Tips For Embroidering On 5 Types Of Tricky Fabric

Once a beginner has moved past the phase of embroidering each and every tea towel they come across, it might then seem time to experiment on different fabrics. Most fabrics will handle all kinds of embroidery with ease, but certain tricky fabrics have been known to cause all kinds of headaches for stitchers.

Does that mean you avoid them all together? No! You just need to know a few tips on how to deal with these tricky types, and the results are totally worth it for all the different effects these fabrics can bring to your projects. So, here are five notorious offenders who are known to misbehave when placed under an embroidery machine, and how to deal with them.



A lovely, sheer fabric, stitching on organza can give your design a wonderful floating effect. Because of it’s airy nature, some things should be kept in mind when you stitch on it:

  • – Choose a design with minimal seams, as they may be visible through the textile.
  • – Use the smallest gauge needle available to you, to make the smallest holes possible.
  • – The best stabilizer to use with polyester or nylon organza is heavy-weight, water-soluble stabilizer.
  • – Lighter designs allow the fabric to drape better, and the organza can also be reversible when stitching designs with matching thread in the top and bobbin.



A sturdy waterproof fabric perfect for outdoor projects, Nylon can be annoyingly slippery, shifting in your hoop and adding puckers to your fabric. Try these tips to prevent it:

  • -Spray your stabilizer with temporary spray adhesive and smooth your nylon over it.
  • – To keep the nylon from pulling away from the sides of the hoop, add Wonder Tape to the sides of the inner hoop, but not to the corners.
  • – Finally add pieces of rubber shelf mat to the bottom sides of the inner hoop, on top of the Wonder Tape. Your hoop won’t be going anywhere now!
  • – Sturdier sport nylon is able to handle light to medium fill designs. If working with ripstop nylon, use designs that have light fills.
  • – Medium weight cutaway stabilizer with work best with most types of Nylon.



A wonderfully light and flexible fabric great for everything from workout clothes or ballerina princesses, but it’s stretchy properties can make it very pucker prone.  Check out these tips to make your design come out wrinkle free:

  • – Try using a ball-point needle. Ball-point needles have points that are more rounded than embroidery or sewing needles, so they’ll push the fibers to the side when forming the stitches.
  • – Choose a design that has open areas with simple fills. If you choose a complex design with layering, shading, or highlighting, chances are it’ll be not only too heavy, but also get misshapen.
  • – When hooping, it’s best to stretch the spandex so it replicates the level of stretch the garment will have while it’s worn. I know, this is often counter to the rule ” don’t tug on your hooped fabric”, but in this case, it’s needed.
  • – Don’t over stretch the fabric, or your design will pucker once the fabric is relaxed.
  • – As spandex is often used for garments, we recommend a No Show Mesh cutaway stabilizer, as it hides well behind the sleek, form-fitting material but gives enough strength for your stitches.



There are different kinds of silk out there, and each can use different kinds of designs. A good example of different silk weights are Charmeuse, Shantung, and Dupioni silk. Follow these tips for each type to get your best results:

  • -Use a 75/11 sharp needle. Needles with a rounded tip (embroidery, ballpoint, stretch) are likely to tear the delicate fabric and leave visible perforations.
  • -Light silk like charmeuse calls for a very light design such as toile, scribbles or redwork. You don’t want anything with fills or heavy satins.
  • -On light silk, you can use tear-away stabilizer, as cutaway stabilizer would show behind the translucent fabric.
  • -On medium weight silk like Dupioni, you can use light to medium designs, but make sure your design will allow your fabric to drape a bit.
  • -Shantung or decorator silk  is of a medium-to-heavy weight, and is able to handle medium-to-complex designs.
  • -For Dupioni or Shantung, you can use medium weight cutaway stabilizer. Lightly spray it with temporary adhesive and smooth the silk over the stabilizer before tightly hooping them together.


Faux Fur

Faux fur is fantastic for projects in need of a little extra fuzz, but embroidering on it can be a real nightmare without the proper prep. To get your design to come out crisp and clean and to keep your stitches from sinking into the fur, try these tips:

  • -Choose your design carefully. Bold, solid filled designs will work well on faux fur, but light stitching designs will simply sink into the fluff and disappear.
  • -Use medium-weight (2 oz.) cutaway stabilizer. If you look at the back of your fur, you’ll probably see it’s a knit fabric that’s somewhat flexible. It will need the firm support that a cutaway stabilizer can provide.
  • -The fur on the area to be embroidered should be no longer than 1/4 inch. If yours is shaggier than that, give it a little trim with your scissors.
  • -Faux fur is, well, furry, and it needs to be pressed into a smooth surface in order for your embroidery to look top-notch. Press down that fuzz with heavyweight water soluble stabilizer as a topping, something like Sulky Ultra Solvy.
  • -When your design is done stitching, tear away the water-soluble stabilizer from the edges of the embroidery. You might find it helpful to use tweezers to remove smaller pieces of topping, and then soak the rest in warm water to completely remove all the rest of the stabilizer.

