How to Embroider on Fabric

eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Oh, the humble hankie: so much more than a way to wipe your brow. For many of us, these simple squares of cotton can hold memories of hope, heartache and happiness. Some handkerchiefs have been kept for generations to remind us of a loved one or a significant family event. They have been carried down the aisle with brides, tucked into the pockets of soldiers and offered in moments of joy and despair. This Father's Day, bring back a momento of yesteryear and use this small canvas to create a fun embroidered design for that extraordinary man in your life.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Watch the video tutorial

Things You'll Need

  • Handkerchief

  • Pattern to transfer

  • Transfer pen

  • Embroidery hoop

  • Needle

  • Embroidery floss

  • Lightweight fusible interfacing

  • Iron and ironing board

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Step 1: Create Your Desired Design

Find or create a meaningful design to place on your hankie, or use this printable to reproduce the one used in this project. The design you create can be printed out from your computer, or if you're really talented, it can be hand drawn. Place the drawing under the hankie in the corner, and line it up the way you want it to show on the front.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Step 2: Transfer the Design Onto the Handkerchief

Use a transfer pen to trace the design onto the hankie. Be sure to keep the design in place as you trace.


If you don't have a transfer pen, you can use a washable marker, a pencil or a regular pen (just be sure to test the pen to make sure it doesn't bleed too much). A regular black pen was used for this project because the embroidery thread was going to be black. If you are using a different color, be sure to use ink that won't show under the thread.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Step 3: Stretch the Handkerchief Onto the Embroidery Hoop

Center the design and stretch the hankie onto an embroidery hoop. Tighten the top screw so the fabric is taut.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Step 4: Use a Backstitch to Outline the Design

When embroidering, a backstitch is ideal for text or outlining. To create a solid line using a backstitch, first pull the needle and floss it up through the fabric. Then, do one stitch forward. After, from underneath, bring the needle and floss up at the desired stitch length and back down through the end of the previous stitch.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Continue this stitch until you get to the end of the line, then knot the end of the floss on the backside.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

If your text and design are thin like this example, thread your needle with only two strands of the embroidery floss. Then, knot the end and sew a backstitch on each letter to outline the antlers. You'll want to knot the ends before you go onto another letter so the thread doesn't show through.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Step 5: Cover the Back With Soft Fusible Interfacing

When you're finished embroidering, cut a piece of soft, thin fusible interfacing that will cover the entire design. Use a hot iron with no steam and press the interfacing onto the back of the hankie with the fusible side down.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Step 6: Present Your Hankie to Dad

Now, wrap up this project as a Father's Day gift, and who knows, maybe it will become part of your family's folklore for generations to come!

Image Credit: Beth Huntington