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Machine embroidery on tulle fabric was a recent and very exciting discovery for me!
It all started when my daughter desperately wanted a homemade Elsa outfit for Halloween. I sewed the dress easily out of inexpensive satin and cut a basic cape out of tulle. In the end, the cape was very plain and not majestic enough for an ice princess. Since using my Cricut Maker to put vinyl on tulle was out of the question, I decided to give embroidering on tulle a try. After doing a bit of troubleshooting, I then painstakingly embroidered no less than 15 snowflakes on the bottom of that cape. It turned out awesome!
I figured if you can embroider free-standing lace using just stabilizer, why not treat delicate tulle the same way? And it worked perfectly. I’ll show you how I did it in these step-by-step instructions.
More About Tulle
Tulle is a net-like fabric with small holes. It’s see-through and comes in a myriad of colors and can be matte, sparkly, shiny, and more. It is very delicate, sheer, and flowy. You can find it in everything from fluffy toddler dress-up clothes and tutus to elegant evening gowns and bridal veils.
Tulle can be made from different materials such as nylon, polyester, or silk. Different materials will lend different characteristics to the tulle. Nylon tulle is the most common type of tulle and what I used for this beginner embroidery tutorial.
You can purchase tulle by the yard at fabric stores or in smaller 6″ spools. It’s very inexpensive and can be bought in widths up to 108.”
Supplies Needed for Tulle Embroidery
Since tulle is a transparent, delicate, and unstable fabric, the best stabilizer to use for tulle embroidery is washaway stabilizer, which is water-soluble. Using cutaway or polymesh stabilizer is out of the question since the stabilizer will remain also stitched to the tulle after embroidering. And while tearaway stabilizer would disappear, it wouldn’t work because tearing it away may then ruin the delicate tulle and stitches.
Therefore, here are the supplies you’ll want to gather:
- Washaway embroidery stabilizer (NOT water-soluble topping that’s clingy and film-like. I used Brothread washaway stabilizer.)
- Needle (I used a 75/11 Schmetz embroidery needle)
- Thread (I used polyester embroidery thread)
- Embroidery hoop, embroidery machine, and scissors (LOVE my Brother SE1900)
Tips for Embroidery on Tulle
- Make sure to tightly and evenly hoop the tulle and stabilizer. My first attempt ended up more puckered that I had hoped because my project was too loose in the hoop. Don’t overly stretch the tulle either to distort its small holes.
- Use the smallest hoop size that fits your embroidery design. When I got lazy and embroidered more than one snowflake at a time, they didn’t turn out as well as doing a single snowflake in my smallest hoop.
- Designs need to be dense enough to show up on tulle. Designs with very thin stitching may not work as well. If your tulle threads break, there will be nothing to grab the stitches.
- If your tulle is too delicate to hoop, only hoop the stabilizer. Then, spray a light layer of temporary fabric adhesive on the tulle and attach it to the hooped stabilizer. Don’t pin or you may put larger holes in the tulle. For me, the tulle bunched up more when it wasn’t hooped, and the adhesive was messy. This was why I preferred hooping the fabric.
- As a general rule, when troubleshooting embroidery on new fabrics, decrease the stitching speed. My projects turn out better this, and I can catch errors before they go too far!
How to Machine Embroider on Tulle – Quick Tutorial
1. First, hoop your washaway stabilizer and tulle in your embroidery hoop. The tulle goes on top of the stabilizer. Remember, use the smallest hoop possible, and hoop the stabilizer very taut without distorting the tulle.
If your tulle is very delicate and won’t hoop, use a very small amount of spray adhesive, and only hoop the washaway stabilizer.
2. Next, set your hoop into your embroidery machine and select your embroidery design. Set up your embroidery thread and embroidery needle.
3. Set the machine to a slower stitching speed, and press start! Watch the machine for a while and make sure it is embroidering on the tulle without error. Then, let it go!
When it’s done, trim any threads. Here’s the front of my design!
And then the back. I’m so happy with how it turned out!
4. After the tulle is embroidered, carefully remove everything from the hoop.
5. Clip the stabilizer to right near the design. This will make washing away the stabilizer easier.
6. Dip your tulle in water to remove the washaway stabilizer. This may take several minutes. Be careful if you put the design under a stream of water that you don’t disrupt your delicate stitches! Let the tulle dry, and then that’s it!
Embroidery on Tulle – Conclusion
I hope this tutorial has taught you how to embroider on tulle and opened your mind to the myriad of new creative possibilities!