy Stabilizer- *If you don't want to purchase: note below on stabilizer*
Embroidery Floss - Amazon has a bundle pack here. I used about 1/2 of a little skein
Hand Embroidery Needles - John James is my favorite!
Embroidery Hoop - Here is a great deal on several sizes
Optional, but makes this easier process easier:
A note on the stabilizer: This stabilizer is definitely the key to embroidery projects like this! However, you can still achieve a beautiful end result without it, if you don't want to purchase it. You can always use a water-soluble marking pen and embroider without it. However, the stabilizer makes embroidery much easier. It sticks to your project, so no hooping AND it's water-soluble. So this is me recommending this product to make your life easier!
Ready for my secret and don't feel like reading??
Seam rip the sleeve that you want to embroider up to about the elbow. Hoop with your stabilizer and embroider just as you would any fabric. Rinse away the stabilizer, then sew the sleeve back up, just as it was! I realize this isn't ground-breaking material but I won't share how many sleeves I've embroidered without figuring this out! For more info on this...keep reading!
Preparing to Embroider the Sleeve:
Decide which sleeve you want to embroider.
Using your seam ripper, carefully start picking the stitches out of the side seam on that sleeve. Begin about 1.5" to 2" up from the top of the cuff. It can be difficult to sew the seam closest to the cuff back later on, so I like to give myself a little room here. I ripped stitches almost up to the elbow. If you don't want to remove stitches from the sweatshirt and would rather stitch through the cuff...skip this step.
I created these names using Canva. First, I opened up a blank paper sized document (8.5" x 11"). Next, I measured my sleeve to figure out how long I needed the names to be. For me, this was about 6". In Canva, I typed out my names. Here, I'm using the 'Joanne Marie' font. Since we know that this page is 11" long, we can basically eye ball how long we need the names. Half of 11" is 5.5", so I need my names to cover just over half of the page. Download and print your Canva image.
Trace the names on your Sulky Stabilizer with a water soluble pen. While this stabilzier can actually be printed on directly, I've had trouble in the past washing it away with the printer ink and it has bled on my embroidery floss. So now, I just use a water-soluble pen and trace. If you aren't using a stabilizer, trace your name directly onto your sleeve with a water-soluble pen.
Hoop your sleeve, keeping the center line of the sleeve in the center of the hoop. If your sweatshirt is stretchier in material...hoop carefully. You don't want to stretch or pull the fabric too tightly. Remove the backing from the Sulky stabilizer and stick it to the center of your hoop.
Prepare your needle and embroidery floss: Cut off about 36" of floss. I split my embroidery floss in half, utilizing 3 strands for this project. Tie a knot at the end.
Embroidering and Finishing the Sleeve:
Work your way through your sleeve, embroidering the names. I used a backstitch here because it's quick and perfect for smaller lines.
Once finished, unhoop your work. If you're using a wash-away stabilizer, follow the package directions to remove it. When I use Sulky: I like to run my work under warm water, and gently rub the stabilizer away for a few minutes. I will continue to run the water over my work just to make sure all of the stabilizer is gone.
Allow your sleeve to dry or toss it in the dryer.
Once dry, flip your sleeve inside out.
Working from the inside of the sleeve, align the raw edges back together that you seam ripped earlier. Clip them into place.
If you have a serger, serge away! If you have a sewing machine, use a zig-zag stitch to run along this seam. If you DON'T have a sewing machine..no worries! Hand-stitch this sleeve back together.
You're all finished! I hope this helps you make a quick cute project for someone special in your life!