Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to Machine Embroider on a Onesie

Machine embroidering on a Onesie, on a domestic embroidery machine, has got to be one of the most difficult items that most sewers will attempt.

Here is a tutorial on how I manage this tricky feat. This is neither the only way, nor the right way, just my way, & hopefully by me sharing my method you will have success in your endeavours.

Firstly, the easiest way to embroider on these items would be to make your own & put the embroidery on before construction.

Failing that, the next easiest way would be to undo a shoulder seam & give yourself more room to manoeuvre around in that tiny opening!

Let's face it,neither of these options is very appealing to most of us-they are cheap to buy ready made & we hate, in the main, undoing & re-doing what is already done.

That said, lets look at how we can do it without unpicking or sewing up any seams.

What You Need:
  • Onesie -it does help
  • Embroidery Sewing Machine (stating the obvious, but its in case you started to read this thinking it was for hand sewing)
  • Smallest hoop you have (my smallest is 120mm x 120mm)
  • Tear away stabilizer or heavy weight wash away-enough to fit in your hoop
  • Lightweight wash away, to use as a topper.(Solvy)
  • Iron on backing for knit fabrics (Totally Stable or similar)
  • Titanium needle or ballpoint/stretch needle size 70
  • Design, threads- usual stuff.
Just a few things here:

Ballpoint/Stretch needles will need to be changed every few garments if sewing a lot of these- the thread begins to shred as the needle blunts very quickly.

I found the titanium worked the best & while there are perforations in the fabric when I remove it from the hoop, these disappear after a launder.

If you like to adhere your item with spray- go right ahead- I personally hate the stuff & what it does to my hoops so never use it,ever. You could also use a sticky back stabilizer in the hoop, but it will gum up fairly quickly & its harder to remove after you finish. As I said- this is the way I do it, feel free to add or subtract with whatever you are comfortable doing.


Choose designs that are fairly small in size, not too stitch intensive-its hard enough getting around the neckline & the arms without having to struggle with it as well.

Designs that don't matter if they are a little crooked work really well. Butterflies, bees etc (see pic)
Do not leave the machine while it is stitching out-no matter how you pin, peg or hold back the Onesie from the sewing field they tend to keep falling in on themselves- mostly when you aren't watching & then its disaster if it sews over what it shouldn't!

Turn down the speed of the machine- you don't need to sew like a bat out of hell & it gives you more time to avert disasters.

Let the Fun Begin.

The easy stuff.
Pick your design-transfer it to the machine, pick your thread colours. Change the needle- you know the drill.

Hoop up your tear way stabilizer into your smallest hoop.

On my machine I can do a baste around of the design-if you don't have the ability to do this download a free one (google it) & add it to your design- its important you know where the design field is & how big it is.

Set the machine to do the baste of the design field (see pic-I did a darker colour so you could see it)

Remove the hoop from the machine.(do not remove stabilizer from hoop)

With some pins mark the centre of where you want the design to be on the right side of the Onesie. On the pictured one its to the left of centre.

Turn the Onesie inside out-it stays this way until you are finished.

Cut a piece of Totally Stable slightly larger than the design field- fold it in half,finger press to give a crease line,unfold & match the folded line with the pins on the Onesie. Press in place-the waxy side goes to the wrong side of the Onesie-this holds it in place & stabilizes the knit fabric.

The Tricky Bit

Leaving the Onesie inside out, place the Onesie over the stitched out design field so the right side is uppermost- you will be working through that small neck opening.

Pin the Onesie in place- make sure the pins are out of the way of the stitching line. You can pin the Solvy (topper) at this point as well but I hold the topper as I do the second baste around, just sewing slowly.

Put the hoop back on the machine & do a second baste around to hold all this in place-you may need to stop the machine to move the excess fabric out of the way-there isn't a lot of room. I hold the topper with my hands at this point & stitch it down as I go-do whatever you are the most comfortable with.

When you have basted the Onesie to the stabilizer in the hoop & the Solvy is on top- stitch out your chosen design- watching carefully as you sew, as the Onesie may creep into your design field, where its not meant to be.(ask me how I know this).

The Home Run

When the deign is finished stitching out, remove hoop from machine (don't go pulling it out or you'll end up with holes in the Onesie). Turn the hoop over & clip the basting stitches- trim any long jump bobbin threads & all other threads that need trimming.

Turn over. On the right side, trim jump stitches. Taking hold of the topper pull it up carefully so that the stitches that you cut on the wrong side release- then pull the thread out all the way round.

Tear the design away from the stabilizer after the basting threads are removed-it should come out clean. Now pull away the excess Totally Stable & you should be left with a very clean back to your work.

Check the front, remove stray bits of topper & admire your handiwork-see it wasn't all that hard after all.

Hope this has helped you understand how you can machine embroider on these tiny items & if you like you can iron a no- show backing to the reverse side of the embroidery- although I've never had a new Mother tell me the embroidery irritated the baby's skin.

Happy Crafting,


quiltingseagull said...

Great Tute! Thanks

auntie said...

I did some onesies for my grands also. It wasn't my favorite kind of embroidery. Burp pads and bibs are ever so easy compared to the onesies.

Fuzzy White Dogs said...

How cute! Love the hippo design.

sariroo said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I just got my first embroidery machine and was trying onesies with no luck. Your method works perfectly! Thanks again!

Alissa said...

So helpful. I've been embroidering on blankets and burp cloths but had no idea how I was going to do it on little shirts!! Thanks so much.

Repubnomore said...

This is a great tip. And your pics clearly illustrate what you are doing. I can't wait to try this. Thanks so much for posting.

Baby Brooker said...

Hi, I just found your blog and I am so eager to try your method as I am sooooo frustrated with trying to embroider a onesie. Can you tell me what type of onesies you use and where you get them. All of the Gerber and Target brand seem to be really thin so I thought I would see. Thanks so much for your help.

AuntTeague said...

my thread keeps nesting under the stabilizer, and breaking. does this happen to you ever? can you give me any advice? I'm so confused, I've done everything you've said

Professor Johnson said...

Fantastic!!!! You are a life saver. I checked so many You Tube videos and none explained this project using a machine. Again thank you for this blog. BTW love the designs.

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