Machine embroidery tutorial: how to embroider flowers on knits

In this machine embroidery tutorial I will show you my last embroidery project – 3D flowers on a pullover. I know that embroidery is always in style and big fashion houses use machine embroidery in their creations. So, if you have a good embroidery machine you can make something beautiful every day and embellish whatever you want.

Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means I will receive a commission if you order a product through one of my links. I only recommend products I believe in and use myself. 

This time I decided to brighten up my plain knitted pullover. I love this design – the flowers and leaves look very realistic.  Don’t they look like they were just picked from a flower garden? 

This look is simple to achieve, but it takes a few special techniques. Follow along to learn how!

First of all, I came up with an idea to create an EMBROIDERY CARD printable PDF

I don’t know about you, but I have a huge collection of embroidery designs from different sources. And I put embroidery on everything – I even published a post on my blog with some of my machine embroidery projects (just for inspiration, you know).  

I have an embroidery machine for 20 years already and it’s hard to keep track of all the designs I used. “Where would I have saved those cats I embroidered on my pillowcases 10 years ago? I would do it again for my niece’s dress.” – that’s what I think spending a frustrating hour digging through folders and folders of embroidery files on my computer. 

So I decided to create (and use!) a simple embroidery card with all necessary information on it to eliminate these time-consuming exercises. With these printable PDF cards I can instantly label designs I used  and then find all of them again easily no matter where or when I used them.

If you would like to have this printable PDF Embroidery Card (and you can print any number of them, of course) subscribe to my weekly newsletter and you will find the card in my blog RESOURCE LIBRARY – I will send you the password to enter the library files in the email. 

This is how I used the card (as an example).

Embroidering on knits can be tricky. Here are some tips to make it easier and have some fun. 

I guess you know the difference between knits and woven fabrics. But do you know that there are many types of knits also? Some have 2-way stretch, some have 4-way stretch; some have a fuzzy, soft texture and some are pretty plain and dense. 

If you want to embroider on knits pay attention to your knit fabric and choose threads, needles, stabilizers, and designs accordingly. 

For example, my pullover is made from 4-way stretch fuzzy knit fabric called “sweater knit”. It’s quite thin, I would say, medium weight fabric made of cotton mostly with some rayon in it. 

I used a ballpoint needle that is designed to be used with knits. They say that the rounded tip of the ballpoint needle pushes the knit fibers aside rather than piercing them and this prevents holes in knit fabric.  I used size 75/11.

But I could also use a universal embroidery needle size 75/11 or 80/12. I don’t think it would make a difference for my kind of knit fabric. As for me, I can’t see the difference between ballpoint and universal needles even with a magnifier but if the manufacturers say there is a difference then I should listen to them, right?

Buy ballpoint embroidery needles here

100 Large Eye Ball Point 15X1ST Flat Shank Embroidery Needles Same as 130/705H-E (11 BP (metric 75))

$32.70  in stock
2 new from $32.70
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as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • Box of 100 Ball-Point ORGAN 15X1ST (HAX1ST) Large Eye Flat Shank Home Embroidery Machine Needles.
  • Needle System : 15X1ST, HAX1ST (Same as Schmetz 130/705H-E)
  • This 15x1ST needle is a special version of the 15X1 for embroidery and decorative stitching. It has an oversized eye designed to reduce stress and tension on the thread.
  • Fits most home sewing machines and home sewer based embroidery machines including Babylock, Bernina, Bernette, Brother, Elna, Happylock, Husqvarna, Janome, Juki, Mammylock, Melco, Necchi, New Home, Pfaff, Poem, Riccar, Simplicity, Singer, Toyota, Viking, White
  • All the shipments are sent from New York, USA

100 15X1ST Titanium Ball Point Flat Shank Embroidery Needle (Same as 130/705H-E) (11 BPPD (metric 75))

$63.89  in stock
2 new from $63.89
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as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • Box of 100 ORGAN 15X1ST Ball-Point Titanium Large Eye Flat Shank Home Embroidery Machine Needles.
  • Needle System : 15X1ST BP (Same as Schmetz 130/705H-E)
  • Size 11 (Metric Size 75)

I used rayon threads for the leaves and branches. Rayon threads are softer, and it seems to me they are better for using with soft knits. But you can use polyester threads also.

