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Merrill Melideo in New York, NY writes in:

Recently I embroidered some baby snap suits for my dear friend who was expecting her first baby. She loved them so much that she’s purchasing more, and I’m feeling inspired to start making a whole bunch and trying to sell them! However I do have a concern about the backside of the embroidery work with all of the knots. I’m worried that perhaps it may be irritating to a baby’s skin. Is this a valid concern? I’ve seen that iron-on fabric that goes on the backside of some needlework and I was wondering if that might be a good idea.

Well, one approach, if you’re worried about the knots, is to just not use them when creating your stitches. I often just leave a long (non-knotted) tail when I start, and wrap my stitches around the tail, working it into the design. This makes the back smooth and knot-free. I’m not sure if the knots would irritate a baby’s skin, and I consulted our resident embroidery expert, Contributing Writer Rachel Hobson. She writes:

Generally the knots are small enough that it isn’t an issue. Regarding the stabilizer material, most of those are meant to be removed after stitching, and since they don’t cover the stitching, just support it. I don’t know that it would help much, and may cause more discomfort because of the stiffness.

One option would be to stitch on a separate piece of fabric (like a soft cotton) and then applique that piece to the onesie using wonder under or some kind of fusible webbing. Or, you could cut a rectangle of cotton large enough to cover the back of the design and then use the strips of fusible webbing along the edges to adhere it to the back of the design.

The best advice I can give is to ask the babies’ parents if they notice any irritation, and then take steps to correct it when you gather some more information!

becky stern headshot Ask CRAFT: The Back of the Embroidery

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is director of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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