How to Make Custom Shoelaces Like a Pro

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My older daughter starts kindergarten this year, and I’m going crazy with my embroidery machine.

The project of the moment? Embroidered custom shoelaces! 

My daughter is my number one embroidery fan and wants everything embroidered, so why not make special shoelaces to bring a smile to her face? Especially since she finally owns shoes with shoelaces rather than just hook-and-loop fastener.

Interested in learning how to make custom shoelaces with your embroidery machine?

Learn tips and tricks in this quick tutorial!

how to make custom shoelaces


Here are the supplies I used when personalizing shoelaces. 

Now, a few notes about supplies and set-up. 

Stabilizer Selection

Sticky, self-adhesive tear-away (or wash-away) stabilizer is all you need in the hoop.

To keep the stitches from sinking into the laces, I also recommend a layer of water-soluble topping like Sulky Solvy. 

Now, if you don’t have sticky stabilizer on hand, you need another way to stabilize the shoelaces during stitching.

You can instead use a layer of regular tear-away or wash-away stabilizer and try pins, adhesive spray, or any other securing method of your choice. (Here are some of my favorite fabric floating methods!)

Consider Directionality

Once the shoelaces are tied in the shoes, what direction do you want the designs to face?

Because I was embroidering a name, mirror imaging was tricky, so I elected to embroider with the designs identically oriented on each lace. 

Design Considerations

Designs have to be small to fit on the shoelaces.

As such, make sure you use a font specifically digitized for such a small size if using letters.

Or, if you’re using a non-letter design, make sure to resize properly or pick a design digitized at a small scale.  

If you are having issues with the legibility of small text or designs on your shoelaces, Deborah Jones has a great Craftsy course on using small text.

A 60wt or 90wt thread and a 70/10 or smaller needle may provide better results than the 40wt thread and size 75/11 needle I could get away with using here. 

Adding a Placement Stitch

stitch the placement stitch first

A placement stitch denotes where the shoelaces must adhere to the stabilizer to achieve proper embroidery design placement. 

I used my embroidery software (Hatch 3) to create a rectangle of stitches that was the width of the shoelace and the length of my hoop. 

If you don’t have software, an affordable option for basic design editing processes is SewWhat-Pro. (You can also check out my list of free embroidery software for a few other options.)

How to Make Custom Shoelaces Step-By-Step

how to embroider shoelaces

If you prefer picture tutorials, the below tutorial will outline the process and give a little more information. 

1. Set Up

hoop stabilizer

First, hoop a layer of self-adhesive, sticky stabilizer. (Choose the smallest hoop you have available to fit your shoelace design.)

Use a pin to score the top layer and remove the sticker backing, revealing the sticky tear-away surface. 

2. Start Embroidering

stitching placement stitch

Load the hoop into your embroidery machine, and stitch the placement line on the stabilizer. 

place shoelace over placement

Then, remove the hoop from the machine and position the shoelace over the placement stitch. Press it in place on the stabilizer.

With a placement stitch, you don’t necessarily need to mark your shoelaces for design placement. As long as you know the approximate distance from the tip of the shoelace to where you want your design to go, you should be good. 

add a layer of water soluble topping

Add a layer of water-soluble stabilizer film to the top of the hoop, and place the hoop back in the machine. 

embroider the shoelace!

Stitch the design!

you can embroider two shoelaces at the same time!

If you can fit two shoelaces into one hoop, you can stitch the other side of the lace in the same hoop as I did!

3. Clean Up

remove water soluble stabilizer

Remove the layer of water-soluble topping, and tear away the stabilizer from the shoelaces.

If any residual topper is left, dip the shoelaces in water or use your favorite method for removing water-soluble stabilizer

final product! embroidered shoelaces

Admire your final product, and then embroider the shoelaces for the other shoe!

You now have made custom shoelaces with your embroidery machine!

Now, want another fun project idea? Try making custom embroidered shoes, and check out other back-to-school embroidery project ideas!


    1. I created mine with my embroidery software. You could also try to use the built-in rectangle frame from your machine and resize it as needed using the touchscreen.

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