How to embroider on an umbrella using your embroidery machine
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Using your embroidery machine to embroider on an umbrella seems like a REALLY BAD IDEA. The whole premise of an umbrella is to keep the water off of your head. And, the very nature of embroidering requires you to poke thousands of holes in the umbrella when stitching out a design or monogram. So, it seems to me that the whole process of embroidering on an umbrella will destroy the integrity of the device.
Nevertheless, it seems like everyone is doing it! And I have to admit, a monogrammed umbrella is pretty cute. It could become a great gift for ladies, teenagers and even little girls and ladies this spring.
After doing a little research, I quickly discovered that there is conflicting advice on how to actually go about embroidering on an umbrella. One subject of debate is whether you need to detach the umbrella from the frame before you begin embroidery. And, the other area of dissent is whether or not you need to apply some type of coating or another layer of fabric underneath the embroidered area of the umbrella to prevent water from seeping through.
So what should you do? The only way I could get to a definitive answer on these two issues, was to try it myself.
Where to buy an umbrella to embroider
The first challenge was securing a cheap umbrella. I had read that you could buy umbrellas at the dollar store which seemed pretty incredible to me. I thought, how could they afford to be selling umbrellas for $1?? Turns out, they aren’t, at least at my local Dollar Tree store.
So, I checked at other places like Big Lots, Target, Marshals, etc., and was not able to find an umbrella for less than $10. Call me cheap, but I didn’t want to throw $10 at a potentially bad experiment.
Finally, I stumbled upon five dollar umbrellas on Walmart.com. I couldn’t get them in the store though. (Are they shipping them to me directly from China?) So, in order to secure the free shipping, I added $35+ worth of toilet paper and individual packs of Cheetos to my $5 umbrella order and waited for it to show up at my door.
In the meantime, I made my inaugural visit to a Dollar General and discovered more $5 umbrellas (as well as a lot of other useful things…) This must be the dollar store everyone was talking about on the embroidery forums. Ok – I got it now. We’ll eventually use up all those Cheetos and toilet paper from Walmart, right?
If you are really into this project and plan on making a few embroidered umbrellas, check out this 6-pack on Amazon. It’s almost as cheap as Walmart, plus it’s PRIME!
Another source for cheap umbrellas is the embroidery blank supplier, sewforless.com. They have some cute plaid ones right now for $5.99, but they weren’t exactly the style I was going for. I’m sure other blank suppliers carry inexpensive umbrellas, but that’s all the looking I did.
What you need to embroider on an umbrella
- Umbrella – I think we covered that, right?
- Adhesive backed tear away stabilizer
- Embroidery thread
- Small nippers
- Disappearing ink pen
- 75/11 embroidery needles
How to embroider on the umbrella
STEP 1: Identify the center of the embroidery design or monogram on the umbrella. I marked the location of the center of the monogram with a disappearing ink pen on the outside of the umbrella. I positioned the design lower to the edge of the umbrella so that it would be easier to access on my embroidery machine.
STEP 2: Gently remove the umbrella from it’s frame at the two points surrounding the monogram or embroidery design. I used nippers to cut the threads away to release the umbrella from the frame.
STEP 3: Hoop a piece of adhesive backed stabilizer, score the inside edges around the embroidery hoop and peel back the paper to reveal the sticky surface. Then mark the center on the exposed adhesive and extend the horizontal and vertical center lines to the edges of the hoop.
STEP 4: Carefully stick the umbrella on to the stabilizer lining up the desired center of the design with the center of the embroidery hoop. Press down to stick it in place and make sure you have no lumps.
STEP 5: Make sure you are using a sharp needle. A standard 75/11 embroidery needle worked fine for me.
STEP 6: Start stitching out the monogram or embroidery design while supporting the umbrella. Fortunately the monogram I chose only took 7 minutes to stitch out.
STEP 7: Remove the umbrella from the hoop. Gently tear the stabilizer away from the hoop around the monogram or embroidery design.
Will it leak around the embroidery?
Fortunately, the monogram looked great on the umbrella. But I still wondered, would I have problem with leakage? So, in order to answer this question, I performed my own leakage test. Sounds scientific, right? This essentially amounted to putting the umbrella up and running water over the monogrammed area.
And guess what? No leaks! What a relief.
I had read suggestions about applying tent patch material to the backside of the monogram, clear caulk, etc. However, now that I’ve done this, myself, all of these measures seem pretty unnecessary. I suppose that the thread and stabilizer filled in any holes that were created by the needles.
I would, however, not deliberately add additional holes to the umbrella fabric by pinning the umbrella onto the stabilizer, or tearing out embroidery on an umbrella and trying to do it again. If you did make a mistake, you could actually add an appliqué to the umbrella which would cover any unwanted holes, I would just be sure to choose a waterproof material for the appliqué fabric.
I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with my work. This was surely a quick win, and an easy gift. I will definitely be using it as one of my go to gifts for spring birthdays. Bring on the rain!!