DIY Denim Embroidery

For months, I’ve been anxious to try my hand at denim embroidery but could never figure out how without freehanding under a sewing machine, unsuccessfully tracing or using my horrible penmanship as an adequate enough pattern. I was stumped. Determined to find a way to transfer a pattern or letters onto denim, I went to my local fabric store to investigate. Turns out, there’s a product that will forever change your embroidery experience and that inspired me to embroider all denim in sight. Read on, friends . . .

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YOU’LL NEED:

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Ok, are you ready for the 411 on the best product ever?! Drumroll . . . it’s Paper Solvy! This stuff is essentially paper that you can print on and embroider directly on. And once it comes in contact with water, it all dissolves away. Like magic! I’m actually super bummed I hadn’t discovered Fabri-Solvy or even better, Sticky Fabri-Solvy, until after I finished my project with the Paper Solvy. The paper was okay to use but I can only imagine how much easier it would have been with the Fabri-Solvy, which has a more fabric like consistency – less ripping and more pliable. And it comes in a sticky version!! Which means no pinning or embroidery hoop necessary! I have yet to use the fabric and sticky fabric version but I’m sure it’s much easier to work with than the paper version. Whichever stabilizer you decide to use, the first step is to print your design and arrange it over your denim.

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Secure the paper with pins and an embroidery hoop. Again, if you’re using Sticky Fabri-Solvy, then no hoop or pins should be necessary!

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I like using a chain stitch embroidery for letters. It’s substantial enough that you can read the type against heavy, dark denim and it’s also nice when getting around sharp corners or tight curves. Thread the needle with a long piece of embroidery floss. Tie a knot at the end. Push it through from under the start of the first letter. Bring it back down just a couple of millimeters away from the first hole. This is your first stitch.

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Bring the needle back up, leaving the same distance away from the end of the first stitch. Pass the needle through the first stitch and pull the floss all the way through.

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Re-insert the needle back down the same hole and pull the floss all the way through to complete the second stitch.

 

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Repeat the same stitch. Push the needle through the bottom of the denim, leaving another equal distance from the second stitch. Pass the needle through the 2nd stitch and re-insert it into the same hole to create the third stitch.

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Continue following the lines of the letter. If you’re transferring a letter with thicker parts, just skip them for now and consistently follow them along the either the outer or inner line.

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If your floss runs out, simply double knot it on the backside of the denim and start a new piece by coming up to start a new stitch.

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Once all your single lined chain stitch is complete, you can go back and add more lines along the thicker parts of the letters.

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If the inner part of the letter is complete, complete the outer line. Then go back and fill in a third line down the middle.

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When you’re finished, remove the embroidery hoop. Rip away some of the paper without yanking it from under the embroidery.

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Place the denim under running cold water and watch all the magic happen! The paper will dissolve within seconds!!! Yes, I know! Crazy cool! Agitate the embroidery under water so release any paper trapped under the stitches.

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Wring out the water and lay flat to dry.

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For my baby . . .

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And for my ladies!

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(images by HonestlyWTF)

Leave a Comment

64 Comments

  1. I definitely need to find that dissolving paper! So handy, thanks for sharing!

    http://www.dreamofadventures.com/

    8.25.16
    Reply
  2. Michelle wrote:

    Wow, that looks like a lot of work, but the outcome looks so amazing!
    https://www.makeandmess.com/

    8.25.16
    Reply
  3. Selene wrote:

    Wow. Mind blowing! haha Have to try that out for myself, can’t wait to experiment 😛
    Have a nice day!

    Wonderlandia

    8.25.16
    Reply
  4. Ling wrote:

    So cute! Brings new life to pieces 🙂 Thank you for this tutorial!

    8.25.16
    Reply
  5. Aleksandra wrote:

    That’s fantastic, although a little too much work for me!

    8.25.16
    Reply
  6. Mun wrote:

    This is so so lovely! How long did it take to embroider the jacket?

    8.25.16
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      Thanks @Mun! Since the jacket was my first attempt, it took me awhile – I picked it up here and there over the course of 2 days but now I think I could probably bang it out in a couple of hours.

      8.26.16
  7. Carly wrote:

    I was actually just about to do this with my jeans jacket! This is a much better approach than what I was going to do. Thank you! Would you mind sharing how you printed out the “Whatever” and “Coco Mei” wording? Did you just use a font in Word?

