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Learn Hand Embroidery on Knits

Design freely and stitch fearlessly
Threads #223, Fall 2023

I credit my love for knit fabrics to growing up playing competitive sports. I constantly wore T-shirts with my team logos, for volleyball, basketball, swimming—each had a color and style I stuck to. As an adult, I still gravitate to knits, but now I like to make my own designs. I’ll tell you how I design and embellish great-looking tops with hand stitching. If you’re like me, once you get started embroidering your knits, you won’t want to stop.

I came into my love for sewing during what I call a “knit boom,” in the mid-2000s. At The Sewing Workshop, the store owned by my mother, Linda Lee, I would wander through the knit section and marvel at the colors and prints these textiles showcased. These were the fabrics I wanted to sew and to wear.

Download templates of the Face and Flower embroidery patterns here.

Expert education

My mother made sure I had a full range of playful and efficient sewing techniques at my fingertips: She taught the how-tos of handling these wonderful, sometimes tricky, textiles. With her guidance, I made some of my first garments in knit fabrics. I had a no-fear mentality from the start. What was the first knit garment I sewed, you ask? You guessed it: a T-shirt. Where was my first embroidery design? On a T-shirt.

Besides my privilege of being raised by a knit aficionado, I began to follow others with this same attunement to knit fabrics. Several years ago, my mother and I ventured to an Alabama Chanin workshop in Florence, Alabama, and I have been swooning over the care and craft of hand-sewn, sustainable, and knit-focused garments ever since. I learned the art of “loving your thread” and achieving a beautiful yet personal running stitch.


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