How to Embroider Letters on a Shirt and More (hand/machine)

How to Embroider Monograms by Hand: Adding monograms to decorative fabrics can add a lovely personal touch to the finished article. Embroidering letters by hand can be a tricky business for a novice but with a few simple hints and tips, you’ll have it mastered in no time.

What you’ll need

  • Cross stitch canvas or the fabric of your choice
  • Number 24 tapestry needles
  • ​Disappearing/ washable ink pen
  • ​Plastic letter stencils
  • ​Two colors of 6 strand embroidery floss. Contrasting colors work best.
  • ​Embroidery hoop
  • Scissors


Step 1: Stenciling

First Letter

  1. Cut out a piece of canvas about ½ inch larger than your frame.

  2. On a hard work surface, lay out the fabric and center the stencil on the fabric.

  3. Using a disappearing/ washable ink pen, trace out the stencil.

Second Letter

  1. Lay the second letter stencil over the first.

  2. Mark out the middle of the stencils at the top with your pen.

  3. Mark the center of the first stencil with the disappearing pen and use this mark to line up the 2nd stencil.

Step 2: Stitching

Start by stitching the 2nd letter before repeating the process on the first. Use a different color for each letter to make each more visible.

  1. Cut a 12 – inch piece of floss.

  2. Thread the needle and tie a knot at the end of the floss.

  3. Begin stitching the letter in small x -shaped cross stitches, working from the bottom up. At the curve of the letters, you may need to make a series of running stitches.

Embroidery Letters for Beginners

Embroidering letters is a great way for beginners to get to grips with stitching. Try this simple method: the results will be effective but the process itself is very, very simple.

Type: Back Stitch and Stem Stitch

Best for: Letters that vary in thickness

Suitable for: Beginners

How to: 1. Thread you needle with an even number of strands of floss. 2. Bring the needle through the back of the fabric. 3. Take the needle down by one stitch – a .5 cm stitch works best. 4. Bring the needle back up through the middle of the last stitch. 4. Take the needle down by .5cm. 5. Continue to stitch, remembering to split the last stitch each time.

Embroidery Letters: A Guide to Stitches

There are a variety of stitches that works well for embroidering letters. Which you choose will come down to how you want the end article to look, as well as your skill level. Some of the most common types of stitch are:

  1. Back Stitch and Stem Stitch: an easy stitch perfect for beginners.

  2. Cross Stitch: this will produce a subtle but striking effect.

  3. Chain Stitch: this is a simple method that has many variants, most of which are very easy for beginners to pick up.

  4. Heavy Braided Chain Stitch: this method of working over the stitching line will give a projected embroidered letter.

  5. Padded Satin Stitch: this variant on the split stitch uses a similar method to the Back Stitch and Stem Stitch, but will give the embroidered letters a padded, dimensional appearance- ideal if you want the letters to really stand out.

  6. Herringbone Stitch: a great stitch to use for filling in broad letters.

  7. Running Stitch: good for tight curves and dashed lines.

  8. Back Stitch: excellent for tight curves and to create a segmented look.

  9. Whipped Back Stitch: ideal for very tight curves and creating a blended effect.

Cross Stitch for Letters

Cross stitches are an easy way to create subtle but still striking designs.

What you’ll need

  • Fabric
  • ​Embroidery hoop
  • Tapestry needle
  • 6 strand Embroidery floss


  1. Select the thread. Each skein of embroidery floss comes with 6 threads, but you will only use 1-3 for cross stitch. If you’re new to stitching, choose a waxed thread – it will make it a lot easier.

  2. Choose your pattern. If you’re a beginner, I’d recommend keeping the design simple and using a stencil. On a work surface, lay out the fabric and center the stencil on the fabric.

  3. Using a disappearing/ washable ink pen, trace out the stencil.

  4. Cut out your fabric. Cross stitches work best on Aida fabric. Linen and fiddlers cloth can be used, but are not so easy for beginners.

  5. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, and gently crease it so you can still see the center when its unfolded.

  6. Place the fabric in an embroidery hoop to keep it taut.

  7. Thread your needle with a 2 threads of embroidery floss.

  8. Bring the needle up from the back in the bottom left hole. Create a diagonal stitch by reinserting the needle at the top right hole.

  9. Bring the needle back up in the next hole down from its current position. Continue to do this until the row is complete.

  10. Work your way back along the row to complete the stitches. Bring the needle up in the bottom right before bringing it back through the top left hole. This should make a complete, neat cross.

Embroidery Thread for Letters

There are almost as many different embroidery threads as there are fish in the ocean. Choosing the right one is largely a matter of preference, but there are a few threads that are particularly effective when it comes to embroidering letters.

Cotton Floche: Floche is a 4-ply cotton thread with a lovely sheen. It’s softly twisted, single strand, and a particularly great option for split stitch, which looks more presentable when done with a single strand than with multiple threads.

Treenway Silk: this thread produces a beautiful, shiny result and is relatively easy to work with. It can be slightly “kinky” but straightens out easily over a little steam. A great option to use for whipped back-stitch.

