Tips and techniques from Jas Purba, managing director, ETC Supplies

Embroidery on knitwear has always posed problems. One issue you face is that if the weave is open, then you are trying to embroider onto thin air. The other issue is one of stretching the yarn when framing up – this is evident when you remove the frame and the garment shows signs of puckering. In the past embroiderers have used cut-away backings to stabilise the embroidery and provide the retention for the thread. To stop the design sinking into the yarn, a water-soluble topping is used.

These are good steps to take, but the world has moved on: now, many companies don’t want any backing showing on the inside of the garment, and using a standard, cut-away backing does not always prevent the stretching of the yarn when framing up.

ETC Supplies has developed two solutions that can be used not only for knitwear, but also for lightweight polo shirts and dress shirts.

The first is a water-soluble, non-woven backing that has a water-soluble, self-adhesive coating on it. Simply cut the backing to size, remove the release paper and apply it direct to the garment, then frame up as normal. The adhesion of the backing to the fabric will prevent stretching and movement of the yarn during embroidery. When you have finished, just tear away the backing and anything that is left behind will come away with a light spray of water.

TIP: if the fabric is very light and stretchy, spray the backing with water so it comes off even easier.

You can do the same with the topping. When your garment is framed up, cut a piece of the water-soluble, self-adhesive topping and place it inside the hoop, making sure it does not make contact with the plastic. This will prevent any movement during embroidery and give the sewing foot a nice, flat surface to work on. Your embroidery design will sit nicely on top of the yarn without any sinking-in. When you’re finished simply tear it away or, as above, spray with water and then tear away.

When using self-adhesive products, you do not need to worry about the embroidery hoop covering these, so you can use smaller pieces, saving you time and money.