Tulle is a beautiful, sheer, and lightweight fabric that can be seen on clothing for all ages. From children’s princess dresses to adult bridal gowns and veils, this fabric is a popular choice to give any outfit an extra pop of elegance and grace.
To add even more beauty to this flowy, delicate fabric, you can even add embroidery designs to create a lace pattern or add small designs such as flowers or snowflakes.
Embroidering on tulle isn’t as straightforward as other fabrics, though. When it comes to embroidery, due to its netting-like structure and large holes, the fabric is prone to tearing, stretching, and bunching.
So, embroidering on tulle – is it possible? Yes, you can embroider on tulle by hand or by machine. Keep in mind that the fabric is delicate, sheer, and prone to tearing. Learn the balance of how far to push the fabric without going too far, gather all necessary supplies, and you’ll be able to embroider successfully on tulle.
Keep reading to learn all the best tips and tricks for embroidering on tulle. We’ll explain the details of how to do it by hand and by machine, as well as the supplies you’ll need for both and the stitches that work best.
How To Embroider On Tulle By Hand
Tulle is a fabric created most often with nylon fibers, though it can also be made with polyester, rayon, and silk. These fibers are woven to form a netting structure, leaving large holes between each fiber.
Although the fabric is lightweight, it is also stiff in texture. This makes it difficult to work with because there’s not much flexibility in the stiffness of the fibers, but the fabric itself is very light and can easily be torn.
Embroidering tulle by hand gives you more control, which can be better when it comes to the possibility of tearing, but also requires more work on your part than using a machine.
Here are some tips for embroidering tulle by hand:
- Start by placing it in your embroidery hoop. This can be a small piece of tulle that you’ll keep in a hoop to hang as decoration, or part of a larger piece of fabric that will be used to create a skirt, dress, or veil.
- Be careful when placing the fabric in your embroidery hoop. You want the fabric to be taught, but not pulled too much. If it’s pulled too tight, you’ll increase the likelihood of tearing. If it’s not pulled tight enough, you’ll have problems with the fabric bunching and bubbling in places.
- Keep an eye on the holes in the netting of the tulle fabric. It should retain its natural weave without any distortions, curves, or pulls. This is a good indication your fabric is set well in the embroidery hoop.
- After you’ve secured the tulle, use a tapestry needle and embroidery thread to embroider your design into the tulle. We’ll go into more detail as to the importance of a tapestry needle vs. a traditional embroidery needle in the supplies section later on.
- You can choose to draw your design on the fabric prior to embroidering, or simply freehand. If you draw the design, remember to place a piece of newspaper or cardboard underneath the tulle if you draw the design to keep the marker from bleeding through to the table or counter underneath.
- The biggest thing to keep in mind is that the back of your stitches will be seen from the front. Most embroidery stitches are created for the visual appeal from the front of the fabric since the back is hidden. With tulle, however, the fabric is see-through. You’ll be able to see every stitch’s back end from the front. You’ll want to choose stitches for your tulle embroidery that will look good from both the front and the back. (We’ll dive into what stitches work best in the section below.)
- Finally, to finish your project, make sure to hide your knots where they won’t be seen from the front of the fabric. You can even use hot glue or fabric glue at the ends of your knots to keep them secured without running them through the back of the fabric.
Types Of Embroidery Stitches For Tulle
As we mentioned above, you’ll have to take care choosing which stitches to use for your embroidery design on tulle because the back will show just as much as the front.
Stitches like the back stitch, for example, will be difficult to work with because of the way it’s run through the back of the fabric.
It can still look nice but will take more planning on your part to determine how the final product will look with each stitch placement. Straight stitches work well and can even provide an alternative to using the chain stitch to create the lazy daisy.
You can also try woven pinwheel roses since they’re composed of straight stitches and weaving through those straight stitches. The chain stitch doesn’t work well with tulle because it puts too much pressure on the fabric since you’re running the thread multiple times through the same hole.
It also won’t have that chain look from the front, as you’ll be able to see the long running stitches in the back, which ruins the chain effect.
The running stitch usually has a hyphenated look, similar to the spaced lines dividing lanes on streets. With tulle, it will take on the look of one straight line instead. This doesn’t count it out completely but is something to consider for your design.
French knots and satin stitches can also look nice on tulle, but these stitches can tend to put a lot of pressure on the fabric if you’re not careful. Use these stitches lightly and pay attention to any warping or pulling in the fabric.
So, when looking to hand-embroider tulle, stick to using stitches like the straight stitch, satin stitch, French knot stitch, or even the woven pinwheel rose.
Stitches like the chain stitch, running stitch, and possibly even the back stitch can distort your fabric or look different than how they would on regular fabric.
How To Embroider On Tulle By Machine
Embroidering tulle with a machine can be simpler since the machine will do all the work for you, but can also lead to unexpected tears or bunching if you don’t monitor the machine closely and keep the stitches running slowly.
To embroider tulle using a machine, you’ll need more than just the tulle and your embroidery hoop and thread. With a machine, it’s best to also use a water soluble stabilizer.
A water soluble stabilizer is a type of fabric that dissolves in water. It’s used to stabilize lightweight and flimsy fabrics, such as tulle, to create embroidery designs without tearing the fabric.