Pele Cotton  8 or 5: good, reliable options that work particularly well with split stitch.

How to Make Embroidery Letters Bolder

The best way to make embroidery thicker, wider, bolder and altogether more dramatic is to select the right type of stitch to begin with. The following stitches will all give a bold, textured appearance to your letters.

  1. Spanish Knotted Feather Stitch: this is an easy to master stitch that looks excellent in compact form.

  2. Plaited Braid Stitch: a slightly complex stitch to master, but once you do, you’ll be glad you bothered.

  3. Cable Plait Stitch: this is an easy stitch to learn and gives delicate yet noticeable results.

  4. Interlaced Chain Stitch: a great stitch for textured, interwoven lines.

Best Embroidery Stitch for Small or Block Letters


Small or block letters are best created using a running stitch. Remember, however, that to create a small letter, it’s not just about the stitch: you’ll need to use as small a needle as you can handle, and as thin a thread as you can find. If you can, opt for a No 60 thread, which is around 25% thinner than normal thread (No 40). To use a running stitch, start at the beginning of the letter and run the needle up and down the letter at regular distances until its complete.

Embroidery Letter Kits

Embroidery letter kits are a great way for beginners to get started. The full kits (which are usually for creating designs on a framed tapestry) come with everything you need, so you never have to worry about being caught short without a crucial piece of kit in the middle of a project. The kits typically come with a complete set of instructions, which can be immensely helpful if you’re new to the craft. The other readily available option is embroidery font packs: these usually consist of a complete set of letters in a single or varied font that you can use as a template for embroidering on any fabric of your choice (t-shirts, hats, towels, napkins etc.). Again, these are a great, useful piece of kit that most beginners will find invaluable.

Where Can I Buy Embroidery Letters and How Much do They Cost?


For embroidery letters and kits, a great place to start is Etsy. The site is full of kits, usually very reasonably priced (expect to pay anything from $3- $15 for a full pack of basic letter fonts). As an added advantage, most vendors are repeat sellers, and will have an extensive list of reviews to help you rate both them and their products.

How to Embroider Letters with a Regular Sewing Machine

What you’ll need

  • Letter template
  • All- purpose thread
  • ​Sewing or safety pins
  • ​Scissors
  • Sewing needle

Step 1

  1. Create your template.

  2. If you like, you can draw out your design using a paper and pencil. Otherwise, if you find a design you like online, simply print it out.

  3. Once you have the design, cut away any excess paper around the letters and attach the template to your fabric using sewing or safety pins.

Step 2

  1. Set your machine to create a zigzag stitch the width of your letters.

  2. If your letters are straight (e.g. A, H, L etc.) use your template to sew a line down each part of the letters. After each end point, raise your needle and pull a length of the thread out to leave hanging once cut.

  3. If your letters are curved, you can either turn the curves into angles or follow the curve around in the same way as you would for a neckline.

  4. Once all the letters have been stitched, thread the hanging ends of each line through a sewing needle and pull them onto the back of the item. Tie the line to the corresponding second thread and trim.

  5. Gently remove the template paper.

How to Embroider Letters with a Computerized Sewing Machine

What you’ll need

• A piece of stabilizer
• A sharp sewing machine needle
• Machine embroidery thread
• Design files on a flash drive
• A threaded bobbin


  1. Thread the machine and place the bobbin into the machine. Sew a few stitches to test the tension and make any adjustments necessary.

  2. Pick the right size hoop for the project. Place the fabric and stabilizer into the hoop. Attach the hoop to the machine by matching the holes on the hoop to the machine and turning the knob.

  3. Switch the machine on and plug the flash drive into the USB slot. Click on the USB symbol to draw up the MyDesign folder. Select the folder to bring up the files.

  4. Click on the edit button and then the hoop button to input what size hoop you’re using.

  5. Select the letter you want to start with. Move the picture of the letter to the correct place on the grid using the arrow buttons.

  6. To increase the letter size, click on the size button and increase by the desired percentage.

  7. Add the rest of the letters horizontally using the same process. Hit ok once you’re certain all the letters are exactly where you want them to be.

  8. Push the start button.

  9. Once the pattern is complete, remove the hoop from the machine and the fabric from the hoop. Trim the stabilizing fabric away and voila!

How to Embroider Letters on Crochet


Embroidering on crochet is no different (and no more difficult) than embroidering on any other piece of fabric. You can use any type of stitch, but the most common types to use on crochet are the surface slip stitch, running stitch or the very attractive French knot.

French Knot Stitch for Crocheted Pieces

  1. Thread and knot the yearn using an overhand knot. The knot should be slightly larger than the holes in the crochet.

  2. Bring a crocheting needle up from the back and pull the yarn completely through to the front (save for the knot).

  3. Pinch the yarn 3 or 4 inches above the surface of the piece and straighten the needle.

  4. Wrap the yarn around the needle approx. 2-4 times (the more you wind, the thicker the French knot will end up), simultaneously pinching the yarn to maintain a good tension.

