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What type of needle should I use when embroidering on knit fabrics?

I am embarrassed to say that I never gave much thought to the type of needle I used when doing machine embroidery or sewing for that matter. My philosophy was – if the needle breaks, then replace it.

A sewing instructor once advised that if your thread breaks three times, it’s probably a pretty good indication that your needle needs to be replaced. Great advice.  But that was the limit to my sewing needle knowledge.

As I have begun doing more embroidery on knit fabrics I have learned of the importance of using a ballpoint needle when working with knit fabrics.  A regular needle is designed to pierce the fabric, but a ballpoint needle spreads the fibers away from one another keeping the knit structure intact.   Using a ballpoint needle on knits improves the look of your design when embroidering on knit fabrics.

Check out these helpful resources re: needle types. 

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Embroidering on Knit Hats – Not as bad as I thought it would be


20130102-125626.jpgFor my daughter’s sixth birthday I was looking for a descent party favor. I absolutely hate it when my kids go to parties and come home with the requisite bag of crap that I have to eventually sneak into the trash can. So I wanted to make something for the kids that might not be pitched.

Trolling around Target the night before the party – I found knit hats that were on clearance for $1 each. I bought 15 and immediately started to regret my decision.

Embroidering on stretchy fabrics is NOT my forte. So I sought advise from the book “Embroidering on Difficult Fabrics” which recommends for knits using an iron on stabilizer on the back of the fabric and a sulky on the top. I actually hooped all three layers together using my smallest embroidery hoop, and I achieved great results. No puckering, great density of stitches, really quick and easy.

I was not adventurous on the typeface I used for the single initial – but this project gave me confidence to try embroidering on other knit fabrics

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Make Cute Peace Sign T-Shirts with Machine Embroidery

Embroidered Peace Sign T-Shirt

My 7-year-old is totally peace sign obsessed! She has peace sign underwear, a suitcase, t-shirts, pajamas, folders… you get the picture. So, of course, my instinct was to digitize a peace sign.  But when it comes to peace signs, theres is quite a variety of designs and styles.

I have frequently seen appliqued peace sign t-shirts in catalogs and in many Etsy stores, such as LaLas.  While these are super cute, I was interested in doing something different.

Inspiration struck the other day when I was shopping at Walgreens (yes, Walgreens).  They were selling t-shirts for $1.  I thought – at a minimum these shirts would work well for practicing embroidering on knits which can be quite challenging.  So – I picked up a few. For some crazy reason, my two daughters seemed to be really excited about wearing these t-shirts which motivated me to do some digitizing.

When I asked my girls what they wanted stitched on their shirts, they told me rainbows, peace signs, hearts, flowers, etc… Trying to accommodate their requests, but still keeping the design somewhat tasteful I came up with a rainbow peace sign machine embroidery design that would be scaled appropriately for their $1 Walgreens t-shirts.

The design is digitized with underlay stitching so that there are no gaps between the stripes of color.  I also used a jersey ballpoint needle which is what you need to be using to embroider on knit fabrics.  It makes a huge difference.