DIY Embroidery: How to Embroider a Dark Coloured T-Shirt

Embroidery Embroidery Kits Learning Embroidery


Embroidery is a great tool for adding details to clothing, new or old. You can use these instructions to upcycle a well loved t-shirt, or use this kit to create your own personalised t-shirt. One of the trickiest parts of embroidery on darker fabric is transferring your pattern - this tutorial uses a simple method with  a chalk pencil.

Before you start, ensure that you have collected all the equipment that you will need. You can find more information on supplies in this guide to beginners embroidery.

You will need:

  • T-shirt
  • Stabiliser
  • Needle
  • Embroidery thread
  • Hoop
  • Chalk pencil
  • 2 x pins
  • Scissors

Taking the piece of paper on which your chosen design is drawn, flip it over and on the reverse of the paper trace the design with the chalk pencil. Flip the paper back over and carefully place the chalk drawing onto the t-shirt in the position you wish to embroider it. Hold the paper steady with one hand, and with the other ‘rub’ over the design so that the chalk transfers to the fabric.

Turn your t-shirt inside out. Place the stabiliser fabric behind the chalk design and pin it in place. Once complete, turn your t-shirt back the right way, so your traced design is at the front ready for embroidery.

Take your embroidery hoop and loosen the metal fastening on top to separate the two hoops. Place the inner hoop inside the t-shirt, directly beneath the design. Place the outer hoop on the outside of the t-shirt and gently press the outer hoop onto the inner hoop, then tighten the fastening so the fabric is not slipping and sliding. Be careful not to stretch the fabric - loosen the fastening if necessary. Ideally you’d like the design to be centred within the hoop with the fabric pulled taut but not stretched. This is a tricky bit and requires a bit of trial and error, so if it doesn’t work first time, just try again!

Now you are ready to embroider! Pick an embroidery thread colour to use and cut off approx one arm’s length of thread. Look closely and you will see that the thread is made up of six strands. For this project we want just two strands - carefully separate the thread so that you have just two strands together. Thread onto your needle and knot one end. Try to knot three or four times in the same place to create a knot that will hold securely.

Embroidery is a little like drawing with thread! With that in mind, decide where you will begin ‘drawing’ your design and bring your needle up through the fabric from the inside of the t-shirt. Make a single straight stitch approx 5mm long and bring your needle back through the fabric. You have your first stitch!

We will use back stitch for this design. Once you have created your first stitch (step 5), bring your needle back up through the fabric along the line you have drawn, approx 5mm from your last stitch, leaving space for your next stitch. Then push your needle back into the last hole of your last stitch. You should end up with two stitches and no gap between them. Continue until you have embroidered your entire design!

Once your embroidery is complete you will need to knot it securely. Flip your embroidery hoop over so that you are looking at the back of your design. Slip the needle under a stitch that is close to where you have finished stitching, loop the remaining thread around your needle a couple of times and then pull the needle all the way through until you have created a little knot. Repeat once to secure the embroidery.

Snip off the remaining thread, remove your hoop and carefully cut around the remaining stabiliser. You can re-use any left over materials again so don’t throw them away!

Rub away any leftover chalk pencil, or dab it with some water. If you have any ‘hoop burn’ (marks left by the embroidery hoop), simply dab them with water too.

If you need any help following these instructions, please feel free to get in touch at any time - I am always happy to help! Make sure to share your finished t-shirts on Instagram and tag @deliciousmonstertea.

Happy stitching!

Claire x

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