Give these tips a try the next time you hoop up one of these tricky fabrics, and you’ll find they were misunderstood all along. You can embroider on almost any fabric, as long as you know what kind of designs, needle, and stabilizer you need to get the job done well.

These tips were re-posted with permission from our buds at Embroidery Library and their awesome series Kenny’s Korner. Go check out their page to get tips on stitching on all kinds of fabrics, as well as dealing with common machine headaches. It’s a great place to start if you’re  having any kinds of problems with your machine!

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19 Responses to “Tips For Embroidering On 5 Types Of Tricky Fabric”

  1. 1
    Karen Wilson (Timewrinkler) says:

    Very helpful~Thank you!!

  2. 2

    I have a question regarding the spray adhesive. I tried using this to hold my stabalizer to the fabric and when I started my embroiderying, I noticed my needle sticking and getting “gunked up”. This would also cause my thread to break. Wondering if there is anything I can do to avoid the gunked up needle?

    • Niamh says:

      It probably just requires a lighter coat of adhesive. It should only be a very light coating, about 8-10 inches away from the surface, to give it a light tacky consistency, but shouldn’t be full on sticky. What kind of adhesive did you use? We favor Gunold KK100.

      • Mary G says:

        Just a quick note on the needle sticking from the stabilizer, I have tried using a titanium needle and find that it sticks less.

        • CookieBeth says:

          If you use sewers-aid on the needle it helps. I usually put a drop on my finger and rub the needle shaft. It is my understanding that sewers-aid is a liquid silicone so you may want to make sure you use a small amount to make sure it does not leave a mark on your fabric.

  3. 3
    Bridget says:

    I learned something new. Can I go home now?

  4. 4
    Kayla says:

    Question… would you please be able add a fabric (or two) to this difficult selection?

    Velvet and
    Stretch velvet

    I have a little dance troupe thing and I was looking at making our troupe jacket in stretch velvet with embroidery. Suggestions?

    Moochos grassy-bum

  5. 5

    I think im using 3M craft spray adhesive. Its a blue can with an orange lid. I will try using less. Thanks for the tip!

    And yes, PLEASE add some tips about velvet & stretch velvet!!! ( my arch nemesis!!)

    • Kim says:

      Stephanie, are you using craft spray or spray adhesive for sewing?? There’s a difference. You should never use just any craft spray when you’re sewing. It will gunk up your needle and also your machine. I’ve not used the Gunold, but I’ve seen lots of good comments on it. I use Dritz spray adhesive. My machine (brother 2500) is okay with it. I also tried the Sulky Sticky Fabric Solvy, but my machine did not like it at all. But it seemed to hold very well, I just can’t use it. Sometimes you have to try and see which your machine prefers – just a little fyi. Hope it helped!!

  6. 6
    Ross Graeber says:

    I find on fabrics like faux fur and terry cloth that using tulle as a tearaway works like a charm. It’s cheap, holds the fuzzy fabric down, tears away easy, and makes the embroidery stand out extremely well. It also doesn’t need to be washed off like solvy.

  7. 7

    […] Some inspiring spring embroidery floss color collections (Wild Olive) Tips for embroidering on difficult fabrics (StitchPunk) Making the most of one acre (From Scratch Club) Now that Picnik is gone (RIP), try […]

  8. 8

    […] to do. I searched around and found some nice tips on embroidering tricky fabrics from the blog, Stitchpunk. According to the blog, there is no need to avoid tricky fabrics but one must know how to deal with […]

  9. 9
    Jacquie says:

    This iso is great! must print off and have it handy …

  10. 10
    Lacey Crook says:

    How can I put between the fabric and to keep from stitching it together?

  11. 11
    Elizabeth Hayes says:

    Really great information, I found out what stabilizer to use on my flag material. I sincerely appreciate this article, its so easy to understand. Love your designs too.

  12. 12
    linda says:

    Hello there I’m new here and some how that’s so cool! Thanks for the advice. I’ll use it. 🙂
    Thanks, Linda G.

  13. 13
    Chris says:

    Hi there I’m having problems finding the right thread to embroider on my machine I have try art silk and I’m still having problems I have tried nylon so can somebody help me please the machine is a brother

  14. 14
    Claudia says:

    I want to embroider on sequined material. Should I use a 70/11 or a 9014 needle? I will be using temporary spray adhesive between two layers of the material (wrong sides together and hooped with water soluble stabilizer in both the top and bottom of the hoop with the sequined material between.
    Do you have any suggestions or should I forget about embroidering on it. I want to turn the material into a Chrisymas tree ornament.

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