How to embroider on a polo
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Do you want to embroider on a polo? Embroidered polos are a great way to show your team spirit or display your company loyalty. Many organizations like to order polos with embroidered logos for their employees. But, if you own an embroidery machine, you can do it yourself.
In fact, I learned to embroider on a polo via the trial by fire method.
A few years back, husband’s best friend, who is also the godfather of our son, called me in a panic. The fledgling company he owned was exhibiting in a trade show in three days and the vendor they planned to use for their eight embroidered corporate shirts flaked. He wondered if this was something I could help them with.
Now – keep in mind – I do not fancy myself a corporate shirt embroiderer by any stretch of the imagination – but for my son’s godfather – I figured I could fake it.
I headed over off to Target and found some nice mens polos for about $14/each. Then I raced home, digitized their logo, and snapped some pictures of my test stitch outs. Once I got the thumbs up – I went to town.
I embroidered eight mens polos with their new corporate logo and had them shipped via FedEx just in the nick of time.
And the miraculous part of it all? I didn’t screw a single one up – which was pretty amazing because…
Embroidering on a polo can be tricky
Embroidering on a polo is not without challenges. Polo fabric is knit and has a lot of stretch to it, so it can easily pucker.
In addition, locating the perfect spot and making sure the logo is stitched out straight can also be quite difficult. Fortunately there are few tools and techniques you can employ to help.
Considerations before you start embroidering on a polo
Before you start embroidering, there are a few matters to attend to before you can let your machine work it’s magic.
Preparing a logo for embroidering on a polo
Before you can embroider on a polo, you have to obtain a digitized version of the logo. Typically logos are comprised of vector-based art. Vector-based art is not the type of file an embroidery machine will read, so you need to get the logo digitized or digitize the logo yourself.
There are many different digitizing services available who can quickly and easily convert the logo to an embroidery design. Just be sure that if you are embroidering the polos for a customer, that you pass on the digitizing fee.
If you have zero experience digitizing, I would not recommend trying to digitize a logo yourself. Unless, of course, if you are willing to put the time in to learn and the logo is VERY basic – then you may be able to do it.
Obtaining polos for embroidery
The next step is to obtain the polos. You can either purchase them or use ones that your customer provides.
Of course, you can purchase polos just about anywhere. However, I would recommend you purchase them from a reputable blanks supplier. Companies like Sanmar and Alfabroder specialize in sportswear specifically for this purpose and have a very good reputation. The last thing you want, is to embroider a dozen polos only to find out the fabric is subpar and the stitches do not hold up over time.
If your customer provides the polos, just be sure to inspect them thoroughly before embroidering. You don’t want to embroider on a polo that has holes or is otherwise damaged.
Location of the logo
While the vast majority of embroidered polos you see have the logo stitched out on the left chest, this location is not the only option. If you are embroidering for a customer, be sure to ask if they have a preference on where the embroidered logo will be placed. Some companies prefer that the embroidery be on the sleeve or back yoke of the polo.
If you are embroidering for yourself, then you get to choose where to put the embroidery! Just be sure that wherever you decide, you are happy with the placement. Once the embroidery is stitched out, it’s not going anywhere. Removing embroidery on a knit garment is not easy.
How to embroider on a polo – Step by Step Guide
Now that you have your logo digitized, the polos, and your embroidery machine all ready to go – it’s time to embroider on the polo!
- Fusible poly mesh stabilizer
- Adhesive backed tear away stabilizer
- Embroidery thread (in colors needed for the logo)
- Embroidery bobbin thread
- Ballpoint embroidery needle
- Disappearing ink fabric pen
- Placement device (optional)
Locating the center point of the logo
Using a placement device
If you plan to embroider your logo on the left chest of the polo, you need to locate the spot on the shirt that will land on the left chest. If you are embroidering on a variety fo shirt sizes , you may want to use a placement device.
DIME makes a placement tool specifically for this purpose called the Embroiderer’s Helper. You simply lay the device over the polo (folded in half) and mark the spot indicated by the notch in placement tool associated with the size of the polo shirt you are working with. You can use a placement sticker or disappearing ink fabric pen.
The benefit of using a device like this is that it helps you ensure placement consistency across multiple polo shirts.
Without a placement device
If you are embroidering on just one polo or do not have a placement device, no worries. You can still find the center of the left chest easily enough. Just fold the polo in half horizontally. This will give you the center of the shirt. You can also use the buttons down the center front of the shirt as a center point.
Next. measure from the center of the shirt to the point where the sleeve is attached. When placing your ruler on your shirt, make sure you are placing it perpendicular to the button placket. Mark the center point. This is where your logo will be centered.
Once you have identified the horizontal center, you need to find the vertical center of the logo, i.e. how far down the shirt the logo should land. This location might vary depending on the size of the logo you are stitching. The logo should be placed between 7″ – 9″ from the shoulder seam of the polo. The center of the logo should land between the last button and the bottom seam of the button placket. If you have a larger logo, you may want to place it a bit higher so that the bottom of the stitching doesn’t extend beyond the bottom edge of the button placket.
I would suggest printing out your logo at the size you will be stitching it and placing it on your polo shirt to see where you like it before stitching.
Preparing your polo for embroidery
Now that you have both the horizontal and vertical center of the logo, it’s time to prepare the polo for embroidering!
Start by turning your polo inside out, being careful not to disturb the pin marking the center point of the design. Next, cut a piece of fusible poly mesh stabilizer that is slightly larger than your embroidery design and stick it over the pin.
Either use an iron to fuse it on, or you can spray it with temporary adhesive and stick it down. Draw a horizontal and vertical cross hair through the pin making sure that lines are parallel and perpendicular to the button placket.
Preparing your embroidery hoop
Hoop a piece of adhesive backed tear away stabilizer. Score around the inside edge of the hoop with a pin to create a small tear in the paper. After you peel the paper away, draw a horizontal and vertical line with your disappearing ink fabric pen on the sticky stabilizer through the center of the hoop.
With the polo inside out, fold it along the vertical line you drew on the fusible poly mesh. Then stick down the shirt onto the sticky stabilizer, aligning the fold in the shirt to the vertical line you drew on the stabilizer. Open up the polo and smooth it out.
Making any adjustments to the placement of the design
Now that you have your polo stuck to the stabilizer, you are almost ready to start embroidering. But first, take a look at where the needle is located (what the machine thinks is the center of the design) and how it relates to the center point of your design. Use the controls on your embroidery machine to adjust the needle position so that it lands right on that center spot you marked on the polo. When you are satisfied with the alignment, you are ALMOST ready to start embroidering.
Change your needle
The final step before embroidering is to change your needle to a ballpoint embroidery needle. Ballpoint needles are designed to embroider on knit fabrics without damaging the fabric.
Now you are ready to embroider your logo!
Start by threading your embroidery machine with the embroidery thread in the colors needed for your logo. Then stitch out each color one by one.
After you have embroidered your logo, gently tear away the polo from the hoop. Turn the polo inside out and trim away the excess fusible poly mesh stabilizer. Finally, trim any jump stitches and use a lint brush to pick up any small threads. And, then you are done!
Ready to embroider on a polo?
I hope this step-by-step guide was helpful in walking you through how to embroider on a polo. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I ‘ll be happy to help.