T-shirts are clothing everyone has in their wardrobe and there is no fun in a plain T-shirt. You may want it embellished to make it more personal or to make it look a little bit unique than the one your friend is wearing. Printing on Tshirts is nothing special. Everyone has a printed T-shirt. But when embroidery is done, that simple T-shirt turns into a classier, an expensive looking version which is long-lasting as well.
Company t-shirts embroidered with logos is the most commonly done t-shirt embroidery and a great tool for brand building. As a corporate giveaway, the t-shirt with their brand logo embroidered is very popular.
Customization or simply embellishing, whatever your purpose, embroidery gives you many choices. You have 2 methods of doing T-shirt embroidery
- Direct embroidery
- Embroidery Patch
In direct embroidery, you will be sewing the embroidery directly onto the t-shirt fabric. If you are using an embroidered patch the patch is placed on top of the fabric and then it is attached.
Commercial Direct T-shirt Embroidery
When employees wear t-shirts with the company logo embroidered the image of the company is raised a bit above par. The perceived quality of the company increases with a custom logo embroidered Polo Shirt.
The advantage over printing other than the elegant look is that you can embroider even small lots, unlike printing which becomes inexpensive only when a large number is printed.
Embroidering on t-shirts on a large scale is a different game than embroidering single t-shirts at home. Multiple head industrial embroidery machines which are automated are needed for this purpose.
The process of T-shirt embroidery
First, the flat graphic image has to be converted into a custom image for embroidery. The designs on the computer are converted into a format that the sewing machine understands. In professional language, you would call it digitizing. This is fed into the embroidery program on the computer of the sewing machine. The computer sends the instructions to the machine and the design is embroidered exactly as you envisaged.
Pricing of embroidery is based on the size of the design. The embroidery is usually priced by stitch count ( number of stitches it takes to create a design in embroidery) More the stitches on your work the more expensive it will be. The disadvantage of this system is that it is too expensive to embroider large designs.
How to embroider your T-shirt at home
You can do either Hand embroidery or Machine Embroidery. A painstakingly and lovingly embroidered t-shirt is one of the best gifts you can make for anyone.
Machine embroidery is a very easy option and in less time you get wonderfully made embroidery designs on the t-shirt. You may think that you need an embroidery machine for doing this work, though with the simple zig-zag stitch available in most modern sewing machines you can create beautiful embroidery work. Freestyle embroidery is an option as are applique works.
Most of the t-shirts you get are 100% cotton or a cotton-synthetic blend. There will be a lot of sizing added to the fabric in the manufacturing process and then the cotton fibers shrink in the wash. So do not forget to prewash the t-shirt before you start embroidering on it. You can put the t-shirt in a bucket of water and soak it there and then even without adding any detergent, rinse it out. Line dry and then when it is dry ( or slightly damp) iron all the wrinkles out.
How to choose the design for T-shirt embroidery
Small designs are best to work on a t-shirt – this is because of the material it is made of. The thin knits of most t-shirts would not be able to carry large densely done full front or back embroidery designs. The fabric will start to sag, develop holes, pucker unattractively and generally not last long. If you really want an open design choose one with lots of open areas.
If the t-shirt is made of polar fleece or thicker pique knits larger designs can be tried out than on thin knits
Machine embroidery on your t-shirt
You will have to test the thread quality, stitch length, width, stitch density needed for the design, tension settings, suitability of the stabilizer on another similar knit fabric before the final work is started
Usually, a rayon embroidery thread is used because of its beautiful sheen and luster. A cotton embroidery thread has a softer, more subtle look. Use special lightweight bobbin thread on the bobbin so that none of the bobbin thread shows on the face of the fabric.
You may want to attach a stabilizer on the back of the fabric to give support and stability. The stabilizer is one of the most important elements of t-shirt embroidery. A medium weight stabilizer is non-optional. It helps improve stitch quality, and reduces puckering and slipping and prevents sagging of thin fabrics.
How to do hand embroidery on your t-shirt
Take a printout of the design you mean to embroider. Keep it on the t-shirt and see the position you desire or want. Try out every single position. Look at this post on embroidery placements for some ideas.
The emblibrary article here recommends a position 3 inches down from the neck. Make small tailor tacks to delineate the outline – this will give you a boundary for the design so that you can accurately place the stabilizer on the back.
Keep the stabilizer you have chosen to the inside of the t-shirt in the exact position you have marked for the design. Place the fabric on the hoop and start embroidering. My favorite embroidery on a t-shirt is a monogram; then I also like to embroider letters.
Here are articles that are helpful for hand embroidery: Hand embroidery stitches – glossary; 60+ Hand embroidery techniques; How to embroider on clothes; Best hand embroidery thread to use from the 12 types; Learn embroidery – FAQ.
My favourite method is to make satin stitches.
To give the satin stitch some added depth, make small stitches inside the design and then do the satin stitch over this.
You can give an outline stitch and your design will stand out.
After the embroidery is done the stabilizer can be trimmed around the design leaving just 1/2 inch extra all around.
You can further embellish the design with pearls, sequins, beads, or even rhinestones