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Embroidering burp cloths is easy with an embroidery machine, and they make a perfect embroidered baby gift for new parents. Because, well, most parents need to use burp cloths at some point, whether it’s cleaning up spit-up or wiping up messes on the go!
This embroidered burp cloths tutorial will walk you step-by-step through the process of picking an embroidery stabilizer, choosing a burp cloth, selecting a design, and setting up your machine.
Burp Cloth Embroidery Supplies
- Embroidery machine and adequate hoop
- Burp cloths
- Embroidery thread (I used 100% polyester embroidery thread)
- Embroidery needle: 75/11 embroidery machine needle (mine was a Schmetz gold 75/11 embroidery needle)
- Stabilizer (more about selection later)
- Embroidery scissors (love duckbill and double-curved scissors!)
- Marking tools
- Optional: temporary fabric spray adhesive (ex. Odif 505)
Best Burp Cloths to Embroider
When I was a new mom, I got a lot of embroidered cloth diapers that double as burp cloths. I never loved how thick they were and how they took up a lot of space in a diaper bag. The softness wasn’t that great either if I was going to use them for wiping one of my daughters’ mouths after a spit-up.
So, I tried muslin burp cloths, and those are my favorite burp cloths to use for embroidered gifts!
They’re more difficult to embroider because they are thinner, more lightweight, and thus more pliable than 3-fold cloth diapers. But, I think the finished product is cuter and more functional. Here’s the link to the exact ones I use!
They do shrink a bit during the first wash, so consider prewashing before embroidering.
What’s the best stabilizer to use on a burp cloth?
Your choice of burp cloth stabilizer depends on two big factors: the density of your embroidery design and the characteristics of your burp cloth fabric.
While you might luck out with a decent embroidered project using tear-away, the issue is once washed, those dense designs stitched on tear-away tend to pucker horribly! This makes for a rough, unsightly mess.
With cut-away stabilizer that remains permanently on the back of the burp cloth, your design and cloth will withstand repeated washings better. This is very important for a burp cloth, which is expected to get messy!
If you have a fairly lightweight design and a burp cloth that provides good stability to it, you can try tear-away stabilizer or wash-away stabilizer, but if you don’t get good results, fall back on using a more robust cut-away stabilizer.
I also like to use a water-soluble topping on the front of the burp cloth. I’ve found my designs cause less distortion of the delicate burp cloth puffs and are supported better with this added layer.
My favorite designs to embroider on burp cloths are monograms, applique designs, and cute fill-stitch designs with plenty of empty space.
If you have a lightweight burp cloth like the case for me, you need a design with a lower stitch count. If you have a more stable, heavier burp cloth, you have more flexibility with design selection.
(Check out where to free baby embroidery machine designs if you’re looking for design inspiration!)
Machine Embroidery on Burp Cloths – Tutorial
1. Marking the Burp Cloth
The first thing you need to do is prepare your burp cloth to embroider. This means marking your burp cloth where the center of your chosen embroidery design will go.
I like putting my designs on the skinny end of the burp cloth and centering them. I used to put them in a corner, but I like folding the cloths in thirds when gifting them, and the middle just looks better that way!
It helps to fold the burp cloth in half to discover the horizontal center to mark. Mark the vertical dimension by using a template printed from your software or just eyeballing it.
2. Hooping vs. Floating the Burp Cloth
While I’m a big fan of hooping whenever I can to decrease movement during the embroidery process, the burp cloths I embroider on are close to impossible to hoop without distortion.
As such, I prefer to float them on top of the hoop.
Then, spray a light layer of Odif 505 or another temporary fabric spray on the stabilizer. (You can use painter’s tape to shield the sides of your hoops or just clean well after the project if you get some side spray.)
Press the burp cloth onto the stabilizer, making sure to line up the center of the marked burp cloth with the center of the hooped stabilizer. Add one layer of water-soluble topping on the front.
While I’ve had reasonable success embroidering burp cloths without topping, I think the topping supports the stitches better during the process and retains more of the texture of the burp cloth after embroidery.
My burp cloths need extra stability, so I always pin the perimeter. If you prefer not to pin, you can use a basting box (learn more in what is a basting box in embroidery?) to secure the burp cloth before you start to stitch.
3. Setting the Machine to Embroider
Now, load the burp cloth into your embroidery machine!
While I usually hoop my materials with the bulk of the material facing away from the throat space of the machine, I prefer to roll the burp cloth on the inside of the machine.
In my mind, this means less stress on the burp cloth from the excess fabric hanging off the left of the machine over the carriage. Is that the case? I’m not sure, but I feel better about it!
Then, line up the center of the marked burp cloth with the embroidery foot.
Check that you have the correct needle, bobbin thread, upper thread, and design orientation. I had to rotate my design to get the correct orientation for how I floated my burp cloth.
If you used pins, it’s very important to preview the area of stitching to make sure you won’t accidentally embroider over a pin. I did that once before and it did not end well for my needle!
If everything looks good, press go, and watch the stitching magic begin! Change threads as needed between stops.
4. Finishing Up
Once the burp cloth is embroidered, remove the hoop from your machine. Release the burp cloth from the hoop and remove the pins or your basting box.
I think it’s easier to clip jump stitches with the water-soluble topping still on the top.
For best results, while you’re supposed to clip jump stitches after each thread color, I only follow that rule when there are large jump stitches that look like they’ll actually interfere! I like to clip my jump threads with double curved embroidery scissors.
After you’ve clipped the jump stitches, pull the water-soluble topping off the front of the burp cloth. If you can’t get it all, it is easily removed later with water.
Turn the burp cloth over and trim away the excess stabilizer on the back. Duckbill applique scissors are the best for doing this, in my opinion, because they prevent fabric clipping!
Spritz the front with water, run it underwater, or even wipe a wet baby wipe over the front of the burp cloth to remove the fabric pen and residual water-soluble topping.
Let dry, and you’re all done!