Can You Wash Hand Embroidered Clothes?
Over the years, I’ve gotten this question a lot. Occasionally, I’ll embroider a piece of clothing or stitch a pet portrait on a sweatshirt and people will ask for care instructions. I’ve tested out how embroidery withstands washing and wanted to share with you what I’ve found!
The short answer is: yes! You can wash hand embroidered clothes, but you have to be a bit more careful.
Here are some things to consider when stitching on clothes and some tips for washing to improve the longevity of the embroidered garment.
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How to Protect Hand Embroidery On Clothing
The first few tips I have are ones take into consideration before you stitch on a piece of clothing.
Use High Quality Embroidery Floss
I recommend using DMC embroidery floss because it is colorfast. It’s also got a nice texture to it compared to cheaper embroidery threads, which have a tendency to be a bit fuzzy. I did an embroidery thread brands review you can read about if you’re interested.
Secure All Loose Threads
I know a lot of people don’t like to finish embroidery with knots but…I’m going to go ahead and say that I recommend knotting all of your embroidery stitches for clothes. The stitches on clothes are subject to so much more movement and friction that it’s entirely possible for stitches to fall out if they aren’t secured well.
Add Some Embroidery Stabilizer to the Back to Protect Stitches
If you’re still worried that some stitches will come loose, you can always purchase some iron on embroidery stabilizer to put on the inside of the clothing. This will decrease the amount of friction the stitches are exposed to, which in turn will lessen the chances of the stitches coming loose.
Hand Wash Embroidered Garments
This is my number one recommendation, although I know it’s not always realistic. Hand washing is obviously way gentler on the stitches and will increase the longevity of the embroidery. Use a mild soap and cold water. DMC embroidery actually has detailed instructions for their recommendation for washing embroidery. According to their guide, red pigment can come out a bit when washing, so it’s really important that you wash the clothing by itself and not with any other articles of clothing.
How to Wash Embroidered Clothing In a Washing Machine
Disclaimer: This is not the best way to wash embroidery, but if you really insist, wash at your own risk!
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I have personally machine washed embroidery that I’ve hand embroidered and the color and stitches stayed intact. This method of washing embroidery will definitely shorten the lifespan of your embroidery though, so try to limit as much as possible. At minimum you should be using a delicate setting if you’re going to machine wash.
What About Drying?
Putting embroidery in the dryer is not recommended. I’ve found that doing this can make the thread fuzzy and make the embroidery look not as nice. This also puts your clothes at risk for shrinking, which could also distort the embroidery. Finally, it puts the embroidery at risk for coming undone.
Hang drying / air drying is the best way!!
I hope these tips were helpful and that you can keep your embroidery intact for years to come. Happy stitching!