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Machine Embroidery Tips on Velvet

While there is no doubt that velvet is a fabric which is luxurious and elegant, it can certainly cause some problems for anyone who’s trying to embroider on it. Since it’s a stretchy material which can be damaged easily, machine embroidery can be a little tricky, because the fabric’s pile has an impact on what the design will look like upon completion. However, by following these tips and practicing a little bit, you can get it right every time, and make some beautiful embroidery designs.

Design selection

Before you get started with the actual work, you should choose an embroidery design with light to medium density, since those will work best with velvet fabrics. High density designs will generally not come out well with velvet, and should be used with another fabric. When gathering your work materials, make sure that you’re starting out with a fresh, new embroidery needle, because you’ll need maximum sharpness to execute your design in the most efficient manner.


The truth is, you should never attempt to actually hoop a velvet fabric itself, because it will invariably sustain hoop burn. This is a condition resulting from the application of extra pressure to the fabric’s raised nap, which causes it to be crushed. Hoop burn is permanent with velvet, because it can really only be removed by washing, and since most velvet is non-washable, hoop burn stays in forever.

Instead of hooping the velvet, you can hoop the stabilizer, and it’s best to use a cutaway stabilizer, because of the stretchy quality of velvet. A tear-away stabilizer won’t work as well, because it probably won’t support your design, and allow it to stretch and move. You can either hoop an adhesive cutaway stabilizer which isn’t water-activated, or you can hoop a cutaway stabilizer to be used in conjunction with an adhesive spray. All you have to do is hoop the stabilizer by itself, before smoothing the velvet over your stabilizer.


Now that you’ve hooped the velvet, you need to place a piece of water-soluble stabilizer over the velvet, prior to beginning the embroidery. This topping will allow the threads to avoid sinking into the nap, which would then cause a distortion of the embroidery design. Now you can execute the actual embroidery of your design.

After the design has been completed, you need to avoid using water to remove your topping, but instead tear off as much of the topping as you can, and eliminate any excess using tweezers. Since water could possibly damage the velvet, you have to make sure the two don’t come into contact with each other. The final step, if necessary, is to trim the cutaway stabilizer on the backside, leaving between 1/4″ and 1/2″ around the entire design. 

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