Fabrics 101: Embroidering on Waffle Weave

Fabrics 101: Embroidering on Waffle Weave

Waffle weave, waffle knit, thermal fabric. Whatever you call it, these fabrics may (literally) have their ups and downs, but they've long been popular choices for lots of fabric items you may already have in your home. Fabric knit with a texture is good at trapping heat and keeping you warm on winter days, in items like shirts and long johns. Towels and linens can come in a waffle weave, too, which creates interesting texture and, the case of towels and cloths, makes the fabric good at gripping and drying.

This article will tell you how to deal with the "waffley" texture, which can appear on a variety of fabrics. If you're working with a knit, all the usual rules about knits still apply - check out the Embroidering on T-shirts guide. If you're stitching towels, the Towel Talk guide brings up some points to consider - whether or not your towel is fuzzy enough to need a water-soluble topping.


Choosing Your Materials


FABRIC: Thermal long-sleeved shirts and dishtowels are just some of the fabrics you might find that have a waffle texture. Remember, whether the fabric is knit or woven - and how tightly or loosely - affects how you'll treat it. As always, make sure to pre-shrink the fabric or item before you embroider.

DESIGN: Avoid very light running-stitch designs, as they can disappear into a textured fabric. Other than that, anything that's suitable for the fabric in question is fair game!

NEEDLE: Use a 75/11 sharp needle - that's what we recommend for most embroidery jobs.

STABILIZER: Use a medium-weight cutaway stabilizer, attached to the back of your fabric with temporary spray adhesive. This will keep your stitches looking nice on fabrics that might not be very stable otherwise. Depending on how rough your waffle texture is, you may want to use a water-soluble topping as well. The towel we embroidered below had a rougher texture, so we used a layer of Sulky Solvy on top; the shirt was smoother, so we skipped the topping and it turned out fine.



Embroidering on Waffle Texture Fabric


HOOPING: Mark the placement of your design. Spray a piece of medium-weight cutaway stabilizer generously with temporary spray adhesive, then smooth the fabric on top. (Remember, a rough texture on the back will make it harder for the stabilizer to adhere, so make sure to use enough adhesive.) Add water-soluble topping if desired. Hoop the layers together firmly.

Embroider the design.

FINISHING: If you used a water-soluble topping, tear away as much as possible, then use water to remove the rest. Trim the excess cutaway stabilizer from the back of the embroidery.

That's it - you're done! Use water-soluble topping and follow all the usual rules, and you'll be a smooth operator when it comes to embroidering on textured fabrics.

This thermal shirt had a less pronounced texture, so we stitched it with no topping - just the usual cutaway stabilizer on the back. The embroidery still turned out sleek and beautiful.

Stitching tips for waffle weave:

Needle 75/11 sharp needle; an embroidery needle may also be used
Stabilizer Cutaway (2.5 ounce)
Design Choice Choose designs with medium to high complexity. Avoid light, sheer, or running-stitch designs.

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