DIY Alphabet Embroidery (Free Stencil)

Just the other day, I chanced upon this Amy Tangerine Plus One Collection and I had this fantastic idea of creating a free stencil for alphabet embroidery. Picture this; a paper alphabet stencil with markings that may be placed on top of your fabric, and sewn through at specific points that had been marked. After sewing, you tear away the paper stencil and viola! Sounds feasible isn't it?

Amy Tangerine Plus One Collection

However, this being my first attempt at embroidery, and this being a new technique that I am testing out, it didn't go exactly as planned - as per all "real life scenarios".
Here, let me walk you through the road of shame whole process and show you what I came up with as a solution.

So first of all, this is the alphabet stencil that I have created in my stroke of genius.

To begin, I gathered all the required materials:

Attaching the hoop to the desired location.

*** NOTE to NOT tie a knot at the end of the needle.***
I'll be a problem when sewing!

And here I have, attempting to embroider on my shirt via the method that I have envisioned. I was eager to start on my project and I used the embroidery floss directly, off the skein. Looks pretty decent here isn't it?

Apparently not.

Because what revealed after I tore away the paper, was an ugly mess. The stitches weren't equally spaced and the needle created large, unsightly holes in my cotton shirt that were too big for the embroidery floss. That's what you get from not being able to see the needle emerging from the fabric.

Additionally, the huge holes should have been good indication that the needle was too big for this purpose (however, being new at this, I thought the issue was with my sewing method).
I would have shared a photo of my miserable attempt if I hadn't been so upset by the outcome, that I had forgotten to capture that visual moment in time.

Additional Tip:

The easiest way to get rid of pin holes, generally is to dampen the fabric using water from a spray bottle. Subsequently, leave the damp fabric to sit for a while, to allow fibers to relax and spring back into position. If required, use a steam iron on the fabric.

If the steps above is not sufficient, wash the fabric (if the piece is washable). Do follow the laundry or fabric-care guide, this option generally removes/shrinks most holes.

Between my ignorance and failed attempt, I came up with a different technique in an attempt to solve the issues faced. This time, I decided to place the stencil over the fabric, piercing through both the paper and the fabric thereby creating holes as markings for the subsequent embroidery step. 
Once again, I used the embroidery floss directly off the skein, creating thick lettering outlines. This time, the stitches were nicely spaced and neat, and I thought, hey, I did it! This works!

Holes created in the fabric as markings.

Later on in the week, I decided to drop by a local craft shop to purchase smaller embroidery needles for my craft and through a casual but very informative conversation with the staff, I learnt that the ridiculously large needle that I had been using was in fact a size 14 chenille needle. Just in case you new in this (like me) and is wondering, a chenille needle is a needle with a long eye and a sharp tip with sizes ranging from 13 to 26.
With this, the lady suggested that I purchase a size 7 embroidery needle for a better and smaller fit.  

Additional Tip:

In the case of needles, the lower the number, the larger the needle.
The higher the number, the finer the needle.

Additionally, I learnt (to my surprise) that the embroidery floss could be separated into individual strands to customize its thickness. It then occurred to me that the same skein of floss could be used 6 times more if I separated my floss into the 6 individual strands (hey, monetary savings!).

Additional Tip:

To separate the floss's strands, take your skein and find the tail that sticks out. Pull the tail out from the skein slowly until you have your required length of floss and cut it off. 

If you'd like to separate the thread into individual strands, pull one strand up and out slowly until it's fully separated from the others.

With this newly gained information, I decided to use 3 threads from my floss, along with the new embroidery needle. I also decided to experiment with a new method, where I cut out individual letters for stenciling. I also made extra care to ensure that the needle entered at a right angle to the fabric.

Using another cotton tee of mine, this was what resulted.

Looks pretty good!

Tearing away the paper stencil carefully.


One might note that the threads aren't exactly "tight". This was done intentionally, to accommodate stretching when the shirt is worn. The whole thing worked out perfectly in the end, and I'd like to consider this a successful attempt at embroidery.

I'd have to try this out again another time (hopefully, sooner and not later) to improve my embroidery skills. Here, I have used the back stitch technique to create a solid line which is good for hand embroidering text or outlining a design. I personally found this video by HandiWorks great for the learning process. Do have a look if you are interested in learning!

Best of luck to all of you lovely people who are about to attempt your very own version of the alphabet embroidery. I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and have learnt a lot from me and my mistakes!


  1. This is super awesome. Seems like a bit of patience would go a long way or in my case, a lot of patience!

    1. Hey Kanani!

      Thank you for taking time to read this post! And I do agree that this takes a whole lot of patience. This few letters took me quite a bit of time and frustration. HAHA

  2. This looks like a lot of fun! I will definitely be giving a shot this summer although I'm not too crafty (haha).

    1. Do give it a shot! Although its time consuming, the outcome is really rewarding! :)


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