Embroidery Blog

5 Tips for Embroidering on Denim

Traditional denim is the workhorse of fabrics. It washes and wears extremely well and lasts for decades, but that does not mean it cannot be as pretty as it is practical. Denim also makes a great base for embroidery! Ever since Levi Strauss introduced the utility garment in the late 1800s, denim has been on an upward climb. Once entirely blue-collar wear, it is now a runway regular and a staple in most closets.

Here are five tips for embroidering on denim!

denim pocketPhotos via Bernina.com

Keep it stable

Even the newest, tightest jeans stretch when worn. Though denim is thick and durable, it does need to be properly stabilized when embroidered to avoid puckering. Using a cut-away stabilizer in the hoop helps to keep stitches crisp and fabric flat.

Choose appropriate designs

Embroidery designs with heavier stitch counts show beautifully on denim. Light designs, like those with bean stitch or red work stitches, often get lost on blue jean material unless they are embroidered using heavier threads.

Denim rug with applique and embroidery.

Denim also makes a good base for appliqué designs. Patches with heavy monograms work well as do an assortment of appliqué media. The sturdiness of denim provides a substantial base for fabrics not typically used in appliqué such as leather.

Pump up the contrast

Bright threads embroidered on denim.

Bright thread colors pop against a dark indigo background. Remember that the piece is likely to be worn and laundered for an extended period of time, so it will fade.

faded denim embroidery

If lighter thread colors are used, they will fade into the background over time. Dark or bright embroidery thread colors will make the denim item look newer longer.

Use the right thread

Embroidered denim notebook cover.

Polyester threads are a popular choice for wearables because they have the luster of rayon with the strength of cotton but do not fade or bleach. Many of the newer trilobal polyester threads are extremely radiant and come in a wide assortment of colors.

Repurpose and embellish even more

Repurposed denim pillows.

Long after you get tired of wearing your jeans and denim jacket, they will likely still have a lot of life left. Clothing can be easily repurposed into decorative tote bags and pillows with plenty of additional customized embroidery.

What is your favorite way to stitch on denim?

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4 Comments

Janet C Smedley

Looking for ideas to make my daughter a purse from an old pair of jeans. Was thinking about doing embroidery because the jeans are plain. My goal is to spend very little to no money. I have 15 days to complete the project just in time for her birthday! Thanks for the ideas so far.

Reply
Debbie Henry

Would love to see what you come up with, Janet!

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Andrea Letourneau

How well does the embroidery machine handle stitching a design that crosses over the seam? or would you recommend applique for that situation? Also, how do you hoop jeans given that the seams are thick and you will likely need to have part of the seam cross the hoop boundaries?

Reply
Debbie Henry

Andrea, seams can be tricky. Inside seams are not so bad but the double layer outer seams can create issues with some embroidery designs. You could test the design on an old pair of jeans but, for the most part, you won’t see embroidery over the heavy seams. And you are right, they create an issue when hooping. I’d hoop a heavy tear-away stabilizer and float the denim so that you don’t have to hoop it (use a temporary spray adhesive and position it on top of the hooped stabilizer), then use a basting stitch to secure the denim to the hoop so it doesn’t move while embroidering.

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