How To Embroider Letters In Shirts

Ever tried to unleash your pro sewer skills on an embroidery project but couldn’t get past the needle and thread? Well,  I’ve got you covered.  It may be tricky to embroider letters on shirts, but it’s not impossible. Read on for a step by step guild on how to get it done. 

How To Embroider Letters On Shirts?

Get your desired shirt, iron out every crease and place on a flat surface, then gently trace your desired letters using a chalk pen on the shirt.  Place a stabilizer on the wrong side of the shirt and give large bastings around it to secure it to the shirt.

how to embroider letters on shirts

Hoop to your Embroidery hoop, to keep it taut,  then gently tighten the hoop and be careful not to stretch the shirt.

Carefully trace your letters on the shirt using your embroidery floss and any ballpoint or round end needle. But, if you’re making use of an embroidery machine, attach the embroidery hoop to the machine and follow the directions for use.  

You can embroider letters with a machine or your bare hands. In this article, we’ll be looking at both methods. 

How to Embroider Letters in Shirts Using Manually

how to embroider letters in shirts using manually

Things you need: 

  1. Shirt of choice. 
  2. Needle: Ballpoint,  No 24 tapestry or any round end needle.  To avoid snagging the material of the shirt.
  3. Embroidery floss: With any color of choice, make sure it contrasts with the shirt color, for visibility. 
  4. Chalk pen: Used to trace the letters.   
  5. Stabilizer: Primarily prevents the fabric from stretching and distorting the embroidery once it’s removed from the embroidery hoop. There are varieties to pick from, but it should be larger than the design and embroidery hoop you are using.   
  6. Embroidery Hoop: This is used to keep the fabric taut as you embroider on it.  
  7. Plastic Letter Stencil: These come in different designs,  choose the letters designed to your taste. A beginner is advised to pick simple letters for ease.  
  8. Iron: To even out creases on the shirt after a job is well done.   



  1. Stenciling

Carefully place your shirt on a flat, hard surface, large enough to allow for the spread of the shirt, a table would do. Then ease out every crease and foldings. 

Place a stencil letter of choice right where you need the embroidery to show,  trace the stencil using your chalk pen. Place the next letter to the first maintaining a desired space within the letters. 

It is advised to draw a baseline in order to have uniformly placed letters.    

  1. Stabilize

This is a necessary step to counter the stretching ability of the fabric and to avoid an embroidery ruin when we are done stitching.  

Your stabilizer should cover all the areas you want to place your embroidery.  Stabilizers are mostly made to be on the back of the embroidery,  so turn the shirt inside out and carefully place your stabilizer in the place you will be stitching.  

There are easy press and stick stabilizers but if that is not available,  you place your stabilizer where your design is, smooth out the material, then, run a large basting stitch around it using a needle and thread. 

These stitches are easy to loosen, they are meant to hold the stabilizer in place. 

Then turn your shirt on the right side out.  

  1. Embroidery hoop

embroidery hoop

Place the inner hoop under the shirt covering the area with the design, then,  place the outer hoop over the fabric. 

Endeavor to avoid stretching the shirt while hooping, if it looks stretched, try re-hooping.  The outer hoop should be a bit loose to avoid any unnecessary stretching of the shirt.   

  1. Stitch

Using your needle(Ballpoint,  No24 tapestry needle or any round end needle)  attach your embroidery floss of choice into it and trace the stenciled letters, using any stitch of choice(We’d look at the different stitches good for embroidery below.)

Pay attention to the first and last stitches, make sure you securely weave over the ends beautifully, you wouldn’t want it to come undone from the sides especially after you wash your shirt.    

Tying knots could make your work look bumpy thereby distorting the design.  So weave gently along the ends over and over to secure the floss. 

  1. Remove your stabilizer

If you basted the stabilizer behind, you should gently snip the threads and be careful not to snip the embroidery floss also. Then pull out the loosened thread. 

  1. Give your work a great finish

give your work a great finish

Iron your shirt from the backside to remove the hoop marks, remove wrinkles and then strengthen your embroidery, and your shirt is ready to wear! 

How to Embroider Letters in Shirts Using Embroidery Machine

The most common complaints about machine embroidery are the stiffness of the embroidery,  how it doesn’t relax with the other fabric around.  Now,  this is where the use of embroidery hoop and stabilizer plays a vital role.   

Items you need: 

items you need

  1. Shirt 
  2. Embroidery hoop
  3. Stabilizer  
  4. Embroidery floss 
  5. Embroidery Machine  
  6. Stencils 
  7. Chalk pen  


First, we have to carefully press the shirt to level out all wrinkles but be careful not to stretch the shirt.   

Place the shirt on a flat hard surface, preferably a table, then mark the placement area where the design would be. Using your stencil letter, trace out the letters. 

Apply your stabilizer as previously directed above and be sure to cover all the areas where the embroidery would be.  

Then hoop: This is an important step. Be careful not to stretch while placing the shirt on the hoop or while tightening the hoop.  If the shirt looks stretched, totally remove it from the hoop and re-hoop.   

Attach the hoop to the machine and be careful to leave out the fabric that is not included in the embroidery outside the hoop.   Then carefully follow the machine embroidery directions.   

Embroidery Machines to Embroider Letters in Shirts

I know there are different brands of machine embroidery to pick from, but, let me list some embroidery machines that would get the work done for you: 

  1. The Brother LB6800PRW

This Project Runway Computerized Embroidery and Sewing Machine is an all-time favorite. It’s great for multiple projects. It has the capacity to satisfy expert sewers while it’s also great for a greenhorn sewer.  

With a 4*4 inch working space and 67 inbuilt stitches,  you would embroider more than just letters.   

  1. Ever Sewn Hero

This is an all-time best for beginners, its features won’t overwhelm the user,  straightforward and with enough functionality. It’s also a combination of embroidery and sewing machine. 

It comes with an inbuilt 40 embroidery designs and a 400 plus stitch package and a workspace of up to 6.5 inches.     

  1. Janome 12000 Embroidery Machine: 

This comes with a 15-inch stainless steel plate, an LCD touch screen with an AcuFeed feeding system. And an inbuilt 425 stitches.  

  1. SINGER 7258:

This has a high sewing speed of 7258 stitches per minute and 100 inbuilt stitches, with an LCD screen. It is indeed your model for a modern sewing machine, especially with its fully computerized features, which may be overwhelming for beginners.  

  1. Brother SE1900 Model: 

This comes with embroidery varieties, your creativity is allowed to be seen on your accessories like your caps.  It comes with cap hoops and 138 embroidery designs.  With it’s LCD touchscreen,  it allows for maximum flexibility and there’s also an on-screen instructions on how to use each feature.

Best Stitches for Letter Embroidery

We want to communicate our creativity to others so, we have to use stitches that are visible enough, creative and beautiful. 

  1. Backstitch and stem stitch:  Suitable for beginners and best for letters with varying thickness.  
  2. Heavy Braided Chain Stitch: This gives a projected embroidery finish.  
  3. Running Stitch: For letters with tight curves.  
  4. Spanish Knotted Feather Stitch: Easy to master stitch, and gives off a compact look.   
  5. Cross stitch: This gives a simple striking effect. 

Related Questions

What are the best stabilizers to use?

Any of these stabilizers will get the work done.  

Basted: Includes basting stitches around the edges of the stabilizer. 

Tear away: This is press and stick stabilizer, that can easily be removed from the fabric. 

Water-soluble: After embroidery,  you wash it off in water.  



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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