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. Making hand-embroidered letters is a very creative way to complete all sorts of gifts and items you may want to personalize.
Embroidery Letters - Ideas
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 of embroidered letters.
Pillowcases, ballet bags, t-shirts and caps all lend themselves to being embellished with embroidered letters.
Embroidery Letters - Tools
Like most embroidery, letters are best done on a 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.
Embroidery needles have long eyes to easily pass thicker threads though.
I have used 6 strand embroidery floss for all my samples but you may like to use less to achieve a finer look.
If you are new to embroidery, read my article on how to embroider.
How to Transfer Embroidery Letters
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 form 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.
The first 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 on 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 the 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 then tracing over it.
Further Reading - How to Transfer Embroidery
Embroidery Letters - Stitches
Now you have chosen your 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 used for creating letters. Each basic stitch may have variations and may be combined with other stitches.
Cut out and appliquéd fabric 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. The value of blanket stitch is it has a built-in edging. This gives a very neat finish to each letter.
Further Reading - How to do Blanket Stitch
Backstitch is my hand stitch of choice for embroidery letters. It is simple and quick and is great for outlining larger block letters.
Further Reading - How to do Backstitch
Further Reading - How to do Backstitch
Chain stitch is a popular 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.
Further Reading - How to do Chain 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.
Further Reading - How to do Couching Stitch
Another popular stitch to fill in the outline of a letter is cross-stitch. 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.
Further Reading - How to do Cross Stitch
If you are looking for texture, and a raised effect, 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.
Further Reading - How to do French Knots
Long and Short Stitch
A useful stitch for filling in areas and managing different sized spaces. Long and short stitch can also be used with multiple colors or shades of a color.
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.
Further Reading: How to do Running Stitch
Satin stitch is one of the most popular stitches for 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 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 satin stitch over the top to give a raised form to the finished letter.
Further Reading - How to do Satin Stitch
While seed stitch 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.
Further Reading - How to do Seed Stitch
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.
Further Reading - How to do Stem Stitch
Some machines offer embroidery 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
- Buttonhole Stitch
- Chain Stitch
- Chevron Stitch
- Couching Stitch
- Cross Stitch
- Double Herringbone Stitch
- How to Embroider
- Faggoting Embroidery
- Feather Stitch
- Fern Stitch
- Fishbone Stitch
- Fly Stitch
- French Knots
- Hand Embroidery Stitches
- Herringbone Stitch
- Lazy Daisy
- Running Stitch
- Sashiko Embroidery
- Satin Stitch
- Seed Stitch Embroidery (Rice Stitch)
- Stem Stitch
- Straight Stitch
- Web Stitch | Embroidery Tutorial
- Whip Stitch
- Embroidery Leaves
- Embroidery Flowers
- How to Transfer Embroidery
- Embroidery Letters