The best way to begin embroidering on tulle is to set the water soluble stabilizer in the hoop. You can either set the tulle in the hoop with it, or lay the tulle on top. Both ways work, and you may want to try it once each way to test which is best for your machine.
Whether you put them both in the embroidery hoop or lay the tulle on top loosely, you’ll need to secure the tulle to the water soluble stabilizer with some temporary spray adhesive.
Once your fabrics are set up, you can start your machine. Keep a close eye as the machine runs, making sure it’s stitching slowly. You can increase speed if you see that the fabric is doing okay.
If you notice bunching, slow down the stitching speed and try to smooth out the fabric. If you notice tearing, it may be best to undo everything and start again with a fresh piece of fabric. Adjust your settings and continue monitoring.
When the embroidery is done, remove the fabric from the hoop. Cut around the water soluble stabilizer so that it only remains with the stitched design.
Let the tulle rest in water until the stabilizer dissolves. This can take up to a few minutes depending on the type you buy. After the stabilizer has dissolved, allow the tulle to air dry and it’s done! You’ll have a finished, embroidered piece of tulle.
Supplies For Embroidering On Tulle
Whether you want to embroider by hand or by machine, you’ll need some basic supplies such as the tulle fabric itself and a pair of scissors, plus embroidery hoops and threads.
The embroidery hoops your machine comes with are ideal for machine embroidering. If you are embroidering by hand, you can grab a variety pack of hoops from Amazon. You can get sets of embroidery thread for machines or thread for hand-embroidery.
From here is where the supplies will differ. When embroidering on tulle by hand, you’ll want to be sure to buy a pack of tapestry needles. These are ideal because the tulle fabric is already netted, so you don’t need the sharp points of traditional embroidery needles to pierce the fabric.
Additionally, the pointed ends of traditional embroidery needles can end up tearing the fibers and ruining the fabric.
Below are the total supplies you’ll need for embroidering on tulle:
- Tulle fabric
- Embroidery hoops
- Embroidery thread
- Tapestry needles (by hand)
- Water soluble stabilizer (by machine)
- Temporary spray adhesive (by machine)
Projects For Embroidering On Tulle
There are different ways you can embroider tulle and use it for your fabric projects. Although it can be difficult to work with, tulle is an incredibly versatile fabric.
There are two main types of projects that people choose to do when embroidering on tool: decorations and clothing.
While tulle can be used for other household fabric objects, such as pillowcases, it’s not typically a top choice because it’s a little rough to the touch and wouldn’t be comfortable to lay on.
Tulle Embroidery Decorations
Embroidered tulle makes for incredible decorations because of the transparency of the fabric. Since tulle is sheer, when embroidered, the thread can have the look of floating without a backdrop.
When hung in front of a window, it can create an even more beautiful effect to see the light shining through the holes of the tulle and illuminating the embroidered design.
Embroidered tulle, when used as a decoration, is typically left in the embroidery hoop after the embroidery is done. It’s then either hung on a wall, from the ceiling, or set on a shelf for display.
The tulle is typically cut into a small piece, a square only big enough to fit into the embroidery hoop, and the excess fabric around the hoop is trimmed when finished.
Since embroidery has many different possibilities when it comes to designs, you can create any type of decoration using embroidered tulle.
A common embroidery design is flowers, or any other type of plant. Nature makes for a beautiful embroidered image, especially with its pops of color in flowers or beautiful neutral tones with succulents.
You could also embroider words, animals, or even seasonal images such as snowflakes, pumpkins, or beachy waves.
Tulle Embroidery Clothing
The other (and possibly more common) use for embroidery on tulle is in clothing.
Tulle is a popular fabric for bridal gowns and veils. While many brides enjoy the simple elegance that tulle provides as it comes, many other brides also love the look of embellishments such as beads or lace.
These embellishments are done with embroidery. To create the beautiful lace pattern on tulle, it is embroidered with white or cream-colored thread. Even the beading is done by a type of embroidery, adding beads along the stitches.
Although tulle is popular for bridal apparel, it is also common in evening wear in general. Regardless of the special occasion, tulle makes for a beautiful accent to evening gowns, whether on the bottom layer to add volume or the top layer to add style.
Because it can fluff up to bring volume in a dress or skirt, tulle is also used for princess costumes. By adding embroidered vining flowers or snowflakes, you can take a simple princess costume and turn it into something special.
Tulle is also used to create ballet tutus, though these are commonly left plain and not embroidered.
When embroidering on a larger piece of fabric that’s going to be part of a skirt or dress, you’ll follow the same steps we’ve reviewed. Just remember to take extra care with the excess fabric.
If you’re embroidering on a machine, be sure to pull all the excess tulle to the side so that it doesn’t fold underneath the embroidery hoop or get caught in the embroidery needle.
If you’re embroidering by hand, simply drape the fabric over the arm of your chair and let it hang aside. Be careful not to accidentally pull it up when you bring your needle up from the back.
Is Embroidering Tulle Worth It?
Even though tulle can be a tricky fabric to work with, the results of embroidery on tulle are beautiful.
Use a few pieces of scrap tulle to try embroidery first. You’ll be better able to gauge how taught to pull the fabric, what stitches look great, and how to work with the fabric if you practice a little first.
Practice can also help you gauge your machine’s ideal settings to do embroidery on tulle, such as the speed of stitches.
Grab some tulle and try it!