Sew Guide » 7 ways to {EMBROIDER LETTERS} on your clothes

7 ways to {EMBROIDER LETTERS} on your clothes

embroider letters

Embroidering words or letters to convey something dear to you on your clothes makes them all the more personal to you. It is you expressing yourself beautifully. What could be more beautiful than embroidery.  I have used embroidered letters on my handkerchiefs , t-shirts and they all bring about lots of positive comments and are great conversation starters.

Embroidering letters and initials also serve as a sort of identification mark for things that have a tendency of disappearing like the pencil pouch of  your kid or gym towel segregation.

If you have an embroidery machine you have your job easy. Single needle embroidery machine, multi needle embroidery machines (there are even 10 needle machines-gasp) – they do their work excellently well. But what about those who do not have these machines (like me) . There are many simple and easy ways to embroider the initials and monograms on to your clothes or embroidered handkerchiefs – By hand embroidery as well as by using your ordinary zig zag machine.Let us checkout the options.

How to get the embroidery fonts

1.Draw free hand – draw the design directly on to the fabric in your handwriting ; letting your kid write down their own initials is a great way for their personal things like a cute little purse or a hanky. They will not displace their things hopefully. 

2. Use stencils to draw the letters on to the fabric

3. Use powerpoint to make your own simple fonts

Go to the format option in a powerpoint blank page and make your own words under the option ‘Text effects’- even curved letters are possible in powerpoint. You will have to design them suitable for your fabric. Make a stencil out of this or cut it out and trace it on to your fabric.


embroidering letters

Individual letters can also be printed out and laid out in a layout of your choice – Just make sure that it is a cohesive unit rather than some jumbled letters.

Checkout this blog for some great typography tips  and I love the floral letters in Artist Alisa’s beautiful blog

How to Transfer the letters or fonts on to your fabric

Use dress maker’s carbon paper to trace the design on to your fabric.Checkout 9 ways to transfer the designs .

How to Hand Embroider the letters on to the fabric

embroidering letters and initials

1 Cross stitches used along the letters to make a subtle but striking design

Heavy braided chain stitch worked over the stitching line is ideal for a projected embroidered letter 

embroidering letters on clothes

3 Padded satin stitch can be used to give a dimensional look to the letters

To do this work you have to do back stitch on the letter and then do closely packed small straight stitches ( satin) over the back stitch line . This will give the letters a padded dimensional look which will make the letter stand out. 

embroidered letter

4 Herringbone stitch

Use herringbone stitch to fill the letters . Checkout the tutorial to work the herringbone stitch and its 2 variations. Or you can work the herringbone stitch on the reverse side of the cloth to make a shadow work which is beautiful as well.

embroidering letters

embroidery letters


Stem Sitch or outline stitch or Back stitch  or split stitch 

Use any of the Outline stitches in a single or double row to define ( outline) the fonts

Project – Embroidered  knit top / t-shirt – using Back stitch 

The knit fabric is very stretchy. For embroidering, this is a pain. What I do is to baste a piece of cotton cloth ( a muslin cloth would do) to the back of the t-shirt where I have drawn the design. The cloth should measure at least 2 inches all around the design.

embroider letters

Place the t-shirt  on to a embroidery hoop. It will be nice if you have a big enough hoop – bigger than your design but it is also ok to have a small hoop. After you have hand stitched a portion you can shift the position of the hoop and start again. Write the letters. 

how to sew letters on fabric

Do a back stitch (even small stitches) all along the letters. A contrasting coloured thread would be beautiful and striking.

how to hand stitch letters

embroidering initials on lothes

embroidering letters and initials

6 Machine Embroidering letters with a zig zag sewing machine

Place a piece of sew-in-interfacing on the back of the cloth and baste it with hand stitches or machine embroidery stitches with a  stitch length of 4
Set the sewing machine to zig zag stitch
Adjust the stitch width to your requirement , on how wide you plan for the letter. If it is small letter obviously you need a small width and for a big design a wider stitch width is needed.Do the zig zag stitch closely packed. Practice this several times in a spare fabric before testing this on a garment. 

embroider letters

7 Reverse applique on fabric 

Print out the letters you want to reverse applique
You need atleast 1″ width all along the letters, more if you want a turned under edge
Place them on the fabric you are going to reverse applique on . Find the proper position . Trace all around them. Remove the printout
With a small sharp scissors cut out the design
Find the fabric you will be using under the main fabric. Place the letter on it and mark 2.5 inch all around the letter. Cut it out and finish the edges with a zig zag stitch or use pinking shears
Keep it underneath and pin. Pin every 2 inch so the it doesnot shift
Change the stitch length in your sewing machine to 2.5 – 3 . From the top of the fabric stitch around the edges of the letter ( 1/6 inch from inside)
– that is if you donot mind the fraying of fabric inside the stitching line around the letters much. If you do, you can turn under the edges carefully and stitch by machine or use a blanket stitch by hand.

embroider letter with reverse applique


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