Those stretchy, skinny t-shirts are so popular. Here are some tips on how to stitch them successfully. First, the right embroidery design for the right fabric is crucial. Don’t try to force a design on any fabric. Look at the limitations of this baby soft knit fabric (sheer, 4-way stretch and nubby). That’s an embroidery suicide if approached wrong! So let’s control what we can.
The stabilizer has to disappear after the embroidery process. Our choices pare down to water soluble or heat away stabilizer. The stabilizer also has to hold the fabric stretched beyond its relaxed position during the stitching process so an adhesive is best. Use a water soluble adhesive stabilizer.
It’s a knit fabric so a ball point needle (70/10) will do the job.
I’m going to use-Snap Hoop because it’s flat and lets me stretch the fabric without distorting the fibers.
A low stitch count design will allow the fabric to relax and stretch between the stitches – keeping the garment comfortable and wearable.
I love this design featured in the Crosses collection from Anita Goodesign but I know this dense fill will destroy the delicate fabric.
Fortunately, the collection was designed with fashion in mind so the same design comes in a raw edge appliqué version. Perfect for this trendy fabric.
What if you don’t have the luxury of different versions of a design? Dissect the design in question and scale it down to an outline or sketched embroidery design in machine embroidery editing software. Remove whole color segments and see what’s left. Often, you’ll find a sketched outline and details that will work. Take a few moments to play with the design in your software.
Now that the variables are under control, it’s time to focus on the planning and hooping.
Print a template of the design. Place the t-shirt on a dress form and audition the template(s).
Verify placement and slide a target sticker under the template to mark the center of the design. Remove the template.
Carefully turn the shirt INSIDE OUT and place it back on the dress form. Your design area will now be in mirror image on the form.
It might help you see the entire embroidery design again at this point so just tape the template back on the shirt. Flip the template over to view in mirror image and tape it to the shirt. Mark the outer edges of the design with removable chalk.
Select your hoop and place it over the design area to verify you have the right hoop. You might want to chalk the outer edges of the hoop. But this is just for reference, it’s not a crucial alignment mark.
Remove the hoop and the template.
Cut a piece of water soluble adhesive stabilizer larger than the selected hoop. Remove the protective paper from the stabilizer. Adhere the sticky stabilizer to the design area using the chalked marks as a guide. Smooth the stabilizer to the fabric over the form. This can be a bit awkward but you’ll get another chance to smooth the layers after the garment is removed.
Remove the shirt from the dress form (don’t dislodge the target sticker). Smooth the stabilizer.
Place the shirt over the hoop’s outer ring or over the flat metal frame of Snap-Hoop or Quick-Snap.
Place the inner ring inside of the hoop and capture the design area in the hoop.
In Snap-Hoop or Quick-Snap, pull the fabric taut in the frame. Nest the rest of the shirt around the hoop.
Attach the hoop to the machine, center the needle over the target sticker. Remove the target sticker and stitch the design. I often use painter’s tape to hold the fabric away from the design area.
Remove the hoop from the machine. Gently peel the adhesive away from the shirt and trim all excess stabilizer. Rinse the stabilizer under running water to activate the dissolving process. Fill a container with this solution: ¾ water; ¼ fabric softener. Soak the t-shirt in the solution for about 30 minutes. Agitate the water occasionally. Rinse thoroughly. Wash right side out in the washing machine with like-colored garments. Air dry.
Once dry, you’ll notice a bit of puckering around the stitches.
No worry – once the garment is on, the fabric and stitches will be stretched – and flat! Works every time (well, for me, hope it does for you too!)