How to monogram sneakers on a embroidery machine

By on May 9th, 2020
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Looking for a way to literally put a spring in your step? How about monogramming some sneakers? While I’ve seen this for years, I always assumed that it would be impossible to monogram sneakers on a single needle embroidery machine. But, guess what? It’s not. I did it myself and I’m going to show you how to monogram sneakers on an embroidery machine. 

One thing I realized when I was embroidering on the tongue of my sneakers was that it’s actually a pretty forgiving project. The canvas material of the tongue is super durable. If you really screwed up, it wouldn’t be that difficult to remove the embroidery and start again. 

Where to buy sneakers suitable for monogramming

The most common type of sneakers that I’ve seen monogrammed are the classic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers. But, these are NOT cheap! If you have never tried to monogram a pair of sneakers, you might want to start with a less expensive option.  Plus, if you are going to bother monogramming the shoes, don’t you want the monogram to be the focal point and not any distracting labels? 

These plain jane Converse-look-alikes are perfect for the project.  And for $20, you are not out much if you screw them up. 

 

Here’s another, albeit funkier sneaker option. These simple sneakers are not trying to be like Chuck Taylors. They are a little more European in their styling and come in fun, bright colors. And, yes, they can be easily monogrammed. 

 

Like patterns? Then check out these crazy kicks.  They, too are available at a bargain basement price and are perfect for adding a monogram. 

The shoes that I chose for this project had actually been sitting in my closet, unworn for a quite a while.  I spotted them on the street in Valencia, Spain, and, of course, the embroidery spoke to me.  I rediscovered them when cleaning my closet recently (quarantine project) and decided a monogram on the tongue could really take them to the next level.

my sneakers perfect for adding a monogram

Once you have your sneakers picked out, you are ready to set up your monogram file. 

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Preparing your monogram embroidery file

Wondering what style of monogram to use to monogram your sneakers? Well, that is, of course, up to you.  Circle monograms seem to be a popular choice, but I used a script version.  Let the style of the shoes inspire the style of the monogram you choose. 

Monogrammed sneakers with a classic circle monogram
A classic circle monogram on a classic style sneaker. Photo courtesy of Carol Cooper Dodson and used with her permission.

The most important factor is to make sure the size of the monogram is appropriate.  I measured the tongue of my shoes and set up the monogram to be slightly smaller than width of the tongue.  The height of my monogram was about 2.25″ and the width a bit wider than that. 

I also added a basting stitch to my embroidery file. In my digitizing software, I simply drew an oval around the monogram and set the stitch length to be about 5 mm.  And, I set up the stitch order to stitch the basting out first. The reason why I created this basting layer was because I wanted to keep the shoe in place while the monogram was being stitched out. 

When I opened the embroidery design on my machine, I moved it around so that it was at the very center bottom of the hoop.  I did this because it was the only location where I could get access to the tongue while keeping the shoe from getting stuck on the machine. 

location of monogram on the hoop for stitching it on sneakers

How to monogram the sneakers

Supplies you need

You actually don’t need much to stitch out a monogram on a pair of sneakers.

Preparing to embroider

First, remove the laces from the sneakers.  It’s a lot easier to get access to the tongue of the sneaker with the laces out. 

sneakers with no laces ready for monogramming

Start by hooping a piece of adhesive-backed tearaway stabilizer.  Score the inside edge with a pin and peel back the paper to expose the adhesive.  Mark the bottom, center of the hooped stabilizer if it’s not already apparent.

Stick the tongue of the sneaker onto the adhesive stabilizer. You want to make sure that you have enough of the tongue stuck onto the stabilizer.  I pressed the button on my embroidery machine that repositions the hoop to go right to the center of the design. Then I could see exactly where the center of the monogram would lie on the tongue of my sneakers.  I made sure that I enough of the tongue on the stabilizer so that the monogram didn’t stitch off the tongue. 

positioning the tongue of the sneaker on the stabilizer.

Then, I gently supported the shoe as the embroidery machine started stitching. (And I held my breath a little bit….) 

supporting the sneaker while the embroidery machine stitched out the monogram

Starting to stitch

I stopped holding my breath a little bit after the basting was done because I knew that the tongue was more secured to the stabilizer.

basting stitching complete on monogrammed sneaker

I continued to support the sneaker while the machine stitched the monogram. And, I resisted all urges to multi-task and simply focused on supporting the shoe with my other hand poised on the stop button just in case things went haywire. 

monogram stitched on tongue of sneaker

But… it actually didn’t! The monogram stitched out perfectly. 

Once it was done, I tore the tongue away from the stabilizer, removed the basting stitching and trimmed off all the additional strings.  I re-laced the sneaker in a way that showcased the newly added monogram. 

Then, I repeated the process for the other shoe, and of course, went to bed very very happy.  I am definitely adding monogrammed sneakers to my list of go-to gifts. 

finished monogrammed sneakers

So are you ready to monogram some sneakers?

I’d love to hear how it went! Please feel free to share suggestions + tips in the comments below. 

Happy stitching!

xo

Julie

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