patriotic embroidered tee
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Machine Embroidered Tee to Celebrate the Fourth

Machine Embroidered Tee

machine embroidered tee detail

A machine embroidered tee makes a great gift for any occasion. It’s also fun to personalize machine embroidered tees for the whole family for fun gatherings and photo ops. Here’s how to hoop a child’s tee and embroider it for summertime.



Child’s size tees, and even some adult tees, are difficult to hoop, especially when working with a large design that needs a large hoop.

For the featured machine embroidered tee, the 9×10 hoop size was chosen for the Red, White & Cute design. The front of the featured shirt measures 12 1/2″ wide, making this shirt impossible to hoop without catching the back of the shirt fabric in the stitching. Truth be told, most T-shirt are “un-hoopable” for this reason.

To hoop the un-hoopable, first only hoop the Sticky+ stabilizer with the paper facing up.

hoop sticky+ stabilizer

Use a Sticky+ Slitting Pen to score the paper within the inner hoop ring.

score paper with slitting pen

Tear away the paper along the scored lines to reveal the adhesive.

tear away backing of sticky+

Decide on the T-shirt embroidery placement, and then mark the center cross marks on the tee right side using a removable fabric marker.

Turn the tee wrong side out. Stick the tee to the adhesive stabilizer surface, centering the design center marks within the inner hoop ring. If desired, use Sulky KK 2000 to add a bit more adhesive for extra security. It will look like a “tunnel” of fabric in thehoop.

hooping machine embroidered tee


Place the hoop onto the machine. Maneuver the tee fabric out of the way of the presser foot and needle. Install a size 90/14 Embroidery Needle onto the machine. Load a bobbin with 60 wt. Sulky Bobbin Thread in a color that matches the tee.

Begin the design, starting with the first color stop, which is Poly Sparkle Thread. Poly Sparkle is a 30 wt. Thread, so requires a larger, size 90/14, needle.

begin embroidery on tee

Continue embroidering the design, swapping the needle to a 75/11 when using the Rayon Thread in the design. (If using a different design that’s all 40 wt. Rayon or Poly Deco™, use a size 75/11 or 80/12 Embroidery Needle.)

Trim jump threads with each thread change.

completed embroidery in the hoop

When the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine. Turn the hoop over and trim the jump threads on the tee wrong side.

Remove the tee from the stabilizer by gently lifting it to tear away the excess.

remove tee from hoop

Remove any stubborn stabilizer bits beyond the design perimeter.

back of embroidery on tee

Gently press the tee to remove any wrinkles and marking pen. (Be sure the marking pen you’ve used tolerates heat before pressing; remove the markings in the necessary manner.)


Turn the shirt wrong side out. Now, grab the Sulky Tender Touch to finish the embroidered tee. Tender Touch provides a silky barrier between the embroidery stitching and the wearer. It’s lightweight and soft, making sure no scratchy embroidery interferes with the joy of wearing the finished embroidered tee!

Tender Touch on machine embroidered tee

Cut a piece of Tender Touch slightly larger than the embroidery, using pinking shears or wavy-edge scissors.

using pinking shears to cut stabilizer

Place the Tender Touch, rough side down, over the embroidery to completely cover it. Gently fuse the stabilizer to the tee wrong side, using a moderate iron temperature.

Turn the shirt right side out.

finished embroidery on tee

Gift the embroidered tee to a young one or friend to wear for summer fun.

finished embroidered tee on model

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I am the Director of Content for Sulky of America. The former Editor in Chief of Sew News and Creative Machine Embroidery magazines, I hosted Sew it All TV on PBS for nine seasons. I've appeared on It's Sew Easy on PBS, DIY Network's Uncommon Threads, Hallmark's Marie Osmond Show, MacPhee Workshop and more! Come sew with me!