How to rush fabric by hand


If you want to add a personal touch to your projects, learning to embroider letters is a great skill. There are tons of ways to add lettering to all of your sewing and craft projects. You might want to create a personalized quilt label, add your favorite quote to a piece of embroidery, monogram cloth napkins, or even sew a fun little saying onto an item of clothing. Well guess what, once you learn the basics, embroidering letters is really easy!

Font choice

How do you decide what type of font to use when embroidering letters? Mostly it's a matter of personal choice, but there are a few factors to consider when choosing a font.

  • Size: When embroidering small text, it is best to keep the font simple. The smaller the letters, the more difficult it will be to embroider tight curves and angles.,
  • Legibility: Sometimes a font that looks good on paper doesn't look as good when used with a needle and thread. A few practice letters are always a good idea before deciding on a font.
  • Appearance: Think about the overall appearance of the item you are adding lettering to and choose a complementary font. For example, when creating a personalized label for a wedding blanket, you can choose a romantic cursive font, while a more casual, handwritten font is perfect for adding a fun quote to your favorite tea towel.,

How to stitch letters with 4 simple stitches

When embroidering letters, the choice of stitches is almost endless. From simple stitches like back or running to more intricate stitches like double chain and French knot (yes, you can really stitch letters with French knots), the possibilities are almost limitless. Despite all of these decisions, I always come back to the same four basic stitches when I sew letters., These four stitches - back, running, split, & stem - not only look good with any font, but are easy to learn and easy to execute .

{These are the same four stitches presented in the basic embroidery stitches tutorial. If you are unfamiliar with these stitches, I recommend checking out this post.}

Here we go!

Back stitch lettering

To practice, choose a word at least 5 or 6 letters long. You can use a word processor to choose a font, print it out, and transfer it onto your fabric, or just hand draw the letters., I chose the word "wander" and a very simple font. All of the letters in this tutorial are sewn using four strands of DMC embroidery floss.

Begin your back stitch by making a single stitch, coming a stitch length away, and coming back at the same point where the previous stitch ended. It's kind of like sewing in reverse.

- Continue sewing until you have finished writing. Hey, you just embroidered your first letter !, {Pro tip: while it's tempting to trace your thread from one letter to another, it's visible when you're using a light-colored fabric! Resist the urge. If your letters don't flow together, it's worth taking the time to finish the thread before starting another letter}

When learning to embroider letters the instinct is to just follow the same path you would follow if you were to write it. That doesn't always work. Take the letter "a" for example. Instead of starting in the middle like I'm writing, I'll start at the top and work my way down and around. That way I can be sure that the inner loop will meet the back of the "a".

The same rule applies to the letter "n". Start by sewing the straight side. If you were to write, the pen would probably go up the straight side now before you made the curve. This doesn't work with embroidery. Doubling up on stitches will just look big and messy.,

You also don't want to just take the thread from below and pull it down the back where the curve begins. Instead, turn your work over and wrap the thread in the stitch until the beginning of the curve. Now most of the double line in the back is hidden and you won't see a stretched piece of thread through the fabric.

- Continue sewing until your word is complete.,

No matter which stitch you use, the same four rules apply:

  1. Always terminate the thread properly before starting a new letter. The exception to this rule is when the letters are connected (as in an italic font) or when the font is very small and the letters are very close together.
  2. Determine the path of sewing before you begin. It won't always be the same as writing letters.
  3. Some letters will need to be sewn in two parts, instead of stretching the thread across the back, turn your work over and wrap the thread around the existing stitches until you reach the new starting point.
  4. Shorten the stitch length when sewing around corners.

Running stitch lettering

Next, we're going to tackle running stitch. The sewing method or one stitch can be used at the same time. For letters, I find it is best to use a combination of both methods. The sewing method is great for straight lines. Just bring the thread to the front and weave it in and out of the fabric., Try to keep the stitches and empty spaces about the same length.

Pull the thread through the complete series of stitches.

While the sewing method is admittedly faster, for curves or really small letters it is much easier to do one stitch at a time.

Using the four rules described above, keep sewing until you reach the end of the word.,

Split stitch lettering

Split stitch is one of my favorites for lettering because it creates a really interesting texture. It's also a good stitch for small letters and fonts with lots of curves. Start with a single stitch. Next, bring the thread back to the center of the same stitch. Essentially, you are dividing the stitch into two parts. Pull the needle all the way through and repeat the process.

The end result is a beautifully textured letter that looks a bit like a braid.,

Again, continue with the basic rules outlined above until you reach the end of the word.

Stitch lettering

Finally we reach what is possibly the most popular stitch for lettering, stitch stitch. This simple stitch looks like twisted rope and adds a bit of elegance to embroidered letters. It also turns corners nicely, which makes it the perfect choice for an italic font., The stitch is worked in a similar way to dividing, except that instead of getting in the middle of the previous stitch, you will miss it.

There is an additional rule to follow when using stem stitch for lettering. Are you ready for this Always sew in the same direction. For right-handed sewers, the stitch is processed from left to right and for left-handed sewers from right to left. This means that as you are negotiating corners, you may have to turn your tire so that you keep sewing in the correct direction., For example, that italic “W” at the top has a nice little corner. To sew in the right direction (I'm right-handed) I had to turn the hoop over so I could go left to right.

As I rounded the corner, I flipped the tire again and continued in a left-to-right direction. Don't forget to shorten your stitch length when going around corners.

Speaking of corners ... while stem stitch is great for turning corners, it has limitations, especially sharp corners like the one we see on the capital "W". If you try to go around that corner - even shortening your stitches - you will get a rounded curve. The solution is to finish the stitch and then come back to the other side. Except, instead of coming up at the bottom, come back up a stitch length away and then sew normally. That way you don't risk pulling out the previous stitch. Are you confused already? Let's look at in picture form.,

Using these two additional techniques along with the four universal lettering rules, keep sewing until you reach the end of the word.

In the next lesson, we'll cover more label stitches, including stitch combinations and fill stitches for large text.
How to Embroider Big Letters by Hand {Part 2}

Nature alphabet pattern

If you love sewing letters, the Nature Alphabet Pattern is for you !, With a set of embroidered letters adorned with leaves, this simple pattern uses only three different stitches and is suitable for all skill levels.
Stitch the full alphabet as a sampler, use the individual letters for monograms, or combine the letters to make words of your own. Visit the Nature Alphabet listing in my pattern shop for more details on this PDF pattern or to purchase.

Happy stitching!