Put embroidery letters on something special you have made to give your creation that personal touch. It is a hand and heartfelt way of making that extra special gift. Learning how to embroider letters is a very creative way to complete all sorts of gifts and items you may want to personalize. This tutorial will show the best embroidery stitches for letters.
Embroidery Letters Tutorial
Here you will get lots of embroidery letter ideas and learn how to embroider letters and transfer letter patterns.
Uses of Embroidery Letters
Adding embroidered letters to babywear is especially popular - baby bibs, receiving blankets, samplers, and pictures to celebrate the arrival of a new baby.
Memorabilia of all types are perfect items for the lasting touch of monograms or embroidered letters.
Pillowcases, ballet bags, t-shirts, and caps all lend themselves to being embellished with embroidered letters. Because they are larger you can use a single large letter or the whole alphabet!
Tools Needed for Embroidery Letters
- HOOP - Like most embroidery, letters are best done on an embroidery hoop to hold the fabric taut and to prevent wrinkles or puckering. You can use a small hoop and move it along the fabric if you have a long name or embroidery.
- NEEDLES - Embroidery needles have long eyes to easily pass thicker threads though.
- THREAD - I have used 6 strand embroidery floss for all my samples but you may like to use less to achieve a finer look.
How to Embroider Letters, Step by Step Instructions
Step 1 - Print the Embroidery Lettering
Computer programs are a graphic source for different letters and styles of lettering. Use word, excel, or any program you have to print out the letters.
Word Processing Programs for Embroidery Letters
- Google Docs
- WPS Office
- Word Perfect
You want a program where you can use different fonts and adjust the size. It may take a few goes to get the size correct on some of these programs. I did my samples with printouts from Illustrator since I could control the size easily.
It is a good idea to have a baseline to set the letters on or a grid to work from if there are multiple letters to embroider.
Step 2 - Font Choice for Embroidery Letters
Font choice is largely personal, but when choosing you should think ahead to the type of stitch you wish to use.
- BLOCK LETTERS - Block letters will need to be filled in and outlined. Choose simple blocks without too many flourishes and ends. You can see in the photo below that my block choice was best for outlining rather than filling in.
- CURSIVE SCRIPT - Cursive script fonts lend themselves to stitches such as backstitch and chain stitch. These stitches are perfect for thinner lettering typically found in cursive fonts.
The smaller the font, the simpler you need the design to be. For fancier fonts always print a larger size.
Step 3 - Transfer the Embroidery Letters to the Fabric
This step, in the process of embroidering letters, is to transfer the letter or letters onto the fabric. There are several ways to do this.
- FREEHAND - Draw the letter freehand. There are different pens available that wash out rather than a pen that is permanent.
- TRANSFERS - Use an iron-on transfer, but be wary of these as they are permanent.
- LIGHTBOX - A lightbox or even a window helps to transfer images to your fabric.
I transferred the designs by putting the paper printout on the window and then putting the calico fabric over it and tracing over it.
Further Reading - How to Transfer Embroidery
Step 4 - Choose Embroidery Stitches for Letters
Now you have chosen your embroidery letters, there are many choices of stitches that are suitable for the embroidering of the letters themselves. It takes some patience to get the stitches right. They need to be even with the letter area filled in correctly.
Stitching a border, or defining the outline of the letter, helps to keep the decorative stitches contained.
Here are the most popular stitches and methods used for creating letters. Each basic stitch may have variations and may be combined with other stitches.
What is the Easiest Stitch for Embroidery Letters? The easiest is a little subjective but I found the backstitch to be one of the best for fine lettering and cursive monograms. It is quick to stitch and easy for all levels of sewers. Running stitch is easy too but the gaps make the letters a little less legible.
1. Appliqué with Blanket Stitch
Cut out and appliquéd fabric or felt letters are effective if the letters are larger and need to be bold and beautiful. A backing of double-sided interfacing (Vilene) is a good idea to give the letter some stability. Capital letters in simple, bold fonts are a good choice for appliqué.
You can sew on the fabric letters with a blanket stitch or running stitch. The value of blanket stitch is it has a built-in edging. This gives a very neat finish to each letter.
2. Backstitch Embroidery Letters
Backstitch is my hand stitch of choice for embroidery letters. It is simple and quick and is great for outlining larger block letters.
3. Chain Stitch
Chain stitch embroidery is a popular embroidery lettering stitch. It is an easy stitch to navigate curves. Variations of chain stitch like double chain stitch or braided chain stitch add thickness and dimension to the simple chain stitch.
