Easy Embroidery Borders

Ellen March
Easy Embroidery Borders

Download and print the instructions.

Knit Notes

Many sewers are intimidated by the thought of sewing and embroidering knit fabrics. But a few simple adjustments are all you need to make sewing knits a stress-free experience.

Preshrink the knit fabric before cutting, using the same method you'll use to launder the finished garment.

Follow the with-nap layout for pattern placement. Knits can catch light differently if cut with the grainlines running in different directions, which results in irregular shading.

Don't allow the fabric to hang off the cutting surface; the knit will stretch and distort. Fold any excess fabric and support it on the table or a chair. Unfold as needed to continue cutting.

Use a new ballpoint, universal or stretch needle. Use a size 60/8 or 75/11 needle for light- to mediumweight knits or a size 80/12 or 90/14 needle for heavyweight knits.

Set the machine at 8 to 10 stitches per inch (3mm to 3.5mm). Looser knits may require a longer stitch. Stitches that are too short cause the fabric to ripple.

Use polyester or nylon thread, which will stretch with the fabric.

If serging the seams, use a 3-thread overlock stitch for the most stretch.


  • Cardigan pattern, such as McCall's 5671
  • Fabric and notions (as indicated on pattern envelope)
  • Lightweight knit fusible interfacing (optional)
  • Thread: polyester sewing & rayon embroidery
  • Size 75/11 or 80/12 ballpoint embroidery & sewing needle
  • Mediumweight cut-away stabilizer
  • Temporary spray adhesive
  • Border embroidery design (See "Design.")

border cardiga


Follow the pattern guidesheet to cut each pattern piece according to your measurements. Knits are more forgiving than woven fabrics, so a precise fit isn't necessary. Cut a larger size to have more room for layering garments under the cardigan, if desired.

Set the machine for an overlock stitch, if applicable, and finish each fabric piece raw edge before construction. Or serge-finish each raw edge using wooly nylon serger thread, slightly stretching the fabric in front of and behind the presser foot.

If the cardigan doesn't have a facing for the front edge, create one to hide the embroidery wrong side.

Outline each front pattern piece center-front edge onto a piece of pattern tissue. Draw a parallel line 3" away from the pattern outline, and then draw a line to connect each short end (1). Cut out each front facing pattern.

how-to 1

Trace the pattern back neckline seam onto a piece of pattern tissue. Draw a parallel line 3" away from the pattern outline, and then draw a line to connect each short end. Cut out the neckline facing pattern.

From the fabric, cut out each front facing piece and the neckline facing. If using a lightweight knit, fuse lightweight knit interfacing to each facing piece wrong side, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Stitch each front facing piece to the neckline facing along the shoulders. Set aside the facing.


Choose a border embroidery design that's no wider than 2". Or use embroidery software to resize the design width as needed. Choose a less dense design that contains little to no fill stitches. Or remove dense design elements from the design using software, and reduce the design density. (The chosen design was manipulated in software to remove the dense floral motifs along each swirl.)

Print several templates of the design. Audition the templates on the right-front fabric piece right side, leaving 1/2" free beyond the fabric piece side and lower edges and 1 3/4" free from the shoulder. Once satisfied with the border arrangement, tape the templates in place (2). Repeat to tape templates to the opposite front fabric piece right side, mirror-imaging the templates, if desired.

how-to 2

Using temporary spray adhesive, adhere a rectangle of cut-away stabilizer to the fabric wrong side, centering one design cross mark on the stabilizer rectangle. Hoop the fabric, making sure to not stretch it.

TIP: Use a black stabilizer for dark colored knits and a white stabilizer for light colored knits.

With the hoop on the machine, check the needle placement against the template center. Adjust the design position on the embroidery screen if necessary to align the needle tip with the template cross mark (3). Remove the template.

how-to 3

Embroider the design, using a new ballpoint embroidery needle and rayon embroidery thread. Clip the jump threads after each thread change, if applicable.

Remove the hoop from the machine and the fabric from the hoop. Trim the stabilizer just beyond the design edges.

Repeat to embroider each border design for the right and left front fabric pieces.


Construct the cardigan according to the pattern guidesheet.

Attach the facing before hemming the garment. Pin the facing to the cardigan front edges and neckline edge with right sides together, matching the seams. Stitch, using a narrow stretch stitch. Finish the facing raw edges with an overlock stitch or a 3-thread serger stitch. Fold the facing toward the garment wrong side, concealing the stabilizer; press. Secure the facing with a small stitch at each seam.

Fold the cardigan lower edge 1/4" toward the wrong side. Stitch a blind hem by hand or machine.


Border embroidery design: Husqvarna Viking, Mega Swirls collection, Swirl Design 214409; myembroideries.com.


Creative Drawings provided the embroidery software: creative-drawings.com.

Hilos Iris provided the embroidery thread: hilosiris.com.

Husqvarna Viking provided the inspira black cut-away stabilizer: husqvarnaviking.com.

Sulky provided the KK2000 temporary spray adhesive: sulky.com.


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Printing problems
Many of the ads on the page cover the text and thus that text does not print. Also, page 3 didn't print.
RE: Printing Problems
Please email sewnews@sewnews.com to receive the directions as a PDF file.
Missing print out
I tried to print page 2 of the directions 3 or 4 times. It didn't come through. Anyone else have that problem?
how do you get the second part of pattern to print?
Great Technique
Please to get this info regarding embroidery on knits and how to create the border. Your info is always on time.
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