This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.
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 now actually 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!
Here are the supplies I used when personalizing her shoelaces.
- Embroidery machine and smallest hoop (love my Brother SE1900.)
- Shoelaces (I recommend a big-width lace with minimal or no stretch to it.)
- Stabilizer: sticky, self-adhesive tear-away and water-soluble topping
- Needle: 75/11 embroidery needle, but see notes below
- Thread: I used a 40wt polyester embroidery thread for the top thread. For the bobbin, I preferred thread that matched the shoelace color.
- Embroidery scissors
Now, a few notes about supplies and set-up.
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 thus 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!)
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.
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 larger 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 was able to get away with using here.
Adding a Placement Stitch
A placement stitch denotes where the shoelaces need to adhere to the stabilizer in order to get the embroidered design aligned properly later.
Thus, I used my embroidery software (Hatch) to create a rectangle of stitches that was the width of the shoelace and the length of my hoop.
How to Make Custom Shoelaces Step-By-Step
If you prefer picture tutorials, the below tutorial will outline the process and give a little more information.
1. Setting Up
First, hoop a layer of self-adhesive, sticky stabilizer. Use a pin to score the top layer and remove the sticker backing, revealing the sticky tear-away surface.
Choose the smallest hoop you have available to fit your shoelace design.
2. Time to Embroider!
Load the hoop into your embroidery machine and stitch the placement line on the stabilizer.
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 have an idea of 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 stabilizer film to the top of the hoop, and place the hoop back in the machine.
Stitch the design!
If you’re able to fit two shoelaces into one hoop, you can stitch the other side of the lace in the same hoop as I did!
3. Cleaning Up
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.
Admire your final product, and then embroider the shoelaces for the other shoe! You now have made custom shoelaces with your embroidery machine!