Three ways to stitch writing

One of my favourite things to stitch with free motion embroidery is writing and there are several ways you can do this.

  • Completely free hand
  • Handwritten onto fabric and stitched
  • Written on paper and stitched through

I like to use each method for different things.  

Completely free hand stitching is useful for just a couple of words, maybe you want to sign a finished piece of work or add a number plate to a car you've embroidered.  

Free hand writing with a sewing machine isn't as hard as you think, I often get beginners in my classes to try writing their name as part of a warm up.  I find it easier to write quite small this way, but I have always enjoyed working quite small.  

This is what my freehand stitched writing looks like, my husband says it's neater than my handwriting!

And here's a video of me stitching part of it, courtesy of my husband.  As you can see, I have gone over the word twice, once forwards and then backwards to the starting point. 

The second method is to handwrite your wording onto your fabric and then stitch over what you've written.  This method is good for slightly longer amounts of text, or if you want something positioned accurately.  You can either write free hand onto your fabric or if you have a lightbox and your fabric is thin enough you can write or type onto paper and then use the lightbox to trace the writing onto you fabric.  

I use a Frixion pen and then remove the remaining ink with a hairdryer once I've finished, but please do make sure that you can completely remove the ink before you start writing all over your precious work!

This is a little hard to see, but you should just be able to make out my writing on the fabric.  You can see it better in the photo below, of the wording half stitched. 

And here it is finished, with the remaining ink blasted away with a hot hairdryer. 

The final method is to write your wording onto tissue paper, stitch through it and then remove the paper after you've finished.  This is good to use on dark fabrics (although I've used a light one here) or if you don't want to write onto your fabric. 

I use Burda pattern tracing tissue paper because it's something I always have to hand, but normal white gift wrapping tissue paper will work just as well. 

First write or print your text out and trace it onto a piece of tissue.  I've used a fancy font, it's one of my favourites. 

Pin your tracing in place on your fabric. 

Stitch over your traced writing, going over each area twice.  I start at the top of each letter, and then go back over in reverse back to my starting point. 

For letters such as t and the e in this font where you have a horizontal crossing a vertical, I stitch from top to bottom and then on the way back I do the horizontal part, so that the whole letter is sewn without stopping and repositioning the fabric.   Sometimes you can also stitch several letters without having to stop and reposition - it depends on the font you are using.  In this example I've stitched the L and O of love together and the E and W of sew. 

Once your stitching is complete, carefully peel away your tissue paper. 

Because the needle has perforated the tissue paper most of it should come away quite easily, but a pair of micro tweezers can help to remove stubborn bits trapped in the middle of letters. 

I got mine in the papercraft section of my local craft shop. 

Here's the finished piece. 

And finally, a comparison of each method:

As you can see there's not a huge difference between the completely freehand writing and the one that I wrote onto the fabric, although the written one is a little neater.  You could hand draw (or handwrite!) some really fancy writing, but if I'm doing that I prefer to trace it as in the third method. 

I hope you've found this useful.  Let me know if there's anything else you'd especially like me to cover and if you'd like to see any more videos.