There are many types of fabric that can be embroidered. Each type has its own characteristics and special needs if your embroidered garment is going to be successful. Today I want to talk about knit fabrics, which can be a popular and profitable choice for things like golf shirts or polo shirts. They also, however, are more stretchy than other fabrics, and can provide an unstable surface on which to embroider. If you do a lot of machine embroidery on knit fabrics, some of the tips given below may be of help.
Tip 1: Make sure you use the proper backing- Because knit fabrics are stretchy and light, they need a strong foundation if they are to be embroidered successfully. There is concern that too heavy a backing will be uncomfortable for the wearer and drag the fabric out of shape. Many embroiderers who embroider knit fabrics choose a mesh backing, like EnMart’s Super Poly Mesh, for use when stitching knit fabrics.
Tip 2: Digitize Your Design for Knits – Stitches can sink into knit fabric, which is not the look you want your embroidery to have. A key to stitching a good design into knits is using the proper underlay. A fill underlay will help keep the stitches on top of fabric where they belong. It will also add less stitches to the design and less risk of puckering the fabric than increasing the density of the design would do.
Tip 3: Use the Right Needle- Knit fabric is lighter and more porous than other fabrics. The needle can pass through a knit fabric more easily. When embroidering knit fabric, you need to use a needle which will not punch large holes through the fabric. We recommend a ballpoint needle, like EnMart’s Chrome DB-K5BP.
Tip 4: Choose the Right Design – Generally less dense and weighty designs work best on knit fabric. A dense design with a lot of stitches may cause the fabric to pucker or pull.
Here are some additional resources that give additional tips about embroidering knit fabrics:
How to Embroider on Thick, Thin, Stretchy or Stable Materials - Impressions Magazine
Knit Wits, Sew News
Machine Embroidery: A Marriage of Fabric and Design - Threads Magazine