For smaller letters, it is best to shorten the length of the chain stitches. I found this stitch really easy and surprisingly quick.
4. Couching Stitch
Couching stitch is a method of stitching over thicker threads. The main surface thread can be yarn or numerous embroidery floss strands. I used 2 lots of 6-strand floss for the pink thread. It is easier to use the two colored threads with two separate needles so you can hide any ends.
5. Cross Stitch
Cross-stitch is another popular stitch to fill in the outline of an embroidery letter. Working within a backstitch outline makes this an easier task.
There are variations of cross stitch too. Different countries have put their slant on the cross stitch for the more adventurous embroiderer. Hungarian cross stitch and Greek cross stitch are two styles of cross stitch that are interesting and would make good fillers for letters.
6. French Knots
If you are looking for texture, and a raised effect for embroidery lettering, then French knots are the perfect embroidery stitch for filling in letters. Other knot stitches, like bullion stitch, are effective too.
The dots on "i" and "j" can be cute if done with a French knot. See how you can vary the size of the knot by different amounts of twists.
7. Long and Short Stitch
A useful stitch for filling in areas and managing different-sized spaces. Long and short stitches can also be used with multiple colors or shades of a color.
8. Running Stitch
Running stitch creates simple stitched letters and is lovely for fine larger letters. It is really simple with its up and down motion and even beginners can do these embroidery letters stitch.
9. Satin Stitch Embroidery Letters
Satin stitch is one of the most popular stitches for embroidered lettering, but it takes some practice to get the stitches to lie evenly.
A backstitch border to contain the shape of the letter does help. Keeping the stitches to a maximum ½” (12mm) width within the letter shape is recommended so the stitches stay even and regular.
You will need to determine which direction your stitches will lie. I experimented with a few different directions. The C looks the neatest with all stitches in the same direction. I also find a satin stitch to look better in shiny threads rather than matt colors.
Adding some form of padding to the letter gives a raised, added dimension to the finished letter. The padding can be a store-bought-shaped form or a shape cut out of felt and laid down on the place where the letter is to be embroidered. Satin stitch is then added over the shape.
Another way of adding padding is to stitch with a straight stitch or with seed stitches inside the outline of the letter and then stitch in a satin stitch over the top to give a raised form to the finished letter.
10. Seed Stitch
While seed stitch embroidery wouldn't be used alone, it is a delicate and dainty stitch to use for filling in spaces. If you stitch the border with a backstitch, a seed stitch could be used for filling in the center. Seed stitch is also commonly used underneath satin stitch to give a raised and padded look.
11. Stem Stitch Letters
Stem stitches can be used to create the outline of a letter. This outline can stand alone or be filled in effectively. I have to say that out of all the stitches I sampled, this was by far the hardest.
It is best for larger letters and straighter or gently curving designs. These letters were about 1 ½ inches (4cm) in height, and the B in particular with its curves was a little tricky.
Some machines offer embroidery letter stitches as part of their repertoire of stitches. Always try the stitch out on a scrap of the fabric you are working on. Adjust the width and tension of the selected stitch. If there are no embroidery options on your machine, you can use your zig zag stitch to fill in letters or to stitch around the edge of the appliqué letter.
Embroidery Letters - In Conclusion
Finishing a garment or gift and adding in some letters for a message or monograms for a personal touch is a very rewarding way of completing something you have made.
It does take extra time to embroider or appliqué letters on a garment, but the end result always says – Yes, you are worth it!
MORE EMBROIDERY ARTICLES
- Blanket Stitch
- Bullion Knots
- Buttonhole Stitch
- Chain Stitch
- Chevron Stitch
- Couching Embroidery Tutorial
- Cross Stitch
- Double Herringbone Stitch
- Embroidery Basics
- Embroidery Flowers
- Embroidery Leaves
- Embroidery Letters
- Embroidery Roses
- Embroidery Tools
- Faggoting Embroidery
- Feather Stitch
- Fern Stitch
- Fishbone Stitch
- Fly Stitch
- French Knots
- Hand Embroidery Stitches
- Herringbone Stitch
- Lazy Daisy
- Long and Short Stitch
- Outline Stitch
- Running Stitch
- Sashiko Embroidery
- Satin Stitch
- Seed Stitch Embroidery (Rice Stitch)
- Split Stitch
- Stem Stitch
- Straight Stitch Embroidery
- Web Stitch | Embroidery Tutorial
- Whip Stitch
- Whipped Backstitch