I have very good quality metallic threads and I decided to try it for this project – it worked perfectly and the metallic thread didn’t break even if metallic threads have a reputation for being difficult to work with. I think metallic threads look very impressive in embroidery and I like to add sparkling accents to embroidery designs. 

And for my free-standing embroidered flowers I used polyester threads

Get more info on embroidery threads here

New brothread 40 Brother Colors Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread Kit 500M (550Y) Each Spool for Brother Babylock Janome Singer Pfaff Husqvarna Bernina Embroidery and Sewing Machines

$26.99  in stock
1 new from $26.99
Free shipping
Get more info
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as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • ★ 40 SPOOLS PER KIT + COLOR CHART - 40 spools great assorted bright and beautiful colors Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread to brighten and beautify all sort of your embroidery projects. Using Color Chart to find similar Brother Color No. and name, Conversion Chart of Madeira is also available.
  • ★ PERFECT WEIGHT & LENGTH - Each spool has 40 WT and 500M(550Y) length, which makes these spools of Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread ideal for all sort of your embroidery projects.
  • ★ EXCELLENT TENSILE STRENGTH - Lower risks of breaking or fraying, Elasticity and Tenacity of polyester also reduces risks of looping and puckering of Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread.
  • ★ SUPER COLOR FASTNESS - Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread holds up colors even when subjected to commercial laundering, bleaching and other harsh chemicals, desirable features for workwears, uniforms and linens which are often subjected to commercial laundering.
  • ★★ New Brothread Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread always think what you think, do what you do, love what you love. ▶【NOTE: This kit DOES NOT come with wood rack!!!】▶▶【MAKE SURE BUYING THROUGH "New Brothread" (Sold by) for original WARRANTY!!!】

Madeira Incredible Threadable Embroidery Box 80 Rayon Smart Spools 20928082

$129.99  in stock
2 new from $129.99
Free shipping
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as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • Incredible Threadable Embroidery Box contains 80 spools, a customized embroidery design CD from Anita Good design with 42 customized designs, a complete printed color card, and a handy carry strap: Rayon 220 Box: 80 spools of 220yd/ 200m rayon embroidery thread plus 2 spools of 1650yd/ 1500m Bobbin fill bobbin thread.
  • Color Numbers Included: 1120 , 1074 , 1031 , 1045 , 1222 , 1100 , 1055 , 1027 , 1013 , 1071 , 1087 , 1012 , 1107 , 1075 , 1080 , 1247 , 1067 , 1169 , 1126 , 1160 , 1053 , 1082 , 1118 , 1164 , 1147 , 1133 , 1310 , 1279 , 1025 , 1170 , 1257 , 1376 , 1054 , 1128 , 1240 , 1044 , 1181 , 1134 ,
  • Color Numbers Included: 1188 , 1186 , 1023 , 1248 , 1070 , 1190 , 1358 , 1144 , 1040 , 1241 , 1116 , 1132 , 1033 , 1037 , 1024 , 1051 , 1191 , 1106 , 1386 , 1059 , 1001 , 1000 , 1119 , 1028 , 1311 , 1078 , 1137 , 1250 , 1157 , 1357 , 1174 , 1145 , 1035 , 1242 , 1166 , 1094 , 1221 , 1370 , 1338 , 1306 , 1341 , 1142

Madeira Incredible Threadable Embroidery Box 40 Spools 1100YD/1000M 20928042

$117.00  in stock
3 new from $112.99
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as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • 80 Smart Spools of Madeira Rayon Embroidery thread; 220 yards each
  • 2 Spools of Bobbinfil thread
  • Free Maidera Color Guide and Conversion Chart
  • Incredible Threadable Box/Thread Stand with built in thread cutter
  • 40