  5. Insert the tip of the needle back into the fabric- this should be in an adjacent stitch gap to the exit point.

  6. Tighten the coil by gently pulling the yard downward until the coils are snug against the top of the piece.

  7. Push your needle completely through the fabric.

  8. Knot the yarn from the back of the piece and trim as desired.

How to Embroider Letters on Knitting

Fancy embellishing your knitting with some fancy lettering? If you do, try out the chain stitch – it’s great on woolen items, and surprisingly easy to master. All you’ll need is a tapestry needle, a piece of yarn and these simple instructions:

  1. Thread the needle with a yarn around 50 cm/ 20” in length. Fasten the yarn from the back of the piece, then bring the needle out through the piece at the place you want to make your first stitch.

  2. Pull on the yarn until it’s been pulled all the way through to the right side.

  3. Push the needle through the same spot you just brought it out on the right side. This should loop the yarn under the point of the needle.

  4. Pull the needle and yarn through to the right side, pulling gently to tighten the new loop.

  5. Repeat the steps to continue embroidering the reminder of your letter.

How to Embroider Monograms on Napkins


For optimal visibility, the best place to position a monogram on a napkin is on the left corner: this will ensure that when folded, the monogram will appear on the monogram’s point.

Cloth or linen napkins work best and are readily available at most large stores. To help the monogram stand out, avoid patterned napkins and make sure to choose a contrasting colored thread. When it comes to the thread type, a common, cotton embroidery thread will work well. Other than a needle and thread, you may also like to equip yourself with an embroidery hoop; this will keep the fabric taut and make the process much easier.


  1. Choose your design, draw it on paper, then trace it onto the napkin using transfer paper.

  2. Place the napkin in the embroidery hoop.

  3. Thread the needle and knot the thread.

  4. Begin stitching by pulling the needle and thread from the back of the napkin to the front.

  5. Take the needle back through the fabric about .5cm away from where you started. This will make your first stitch.

  6. Continue back-stitching the rest of your design.

  7. After your embroidery is completed, tie the end of the thread around some of the stitching at the back of the napkin. Run the needle through some of the stitches, then trim any excess.

How to Embroider Letters on Cushions


  1. Choose your design by selecting a font you like on your computer. Print out the letters you want in your desired size.

  2. Trim the paper as close to the letters as you can.

  3. Pin the letters to the cushion.

  4. Use 2 strands of embroidery thread to stitch the letters in back-stitch (see the instructions for how to embroider monogram on napkins for more details).

  5. Once the embroidery is complete, gently remove the paper.

How to Embroider Letters on Felt

Stitching on felt is not difficult, but for a successful result, bear in mind the following tips:

1. Don’t hoop the felt – felt is stiff enough to embroider without a hoop, which can leave hard- to- remove crimp marks in the material.

2. Although a hoop isn’t necessary, a soft light to medium weight cutaway stabilizer can help make the process easier

3. If you’re using a very dense felt, consider using a water-soluble topping stabilizer to stop the stitches sinking in too deeply and losing visibility.

4. A blanket stitch or lighter weight applique stitch work well against felt.

How to Embroider Letters on Hats

You’ll need:

  • Paper
  • Pen
  • ​Fabric pencil
  • ​Needle
  • ​Embroidery floss
  • ​Small embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery Backing


  1. Draw out your design on paper. Using a fabric pencil or washable pen, draw the letters on the hat, using the paper template to center your design.

  2. Cut out a piece of embroidery to cover the inside of the hat, directly behind where you’ll be stitching your design.

  3. Iron the backing in place (if the shape of the hat allows).

  4. Place the section of the hat you’ll be stitching in the embroidery hoop (if you don’t have a hoop, just make sure to keep the cloth taut with your fingers as you stitch).

  5. Use 3 threads of embroidery floss to thread your needle. Start stitching (using your choice of stitching technique) from the top or bottom left hand corner of the design. Make sure that the stitches lay flat against the fabric, without pulling them so tight as to bunch the fabric.

How to Embroider Letters on a Shirt

You’ll need

  • Shirt
  • Medium weight cutaway stabilizer
  • ​Disappearing/ washable ink pen
  • ​Embroidery hoop
  • Temporary adhesive


  1. Take a printout of your chosen pattern.

  2. Choose where you want the pattern to sit on the shirt – 3 inches down from the neck is usually recommended, but the final decision is up to you.

  3. Mark the center point and horizontal and vertical axis of the template on the shirt using the disappearing ink pen.

  4. Turn the shirt inside out.

  5. Spray the stabilizer with the adhesive and smooth into the inside of the shirt, directly on the back of the area that will be embroidered.

  6. Turn the shirt back the right side out.

  7. Place the fabric on the embroidery hoop.

  8. You can now start stitching. The choice of stitch is up to you, but a satin stitch will work very well. To make the letters stand out, make small stitches inside the design, before adding the satin stitches over it. For added effect, add an outline stitch.

Embroidering letters is a great, fun way to personalize your clothing and household furnishings. If today’s post has inspired you to try it for yourself, or if you have any of your own tips or thoughts to share, let me know in the comments section below. Otherwise, please feel free to share the link with any would-be sewers looking to give embroidery a whirl.

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