    8.26.16
    Reply
    • Erica wrote:

      @Carly I downloaded fonts from dafont.com and printed the words after creating them in Photoshop. But I think using Word would be just fine!

      8.26.16
  8. Jo wrote:

    Love the way your jeans came out!

    http://www.cutandchic.com

    8.26.16
    Reply
  9. Gardner wrote:

    Hello!

    I ‘m french so I’m sorry for my english.
    I’ve read your blog back to april 2014 because I really love it and really would like to know, pleeeaaase ,where does come from the cement tiles of the second picture of your April 6th 2015 post.
    I’m searching for cement tiles for my kitchen and they are the most beautiful I’ve seen Coud you find your source?
    Thanks a lot xxx

    Laure (lauregardner@yahoo.fr)

    8.27.16
    Reply
  10. Maria wrote:

    where are the shoes from?!

    8.28.16
    Reply
  11. Josie wrote:

    Love it, looks amazing! x

    josiemander.wordpress.com

    8.29.16
    Reply
  12. michenn wrote:

    OMG thank you for this DIY!! I’m actually going to attempt this one since I’m loving all the embroidery I see all over tumblr and Pinterest and Instagram. Thanks for sharing!

    michenn

    michenn Ole Henriksen Skincare Review

    8.29.16
    Reply
  13. Pat Schwab wrote:

    Your son looks so adorable in his jean jacket. Thanks for introducing me to this product. Pat S

    8.29.16
    Reply
  14. Natasha Barrett wrote:

    Who makes those shoes? LOVE!

    9.12.16
    Reply
  15. Thank you for posting this! i am completely obsessed and also have tried hand embroidering with my not so artistic penmanship!!!
    I can’t wait to try this!
    xx
    jen
    effortlesseverydaystyle.com

    9.15.16
    Reply
  16. jelena wrote:

    I worked embroidery before…. This is great idea… I will try for sure…. Great post. Thank you

    http://jristicline.com/en/

    9.18.16
    Reply
  17. Cortney wrote:

    What font did you use here? Love it!

    9.29.16
    Reply
  18. Margo wrote:

    Sticky fabr-Soley is pretty good for simple designs. Despite the stickiness, you still need to baste it down and you needl can get a little sticky, but for a project like this, it would be perfect. I’ve used it to transfer designs to a pillow, the had too many lines to transfer to easily by hand. It is also great for dark fabrics like this.

    10.18.16
    Reply
  19. Donna wrote:

    This is such a beautiful DIY! I’d like to get the same effect as you did. Would you care to share the size of needle you used? Thanks!

    12.5.16
    Reply
  20. Alana K wrote:

    Amazing! many thanks for sharing! I need it.

    3.21.17
    Reply
  21. caitlin wrote:

    hi! i’m wondering what font you used… i like the cursive. thx, caitlin

    4.30.17
    Reply
  22. nombert wrote:

    That looks really amazing. How long it takes to mak it/?

    http://www.3escorts.com

    5.23.17
    Reply
  23. Karolina wrote:

    THANK YOU! <3 I've been thinking how to decorate my jacket and you helped me a lot. Your blog is really inspiring! Cheers from Poland! I found you on Pinterest 🙂

    8.24.17
    Reply
  24. liporet wrote:

    What a story, it seems to me that such a definition of a topic is a sensational option.
    http://www.sash-windows.biz/

    8.28.17
    Reply
  25. Elizabeth wrote:

    What size embroidery needle did you use for this jacket?
    Thank you.

    10.19.17
    Reply
  26. Ana Martin wrote:

    Such an incredible tutorial and your writing style is amazing. Thanks for sharing it.

    embroiderydigitizingtipsntricks.blogspot.com

    10.30.17
    Reply
  27. Jane wrote:

    AHHHH!

    I am smitten! What a valuable set of tools for uniformity and image planning… I am flooded with ideas and projects from my past…now the possibilities …what a great trip…..for everything denim….following your lead. THANK YOU for sharing!

    3.4.18
    Reply
  28. Emily wrote:

    For those asking about the font, pretty sure it’s Bromello: https://www.dafont.com/bromello.font

    4.17.18
    Reply
  29. What!? How have I never heard of this water dis-solvable stuff!? I have struggled with embroidery too and have resolved to only do simple florals. lol. You have inspire SO many projects this mothers day!

    5.11.18
    Reply