New brothread 63 Brother Colors Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread Kit 500M (550Y) Each Spool for Brother Babylock Janome Singer Pfaff Husqvarna Bernina Embroidery and Sewing Machines

$43.99  in stock
1 new from $43.99
Free shipping
Get more info
Amazon.com
as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • ★ 63 SPOOLS PER KIT + COLOR CHART - 63 spools professional assorted bright and beautiful colors Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread to brighten and beautify all sort of your embroidery projects. Using Color Chart to find similar Brother Color No. and name, Conversion Chart of Madeira is also available.
  • ★ PERFECT WEIGHT & LENGTH - Each spool has 40 WT and 500M(550Y) length, which makes these spools of Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread ideal for all sort of your embroidery projects.
  • ★ EXCELLENT TENSILE STRENGTH - Lower risks of breaking or fraying, Elasticity and Tenacity of polyester also reduces risks of looping and puckering of Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread.
  • ★ SUPER COLOR FASTNESS - Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread holds up colors even when subjected to commercial laundering, bleaching and other harsh chemicals, desirable features for workwears, uniforms and linens which are often subjected to commercial laundering.
  • ★★ New Brothread Polyester Embroidery Machine Thread always think what you think, do what you do, love what you love. ▶【NOTE: This kit DOES NOT come with wood rack!!!】▶▶【MAKE SURE BUYING THROUGH "New Brothread" (Sold by) for original WARRANTY!!!】

New brothread 20 Assorted Colors Metallic Embroidery Machine Thread Kit 500M (550Y) Each Spool for Computerized Embroidery and Decorative Sewing

$31.99  in stock
1 new from $31.99
Free shipping
Get more info
Amazon.com
as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • ★ 20 SHINY AND GLITTERY ASSORTED COLORS - The luster and shine of metallic embroidery thread will bring fantastic effects to all sort of your embroidery projects, which makes your design to be very Noble and Royal. Metallic threads are used a lot in the emblem and uniform embroidery, as well as decorative and ornamental embroidery on elegant clothing.
  • ★★★ TIPS OF WORK WITH METALLIC THREAD – Considering metallic threads are a little tricky than normal embroidery threads, please use Topstitch Machine Needle with large eye to prevent stripping, the suggested is SCHMETZ Topstitch 80/12 or 90/14 and Organ HAX1 SP 80/12 or 90/14; if you meet tangled problem during embroidery, please put our thread net outside of the spool; adjust the tension of machine, until you can pull the metallic thread on machine smoothly; lower the speed of stitches to ≤600.
  • ★ EXCELLENT TENSILE STRENGTH - Made from extra strong polyester core and coated with metal foil, our metallic thread has lower risks of breaking or fraying, Elasticity and Tenacity of polyester also reduces risks of looping and puckering of Metallic Embroidery Machine Thread.
  • ★ PERFECT WEIGHT & LENGTH - Each spool has 40 WT and 500M(550Y) length, which makes these spools of Metallic Embroidery Machine Thread ideal for all sort of your embroidery projects.
  • ★ WASHABLE AND RESISTANT TO TARNISH - Your embroidery designs with our metallic thread can be washed by hand and machine. But we suggest to gently wash them in water temperature lower than 95℃ within 15 minutes, and avoid dry friction.【New Brothread always think what you think, do what you do, love what you love.】

New Brothread 9 Basic Colors Metallic Embroidery Machine Thread Kit 500M (550Y) Each Spool for Computerized Embroidery and Decorative Sewing

