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Can you embroider on tulle? Yes, you most definitely can! Machine embroidery on tulle fabric is not as hard as you’d think and can produce some great effects.
This tutorial 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 snowflakes on 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!
Intrigued? Follow along in this tutorial to learn how to embroider on tulle.
Supplies Needed for Tulle Embroidery
Here’s what I used for this project.
- Embroidery hoop, embroidery machine, and scissors (LOVE my Brother SE1900)
- Stabilizer: Wash-away stabilizer (NOT water-soluble topping that’s clingy and film-like.)
- Needle: I used a 75/11 Schmetz embroidery needle
- Thread: I used 40 wt polyester embroidery thread for the top thread and white pre-wound 60 wt thread in the bobbin. Of course, you may want to match your bobbin and top threads.)
Best Stabilizer for Tulle
Since tulle is transparent, the best stabilizer to use for embroidery on tulle is wash-away stabilizer.
Using a cutaway or no-show mesh stabilizer is a poor idea since the stabilizer will remain also attached to the tulle after embroidering. And while tearaway stabilizer would disappear, it won’t work well because tearing it away may distort the delicate tulle and stitches.
Choosing the Right Tulle for Embroidery
Tulle is a very delicate, sheer, and flowy 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. You can find it in everything from fluffy toddler dress-up clothes and tutus to elegant evening wear and bridal veils.
Tulle can be made from different materials such as nylon, polyester, or silk. Different materials lend different characteristics to the tulle and can make embroidering on tulle either easier or more difficult. Nylon tulle is the most common type of tulle and what I used for this beginner embroidery tutorial.
If you’re wanting to try machine embroidery on tulle for the first time, I’d recommend starting with a less delicate tulle with smaller holes and then branch out to more luxurious types. The more delicate, luxurious types are especially nice if you’re wanting to embroider lace on tulle.
Basic Tips for Embroidery on Tulle
- Designs need to be dense enough to show up on the tulle but not too dense to tear the stabilizer or hurt the tulle. Designs with only running stitches, for example, won’t work as well because the stitches will have difficulty grabbing onto the widely-spaced tulle fibers. A huge and dense fill-stitch design, on the other hand, will likely injure the tulle fibers and lead to design puckering or stabilizer tearing.
- 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.
- If your tulle is too delicate to hoop, only hoop the stabilizer. Then, spray a light layer of temporary fabric adhesive like Odif 505 on the tulle and press it on the hooped stabilizer. Pin only as a very last resort. I do prefer hooping because when floated, the tulle bunched up more than when it was hooped. And, the adhesive was super messy to spray on fabric with holes!
- 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 Embroider on Tulle – Quick Tutorial
If you need to mark your tulle for design placement, consider using a water-soluble fabric pen or even a simple embroidery placement sticker.
Now, hoop your wash-away stabilizer and tulle in your embroidery hoop. Remember to use the smallest hoop possible, and hoop the stabilizer and fabric very taut without distorting the tulle. My first attempt at machine embroidery on tulle ended up more puckered than I had hoped because things were just too loose in the hoop.
Next, carefully set your hoop into your embroidery machine, and select your embroidery design. Orient it correctly and make sure you’ve got the right threads and needle.
Set the machine to a slower stitching speed, and press start! Keep an eye on the machine to make sure you’re not getting any tearing or puckering.
When done, trim any jump threads. Below is the front of my design! How cool, right?
And then, here’s the back. Just imagine this 15 times on a tulle cape.
After you’ve admired your embroidered tulle, gently remove it and the stabilizer from the hoop.
Then, clip the stabilizer to right near the design. This will make washing it away easier.
Lastly, dip your tulle in water to remove the wash-away stabilizer. This may take several minutes for it to dissolve. Be careful if you decide to put the design under a stream of water. That might disrupt your delicate stitches!
After the stabilizer is all dissolved, let the tulle dry, and then that’s it!
Embroidery on Tulle – Conclusion
I hope this tutorial has taught you some tips for how to embroider on tulle and opened your mind to the myriad of new creative possibilities!