DIY/ Sewing

How to embroider text on T-shirts

September 23, 2018 (Last Updated: September 26, 2018)

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I love trying new hobbies and learning new skills. Usually I don’t go through with it for much longer but at least I can put it in my skills jar and know that whenever I want to try something with it, I can do it.

I tried embroidery a few weeks ago and while loving the results, I find the process too slow and tedious for my taste. So it’s not something I would do regularly but only when I see or think of some cool ideas that I want to realize.

On Pinterest I saw many embroidered clothes but it’s usually always with flowers. I wanted to do something different so I thought of embroidering text on a t-shirt.

Embroider text on a t-shirt

The Fabric

The t-shirt that I used for my project was not the classic cotton t-shirt (that would have been way too easy) but it’s a very thin an stretchy cotton-polyester t-shirt. It was very difficult to work with but the result is surprisingly good. Anyway I would absolutely suggest you to use a 100% cotton t-shirt which is more firm and way easier to embroider.

The Text

Yes, you can embroider any text you want but I would take in consideration a few things: 

  • Hoop size: If you want to embroider a lot of text on your t-shirt, you can either embroider separate portions, moving the hoop, or buy a big enough hoop to fit the whole text. I suggest the second option as it’s easier to keep the hoop still instead of moving it around. 
  • Text size and font: Use fairly simple fonts, the more swirly and fancy they are, the more difficult it will be to embroider and to read afterwards. Same is for the size. I suggest the letters to be at least 1.5-2 cm (1/2 inch) big to be easy to embroider and also easy to read. You can use a thin floss and embroider super tiny text, but what’s the point if people can’t read it? 

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How To


  • Step 1: Get the measurements

Take your hoop and measure the diameter (a straight line from side to side) to know how big your text can be. Take off about 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the diameter as it’s difficult to embroider near the wooden frame.

I used a 18 cm (7 in.) hoop and my text was 15.5 x 9 cm (6.1 x 3.5 in.) so the max lenght was exactly 2.5 cm (1 inch) off the diameter of the hoop.

Embroider text on a t-shirt

  • Step 2: Write and print the text

On a Word document make a square shape with the max size you can use (use the page ruler or fix the size from the shape format) and write your text in your preferred font.

You can download the same quote I used and a few more here:

Embroidered t-shirt

  • Step 3: Transfer the text to the shirt

To transfer the text to the fabric, you can use several methods (with affiliate links):

  • Transfer paper: it’s carbon paper mainly used by tailors. There are both dark and light versions, depending on the fabric you want to use. You simply draw on one side of the paper placed on the fabric and it will transfer the color onto the fabric.
  • Transfer pencil: There are pens and pencils which transfer the color on the fabric when heated. You simply draw the design on the paper, then place it on the fabric and iron on for a few seconds until transferred.
  • Tracing: this is the method I used. tape the paper with the text to a window, then tape the shirt on top of it, making sure it’s straight and well stretched so it won’t move. Then, using a pen or a chalk or water soluble pencil, trace the text onto the fabric.

Embroider text on a t-shirt

  • Step 4: Embroider

You can use a variaty of sticnes, depending on the type of text and your taste. I used the split stitch for the whole text. But also the straight stitch, back stitch and the stem stitch are great for text.

For the split stitch:

Make a knot on the backside of the fabric as a starting point, make a straight stich on top, then go back halfway through the stick and make another straight stitch on top. This way the floss will be split in two, making a sort of chain effect.

Embroider text on a t-shirt

Final Result:

This was a first try and I’ll practice more on cotton t-shirt as I’m sure the result would look better. Although I’m quite satisfied of this t-shirt and I’m surprised that the fabric didn’t wrinkle up around the embroidery as I thought it would.

Embroider text on a t-shirt

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