$19.99  in stock
1 new from $19.99
Free shipping
Get more info
Amazon.com
as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • ★ 9 SHINY AND GLITTERY BASIC COLORS - The luster and shine of metallic embroidery thread will bring fantastic effects to all sort of your embroidery projects, which makes your design to be very Noble and Royal. Metallic threads are used a lot in the emblem and uniform embroidery, as well as decorative and ornamental embroidery on elegant clothing.
  • ★★★ TIPS OF WORK WITH METALLIC THREAD – Considering metallic threads are a little tricky than normal embroidery threads, please use Topstitch Machine Needle with large eye to prevent stripping, the suggested is SCHMETZ Topstitch 80/12 or 90/14 and Organ HAX1 SP 80/12 or 90/14; if you meet tangled problem during embroidery, please put our thread net outside of the spool; adjust the tension of machine, until you can pull the metallic thread on machine smoothly; lower the speed of stitches to ≤600.
  • ★ EXCELLENT TENSILE STRENGTH - Made from extra strong polyester core and coated with metal foil, our metallic thread has lower risks of breaking or fraying, Elasticity and Tenacity of polyester also reduces risks of looping and puckering of Metallic Embroidery Machine Thread.
  • ★ PERFECT WEIGHT & LENGTH - Each spool has 40 WT and 500M(550Y) length, which makes these spools of Metallic Embroidery Machine Thread ideal for all sort of your embroidery projects.
  • ★ WASHABLE AND RESISTANT TO TARNISH - Your embroidery designs with our metallic thread can be washed by hand and machine. But we suggest to gently wash them in water temperature lower than 95℃ within 15 minutes, and avoid dry friction.【New Brothread always think what you think, do what you do, love what you love.】

Stabilizers are very important for embroidery on knits which are prone to stretching.  Stabilizers help support the fabric and thread and it’s an absolute necessity for successful results.

I tried to use a mesh cut-away stabilizer (I read that’s what is good for knits) with similar knit fabric before but the fabric puckered, so I decided to use tear-away – and it was good. 

I used this – medium weight soft tear-away embroidery stabilizer by StabilStitch and it was a good choice. I was afraid the stitches may misalign when I tear away the stabilizer, but fortunately it didn’t happen.  

Buy embroidery stabilizer here

Medium (1.5 oz.) Soft Tearaway 20" x 50 Yd Roll - Embroidery Stabilizer

$28.99  in stock
1 new from $28.99
Free shipping
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as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • Works with many different fabric types
  • Designed for light to medium stitch counts
  • Use on woven, fleece, caps and more
  • Removes easily
  • High quality – made in the USA

Peel' N Stick (2.5 oz.) Adhesive Tearaway 19½" x 25 Yards Embroidery Stabilizer

$52.99  in stock
1 new from $52.99
Free shipping
Get more info
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as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • SUPER EASY TO USE - This Peel’ N Stick tearaway backing comes with adhesive on one side making it extremely easy to tear away.
  • TOP QUALITY STABILITY – Expertly designed for “hoop-less” embroidery. Ideal for velvets, napped materials, silks, leather, vinyl, and any material requiring a better hold or that will not fit in a standard hoop.
  • GREAT VALUE - 19.5” x 25 Yards. Made to handle almost any project.
  • EXTREMELY HIGH QUALITY - Our Peel N’ Stick embroidery stabilizer sheets are made, cut, and packaged in the USA.

Black Medium (1.8 oz) Firm Tearaway 23" x 25 Yd Roll Embroidery Stabilizer

$23.99  in stock
1 new from $23.99
Free shipping
Get more info
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as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • For light to medium stitch densities
  • Use on stable to semi-stable fabrics
  • 23" x 25 yard roll

There are so many great embroidery designs now! But it’s not easy to choose one when there are so many choices. I was on my computer for hours trying to decide what to use for my pullover. I wonder how is everybody organizing and choosing their designs?

I wanted a design that is not dense – it should be “open” (as they say) to be used on knit fabric. Open designs are light, without stitch-filled areas. This flower design that I used has light open fills and lots of delicate details.  But I decided to use 3D flowers instead of flowers from the design. 

The design is from Anita Good designs called Floral Sprays. I like that my embroidery machine allows scaling the design — to change the size while maintaining the same stitch density as the original size. I increased the size by 10%. 

