Top Tips for Embroidering on Denim
Denim is a staple to any wardrobe, whether it’s jeans, jackets, shirts or even skirts! It is also a super durable fabric which means these pieces of clothing are sure to last a lifetime!
So, if you’re looking to give your denim pieces a bit of an upcycle, or you want to make them stand out a little bit more, then adding your own embroidery is the perfect way to do it!
However, because of the nature of the hardy fabric, it does come with its’ challenges.
Let’s dive in to the what, the why and the how, so that you can get started personalising your clothes!
Why embroider on denim?
As we’ve already covered, there’s so many reasons why you might want to embroider on denim. But, as a lil’ recap:
- You can add your own personal touch to clothes you already own. You could add a monogram onto your child’s denim jacket or add some florals to your jeans.
- You can buy denim cheaper from second hand clothing sites or from charity shops, and add a new lease of life with embroidery!
- Embroidered denim is actually fashionable, if you’re into following the trends! Searching ASOS and other popular clothing sites, you’ll find embroidered denim everywhere!
Personally, I love to embroider denim and other clothing to give a new lease of life to thrifted pieces. The added bonus is that it costs way less than buying it new, and it’s 100% one-of-a-kind!
(P.S. This 'Mushroom Jeans' project is available to the members of the Bloom Embroidery Academy. Looking for full video tutorials and a PDF Pattern Guide to make these yourself? Join the waitlist HERE for when the doors open again!)
What will you need?
Truthfully, you don’t really need many additional materials for embroidering denim and other clothing than you do for your regular embroidery projects. Except, of course, for the denim you’re choosing to embroider on!
But to ensure there’s nothing we miss, here’s what you’ll need!
- Your denim fabric. Whether it’s a jacket, jeans or something else, you need something to stitch on!
- Embroidery hoop. It’s not always required with denim (we’ll get to that later!), but you may wish to use one
- Embroidery thread. Pick out your favourite vibrant colours to add to your denim!
- Embroidery needles. Due to the nature of denim fabric, it’s best to use sharp, thick needles. For that reason, be sure to use Embroidery Needles (i.e. rather than Tapestry needles), in smaller sizes so that the diameter of the needle is a bit thicker and stronger.
- Fabri-Solvy Stabiliser, pre-printed Stick and Stitch designs, or a Pilot Frixion pen. You can absolutely draw free-hand with a heat erasable pen, but you can also pre-print the design onto sticky water-soluble stabiliser to easily transfer it onto your denim. (We’ll cover that later, don’t worry!)
- Tender Touch Stabiliser* (aff. link). If you’re worried about the underside of your stitches being a bit scratchy, then you can use this stabiliser on the back of the stitching. I personally don’t do this, but you can if it helps you!
The Tips and Tricks
Decide whether to use a hoop
You don’t have to use a hoop when embroidering clothing. Sometimes, especially when the clothing is stretchy, a hoop can pull the fabric too taut and can distort both the clothing and the embroidery.
This is unlikely to be the case for denim as it’s a much sturdier fabric, but a hoop can sometimes help to provide that extra bit of stability.
We kinda already covered this, but I just want to emphasise the point! If you’re experiencing needle breakages when you’re stitching denim, you’re probably not using the right needle.
Be sure to use a sharp needle, that isn’t super thin and flimsy. For instance, a size 9 embroidery needle is quite dainty and thin, and is unlikely to last very long on such a thick fabric. Opt for thicker diameter needles that are still sharp. (I personally love the John James or Clover needles for clothing, particularly the size 3!)
Choose the right design
Embroidering on fabric is generally a bit trickier than on lightweight fabric. For that reason, smaller and daintier designs can be a struggle, and can be very painful on your fingers! Consider using designs with bigger and bolder shapes and fewer fine, intricate details.
Securely end your stitches
If you ordinarily only knot your stitches at the back of your project, then you may want to consider adding a couple of extra knots. When embroidering on clothing, and denim in particular, you need to be mindful that it is likely to be washed regularly. The last thing you want is to find that the 1 tiny knot you made to secure your stitches has come undone in the wash!
I would advise adding a couple of extra knots at the back of your stitching once you’re finished with your thread.
Experiment with your colours
If, like me, you ordinarily like to embroider on neutral toned fabrics, then choosing colour palettes could be slightly more tricky.
You’ll find that colour palettes look totally different on different coloured backgrounds! Denim is, of course, light or dark blue, and certain tones of colour can look totally different on neutral or blue fabric.
Plus, if you’re going to go to the effort to add some gorgeous embroidery to your clothing, you want to be sure that it’s going to stand out!
Opt for more vibrant colours that will really stand out so that you can wear your denim with pride!
Embroidering on denim is such a fun and creative way to refresh your wardrobe, keep up with the fashion trends and also do your bit for sustainability – giving your clothing that extra lease of life! Whether it’s a floral motif or a monogram for personalisation, you’ll be creating pieces that you’ll want to keep forever.
Grab your embroidery supplies and let’s get going!
But, before you do, if you’d like some additional tips to get you going, why not grab a FREE copy of my 11 Top Tips for Embroidery Ebook?