As with all embroidery how the design is produced is critical. With woven fabrics there is usually little or no stretch or flexibility unless it contains Lycra or a similarly stretchy yarn. This lack of stretchability though can be a benefit as it makes the fabric more stable and therefore less prone to movement, so the quantity of packing stitches required is much lower. Indeed with some wovens they are not necessary at all. This lack of under stitching not only reduces the bulk of the embroidered pattern, ensuring a better ‘feel’ to the finished design, but also means that it spends less time on the machine thereby increasing production. Put simply, it is not good practice to use an embroidery pattern designed for knitwear on woven fabric and vice versa.
It is sometimes argued that because the woven fabric is stable and not prone to movement, backing is unnecessary when working with shirts. The fabric may be more stable but we would still recommend that you use backing: in our view, backing should always be used. Woven fabric can still move, albeit to a much smaller degree, and you need something to help hold the fabric in the frame and on-pattern. For what backing costs it is not worth taking the chance.
Roger Stendall | YES