[HNW] Embroidering garments

Sue Clemenger mooncat at in-tch.com
Mon Oct 6 09:44:30 PDT 2003

Hi. I've never been very comfortable doing either embroidery or quilting
without using a frame of some sort, although I know that there are
people who can do that just fine.  I do mostly blackwork and
counted-thread embroideries (like pulled and drawn thread stuff, not
counted cross stitch), and it's pretty important for me to keep the
threads of the fabric I'm using as true to a square grid as possible, so
I use hoops and such, which can give me a nice, taut surface that's easy
to tweak into line.  It also makes my embroidery portable, so I can take
it to work, meetings, etc.
Of course, some stitches tend to distort their background fabrics--for
pulled-thread pieces, using a frame or hoop allows me to control the
tension of the fabric, which helps control the degree of distortion. 
With other projects, like needlepoint, the distortion can become quite
bad, and is not usually a desirable thing, so a sturdy frame of some
sort is even more important.
Most of the pieces I've made, or am involved in making, are embroidered
before I put the garment together, but that's mostly because I find it
easier, not having to deal with a whole garment.  I can see some cases,
though, where it might be easier to do it on a finished item--once, many
years ago, I made a full shirt, with collar and cuffs embroidered in a
gold filling pattern taken from a blackwork book.  The thread count was
fine enough that even I couldn't see it, so I used waste canvas, and
embroidered on the finished collar and cuffs (so that the pattern would
be reversible on them, even though they had more than one layer of
And then, of course, there are some types of edge finishes that contain
embroidery stitches, either in a decorative or functional sense.  I've
seen several 16th and early 17th century shirts, for instance, in which
the "seams" are done in a type of faggoting or insertion stitch.
So, there you go! <g>  Your technique is going to depend on the
particulars of your garment (fabric and thread types), your embroidery
design, and what you're personally comfortable with.

MLF wrote:
> > I have a dummy question since I'm new to embroidery beyond
> > cross-stitching/backstitching.  What if I wish to put blackwork or
> > some other stitching onto a garment, say at the hem or collar or
> > cuffs.  Is the common method to embroider the piece of fabric before
> > making it into the garment?  Or is it simply common to work the design
> > onto the finished garment without any kind of framing to hold tension
> > on the cloth?
> >
> > Much thanks!
> > -m
> >
> --
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> ach mairidh gaol is ceòl.
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