How to embroider on men’s shirt cuffs

By on April 11th, 2020
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how to embroider on a mens shirt cuf
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My husband has a problem; he keeps blowing the elbow out of his shirts. And – get this – it’s always his left elbow.  And it’s starting to happen on a weekly basis. While I suspect that this elbow blow out problem is stemming from the fact that most of his shirts are older than our 16-year-old child, it’s still bizarre that it’s happening in the same place time and time again. Nevertheless, the result is that the guy needs shirts.  And being the glass-half-full gal that I am, I’m choosing not to bemoan the fact that we’re going through shirts faster than paper towels, but instead use this as an opportunity to introduce some personalized new shirts into his life and show you how I do it. Here’s how to embroider on men’s shirt cuffs so that you, too can personalize shirts for any man in your life. 

Why embroider on men’s shirt cuffs?

Embroidering on cuffs is one of the easiest way to customize a shirt. The cuffs are pretty easy to get at (even if they’re not particularly easy to iron). Plus, if you’re adding letters, numbers or symbols to a cuff, you can get away with using one font and one thread color. You don’t have to deal with complicated positioning of words and the context of phrases.

A subtle touch of embroidery on the cuff of a man’s shirt takes it from being ordinary to totally high end. It’s like a fast and easy way of saying that shirt belongs to the guy who is busy doing important things, not just hanging around. So, yes; embroidering on men’s shirts gives you a chance to personalize his attire without screaming “look at me”. The idea is to have the monogram on the cuff just slightly peek out underneath a sweater. It’s an understated touch. Perfection. 

Plus this little bit of personalization is so quick and easy to stitch out. You can have a totally custom gift for a man in minutes. 

Where to buy men’s shirts suitable for cuff embroidery

Typically my husband is kind of a Brooks Brother’s kind of guy. And, I thought their non-iron shirts were quite nice. However, even their high end non-iron dress shirts have not been immune to elbow rips. So, why even bother? You can get a lot cheaper non-iron shirts from other places. And, if you are nervous about embroidering on cuffs, better to start with a cheaper shirt. There are A LOT of really inexpensive men’s non-iron shirt on Amazon.

I know – Amazon is not Brooks Brothers but it will do just fine for practicing on. Don’t be afraid to start here if you’re nervous about the cuffs.  But, seriously – why pay $75 for a shirt that his elbow is going to pop through? You can get tons of great non-iron shirts on Amazon for less than $30. 


Where to place the monogram on the shirt cuff?

The first thing you need to decide is which cuff to stitch the monogram on. In looking at a lot of pictures of monogramed shirts online, I noticed that most of them were monogrammed on the right cuff. But when I asked my husband where he wanted the monogram, he said “the left cuff.” Ok Whatever.

I really don’t think there is a right or wrong here. If you buy a dress shirt on Brooks Brothers, you can pick which cuff you want the monogram on. So, I guess, either side is fine.  

But where on the cuff do you stitch out the monogram? Cuffs are tricky. It’s hard to predict exactly where the part of the cuff will land in relation to the top of the hand.  So, I did some testing by actually marking the perfect location on a cuff while my husband was wearing the shirt.  And, here’s what I discovered.  The ideal spot for the monogram is about 3 inches from the inside edge of the buttonhole. 

Locating the spot fo the monogram on the cuff

Once you identify this location, you want to place the monogram close to the bottom edge of the sleeve.  Remember, if you want this monogram to subtly peek out underneath the edge of a sweater, you need to stitch the monogram close to the bottom edge of the cuff. 

What typeface to use for the monogram on a shirt cuff?

Typically for men, I stitch out initials as opposed to a traditional monogram where the last name initial is set larger in the center and the smaller first and middle initials are on the outside.

I also tend to choose a classic typeface for the initials. A cuff monogram is a classic look and the typeface you choose shouldn’t oppose the inherent formal look of the cuff monogram.

If I’m feeling a bit lazy, I may just go with the standard typefaces that are loaded on my embroidery machine. But, if you buy a typeface specifically for embroidery on men’s shirt cuffs, then you need to make sure it looks good at a small size. The Poster Boy or the Stacked Serif are great options for cuff monograms. 

What size font should you use for the monogram

You want to keep the monogram on the smaller side. You want it to be big enough to see, but still subtle. Anywhere from about 3/8″ to 3/4″ feels about right to me.

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How to embroider on men’s shirt cuffs

Supplies Needed


Prepare the stabilizer and the hoop

Then, hoop a piece of adhesive-backed stabilizer, score the inside edge and peel back the paper to expose the adhesive. Draw a centerline on the stabilizer, horizontally and vertically.

drawing center lines on hooped adhesive backed stabilizer

Put the hoop on the machine and stick the cuff onto the adhesive stabilizer, lining up the center of the monogram location on the cuff with the center of the hooped stabilizer.

If you are used to hooping every item you embroider on, you can clearly see that we are floating the shirt as opposed to hooping it.  Because of the unusual shape of the cuff, there really isn’t another option. Plus, in my opinion, floating is quicker and easier. 

You could argue that you should also be using some cut away stabilizer underneath this monogram, especially if you go by the rule: “if you wear it, don’t tear it.” But, I did not. The cuff is already so stiff that it seemed a bit unnecessary. Using a water soluble topper is also unnecessary as there are really no errant fibers coming from the shirt cuff. 

Identify the location of the monogram

Again, I believe the ideal location for a monogram is about 3″ from the inside edge of the button hole.

Getting the monogram close to the bottom edge of the cuff is tricky.  The letter size I chose was about 3/8″ or 10mm, which meant the center of the design needed to be at least 5mm from the bottom edge of the cuff.  If you give the monogram about a 5″ buffer then the center needed to be about 10mm from the bottom edge. 

Stitch the monogram

Once you stick the cuff stuck onto the stabilizer, you are ready to start stitching. I used a standard 75/11 embroidery needle for this project. 

Now, take the shirt off the hoop and and admire your work.   

But, how does the shirt look on a real man’s body? Not bad, huh? Right in the perfect spot!  (And check out those sexy hands!)

A monogrammed shirt makes a great gift for a man

Having never embroidered on a shirt cuff before, I was really pleased with how this project turned out. This was all just too easy and turned out too well. A monogrammed shirt is a great gift for any man in your life. If you are looking to create something personalized and different, this may be the perfect option. Plus, it’s easy! I’ll be sure to keep this in mind for Father’s day this year and make all the men in my life personalized dress shirts. Not sold on this idea? Check out my recent post about other great gifts to make for a man using your embroidery machine.

Happy Stitching!



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