How to Machine Embroider on Thin Fabric

By Helen Harvey ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Fabric
  • Stabilizer
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery sewing machine
  • 40-weight embroidery thread
Machine embroidery is a quick way to achieve custom fabrics and embellishments.

Thin and fine fabrics, such as chiffon, silk, georgette and voile, can be embroidered to great effect and used in special-occasion designs including wedding and christening gowns. Embroidering your own fabric is also a less expensive alternative to purchasing embroidered fabrics, and also allows you to personalize your designs. The key to successfully embroidering thin fabric is to properly prepare it before you start the embroidery process. This gives you superior results, particularly if you work methodically and do not rush the embroidery.

Position the area of the fabric to be embroidered in an embroidery hoop with a layer of fabric stabilizer underneath. Take into consideration the size of the pattern and where specifically you want to position it on your finished garment, to correctly position the fabric in the hoop. Do not pull the fabric taut in the hoop, you do not want to stretch the fabric, since this distorts the embroidery when it is off the hoop.

Select a design that suits the fineness of the fabric. Small, open designs work better than large designs with dense stitching. Thin fabrics pucker if they are embroidered too heavily. The choice of designs will vary dependent upon your specific make of embroidery machine. Many computerized machines offer the capability of producing thousands of embroidery patterns, which can be purchased individually or as a set, as electronic files that are inserted into the machine, much like CD-ROMs into computers.

Check that you have the correct type of needle in your machine and the correct type of thread for your fabric.

Insert your fabric in its hoop under your machine's foot and test your machine's tension by practicing your embroidery design on scraps of fabric. Troubleshoot tension issues before starting on your actual garment fabric.

Hold the hoop lightly, with the tips of your fingers, to steady it, as the machine automatically produces the pattern on your fabric. Its computer program selects the specific stitches and length of stitches required for the desired pattern.

Tip

If you plan on completing a lot of machine embroidery, buy a high-end professional embroidery machine with many and complex capabilities. Most conventional machines offer a smaller range of embroidery options that still provide plenty of choice for the novice embroiderer. It is always a good idea to practice your embroidery on scrap pieces of your garment fabric, to perfect your technique, before starting to embroider your garment. Purchase a stabilizer suitable for the specific type of fabric you are using. These are widely available at craft and fabric stores.

About the Author

Helen Harvey began her writing career in 1990 and has worked in journalism, writing, copy-editing and as a consultant. She has worked for world-class news sources including Reuters and the "Daily Express." She holds a Master of Arts in mass media communications from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.