Design Muse: 13 Design Trends
to Make Your Embroidery More Awesome

Often when we grab a new embroidery design, the first thing that comes to mind is where we’re going to stitch it. Will it be on a pillow? A tee? Maybe it will make an awesome wall hanging. The world has a serious shortage of awesome wall hangings.

What we think about a little less is how the designs themselves can be used in all kinds of new ways, whatever you decide to stitch them on. To pull these off, you don’t need any extra equipment, or even any real sewing skills, and they can be used for hand and machine embroidery alike. All these trends just use the awesome potential of embroidery you might not have thought of until now. We’re sure this is what MacGyver would do when confronted with an embroidery design challenge equipped with just the design itself. We’re pretty sure MacGyver does embroidery.

Today these new design trends are modeled by our lovely digitizing diva Danielle. Danielle is the head of our digitizing department, makes a fantastic model, and is likely totally bonkers. Luckily, we’re all crazy around here. She’s going to showcase 13 of our favorite ways of making your embroidery more awesome, just by using the design itself.

So, next time you grab a new design for stitching, why not try…

The Warhol

Duplicate a single design in a four square pattern, all in different colors. Crazy sixties glasses, career in art and white hair optional.



The 3D Glasses

Give your design an update and your friends a headache by offset-stitching a design in red and blue. Find your favorite pair of retro 3D glasses and and rock your look in all dimensions.

The New Black

Tone on tone is always king, and black is the new, well black. And the old black. Black is awesome all around. You can never go wrong by combining these two, with a solid stitched black design on a black tee. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you stitching pink on pink, or white on white (we call that one The Ghost). We just love black.



The Layer Cake

Take your embroidery designs to the next level by layering. Light stitching designs can be embroidered right on top of each other for a totally psychedelic effect that takes two designs and merges them into one brand new amazing composition.

The Mirror

Designs repeated are twice as nice! Get a cool symmetrical effect by taking a design and flipping it on its axis for a great look on the back of shirts and jackets.



The Painter

Dig up that old tie dye kit, or just grab some regular fabric paint, and splash it on a light tee. Then pick your favorite scribbly or light stitching design and stitch it on top for a painterly effect perfect for artists and retro fashionistas alike. It’s the perfect way to add a pop of color to your favorite one-color running stitch designs.

The Dubstep

Grab a black tee and some glow-in-the-dark thread and you’re ready to rock the club all night long, whether it’s to dubstep, or old school techno. Heck, you could rock this while doing the polka. In fact, that might just be the coolest way to wear this one. Just tell them to turn off the lights have have plenty of glow sticks about. Want to see glow-in-the-dark thread in action? Check out this tutorial.



The Jewelry Box

You can turn any dangling design into a “charm” just by freestyle stitching a necklace with the design! You can see an example of how we did it with the Charmed Tee tutorial. Once you know how to freestyle stitch the chain, any design fit for it can become a stunning accessory just by adding a draping line in stitches.

The Not-So-Freestanding Lace

Just because it’s freestanding lace doesn’t mean you have to stitch it all by its lonesome. You can hoop a piece of fabric and stabilizer, and stitch it just like regular embroidery! It will be a little thicker than a regular design, but will give your shirt some awesome dimension. You can also stitch it on sheer fabrics like organza to “float” the effect.



The Runaway

Did you know you can stitch some designs right off the edge? It’s mostly recommended for very light designs with mostly running stitch. If it’s super light, you can just let the design stitch right off the edge, onto the excess stabilizer. We did it on a men’s front shirt pocket in this tutorial. Once it’s stitched you trim off the excess, and you can add some patch glue to keep the thread from fraying. Design too heavy? Embroider it near an edge, then just fold the bottom under and stitch a new seam.

The Mini-Me

Do you have a hoop that can stitch bigger than a 4"x4" design? Well, why not grab two sizes of a design, a big and a small, and use a mirrored version of the other size to create a cute pairing! After all, you can never have too many flying monkeys, no matter what size they are.



The Ransom Note

Who says you always have to use the same alphabet series when making a design? Throw caution (and perfect alignment) to the wind and mix and match two alphabet series to make a punk rock text-only design. Best yet, you can make it say whatever you want.

The Evil Twin

Embroidery has a dark side… or at least it does when you can pick the colors. Found a design that’s just a little too cheerful to stand in its current form? Switch the colors around for a laugh. It works both ways; gothic stuff stitched in rainbows is pretty hilarious too. Every design has an evil twin just waiting to come out.


So, there you have it … no fancy hoop tricks, no magic sewing skills required. All you need to rock that embroidery design is the design itself, and a little imagination.

Want a printer-friendly PDF of this page? You got it, bud.
Suggested designs for this tutorial: 
Astroman $1.99
2 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 5.28"w x 4.29"h | 3.39"w x 2.76"h | Hand Embroidery
Lonely Robot_image
Lonely Robot $1.99
3 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 3.19"w x 6.50"h | 1.89"w x 3.86"h | 0.98"w x 2.01"h | Hand Embroidery
Baroque Punk Skull_image
Baroque Punk Skull $5.99 - $6.99
3 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 5.87"w x 6.65"h | 4.84"w x 5.47"h | 3.43"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Tribal Deer Skull_image
Tribal Deer Skull $3.99
3 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 5.87"w x 6.14"h | 4.29"w x 4.53"h | 3.66"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Nautical Rose_image
Nautical Rose $2.99
2 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 3.66"w x 6.54"h | 2.17"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Baroque Punk Swallow_image
Baroque Punk Swallow $3.99 - $4.99
3 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 5.94"w x 5.83"h | 4.96"w x 4.84"h | 3.86"w x 3.78"h | Hand Embroidery
New Heights_image
New Heights $1.99 - $3.99
3 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 9.41"w x 4.69"h | 6.89"w x 3.43"h | 2.72"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Womp Womp_image
Womp Womp $3.99 - $4.99
3 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 5.87"w x 6.18"h | 4.84"w x 5.12"h | 3.66"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Flock Together Feather 4_image
Flock Together Feather 4 $2.99
1 Available Size:
Machine Embroidery: 0.87"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Flock Together Feather 3_image
Flock Together Feather 3 $2.99
1 Available Size:
Machine Embroidery: 1.06"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Flock Together Feather 2_image
Flock Together Feather 2 $2.99
1 Available Size:
Machine Embroidery: 0.94"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Flock Together Feather 1_image
Flock Together Feather 1 $2.99
1 Available Size:
Machine Embroidery: 0.83"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Flock Together Feathers_image
Flock Together Feathers $4.99 - $6.99
3 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 5.87"w x 6.14"h | 4.84"w x 5.08"h | 3.70"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Antique Lock (Lace)_image
Antique Lock (Lace) $2.99 - $3.99
2 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 3.23"w x 3.86"h | 1.69"w x 2.01"h | Hand Embroidery
Antique Key (Lace)_image
Antique Key (Lace) $1.99 - $3.99
2 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 2.24"w x 3.82"h | 1.18"w x 2.01"h | Hand Embroidery
Painted Roses_image
Painted Roses $3.99 - $4.99
3 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 5.87"w x 6.02"h | 4.84"w x 5.00"h | 3.74"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
Flying Monkey_image
Flying Monkey $4.99
2 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 4.88"w x 4.88"h | 3.86"w x 3.86"h | Hand Embroidery
You Are My Sunshine_image
You Are My Sunshine $3.99 - $5.99
2 Available Sizes:
Machine Embroidery: 6.85"w x 4.02"h | 3.86"w x 2.24"h | Hand Embroidery