How to Protect Embroidery on Clothing

There is that moment after seeing your embroidery come to life that makes you wish that it would last forever. At that moment, the least you would want is to see your artistic render sheared and frayed- a shadow of its former self. Good embroideries are quite beautiful, and protecting them should not take too much effort if you know what you are doing. So how do you protect embroidery on clothing?

How to Protect Embroidery on Clothing

how to protect embroidery on clothing

Protecting embroidery on clothing starts right when you are stitching the materials together. From the time you put the first stitch down or transfer your designs to the fabric using an embroidery machine. At this point, the most important thing is to keep your embroideries clean and handle them well. Oily and dirty hands will destroy the integrity of the virgin stitches.

At the same time, how the embroidery is cleaned and handled afterwards really matters. It’s good that you protect your embroidery from pets and that you only wash it using recommended methods and detergents. One secret to washing embroidery to protect it is to wash it as soon as it gets dirty. Leaving dirt to accumulate on embroidery- or any piece of fabric for that matter- destroys Its integrity from within. You may not see the stains from outside when you wash but they will remain inside the stitching and require more washes to get rid of. 

If you have clothing whose threading is coming off, you might want to add some additional protection to keep it in place. Some people suggest using some clear glue to stiffen the embroidery while others suggest sewing some clear vinyl over the embroidery as some extra protection. At the same time, it all comes down to how you take care of your embroidery and how it’s washed.

Tips to Protect Embroidery On Clothing

tips to protect embroidery on clothing

At the Tailor’s

Any embroidery must be properly protected at the tailors even before it reaches the customer. This requires that the right threads and tension are used when putting the design to fabric. Using thin or fragile thread will most likely create problems for the embroidery in a short time. At the same time, the correct edge finishing should be done to protect the sides from fraying easily especially when it’s washed.

It’s also good to choose the right fabric that will hold the embroidery well while in use. A dense embroidery with lots of stitches requires an equally dense backing to support it when it is finally put to use. Dense embroidery set on a flimsy backing will fray and lose its shape much more easily while that set on stiffer backing will maintain its shape over time. 

Proper Washing

Almost every other clothing nowadays comes with labels describing how it should be washed to preserve its integrity. You should follow these instructions to the latter, especially when dealing with embroidery. For instance, some embroideries will fray or fade if subjected to certain washing conditions such as machine wash or hand wash. 

At the same time, it’s good to check that the embroidery is not prone to fading if exposed to detergents and take the precautionary measures. You can use a piece of wet cotton or tissue on the embroidery and observe if there is any transfer of color from the embroidery. If this is so, then you should take the normal precautions to prevent fading such as:

  • Wash the clothing inside out in order to reduce friction on the embroidery when washing it.
  • Wash the embroidered clothing separately from others.
  • Do not leave the clothing in the sun for too long if you are sun drying it. You can transfer it to a cooler place to drain out the remaining wetness after a short period.
  • Only use cold water to wash the embroidered clothing- cold water keeps the delicate fibers closed to trap the colors inside. 
  • Use a gentle setting on your machine- it will be easier on your embroidered pieces and definitely make it last longer. 
  • Avoid packing too many clothes in your machine especially if you have delicately embroidered pieces in there.
  • If the embroidery is fading too much then using some vinegar might help reduce the fading during a wash. 
  • Reduce the number of times you have to wash the clothing if the embroidery is falling apart or fading. 

You can pretreat the stains on your embroidery with a stain remover before you wash the clothing. This will help prevent grease and stain accumulation on the embroidery.  Ensure that you are using the recommended stain remover. Avoid using bleach and hard chemicals on your embroidery to remove stains.

proper washing

The type of detergents you use can also affect the integrity of your embroidery. Look for recommendations from a professional dry cleaner for the right detergents you should use depending on the material used on your fabric. Some detergents are gentle on some fabrics while others will hasten their disintegration with every wash. 

While ironing or pressing any embroidered pieces, it’s advisable to iron it on the wrong side. Avoid ironing directly on the embroidery itself as it weakens the stitching and may cause fraying after a short while. At the same time, ironing or pressing directly on the embroidery will probably distort its shape. You can use some soft materials below the clothing on the ironing table to protect the embroidery even further while pressing or ironing. 

Avoid Physical Damage 

Embroideries can come apart if subject to certain physical forces such as wringing, pulling, accidental scratching. You should take every precaution to prevent physical damage to your clothing especially if it has some embroidery on it. Avoid wringing, scratching or pulling the surface of the embroidery. Keep it away from pets especially cats that tend to scratch and pull out threads on clothing. 

DIY Solutions to Frayed Embroidery

diy solutions to frayed embroidery

If you find that your embroidery has started fraying or fading, you can try these methods to prevent further damage.

Use Fray-check

This product can be applied to your embroidery to prevent further fraying.

Apply some clear glue on the embroidery

This will stiffen the thread on the embroidery and prevent fraying. This is only recommended on clothing that is not frequently washed or used.

Cover it with clear vinyl

If you can, covering your embroidery with some clear vinyl after it shows some wear and tear would protect it from further damage. This method works well with rarely used clothing and requires retouching after a short while. You may need to remove the vinyl coating when washing it.

Related Questions

How Do You Keep Embroidery from Coming Undone?

Secure the embroidery from the beginning with a good finishing stitch like a zig-zag or backstitch that goes all around it. You can also secure the embroidery stitches from the back using a hand stitch when they start showing signs of wear and tear. Pay close attention to the part where the threads are getting undone and secure them with new stitches using a thread of the same color. 

You should also take preventive measures to ensure that your embroidery does not fray or become undone. This requires that you wash it properly, iron it on the wrong side with sufficient cushioning and preventing physical damage like pulling and scratching.

What Backing Do I Use for Embroidery?

what backing do i use for embroidery

The type of fabric you use on an embroidery largely depends on the density of your embroidery and thread. Use dense backing if your embroidery is equally dense to keep the embroidery secure and to maintain its shape. Non-woven cutaway backing of different densities can be purchased and used on any embroidery machine. 

Other types of backing used for different embroidery projects include tearaway backing, cap backing and no-show backing. Choose the one that fits your project and is compatible with your embroidery machine.



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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