Embroidering on Difficult Fabrics

What factors are involved
To hoop or not to hoop
Useful Books
Embroidery Samples - Stretch
Embroidery Samples - Stretch with pile
Embroidery Samples - Slippery
Embroidery Samples - Sheer




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What factors are involved?

Successful embroidery involves selecting the right type of design, thread and needle for the fabric, together with a means of holding the fibres of the fabric absolutely stationary. If the fabric slips in the hoop or stretches or is loosely woven with threads that are easily parted, then puckers will occur, outlines won’t line up correctly and you may find gaps in areas of fill and satin stitching.



  • Lightweight tear-away for light/medium weight designs on stable fabric.
  • Soluble where it is undesirable to leave stabiliser in. Also used as a topping for pile fabrics.
  • Iron-on tear-away for stretchy fabrics where ironing is OK. A stick-on tear-away or a normal tear-away/cut-away + spray adhesive are alternatives where the pile would be crushed by ironing.
  • Cut-away for medium/heavy weight stretchy fabrics or dense designs on any fabric.
  • Gill’s Fine Sheer Fusible interfacing + stabiliser for a stretchy fabric.
  • No stabiliser – a hooping product, such as Husqvarna’s Hoop Ease for fine fabrics.


To hoop or not to hoop

  • Don’t hoop any fabric where the surface would be damaged by the pressure of the hoop.
  • Hoop wherever possible but don’t use a hoop any bigger than you need.



  • Lightweight fabrics need airy designs with low stitch counts.
  • Stretch fabrics usually need light designs, although small areas of satin stitch often work.
  • Pile fabrics work well with fairly simple solid designs.
  • Think creatively – try increasing the size or use a finer thread or just the outline.



  • Weight – usually 40-weight but try 30 or 60 if you change the size or want a particular effect.
  • Composition – rayon and polyester are popular, also cotton, wool/acrylic mixes and metallics.
  • Variegated threads – look beautiful in airy designs on fine or sheer fabrics.
  • Bobbin thread – in most cases the thread you usually use for embroidery is suitable.



  • Size 75 embroidery needle is a good choice for many fabrics with a 40-weight thread. Size 90 embroidery, metallica, ballpoint, microtex or topstitch needle may sometimes be preferable.



Useful Books

Embroidery Samples - Stretch

Embroidery Samples - Stretch with pile

Embroidery Samples - Slippery

Embroidery Samples - Sheer


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Mary Prior's 10 Tips for Machine Embroidery  - Embroidering on Difficult Fabrics
   Mary,Prior,Husqvarna,Designer1,Designer 1,Designer#1,sew,sewing,sewing machine,machine embroidery,embroidery software,feet,bobbins,craft,needlecraft,pattern,tailoring,Halesowen,West Midlands,UK,demonstrated at Gill Arnold Sewing World Day