Tips and techniques from Natalie Greetham and Danielle Park of Madeira

Have you ever tried embroidering onto knitwear only to end up with a distorted disaster?
With numerous types of knitted fabrics being used within the garment industry they really can’t be avoided and there’s no getting away from the fact that knitted fabrics stretch, with some being particularly flimsy and unstable.

Choosing the correct backing can make a huge difference to embroidery success onto stretchy fabrics. A soft, cut-away backing will provide the stability needed and control the stretch, helping to prevent distortion. For finer weight knits another option to avoid over-stretching or hoop marks is to not hoop at all. Instead, hoop up a sticky stabiliser, score and peel away the paper to reveal the sticky layer then place the fabric on top.

Sinking stitches:
Losing stitches within the pile can be a frustrating problem, particularly if there are fine details or small text within the design. Placing a clear water soluble film, such as Avalon, on top of the fabric will prevent stitches from disappearing and significantly improve the finished embroidery.

When digitising for stretchy fabrics, such as knitwear, it is important to lower the stitch count and increase the pull compensation. Garments have a tendency to distort and pucker if there are too many stitches in the design. Underlay stitching will create an even, stable base and will ensure the top stitching is not lost within the pile.

Always use a ball point needle for knits as the rounded tip is designed to part the weave of the fabric whereas a sharp point needle could cause the fabric to ladder.