I used my DIME 9.5” x 14” magnetic hoop with my pullover. It’s great for hard to hoop items, and my pullover with long sleeves is one of them. I simply laid the stabilizer and fabric over the bottom frame and snapped the top frame in place. I didn’t want to use a regular hoop because I thought it may damage the delicate knit fibers during embroidery. The magnetic hoop held my pullover extremely well. Just make sure when hooping knitted clothes that you don‘t stretch them. 

Also, check if you have a full bobbin. Replacing one in the middle of embroidery can be a bit tricky.

Get more info on magnetic hoops here

Designs in Machine Embroidery Monster Snap Hoop 9.5"x14" LM9 for Brother The Dream Machine 1 and 2 and Babylock Destiny BLDY 2 Embroidery Machine

$219.99  in stock
15 new from $209.95
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Features

  • Experience the effortless one step method to hoop and align heavyweight fabrics. The secret of this magnetic hoop is in the patented design. And now you can have the Snap Hoop Monster - 4x's stronger to handle heavier fabrics! It's perfect for Terry cloth Bulky fleece Quilt sandwiches Heavy fabrics Continuous embroidery Allover embroidery
  • Easily make adjustments to heavy hooped fabrics. The Snap Hoop Monster is easy to use and offers pain-free hooping with no hand strain! Stop hoop burn and master allover embroidery and multiple hoopings. With the Snap Hoop Monster you can stitch all the way to the edge of your fabric.
  • Monster Snap Hoop Includes: One metal base frame with machine attachment One magnetic top frame One magnetic safety shield Four 14" adhesive centering rulers Target Stickers
  • Will Work with Babylock Destiny BLDY, Destiny BLDY2 & Brother THE Dream Machine 1 and 2

8" x 12" Snap Hoop Monster Brother BabyLock Embroidery Hoop

$209.99  in stock
14 new from $209.99
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Features

  • Brother Compatible Machines: Upgraded 5100, 2200 Non-Upgraded 6700, all versions of Quattro, XV8500 Dream Machine
  • Babylock Compatible Machines: Destiny BLDY, Ellisimo all versions
  • Great for terry cloth, bulky fleece, quilt sandwiches, heavy fabrics, continuous embroidery, allover embroidery
  • Includes One flat metal frame with machine attachment, one top magnetic frame, one magnet safety shield, four adhesive rulers
  • Monster Grip for delicate fabrics and heavy-weight fabrics alike

Dime Snap Hoop Monster 8"x8" LM2 for Babylock and Brother

$189.99  in stock
9 new from $189.99
Free shipping
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as of July 10, 2020 11:08 am

Features

  • Will work with the following Embroidery Machines: Babylock Destiny, Destiny II, Ellisimo, Ellisimo Gold, Ellisomo Gold 2, Brother Dream Machine XV8500D Innovis Dream Machine 2, Quattro 3 Trilogy Limited Edition, Innovis 6750D, Quatro 2 6700D Quatro 6000D

I arranged the design on the pullover and made sure the design didn’t extend into the parts I didn’t want to be embroidered. After that I secured it in place with basting stitches. 

When I finished stitching I removed the pullover from the hoop,  trimmed basting stitches and removed the tear-away stabilizer by tearing it close to the design edge and then pulling gently outward to tear away the excess. The stabilizer should remove easily without pulling on the threads. But some small pieces of stabilizer remained in the embroidery. Don’t worry – they will dissolve after washing. 

Now I have to finish my project with 3d flowers embroidered on light pink organza fabric. The flowers have to be embroidered on organza and water-soluble stabilizer. 

After I made all the flowers I had to attach them to my embroidery. I like to use fabric glue before securing the flowers with stitches – the glue is not toxic and dries completely clear. After that I just sewed the flowers onto the pullover. 

And the final touch – Swarovski crystals for the middle of every flower.  

Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, save this pin (see below) on your sewing board  and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration! 

Ready to take the next step in your sewing journey? Check out more step-by-step tutorials from my blog and don’t forget to share ! 

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