yarn embroidery on sweater
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Yarn Embroidery on Chunky Sweater

Yarn Embroidery

Yarn Embroidery on Sweater on Model

Yarn embroidery is the latest trend for chunky sweaters on children’s, kids’ and adult garments. Use Sulky Stick ‘n Stitch to transfer the name or phrase of your choice onto an open-weave sweater, and then stitch through all layers using chunky yarn. The result is boutique-worthy, soft and stylish.


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Note: For this method, the sweater must be washable and tolerate moisture. Prewash and dry the sweater prior to embellishing. (This is a great “rebirth” project for older sweaters or sweaters that may have a stain that can benefit from an embellishment coverup!)

This project is trending with first names being embroidered on the sweater. However, with older children and adults, a favorite word or phrase is more appropriate. (It’s also a safety hazard to have your child’s name on things, because, well, stranger danger.) Choose a word such as “wish,” “dream,” “lucky,” “cheers,” or a nickname.

Measure the available embroidery space on the sweater front. It’s a good idea to have the wearer try on the sweater to determine the best, most flattering placement for the embroidery. Record and/or mark the placement area on the sweater.

measure sweater for embroidery

Choose a font in a word processing program and format it to fit the available embroidery space on the sweater. If the space and word will be larger than an 8 1/2″ x 11″ stabilizer sheet will accommodate, plan to split the letters between two sheets.

TIP: Cursive, script lettering works best so the letters are connected. This way there are less starts/stops with the yarn and less tie-offs on the sweater wrong side.

Once determined, print the design onto a sheet (or two, depending) of Sulky Stick ‘n Stitch Stabilizer. Be sure to print on the fabric-like side, using a “draft” or lowest ink setting.

Trim the stabilizer around the design, leaving a good border.

Position the stabilizer “sticker” on the sweater right side, where desired.

yarn embroidery transfer

When the desired placement is achieved, remove the paper backing on the stabilizer, and then stick in place.

stabilizer stuck in place for design transfer


Test to be sure the needle will go through the open weave structure of the sweater without snagging or distorting the fibers.

Thread the large-eye plastic needle with a length of yarn. Keep the yarn length no longer than 18″ to avoid twisting and knotting during embroidery.

Bring the needle up through the sweater wrong side, along the leftmost letter. Leave a yarn tail, measuring approximately 3″ to 4″, along the sweater wrong side.

Stitch a chain stitch along the lines.


Grab our handy Hand Embroidery Stitch Guide for an illustrated chain stitch tutorial, including more common hand embroidery stitches you can choose from.

Work your way across the lettering. If you run out of yarn, bring the yarn tail to the sweater wrong side and begin with a new length.

yarn embroidery with chain stitch


When the stitching is complete, weave the yarn tails through the stitching on the sweater wrong side to secure them.

Rinse away the stabilizer under warm running water.

washing away stabilizer

Let the sweater dry flay on a towel.

let yarn embroidery sweater dry flat

Try another version using one letter for a first name, mixed with florals or clovers. The possibilities are endless!

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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!

One Comment

  • Jean M.

    What a great idea. I can’t wait to try this as I have some yarns that could be used since there is not enough to do any big project. love it!